AJ Aguirre – 20 Under 40

Aguirre Medical

36 | St. Mary’s University

Coming from a family of doctors, AJ Aguirre had a front-row seat to identify the industry-wide need for more efficient ways to approach payroll and billing.

That led him to start Aguirre Medical in 2019, with the hope of helping medical offices reduce expenses by outsourcing reception, referral, and accounting services.

“Five years later, my staff has quintupled, and it’s running like a well-oiled machine,” he said. “This was the culmination of everything I had learned, the people I’ve met, and a passion that grew.”

Aguirre started his career in finance at a local real estate services firm but had the idea for Aguirre Medical while talking over dinner with his mom about her growing pediatric practice.

“She asked if I would consider helping her,” Aguirre said. “I knew next to nothing about healthcare and didn’t know how to help.”

He asked her, “What’s one aspect of the office that is giving you the most grief?”

“The front office,” she replied.

Soon, he started his management services organization with two receptionists in a downtown office.

He works with SMU’s Life After Ball program and the Texas A&M Mays Business School, which allow him to mentor and employ college students.

Outside of work, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a cause dear to Aguirre, as he was diagnosed with stage-four lymphoma in September 2021. He completed six rounds of chemotherapy and 20 rounds of radiation and celebrated two years of being in remission in February.

“In fact, the research (the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) funded developed the R-CHOP drug that saved my life,” Aguirre said.

He also volunteers with the Friends of Katy Trail, The Real Estate Council, Vogel Alcove, and Knox Park Community, which he founded.

“I really enjoy being around people and helping wherever I can,” Aguirre said. “I was motivated to get involved in the community to get to know and help my neighbors.”

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

I’ve been practicing water treading for about six months so that I can eventually join the Pegasus Water Polo Club.

What advice do you have for other young professionals?

Read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It will tell you everything you need to know. It explains that you can be passionate but not too attached — that things won’t be fair, but don’t let it change your attitude.

What (or who) motivated you to get involved in the community?

I really enjoy being around people and helping wherever I can! I was motivated to get involved in the community for one simple reason: to get to know and help my neighbors.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job was a lacrosse coach at St. Mary’s University. I was brilliantly bad at coaching that first season. I had little idea how to successfully juggle my course load, make it to daily practices or how to work with the kids. Fortunately, the athletic director guided me and taught me how to interact with students on the field. Eventually, I got into a great rhythm and gained rapport and respect from the kids. The hardest part was coming back the second season because the first one was so rough!

When assigned the position as head coach in my third season, I seamlessly and naturally rolled into it. I thought, what better way to show these kids how to play lacrosse than by getting my gear on and playing with them… so that’s what I did. I’d wear my cleats and gloves every day and work with them during warm up drills. I’d even give them the chance to skip conditioning day each week if their fastest player could beat me in a full-field “suicide drill.” I was full grown, and they were still 14 or 15, so they didn’t really have a good chance. But it was fun to see them get excited!

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

In my personal life, I would like to be married, have life figured out, and be able to spend most of my time in the snowy mountains. I would also like to spend more time with my brothers, nieces, and nephew. Professionally, I’d like to have clinic affiliations in every major city in Texas and in 10 rural towns. I’d also like the company to be considered one of the best places to work in Texas.

What is your favorite local restaurant or shop?

Douglas Bar and Grill in Snider Plaza. Great food, even better people. It’s close by, you don’t have to fight for parking, and you can wear jeans, a hoodie and a ball cap and still feel welcome. Being relaxed while wolfing down my cheeseburger is my slice of heaven!

What’s on your bucket list?

Last year, I initiated a tradition of setting annual bucket list items for myself. There are so many epic things to do and try! Motorcycling on the PCH, stopping at all of my favorite beaches; base jumping in Dubai or any big city; skydiving anywhere. There are some really cool hikes to do all over the country and in Canada. Formula One or stock car racing. Sailing from one continent to another. Seeing a volcano. This question is kind of like asking me how many grass blades there are in my yard. Too many to count!

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My inspiration comes from many sources. There are guys and gals here in Dallas who are doing really cool things — putting up new buildings, opening new restaurants or med spas, and so on. I’m inspired by their work. Yet I am probably most inspired by movies, and characters like Rudy, Ted Lasso, Nate Burlesworth, Freddie Steinmark, Rickey Hill, Jesse Owens, James Hunt, etc. I see them as the flawed, frail men that we all are… figuring out what’s important, applying what they know best, and working to accomplish their dreams. Each time I watch these movies, the characters remind me that we’re all real dudes with real feelings doing our best.

What was your “lightbulb moment” that led you to your career?

Growing up around my mother’s pediatric practice and father’s oral surgery practice, I saw firsthand the challenges of treating patients while simultaneously running a business. I also witnessed my brother’s hard work getting into medical school, completing programs, residencies and fellowships, and all the state testing in between. Everyone was working so hard, and I realized I wanted to be a part of the medical field in some way, without having to treat patients. I thought “if only they could do what they do best… which is treating patients… and leave the business work to someone else.” This eventually led to the creation of Aguirre Medical in 2019.

It wasn’t until I was in my 30s, that I realized medicine is where I’ve always wanted to be. I just had to rebel for a decade working in real estate finance, although it gave me an understanding of the big picture and the vision to give small primary care practices a leg up by separating the business from the healthcare. “You cook the chicken, I run the kitchen,” I like to say.

How do you motivate yourself and others?

I journal a lot and think about my life constantly. I love watching sports, movies and anything where someone strives to reach their goal. Watching movies, using it as a backdrop to my life, talking to friends and new people, and asking for feedback. Guys like Tony Robbins really gave me a framework to make my life (at least closer) to what I want it to be. And if someone needs motivation or help, I’ll just listen and ask questions. I’ll tell them the potential I see in them and give their doubts no legs to stand on.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

Life is going to be tough, man, so buckle up! But you’ll get through it and learn a lot about yourself through each experience.

If someone made a movie about your life, what would it be called and who would play you?

“Zac Efron plays inspirational wunderkind AJ Aguirre as part spy, part Olympic athlete, part entrepreneurial sensation, and part humanitarian with natural zoos in every continent.” Just kidding. I take myself about as seriously as a pig at a sock hop!

Is there anything else you think we should know about you?

In September 2021, I was diagnosed with stage-four lymphoma. I completed six rounds of chemo and 20 rounds of radiation. This February, I celebrated being in remission for two years. As a result, I am passionate about supporting organizations that fund blood cancer research, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is very dear to me. In fact, the research they funded developed the RCHOP drug that saved my life. I didn’t actually know this until after I reached remission. They have really unique ways to be involved, including my favorite, Shred For Red. You get to help further cancer research, while skiing with Olympians!

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