In his native Spain and beyond, Anxo Pérez ’97 has become an inspirational speaker and author. His message: “Don’t admire success, admire effort.” Pérez founded 8Belts.com, an internet-based language-learning program centered upon oral repetition and conversation with native speakers, rather than grammar and theory. The company employs more than 100 people in nine countries, with customers in 50 countries. He also authored Los 88 peldaños del éxito (The 88 Steps of Success), based on tenets to improve the world through personal growth. The 2014 title and the follow-up La inteligencia del éxito (The Intelligence of Success) have rung up $3 million in sales. Los 88 peldaños was the No. 1 nonfiction bestseller of ABC, one of Spain’s three largest dailies, in July 2014, and ranked high in iTunes sales through the end of that year.
A popular speaker who is fluent in nine languages, Pérez has given some 400 keynote addresses on five continents. In May 2016, Pérez received an alumni award and addressed the graduating class of Bellefontaine (Ohio) High School, where he was an exchange student in 1993. He likened the world’s view of success to a swan. Observers focus on the swan’s elegant plumage and graceful profile and overlook what’s unseen—the legs paddling energetically below the surface.
Pérez played on EMU’s varsity soccer team for three years. One of his best memories was scoring three goals in the 1995 homecoming game. Not only was his high school coach Ken Shank ’83 there from Ohio, but the third goal was also a bicycle kick, “the dream goal of every soccer player.”
Although gifted linguistically and musically, Pérez had difficulty choosing a profession. He earned a degree in liberal arts with minors in music and English as a second language. While at EMU, he was music minister at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and an interpreter for the Harrisonburg Police Department, which led to a position teaching legal interpretation at James Madison University after graduation. Pérez earned a master’s in international relations at the Brussels campus of the University of Kent. His charitable interests include occupational training to high-school dropouts; arts engagement for orphans and the developmentally disabled; and cancer research and prevention.