Former Vice President, Multicultural Sales and Community Activation for PepsiCo North America, Author, Philanthropist, Creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos brand
Richard Montañez's riveting and inspiring story proves that all of us are just one great idea away from our dreams. Hear this one-time janitor tell you how he fanned a spark of innovation into the billion dollar worldwide phenomenon, Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
Richard Montañez led Multicultural Sales & Marketing as Vice President across Pepsi North American divisions, and after 42 years with the company he is now retired (March 1, 2020.) Throughout his career Montañez has held various senior roles through Pepsi and Frito Lay divisions.
Montañez started his PepsiCo career at Frito-Lay in 1976 as a janitor and is recognized as the creator of the Flamin’ Hot line of products, which have become a billion dollar business and a cultural phenomenon.
Recognized for his visionary leadership, ability to innovate and his commitment to diversity, he has received several notable awards and is often named one of the most influential Latinos in corporate America.
Mr. Montañez is the only four-time recipient of PepsiCo’s Chairman’s Award, the highest honor given to employees based on performance and work ethic. As a long-standing mentor and executive sponsor of PepsiCo’s Latino and Hispanic employee group, Adelante, Montañez has supported and nurtured the careers of hundreds of PepsiCo employees. Montañez is also a committed philanthropist and founder of Onelite, a nonprfit that provides hundreds of high-need families within the United States with food and school supplies.
He serves on several boards or directors and advisory boards. He was also the first Latino board member to serve on the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an African-American civil rights organization, whose first president was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Richard Montañez is a sought-after motivational speaker, speaking to corporate groups like Target, Walmart, and Slalom, as well as universities such as USC and Harvard. Montañez has been featured in TV and print outlets, such as Good Morning America, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Fortune and Newsweek. His story is now the subject of a forthcoming biopic from Fox Searchlight Films.
Richard Montañez: There’s No Such Thing As “Just the Janitor”
Richard Montañez on On Acting Like an Owner
Richard Montañez On His “PhD”
Richard Montanez on The Passionate Few – The Antidote to Fear
Richard Montanez – Feeling Like An Outsider
Richard Montanez on The Passionate Few – Learn It So You Can Earn It
Richard Montanez – The Ultimate Leader
Richard Montanez – Being Diverse and Standing Out
Richard Montañez’s Speech Topics
One Revelation Will Lead to a Revolution
In this unique and dynamic presentation, Richard Montanez—known today as the Godfather of Latino Marketing—shares the story of his rise up the corporate ladder from the entry position of janitor to become one of PEPSICO’s elite vice presidents. Coming from humble and unlikely means is what he refers to as starting at the “beginning, not the bottom.” Richard shares the secrets he used while being driven by passion and a quest for purpose that led him to experience the most dramatic REVELATION he would ever come across in a lifetime. That one revelation would go on to spur a REVOLUTION that shook up and forever changed corporate America’s protocol, empowering frontline workers, middle managers and CEOs alike. And the end result would be the birth of a billion dollar product, also known as America’s favorite snack …FLAMIN’ HOT CHEETOS.
The Antidote to Fear Is Hunger
Richard Montañez has a Ph.D. in being poor, hungry, and determined. His journey is one that everyone can relate to. It begins with feelings of being out-of-place, in pain, afraid, and vulnerable. And involves overcoming obstacles, confronting fear, and perseverance – even as he’s seen success.
From his humble beginnings in a migrant labor camp, to working as a janitor, to the inspiration and hard work it took to launch the cultural phenomenon, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Montañez shares the life-shaping moments from his personal journey.
In this presentation, Montañez inspires and activates listeners. He emphasizes the importance of believing in one oneself, building confidence, and taking risks that some might find crazy. “Greatness comes in ridiculous forms, and I’m living proof,” he says. “My ridiculous idea became a billion dollar franchise.”
A testament to the importance of diversity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, Montañez’s story teaches others how to turn adversity into the determination it takes to excel in life and business. “With confidence, anything is possible,” he says. “So no matter where you come from, there’s no limit to where you can go.”
What other organizations say about Richard Montañez
Richard was such a hit! We received tremendous feedback from both our employees and clients on his talk at our corporate event! His story has so many great nuggets for leadership styles and approaches, as well as how ‘stepping into the uncomfortable’ is so important for personal growth. Absolutely love the energy he brings to the table!”