Mentally Strong Person of the Week: Latin GRAMMY Award-Winning Producer Motiff

How he overcomes tough times and stays strong.

Motiff is the mentally strong person of the week.

 Verywell / Julie Bang

In the “Mentally Strong Person of the Week” series, I’ll share wisdom from some of my favorite guests on my podcast, “Mentally Strong People." I’ll explain the strategies they use to stay mentally strong and then give you my take (as a therapist) on how you can apply these strategies to your own life.

When it comes to music, Motiff (whose real name is Arbise Gonzalez) can do just about anything. He’s an artist, producer, DJ, and songwriter. He’s worked alongside musicians like Pitbull, Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, and Jennifer Lopez.

But his rise to success wasn’t easy. He moved from Venezuela to America as a child, and he didn’t speak any English. Going to school was tough because he couldn’t understand his teachers. 

His home life was complicated too. His mother had to go to work and Motiff and his brother took on a lot of responsibility helping care for their dad.

Motiff decided not to go to college—a decision his parents weren’t pleased with. But he promised that since he wouldn’t be delivering his parents a college diploma, he’d earn a GRAMMY instead. Thirteen years later he made good on his promise when he earned his first GRAMMY.


Why not try it? You have been given the gift of waking up in the morning, so why not go and try it?

— Motiff

He said the tough times he endured taught him a lot. And he credits much of his success to his ability to stay curious in life. 

While he shared many strategies for staying mentally strong during tough times in our podcast interview, here are three of my favorite tips as well as my take on how you can apply them to your own life.

Always consider yourself a student. 

Despite his expertise, Motiff says he is always looking to learn more. No matter what situation he is stepping into or who he is meeting, he wants to learn as much as he can. This keeps him curious and helps him stay inspired about life.


Always be a student. Keep your ears open. You learn something from everything.

— Motiff

My Take

Even when you’re sitting in a boring meeting or having dinner with someone you’ve known for a decade, you can learn new things about yourself, other people, and the world around you when you have the right attitude. 

Life gets more exciting when you’re open to learning more (and when you can admit you don’t have all the answers). So, when you walk into a room looking for things to learn, you’ll realize that there are always things you don't know.

Look at what hard times taught you.

Motiff endured a lot of challenges when he was young. He said it was hard to make friends because of the language barrier and he struggled in school because he couldn’t understand his teachers. 

But he’s not angry about the things he endured. Instead, he looks at what those challenges taught him about life and he carries those lessons forward. 


Coming through on the other end taught me a lot of different things. And those things are always with me.

— Motiff

My Take

While it’s healthy to acknowledge what you lost or what you missed out on because of the hard times you’ve gone through, it’s also healthy to consider what you gained. Maybe you found inner strength you never knew existed. 

Or maybe you learned a lot about yourself. Perhaps you even learned who your true friends were. 

That doesn’t mean you always have to look for the silver lining in an attempt to sugarcoat your pain. But remembering that you’ve survived tough times in the past can remind you that you can get through tough times again—and this time, you’ll likely have more skills than you had before.

Surround yourself with stuff you loved as a kid.

Motiff said he reminds himself to have fun by surrounding himself with the same things he loved as a kid. He watches cartoons, keeps toys close by, and reminds himself that it’s OK to be silly.


I watch the same cartoons I watched when I was a little kid to stay in that wavelength. I have toys, like Power Ranger helmets and I watch wrestling. I think that’s what keeps that curiosity alive.

— Motiff

My Take

Doing fun things doesn’t mean you aren’t serious about reaching your goals. In fact, incorporating a little fun and laughter into your day might help you feel better and it might even motivate you to work harder. 

Surrounding yourself with the things you loved as a kid, might spark some of that joy you had back then again. And it might remind you not to take everything quite so seriously all the time. Having fun and being happy can be a key component to staying mentally strong and living your best life.

To hear more of Motiff's mental strength suggestions, listen to the full episode on my Mentally Strong People podcast. Each week, I’ll share another Mentally Strong Person and explain how their strategies can help you think, feel, and do your best in life.

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