Samantha Alvarez spent the last 15 months in hospitals and ER’s as a front line worker helping fight the COVID pandemic. We discussed that experience in length in the last episode of the show. Today, I get the chance to jump back in with her and explore the many facets of her work and life.
In this conversation we explore Samantha’s three tiered approach to work and projects and how she decides what to focus on at any given time. She works and lives in a multidisciplinary fashion — which is a lot of fun to explore.
While this could be viewed as a “part 2”, it very much stands on its own. If you’d like to tune into our last conversation, just go back an episode in the podcast feed and you should find it.
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In this episode you’ll learn:
- What Samantha does
- The different manifestations of work in her life
- How many language she speaks conversationally
- How to start learning other languages
- Her early career pursuits
- How a sales couch helps businesses
- How she overcame the negativity in sales
- Where the idea of sales being evil came from
- How to embrace the “screw up”
- How she moved through uncertainties in her life
- How to reinvent yourself without fear
- Overcoming the mountain that is keeping us stuck
Software Generated Transcription:
Samantha, thank you once again for joining me on the show. Welcome to the podcast.
Thank you so much for having me back, Dan, it’s a pleasure to be here.
So this is new to me that doing a follow up interview like this, but last time we went so many fun and fantastic places, but feels like there’s so much more for us to dig into. So really excited to jump in. I think the question I want to begin with the one is that I always begin with and we started with last time, but let’s just start there again, which is how, again, you talk about what you do in the world.
Absolutely. You know, I’ve been thinking about this since we last talked because I have the same feeling about it and I started talking about it. It’s kind of describes more. Our last conversation was really focused on the last year of my life. And but before that, I had a lot of stuff going on. So when I talk about what I do in my life, I usually give three distinct areas that I really focus on. Who I am and who I am defines what I do and how I create meaning in life.
And the first level is relationship. That includes communication. That includes a lot of the sales stuff that I do, that includes relationship with myself and the environment. I’m really and these are in order, by the way. So my first tier of what I do is related to relationship. The second tier of what I do is related to language and music. And in my mind, they’re very much interrelated. I learn and study and play with languages and music very much the same way, and then includes when I say language that also includes the culture and the people and all those kind of ancillary things.
And the third tier of what I do is related to health, health care and education. And again, like language music. These are very much interrelated in my head. I spent a lot of time in my 20s trying to do everything to everybody all of the time. And that was interesting. I always had something to do in something to go toward. But it was also frustrating because I remember looking at a college catalog once and counting and thinking I could conceivably, realistically enjoy 53 of these majors.
What am I going to do with my 19 year old self at that point?
And it’s much helpful now, you know, a decade or two later to really sit down and think, OK, these are the things that really, really I value and where I’ve put them most of my attention and intention to make my mark on the world. So relationship language, music and health care and education.
I love it. It’s very cool having those. Yeah. Kind of tiers maybe. I think it’s the word use. I picture kind of like a Venn diagram of sorts. And I imagine that you’re using those as guideposts, that your work has taken a lot of different manifestations. And I think that work probably in this conversation needs a few different definitions. One is things you do because you enjoy doing them and because it’s contributions that you want to make.
And then there’s also the things that you do that there’s maybe some overlap there, but then also that that pay the bills. And what are some of the manifestations that work has taken, you know, I guess, as viewed through those lenses in your life?
You know, the way you ask that question, the way you studied that question definitely inspired me because I was thinking about those three tiers because tiers one and three, that the relationship and health care and education very much relate to for for passion, for fun and profit, whereas number two has very much for me, purposefully been not for profit. I don’t do anything to make money related to languages or music music, especially because I derive such primal delight and joy from them that it actually causes me pain almost to think about trying to make money off of them.
I mean, sure, as an entrepreneur, I tried to make a language business at one point. I mean, sure, it’s a thing I do. Everybody knows me for it. Yes, I tried it, but I actually dropped it very quickly in because I realized no one. What I wanted to do was just talk about learning languages. I didn’t want to teach other people how to do it. I didn’t want to be in that role.
No. One, it doesn’t tend to pay very well the way I wanted to do it. And number two, I just wanted to talk about it. And with music in particular, I had professional my dad’s a professional musician and I was looking into going into singing professionally at one point. And I was I thought about it very consciously. And I realized after a couple of years of lessons as a teenager, I derived so much just childlike wonder and joy.
From doing this. And number two, again, it does not pay very well unless you’re, you know, do certain things that I didn’t want to do because I love classical singing, that I realized this is a part of my life that I’m always going to do for joy. And I’ve always sang in community choirs, in church choirs, in by myself, in the shower, in the car, like I sing for joy. And I’ve never tried to use any off of it.
And that has made my life better, whereas I can’t remember if I mentioned this last time or not. But I’ve had 65 jobs in my life and I bounced around from everything from delivering three or four different kinds of papers to food service, to bookstores, to a bunch of different jobs while I was in college. And then I kind of honed in on health care and education. And I also support the charities that I support are also related directly to health, education, health care or some combination of the three, because I’ve now finally been able to focus my boundless interest and energies into a direction.
And that has really served me well in how I decide whether to do projects or not, because, you know, again, I have so much interest and curiosity and energy towards like I want to try that. I want to try that. I want to try that. Is this shiny object, is this foma or is this just is this genuinely like, wow, I want to support this cause or I want to try this thing to see what it means to me.
And the way you ask that last question really triggered something for me, which has ironically been a problem in some of my relationships. I treat my passion projects the same as I treat work when I’m and you’re absolutely right that for me, I need to redefine work, especially in the context of the workaholism that we mentioned in our last episode, that when I start to learn a language, I learn a language to have a conversation within a week or two and to have a significant conversation like 15 minutes long, 10, 15 minutes with a native speaker and on a variety of topics within three months.
That is not something you can do without taking it very seriously and consistently. And, you know, an hour or two, a day of dedicated study and talking to other people and getting a out like it’s it’s an undertaking for me when I take on a new project and it’s tons of fun and I tell everybody about, oh, my God, I’m learning Mandarin. It’s so exciting, blah, blah, blah. I love the characters. Like, I talk about it constantly.
And yet it also requires a couple hours a day of dedicated work. And I mentioned this just a couple of minutes ago. This has caused problems in some of my relationships because I’m like, all right, I’m going to go swimming for fun. And but I got to get at least this many. You know, I got a stroke at least as many times with many laps or whatever it is like, dude, go play. Come on.
I bet you do. And I have to very constantly and consistently remind myself of how much fun I’m having by having these experiences. I’m an experienced learner. I go and try things and try new things just for fun and to no one, not take life so seriously. And number two, to remember, to enjoy the moment, be mindful of the moment and be present with what you’re doing. Because a lot of the things that I’m doing are exciting.
They’re fun stories. And it’s easy to forget when you’re in the middle of all that, like, oh, yeah, I’m having fun.
I’m enjoying this.
I love it. I love it. How many languages can you speak conversationally?
Conversationally. So most people don’t ask that question in the right way. You actually did what you really like. Yes. Most people say something like, oh, she speaks like a million languages, like, you know, conversational.
Yeah. I think conversation gives you a measure.
Exactly. Conversationally. I can speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
I have been conversational in the past in German, Italian, Mandarin and Japanese, but it’s been long enough and I lived in most of those all those places except for Italy at some point while I was learning the language.
And but over time I just don’t keep them up and find it. It does. It’s a very perishable skill, languages. And at first, gosh, I treated it like work like, OK, I got to maintain all these languages. I have to spend fifteen minutes a day. I write sarcophagi, tra la la la la la la. And that was exhausting and stupid. And I realized that I was just. Beating myself up and creating work for my workaholic ego to say, like to be able to say to people, I make eight languages.
Well, I don’t. And that’s OK. I am much more at peace now with. I studied abroad in Japan for six months and I lived with a bunch of Vietnamese girls who didn’t speak any English. And I went to school every day in Japanese. So every once in a while somebody from that time that was in a couple of years, about five or six years ago. So somebody from that time will reach out to me in Japanese.
And I’m like, oh, crap, I better go and my Japanese and remember what they’re talking about and pull out all my old apps. And I spend 20 or 30 minutes like looking at everything. And then I go read their message because of course it’s in Japanese characters and I’m like, oh man.
So I read the message. And then I respond to it and then we have a little back and forth. And then I’m like, oh, yay, Japanese. And if that lasts, great, go play with Japanese for a couple of days or a couple of weeks.
If not, that’s fine too.
My main purpose, the first reason I started learning languages was because I wanted to connect with people heart to heart. I saw when you talk to somebody in their own language, even if it’s like three or four words, the the way their face lights up. And so, I mean, I can say hello in probably 30 or 40 languages because every time I go a place and I usually try hello and thank you are the two, I always try to learn wherever I am.
I’ll be in Tanzania in a week. A lot of them speak English, but the most common language is Swahili. I took a Swahili class once in grad school. I don’t remember any of it. But once I get there, I was like, OK, how do I know? How do I say it’ll come back? How do I say goodbye? And it’s a sense of childlike wonder and delight, which is something I will strive for in my life because I have such a tendency to seriousness and work and accomplishment and success.
I love it. Yeah. So let’s just say, I feel like I could go back and forth with you even on that for, you know, indefinitely. But I want to really pick your brain, get inside your mind about how you navigate transitions. And I think what I’m so enamored with in the way that you think about your work is how fluid it feels in conversation. Even as you said, like you thought, your passion projects can interfere with work because you’re so passionate about them.
But maybe just to enter into that conversation, let’s just rewind, like, all the way back when you were in college, in your younger years, like where did you start? What were you pursuing at that point?
Thank you for keeping me on track. What? I’m very good at stories and tangents. So when I was in college, I actually studied psychology and Spanish to start with, and I was intending to be a psychologist. I wanted to do therapy and I just wanted to learn Spanish for fun. I didn’t want to be a teacher. As I was approaching the end of that, I realized, oh gosh, I really don’t want to be a therapist.
I realized in my second to last class, like, that’s not what I want to do. And I did not want to be a Spanish teacher. And that was really the only option going forward with that degree. So I looked into it and I thought, what do I really want to do? What do I enjoy while my dad does computers? So I actually ended up going and doing a computer degree instead. Well, in addition to instead of I did finish the second Spanish because I was like a class or two away from each, but I did computer information systems and decided I was going to go into computers.
And as I neared the end of that career, I started looking for jobs and they said either you can sit in a room and program for the next five years. That’s not going to work for incredibly extroverted me or you can sit at a helpdesk and make $7.25 an hour, which also didn’t work for me. So I sat down and thought, what do I like about computers is a career. I really like the flexibility. I like the fluidity.
I like that I can go anywhere and get a job. And I really what I really wanted to be was a bridge, a communication bridge between people and machines and computers. And I thought, where else can I get a job where I can do? Anything, anywhere where I can work anywhere with a lot of different people and I can also serve as an educator at connect people to information they don’t understand, and I dropped into nursing at that point because I was like, oh, it’s there.
We’re always in demand. You can do it anywhere. And that’s essentially what you are. You’re translating medical jargon and tests and such to humans who are at their most vulnerable. So when it’s into nursing and that’s actually what I ended up doing for a long time. So I went to nursing school, I graduated nursing school, I ran off to Cuba at that point for six months and then ran away to medical school, actually, which is a story we probably won’t be able to get into.
Then I ran away from Cuba after six months to go to nurse practitioner school. Instead, I did nurse practitioner school. That was three years in Portland, Oregon, finished nurse practitioner school and moved to Arizona. I started practicing as a nurse practitioner. I practiced for about seven years and family practice and urgent care. But after about four years, I got really, really, really burnt out. I was working 80 or 100 hours a week. I loved my job.
I loved my work. I loved my patients, I loved my coworkers, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was intensely fulfilling and yet intensely overwhelming and I couldn’t have a life. So after about four years, I started pulling back and tried a couple of things to keep myself engaged and none of it worked. So I ended up deciding to save up some money and quit and go travel for a year. So that year lasted four and a half years as a digital nomad and a serial entrepreneur.
So I left spent my my savings on a six month program in Japan where I was living in in a in a dormitory and studying every day in school and quickly realized this is what I need to do with my life right now. I can’t go back right now. I need some I need some more time off of health care. It it really is a calling. It really is a passion of mine being a health and health care. But I just couldn’t do it anymore.
So I started I couldn’t even tell you how many businesses and hustles probably three or four. Seriously, where like I’m going to make my money off of this and completely fell into sales. I had no intention of doing sales. I had no interest in doing sales. As a matter of fact, I thought sales was evil. And yet because of all my health care experience, I ended up applying for this online position where I was helping an entrepreneur talk to principal investigators and research assistance to help them find participants for their research trials.
And so it was an ethical right, like it was a really easy sell for somebody who doesn’t have sales experience, like, hey, I’ve got all the insider knowledge, I’m passionate. I want to do this. I want to work with you. I beat out 147 applicants, apparently, to get a job, including people with like fifteen years experience because of my drive and persuasiveness and industry knowledge. And I ended up doing that for about a year and a half and getting professional sales coaching for year and a half.
And I thought, I love what I’m doing, but I want to do what he’s doing. I want to get paid to educate other people about how sales is just talking to people about who they are, what they have, what they want, what they want to do. You’re creating dreams with people. And I started connecting with that and being like, oh, wow, my grandpa did sales and he was really good at it and I had a really special relationship with him.
But I was too busy thinking sales was evil to think about following in his footsteps. Yeah, but it became very clear very quickly that when I’m doing something that I believe in and there’s all kinds of conversations you can go to and in sales for that. But when I’m you know, I sold a lot of things in the following four or five years as a digital nomad, yoga teacher, trainings, education programs, my own coaching programs, all kinds of fun stuff.
And as long as I was selling something that I believed in, I have a gift for helping people tell their own future story and helping them bring it into reality and ethical, heart centered, souls centered, whatever fancy term you want to use, everybody’s got their own sales, which is what I do. I call it being a light worker as opposed to a dark worker. I work for the light as long as you are doing that. I have this ability to help people tell their own story, and that is so much fun.
Yes. Oh my gosh. I have a client right now who’s struggling with something in her business and it actually has to do with her own judgments about the business and about the business owner. And she’s the sales rep and just having conversations about what that means to her and what it looks like and where that came from. That is so fun for me and deeply satisfying to have those conversations. And of course, I’m also like, hey, you’ve got a 15,000 dollar product that you’re selling that you’re only closing one out of.
I think it’s eight or 10. I can help you close one out of three or one out of four. Like you can make an extra, you know, 30 grand a month. It’s an easy sell as a business coaching or a sales coaching. Yeah, but oftentimes the meat and potatoes, which is funny coming from a vegetarian, but the meat and potatoes of the coaching is actually in the personal growth from the sales itself.
I love it.
It sounds like it sounds like in some ways it’s view sales as coaching in some way.
Well, I build myself as a sales coach. Yeah. Yeah, I did sales for a couple of years, but my passion and I thoroughly enjoy it. But my deeper passion is the education part. But sales is really about helping people tell their own story. You know, and I’m talking about transformational sales. I’m not talking about transactional sales. Like I’m selling you a pair of shoes. I’m talking about trends. I can’t remember what I transitional whatever word I just used.
Transformational sales where they’re actually going to have something different or be someone different or be able to do something different at the end of it. That is a coaching process for who you can be at the end of the. And when they realize that it’s big.
Yeah, they get so excited and like, wow, I can’t wait to do this thing. And they succeed because they’re telling themselves this story.
Yeah, yeah, and just to be clear, you’re talking about that from the standpoint of the consumer, the end buyer, correct? Or are you talking about sharing, talking about it from the standpoint of the sales professionals that you work with?
I was talking about that from the perspective of the consumer. When you’re doing a sales call and you’re talking with somebody about something that’s going to transform them. That is the transformation for them. There is similar to that when I’m when I’m coaching people because they recognize a big part of sales coaching, for example, is getting people to listen to their own calls, which nobody wants to do. I don’t want to do it either. It’s measurable.
Oh, my God. It’s so easy to think of.
Like listening to your own podcast. Right.
Is it now, Dan, would you know anything about that?
I do. I do know a little bit. A little bit.
And I get the feedback and help them with everything, but just. Just engaging with it and being there and holding them. Number one holding their feet to that fire, but also supporting them to not be hard on themselves for it because. Yes, it’s it’s hard. It’s scary. It’s and it’s incredibly transformational to actually listen to yourself and what you’re doing. And now, of course, to be contextually clear, I’m talking about coaching sales representatives on doing their own sales calls, like when they’re in that space of actually working with that taffy, of how did I do, how it was, what was I thinking?
What can I do next time?
I find that very fun? And I find that also very fulfilling to see them get that moment where they’re like, oh, that’s what I could have done. that’s what they were thinking.
Mhm. Yeah. I feel like part of this portion of your journey that I kind of wanted to drill into that I think is super interesting because it’s a shift that a lot of us need to take with our work.
At some point you went from having this belief that sales were evil in some way or this maybe felt you had a feeling maybe it was. I don’t know if you actually have said that at the time, but you had had an aversion to it because of that message that was associated with it. And then that shifted for you. And I think this is super important because we often have these kinds of beliefs about what we should or shouldn’t do or what type of work is appropriate or not appropriate.
And I’m curious for you first, your thoughts on where that message came from in your life. You know, where in your story did that narrative, I guess, originate? And then second, just more about how you overcame that and changed that narrative.
I’m going to ignore your question, but not ignore your question, because I think I’m pretty sure this is relevant. I’m just not sure how it’s going to get there. Sure. Because I want to tell you a story. I’m climbing Kilimanjaro in seven days with my dad. At the moment, I’m feeling terrified. A week ago, I was confident and excited and all of those things and the feelings keep changing. And when I tell people I’m going to Tanzania, I’m climbing a mountain.
I did Mount Fuji with my dad when I was studying abroad in Japan. Like I’ve done similar things to it, but nothing of this magnitude. Yeah. And consistently, at least half of people will ask for one thing, when I tell them I’m doing this, they want a picture from the top. That’s what they want. They want me to send them a picture. All they want is the picture. They don’t want words. They don’t want to talk to me about it.
They don’t want to engage with me on it. Interesting. That, to me is a very disappointing response, because that’s not why I’m climbing this mountain. I am not climbing this mountain to get to the top and show other people that I got to the top of the mountain. I am climbing this mountain to climb a mountain. That’s it. I’m doing this for the experience. I’m doing this because I can essentially like I just want to do this because it’s out there and it can be done.
And I wanted to have this special experience with my dad. I want to create this experience together. So this is hitting my relationship. It’s hitting my culture. It’s hitting stuff I love about travel and adventure. And I do not care. I honestly people often don’t believe me when I tell them this, but I truly do not care if I get to the top of the mountain. It does not matter to me. If I get to the top, I’ll be excited.
Sure, I’ll take the picture and I’ll probably put it on Facebook and probably be my whatever picture for a while because I have an ego, right? Like, sure, I’m human. I want to show off. But my deeper purpose for doing this is not to show off is not for my ego. It’s because I want to have this experience. And I feel the same way about my career. Like I felt like. Wow, and I did I said, I think sales are evil when I started doing this and it took me six months to really come around to that.
As a matter of fact, I do not share this story often or lightly because it paints me in such a bad lie. But that’s, you know, the point of podcasts like this is to allow me to be vulnerable in a space where you give me that space to do it. But the first six months of my sales career, I used a fake Australian accent. I was working for an Australian company. And I thought that the customers that’s how you relate to customers as you share create rapport with them by blah, blah, blah, by being like them.
So I faked an Aussie accent for six months. Oh, my God. Why did you do it? Well. Oh my God. And my boss, who was of course Australian after you know, I trained for, you know, a month or six weeks or whatever, and then he said, all right, go, go do your thing. And then after six months. He came in and dropped in and a couple of calls to listen to me, and we got to the colonies like what the hell was that?
Hell is not actually the word he used. Yeah, he said, what was that? And I said, oh, I was I was creating rapport. And he helped me tear apart that that fear. But he was also a very good coach that I thought I needed to be somebody else. I literally could not be myself and do sales. I felt so a virgin. I had such an aversion. I like that word that she used to it, that I could not in good conscience be myself and sell.
And it took time even after those six months, it took me probably another six months to really come to terms with it. As I you know, I’m talking to you now very fluidly and very fluently because I’ve been doing this since 2014. So that’s what, seven years now? I’m doing sales and talking about sales. But at first it was very difficult for me and I thought it was just wrong. That’s not me. I have these beliefs.
You know, you’re taking advantage of people. It’s a zero sum game. If I win, you lose. Like, none of that is true in transformational sales when you’re doing a sale is going to make their life better or the world better in some way. It is a win win win. It’s a win for you. It’s a win for them and it’s a win for the world.
Yeah. Yeah, I love it. I love it. So I’m curious if you have stories or awareness of where did that idea that sales are evil come from?
I do. It’s mostly vague. It’s very cultural. Right. Like I think a lot of us grew up with that. You know, I grew up very much. I’ve done a lot of internal work and self personal development and all that jazz. I’ve done many years of that. And, you know, mindfulness meditation and looking at my own internal biases and such, and absolutely I grew up with a lot of negative stereotypes around money, money doesn’t grow on trees.
Rich people are evil. Money is evil. Having money will make you evil. I had lots of those. And those are stories I heard growing up from family members, from television, from growing up in a modest home, in a fairly rural area. Like we didn’t have people around us who were doing this kind of transformational sale, who were doing entrepreneurial things. I grew up in a town of 20000 people, which is three. Hours from the nearest major airport and four and a half hours from the nearest international airport, we don’t have a lot of influence of urban thinking or liberal values or things like that.
We have a lot of very conservative, very narrow ways of thinking about things here. And that’s what I grew up with. I didn’t leave that until I was 23 or 24. And I did not develop that fluidity that you mentioned earlier that I very much appreciate, you know, because the fluidity of the mountain climbing is just the same as the fluidity of, hey, I’m going to go try this thing. And if it works great, if it doesn’t work great, I didn’t grow up with that.
And very specifically, salespeople and sales in general are portrayed very negatively. And I think I know the statistics for this. But of the the past 20 years, they’ve done a survey of who is the most trusted professional in America and who is the least trusted professional in America.
And I have been number one and number last every year for the past seven years since I’ve been doing sales. Except I know that’s true. Every year nurses have not been number one most trusted, except for 2001 after 9/11 than firefighters were the most trusted. Other than that, every year in the past 20 years, nurses are the most trusted profession in America, and being a nurse is part of my identity. I love it. It’s deeply fulfilling. It’s very hard work.
So I have to moderate how much I can do and maintain my own personal safety and not so much safety, but stability and sanity. Sanity, that’s the word sanity. Yes. And I and I had to come to terms with I think it was 87 percent of people think nurses are completely trustworthy and 13 percent of people think that salespeople are completely trustworthy. It’s it’s the lowest of any profession. And I’m both of those things.
I’m not doing medical sales right. Like I’m doing, you know, education and coaching and sales. So I am both the most and the least trustworthy professional. And to intermix and to mesh those two things and bring them together and bring that into my own identity, because being a salesperson is now absolutely a core part of my identity, as is being in health and education and having to merge those two is, you know, I’ll do one more and then I’ll let you pull me back in.
Probably the number one way that I helped develop this fluidity is language learning, because when you’re learning a new language, I’m an avowed perfectionist. For most of my life, everything had to be perfect. I would go way over the top and blah, blah, blah. But when you start learning languages, the goal in the course that I wrote on language learning is to make at least 100 mistakes a day, preferably 200 mistakes a day, because the more mistakes you make, the better you get.
And you have to embrace the screw up and run headlong into screwing as much up as possible. And as I did that, I was really able to let go of the the grabbing so tightly to the result of something and realize like, hey, I’m doing this because it’s important to me and or important to people around me. I care. It’s relevant to me and it’s enjoyable. I have something I’m working toward. Great. Do it.
If it works great. If it doesn’t work great, it’s all OK. If it doesn’t work out, go do something else. Yeah, it really helped me develop that fluidity of and flexibility of my mental model, both of myself and of the world.
Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. That’s super interesting and that’s exactly the direction I wanted to go. I was asking you to talk about that. This, all these transitions. It’s easy from the outside for someone to look at just how much you’ve been able to reinvent yourself in many ways, reinvent your career and feel like that’s just kind of a foreign foreign experience because of a lot of people, a lot of us, the human experience when we get to these moments where we’re not sure what’s next, there can be a lot of fear, anxiety, uncertainty that can keep us from taking that step, taking that leap out to say, OK, I’m going to quit my job as a nurse and become a digital nomad for a while.
And I’m curious about, you know, you just spoke to it in your you know, that language, language learning provided a model for you to approach how you navigate these transitions. But I’m curious if you have any other thoughts or additional thoughts about moments when you felt stuck or uncertain and how you moved through that uncertainty?
You know, the things that are coming up for me are deeply personal, and some of them I won’t be able to share, but I will tell you that I have lost everything I held dear twice in my life. And neither of them is something I can share about. But both of them are way, way harder than anything I’m talking about here. So having lost everything the second time in particular, you know that becoming a digital nomad like, you know, I had a six figure career.
I was doing really well. They wanted they’d already give me my own practice. They wanted to make me the assistant medical director of the entire system, like I had a really good career path ahead of me as a nurse practitioner before I left due to the burnout. And most people and myself in many situations would have continued that. And but instead I gave up purposefully everything physical that I held dear. Right. I gave away all of my things.
I lived out of a suitcase. I had I had nothing of my own other than what I could fit in a carry on suitcase for. Four and a half years of those years that I was traveling, I gave everything away or sold it most. I gave it away. I said goodbye to all of my family and friends and and my career path. And I kept the job kind of part time. I came back every six or 12 months to do a couple of weeks worth to keep my license and such.
But I really just, like, completely designed myself afresh. And people consistently are like, wow, how could you ever do that? It wasn’t that scary. Yeah, it was scary. It was terrifying, but in part because I had lost everything before. And I also, you know, childhood wise. I grew up in a very unstable situation, which also included a lot of transitions that I really just had no choice but to make. Yeah, this was, relatively speaking, not that big of a deal to me.
Yeah. To give all of my stuff away because it was just stuff. And, you know, I’d always been an adventurous traveling soul. So the people who knew me well, I mean, sure they were surprised, like, oh wow, you’re giving up your job and going to do this thing. But the ones who knew me well recognized this as part of my persona. Like, I’ve been working up to this for a long time. I was about 30 when I did that, some of the early 30s, something like that, when I gave everything up and just ran off and said, I’m going to go and do this.
And as we’ve talked about in here, like I’ve reinvented myself several times since then because I don’t have fear about the future of the reinvention. And that’s a lot of the power behind being able to do this. Yeah, No. One, I’ve seen worse multiple times in my life. Number two, I’ve done worse on purpose to myself before and no longer. You know, I don’t feel fear about running off to try this new thing, because if it doesn’t work, I have made peace with the fact that, you know, Kilimanjaro, only two out of three people make it to the top.
And I’m like, OK, if I don’t make it. I did the thing. If my dad doesn’t make it, we did the thing and we did it together like I did. If one of us didn’t make it, I don’t know whether we’d both go. I don’t know how that works. And sure, I think about it, but it doesn’t. It does not create ego stress on me to have things not work or not go well, even if I have invested a lot of, you know, Kilimanjaro right from you know, I normally do travel like I’ll I’ll travel on points.
I’ll find some local guide to show up three days in advance. I’ll find somebody who’s got an extra spot on his trip. I could probably travel hack a little bit.
Oh my gosh. I will travel hack the crap out of that and probably do this entire trip for three, four, maybe five grand. And you know, this trip is I don’t know, I stopped keeping track at one point. But between the two of us, it’s it’s a lot more than that because my dad is is older and he wants to stay in nice places. And we’re going with an American tour company, which is twice as much and blah, blah, blah.
But hey, I’m doing this with my dad. So the the North Star for me. And it’s you know, I’ve talked about those three tiers of the relationship, language, music and health, education. I’ve owned those for a solid five, maybe ten years of my life now where I recognize this is the direction I’m going. And it’s very intuitive for me to compare what I’m doing, you know? Well, actually, this whole trip is an example of that.
I have a life goal of climbing the Inca trail and going to Machu Picchu. I’ve never been I’ve always wanted to do it. That’s the trip we were planning two years ago and that we were supposed to do a little over a year ago, which was, of course, canceled by the pandemic and delayed and then delayed and then delayed. And I said, you know what? I want to do a thing before I start school again. I want to do something big and I want to do with my dad and I want it to be world class.
So if I can’t do what I say, my dream is I’m going to pick the next best thing. I’m going to figure something else out. I asked a bunch of people and they said, Kilimanjaro’s what you want to do. I looked into a bunch of other stuff, but it was the most similar to what we wanted and why we wanted it. And I said, all right, done, let’s do that immediately. When I said that, my mom said, absolutely not.
You’re not going to do that with your dad. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so that we had to retool again, we’re like, all right, let’s talk to her about what her concerns are, what’s going on in her head. And we started making plans elsewhere and including her in the decision. I didn’t realize she needed to be because I go off and do whatever the heck I want. My dad can’t do that.
Yes. And then after having those conversations, she said, actually, I do want you to do that, go for it. And so here we go.
And that’s awesome. That’s awesome. I think a lot of things stand out to me of that. But just you said, you know, with these reinventions, with these transitions that you’ve taken on, that you don’t have fear about the future because you’ve seen worse and you’ve done worse. And so but I guess when you’ve seen the bottom, everything else is gravy. Mm hmm. Vegetarian gravy. And that I just think that that’s really the makes sense of a lot of these transitions in your life.
Do you think of your work from the outside, again, looking at your career path, it feels like the reality of seasons fits that you have a season of doing this or season of doing that, and you know that you’ve had a season of nursing and then you stepped away, then a season back in it. Is that an appropriate metaphor for how you experience it and how you think about it?
It’s kind of I had somebody who was coaching me a while back who was trying to get me to think about the far future.
And, you know, what do you want your future to look like and have done those kinds of exercises in the past? A number of times. And at the moment, this person was coaching me on that. I could not answer the question in the way that he wanted. I absolutely could not because he wanted me to. He wanted me to have something very. Concrete, and he wanted it to be related to the actions that I was taking and my own direction in life actually has very little to do with the actions that I’m taking or what work I’m doing.
It’s actually fairly irrelevant to me. I just don’t really think that way. And that’s partly been developing the mindfulness aspect and the direction aspect to me, despite the fact that on the outside it looks like I’ve kind of jumped here, have kind of jumped here, and then I jumped back and I go around. It actually has felt quite linear internally. I’m moving toward I’m taking a step forward every day toward who I want to be rather than what I want to be.
And as I step forward, the pandemic is a perfect example of that. Right. Like I and we talked about that last time. But, you know, I went from primarily doing sales coaching to primarily doing health care work. And it was a switch I made within the space of two weeks. You know, I went from now. Granted, the pandemic trashed my coaching practice anyway because the pandemic trashed a lot of things. Yes. But it was actually quite natural for me to make that switch, even though I went from, you know, doing one thing 40, 50, 60 hours a week to doing a different thing, 70, 80 hours a week, 90 hours a week.
But the way forward for me was this is who I need to be and this is where I need to be in this moment and the moment it felt natural for me to step back from it, which has only been in the past couple of weeks, which I think we talked about on our during our last conversation, I naturally transitioned back. Into a different life, in a different lifestyle, but it has not felt seasonal to me, even though I can see it, I’m looking at I’m like, oh, you didn’t for a while.
You did the travel for while you did the thing. Yeah. And maybe give me another couple of years. Maybe I will look back on that as seasonal. Because when you say that, for example, I was ready to stop the traveling because I was ready. Yeah. I no longer wanted to do the fast travel. I missed seeing patients. I missed the fulfillment of it. You know, I actually came back actually, come to think of it, it wasn’t the pandemic that made me make that switch.
I made that switch about a year earlier. But it was just like I said, why I went from all sales coaching to I’m going to do health care and I really want to do this again. That felt very natural for me. And it was just the way forward.
Yeah, yeah. I feel like the way that that analogy doesn’t work and I think it could maybe it feels it doesn’t encompass the change of who you are in the midst of it, I think. Yeah, maybe it’s two dimensional, not three dimensional enough or four dimensional, whatever it would be to really say, yeah, you may have been doing this thing from the outside, but from the inside, when you returned to these places, you’re returning as a different person than you were the last time you were there, which I think is a really beautiful when you think about it.
You nailced it, because when I think about your question, it’s like, yes, it was absolutely seasonal. I did this thing and I did this thing from a career perspective and from the work that I was doing. But internally, it was continuous and linear without any significant seasonal change, even when there were very specific demarcations of changing from here to here. I did not experience a seasonal change internally, even as my external environment and the work that I was doing on a daily basis changed because I was doing those work for the same reasons and with the same priorities in mind.
Yeah, I love it.
That makes a lot of sense and that really resonates with me, my own experience and meandering sometimes career path. And as we move towards wrapping up, I know a lot of people listening are considering a change, often looking for what that change needs to be and whether that’s like I felt need like I really need to get out of this job or need to change a specific thing or just like I just want more from my work. I’m curious if you have any words of wisdom or guidance for people that are in those places where they might feel anxious about the future and about, you know, taking a leap, taking a risk.
Yeah. Anything that you would offer if you just speak directly to listeners about that.
Be the change, don’t do the change. What’s really helped me in my path and stopping things to be internally seasonal or internally flip flopping and internally because I used to get really frustrated with myself, oh, god, I’m changing again, blah, blah, blah, or I’m really frustrated. I don’t know how to get out of this and I would feel really frustrated with that.
And when I would try to force a change or try to do something, even if I’m doing internal work to be like I’m going to make this work, I’m going to figure who I need, yeah, yeah. I’m going to do this thing.
And I found that when I stopped trying to control the situation by what I was doing and instead to experience and or spend time and attention and intention with who I want to be, because usually when we feel stuck, it’s stuck. Nice to me is something our body is trying to tell us. If you’re hungry, you eat. If you’re thirsty, you drink. If you feel stuck, you change. It’s just your internal clock, soul, body, whatever, telling you, hey, I need a change.
It doesn’t have to be this big deal that you judge yourself or you get angry with yourself or because you can spend an incredible amount of energy on resisting the change or even just being frustrated and angry about the fact that the change needs to happen because, hey, it was hard to let go of a six figure job to go do nothing, quote unquote, for a while as a thirty something. But when I just sat with it and was like, why do I want to do this?
Why is this so important to me? And I got in touch with who I wanted to be. It was a much easier decision to make because most people, when you’re stuck, you know what you need to do. You know exactly what you need to do. You’re just afraid to do it. Hmm. Or you don’t know exactly how to do it or you don’t know the first step or something. But usually it’s not the step to take.
It’s the fear. Yeah, it’s not really that hard to put one step in front of another to climb a mountain, whether you get to the top or not making the decision to do that and doing all the planning to get to that point. Oh, wow, that’s a lot of work and a lot of mental things. It’s a lot of people questioning you in answering it and whatnot. But whatever your mountain is, if you just look at the top and who you want to be at the top, you can be that person now and walk towards that within that knowledge and that beingness.
I love that, I love that and focus on that by focusing on the who who you are, who you are becoming. It makes the what or how. Yeah. Less less painful and less, um, it takes some of the fear out, I think. Yes. It’s a beautiful, beautiful invitation. Thank you for that.
Well thank you again for the second time coming on the show. It’s just been so fun.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so much of this. So much. Just who you are and how you how you view the world just resonates deeply with me. And I know that it will with listeners as well. For anyone who wants to follow along with your work, is there anything specific you’d like to invite p eople to?
Www.samalvarez.com samalvarez.com. I should enunciate that clearly is the best way to go.
Beautiful. I’ll make sure to put links to that in the show notes. I’ll be thinking of you as you hike up that climb up that mountain and that that journey is everything that you hoped would be. It sounds like an amazing, amazing experience on the horizon for you. So good luck and best. But traveling mercies, I guess, is an appropriate word. Thank you again for being on the show
And thank you so much for the second time for having me.
I’ve really enjoyed this.