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Daring by profession: Bea’s offbeat career

Salesperson, trainer, painter, activist, decorator, business owner, yogi, manager, assistant, podcaster. If you haven’t met Bea Sandoval, she has done it all, and she’s here to share her professional adventures. Do you ever feel guilty for letting your career “go with the flow”, especially in comparison to your friends who keep getting long service awards and linear promotions after working at the same company for years? Bea proves that allowing your story to flow organically doesn’t mean you’ll lack purpose and joy – and it definitely doesn’t mean you’re unprofessional, not committed or not taking things seriously. Keep reading to find your new source of inspiration!

Welcome to Offbeat Career‘s interview series, where I bring in professionals with multifaceted, unusual careers. They’ve worn multiple hats, lived multiple lives…and do so unapologetically!

Dear Bea, bienvenida to Offbeat Careers! It’s such a pleasure and an honor to host such an accomplished, diverse, positive professional. I’m especially happy to host you today because you, yourself, love amplifying people’s unusual stories with your podcast, La Magia de Atreverte (“The Magic of Daring”). Like me, you were a bit of an introverted child who loved stories and had a huge imagination inside of you. So let’s start with this facet of yours before moving on to your wider career story. What’s your favorite thing about being a podcaster? Why this format and not another one? What are some skills you’d recommend others have if they want to become podcasters like you, and do these skills travel with you into other things you do?

Thank you so much for having me! I’m very honored to be here. In fact, this is what I love the most about being a podcaster! It gives me the opportunity of talking to and know wonderful people. The podcast is just the pretext to connect with them. In terms of why a podcast and no other format, it’s because this is a very noble format; you don’t need a big production or worry about the looks. It’s a very intimate format that works great for introverts like me who are not looking for the spotlight but the essence of the connection with another human being. Regarding the skills needed for podcasting, they are more than everybody would think, but I think I can group them into two categories:

  • Communication skills: Clarity in your message, the ability to create a safe space where people feel confident, knowing who you are talking to and how to connect with them.
  • Being able to build a community around your podcast: Your community will be the lifeblood of your show; they are the ones who give purpose to all your efforts.

And those two are skills I use in many areas of my life all the time! Half of the problems of this word are related to poor communication, so I always try to be very clear about my requests, concerns, and desires instead of assuming that people will magically guess my thoughts.

Even though we’re multifaceted professionals, some jobs certainly come more easily than others. Personally, I feel working as a learning & development manager, language teacher and museum assistant came very naturally to me…so effortless, beautiful and joyful! On the other hand, working as a hotel receptionist was challenging to me, or working any job that forced me to hit a daily sales target or dealing with complaints all the time. Which roles would you say came more naturally so far, and which were tougher? Why?

I especially enjoy the roles where I can always learn something new and no day is the same. Different locations, different people, and new projects are always exciting to me; if you want to kill me, tell me I’ll be doing the same activity in the same room for the rest of my life, I cannot think of anything that would kill my spirit faster than that 😝

Also – and this should be true for most people – working for something I believe in is easier for me, especially if that is a cause close to my heart. I managed the social media of an environmental organization for three years. I grew their impact and engagement hugely in those years because I didn’t mind all the time or effort needed. I was happy to see my work’s impact on a topic I care about.

On the other hand, I’ve also taken jobs just because I needed the money, no connection to the company’s mission, no connection to the message, and no connection to the products, which shows. Can you imagine having to promote something you don’t believe in? It’s hell! I swear to myself never to do that again; fortunately, I haven’t been in that position since.  

I love how your path includes completely different sides of you: you’ve engaged in creative roles (painter, decorator, podcaster) blending them with a sporty role (yogi), business roles (salesperson, manager)…and something tells me this isn’t over yet! 😄 to the naked eye, it might look like there’s nothing in common between these roles, but I invite people to challenge this notion. Looking back, we sometimes have “a-ha!” moments that make a common thread really clear. In retrospective, what common themes can you identify that unite all of these experiences so far?

That is a great question, and thank you for making me reflect on that! I think that the common theme in all the roles I’ve played is my relentless urge to leave this planet better than I found it, to have the peace of mind that my life wasn’t a waste and was worth it.

As a painter, decorator, and environmental activist, I tried to improve the physical spaces to make them beautiful for those who inhabit them. As a podcaster and community manager, I tried to improve people’s mindsets and spread a little bit of inspiration into their lives. And as a manager, I value efficiency over everything else, so they idea of always being fixing problems is very fulfilling, specially when everything is chaotic and you and your team deliver a satisfactory result that bring peace to everybody, at least temporarily until the next problem arises 😝

Your life is marked by getting out of your comfort zone: you were a mommy at 20 years old, opened and closed three businesses, moved countries, and even launched a podcast when one of your biggest fears was public speaking (respect!). But you mentioned that you were not “naturally brave” or “naturally daring”. It was something you had to work on, or simply navigate in the moment. I feel that in my bones! Can you tell us more about what happens in your mind when you face a new discomfort and have to make tough decisions? What happens in your mind to go from “this looks scary and crazy” to “I did it!!”? 

Oh, that’s easy! I usually weigh the cost of doing something versus regretting not doing it and living with the uncertainty of “…what would have happened if?”.

In my experience, living with regrets of your inaction is one of the worst feelings you can bear. I remember being one time in an auditorium where the Hollywood actor Ty Burrel was giving a conference, and he asked if anyone had a question. I had a question! But the audience went silent, and I couldn’t think of anything more terrifying than standing up in front of a packed auditorium, take the mic and ask my question…in English! 😨 (My English was terrible at that time). However, my inner voice kept telling me: “If you don’t raise your hand and ask now, you’ll leave this place feeling like a loser” so I immediately raised my hand and got the mic. I don’t remember my question or anything he said, but I do remember feeling very accomplished after that. I know this might seem like a silly example, but those situations when you act despite fear are the ones that boost your confidence to face new and bigger challenges.

Also, I consider myself very lucky to have a wonderful partner and family who have always supported me unconditionally. I acknowledge that I might not be so daring without that safety net. That is why it’s vital to surround yourself with people who not only encourage you to be better but who are in tune with you. The law of association is real! You will become the average of those you spend more time with, so choose wisely.

Let’s talk about career values. Regardless of the titles or industries your career leads you to, what would make you look at your current career situation and go: “I’m successful”? (for example, would you consider yourself successful if you’re highly paid? Or perhaps work with an amazing mentor? Or have full flexibility of time and location?

I measure my success by the number of good days my week had. I’m talking about those nights when you hit the bed tired, but it’s good tiredness, the kind when you feel blessed, grateful, and satisfied with your day.

I’ve experienced working like crazy in my businesses for very little money (not sustainable, I don’t recommend it 😝), and I’ve also experienced getting a lot of money in my job but feeling stressed and trapped in a company whose values did not go with mine. So, I swear to myself to never compromise my mental peace again. You can lie to everyone except yourself, and you live with yourself all the time! So you better live with integrity; otherwise, the guilt becomes a hefty load. 

Liberty is another important one; living in the digital era, why constrain yourself to a physical place or schedule? 

I noticed a strong topic both in your podcast and in your Instagram account is the relationship between three factors: age, tough life experiences and achieving one’s dreams. Specifically, you address the fact that many people are told that they “can’t do” certain things due to their age, or because they’re worn out by the challenges that life has thrown at them. Sometimes, especially as multis, we feel that we missed our “best years” (social and cultural construct right there) and that some opportunities are no longer within our reach. What would you say to those who struggle with insecurities around age, or feeling like “it’s too late”?

We cannot deny that time is the most important non-renewable resource we have. The important is that the sooner you realize your time is ticking, the sooner you’ll commit to getting the most out of it. And with this I’m not talking about becoming a non-stop productivity machine, but to use your time wisely, some days the schedule is so tight that you even forget to eat! But some other days. this can simply mean staying at home taking care of your plants or talking to your elder neighbor.

Regarding this “it’s too late” feeling, as long as you breathe, it’s never too late. Life circumstances are different for everyone and there’s not a correct order or time to do things. There’s a “common order of things”, but that doesn’t mean it has to be like that for everyone! I raised my babies and built my first house in my early twenties and now that I’m in my early forties and my sons are in college, my husband and I are starting downsizing to travel when many of our friends are just getting married. This doesn’t mean that one or another situation is better or worse, those were simply our circumstances and we tried to surf them with all the grace we could. In spite of everything, your attitude and your drive are what shape your life and no one but you have control over them.

So many multifaceted people who have a wide variety of interests feel guilty about the fact that they crave intellectual and professional variety, novelty and excitement in their lives. They fear that their radical intolerance to boredom is indicative of weakness, lack of focus, lack of goals or inability to commit to anything. Have you been there yourself? Were there moments you felt bad about your rebellious nature that doesn’t want to stick to one professional path? And what would you advise to those dealing with the same feelings? 

Do you have time? Hahaha…all the time! Especially in my early 30’s when many of my friends started to get promotions in jobs that they took in their 20’s. My new projects were so common that during our annual reunions, their question changed from: “How are things going?” to: “What are you into now?”. 

Initially, I felt embarrassed and tried to justify all these changes. I genuinely envied that many of them were so clear on the paths they were building but eventually, I learned to embrace that this is my path, and I don’t want to follow anyone else’s! I’ll probably never get a “Long Service Award” from a company, but that’s okay. Freedom and curiosity are more important to me than that, so I try to remember that every time I’m starting to feel inadequate.

Also, the comments I receive now are more like: “I wish I were that brave!” or “Your life is so interesting!” and I don’t feel like I’ve done anything special! My decisions have been atypical, but they were the only right ones for me and I’ve been willing to pay the price for them.

I really want to bring the spotlight into the kind of competitive advantages we get from having such a diverse path. How would you say this colorful career has empowered you and made you a fit professional? In other words…how the heck would you answer “Why should we hire you”? 🕵️‍♀️

In a world where the only constant is change, adaptability is key – and in that sense, no one beats multifaceted people like us 😛

We are used to playing many roles that we are ready to change hats as needed. For us, it’s difficult to commit long-term to something but once we commit, we take it to the fullest because that means we believe in it. We bring passion, a broader perspective (because of our previous experiences), and tons of creativity. Our profile is not suitable for all positions, but as team members, the value we bring to the table is undeniable.

Let’s finish by dreaming big. If money and time weren’t an issue, and if you didn’t have to abdicate from the things you have right now, what kind of hobbies, jobs or interests would you like to explore in the future?

I would love to keep creating digital quality content (in any format). I’m not too fond of being only a consumer, but I would love to continue adding to the digital conversation.

I also would lobby for creating legislation that can bring real social change. Children, animals, and the protection of the environment are my causes. I’ve raised money and worked hard with several associations before, but the truth is that nothing is more impactful than structural changes in local legislation.

I would dedicate my time and energy to that and to travel! The world is vast and full of incredible adventures; what are we waiting for to live them?

Follow Bea’s adventures: