Xerox sales executive addresses Saint Bonaventure High athletes

By George Miller

Peter Godinez, a sales executive for Xerox, for government/education sector accounts in the region, addressed some Saint Bonaventure HS student-athletes this week in Ventura. He encouraged them to find something you’re really good at, that you have a passion for, then “follow your passion.” He remarked that many jobs no longer exist, that new ones now exist and there are sometimes a thousand applicants for the best ones, so you’ve got to be prepared. Godinez also provided advice on loving one another, which we’ll elaborate on later herein.

Xerox Sales executive Peter Godinez addresses St. Bonaventura HS athletes, 4-7-16. Photo: George MIller/

Xerox Sales executive Peter Godinez addresses St. Bonaventure HS athletes, 4-7-16. Photo: George MIller/

Godinez is also a former national champion 120 yd. high hurdler (1976) and decathlete (1981 NCAA Champion, immortalized on ESPN broadcast nationwide), who has overcome great obstacles, including being plagued with hamstring injuries. On track (no pun intended) to become a top hurdler, he sustained injuries which meant that might no longer be possible. Instead, he took up the very rigorous decathlon, on the advice of famed coach and sports doctor LeRoy Perry. In less than four years in his athletic heyday while at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, he was the NCAA champion, probably bound for the Olympics. Then, disaster struck. The former USSR invaded Afghanistan. Many countries, including the USA, boycotted the 1980 Olympics, ending Godinez’s dream (and many others) of being immortalized as an Olympic champion.

He is a giant of a man, in more ways than one. Built like the proverbial brick outhouse, he has a massive, dark and seemingly gruff appearance. That impression immediately evaporates when you experience his warm, friendly personality. After encountering him at an event one time, I was thinking: “what a world class schmoozer.” People seem compelled to immediately recount their life stories to him.

Godinez is not the holy roller type, doesn’t evangelize, but has a deep and abiding faith which helps to guide his actions and occasionally shows itself via a biblical reference or words that the faithful can easily recognize as being from The Word.

He also has a day job, as “Ambassador for the Public Sector,” as he calls himself, for Xerox/SoCal Office Technology. One of his techniques is to maintain a high profile in the community, via civic participation. He seems to have succeeded at this for many years, in a field infamous for high turnover and burnout. Somehow, he also finds time to work with KADYTV as a volunteer, covering regional events and doing dozens of interviews of local personalities.


Peter’s Speech

So, given his role-model stature and longtime connections with the Catholic school, it’s no surprise that St. Bonaventure officials invited him to address a lunchtime student crowd. He ended up salvaging what might have been a disaster and making it into an opportunity. We were waiting and waiting beforehand in the lobby and in the gym, for what, I knew not at the time. Then, we suddenly learned that one of the main “hooks” for the event had evaporated. Namely, officials announced that the  pizza promised for the event wasn’t coming. En masse, disappointed students started exiting the gym, thinking not only “darn, no pizza,” but that that the event had been canceled. In shock, Godinez pow-wowed with officials, then decided to do his speech anyway, which was originally planned as an a pre-lunch event. His opening line to the diminished crowd was “at least I know you’re here for me and not just the pizza,”

When I asked him earlier what his speech would be about, he said he was just asked to “emphasize faith in God and to love one another.” So, without notes, he belted out an insightful, somewhat intuitive talk about his career and its close relationship to faith, then smoothly shifted into the future prospects of the students, many of whom will be graduating very soon and going out into the real world, or hopefully, colleges all over. So, maybe it was a preview commencement speech, minus the BS.

Some things I picked up from Peter’s talk- and I hope the students did, too ….

  • He’s been under “Coach Jesus” since he was 19, but had other valuable formal and informal coaches.
  • He’s proud of his past sports accomplishments but realizes that day is over, that he was blessed to be able to do it, that it taught him some important life lessons.
  • Find something you’re really good at, that you have a passion for, then “follow your passion.”
  • Many jobs no longer exist, new ones now exist and there are sometimes a thousand applicants for the best ones, so you’ve got to be prepared.
  • There’s a difference between forgiving and just forgetting.
  • God directs us to love one another.
  • We don’t have to be around people who are not so nice.
  • Some people are most attractive to you (he didn’t mean appearance so much).
  • Try to have lovable and useful attributes. If people find you interesting, attractive, enjoy being with you, like what you say, then they are more likely to befriend you, provide a portion of their income to you.
  • You need friends and clients, people who will “write checks” to you.
  • I am what I am- I have a gift- really good at certain things, “suck” at others. Try to focus on the best things and improve at the others.
  • Profits are down, there are layoffs, “whacking” people off payrolls. (Follow his advice and you’re less likely to be one of them, or at least more likely to find another opportunity).
  • Traditional paper resumes are becoming obsolete. Now it’s about Linked-In, social media and other on-line resources.
  • STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) skills are very important and remunerative. Some of these skills are synergistic with other skills, such as music. Steve Jobs blended art and technology to help make APPLE Computer a stellar success.
  • You are very fortunate to go to a school such as St. Bonaventure- such quality, so much tradition.
  • I hope you’ll go out and follow your passion.


Peter Godinez, champion decathlete in 1981 …

Peter Godinez Sales Hero – SlideShare

Peter K. Godinez | LinkedIn


Mr. Godinez let it be known that while he is is proud of what he has done, he’s actually more grateful that he was given the gifts and the situation to enable that. However, he is most proud of his wife Elaine and two wonderful, successful offspring- Jared and Cheyenne, who were both Volleyball MVP’s, he reminded me more than once. His father was also a star athlete at CPSLO.


Past Peter Godinez interview:

George Miller is Publisher of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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