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Meet Miguel Esparza. He’s a multi-careerist based in Chicago. He is a marketing executive and sommelier. He has lived all over the world, and we met over LinkedIn. Here are Miguel’s insights.
On his motivations for many careers
What drives me forward every time is knowing that I am learning new things every time. I make a personal challenge to at least learn one new thing every year. Whether it is learning downhill biking, scuba diving…Becoming a sommelier was the consolidation of a long time passion behind the world of wine and spirits.
Advice to aspiring multi-careerists
Follow your passion and instinct. To fill in the cliché: life is just too short to not seize all of the opportunities out there to continue growing and learning. Never before there were so many resources and tools to fulfill personal interests and passions. Also, having multiple careers opens your mind. Get to know amazing people….Then you can apply across careers, making you a unique individual.
Time. The most precious asset these days, of course. If only time was endless you might say. But also, when there is true grit, time becomes just one of the components to beat to reach what you aspire for. In my case, becoming a sommelier required long hours of study, required sometimes giving up some of the spare time out of my marketing career and put long hours of reading and practicing. Luckily enough, I had the unconditional support of my wife and family to go through that hardship.
On how careers are mutually beneficial
My two careers made me reflect and have different perspectives when I needed. While my marketing career is my ¨formal¨ career, I find in my sommelier career my own personal oasis to take a mental break and refresh my mind at different times. Being a sommelier exposes you to very cool people, places and conversations that is only excellent food for the mind and keep you refreshed and rolling.
On finding balance
My lovely wife Aline is the bravest, smartest and supportive woman I know. We as a family are supportive of each others interests as we know this is part of continue to grow as human beings and much of the reasons why we felt in love with each other. Raising two kids, requires great communication and family organization so we can both manage our shared but also personal agendas.
On something wishes to have learned sooner
I wish I could have known how exciting and rewarding it is. While, of course, there is some additional effort you need to put behind it, the experiences you get out of it are immense. I wish I had started earlier!
I recently read a book that I find excellent for those individuals looking for some inspiration about a new career. The Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger.
Warren describes himself as a ¨questionologist¨– he has mastered the act of making questions. He goes in depth into different topics rising ¨beautiful questions¨ on topics such as leadership, creativity, connecting with people, among others. In this journey, the reader will find powerful examples of questions that make anyone reflect, think and get inspiration. I recommend this book to whomever has asked herself what is my purpose? What am I good at ? etc. (note: questions only, answers not included, those are on you)
Overcoming the stigma of multiple careers
I think the stigma is that you can’t have really two careers — either because of time, resources or priorities. That it is just not possible. I have my on personal mantra: “You can do anything, but not at the same time.” You do have to be clear about prioritization and working around agendas, but it’s totally doable.
On how to sublimate ego at the day job
I think that most people who have dual careers might find themselves in that dilemma at some point. The way I manage is being very clear of what career at this moment I have prioritize in service of allowing me to have the second one. If you give a purpose to your actions then the journey becomes less stressful than it happens to be.
A Day in the Life
My daily routine to my marketing career: new product developments, launch of new products, budgets, advertising, share of market, sales revenue.
For my sommelier career, I run that over specific events: special wine tasting, wine event, design wine menus, etc.
Where to find Miguel
Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner, as well as New York Times bestselling author.
This book is one of the best I’ve read in my life. That’s not hyperbole. A book that gets you not only to think but take action in your life can be truly special. But many books can do just that. However, sleep and the human need for it is so fundamental and recurring, that modest reforms in your sleep regimen can have untold benefits for you throughout life.
I’m working on a sleep meditation album, and I wanted to get wise on why we sleep — and how to enhance the quality of it. A friend recommended this book, and I’m so glad that he did.
Why We Sleep
By Matthew Walker
Here are 7 takeaways:
- 12 ways to enhance your sleep
Let’s start with the essential recommendations. Walker has a handy appendix that lists the ways to enhance your sleep:
1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed & wake up at the same time every day. Even if that means setting an alarm to goto bed.
2. Exercise but not 2 or 3 hours before you goto bed.
3. Stay clear of caffeine and nicotine – especially in the afternoons
4. Avoid alcohol.
5. Don’t have a big meal or many beverages before sleeping.
6. Avoid medicines that prevent sleep.
7. Don’t nap after 3 pm
8. Take it easy before bed. Dim the lights. Listen to calming music.
9. Draw a hot bath/shower before bed.
10. Keep your bedroom dark and with no gadgets.
11. Low sunlight exposure.
12. Don’t lie in bed awake.
Walker goes into detail on each of these points. The appendix alone is worth buying the book. Many of these suggestions are passive. By default, you will eat dinner. But you have to actively choose to have a big meal. There are a lot of things on this list you may be able to easily do.
- Boost your health
When you’re sleeping, you’re healing. The body engages in complex processes to ward off disease, infection, bacteria. Walker jokes that if there were a medicine that was found to give the same benefits of sleep, people would pay a fortune. Walker presents compelling scientific research with impressive conclusions.
Routinely sleeping less that six hours a night weakens your immune system, substantially increasing your risk of certain forms of cancer. Insufficient sleep appears to be a key lifestyle factor linked to your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease…the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life span.
- Sleep as medicine
It follows that if sleep is so good for you, we should be trying to enhance it. Walker says that he lobbies doctors to prescribe and suggest more sleep for patience (instead of sleeping pills, unless there is a medical reason for them). I used to think of sleep as a necessary evil. But now I see it as an essential part of healing and enhancing my wakeful time here on earth. Walker refers to sleep as a “Swiss Army knife of health and wellness.”
Within the brain, sleep enriches a diversity of functions, including our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions and choices. Benevolently servicing our psychological health, sleep recalibrates our emotional brain circuits, allowing us to navigate next-day social and psychological challenges with cool-headed composure.
- Danger: Too Little Sleep
There’s a plethora of dangers of too little sleep. Workplace accidents, for example, occur at higher rates. For those in the medical profession, impaired sleep can have life or death consequences on patients. Drowsy driving is a severe threat to all our well being. When someone is asleep at the wheel, there is no reaction time of the driver. It’s like there’s a multi-ton missile with nobody operating it. And very few public health campaigns target drowsy driving. How many drinking-under-the-influence ads have you seen? How about drowsy driving? We need to do something about this.
- The beauty of dreaming
Walker spends a chapter examining the evolutionary origins of sleep and how animals also sleep. This is no doubt fascinating.But what I found most incredible were his passages on dreaming. There must be some evolutionary logic to why we dream. When we dream, the brain paralyzes our motor functions so we can’t act out our dreams. What goes on in our mind are theatrical fireworks that can linger with us.
Dreaming provides a unique suite of benefits to all species fortunate enough to experience it, humans included. Among these gifts are a consoling neurochemical bath that mollifies painful memories and a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge, inspiring creativity.
Dreaming is a form of therapy and takes the sting out of certain experiences.
REM-sleep dreaming offers a form of overnight therapy. That is, REM-sleep dreaming takes the painful sting out of difficult, even traumatic, emotional episodes you have experienced during the day, offering emotional resolution when you awake the next morning.
- Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Pressure
There are two correlated forces that govern our sleep: (1) circadian rhythm and (2) sleep pressure. The circadian rhythm goes up and down during the day and serves as a “biological pacemaker” that runs for approximately one day.There are two chronotypes – morning or evening people. And this is usually an inherited trait. I’m a night owl.Adenosine is a chemical in the brain known as sleep pressure. This builds over the day, and it makes you feel sleep when there is an abundance of it. Think of this as a sleep barometer.
- The stages of sleep
Think of our conscious selves in three parts (1) awake, (2) NREM sleep, (3) REM sleep. Walker contends that these phases can be thought of as (1) reception – experiencing the world; (2) reflection – storing new skills, (3) integration (interconnecting the world). The brain scans and science backs up these descriptions.Humans evolved to be biphasic sleepers, which means sleeping twice a day (once at night, and a nap during the afternoon).As we age, the quality and even purpose of our sleep changes. As babies, new neural pathways form while we sleep, for example. REM (dream) sleep dominates early life.Sleep is critical to memory and learning. Naps can also help boost memory and performance.
The more sleep spindles an individual obtained during the nap, the greater the restoration of their learning when they woke up…the more sleep spindles an individual has at night, the greater the restoration of overnight learning ability come the next morning….In doing so, sleep had helped future-proof those memories.
As a musician, I appreciated Walker’s examination of how sleep can enhance motor skills.
However, fitting with the pianist’s original description, those who were tested after the very same time delay of twelve hours, but that spanned a night of sleep, showed a striking 20 percent jump in performance speed and a near 35 percent improvement in accuracy. Practice does not make perfect. It is practice, followed by a night of sleep, that leads to perfection..
There is also ample commentary on the negative consequences of too little sleep. As well as how to think about insomnia, apnea, and more ailments.
Walker ends the book on a prescriptive note looking at how societies can function better with more sleep. For example, schools should start later so that students can sleep longer. Work schedules should be optimized so that people can get a full 8 hours of sleep every night.
This book is for folks interested in national security or presidential history. It’s rather narrow focus on the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) is a device that reveals the personalities that shaped America’s security posture over the last many decades.
The President’s Book of Secrets
By David Priess
Here are 7 takeaways:
- The Book
The PDB is the daily briefing provided to the president. It includes a variety of topics pertinent to inform the president.
What insiders simply call ‘the book’ represents the highest [mission fulfillment]: to provide accurate, timely, and objective information…to help the president defend the homeland and protect US interests abroad.
- Rigorous process
There is a rigorous editorial process for getting articles published in the book. Analysts draft articles in areas which they specialize. Their drafts are reviewed by editors and eventually approved by top officials. Here’s some gouge on what makes a good analyst:
A good analyst of foreign affairs is, above all, a skeptic who must look beyond the obvious for deeper motives and implications.
- Driven by engagement
Each president interacted differently with his PDB briefers. President George Bush was very engaged and wanted to hear directly from briefers and analysts. His son President George W. Bush was also very engaged. However, President Bill Clinton met infrequently with briefers, instead choosing to read the book instead. Presidential engagement would inform what analysts would follow up on, as well as what they’d write about in future PDBs. President Johnson liked the product so much, he opted to receive it seven days a week.
People were willing to work long hours and to come in at 3 o’clock in the morning because they knew damn well what they produced was read personally by the President immediately upon its delivery to the White House.
- Evolving Technology
The book has changed with the times. The book originated as a document known as the Checklist. It has largely been a written document. But analysts have also used in-person briefings to provide video updates. President Ronald Reagan appreciated these especially. President Barack Obama was the first to take his briefing on an iPad.
[Reagan] wrote in June 1985 that the Gandhi film offered ‘a sense of having met him before.’
- Objective analysis
There is a sanctity about the book. Despite it being a book to brief the president, analysts and editors take great pains to ensure that what they write is not politically motivated.
national security trumps partisanship when it comes to preparing the next commander in chief for his solemn duties.
- Limited readership
Though the book is meant “for the eyes of the president,” the PDB has often been read by cabinet officials and subordinates. When the PDB has a wide readership, analysts don’t put as many details regarding sources and methods. When the PDB has a more limited readership, more would end up in the document. Each President had a different distribution list for the PDB, which reveals the nature of who had power in their White House and who wasn’t in the loop.
“And it was obvious that with a large circulation…[analysts] just deleted this material from the information they gave to me and the officials who needed it.” [said Jimmy Carter]
- Make it simple
Analysts stress good, clean writing. When you’re writing about complex national security issues, it’s important to use simple language to communicate effectively.
“I wanted to extract the essence of the PDB,” [Jimmy] Carter says, “from the former wordy and rambling collection of non-essential and verbose text.”
So, what do you do?
Do you ever have trouble answering that question?
I know I do.
“Well, I’m an investment professional. But I also write and & make music.”
Or the inevitable:
“So, how do you pay the bills?”
“How much do you sleep?”
In 2017, I wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review:
Almost on a whim.
It took me like forty-five minutes or maybe an hour.
I’m not saying that to brag.
Believe me – I’m written my share of long research articles that end up as major duds.
But this one was different.
It was easy to write because I was essentially making a diary entry about my life.
How I structure my time & connect the dots.
The article went bananas.
Thousands of people reached out with feedback.
Whenever HBR reshares the piece, I get a wave of DMs.
Mostly positive, some critical.
Today, in a new book, HBR says it’s one of the top 30 most influential in its 100-year history.
The book drops today.
You’ll find Peter Drucker, Clayton Christensen. Tim Brown.
And my little article as one of the 30 in this august volume.
I suppose the article hit a chord with the many (I presume millions) who do more than one thing.
They *want* to be overemployed.
And they bristle at “Do one thing. And do it well.”
What if you want to do a few things?
Life is short.
This new book helps to legitimize what I call the “portfolio career” movement.
When people reach out, they often ask me how to get started.
1. Check out my blog where I feature 60+ individuals with portfolio careers.
Learn how these folks structure their days.
2. Check out my Seven Point Sunday newsletter that provides 7 ideas on how to begin (productivity hacks, financial insights, music/film suggestions).
Or DM me.
No, a portfolio career isn’t for everyone.
But if you’re feeling trapped or not living up to your potential in your current occupation – there may be another way.
Join us on this journey!
1. Why are you a musician?
I was born into several generations of music creators and performers. Making sense of experiences using music is more something that I am, versus something that I do. My creations are primarily intuitively driven. I have the ability to see old things in a new light and to create a sense of comfort through the expression of music.
2. Who are your musical inspirations?
My mother. I also love artists she loved like Crosby, Stills & Nash, Linda Ronstadt & Joni Mitchell. I also love soul music & good old rock and roll.
3. What is your practice routine?
To prepare myself each day I center my heart and make sure that I have everything I need. Singing and playing guitar are the antidote to pretty much anything that ails me and I am able to pass this along to the planet.
4. Why did you make this album?
Use My Imagination
By Stef Mariani
I sat down and wrote the words and music to “Use My Imagination” in March 2022 in about 5 minutes after seeing media footage of people sending their loved ones off to war in the Ukraine. My heart was breaking for them. The song was born out of a desire to let those people know that they are loved and we are united in our sadness over on the other side of the world in the Hawaiian Islands.
5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this song?
Believe it or not, my greatest obstacle I needed to overcome in writing this song was allowing my myself to feel my feelings, rather than pushing the discomfort of them away. Once I acknowledged them I as able to release them in this song, and share myself with the world.
6. Who is featured on the album?
I have an incredible 2 man team that accompanied me on instrumentation, co produced, arranged, record & engineer within 72 hours of its inception, maintaining the utmost purity and intention of the song.
- Lonnie Park (New York)
- Dave Tucciarone (Honolulu, Hawaii)
7. Where may we find you online?
1. Why are you a musician?
I am a musician by necessity, because I simply need music to heal and live. I really became a bassist in my adolescence by accident. When I was 16 years old playing sports, I suffered a tragic accident that caused me to lose my right eyesight. It was a traumatic and sad experience, but a friend — a teenager like me — invited me to join his band to play bass guitar. I can’t find words to describe how music helped me heal during that stage of my life. But since then the bass and I have been great companions.
2. Who are your musical inspirations?
My greatest inspiration will always be Marjorie Shea, my maternal grandmother, she was a very talented pianist and singer; loved for her renditions of Broadway tunes and the hits of the 30’s and 40s. She was the first who made me take classical piano training so absolutely my grandmother had a great influence on my musical education.
On the other hand, my influences have always depended on what moment I find myself. These past few weeks I have been deeply inspired by seeing these artists live and up close: Arooj Aftab, Marcus Miller, Joe Lovano, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, Brian Blade and Joshua Redman.
3. What is your practice routine?
I don’t have a routine exactly, but I make time every day to connect to my music and make sure I find new things to work on all the time. This means listening to new music, composing new ideas, shedding upright and electric, working on a variety of musical styles, playing by ear or just going out to see music. I see this as part of all of the same process of just trying to get better and stay on top of your game.
4. Why did you make this album?
The Sacred Leaf
By Afro-Andean Funk
I am a lover of traditional cultures. I’ve gotten very close to traditional artists and their stories, and maybe that’s also been a way for me to connect with some root that I felt I was missing as an American.
This album The Sacred Leaf was born out of our Just Play traveling music documentary series, the platform we created to bring visibility to these traditions and cultures of the African diaspora. In 2018 I traveled with my team to document the scene in Peru and invited different artists to be part of the album, one of them was Peruvian singer Araceli Poma, together we have formed AFRO-ANDEAN FUNK, to break some cultural barriers. We have embraced our cultures, our shared passion for global music and that is how our band was born.
5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this album?
I think the biggest obstacle is always your mind, which sometimes fills us with doubts. But if we can handle our mind we can handle the rest.
Being an independent artist is a great challenge too, this career is for the brave. It requires a lot of patience, perseverance and love for what we do.
And it is precisely with these last three things that I mention that I have overcome this challenge.
6. Who is featured on the album?
I am privileged to have created the music for our album with Araceli Poma, an outstanding Peruvian singer, representative of Afro and Andean culture. It has been a wonderful process of composing and performing our own music together. Together with Araceli, we lead Afro-Andean Funk.
The first person we called on was a virtuoso Argentine DJ, Grod Morel, who worked on the electronica aspects of the album. Some of my favorite artists were also part of this album, such as Neal Alger on electric guitar, Misha Tshiganov on piano, Shirazette Tinnin on drums, Fredy ‘Huevito’ Lobaton on Afro-Andean percussion and Fredy Gomez on the Charango.
Our special guest was singer and producer Manno Beats from Haiti. Crafting the lyrics on a couple of the compositions was Lara Bello from Spain.
7. Where may we find you online?
1. Why are you an author?
I am actually a 1st-time author. My wife and kids encouraged me to write a book based on home improvement tasks I did around our old home for years that didn’t always go as planned. I was very fortunate to have my book published by the publishing giant Simon and Schuster in New York and as well by Simon and Schuster in Canada. I have finished writing my second book and am working on my third book presently.
2. Who are your literary inspirations?
To be honest, I really don’t have any literary inspirations that inspired me to write these books, just a crazy imagination I guess! Embarrassed as I am to admit it, this book is all based on true events!
3. What is your writing routine?
I write usually from 8am to 11am each morning. I started this routine when I retired to help me stay on track with my writing goals. It started with scribbles on note pads and evolved into a more thorough process for documenting different stories from my life. I find the structure goes a long way for a retired person, and I’m grateful that it led to really publishing a book. I started off as a songwriter and never thought I would publish a book so late in life, and I definitely didn’t expect to make the Canadian bestseller list!
4. Why did you write this book?
The Cheap Handyman
By B.S. Harris
My wife, kids and I were sitting around the dining room table in our new home reminiscing about our home in which we lived in for 30 years. Someone, out of the blue, brought up a project I did that was a disaster and then the flood gates open and countess mishaps were mentioned which led to the idea of writing a book, hence here we are.
5. What were the biggest obstacles in writing this book?
The biggest obstacle for me was sometimes not being able to finish each story in the fashion I wanted to. I would write a chapter then go back to it a few days later to make sure it was exactly as I wanted it to be. If not, I’d edit it and go back again later, make the necessary changes and so on until it was perfect in my mind. I always worked on three chapters at once in case I struggled with one particular chapter.
6. Who are the key points of this book?
This Old House meets #HomeImprovementFails in this collection of laugh-out-loud stories, perfect for fans of Nick Offerman, CarTalk, or The Red Green Show.
“This book is all the fix-it you need for your hurt home improvement ego.” —Harrison Scott Key, Thurber-prize winning author of The World’s Largest
Man Meet Brian Harris, a (mostly) retired, self-proclaimed jack of all trades with a penchant for DIY and inventive money-saving schemes. Armed with a soldering gun, his trusty nine-foot ladder, and of course the handyman’s secret weapon—duct tape—Brian’s projects start out as simple chores: trim a tree branch, stain the cedar siding on his home…but all too often they end in costly disaster.
Sometimes he’s trying to do the right thing, like the time he wrecked his pool while saving some baby ducks. Often, he channels his inner MacGyver: he once taped his hockey skate back together so he could finish his rec-league game, only to get suspended for falling on the referee when it broke (again). But usually he’s just being, well, cheap! Like the time he inadvertently destroyed a $295 car key fob because he wouldn’t pay the (outrageous) $10 fee to have the battery professionally replaced.
In The Cheap Handyman, Brian anthologizes his hard-won wisdom, teaching us how (not) to cut down a tree, what to do if a stray cat has kittens in your HVAC system, three very incorrect uses for duct tape, the manifold hazards of pool maintenance, and more.
Filled with unforgettable true stories from the everyday life of an average guy just trying to save a few bucks, The Cheap Handyman is a delightful tribute to anyone who has ever thought, “Sure! I can do that!”
7. Where may we find you online?