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Maribel Monsalve - Life After Cancer & Digital Nomading as a 9 to 5er

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About This Episode

Digital nomading as a 9 to 5er sounds hard enough, but today's guest did that after fighting and overcoming cancer.

Maribel Monsalve is a American-Colombian, from Miami, Florida whose journey into this life was unique.

After her diagnosis, she realised what was important in her life and resolved to start living the life she wanted as soon as possible.

Fast forward a few months, Maribel had beat cancer and embarked on her first trip to London with her best friend.  That trip was pivotal.

She soon headed to Asia and went from there, all while working a regular 9 to 5 in the US (late nights required!).

Maribels's story is both inspiring and captivating.

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

  • What goes through your mind when you hear the doctor tell you "you have cancer"
  • How emotions play a part in the body being more susceptible to severe illnesses
  • How to get permission to work remotely from your 9 to 5 job
  • How Corona Virus impact Vietnam and why Maribel decided to fly back to Miami before it was too late
  • How Medellin, Colombia has become a start-up hot spot and a source of inspiration for the rest of South America

And so much more...

Resource Mentioned In This Episode:

Episode Transcript

Skye Khilji 0:02
This is Episode Five, where I talk to Maribel Monsalve who you can find on Instagram as travel journey of a cancer fighter. Maribel shares her story of discovering that she had cancer going through treatment, figuring out what she wanted to focus on in her life and cancer lighting a fire under her has to use her words. We talk about her life post cancer, being in Vietnam during the outbreak of Corona virus, what life looks like now she's back in the US the economy, how America is responding to the corona virus crisis, and even how Colombia has become a technology hub and an inspiration for the rest of Latin America. Erica, when it comes to working remote, being an entrepreneur, starting a business, there's a lot covered in this episode, and I think you're really going to enjoy it. It's great to finally be on the line with you. I've been wanting to talk to you for so long, honestly.

Maribel Monsalve 1:14
Oh, thank you.

Skye Khilji 1:15
My pleasure. I honestly, I think I saw the picture of you. When you first came through remission and something just connected with me then that you know, I need to talk to Maribel there's a story here that needs to be told and even more so now with the world in you know, the kind of situation that's tough for people, I think this kind of message is even more important.

Maribel Monsalve 1:36
Thank you. I hope that what I have to say can reach you know, somebody that might need a message like this.

Skye Khilji 1:44
Definitely. I'd love to just really start at the top with you. So we tend to go through the timeline of life before the pivotal moment and life you know, afterwards and what that looks like. So take us all the way back to what was life like before things got crazy.

Maribel Monsalve 2:00
Well, so I was diagnosed and tOctober 2018 with breast cancer, I didn't have any symptoms. So I kind of feel like I was pretty oblivious. I mean, I've always been the type of person to want to get the most out of life, enjoy everyday as much as possible. But when you are not conscious of the fragility of your own life, and if you haven't faced your own mortality in the face, you kind of settle in into these lols or, you know, long periods of time where you don't really think about the motions that you're going through every day, you just kind of go through them. And so, for a while, I was in that mindset where I wasn't really paying attention too much. I mean, like I said, I've always had this hunger for life, but it definitely increased. after diagnosis before then, I mean, for a while I was a lot of a homebody. Actually, years before that I was what I guess a lot of people would consider a party person I used to love to go out all the time. And then I kind of settled into a relationship where we spent a lot of time at home. So you kind of also grow out of certain stages. And so before October 2018, I was at the point of my life where I was just like I mentioned before, just kind of going through the motions of life.

Skye Khilji 3:38
You mentioned the emotions. And it's quite an interesting point. I have this mindset and belief that our emotions play such an important role in our health physically. Did you mention that because you think that there's some link to that and the condition that you ultimately found yourself with?

Maribel Monsalve 3:54
Absolutely. My emotions definitely played a part. I mean, I feel like they did. You know, years ago, I went through a bout of depression. And somehow between therapy, not medication, I'm not very big on having to take medication. Even though I had to go through chemo, I kind of set my mind up or tried to get my mind set in a place where I could handle my emotions without having to deal with medication. However, I do feel that because of life circumstances, I kind of held on to grudges for a really long time. And I definitely don't think that that was the best for having avoided for example, or trying to avoid a cancer diagnosis now, do I think that it was the sole factor? No, absolutely not. But I do think that it contributed in a sense to my body creating something, you know, like a tumor.

Skye Khilji 4:56
Yeah, I guess it weakens the immune system. Correct is Oh, and you know, is high and you're in a stressed state. That makes a lot of sense. So we've got a good picture of your health at that point. What did your business your career your family life look like at that point.

Maribel Monsalve 5:13
So I've been working from home for a large corporation. I've been with this company for six years. Prior to that, I was working for a smaller company. I used to manage their IT department call manage their IT department. And then I switched gears and went to manage one of their locations out in the field. And I ended up getting sick during that job because of certain chemicals that were on site. So I had to quit that job. And somehow I ended up finding my current job. And it's very funny because for years, I always wanted and kind of visualize myself working from home, or having a job or creating a job for myself where I could just spend time at home and not have to worry about going to an office. Actually my boss I met her seven years before I was able to obtain this current position. And for seven years, I would write to her every twice a year sorry, reminding her about my capabilities and asking her if she had an opening because I knew she worked from home. And it took seven years but finally one day, you know, I was jobless. I had to come back from I was at the time I had been working for the previous company in New York City. I got sick I ended up having to move back to Florida. And lo and behold a few months after being here, unemployed and emailing everybody for a job. She thought He asked me in for an interview.

Skye Khilji 7:02
That's really the power of persistence and love that you just kept hammering away at that. Yeah, he didn't let that dream die. I commend you for that. My question is, were you starting to look for that remote job before your diagnosis? Or was it during or after? Where are we on that timeline?

Maribel Monsalve 7:18
Okay, so I started to look for a job that where I could work from home right after I graduated college, I graduated back in 2006. But in 2006, you know, companies were still not as open for their employees to work from home as they are now. I actually did run into a company straight out of college that allowed me to work a few hours from home here and there a few days, but it wasn't consistent. And every time I worked from home, you know, I had this. I just knew that that's what I wanted for my life. So every job after that, I kind have tried to convince my bosses to allow for full time work from home capabilities. Some Jobs was easier to do that other jobs were not as easy because you had to be present for a lot of the activities that needed to be performed. So this my current job I've had for six years, and then I was only diagnosed two years ago. So it kind of was a blessing, kind of No, it was definitely a blessing for me to have this job where I wasn't stuck in an office because I actually would take my job to my chemo therapies, and work at chemotherapy, and then come home and spend three or four days, you know, offline.

Skye Khilji 8:48
Yeah, so that flexibility must have just been so important. Yeah,

Maribel Monsalve 8:51
during that time, it definitely was. No, of course, you know, in the US, unfortunately, we don't have the money. amount of sick leave or other medical benefits that other countries may have, especially for cancer patients. But being able to work from home definitely gave me a lot more flexibility than some of my other, you know, for lack of a better word co patients, you know, women or men my age that are going through cancer treatment, if you don't have a job that gives you flexibility in the United States, it is very hard to be dealing with cancer and the treatments and work.

Skye Khilji 9:36
Absolutely. Absolutely. What goes through your mind when you first hear those words, you get that diagnosis? What does that period look like?

Maribel Monsalve 9:46
I think any cancer patient or anybody that you know hears those words you have cancer the first week you are completely deaf. You Don't really assimilate what is going on, you are in a void. Before I was diagnosed, my boss had asked me to go on a business trip to London. And the week I was diagnosed was exactly one week before I was supposed to be in London. I honestly asked my doctors to Please clear mean to go, because if I would have missed that business trip, I don't think my mindset would have been the right one going into cancer. I think I needed some normality in my life. You know, I guess I needed a few days to hold on to this fake sense of normality, I guess.

Skye Khilji 10:46
Right. Did you make that trip?

Maribel Monsalve 10:47
Yes, I did. I had a great time, actually.

Skye Khilji 10:51
Well, London's my home city, so I'm always gonna expect to hear good things about

Maribel Monsalve 10:55
I absolutely loved London and my best friend came with me. She was there. to support me, my parents did not want me to travel by myself, especially right after a cancer diagnosis. So she was able to come along with me and spend we spent a week in London, and it was amazing.

Skye Khilji 11:15
What did that trip do for you personally?

Maribel Monsalve 11:18
Okay, so I've always been addicted to traveling and meeting new places and meeting new people and being able to eat you know, different foods. I think that that trip gave me such fire in my art, I guess.

Maribel Monsalve 11:36
for lack of a better expression like

Skye Khilji 11:38
English translation.

Maribel Monsalve 11:41
It fired me up, it gave me the desire to live even more than before. It gave me something to look forward to. And actually right after chemotherapy, and I don't recommend this for everybody, I would definitely discuss this with Your doctor. But my doctors cleared me two weeks after chemo after my last chemotherapy. And I was able to take another trip to Spain and Portugal and Morocco. So that trip to London spired me up even more to want to travel even further. It made me want to stay alive to make sure I did everything possible to ensure that I was going to be able to enjoy much more time on this planet.

Skye Khilji 12:30
Yeah, I'm a big believer in the breakthrough coming off to the breakdown. And it's so funny as you're talking. My situation is similar nothing like cancer. I had an appendix burst in the middle of the night sepsis and was in hospital for a week. And it happened to be a few days before I was due to fly to Dubai for a trip that ultimately changed my life and I ended up living there for 15 months. Wow. So I can definitely resonate with that. The timing sometimes is so wrong. But you find that strength inside you to just make that trip and things really change from there. So you said it lit the fire under duress, so your ass translate for English listeners? What direction Did you then take? What did it really make you want to do? And what are those life changes that took place.

Maribel Monsalve 13:18
So some of the life changes will definitely travel has become much more of a priority now than it was before. I'm not satisfied with taking a you know, 10 day or less trip any longer. I actually eventually dream of making, like traveling full time a reality. Some of the other changes definitely my attitude is completely different as to how I see things that others might consider challenges or things that before I would maybe make a big deal about now are extremely, you know, trivial to me. I don't make a big deal about small things anymore. I definitely do not have time to waste. I tried to take advantage of my time as much as possible. I stay positive a lot more than I used to. And like I mentioned before I went through depression a few years ago. In a sense, I've kind of been working on myself for so many years that when this moment came, I wasn't really ready for it, but it didn't overwhelm me as bad as I thought it would.

Skye Khilji 14:37
Yeah, the universe moves in mysterious ways. And they always say, you know, life never gives you something that you can't handle. And you know, Dr. demartini, somebody I respect, something he said, always stuck with me, which was, you know, life makes you grow through both support and challenge. And sometimes it's the challenge and makes us grow the most and I definitely Hear that in your story. So one thing you said that I think I just want to touch upon is not what happened to you, but it's how you responded. And you mentioned that in the past, you suffered from depression. And I got that sense as you were talking, I could hear that you've done a lot of work on yourself. What were some of those processes and protocols and practices that you went through? That made a big difference for your own health and your own sense of well being?

Maribel Monsalve 15:24
So some of the processes will definitely looking, you know, for a therapist that I felt comfortable with that definitely helped finding somebody that I felt I could talk to about, you know, the different subjects that caused my depression in the first place. But beyond sitting in an office with a therapist, I think, just keeping things in perspective. What I mean by that is sometimes we I don't want to ever sound like I'm downplaying anybody's issues. I know there's, you know, Mary have issues out there people suffering, you know from bipolar issues, bipolar, depression, things like that. Those are you know, some people have chemical imbalances and it's hard for them to only decide to change their mindset, for example, but for those of us that do not have, you know, bipolar depression or other types of mental illness, I think trying to stay positive, without being toxic either there is some sort of toxic positivity, where you're just oblivious in your quest to be positive. I think it's facing the reality of things, but keeping your mindset positive. Also, I did a lot of journaling during that time. And I still do I like to write down emotions. If I'm feeling angry, I write it down. If I'm feeling happy, I write it down because sometimes you need that outlet. And sometimes you don't feel comfortable telling somebody even if you have a therapist, even if you might not feel comfortable discussing a certain feeling you can always explore that much more in writing. I think I tried to form a lot better connections with my friends and my family. So that if I was, you know, at some point where I wasn't feeling great, I always had somebody that was great support system for me to be able to reach out to and kind of talk things out as well.

Skye Khilji 17:33
Definitely. I think that outlet is just so important. We naturally in our culture, repress. Yeah, so many emotions and you know, that is just toxic to the body. So I love that you mentioned journaling, you mentioned just talking to somebody and I guess it's important for the individual to find the modality that works for them rather than any one thing being definitive best. So talk to me about you started traveling, we went through your treatment Guess you arrived in remission? And then you started traveling or were you just planning the travel and you started as you were finishing your treatment? How did that transpire?

Maribel Monsalve 18:10
Like I mentioned before, anybody that's going through cancer right now that wants to travel. Well, definitely right now, it's not a good time because of colvard. But before you know the virus, my recommendation was to check with a doctor before making a decision like that. But basically, once I was done with chemo, I went on this trip, I had been making travel a priority for, I guess, the last four or five years of my life. However, with the timeframes that we have in the US with regards to vacation time and all that, in reality, we only have about seven to 10 days that we can take a trip, and I just never felt satisfied with that. That was never I've never been happy about that show. amount of time. So I've always tried to somehow incorporate more travel in my life. So I guess to answer your question, it's really always been a dream or somewhat of a priority, but now more so after cancer.

Skye Khilji 19:16
Yeah. So where have you been? Since you, you know, go out of the treatment. Where have you been? Where are you going to next? What's that travel plan looking like for you Maribel

Maribel Monsalve 19:26
right after chemo, I went to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. And then I had to wait a few more months because I had multiple surgeries after chemotherapy. I started traveling again this year. I went to my parents home country, which is Colombia. And then two weeks later I left to Thailand and Vietnam. I was actually supposed to be on the road for three more months but I ended up coming back home this past Sunday because I did not want to find myself stuck somewhere. So far away from my oncology team.

Skye Khilji 20:05
Yeah, we actually connected Yeah. When you were in Vietnam the first time and we were going to record this podcast and you told me you're flying home. Actually yesterday I released an episode with the CEO of insured nomads calm and his wife is a global travel doc she attends the emerging viruses conference. And I was asking him, you know, what nomads should do. And this week has been crazy. I've been kind of surveying my audience in different countries to understand the situation on the ground. What was it like in Vietnam in regards to covered

Maribel Monsalve 20:39
I was in Vietnam a total of three weeks. The first and second week it was not business as usual. I mean, people were taking precautions. Vietnamese people wear face masks, typically because it's a part of their culture that they do not want to expose themselves to the sun too much, especially the women But I noticed that around the middle of the second week to the third week, more and more people were getting upset at tourists not wearing masks. A lot of businesses were closing down some of the hotels and hostels where either I stayed, or people that I knew were staying at, started closing down. We actually had a little bit of a scare I was in done on and the hostel I had just left. I had made a reservation to return a few days later, and they canceled my reservation. So I called them you know, wanting to know why. And they said that they were supposed to close down because there was two guys that were diagnosed with Colvin and I guess they had been near our hospital or around there are people that had been around them came back to her I don't know exactly what it was, but they basically had everybody leave and completely disinfected the hospital and then did not accept anybody back for and they said they were closing down for about two weeks. So, you know, that's when it kind of hit me that that things were getting a lot more serious than we were understanding the situation to be. And then at that time I was in Hawaii on which is a smaller a lot smaller town than done, but it's only 20 minutes away. And then the situation there started getting a little bit more nerve wracking because, again, a lot of the hotels closing a lot of the tourists and travelers not being able to find places to stay, a lot of the restaurants closing. So it just kind of slowly began to worry me that I might end up getting stuck. So Where not being able to move either to another country or come back to the United States.

Skye Khilji 23:05
Yeah, in fact, Andrew from insured nomads, he was telling me that the Marriott have closed their hotels, accepting guests and even the Airbnb in some countries, emailing the hosts and telling them you know, don't accept your guests. We're in an Airbnb in Romania right now and we're fine here. The next Airbnb also in Romania in Bucharest, they've messaged us to tell us guys you know, it's fine, you can come and stay. But Andrews advice was try and stay in a mom and pop bed and breakfast, something that's not owned by a corporation that's concerned with you know, their liability of of being sued. So we haven't seen too much of that impact in Europe, but I am hearing that that type of thing is happening, which is it's definitely a concern for nomads, and you know, we will have to make our decision. I mean, interestingly, the airport's haven't closed yet, but the US and Canada have closed their border. It does look like there's a lockdown about to take place. What are your thoughts on on how things are over there in the us right now?

Maribel Monsalve 24:05
I think we're still at a point, especially in South Florida, where a lot of people are not understanding still, I don't think that they are really taking it serious. We've had our city and county mayor's having to close down forcefully, a lot of the bars and restaurants and just other places of that sort that people are still flocking to. in mass because this is spring break for people in the United States. I'm not sure if it is in Europe, but a lot of university and high school students have come here. And I really don't think that even with the amount of coverage that the media is giving this situation, they're not taking it seriously. So our mayors are having to make decisions that are a lot more forceful. As far as locking things down, now as far as entering the United States, I have to say, then I guess, going to be fully transparent here. I was a little disappointed. I came back on Sunday, flew through Qatar, and arrived in Miami International Airport. And I wasn't screened. I wasn't asked at all, where I came from. My temperature was not taken. And also my passport was not really reviewed to see where I had arrived from.

Skye Khilji 25:36
Yeah, I mean, that's very concerning. There's a couple on Instagram that I follow. And they're from Italy, and they flew into New York and on their Instagram story, they said that they were surprised they expected you know, given that come from Italy, there to be some checks and there was nothing for them. So it seems to be consistent whether you're a citizen or not. They're not really taking it very seriously. And yesterday, Andrew It was really interesting. I asked him, Andrew in China, they, you know, did a full lockdown. And after 15 days, the incidence rate of the virus completely dropped. Will that happen if we do the lockdown in the US in Europe? And his answer was sadly not because, you know, in China, they do what the government tells them, because the punishments are severe. In the West, we tend not to do that so much. So he was quite pessimistic is probably the wrong word. But he didn't have much hope for the lockdown actually changing things.

Maribel Monsalve 26:30
I think I haven't listened to the podcast. It's actually on my list of things to do today.

Maribel Monsalve 26:37
But to what he's saying, I mean, if only a portion of the population locks down, and there's still others not taking this seriously, still going about partying at the beach in mass, and doing other things that are compromising others then, you know, so let's say the lockdown last year. weeks, and this person or group of people have been not following the recommendations. I mean, two weeks from now, you know, they could have just been in a group of people where somebody was infected, which still extends the incubation period for another two weeks. So, if everybody's not cooperating at the same time, the chances of us, you know, seeing this drop is not likely. And I totally agree with that.

Skye Khilji 27:29
Yeah, he actually lives in Rio in Brazil. He told me in Brazil, they're really behind on where they should be mentioned that the Rio Carnival had recently and a group of Italians came, and they were in contact with 100,000 plus people during the carnival. And again, there's no screening so the potential for that just to explode in these major Metropolis is just unprecedented.

Maribel Monsalve 27:53
Also, I think that a lot of countries, including the United States have been late to the game. Do you know Call it that way. With regards to testing, I don't think that they really believed that this would spread as fast and to as many people as it has. You know, we had a lot of cases of Ebola not not here in the States, but throughout the world a few years ago. However, it's still minimal when you compare it to the amount of people currently diagnosed with colvard.

Skye Khilji 28:29
Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I was talking to a friend today he's a personal trainer in London. And, you know, I hadn't really heard many cases of people that I knew with Corona virus. And he said, one of my clients that I personal train, he called me and said he'd been in contact with somebody who has it well, and my friend tried to get a test and said, there's no tests available. So he's in a situation where, you know, a client he's physically trained in the gym has told him he's been in contact with the disease or people with the disease and he himself can't Get a test. So he's just self quarantining, and really doesn't know what his health situation is, which is just terrifying.

Maribel Monsalve 29:07
I think in here in South Florida just today, they started operating or yesterday to drive through testing clinics so that people can go get tested. And But still, before you go, you have to call and make an appointment. And they have to pre screen you to make sure that you even qualify for those tests. And some people are saying that, even though they suspect that they have covert, they still didn't qualify for the testing.

Skye Khilji 29:36
I think the key, you know, risk in all of this is there's only a certain number of hospital beds and if the epidemic gets to such an extent, you know, where people are really in a severe state, it can quickly overwhelm the medical system. And I you know, I'm really, really trying to not just show a negative perspective, because you know, there is always a positive side and I've kind of pushed out a lot of the positive stuff in my social media and in my content, but right now I feel there's a responsibility to actually just show you know what is happening in each person's area because we're not really sure what to believe you get so much crazy stuff through and WhatsApp is hard to know what's true and what's not at this point. salutely so another, I'm not gonna say which hospital my sister works for, but she does work for large hospital here in South Florida. And they have been, you know, she actually does MRI scanning. And basically they have told the MRI techs that they might have to go help their X ray departments. So basically, people that are in need of being diagnosed of cancer are kind of being pushed to the side as a lesser priority. to people that need to be diagnosed of covert is basically what the situation is starting to turn to so.

Maribel Monsalve 31:04
Exactly. So people that might be in line waiting to find out if they have cancer or not or waiting to be screened, unless it's something that's extremely aggressive. But basically the priority level for this type of diagnostic is less right now than a potential covert patient.

Skye Khilji 31:25
Terrible and difficult decision for you know, the people in power to make how do you choose this is like choosing between you know, which one of your kids do you love the most and which one stays exactly terrible. I just want to switch gears for a second and talk about the economic situation in the US. We've got the Fed cutting interest rates to near zero the lowest of all time. They've announced I think an 850 billion dollar coronavirus stimulus package in Europe, the EU are printing 700 billion pounds and just today in the UK. They are announced that if you lose your job as a result of coronavirus, the government will pay 80% of your wages up to 2500 pounds per month. This is something we've never seen. Economically our markets are in freefall. What are you seeing in terms of job losses in terms of the economy? What's the kind of situation on the ground over there?

Maribel Monsalve 32:21
So if you've been to South Florida, or if you've read about South Florida, this area is very dependent on tourism. There's a lot of people here that work for hotels, they work for bars, they work for clubs, they work for, you know, things that employment that does not really come with a lot of benefits. Unfortunately, and a lot of small businesses here are really, you know, one bad month is enough to put them out of business and therefore, put their employees at risk for losing homes. losing their cars. I think people are very concerned about their financials. I know that the President yesterday or a few days ago said that every person or every American making under $100,000 a year would be receiving I believe it's 1000 or 1200 dollar checks. And we appreciate that however, I think that 1200 dollars is not really going to help us if we end up being on lockdown for a lot longer than two or three weeks. The rents in South Florida are not as expensive as London However, it's not a cheap area to live in. rents here you know right now for a one bedroom are fluctuating between 1000 to 1400. dollars, not in a great area like like not at the beach. If you're at the beach, you're definitely paying a lot more than that. But that kind of puts in perspective. So if a person is out of work for four weeks, the check is barely going to help them with just rent

Skye Khilji 34:12
and other banks and the mortgage companies giving payment breaks?

Maribel Monsalve 34:15
No, not yet. I mean, hopefully they start to but as of right now, no, I think that the most they could do is maybe postpone your payment. But I think that they're dealing with that on a case by case basis and not as a whole solution to the problem, or at least a temporary solution to the problem.

Skye Khilji 34:39
Yeah, I mean, it's probably too early for them to make a blanket rule. And as you said, it's specific industries that are seasonal, or you know, travel and tourism based. I think at some point that has to happen. I mean, the whole economic system relies on the fact that people keep buying. So when an event like exactly that kind of House of Cards starts to fall. down, it is going to require something that we've never seen before.

Maribel Monsalve 35:03
Correct? I honestly don't know. Where I mean, it's I think I can only imagine at the decision making level, they know the kinds of questions that are. Again, we haven't seen anything like this in our lifetimes. Maybe our great grandparents or grandparents saw this, or something similar to this during the Depression. But you know, there I don't think there's been a time like this before.

Skye Khilji 35:34
Yeah, a true Black Swan event, as they call it.

Maribel Monsalve 35:36
Correct.

Skye Khilji 35:37
So talk to me about the opposite side of this, you know, it's easy for us to go with the doom and gloom and fear and we do have to address that, of course, and it's great that you've shared, you know, that perspective that you've got. I mean, on the other side, I've seen the canals in Venice are clearer than they've ever been because there's less boat trips so the sediment you know, gets a chance to settle in uhand. Aware the coast It originated, they can see the sky, there's no longer big plumes of smoke, they can hear the birds sing instead of the factories, you know, making all their noises. So there are some some positive sides. Are you optimistic about what happens after this? Where are you at on that scale?

Maribel Monsalve 36:15
Absolutely. I think that once we make it out of this pandemic, I think one of the biggest benefits or advantages of this will be that number one that people take consciousness of not being tied to a single entry of income. I think that is slowly we've kind of been becoming conscious that we cannot put all of our eggs in one basket. But I think that after this, even more, people are going to be looking to diversify the way that they generate revenue.

Skye Khilji 36:54
Absolutely.

Maribel Monsalve 36:55

I think that the other benefit of this is that for a long time, I've heard people say, you know, I don't have time for this, or I don't have time for that. I don't have time to spend with my family. I don't have time to cook. I've been meaning to read this book, but I don't really have time for it. I think that, you know, obviously, this wasn't the best way to have to get this pause. But for those of us that are not going through the virus, you know, I think being able to stay home, and kind of focus on activities to keep us entertained. I think that'll give us a lot more closeness to our family closeness to maybe not in person to our friends. But I'm pretty sure that a lot of people are calling up friends that they haven't talked to in a while, you know, kind of staying in touch more with others.

Skye Khilji 37:51
Yeah, I think the humanity comes out in a situation like this. And you know, I really like what you said that people are now not depending on that single source of income. I think broadly speaking, and you know, this doesn't apply to everywhere. But we've kind of got accustomed to the fact that our governmental and the power structures probably don't serve as our justice system doesn't dispense justice. Our education system doesn't educate. And you know, in terms of employment is really an old model. It goes back to the factory time of the worker. And, you know, it's just really completely one sided. So I love how our entrepreneur community has responded. I'm seeing companies like Xavier, who are allowing people to take his API for free for the next three months, especially if they're a travel business, for example, that community, the Nomad community, the entrepreneur community have really pulled together and on my site, all of the content about working remotely and becoming a nomad we're seeing 1,000% plus increases this week. people searching out so I do think whilst it is, you know, a really bad situation. undoubtably terrible things are happening. It's a new dawn that's breaking, and people are probably starting to become more empowered and take more responsibility for themselves and their families.

Maribel Monsalve 39:10
Correct. I think another thing that we are going to see coming out of this is a lot more people kind of understanding their finances better than before, or becoming more conscious of keeping track of finances better. And again, we've kind of, I would say, the last three or four years, I've noticed a lot more people trying to empower themselves, not only with, you know, just learning skills from a university or college, I think more people have kind of taken on, kind of taken, I guess, more personal responsibility, again, for their finances further education. It didn't seem that five years ago, for example, we never thought that Google and YouTube would be able to train us to do jobs that are not dependent on a company, you know. So I think not just not relying on a single source of income. But I think one of the other things is people kind of maybe working on their lowering their debts or trying to find different ways to pay off mortgages or how to cut some of their expenses. I have seen a shift of people looking to do this in the last three or four or five years. But I think coming out of this pandemic, I think we're going to see a lot more of people trying to live a debt free lifestyle, and understand more of their finances.

Skye Khilji 40:37
I absolutely agree. I think there's been a big shift. And it's probably in the last five years. You're right. I remember maybe 15 years ago, when I was 20. I first started getting into personal development. And that's when I learned all of these concepts and the internet was around then all of these concepts were there, but it wasn't really available unless you knew to look through what I see in the last five His social media has blown things up to the point where people might get attracted by the guy in the private jet or driving the car with the hot girl. But then they start asking, Well, okay, how did he create that in his life, and then they get directed to those same kind of things that you're talking about freelancing, building a business, running an agency creating a product. So we really are living in a time where we have access to the entire human knowledge on demand. 24 seven in our pocket is just unbelievable. So I think you're right, I think the world is moving towards that more remote work model. I think this individual economy where the individual becomes an economy himself, he, you know, creates more value for the world and in return the world gives more value back to him. And I'm so excited because I think finally people can start using their natural gifts that they have, and monetizing that and sharing that with the world. Rather than going to a job. You Hate every day to get a paycheck to pay for your apartment?

Maribel Monsalve 42:03
Absolutely. For where you don't even spend time at because you're spending all your time sitting in an office.

Skye Khilji 42:11
There you go. That's right. You just sleep there for six hours, wake up, hit the gym and go back to work.

Maribel Monsalve 42:14
Exactly. Now, now that we're talking about that, one of the things that and I always tell my friends I that are still, you know, still working at offices. One of the things that used to just feel like it was draining my soul was to sit in a cubicle. I don't know if you know what a cubicle is in the UK. I do, okay. I absolutely hated sitting in a cubicle. So especially the graininess of it, everything was gray. So I would, somebody gave me this calendar, I'm sure you've seen it. It's called 1001 places to see before you die. So basically every day is a picture of a place that you should see before You die. So I used to cut up the image and post it on my cubicle. And Funny enough, I was going through early Facebook pictures. And I saw a picture that I had taken of my cubicle, or I had all of these other pictures of places that I dreamt of going to one day. And I started looking at the pictures, and I realized that I have pretty much hit every single place that I had up on my cubicle at that time 10 years ago. So it was just something that hit me about kind of like the power of the mind to make things that you want and long for a reality.

Skye Khilji 43:50
Yeah, that visualization is real. 100% is I think I really understood how bad the cubicle was in probably 2005 I was Working for Ayaan, I was running their call center was kind of my first corporate job. And I found myself running a team. And it was a call center and the phones were red and I couldn't find one of my staff lady called Judy. I won't go into surname so I'm embarrassed. And she'd been off the phone for like three minutes and we're like, Where's Julie? And we found her asleep in the toilet cubicle. 10 minutes. She chose the toilet cubicle wherever the cubicle I think that speaks volumes.

Maribel Monsalve 44:29
Yes. cubicle life.

Skye Khilji 44:32
Yeah, we've all been there. We've all been there. Well, you know, I think the good thing is is such a terrible environment. It forces us to start looking at how to get out on some level.

Maribel Monsalve 44:41
Absolutely. And like I said earlier, it fires up your eyes

Skye Khilji 44:49
100% So once this thing's all over, what does life look like for Maribel? What's the plan? Where do you go next?

Maribel Monsalve 44:57
So my plan is absolutely love. To go back on the road and finish up the trip that I started that, that I was unable to finish. I am a little sad, you know, but I'm also extremely grateful. It was a great experience to have been able to go on the road for a month, I had never been able to do that before, particularly because I was able to bring my work with me. And it was a great feeling to be able to travel and still generate income and not have to worry about dipping into my savings in order to be able to do the things I wanted to do on this trip. So the plan is to definitely take another three months to take that time to finish the trip. And I'm also looking at maybe purchasing real estate back home in Colombia, the market there I'm not sure you know how the markets will be after the covert is contained, but I think that it might be beneficial for people looking to purchase and I've been meaning to purchase something there for a little bit just haven't really had the possibility to with going through cancer treatment.

Skye Khilji 46:08
Yeah. So you have a nice plan for life once this is all over voice is good. I love that you're going in a positive direction.

Maribel Monsalve 46:13
Absolutely. And you know, so I turned 40 this year. So I think once you hit 40, and even before you kind of start thinking about retirement, I definitely do not want to be having to work up to the age that the US says we're supposed to work, which is, I believe 62 for Women are 65. I don't want to have to work till that age, I want to, if I turn 65 and I'm still working, I want it to be because it is my choice and not a matter of having to do that.

Skye Khilji 46:51
So let's dream for a minute. Let's imagine we're five years down the line. The real estate investments have paid off, you can wake up and choose wherever you want. Do with your day. What does that day look like?

Maribel Monsalve 47:03
What does that day look like? It definitely would involve me probably travelling full time somewhere. Still. I'm a very, I wouldn't say workaholic, but I also am I the active person, I am not the type to just sit in lounge all the time. I can't that's not me. I have to be productive somehow it's just the way I am. So I would probably either be managing my own business or, but kind of like at my leisure not on a set schedule because I have to produce money, you know, something maybe in the travel industry that I enjoy, you know, helping clients find their own way to travel the world or something like that. You know, for a few hours, being able to have time to exercise to have a nice Walk maybe in Italy somewhere? So I guess, you know, I would still work in my ideal day but not because I would have to it would be more of a choice. Enjoying food with my friends. I don't know kind of just easygoing lifestyle but at the same time still incorporating travel into my life.

Skye Khilji 48:24
It's an interesting question I asked a lot of people that because it usually shows a common timeline. So what I hear in a lot of these interviews, is there's the life before where you're in the nine to five working for the paycheck. And then as you said, something lights a fire under us, and you then move into Okay, I'm going to work remote or not have a boss in the traditional sense. So I'll still be working for money but on my terms, and then phase three looks like Okay, what about once I've paid and it's my passion project, and everybody says the same thing. I definitely work but it won't be Like work?

Maribel Monsalve 49:00
Exactly.

Skye Khilji 49:03
So one of the things I like to ask people a lot, what are those books that changed your life? Are there any books that stand out that you just keep recommending and you keep gifting to people?

Maribel Monsalve 49:12
Absolutely, definitely. The Miracle Morning, I have been reading this book, I actually did not implement a morning routine until, until really until cancer treatment. Because during cancer treatment, there's a few things, you know, you have to make sure that you're getting enough fruits and veggies and things like that. So I actually started implementing morning routine during cancer treatment. So that was one of the books that definitely made a difference. And I always either gift it or talk about it. Another one of the books was The Success Principles. There's a tiny portion in that book about visualization. It just resonated so much with me I read The Success Principles maybe maybe five or six years ago. And ever since I've always made sure to write down things that I wanted to visualize in my life or created vision boards or maybe had like a running vision notebook. And that was one of the things that not only resonated with me, but I have shared with others, I've shared the book with others. And I've seen that make such an impact in my friends lives and my family members lives that we actually try to get together every year and do an exercise of visualization, particularly at the beginning of the year. But it all stemmed from what I read in that book. And it was really only maybe two pages about visualization. But it made me want to research further, the proper way to visualize and things like that. So I think Those two books and again, the Tim Ferriss book, The Four Hour Workweek, I think any, any and every digital nomad or remote worker has, at some point run across this book. And it has definitely made an impact on how we see our time, and how we exchange our time to a company for money, you know?

Skye Khilji 51:22
Yeah, it's funny when you were talking earlier, and I think your phrase was, I was thinking about how to ask my boss to work remotely. And that book popped into my mind. Yes, the templates in there for asking the, you know, he has that process of setting the boss. It's not permanent. It's just a trial. You can call it in any time. But I also love the thing that he says, which is, you know, don't ask for permission jaggedness you'll always get forgiveness. Exactly. And that just really resonated with me at the time for the audience listening. So those two books was the Miracle Morning, which is I think, Hal Elrod and the success principles. Jack Canfield absolutely Good books. It's funny, you mentioned his two pages on visualization. I always have that feeling that the book could probably be done in five pages and they pad it out to make it a product to sell.

Maribel Monsalve 52:12
It was a very large book. There's a lot of repetition in that book. But I think it does drive home a point about things that we should do for ourselves, to be able to ensure that we have success and whatever we set our minds to whether you know, whether it's creating an exercise routine or being successful in running a marathon or, you know, I think those principles apply, not just to business, and not just to professional life, but more to our other aspects of our lives.

Skye Khilji 52:47
Yeah, I'm probably being unfair to the author's is probably like, you know, a parent has to tell the child 100 times until we get it. Maybe it's the same principle of play. You know.

Maribel Monsalve 52:56
One other thing I wanted to add when you asked me earlier about How I saw the world or something positive that would come out of this situation with the virus. I think one other thing that is going to come out is a shift in work. And like you mentioned earlier, we're kind of set into this way of working for companies that is outdated. And I think companies, you know, they've they've been very slow to catch on to the fact that think, you know, the Times have changed. And what was important to workers, you know, 100 years ago is not, you know, some of these schedules and rules and micromanaging techniques and all that. That's not really relevant to workers today. And there has to be a shift in how we work for these companies, or else they're going to start losing competent workforce and mass.

Skye Khilji 53:58
Yeah, I agree. I think that definitely The case in the West, my girlfriend's from Mexico. And we actually lived in Cancun for six months, we left in December. And it's so strange when I see how the institutions are over there is still that old system, they, you know, are a few decades maybe behind and, you know, they still believe that, you know, the government has their best interests at heart that their employer is the one in total control. And, you know, the internet is definitely opening things up there. But I don't see that it's really penetrated to the extent that it has in the US and in Europe. Do you see any of that when you go back to Colombia?

Maribel Monsalve 54:38
Well, actually, not really in managing which is where my parents are from. May gene is a city that so I was born in the US, but I consider myself Colombian. I lived in Colombia for 10 years in the 90s, which was not a good time to be living in Colombia. Right. Columbia managing and particularly has tried to shed the image that we've had for so long of, you know, all that stigma with drugs and kidnappings, and all that. And while there is still some of that element in Colombia, I think that the younger generations have kind of come out as innovators. They've tried to assimilate much more of this mentality that we, you know, we have in the United States about being entrepreneurs and kind of trying to generate various sources of income as well. I think that the younger generation there has adapted very well to this and they have kind of pushed a drive for younger people to not be so dependent on companies and to have their own businesses. And I know a lot of people in their 20s and Columbia that, you know, have small shops, they have bakeries, they have online businesses. They're designed stuff. They're creating products for niches that are not very tended to, for example, the afro Colombian community, for decades has been very much not been paid attention to they there was no, for example, hair products or skin products for this niche. And now I see that a lot more young people are starting to focus their businesses for these niches. So I think they've kind of learned a lesson, but at a lot younger age than my counterparts here in the US, you know?

Skye Khilji 56:37
Yeah, it's interesting. You say that meta gene is a nomad hub. For some reason. I see a lot of people go there. It's actually on my list to go to at some point. I have clients there that are in the tech industry. And you make a great point. I do see that that city in particular seems to be at the forefront of that movement. Now I don't profess to know much about South America into to know to Colombia to Panama. Costa Rica a few countries, but haven't really traveled that extensively in them. But why is metazine ahead of the others? Why is it that leading light in the region,

Maribel Monsalve 57:09
so managing and the region around managing, we're known as spices. And I don't really know where the denomination came from but biases. One of the stereotypes of being a bias is that you are, we have entrepreneurial spirit. We are known as extremely hard workers. And you know, this was for decades biases have been known as kind of like the industrial force in Colombia for at least 50 6070 years. And I don't know what it is, honestly, but it is a very much a part of our characteristic and of our culture as a bicep to want to succeed and Want to start businesses? I don't know what is how we are educated I guess to have this mentality. But people from minnijean for many years have had to find the unemployment rate in Colombia is very high. So people have always had to find a way to make money. Otherwise, you know, if you do if you don't have money You can't eat. That has been a driving force for people to you know, a lot of people will start small businesses in their homes. They will start a small like sewing a workshop like where not only do they work sewing, but they'll employ one or two people in their homes so that they can produce, I don't know, clothing or other items. People have always started small businesses in their homes trying to find forms of employment and not depend so much on corporations because again, for so long, you know, a lot of corporations did not really Want to open in managing. So people kind of learned that they had to find ways to make money for themselves to not depend on waiting for employment. Now, there's still a lot of people that are employed under the traditional methods. But I noticed that a lot of the friends that I went to school with, they will work a job and also have side hustles, just like we do in the States.

Skye Khilji 59:25
Yeah, it's interesting. I've traveled fairly extensively. I've been to India a lot. And as I mentioned, some of South America and I do see that entrepreneur by no other, you know, option that happens where people just because of their social class or their race, or because they're a little bit darker skinned, they call you and get an interview. In generations, that prejudice still exists. And they do, you know, find that entrepreneurial spirit in India especially there's, you know, every kind of entrepreneurial product created by people that really have no No materials to work with. And I think it's a really interesting time when that convergence of that spirit plus technology comes together exact populations, I think the world is completely going to be revolutionized.

Maribel Monsalve 1:00:13
Well, and for example, in Colombia, but one of the things that if you're my age, for example, and you're looking for employment, let's say you only went to school for two years, so you have a trade and not a full bachelor's degree, you aren't considered old for the workforce there. So it kind of leaves a lot of people without any other options, but having to go into business for themselves. And like you mentioned, some people can't even get an interview because of their skin color. In Colombia, it's still customary to have to add a picture of yourself to your resume. So that doesn't help for people that are trying to get a job and they're being discriminated against. Can't even make it through the door. So they're kind of pushed to have to find ways to make money for themselves.

Skye Khilji 1:01:07
Yeah, I'm a big believer in online work and remote work, because it is the ultimate leveler is a meritocracy. You are judged by the quality of your work. Exactly. I've probably hired 100 people on Upwork. I've worked on Upwork myself. And you know, I love it because you rarely need an interview. You're judged based on your application. So somebody says, Hey, here's the job I need you to do. You send them you know your ideas for how you can do it. And they'll usually just say, hey, do a five minute test task. And if you do the job, well, you get the job, no interview, you're working remote. You rarely need a call with the client. That whole economy i think is just completely waiting to explode when those populations get the internet speed that they need. They gain access to the technology they need. I really do see a explosion of innovation and leveling of equality and wealth around the world.

Maribel Monsalve 1:02:00
Correct. And then back to your point about why minnijean has been on the forefront, I think, because we've had definitely mayors that have been on the progressive side, they've made decisions and I'm I'm this is going back 2025 years, we've had mayors that have made decisions that were beneficial to the city. But also, people were just tired of the situation that they were living in, and they were looking for a way to make managing a city that was a lot better, you know, then the situation that they were living, I mean, managing was a war zone in the 90s without having a war zone declared. So I think that people were just absolutely tired of that. And it kind of pushed this movement for, you know, the local governments to decide to implement. I don't know if you've heard but we had, like we were one of the first cities in Latin America, to have A Metro that was sustainable Metro, it just opened up so much of the progress in managing we have cable cars. So a lot of the communities that weren't being serviced by public transportation the way that they should be, now, people are able to move themselves within the city for a lot less money, helping the environment and it makes it easier for somebody to find a job that they can easily get to because that used to be a huge problem in managing but also the government making the other decisions such as implementing like high speed, you know, in fiber optics in the city. And when you do get to managing you will see why, you know, there's so much innovation right now, but I think that, like you said earlier the have breakthroughs after the challenges and that's when they learn the most and I think that for so long. They just went through so much violence. And so many other things that it was just enough and people just shifted their mindset to want to build a city that is different. That is broad dressing that is known for a lot more than just drugs.

Skye Khilji 1:04:16
Good things come out of bad times. Yes. I think that's something that gives us hope in the, you know, this place that we're in in March 2020. Where in the world? Absolutely. And, you know, one of the reasons I wanted to get you on is because your story is so inspiring. You've clearly been through a lot and you've come out of it a positive person that's, you know, following your dreams and pursuing all of your passions. And, you know, that's something that I want to showcase at a time like this. So what would you say to that person that's listening that's in that cubicle, or they're having health struggles or they're scared of the world around them at this point?

Maribel Monsalve 1:04:53
I would say the first thing is to take a deep breath. We've all been in frustration. situations, we've definitely all had our challenges. But I would say with a clear head and a clear mind to stay positive and stay persistent, and just kind of set an outline for yourself for what you want to achieve. And I think once you start having a goal in mind, the universe and yourself and your, your own mind, you start recognizing the steps that you have to take. But you have to just be calm and stay positive that you will be able to reach your goals. I think sometimes we get frustrated about not having what we want right now or not reaching what we want right now. But I've learned that if you just take a deep breath and kind of think things through and create a plan for yourself, the majority of the time things go according to plan. Now, not everything's ever going to go according to plan do we always have These are things that happen that are out of our control. But panicking and being scared and kind of losing our heads doesn't really solve anything. So the only thing we can do is kind of stay calm and try to have a plan but try to adapt when the plan changes as well.

Skye Khilji 1:06:20
Yeah, the best plan in the world goes up in flames when it meets reality. Yeah, military general is a lot of truth in that. And there's a lot of wisdom in the words Maryville just shared. So I love that absolutely. Maribel I want to say thank you, you've inspired me from the moment that you know, I came across your profile and hearing your story and I know you're going to inspire our listeners. So I want to thank you for coming on and thank you for sharing so openly with us.

Maribel Monsalve 1:06:46
I appreciate it so much. I cannot tell you how happy I am that you invited me to this interview. I hope that I was able to get my message across. I know sometimes because I think in Spanish but I speak English.

Skye Khilji 1:07:01
My girlfriend does the same thing.

Maribel Monsalve 1:07:04
It's a little bit hard for me to convey the message. However, I hope that I was able to and that I hope that this message reaches somebody that might be going through a really hard time. I just want to say, it does get better. You know, things might be tough right now. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. And I just hope that my message might help somebody that is, you know, not at the best moment of their lives. But things do get better. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes it doesn't take that long, but just to stay positive, to stay persistent in their goals and to just keep on moving forward. That's all we can do.

Skye Khilji 1:07:49
Amen, amen. And if somebody wants to connect with you, how do they go about doing that?

Maribel Monsalve 1:07:53
They can reach me either on Instagram through my profile which is travel journey of a cancer fight. I'm debating changing the name, but for now it's staying as is. And if they have questions, if somebody is going through cancer and they need somebody to talk to, or any other chronic illness, and they feel like they don't know who to talk to, they can always private message me. But if not, and if somebody just wants to follow my journey, they can follow me on Instagram. I don't have a Facebook page. You know, that's public right now. I just have my private one. But I think Instagram would be the best way to find me.

Skye Khilji 1:08:31
That's just brilliant and very generous and people out there. If you do feel like you need that support, reach out to Maribel. Maribel has been an absolute pleasure, thank you so much for joining me.

Maribel Monsalve 1:08:42
Thank you. Thank you so much Skye, really appreciate it.

Skye Khilji 1:08:48
If you enjoyed this episode, I want to talk to you about voicelink.fm. This is a place where you can send me any questions you have and I'll include the answers to your question on a future episode of The podcast. We're going to be doing a lot more listener q&a. I'll answer questions on business finances entrepreneurship, marketing, travel, personal development, success, productivity, do I believe in aliens? Is the Illuminati real? Whatever it is that you want to know. I'm going to answer those questions go to voicelink.fm/freethewageslave

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