Attention Grabbing Media Founder Manuel Suarez: From Drug Abuse to Start-Up Success

Photo Credit: Manuel Suarez

From the moment he became an entrepreneur, Manuel Suarez, founder and CEO of Attention Grabbing Media, defined his success through two factors: the work he has done, and the obstacles he overcame to get to where he is today.

Suarez was born in Puerto Rico, where he was one of the top tennis players in the country. However, after making it big, he started to indulge in a lifestyle that no longer served him, and by the time he relocated to Florida, he was struggling with his finances and with a serious drug addiction.

“I wasn’t happy with where I was in life, but at the same time, I was using drugs and all kinds of other distractions to distance myself from my problems instead of facing them head-on,” he said. “When I realized that was what I was doing, I had to make a choice: continue the way I was living, or make a change. Looking back, I’m glad I chose to change.”

Suarez went on to found Attention Grabbing Media, a full-service digital marketing agency with over 70 employees and a newly-opened 6,000 square-foot office building. His company provides services to clients around the world, including Dr. Eric Berg and Daymond John, CEO of FUBU.

“It’s crazy to think about how far I’ve come, and all the obstacles that were in my path to get here,” he said. “I’m not saying it was easy, but it felt right then and feels even better now.”

Founding a business is never easy, especially in an industry rife with competition. Suarez said he has always been able to make AGM stand out from the crowd thanks to his talented and agile team.

“We have employees around the country, each with their own unique skillsets and abilities,” he said. “I really do credit them with so much of AGM’s success, and every time I get to bring all of us together under one roof, I’m just stunned by the talent that our clients have on their side.”

While founding AGM was a leap of faith, Suarez said he can look back on what he’s built with no regrets. Even the financial troubles and addiction that led him to this moment had a purpose, he said.

“I now know that the key to success is staying motivated to learn and grow, and stepping out of my comfort zone so I can actually achieve that which I set out to accomplish,” he said. “And along the way, I learned my ‘why’ – what keeps me going, what inspires me, and what makes me want to get out of bed in the morning. And that’s what I always tell my team to do too: find your ‘why’ and figure out what you have to do to make that a reality.”

For Suarez, his “why” is being able to give back to his community. While his upbringing was not a wealthy one, financially, his family was rich in love and care, and he wants to pass that on to others.

“That’s why AGM started hosting workshops and that’s why I invest so much in my team,” he said. “No one has to go through life alone, and no one should feel like they ever have to. If I can continue to mentor other people on their path to success, I’ll have made myself proud, and my family proud too.”

Written in partnership with Ascend