On October 20th, we gathered in NYC to celebrate the 11th Annual StartOut Awards honoring leaders of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship.
Hernan Lopez, our 2022 Trailblazer awardee, has truly lived a life paving the way for others.
From a very early age, Hernan learned the value of working with others. As a college student, Lopez took classes at night and worked during the day to get by, all while getting to know folks with different backgrounds and perspectives.
At 22, Lopez boldly asked for a management position where he led a sales team of people older than him, which taught him how to get the best out of someone.
Hernan moved to the United States to work for FOX International Channels. While working, he earned a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Miami. He quickly rose through the company, eventually becoming President and CEO. When asked about his leadership philosophy, Hernan acknowledges that a true leader never stops growing:
“There aren’t any innate leadership qualities you can’t learn. People usually think leaders need to be extroverted, but that is not true; many effective leaders are introverted. You never stop learning to be a better leader, just like you never stop learning to be a better human being.”
Hernan was exposed to different leadership styles — his best bosses were those who taught him the importance of people. In his early 30s, while at FOX, Lopez began to take accent reduction classes.
“I don’t think I would have made it to the C-suite level at FOX if I hadn’t taken those classes. At the same time, I don’t think my superiors would have offered that same advice to me if we were working together today.”
In 2020, Hernan launched the Hernan Lopez Family Foundation as a forum to address diversity in leadership. The nonprofit’s mission is to “dismantle systematic bias and empower individuals from historically marginalized communities through grants, training, and mentorship.”
Hernan always thought about entrepreneurship as a means to make a difference. Like so many founders, he found within himself the courage to create something and launched the podcasting company, Wondery in 2016. In four years, the company exploded in the industry, eventually being acquired by Amazon for reportedly more than $300 million. This validated Hernan’s decision to leave FOX and become a founder, which he admits came with some hesitation.
“The first two years were pretty challenging, but when you’re considering starting something on your own, you can get too paralyzed by the fear of failure. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work for bosses who encouraged people to try and made it safe to fail. Failure is inevitably part of the building process, and if you don’t fail, you’re not trying hard enough.”
More recently, Hernan Lopez found himself more and more in touch with the digital art movement driven by NFTs. In August of 2021, he and his co-founder launched Danvas, the first premium, innovative digital art canvas. The company’s mission is to introduce art collectors to the beauty, value, and possibilities of digital art and help talented digital artists gain exposure to a larger audience.
Throughout his career, Hernan’s success as an entrepreneur has always come back to the relationships he fosters.
“The day only has 24 hours, and you only have two hands. The ability to accomplish anything depends on how good of a team you have surrounding you. You can always work with others, inspire, and help them realize their dreams just as they’ve helped you.”
Hernan Lopez’s Favorite Books about Entrepreneurship:
- Get Backed (by Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis)
- Zero To One (by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters)
- The Lean Startup (by Eric Ries)
- Build (by Tony Fadell)