The first thing you noticed about Mayi Carles is that this chick is pumped about life. I mean, pumped to the point where she can’t even sit still during her weekly video blog, which she has dubbed Friday Video Time. While I’m usually one to shy away from bubbly people, Mayi’s enthusiasm for life is so genuine that I couldn’t help but smile along with her and by the end of our interview, she totally had me sold.
A self-described life “un-coach” and “business genie,” Mayi has built up her own little empire of positive thinking, cupcakes, and craft projects. Don’t be fooled by her super nice self, though: this woman is all about business. It just so happens that her business is being as authentic as she can while simultaneously pushing other people to be their best.
Who is Mayi Carles?
Well, I’m an artist. I think I was born an artist. I think, ever since I was two—so my parents tell me—I’ve been to curious and hyperactive for my own good. I painted the walls, I splattered Mattel plaster on wall surfaces, I used Sharpies to draw mustaches on my little brother Coco. I even remember purchasing my domain name when I was 15 years old which, back in the day, I mean, I was definitely an early adopter to buying domain names. Now it’s something that’s really popular but not really back then.
I think I’ve just known all along that I have a gift to give to the world and I’ve dedicated my life’s purpose to being who I really am and trying to explode it so other people can be inspired by it and also develop and manifest their own gifts. By allowing myself and by giving myself permission to be artistic, I hope to give other people permission to be who they are meant to be.
I saw on your site that you do craft stuff but you also do—and I’m reluctant to use the term—life coach things.
I call myself an artistic inventor because it’s all encompassed in that umbrella. I don’t coach because I was trained as a coach; I coach because people ask me how I did it. And I call it coaching but really what I do is un-coach. I un-train people with all of those years of emotional baggage and academia which tell them they can’t do this, that they have to follow the rules, that they have to read the manuals.
What I do is I basically mentor people out of what they’ve learned that doesn’t serve them any good.
So, I’m an artist and I share with people my journey and hopefully they can get inspired to do the same. I wouldn’t call myself a coach, necessarily. I’m more like a business genie that explodes through your Skype and shares with you some tips so you can play bigger.
Is this all one on one?
Well, I have training programs through digital packages that I offer like my Life is Messy Bootcamp and my ebook, so I do train the masses as well but when I un-coach I do it one on one.
Apart from Skype, how does technology fit into with what you’re doing?
Technology is a big part of what I do. I both love and hate technology. I’m excellent with my hands but when it comes to a keyboard and a mouse, I kind of collapse and I don’t know which way to go. I feel intimidated and empowered by technology at the same time. It’s a funny, schizophrenic juxtaposition there.
I use it to my advantage because I live in a country of social dogmas (Panama). There’s a lot of unwritten social scripts of how we should behave and not. There are a lot of rules, there’s a lot of things that you should be and you should follow; schools where you should attend and not attend.
I quit my traditionally successful job and was left with a lot of absences. I didn’t know where to turn because I knew the culture wasn’t going to be applauding my way, so I had to find my way and the best way was to go elsewhere.
But I love my country and I wanted to live here and the person that I love also is from here—now he’s my husband. I definitely wanted to stay in Panama so I used this wonderful tool called the internet to leverage my reach.
Surprisingly, but leveraging the internet and by seeking my clients elsewhere, now Panama has been applauding my efforts. Do to what I’ve done outside, I’ve become sort of a role model to follow. Instead of being booed…Well, I’ve never been exactly booed by my culture but now I feel accepted and I feel that even though it’s been a rocky road, now, at the end, I feel good.
I think the internet works to my advantage but I also sometimes feel claustrophobic by technology because I can’t do it on my own.
You said you left your traditionally successful job. What was that?
I was an activities coordinator for Central American Leadership Initiative. What was wonderful about that was that even though it was a traditional job, I learned so much about what I’m doing right now.
Do you have any professional tips for the super-busy, lean startup entrepreneur?
Start now. That’s the first one. And start with the easiest thing.
I find that entrepreneurs are sometimes too caught up with too many ideas. They’re brilliant, they’re geniuses, they get epiphanies in the shower, but their real struggle comes in the execution. Planning is great but it doesn’t serve any good if you don’t leap into action so my advice, always, is to do something. Anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s to write a to-do list or if it’s something simple and un-transcendental; the forward momentum is needed to keep going.
Starting always gives you the empowerment that you need to keep going the next day and the next day and the next day. Instead of thinking big I usually advise to dream big but to execute small so you don’t get paralyzed.
It seems like you’ve got a good work/relationship/life balance going on. Do you have any advice for achieving that?
I actually don’t believe in life balance. My philosophy on balance is that the more you want to reach it, the more it collapses.
Instead of thinking about it in terms of balance, I think about it in terms of intuition. I like to listen to my body, I like to know what I’m prioritizing. Anything that’s important for me, I make time for it and I even write it down on the calendar.
Let’s say I want to take all of my weekends off. I would write it down on my calendar the same way I wrote down this interview. If I make time for an interview with Emma, I also have to make time to bake cupcakes and go with my husband to the beach. I block out time for the stuff that matters.
In that same way, I say “no” a whole lot. Let’s say I have a bridal shower that I have to attend, that I have to attend. If I really, really don’t want to go: screw balance! If I don’t want to go and that’s not on the top of my priority list, I don’t make time for it. I’m very cold when it comes to importance, blocking out time, and scheduling.
I do it mathematically. I know that’s not the flowly thing to do but I know that if it’s not scheduled, it doesn’t get done.
What’s blocked out for today on your calendar? Show me a day in the life of Mayi.
Today, right after this call, I’m going to cook a homemade lunch for me and my husband. I’m going to make veggie potpies. I’m also organizing my 30th birthday party, which will be next Sunday, so I’m taking two hours off my busy schedule today to organize the menu and who’s going to be invited and what I’m going to create for it. Then in the afternoon, I’m working on two commission projects so I’m going to be painting. And tonight is a friend’s birthday and I’m going to go. She’s a chef, so I imagine there’s going to be a lot of goodies.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part… Oh man, that’s a tough question!
My favorite part is… receiving correspondence. Getting notes from my ideal customer in the form of an email or a tweet or a like. When I hear back from my audience about how something I have done has struck a chord with them—even if it’s small, even if it’s tiny—to know that what I did made a difference in their lives makes my year.
I still pinch myself because it’s silly. I mean, it’s not like I’m changing their lives but just to provoke a smile or to evoke or to make someone mad… To make people feel something is extremely powerful for me, so each time someone lets me know that I did that for them, I make the happy dance.
Are there any other female entrepreneurs that you look to that you think are particularly kickass?
Oh. There’s so many. Girls rock!
This is not in any order by any means, but the first one I can think of is April Bowles. She’s my partner in crime and she’s doing amazing stuff with video. You can find her at blacksburgbelle.com.
Also Marie Forleo. She’s one of my biggest mentors. I’m going to go to her event live later this month. She’s definitely someone that I keep on my radar.
The great thing about Marie is that she grows as you grow so you never outgrow your mentor but she’s still on top of her game, keeping me on top of my toes.
Someone else I truly admire is Jessika Hepburn from Oh My! Handmade because she has a way of pulling people together in a community filled with kindness that I’ve seen nowhere else. It feels like a community that’s truly non-competitive and truly supportive and I’ve never seen that happen. I think that’s a “hooray” that needs to be given in her name.
Those three are definitely on the top of my list.
What’s pulled up on your iTunes right now?
Bon Iver. I’ve been listening to a lot of Bon Iver, I’ve been listening to a lot of “Ice Ice Baby” (laughs) and Pitbull.
Excellent! (laughs) Do you have any last words for our readers before I let you go?
The word of the day, I want it to be authenticity. I want people to turn up the volume and whatever they are—their quirkiness, their eccentricities, their flaws—to turn up that volume because there’s no way to fake authenticity. If you are yourself, there’s no limitation to that. There’s no way anyone can beat you at that game.
That’s my advice for anyone who wants to make it big: to be themselves and to show it times 100.
Alright Mayi, thank you so much! This has been great!
Courtesy of Mayi Carles