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Derrick Braziel is the CEO and co-founder of Pata Roja Taqueria. Pata Roja provides high-quality street tacos, family-style taco kits and catering inspired by the culture and traditions of central Mexico
Previously, Derrick co-founded MORTAR, an organization dedicated to enabling historically marginalized entrepreneurs to start businesses, change communities and build generational wealth. Derrick’s work has led to recognition from the Indianapolis Star, YES! Magazine, Next City, Politico, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Essence Magazine and NBC Nightly News. He has also been named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for Social Entrepreneurs and the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 40 under 40 list.
He is an Echoing Green and 2016-17 BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) Fellow, a 2018 Next City Vanguard and a 2019 Obama Foundation Fellow.
In 30 seconds or less, tell us who YOU are. This is not your professional bio, but rather, your response should reflect how you are uniquely you.
I’m a dreamer and someone who marches to the beat of their own drum. I’ve tried to be a person who continuously tries to learn about them selves, the world and to make each of them a better place.
What is something that most people do not know about you?
Most people would be surprised to know that I’m an introvert and someone who requires a lot of time to charge prior to being around people and recharge after being around people.
What are your personal core values?
My core values are centered around love – for your self and for others. It’s really important to love and value yourself and also those around you. This is why it’s so important for me to create community where people can learn from each other and feel valued.
What is the primary motivation of your leadership?
My primary motivation and inspiration is my twin brother, Desmond. He has shown time and again what it means to be a good human being and also a good father, husband and friend. He motivates me to keep getting better and strive for excellence.
What has been the cornerstone of your life journey that influenced your personal mission and purpose?
I would say my parents. They have sacrificed so much for me and have provided such an inspiration to show me what’s possible. I am motivated to honor their journey and our ancestors before them and to make them proud.
What piece of advice have you received along the way in your career or life journey that has stuck with you?
The biggest piece of advice would be that you can’t expect anyone but yourself to be your biggest cheerleader. I often times would love for external validation and/or support but ultimately had to learn that those things had to come from within.
What one thing makes you most proud?
The fact that our business is still around and we’ve survived the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the other challenges of the past few years. It has been incredibly difficult to be an entrepreneur and the fact that we’re still around and the future feels optimistic makes me very, very proud.
What’s one thing you do every day (or with consistency) to be a better person?
I try to set small goals that I can accomplish every day and build up small wins. I also try to be very positive with how I talk to myself, acknowledging that I make a lot of mistakes and trying to love myself through them.
What are a few resources or behaviors you would recommend to someone looking to grow into a better leader?
The first one I would say is to realize that you need help from other people to accomplish your goals. No one can do it alone. I would also say that it’s important to be humble and recognize that we all have areas of improvement and we need to seek the people and resources to help us get better.
How do you define success?
I define success as feeling content in the reflection that I see in the mirror everyday – recognizing that I’m doing the best that I can and trying to make a positive impact in my community.
Why do you choose to make the Cincinnati region home?
Cincinnati is the most dynamic city in the US right now. With all of the amazing creatives and work across our region, it’s exciting to be here and have a chance to work alongside people making international-level impact. It’s a very fun and exciting place to be right now.
What do you imagine for the future of the Cincinnati region?
I think that in 50 years we’ll look back at this time in Cincinnati and we’ll have the same level of impact as say, the Harlem Renaissance or another significant moment in human history and progress. There are so many people who are working in a compact space we will see world defining stuff coming out of Cincinnati – in fact, we already are! So, I’m excited to see what art is created, what type of community solutions are developed and so much more.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I hope that people will see that I was willing to take a risk and try something new and be different. Hopefully they’ll see that someone was willing to take a risk and do something special and maybe they will a little more confident to try something themselves.
Help us elevate, empower, and support our region’s Black leaders today, tomorrow, and all year long by nominating someone for #MakingBlackHistory.