Diego Giraldo is a multi-talented Veroan who seeks out the good in people, the beauty of his surroundings, and gratitude in every situation he has encountered in his life thus far. Originally from Colombia, Diego and his wife of 20 years, Ximena, have called Vero Beach home since 2006.
“Vero Beach reminds me about my hometown, Palmira, in Colombia,” Giraldo explained. “Even though we don’t have beaches there, there are many, many palm trees and it’s a small, laid back town.”
When they arrived, Diego and Ximena faced the challenges of learning a new language, a new and very different culture, and the realization of how different the economy is in the United States.
“Where we come from, cash is king,” Giraldo said. “Here, credit – great credit if you will – has more power because it leverages cash.” He stated it was difficult to get used to concept of credit when he and his wife first arrived. But just as they adapted the English language, they caught on quickly to American economy.
“It is too easy to become a consumer and get dawned by the system,” Diego pointed out. So, he learned, paid attention, and now focuses on teaching others the knowledge he embraces to become legally established as citizens of the United States.
“This is a country of equal opportunities,” Giraldo proudly said. Though they originally came to the States in 2004, Diego and Ximena qualified through Bank of America to buy their dream house in Vero Beach two years later. “We came to this country with the mentality of continuing with our investments in real estate. Building our credit from scratch during the first three years was very frustrating. We were declined many times.”
Since that frustration, Diego has continued to broaden his knowledge and continue to work hard helping others. And they have, through an array of scenarios.
“It’s been our passion to provide housing to those who can’t purchase their own to have a roof over their head and treat them with the same respect and provide them with the best customer service possible,” he explained. With a goal in mind to broaden and expand his real estate and investment portfolio, Giraldo researched and networked further and began to learn about creative financing strategies that allow him and his partners to acquire properties in some not-so-traditional ways. “Seller financing and rent-to-own became our best options,” he said. “We now offer those options to our clients as well, because that’s the steppingstone for us.” This strategy, Giraldo said, allows buyers to get qualified later on for a mortgage through a traditional lender or bank.
A journeyman electrician by trade, Giraldo studied computer science in college. His passions include technology, real estate of course, music, and sports – “Is the chess game considered a sport?” he joked.
Humbly, he laughs at the thought of himself being considered a cool personality. His essence alludes gratitude and knowledge, and a passion to offer knowledge to others who desire to learn the values and techniques that he has learned throughout his life.
Giraldo gains his strength and support from God, his wife, and their son, Diego Mauricio, who just turned 17, although he says there are many others that he couldn’t even begin to list, though “they know who they are.” Most Sundays they attend church, and on weekends Diego enjoys getting out and enjoying nature and exercise – whether it’s riding his bike along A1A, stand up paddle boarding, playing tennis, or beach volleyball. Weeknights are generally for family time, likely videoing his son playing a violin solo or with a quartet, and designating time for real estate events, activities, or web calls with his team members at RTO Enterprises, LLC.
One of the aspects of Vero Beach that Diego and his family find especially appealing is the city’s dedication and appreciation toward the arts. Their son has a lengthy involvement with music programs within the school system.
“We love the arts and the support that artists get here in Vero,” Giraldo noted. “That kind of support cannot be found in many places in the country and probably in the world. The Vero Beach High School Philharmonic Orchestra performed in Vienna – which is known as the capital of classical music – and they received three standing ovations. The audience asked for more and more because they are so very talented.”
Giraldo sees the talent incorporated throughout our community and envisions Vero Beach to be a future home to world-renown musical talent and hopes that one day it wouldn’t be such a far-off thought to have orchestras from around the globe to come here and perform. Either way, he strives to be prepared for what may come.
“The real estate growth in the past few years in Vero Beach and the entire state of Florida has been and will continue to be one of the highest in the USA,” he said. “For that reason, I don’t think it’s crazy to start thinking ahead and build a facility big enough to accommodate art lovers and artists for which we could be known world-wide in the future.”
No matter what aspect of life Diego is focused on, admirably he always stresses personal growth and development and giving back to the community. He practices what he preaches, so to speak, as he can be found reading a number of books over the last 20 years, and grasps bits of knowledge and personal understanding from the words that he reads. Some of his favorites and most read/listened to include Robert Kiyosaki, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden, and Joe Dispenza. He points out that two decades ago, he read “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Dr. Stephen Covey, and adopted the principles of that book as a part of his everyday living practices. He has read and reread it, his son and wife have read it, and he recommends it to everybody he comes into contact with.
“My grandma used to say, ‘Tell me who you hang out with and I will tell you who you are,’” Diego said. “It took me years to realize that we become somebody similar to the five people we spend the most of our time with. That also applies to the books we read, video and audio books we listen to, and the seminars we attend.”
Along with his future visions for the community is the establishment of a nonprofit that looks out for single mothers and their children, giving women the programs and tools that they need to become a vital, knowledgeable, stable, and contributing part of the community. For themselves, for their children, and for their country.
“Our number one priority is children,” Giraldo pointed out. “If we educate them, if we care about their nutrition, education, recreation, and well-being, we won’t have to discipline them as they become men and women.”
Though he comprehends that the quality of care of children in the world today is essential to a positive future, Diego realized that many mothers have been left to fend on their own, which guided the vision for his nonprofit that gears toward single moms.
“We are incorporating a nonprofit to be able to establish programs that support them and create job opportunities for single moms to be able to have an income, but also be permitted to take breaks and actually spend time with their children at whatever age they may be,” Giraldo explained. He stressed how important the bond between mother and child is, and the impact it takes on a child when a single mom has to be gone all the time to provide for her children.
“There are some things that only a mother can provide for her children,” Diego said. “That requires time spent together versus separation.”
With a mindset of positivity and a goal of educating others, especially immigrants who are looking to make the United States their legal home, Giraldo and his family keep their vision on the future that lies ahead of them and how they can contribute to this world.
“We truly know how people feel coming to a new country and not knowing the language and its rules,” he explained. “Many people get in trouble because they just don’t know the laws and while that doesn’t make it okay for them to break them, we just want to educate them and show them the way to become good citizens. Most people here come to look for jobs – we know how it’s been a struggle for our country to deal with unemployment, housing issues, and so forth. We (he and his family) want to be a part of the solution and help to generate job opportunities.”
Giraldo explained slight empathy for those who are illegal to remain as such, however he attempts to educate those immigrants to the benefit of being legal. While many don’t want to pay taxes, Giraldo said, “We tell them reasons to obey the laws because here: there’s great school systems, very good roads, hospitals, and access to health care.” Whereas, he pointed out, other countries deal with corruption that involves citizens’ monies being taken by governing officials and then lost somewhere inexplicably. In the United States, taxpayers’ money is accounted for and proven by the conditions of public roads, schools, and care for those in society.
“I’m sure that if everyone could understand that, we probably wouldn’t have the need to build a wall because we would continue to educate the newcomers to be legal, pay taxes, and help build this country to continue to be the number one economy in the world, just like the immigrants from other countries have been doing for years and years,” he concluded. “Being part of the solution in lieu of being part of the problem will help us to make a difference and create many win-win situations for us to have a better country and to leave this planet somewhat better than we found it.”
He also emphasized his perception that there is a general misunderstanding of the word “Freedom” by the folks who live here. In his culture and many others, communism and socialism are being taught at schools, colleges and some universities.
“It worries me a lot, because they don’t understand that they are trading their actual “freedom” for free education, free health, and free food,” Giraldo explained. “I was educated to believe this and it took me years and years to understand the difference. We learn by contrast – understanding the opposites. Today, I prefer to work hard and pay for my own education, medical, and food. That’s why I want to help others to wake up and come to some realizations. I probably love this country more than many who were born and raised here not knowing anything different. I appreciate this county and the people here very much for the opportunities we found when we came here with nothing but a backpack and a big dream. We salute and thank our veterans – both active and retired – for their part in keeping our freedom.”
Diego Giraldo’s real estate website can be found at www.RTOenterprises.com. His nonprofit is still in the works of becoming 501(c)3 status, though he and a couple of his business partners, JC and Tammy Gauthier, are already planning for its development.