June 8, 2021

31 : A Three Month Sabbatical That Changed Everything with Eric Sanabria

“It forced me to be intentional about every choice that I make and that every choice can have a consequential impact.  Obviously not everything is gonna be life-changing, but at least treat every decision, every moment that life presents you with the attention it deserves.” - Eric Sanabria

Welcome to the Mindful FIRE Podcast, where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond. I’m your host Adam Coelho and I’m so glad you’re here.

In today’s episode I’m joined by my good friend Eric Sanabria. Eric and I used to work together at Google and now Eric is the Chief Business Officer for Oyster Financial in Mexico city.

In this episode, Eric and I explore how he came to learn to trust himself and his intuition about what he really needed during a difficult period in his life and how he ultimately took a three month sabbatical from his work at Google and how that sabbatical redefined his life and his priorities.

Eric felt this need within himself to take a break and he trusted this intuition and this feeling of simply one to take some time off, turn inward and to go to Mexico, to play his guitar. And that's exactly what he did.

One thing that stands out to me about this whole conversation is how important it is to take a step back sometimes to slow down, to create some space where we can turn down the volume and the busy-ness so that we can see more clearly what's going on in our minds and our hearts and our bodies.

And really that's what he did with this three months sabbatical. He cleared some space to go to Mexico, to play music, to work on the book, the artist's way, which included a lot of journaling and self exploration. And he really came to understand what's important to him, what he wants to get out of life and make some pretty big changes, ultimately resulting in him living and working in Mexico.

In this episode, Eric share some concrete practices for how you can tap into what it is you need, what it is you want, and to work through some of the limiting beliefs that might be coming up that tell you that you shouldn't pursue what you feel you need and how to deal with that using journaling, mindfulness and other techniques .

I really enjoyed this episode with my friend Eric sanabria. I think there's a lot of wisdom here.  I learned a lot. It was a very reflective episode for me. I hope that you enjoy it as well.

Connect with Eric Sanabria

Books Mentioned

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Adam Coelho: welcome to The Mindful Fire Podcast, where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond I'm your host, Adam Coelho and I'm so glad you're here. 

On today's episode. I'm joined by my friend Eric Sanabria. Eric and I used to work together at Google and now Eric is the VP of revenue operations for Oyster Financial in Mexico city. 

In this episode, Eric and I explore how he came to learn to trust himself and his intuition about what he really needed during a difficult period in his life and how he ultimately took a three month sabbatical from his work at Google and how that sabbatical really redefined his life and his priorities.

 I found this conversation really interesting because Eric felt all of the pressures that we all feel in work and in life to just keep going.

 Eric felt this need within himself to take a break and he trusted this intuition and this [00:01:00] feeling of simply one to take some time off, turn inward and to go to Mexico, to play his guitar. And that's exactly what he did.

 One thing that stands out to me about this whole conversation is how important it is to take a step back sometimes to slow down, to create some space where we can turn down the volume and the busy-ness so that we can see more clearly what's going on in our minds and our hearts and our bodies.

And really that's what he did with this three months sabbatical. He cleared some space to go to Mexico, to play music, to work on the book, the artist's way, which included a lot of journaling and self exploration. And he really came to understand. What's important to him, what he wants to be getting out of life and made some pretty big changes ultimately resulting in him, living and working in Mexico. 

 In this episode, Eric share some concrete practices for how you can tap into what it is you need, what it is you want, and to work through some of the limiting [00:02:00] beliefs that might be coming up that tell you that you shouldn't pursue what you feel you need and how to deal with that using journaling, mindfulness and other techniques .

I really enjoyed this episode with my friend Eric sanabria. I think there's a lot of wisdom here.  I learned a lot. It was a very reflective episode for me. hope that you enjoyed as well. 

You can find the full show notes for today's episode, including all of the books, links, and resources we discussed mindful fire.org/ 31.

   Let's jump into today's episode. 


Welcome to the mindful fire podcast. Eric. It's great to have you. 

Eric Sanabria: Good to see you, brother. It's been awhile. 

Adam Coelho: It has.  I'm excited to dive into a lot of topics today, but really exploring how, taking a three month sabbatical  allowed you to look inward and determine what direction you [00:03:00] wanted to go with your life.

But before we get into that, I'd love for you to just tell the audience a little bit about, a little bit about who you are and what you're up to in the world. 

Eric Sanabria: Yeah.  I'm Salvadorian. My parents immigrated to the States in the eighties. I was born in the United States but of Salvadorian heritage and grew up most of my life in Los Angeles.

And then I moved to the East coast to go to school. Thought I was going to go into politics and that was my jam. Everything related to social justice and all of that. So everything I was doing during college was revolving around that.  Having impacted that scalable and positive around the world has always been where I anchor myself on.

I moved to San Francisco thinking I was going to continue doing that. It was 2010 and we're coming out of a recession and I was really seeing the sausage being made within politics and I just realized that it wasn't the path for me.

And then I saw what was going around in San Francisco and, didn't really know much about Silicon Valley, but just felt like this was another way to have an impact and jumped right into that [00:04:00] scene. So I've been working in tech the last 10 years or so.

And the last big stint was at Google five years where I met you and your brother and which was a great training ground for me, but eventually I decided to move on and I'm now in Mexico as the VP of revenue and operations here at a FinTech called oyster financial that is focused  on, providing financial tools and providing basically a financial platform for small businesses here in Mexico.

So that is a little bit about me. 

Adam Coelho: Very good. Thank you for the overview.  One thing that stands out to me is you had that recognition early that you wanted to have a positive, scalable impact on the world and it sounds like that really guided you in the early kind of exploration of politics and then ultimately realizing, okay, maybe politics is not the path for me, but  the tech industry might provide a good platform for me to do this.

Can you talk a little bit more about how that guides you as you're making decisions [00:05:00] and thinking about, the direction for your life?

Eric Sanabria: So I'd love to say that it's something that  I'm constantly going back to, but  what fascinated me about  technology was that it was willing to push against the norms, push against what was already established and maybe breaking some of the rules  in order to make that impact in order to make something big and scalable happen.

And I just felt like that was something that going through politics and those traditional means  it wasn't gonna happen and  I felt like it was  not grounded on actually trying to make a difference.

And so I keep going back to that because  it was that interest, that thing that kind of I want to try something else that kind of pushed me into tech because I feel like the first couple of years I was in rooms where I feel like I had no business being in like in rooms where it started in venture capital.

I had no idea of what I was doing there. I just felt like  I saw this room full of old white guys, making decisions, writing checks and it felt like [00:06:00] at some point they were inventing the future because, the first sets of ideas get presented to these guys.

And so they're the ones saying, yay, negating it. And I just felt like I want to be one of these guys. And so part of it was leaning into that curiosity and trusting that whatever I learned in politics I can bring into this field. I was a geography and government double major.

So I, I didn't have anything related to economics under my belt, but I knew that I knew how to solve problems. I knew how to break down a bigger issue into smaller chunks and maybe that's  a liberal arts education or what have you. But  that's what allowed me to like.

Take those initial first steps. And so  the first couple of years in my career was really alright, let's learn, let's be humble. And let's just get in the trenches. And that's really what one of my mentors encouraged me. He's do you want to be one of these guys?

You got it, get it. You're not going to just write checks. No, one's just going to trust someone who has an opinion about a certain thing. You've had to have to cut your teeth in it. And so for me, it was spending  the first couple of years of my career, you're [00:07:00] learning and absorbing.

And then eventually I got to a point in the startup that I was working at, that it was working there for about two and a half years. It was sports startup. I'm not even a sports guy, but again, this is part of this kind of training ground that I put myself through that eventually I realized that I I was hitting the point.

It was like, I'm learning, but I'm not in it all the way. And so decided to part ways. At that point, didn't even have a job lined up. Had a friend who had posted a job description for the team that we were in at Google and I just applied like, you know what, this is going to be a great opportunity for me to polish my interview skills still don't know really what I want to do, but, in my Google's philosophy and the scale that they do you know what an honor it would be if they were to ask me to interview because I just submitted my resume.

And then it was like one interview after the next and after the next and after what seven interviews and then they eventually asked me to join. 

And  I deciding to look at the time of Google is okay, how to look at things  at the grander scale with Google and [00:08:00] continuing to go back of like, all right, let's do something that matters.

 That's something that Googlers anchor themselves on do something that matters. And so that was, the fuel for a lot of what I was doing during that time at Google. But eventually it got to a point where I was like, all right, how much am I going to continue to need to prove myself or learn, or put myself through this, bootcamp.

 Because I wasn't doing what I wanted to do , even though I didn't have it defined, the day-to-day work wasn't fulfilling. It was challenging. I was surrounded by amazing intelligence colleagues, but it wasn't, filling me with a bunch of zest to come into the office.

 Perhaps it's the way I was looking at the work that I was doing, perhaps there's also that. But there was also a separate part that I knew that I wasn't really coming back to that initial fire that led me to go into tech would have led me to social justice work way back when in my teenage years.

 So  there was this internal tension that was saying that I wasn't being authentic too. Myself. And  I started to recognize that tension. That, and on top [00:09:00] of other personal things that were happening it wasn't just professional, right?

Like you don't just decide to, take a break from work just for professionals. At least it wasn't for me. was dealing with depression, anxiety on the personal front, the professional part was actually the most stable part, but it was also like part of this general malaise that was underneath me.

And so after months and months of dealing with it and realizing that I like hit sort of a rock bottom,  I spent months quote unquote, digging myself out of it. But the therapy has been journaling through more healthy life choices realize that  I wasn't ready to jump into the next thing.

Cause at work it was always like, all right, cool. You conquered this thing, where are you off to next? And I knew that those conversations are going to have happened with my director. And I was honest with myself. I was like, I can't push myself right now. I can't jump into this next thing a hundred percent.

There's something in me that's saying that I need to go inward and really just sit with what is it that was causing [00:10:00] so much tension. I now had more tools  through cognitive behavioral therapy and all of that. There's okay, how'd the tools let's go in.

And so when I had that conversation with my director, it was more about what do you want to do? And I said, I want to go to Mexico and play guitar and would compose music. I'm a musician as well. It didn't say that in the intro, music's a big passion of mine and it was something I had abandoned in San Francisco where I played for two years, played in local shows.

Everybody who knows me knows that's like a big thing that, that drives me. And so I was like, you know what, let me lean in into the emotional, spiritual side and less on the  cerebral side and just do this thing. And luckily my director was immediately supportive. I thought  he's gonna say no, Eric, we cannot do that.

I had all these negative narratives built up in my head. But I decided to just push through because they were something inside me that was saying, you have to do this. And even at the end was like, what's the worst that can happen.

 So when we had that conversation that basically set the series of events that led me to where I'm at now. Okay. [00:11:00]

Adam Coelho: That's really interesting. So ultimately what you're talking about is that you took a three month sabbatical from your work at Google to go to Mexico, play guitar, focus your attention inward and do some self work to clear up where you're looking to go next instead of jumping right into the next thing.

Eric Sanabria: Yeah.   

Adam Coelho: Okay. That's very cool. One thing that stands out to me with what you just said is really that, you wanted to do this, you felt like you needed this. And yet there were still a lot of doubt, a lot of story around, they're going to say, no, this is not possible or whatever.

It sounds like you had a lot of self-awareness around what you were going through and what you needed to heal so to speak,  how did you come to that awareness? 

And then having those doubts, going into that conversation with your director how did you work through that?

 Eric Sanabria: I came to that awareness after years and years of work in therapy in having to deal [00:12:00] with, internal demons that were coming out in a way that either I deal with them now I continue to deal with, this anxiety and depression that was over my head.

 When those issues were coming up, I recognize that there was a choice.  There was a choice to deal with it. There's a choice to ignore them. And I chose to, deal with them head on and having those honest, brutal conversations with myself about what  was bothering me.

 It started with that. And so when I knew that these conversations were going to come up,  there was just this voice in my head. That was saying you got to do this. And then there is a counter voice is it's going to be really expensive. You may lose your job, like all of the negative scenarios.

And  the negative scenarios is something that's just constant. It's constant all of us, but  part of it is haven't grown up as a first-generation Latino, born immigrant parents, I was always aware of that. Okay. I don't necessarily have a safety net.  Don't want to burden my parents with, having to take care of me. So that was always that drive and perhaps that drive was also led by fear because [00:13:00] that fear of failure, that fear of not having stability.

And  for awhile, like  that fear was great. And  we all learned to internalize fear as a way to motivate us to act. But eventually it gets to a point where  we let it take way over.  So when I let that fear go on overload and I realized, okay, I need to dial it back. This fear is helpful. It's nice. It's allowed me to get to where I'm at, but this next stage of life, there's no way that I can continue to go on with it. And so then now aware of that. Okay. Who's talking right now, who's talking in that other voice. Is it this curious, adventurous Eric?

Or is it Eric that's being governed by fear? And so I  learned to dial that voice down, it's okay, good point. Yeah. It's going to cost something, but how real is it that I'm going to lose my job? 

How real is it if I just ask that it'll go bad, and what's the worst that  will happen.  It's just taking that to its next logical conclusion. Okay. You ask what if, what then?  It was [00:14:00] realizing, okay, it's not that bad. 

And so came to that awareness through a lot of work, but then eventually it was something that I learned to dial back and not listen to, which was the fear. 

Adam Coelho: Yeah. That's really interesting. It sounds like you really had to think through this, right?

Bringing awareness,  a kind awareness, mindfulness to the fact that, Hey, Oh, there's fear. There's this story about losing my job or not having the financial resources that I need to feel secure? It sounds like that's something that you had to, turn towards and really explore too understand where it was coming from and then to be able to move through it, because before, the fear was there, like we all feel, but when we're not aware of it, it runs us , instead of us recognizing it and working with it, is that something that you explored through,  journaling or, how did you do that reflection?

Because  that's something that a lot of people could benefit from. And not specifically, only with this type of thing, but with any difficult [00:15:00] emotions or situations that they're trying to work through.  

Eric Sanabria: Yeah, it was through journaling and I had gone through various  forms of therapy.

And  the one that eventually hit at that point that was resonating with me was cognitive behavioral therapy. And a lot of it is your feelings are products of your thoughts. And so then if you can really go into your thoughts and really understand what's feeding those thoughts, then you can change and influence your feelings.

It was a lot of talking through. Okay what happened in this moment that you were experiencing this panic where this anxiety and so then talking it through and going through, it's okay I'm afraid that this will happen. I was like, okay, already afraid is the core feeling, okay, let's break that down.

What are you afraid of? And then you just continue to break that down where it's  not having stability, not having a career, abandoning, a good job. Being an embarrassment. There's so many things that I continued to list off.

And so  part of it was like, okay, then how real are those? And so you just go into that same feeling. It's how real is that? How much of that is my own coloring and how much of that is reality? And then [00:16:00] how much can I change that narrative? In that moment to switch what it's doing, which was at that point was keeping me from taking a step, taking a risk. And that's really  what techniques I applied at that point to to get through recognizing that fear and going around it. 

Adam Coelho: Got it. Very interesting. And so it sounds like once you're able to do that you had the conversation sounds like it went pretty well.

So tell me a little bit about as you're looking towards this, three months off that you negotiated how are you thinking about using that time and approaching that time? 

Eric Sanabria: A lot of it was getting out of my head.  I've always been very logically driven perhaps to a fault and not really recognizing my emotions and what the spirit needed. And I was always very skeptical on the spiritual side, but  I knew that there was something outside of like just a logic and whatever is in the mind that I needed to go beyond that.

Really the planning was it's a good question because one of another mentor asked me, I was like, everybody was like celebrating and [00:17:00] really excited about me doing this. But then, she asked me, he was like what are you most afraid of in this trip?

And I had already gone over that hurdle. I was just like, yeah, it's gonna be great.  Go to Mexico, music. But it anchored me back, it didn't trigger fear, but it also reminded me as there may be moments in these three months where I'm going to be doubtful of what I'm doing in the moment and maybe would want to run back.

And so then, I had a check-in session with myself as okay why am I doing this and what are the  three pillars that I'm going to be anchoring myself on in this trip? And  I'd said it was play connection and healing. And so that at any moment in that trip, I'm not doing any of those three, then, come back to it, come back to it.

  That was the most amount of planning that I did. I anchored myself on those things. I didn't want to create  an itinerary around it. I just wanted to set those intentions and I was going to go to this trip with that.

And so even the three months, I said I'm going to pick a city I'm gonna stay there for a week. And I'm just going to trust that I'm going to find the next place to go to. And luckily  it went well and it continued to snowball and continue to evolve.

[00:18:00] It's  coming back to those three things. And there were moments where I was just trying to overcomplicate it, maybe, Oh, I got to go sight, see this, gotta practice my scales for another two hours. Didn't do it. And it's come back to those three things, come back to those three things. And  that became a great way to shape the sabbatical itself.

 forced me to go against my natural instincts of  trying to figure every little angle out every possible scenario is no, I'm just going to lean into something uncertain, because I want to let go of this thinking brain from over-complicating things.

Adam Coelho: Yeah. That's awesome.  I really liked the simplicity of it. I really liked the intentionality of it. You were thinking about how you want it to feel.

You want it to feel healed. You wanted to feel playful. You wanted to feel connected.  Those are all feelings and you can tell in the moment, am I feeling this?  Or am I caught up in some story or am I caught up in some planning?

 Honestly, this is one of the things that has kept me from trying to [00:19:00] take some extended time off. One, it's the fear of all the stories and what bad things can happen. But, it's also just the idea that, am I going to even use this time productively?

Which already assumes that I should be using the time. 

Eric Sanabria: Why be productive? 

Adam Coelho: Why? 

I'm  about to take three weeks off coming up in a few weeks and I'm already stressing out , Oh my God, I've gotta use this time really wisely. And I'm thinking back now to, when I went on that rotation of Portugal, in 2019, it was that feeling. I stressed myself out to no end thinking I needed to make the most of the opportunity, whatever that even means. And you can get so caught up and miss the opportunity to just be, and just relax into yourself a little bit more. 

It sounds like you were able to catch yourself doing that when you were doing that and come back to these three pillars.  I'm interested to hear, how [00:20:00] everything went. It sounds like it was a pretty transformative time for you.

So I'd love to hear more about what you learned about yourself and what came out of it. 

Eric Sanabria: Yeah.  It was extremely transformative. The trip was shaped by leaning into those three feelings, those three pillars, and it didn't have any plan around it, but.

As I go back to it, things started to take shape and take form. And part of it was me leaning into that uncertainty even more. And what, how to set the frame, even going into this trip was this book that I was reading called the artist's way.  It was a book that a friend recommended to me  on the flight that I was going to  fly over to Mexico.

 She had just come out of a sabbatical, she's an entrepreneur. And I asked her what helped you during this this period? And she was like, read this book. I downloaded the first two chapters read them on the plane. And I was like, this is the book. This is the book. And part of it, they it's centered around this whole idea of we're all creative beings.

And creation is not just something that a musician does, [00:21:00] or a painter does. We're all wanting to create. We're all wanting to take form and interpret the world and projected that, that interpretation out to everybody and share that.

And our true essence is to be creators and our connection to the universe is really at its highest when we are creating, when we allowing ourselves to create and not letting those negative voices  say, you're not good  your work is worthless, things like that.

And a lot of what that book has you do is deconstruct those thoughts and it's anchored around,  two main things journaling every day, three pages free thought, basically just vomit out what's in your brain. And three pages is long enough for you to see the thought patterns come out and also  for you to do something about it.

And so even though it was journaling before, it was more on as an as needed basis.  So this kind of gave me the discipline to at least start the day  with this.

And then each chapter is anchored on a week and a certain theme, and you're again unpacking, and packing, but a lot of the work is done on your morning pages, which is, which these three pages are called. And [00:22:00] did that kind of work.

Those are also great moments to check in with myself as okay, what do I need? The first couple of days  I was just in my room and I was working on music, but I felt isolated.

So I started to go out and started to explore. I started to  learn  more about the country, learn about the city that I was in. I started in Guadalajara and I was with a family that absolutely loved Mexican history. They had a bunch of, art artifacts, history books.

Every other night turned into  a history lesson on Mexico. And I just became more and more interested in actually it was a great kind of on the ground field trip, because then it was just like, all right we'll just learn about this thing, let's go to this monument. And so the second part of this book  are these artists dates and basically   these moments, these days, basically, it's about a set of two to three hours every week where you just take your creative child out on a field trip and it can be whatever it can  be going into a museum, even go into a mall, but part of it is nourishing that child.

And so then I would use those artists dates to again, go to a museum check out an area that I didn't know about. And part of it is these are intentional moments where you're [00:23:00] letting your creativity, your curiosity, just shine.  You're not taking anything for granted.  You're being more intentional about what it is that you're processing and what better way  to do that when you're in a new place. You're just forced to do that. And  as the trip continued to evolve, I'd realized a week is not enough.

Let me check out this city for two more weeks.  

 It was funny how much the, the universe conspired in my favor in that sense, because there were moments where I was feeling alone and I would get a text from or friend Sam and he's Hey, why don't you go to a couch surfing meetup?

And I was like, good part. Yeah. And so that moment that That, that moment, what I was feeling a little low, I looked up couch surfing. It turns out there was a meetup that day went to the meetup. In that meetup. I met someone who's going to travel the world and needed someone to house sit  their apartment for a couple of weeks.

And he's you want to stay for a couple more weeks? Great. I'm taking off in two days. You're more than welcome to stay at my place for free. And I was like great.   I was consistently surprised of the positivity around me and the good outcomes that continue to to come about.

 I left  and went to Mexico [00:24:00] city met up with a friend and went to Bairo de Bravo. But all that movement, all of that was, was causing  tension. It's not like I had a light backpack. I had basically a mini studio with me.

 I had my recording gear, having a guitar. I had a microphone, so I wasn't  staying at hostels. So I needed someplace where I can sit and work for a little bit. And I realized,  when I got to Wahaca,  this is the last time I'm going to move.

There was a moment where I was forced to check in with myself , are you here to travel or is any location you're in a place for you do 15 to do this work. Recognizing that feeling in that moment   at that point, that was about a month in and I realized, you know what, I need to chill.

I need to sit and let's see how this goes. 

And Wahaca was the place where just decided this is what I'm going to stay. It's a small town culturally rich known for its food, known for its art. It's the cultural heart of Mexico in many ways.

And I started to make friends almost immediately on day one. Started going to write my morning pages at this cafe made friends with with folks [00:25:00] there and just what are you doing here? You're always coming here, journaling, it sounds like you're working. I was like, no, I'm just, I'm doing this thing.

And then that kind of led me to making awesome friends there. And it's there's no reason why I need to leave. This is great.  I started taking vocal lessons there.

So  that first phase is setting the stage for what I was in.

And then the second phase like leaning in all the way. 

And then the third phase was more about, okay let's see what fruits come out of this full leaning in.  That was that part in Wahaca about a month and a half in.

And I went to a local party at one point and it was like the local artists hangout. And I met this girl.  She seemed awesome. Her name is Ashanti. She was visiting from Mexico city and, just asked her for a number. She was just coming here to visit a friend and a sentence we'll see what happens.

 Kinda just leaning  into that.  Even that interaction  continued to blossom and it was like, this is great. This is great. Something's telling me  I need to follow up. We hung out for about a week. And then I said it's not the last time going to [00:26:00] see you. then we stayed in touch,  basically didn't stop talking since the day we met. That was happening. And  my connection to  and fondness for Mexico is starting to grow. And so then as we were continuing to talk, I also was like how crazy would it be if we just continued to see each other, even after the sabbatical was because I sense that there's something that's calling me here.

I was ready to quit Google at that point. I was like, you know what, I could workat a coffee shop.  I'm vibing so hard right now.   With Ashanti or with just the entire everything. Everything was just 

Adam Coelho: vibing.

Eric Sanabria: Everything was fine. And Ashanti beautiful was the person who allowed me to  anchor into that feeling of that vibe. Even meeting her was interesting because  some of the things that I was experiencing through the through the journaling and was all this connection to something higher,  some energy, and I've been. Skeptical most of my life and something was just like, I'm tapping into something that I haven't tapped into before. But I hadn't really articulated it to someone. And Ashanti does a lot of work in consciousness and and so she was just like tapping into it [00:27:00] immediately verbalizing putting language to something that I had a hard time really articulating.

 There was obviously a physical connection, but there's definitely a mental, spiritual connection from the beginning. And so then that made things even more interesting. How crazy that I could be anywhere in the world, but I'm here meeting this person who is totally tapped into the experience that  I'm having right now.

And so  my mind was consistently being blown away by it. And so meeting Ashanti was a key point in the trip. Yeah.

Adam Coelho: Very cool.  That's all sounds awesome. Vibing on all levels, her articulating  what you were feeling without even really being able to fully articulate it yourself, so what happened next? Where'd we go from there? 

Eric Sanabria: Where do we go from there? So knowing that I was feeling this connection to her, to Mexico. I knew that I had a choice coming back to the States. It was like what happens with this chapter? Is this just the chapter that closes once they come back, I'm going to go back to Google.

Cause I hadn't really thought about career stuff, but  I knew that something was going to have to fundamentally change coming back. And so during that second half  of [00:28:00] the sabbatical, as, obviously staying connected to the community that I was in, in Wahaca, but then I started to come visit Ashanti.

I visited her two times more during the time that I was there. And every time I can just okay, maybe I don't need to just abandon everything that I've spent my whole career learning. Perhaps there's another place where I can apply this.  I started to learn more about the entrepreneurial community here, the startup community here because I had no idea about what was coming, what was going on here.

And then I just continued to see that. There's a lot of energy, a lot of money just starting to flow into innovation here in Mexico. And they need a talent from Silicon Valley people who just had understand how things are done, quote unquote, and you still don't know what that means, but but basically have been exposed to working in a fast growing company.

And so then my last week in Mexico and in Mexico city, I have a friend , who's an investor introduced me to one of his portfolio companies and, I meet her, she's a [00:29:00] CEO of this company called glitzy. It's basically  Uber for manicures, massages basically in home services for beauty.  She  let me know about what was going on in Mexico. And then that meeting turned into is you've done this and that. Can you help me figure out how to organize my engineering team better?

And then that led into  a lunchtime consulting hour. I was like, hold on. There's something here.  A lot of the work that I've done can actually be applied here. And so that kind of just obviously lit me up and I was just like, okay there's potential here.

And then that confirmed there's something for me here if I choose to take it. And then in that week I, basically also asked Ashanti to be my girlfriend knowing that I didn't want to do long distance, but I knew that long distance wasn't going to last that long.

I didn't know how  but I knew I was going to make it happen. And so then I come back to the States. And so then that, that closes the sabbatical, but I'm now coming, I've come back with this energy, this, these sets of experiences. And I decided to just start looking on what this will look like [00:30:00] this transition to Mexico. 

Adam Coelho: What's coming up for me, is that so much clarity and so much, I would say deep wisdom or deep knowing about yourself self-awareness really came to light during this time. Is that fair? 

Eric Sanabria: Yeah.  It's trusting.in what I had to offer here in this universe. That had something to offer.

Adam Coelho: I feel like a lot of people never take the time to slow down.  Maybe they don't feel super aligned with their work but it provides a good income or it provides stability and, we just keep going. I feel like we got to elementary school, then we go to middle school.

Then we go to high school. Then we go to college. Get a job. Then we get married though. It's just like one thing after another. And you mentioned earlier at the beginning that you could have just gone into that meeting with your director said, Hey, delivered on this project, got [00:31:00] promoted or whatever what's next.

And then just jumped right into the next thing, and so I guess I'm wondering, it seems like this taking this step back, taking this time to go inward, to have nothing planned beyond just trying to heal, play and connect, what did that mean for your life? What impacted taking that time to find that clarity in that self-understanding  mean for you?

Eric Sanabria:  It allowed me to wake up in some sense from just living a somewhat unconscious life of sure I'm getting on the bus to go to work, but not really being conscious about that decision and the choice to go to work. And everything that's surrounded.

So  it forced me to make choices. It forced me to be intentional about every choice that I make and that every choice can have a consequential impact. Now obviously not everything is gonna be life-changing, but at least treating every decision, every moment that life presents [00:32:00] you with the attention it deserves.

And that trip was a constant reminder of that because I can choose to not go out. I can choose to stay in, I can choose to go talk to that person. I can, I can choose to be anxious in some ways. And so then it allowed me to really feel what it looks like to, be the captain of your own life in some ways.

And it's something that continues. I go back to that trip and obviously now I have my own everyday down here in Mexico. But it's something that I can come back to. It's to shake out of that  mindlessness of wake up, go to work through this, do that, to this of again, like I said, tree and your every moment of life with and cherishing every moment that life it gives you the attention it deserves. 

Adam Coelho:  What I'm taking away from this is just the importance of slowing down and creating some space for ourselves. We constantly.  I'll just speak for myself. I've been working at Google 10 years, it's essentially my whole career.  I had a startup before, generally my whole career has been at Google and the pace [00:33:00] at Google is extremely fast. There's just nonstop stuff. The expectations are extremely high and getting higher all the time. So to stop even right. For, 20 minutes to sit down and meditate, I feel  gives me some space to allow my mind to settle.

And so I can see more clearly what is the story I'm telling myself, what do I really want? I spend a lot of time thinking, Oh, if only this would happen, if only I could take a sabbatical or if only I could. Be teaching mindfulness full-time. I get caught up in this if only, and fantasizing about something that is not even happening.

And to some degree envisioning the future you want is very valuable. But taking time to open up some space for me to really just tune into what I'm feeling, why I'm feeling it, what is important to me in this time in my life could be super helpful [00:34:00] in helping me determine if I need to make any shifts or align my time and my energy with something that, may already be available to me, but  I might be overlooking it because I'm rushing so quickly in the day to day flow of things . If that makes sense. 

Eric Sanabria: Yeah.  It's flipping that if only to what if.  Cause if only  you're leaning into your limits and  what ifis you're leaning into the possibility, you're switching that to more positive.

And  we can choose to lean into that the negative spiral only takes it takes you so far. And so it's more leaning into that. What more positive framing can we put into the situation that you're living in now? 

Adam Coelho: Yeah. Yeah. I liked that. The, if only, kind of way I was thinking about it is really because of my current situation, I can't do this.

So it's like setting a limit on myself, but really if I flip it and say, what, if I could spend more time teaching mindfulness. Okay. Maybe that opens up possibility. I really [00:35:00] love this idea and concept of possibility. And it doesn't need to be anything fancy and concept.

It's just, our actions have consequences, as you said, and, going up and having a conversation with somebody creates possibility.  You can't even know all the possibility that it might create. And being intentional about that.  I really like that reframing to what if  looking at the possibilities that exist.

And also recognizing that in my current situation, working for Google, I have a lot of possibility. And instead of thinking about it as a limiting factor, which I know sounds ridiculous, but when you're in it for so long, it can feel like that,  to reframe it to the possibility can be really empowering.

So I appreciate that. 

Eric Sanabria:  Yeah, it's funny how our minds work in.  You're in a place where you have infinite amount of resources, or more than most places, and yet you still feel limited.  

That could be taken outside of work,  just your day to day, right?

 The very fact that we have running water, hot [00:36:00] water, that we have food or a table that is not limiting at all.  So it's changing the framing that we approach life. Because if life feels limiting, then you're going to have a limited life.

But if life feels  as something that it's here to, provide for you and you treat it with gratitude, then you will be rewarded or you'll live a much more rewarding life.  Leaning into that positivity as opposed to negativity.

So what's in your mind will basically manifest outside. 

Adam Coelho:  Absolutely. Okay. So let's get back to the life journey. You're back in the United States, sabbaticals over you're back at work at Google, Ashanti's waiting for you in Mexico.

A life that you want to create is waiting for you in Mexico. What happens next? 

Eric Sanabria: Two days after I land that same friend who introduced me to an entrepreneur in Mexico, organized a conference for Latin X investors.  I knew that he was going to have a panel on investing in Latin America and was like, you know what, I'm a volunteer.

See if he has space for volunteers. I just [00:37:00] got back from Mexico. And I still have a couple of days before I go back to Google, let's do this. In that conference, basically, just pour out everything that I have and experienced in to every five minute meeting that I just I want to go back, I'm going to be back in two weeks.

Can you introduced me to someone? Just with this enthusiasm, with yes. luckily that didn't scare anybody. And they introduced. it. And so I decided that I was going to keep coming back and the Shante would come up to visit me as well.

And in those trips back, I would, make connections from these people that I met in that conference. So I knew I had this in my back pocket. I come back to Google. I let them know that was, how was it? had an amazing experience. I got to go back. But I also recognize it's I got a job, so don't worry.

I'm not going to abandon my responsibilities.  I know that I got to pick things up where I left them. Having  high integrity to my work ethic and all of that, allowed me to establish the credibility with the folks that I was working with is okay Eric's not just going to, run off and let this thing drop.

That's the first place.  That's what allowed them, gave them confidence that, all right, [00:38:00] Eric's done a lot of good amount of work,  it looks like he needs it. Let's give him that.  That also allowed, gave me the credibility  to take the sabbatical. And then that also gave me the credibility and trust that it's yeah, I'm going to verbally say that I don't want to be in mountain view anymore, but I'm still going to commit to doing the job that I was hired to do.

And luckily we have an office in Mexico, so I started to see, okay what opportunities are in the Mexico office? And started exploring a variety of different options. Now I had I came back to  analysis paralysis.  I can find a gig here in the Mexico city office looks like there's some opportunities.

Maybe I would have to take a different role, but it brings me back to Mexico. And there's months of that until the point where I was just like, wow maybe I don't need to leave just yet.  I was getting comfortable back to the life that I left and I had a friend who had called me out on it.

It was like, what happened to the Eric that came back after sabbatical? Now you're saying that you have a good here which is great, but that's not the attitude that you had when you came back. You're copping out. And it shook me cause we can call that is never fun.  am grateful to have had that accountability from a friend, even [00:39:00] when I wasn't asking for it to remind me of what it is that I was after. And Ashanti was patient and  she's just whatever brings Eric here and he's happy, I'm all about it.

And so then I started to lean into these conversations that I was having outside.  Coming back to that anchor that brought me into technology in the first place,  making a difference, making something, feeling that the work that I'm doing having either an impact in the organization or impact socially.

And looking at what was happening in the startup scene also is this this is more aligned with what I've set out to do since the beginning part of my career. And one of those, one of those investors introduced me to someone who was just starting to get their startup going.

And a lot of my conversations with the people that I was meeting down here in Mexico were very open-ended, it's have a good amount of experience in strategy, operation sales, all this stuff. I'm here to learn what's out here. And this conversation was special in the sense that, the CEO immediately saw that there's potential for us to work.

And so it was not only just [00:40:00] telling me about the ecosystem, but he's starting to sell me on his, on the opportunity with his company.  I could see you doing this. I could see you doing that. And I was just like , this is going in a direction that I didn't anticipate, but let's lean into it.

Now this is in the early part  of this exploration phase. But we stayed in touch.  Every time I would come to Mexico, I was like, Hey, let's grab coffee. What's up? How's it going? How are things? And then now fast forward into October  down, in the thick of this analysis paralysis.

And Ashanti   was also holding me accountable towards like just lean into it. What was the thing that brought you into Mexico in the first place? Don't lean into those thoughts and that say you're taking a step back, take a salary, cut all of these things.

And  are you really interested in coming? And I set a date for myself. is by this date, If I don't have a decision,  I don't have something in place. I'm just gonna come and I'll figure it out when I get here.

The moment that I made that decision to just commit to coming and knowing that perhaps the Google route, wasn't going to be the most optimal for my career at that moment a week later I get a call from the CEO. He's Hey, we just closed a round of [00:41:00] funding. I would love for you to join the team.

Let's talk about what we could do to work together. I was like, all right, this is the moment. I didn't know anything about FinTech.  Didn't really know about the space itself, but based on the conversations that we were having  over these months, I knew that there was a need that I could feel, but it was really ambiguous.

And so then the moment the day before I. met with him. I did this visualization exercise. It's okay, what does looking in Mexico, working for Oyster being here,  where the Ashanti look like. And so one of the, one of the parts was I see myself as the VP of revenue operations didn't really know what that meant concretely, but I knew that it was a good way to to bridge the work that I was doing at Google to  what the startup needed.

 There were moments of fear of executive, like I wasn't an executive at Google. What audacity do I have to say? See an executive is something that says you know what, this seems right. And so then they, after we meet.

We, have for some small talk we get down to business and it's what do you see yourself doing? [00:42:00] And I said, I see that we can establish order creates a better way to measure the business, have some more discipline on how is it that we're going to drive user growth.

 VP of revenue operations is what makes sense.  At the salary, he was like, yeah, that makes sense. Let's do it just like that. I was like, I should have gotten hired.

I asked for it. I thought I was like I'm gonna go the highest that I can get.  I got what I asked for. From there a couple of weeks left back in the States and I packed my bags and moved to Mexico right before pandemic hit.

Adam Coelho: Good timing.  That's awesome, man. I'm really happy to hear that it all worked out well for you and one thing that you said there, I got what I asked for. And isn't that really what we've been talking about the whole time.  If we don't take the time to think about what we want and ask for what we want, how are we going to get it?

I used to say, you don't ask, you don't get, and it's what we've been talking about the whole time. 

Eric Sanabria: Yeah.  There's no pain and asking and  that you deserve it, leaning into [00:43:00] more of that positivity that not that toxic positivity either, but more of the, of having confidence in yourself and what you have to bring to the world. And so that, it just makes it easy. It's let me just ask. 

Adam Coelho: Yeah. And  also just, more broadly, right?

Getting back to that idea of possibility and, intentionality. asked the universe, you put out there, I want to be back in Mexico. I don't know how, I don't know when or what it's going to look like, but I want to be in Mexico. And then you set a date.

You said, I'm going to do it by this date. It's just moving a little bit more in that direction, asking a little bit more clearly what you want and opening to the possibility of seeing that. That's the way that I'm taking this and I've had a lot of instances in my life that were very much like that as well.

So I know we only have a handful of minutes left is there anything that you'd want to 


Eric Sanabria:  This pandemic as continue to challenge me to continue to lean into these [00:44:00] principles.

But  it's that leaning into the possibility, leaning into your  inner creator self has more positive outcomes out there for you than negative in the grand scheme of things. And so those risks that you think are probably really high are probably not that big.

And the worst outcome is   least likely to materialize.  When we size up all the possible outcomes, we all give them the same amount of waiting the same amount of probability, which isn't likely.

And so  flipping that and recognizing that yeah, anything's possible, but the likelihood that this negative thing is probably the less than the more positive. And so looking at those life decisions in that way and not over-analyzing and it just trusting what your inner intuition and listening to what that inner intuition has to say is probably gonna pay out.

And obviously taking that time to to listen to yourself is utmost important.  

Adam Coelho:  What have you learned about trusting yourself through this [00:45:00] experience and trusting that intuition, trusting your own knowing what did you learn about trusting yourself through this experience?

 Going back to the earlier point, it's  that the most negative outcome is least likely to happen. That I have more to share and  people can gain from what I have to share more than me, not speaking up more more than me not making that decision.

And so  it's,  not trusting yourself could also be a cop out to not decide and to also just stay in limbo. And so then the more you trust yourself, the more likely it is that you're going to make a decision and life is really all about decisions. And so it's more leaning into that.

It's more about living your life in the most authentic way possible. 

Yeah, totally. Is there any practical advice you could give, for learning to trust yourself more? The reason I ask is because, I'm doing this work all the time, trying to tap more into, what it is that I know what it is that I'm feeling, for a long time, it was always like looking outside of myself. [00:46:00] When I had a start up, Oh, what's everyone doing?

What are the best ways to market on social media?  What's the advice out there, right? Instead of just tuning into what do I really want? What do I really care about and value? And  that's a practice, there's so much noise around, on Instagram and just everywhere, that it's easy to look to others to try to figure out what we should do. And so what  practical advice? Could somebody take to learn to trust themselves more? 

Eric Sanabria:  Part of it is not being too hung up on what the outcome of  that decision would be. And more about what do you have to learn from it. So then whatever comes out of it,  whether a business goes well, whether a business deal goes wrong, you had something to learn from it.

And that's really what we're all here to do. And so then if you take each of these moments that you're presented with in each of these decisions, as learning opportunities and opportunities to stretch yourself and express your curiosity and express your [00:47:00] potential and to learn about what it has to offer or how it could get better  you're more likely to leaning into that decision versus not.

Adam Coelho:  Very good. 

 Let's switch gears now into what I call the mindful fire final four.

 The first question is, what piece of advice would you give Eric from before the sabbatical?

Eric Sanabria: Don't overthink things.  One, you can't predict the future, but you can listen to what it is that you need and that intuition is louder than you think. You just got to sit and listen.

Adam Coelho: Very good.  That's great. Don't overthink it, really listen to what you need. That's important, right? I'm finding myself burnt out and not wanting to really acknowledge that I'm feeling burnt out.

 Listening to the fact that I need some time off, like I took Thursday and Friday off and I'm like,  this is great. Like not having to think about cookies and privacy for a couple of days. Beautiful.

The second question is what piece of advice would you give to someone early on their path to financial [00:48:00] independence? 

Eric Sanabria: Whoa.  On their path to, financial independence. I feel like I can use some of that advice myself.  Part of it is  I feel like it's so practical.

It's clear out your debts have little debt as possible, start saving the most amount and then invest the rest. To be honest,  that's still an area that need to continue to work on.  I, thinking that long-term requires a lot of work for me to sit down and really plan out.

I was like, okay, I have these assets, how do I make them work for me? So even that  recognize what it is that you don't know and, and seek out those resources cause it's out there. That's advice that I needed to giving myself cause I honestly that's something that I need to lean into more.

Adam Coelho: Yeah. It's one of those things that seems really big and scary and complicated .  But like you said that the resources are out there and we can start to learn and take small actions that can make a huge difference. Like getting rid of debt. If we're carrying credit card interest, we're going in reverse. And [00:49:00] so clearing that out and saving as much as we can and investing that. And I don't know if you know this book, I've mentioned it on the podcast before it's called the simple path to wealth. Have You heard that book. Yeah. I'll link to it in the show notes as well, but it's yeah it's by a guy named JL Collins and it's essentially  he wrote a bunch of blog posts as like a letter to his daughter about how she should think about investing after a career in investing for many years. And it's super simple. And for me was quite empowering. Cause for a long time, I was just like just I'll figure that out.

I'll figure that out eventually. But once I started to really, finally get to the point where I'm like, I've been working for five years and I haven't done anything with this money, I need to , at least understand it. And I just automated something, it made a huge difference. And the reason I'm where I am financially today is because I made those small decisions to just say, okay, take whatever I have to invest, divide it by 24 and just invest every month in the [00:50:00] total us stock Okay. And total international stock market, Keep it super simple.

That made a huge difference for me. 

Eric Sanabria: Definitely taking that, that with me. 

Adam Coelho: Yeah. Happy to chat on time about that . 

So the third question is what piece of advice would you give to someone getting started with meditation or mindfulness? 

 Eric Sanabria: Not as complicated. It's not as spooky as it seems.

It really is at its essence attention and paying attention and it's, and that's why you do the whole thing. You close your eyes, focus on your breath, the quiet, everything that's going on in your mind. That in and of itself is that's really it can go beyond, but really if you simplify it down to attention and recognizing your thoughts, recognize, and then from there, once you recognize your thoughts.

You can choose which ones to acknowledge, which ones carry the weight. So it's attention and choice and it's really just that. 

Adam Coelho: Yeah. Those are the two words, I would say attention or awareness and choice, right? Attention and [00:51:00] awareness are two sides of the same coin, but really  when I'm talking about mindfulness and financial independence together, those are the two words that come to mind to me all the time, awareness and choice.

And again, the whole story we've been talking about today is about awareness. What do I need? What do I want, what am I called to and choosing, right? What decision am I going to make? What choice am I going to make about. Going out or not going out, going to Mexico, asking for this time to heal and connect.

So I appreciate that.

The last question is, where can people find you online and connect with what you're up to, whether that be your music or your social media, any of that? Yeah. 

Eric Sanabria: So I'm on Instagram. It's probably the most active, but I haven't been posting, but I'm going to post them start posting now I needed take a break. I on Instagram as stat Dorf stepped in the trip for Statler and Waldorf guys from the lipids. And I'm on LinkedIn. 

Adam Coelho: Sounds good.  I'll [00:52:00] get those links and get them linked up in the show notes. Oh 

Eric Sanabria: yeah. Me and my music.

The music, the band that I was in, the band that I was in was called slow load. S L O w L O D E as a singer and guitar stair.  

It's on Spotify. 

Adam Coelho:  Eric, it's been a pleasure. My man, I really appreciate you sharing this.

When we talked to a couple of months ago and we caught up, I was like, this is amazing.  People need to hear this. So I really appreciate you coming on the podcast and sharing your experience. 

Eric Sanabria: Appreciate it, brother. Thanks for having me and sharing this space with me. I'm excited to, share and see what folks take from it.

Adam Coelho: Excellent and happy anniversary  it's worth mentioning that you're celebrating your two year anniversary with Ashanti. And so  it's fair to say that the sabbatical went well and the move to Mexico has been going well. So congratulation 

Eric Sanabria: Appreciate it, brother.

Adam Coelho: Thanks so much for joining me today on the mindful fire podcast. I hope you enjoyed this conversation with my friend Eric Sanabria.

 I'd love to hear what you thought about the episode. It stirred up A [00:53:00] lot for me and I took a lot away from it. So I'd love to hear what your takeaways are as well. Please drop me an email mindfulfirepodcast@gmail.com. 

And If you got value from today's episode, please hit subscribe wherever you're listening to this. This just lets the platforms know you're getting value from the episodes and you'd like to be here when I produce additional content. 

 As a reminder. Yeah. You can find the full show notes, including all of the links, resources and books mentioned in this episode mindful fire.org/ 31.

   Thanks again, and I'll catch you next time on the mindful fire podcast.


Eric Sanabria

Eric is a former Googler and the Chief Business Officer of Oyster Financial. He lives in Mexico City with his girlfriend Ashanti.