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Exclusive Boss Q&A: Armando Montelongo

Posted on Feb 9, 2015 | 12:00pm

Armando Montelongo gives the inside scoop from his time undercover.
What did you think when Angel got frustrated with you while flipping a house?
When Angel got frustrated with me, I got incredibly upset and wanted to blow my cover by telling him that “you work for me, not the other way around." But, I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to accomplish anything, I needed to focus on why I went undercover in the first place: to figure out what was going on in my company. Once I got into the mindset that in this position I really do work for him, I was able to do my “job” and at the same time figure out what Angel went through on a daily basis to determine how to make the company better.

Were you worried that fellow students would recognize you when you went undercover as a student?
I was absolutely worried about being recognized while undercover - I have a very distinctive walk and I’m a big guy, so everything down to my cologne needed to be masked. The single most stomach-turning moment was walking into the seminar room undercover and being worried about being called out. Everyone in attendance was there for the purpose of learning about real estate from me, and now I’m sitting in the crowd. If only one student recognized me, it would quickly ripple through the room and within moments close to 200 people would know.

How did it feel to have a body double?
I was torn about having a body double. On one hand, I thought it was hilarious. On the other side, I was skeptical that we could pull it off. But, the body double did a great job capturing my walk and mannerisms. To a point that it was kind of eerie - do I really look like that? Shake my head that way? It had me feeling like I was in middle school again, asking myself questions I haven’t in nearly 30 years.

Each of the undercover roles were very different. Which one did you find the most challenging?
Each role was much more challenging than I had anticipated them to be. However, the single most challenging role of all was walking into the seminar undercover. It would be like walking into a birthday party thrown for you and trying to hide from all of your guests. From a physical aspect, I was surprised by how hard and labor intensive the work was with Angel.

What was going through your mind when you broke cover at the call center?
When I broke cover at the call center it was because I was so upset that we were sitting there and not being able to contact our students. I went undercover to make my company better, and the problem I was witnessing was so huge it needed to be resolved immediately to stop the business from hemorrhaging.

What did you hope to accomplish by going undercover and do you feel that you succeeded?
What I hoped to accomplish by going undercover and what I got out of it are two completely different worlds. What I hoped was to gain a little information about the company to help it run better. What I got was a true picture of what was really going on in the company: the value of people, what I as a CEO was doing wrong and what I could do better.  Often times, when we look at ourselves in the mirror we don’t really see what we look like until we are shown a picture because our eyes tend to forgive. I think that’s what happened with me and my company. The undercover experience was truly one of the best business decisions I have ever made. I think it’s something that every CEO should be required to do in order to run a successful company.

Are you still in touch with any of the employees featured on the show?
I remain in contact with all of the employees that work at Armando Montelongo Companies. I am pleased with all of the insight provided, the problems they showed me I needed to solve and the value I was able to find in people. I found gems in my business that had yet to be uncovered, and in one case, I have promoted an employee to an executive level and work directly with that person on an almost daily basis.