From living in the boroughs to living in the suburbs, former BET “The Grand Hustle” competitor and Entrepreneur Jon Torres was exposed to all types of people. The Ridgewood, Queens native moved to East Massapequa in 1996 when he was 13 because his parents wanted to give him a leg up in life. To this day, he credits his stable upbringing and exposure to diversity in Queens and on Long Island to his success.
What was it like for you growing up on Long Island?
Jon Torres: Long Island was definitely cool because I had the opportunity to have a backyard and front yard as opposed to growing up in the city where you had tenement apartments and projects. When I came out to Long Island I lived in a hi-ranch home, and there was more of a diverse demographic with different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
What was the main reason for moving?
Jon Torres: My parents were middle-income. My dad is a retired police officer. My mother was an office manager for Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company and my parent’s thought if I lived in the inner-city, that I would resort to other aspects of life, so we had to move on up like George and Wheezy.
How did you get into PR?
Jon Torres: I officially established my business 1PR in November of 2012. I was always good with networking and connecting the dots with different organizations and all walks of life. So I made it my business.
So would you consider yourself the King of networking, because a lot of people struggle with it?
Jon Torres: I think I’m more of a master of communications. Any business you do, whether it’s sales, networking marketing or public relations, it entails having communication skills. Being that I was born and raised in the boroughs, lived on Long Island, went to public and private school and then college, I was able to see a diverse amount of people, which helped me communicate better overall.
How many different hustles do you have? Tell us about everything that you’re doing.
Jon Torres: My main business is 1PR, which is specified in the music and entertainment industry and for small businesses. That’s my main cup of tea. I also co-own a barbershop called Legendz Studio grooming services in Brooklyn. I also have stock invested in a medical cannabis company in California. I also host a showcase here in the city every other Tuesday called New Artist Spotlight. I’m also looking to get into management, and would like to be an angel investor like on “Shark Tank” and own several businesses.
How did you get on BET’s “The Grand Hustle”?
Jon Torres: I was on Facebook and I saw an ad. The ad said, “Do you have what it takes to be a hustler,” and I said hell yeah I got that. So I clicked on the link and it wound up being a three-hour application. It was so lengthy I almost exited out of it because I though it was bunch of bull. Long story short, Tuesday I got a phone call from a producer in California. Then I had a Skype interview and then I’m in Atlanta with BET within a matter of six weeks off a Facebook ad.
What made you want to continue with the application?
Jon Torres: By that point, I just committed so much time. I was like, “I already invested two hours into this, so I might as well see what I get out of it.” It ended up being a very big blessing and it helped me with my network.
What was the experience like?
Jon Torres: The experience was like no other. They put you in a mansion with 16 other people from across the country from every walk of life and they kind of put you in a predicament and you just gotta mesh. It was 100% unscripted. Everything was on the fly. I loved it and I still stay in contact with half my cast members. We all love each other like family.
What struggles have you had to overcome or are still dealing with?
Jon Torres: I’ve been blessed to have a good family structure, upbringing, good friends and good influences. The only adversities I’ve had in my life were health issues. Back in 2011, I was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. It’s called arrhythmia. So since 2011, I’ve had three heart surgeries. In January of 2016, I had my third procedure, which was unsuccessful, so I had to get a pacemaker implanted, so I’m dependent on it to live.
What was it like having that happen to you? I’m sure it was unexpected.
Jon Torres: Absolutely, I never thought at the age of 32 that I’d have a pacemaker. Typically I think about generally older people having it. It was more challenging mentally because I didn’t know if tomorrow was promised. That was the biggest thing, the fear of dying.
What advice would you give the next generation trying to come up?
Jon Torres: It might sound elementary, but do what you love. If you do something you like doing, you won’t consider it work. You gotta be consistent. Stay relevant even if you have to work at certain aspects of business that may not be your favorite.