Five Questions: Manny Moreno
Manny is a surf coach, a fitness instructor, founder of Kindness is Badass, and one of the most gracious people I've ever met. Meet Manny.
Who is the most important person in your life?
Lot of important people in my life. Lot of people that helped me. I always say, “I’m the person I am today because of all those people who’ve helped me.” But if I had to choose one person, it’d definitely be my grandmother. My grandmother has been the rock to our family. One example is she’s given up, ya know, everything for us. And we’ve lived in her home our entire lives, my family. Any time we’ve ever gotten in a rut, she’s bailed us out. She’s given up her retirement and social security for all of us, like, to this day—I only found out probably like a year ago, but she still works full time now, she’s in her late-70s, and she only makes $12 an hour. And she’s still working full time and overtime and I just don’t anybody that hard and is that selfless. And I aspire—I think I get my work ethic from her, my selflessness from her, and a big reason why I wanna help people is because of how much she’s shown us. How helping could make a difference, so absolutely my grandmother. Yeah, she’s an amazing person and we would not be here if it were not for her.
What is your greatest fear?
Greatest fear. Oh, man. That’s a tough one. Ya know, I guess I would say… Ya know I remember hearing this question a lot growing up. And I guess my go-to, and immediately it brought up memories, but it’d be disappointing my family. Specifically my grandmother because she’s given up so much. If I gave up or I didn’t make an impact or if I didn’t do better for my future family, like, I guess, that would be my fear. I wanna show her that her effort made a difference and that it would’ve put myself and my family in a better environment and situation for her sacrifices. So I would say like, yeah, just disappointing my grandmother is my biggest fear.
What is one thing that you don’t know now, but feel compelled to know?
That’s a great question! [Long pause] That’s a really good question.
Manny: I don’t know why but what comes up is like…what I don’t know—what impact I could have on the world is what I don’t know, but I’m so compelled to figure it out. I absolutely wanna make an impact on this world. I know it’s like cliché or everybody says, “You don’t have to make a big impact,” but I do personally. And I wanna show people the power of kindness because it’s really what helped me and changed my trajectory. It changed my life. The people who I hang out with. My family. And if it wasn’t for the generosity or compassion and kindness that people have given to me throughout these past few years, I would not be the person today and I wanna give that back. It reminds me of, ya know, the Pablo Picasso quote, “The purpose of life is to find your gift and the meaning of life is to give it away.” So that’s my goal is to try to find that gift that I think—I think my gift is kindness because I always got that growing up… “You’re too nice. You’re too kind.” They almost like put me down for that reason and I’m like, “How is that possible? How am I too nice? How am I too kind?” And I feel like, well that’s probably my gift and I wanna give that away. So I guess to answer your question: What impact I could have on the world and I really wanna know how I can do that and I won’t stop until I figure it out…to give it all away.
How do you define being “in love”?
[Audible sigh] [Laughs] I actually love this! It reminds me of my favorite quote on love and it’s, “Love is friendship on fire.” So I truly believe that, ya know, we have to be friends first before you can try to fall in love. Hence, you know, like, you marry your best friend. But then my second favorite thing I like to say when—you know prior I’ve been in love and it’s so natural. Conversations come naturally, just, ideas come naturally, you just bounce ideas off each other. So I think love is friendship on fire and it’s natural.
What will you miss the most when you’re gone?
My first thought was my little sister. Little Delia. She’s amazing, she’s sweet, so kind, and compassionate. At such a young age. She’s 15 now. But she’s still—she’s not like your normal 15 year-old girl, she’s like tomboyish. She loves all the cartoons and My Little Pony still. One of my favorite moments was we were at a restaurant, my grandmother was taking us out for our birthdays—me and my older sister are two years and one day apart—and she took myself and all our siblings out to dinner and the waiter was messing up a lot. Here’s my little sister, I think she’s 13, 14, and the waiter was messing up and goes, “I’m sorry!” And my little sister goes, “It’s OK! You’re doing great!” And I was like, “What?! That was soooo nice of you!” And that totally made the waiter feel so good and that was just like—I was just amazed at how she did that. And she’s told me stories now where she’s stood up for other little kids who’ve been like getting bullied and stuff like that at school. She’s very introvert, kinda quiet, when she doesn’t know people, so for her to speak up and say something is—people are like, “Whoa!” And I don’t know, I just like…I love my little sister. I love all my siblings, but there’s something about my little sister that—I’m the closest to her, so I guess I would miss her the most and, ya know, if I leave this world early, it would—I would miss to see her grow and what she does with her life. And no pressure. [Laughter] But I would really miss her the most.