Chingona Revolution is hosted by Erika Cruz, a rebel who left a 6-figure tech job to pursue her own unconventional path to success by following her passion that led to her purpose. Every week, Erika will bring out of you that BADASS LATINA through her experiences to overcome self-doubt and family expectations and lead with COURAGE.
This episode is for all the cycle breakers out there. Forging a new path and being the first of your family to do anything is always as terrifying as it is rewarding. That’s why this week, we’re speaking to a fellow cycle breaker so you can hear all the highs and lows of her journey and know for a fact that you could make it out on the other side too.
Vanessa Santos is an award-winning global brand strategist, motivational speaker, and community builder dedicated to positive change. As Co-CEO & Partner of #WeAllGrow Latina, she ignites impactful Latinas and Femme Latines with an entrepreneurial spirit. Recognized as one of Latin America’s most “impactful women” by Forbes, Vanessa is a catalyst for gender equality, brand amplification, and business growth. Her innovative approach has created groundbreaking products and campaigns for renowned brands. Vanessa’s mission is creating opportunities for Latinas and femme Latines to thrive, amplifying their voices, and ensuring inclusion.
In this week’s episode, Vanessa tells us all about how she broke the mold and created her own path from scratch. As the oldest of seven kids, Vanessa grew up being depended on by everyone around her. But when she fainted one day from the stress, she knew she had to put herself first and depend on herself. From there, she went on a whirlwind journey to discover herself, her new career, and how she could better serve her community.
Connect with Vanessa:
How to work with Erika:
Join the waitlist for Courage Driven Latina here.
Vanessa Santos is an award-winning global brand strategist, motivational speaker, and community builder dedicated to positive change. As Co-CEO & Partner of #WeAllGrow Latina, she ignites impactful Latinas and Femme Latines with an entrepreneurial spirit. Recognized as one of Latin America’s most “impactful women” by Forbes, Vanessa is a catalyst for gender equality, brand amplification, and business growth. Her innovative approach has created groundbreaking products and campaigns for renowned brands. A heart-driven speaker, she shares expertise on gender equality, leadership, mental health, and community building, captivating audiences worldwide. Vanessa’s mission is creating opportunities for Latinas and femme Latines to thrive, amplifying their voices, and ensuring inclusion. With a vision of equal access to success, she resides between Los Angeles and Nashville, bringing passion, purpose, and authenticity to all she does. Join her transformative journey of inspiration and collective growth.
Erika Cruz: Hello. Hello. Welcome back to Chingona Revolution. You are in for a good one today. Today’s conversation is full of so much wisdom. So many gems were dropped and I cannot wait for you to listen in to this insightful conversation with none other than Vanessa Santos, who is an award winning global brand strategist, a motivational speaker, and a community builder dedicated to positive change.
as co c e o and partner of we All Grow Latina, she ignites impactful Latinas and femme Latinas with an entrepreneurial spirit. Recognized as one of Latin America’s most impactful women by Forbes, Vanessa is a catalyst for gender equality, brand amplification, and business growth.
Her innovative approach has created groundbreaking products and campaigns for renowned brands.
A heart driven speaker. She shares expertise on gender equality, leadership, mental health, and community building, captivating audiences worldwide. Vanessa’s mission is creating opportunities for Latinas and Femme Latinas to thrive, amplifying their voices and ensuring inclusion. With a vision of equal access to success, She resides between Los Angeles and Nashville, bringing passion, purpose, and authenticity to all that she does.
join her transformative journey of inspiration and collective growth.
Vanessa, welcome to Tugona Revolution podcast.
Vanessa Santos: So happy to be here and I just love your podcast. I love it.
Erika Cruz: It’s so good. Thank you. I am so excited that you’re here. I’ve been wanting you, I’ve been wanting to bring you on for a while.
I will never forget, actually, let me just take it back. I’ll never forget when I first met you in person at Las Founders event. This was last year in Los Angeles. And I had already seen you on TikTok and on social media and obviously, you know, we all grow had made the announcement that you had joined and I was so fangirling you and I will never forget.
I was like, okay, I’m going to like
Vanessa Santos: you.
Erika Cruz: Well, I was like, okay, before the day’s over, I’m going to build the courage to go talk to her. And before I could do that, you were like, Erica, and you ran up to me and gave me this hug. And I just, I will never forget because. I feel that people look at you and they’re like, Oh my gosh, she’s such a badass and almost inaccessible and that’s so not who you are.
You are the most welcoming, supportive, like humble yet confident, like you are the embodiment of how somebody can be Confident and firm, but also humble and helpful at the same time. And I think sometimes, especially in our cultura, people feel like, Oh, if I’m confident that’s conceited and I just have to stay small, but you’re such a perfect embodiment of somebody who takes up space and then brings people with them.
So I just had to start it off with that.
Vanessa Santos: That is the sweetest thing ever.
I wanted to at least acknowledge the beautiful words that you shared with me, because I don’t take that really lightly. I think it took a lot of courage for me to show up authentically, not realizing that would make such an impact for folks.
And I was really excited to meet you because I’d been following you on TikTok for so long. And so when I saw you, I was like, is that Erica? I was just so happy. and that’s what I love about. Our relationship and our dynamic is being unafraid to go to another woman that you admire. And making the first move and not expecting people to come to you all the time and just being okay with going to somebody else and giving them their flowers because you deserve it.
So thank you for sharing that. But I also wanted to take the time to acknowledge how incredible you are.
Erika Cruz: Thank you. Yeah. And for all of you listening, I feel like this is a testament to there are women out there who want to see you win. And You never know who’s watching, right? You never know what can happen by just posting that video.
Because I work with a lot of Latinas who have a message to share, but their self doubt holds them back. And I feel like this is a testament to you never know whose life you can change, who could be watching, what kind of connections you can make. And yeah. Okay. Let’s get into this because I have a handful of questions.
So we see you now. Vanessa as partner and co CEO of We All Grow. But this was not a straight shot. This wasn’t something that you Put on your vision board and you’re like, this is exactly the route I’m going to take. It took a lot of twists and turns for you to get here. So can you share with us a little bit about that trajectory?
Because people assume that it has to be a straight shot and very rarely is it, is that the case? So tell us a little bit about the rollercoaster of events that brought you to where you are today.
Vanessa Santos: I love that you said rollercoaster of events. Because my career trajectory has been anything but linear. And I used to be very self conscious about that because you grow up thinking and believing that there’s this one parallel way forward.
And it’s not until you have lots of mistakes and lessons and redirections that you realize, Oh no, all of this is for my higher good, for my higher purpose in this world. And it took a while for me to show up as the kind of leader that I’ve always hoped to be. And join We All Grow Latina as co CEO and partner.
First of all, I absolutely manifested the F out of this. I had been journaling about this, for a really long time in how do I show up in places where I can make a difference and how can I show up where I only have to worry about being myself and not trying to shrink myself or code switch for the sake of succeeding.
And prior to joining We All Grow, I had taken the summer off. From my corporate role, because I had experienced really bad burnouts to a point where I fainted in the garage of the work parking lot. And my therapist is the one that said, you are suffering from severe anxiety, too much stress. And I was getting migraines on a daily basis and leaving work was very difficult because I had a chip on my shoulder where I associated my self worth with my title.
And I really didn’t want to disappoint anybody. I didn’t want to disappoint my boss, my peers, because I generally was excited to show up and learn something new. Did I love the work I was doing? Absolutely not. But I knew that I was gaining valuable skills that I would someday apply to something I had to leave that corporate.
role because when I came back from my mental health leave, I realized that I no longer had the passion to do what was being asked of me and it would be unfair for me to stay just for the sake of pleasing my boss or pleasing people around me. Prior to that big corporate girl job, I spent time in fashion, in media, publishing startups.
I essentially was like a little bit of a colibri. I kind of jumped around because for me, I knew that life and work was my version of business school. I wasn’t going to follow the traditional model of going to an Ivy League university and then going to get a master’s. I wanted life to be my master’s degree.
I wanted my work experience to be my master’s degree. And I allowed myself to let my curiosity drive me. Even if that meant. Switching, starting something new, making my LinkedIn look like every two years I had any job. And that was also a very big realization for me that all of those changes were pivotable p were pivotal to helping me get to where I am today as what I like to call my soul’s job.
The reason for why I wake up and get to do this every single day is to truly show up and be able to create more socio and economic change for Latinas and women of color. And I just get to do this from my heart, which is a very different way of showing up versus when you are trying to create in a nine to five environment that’s very traditional.
It feels like you’re not honoring yourself in so many ways. And so today I get to honor myself by being able to show up and do what I love. But as you mentioned, the path was not linear. I needed to get a lot of rejections, not receive a lot of promotions and actually, thank God I didn’t get those promotions because I had, I received them.
I would have stayed in that hamster wheel wanting more. And for me, the biggest thing was. Why on earth am I going to work so that my LinkedIn could look nice? Who gives an F about my LinkedIn? Why do we show up in that way and go against our inner being, our inner knowing, for the sake of our LinkedIn looking good, for our resume looking polished?
I prefer now authenticity over perfection every day, even if that means that every three or six months, I have a new passion project. So be it. It’s my life. I’m the director of it, so I’m about to control it however I please. Oh, that was
Erika Cruz: so good. And we can take this so many different directions. But first, how did you go from making your title mean something about your worth to then allowing yourself to step into this authenticity?
Because I feel like so many women in our, especially in our culture, right? Where the narrative is. Oh, my parents sacrificed so much for me to have the opportunities that I have. And here I am taking up space and I have this corporate job with this nice title and this amazing salary. How could I walk away from this?
Right. And it’s, and you’re right where we are. Aligning our worthiness to our job titles, and then also our parents sacrifices as almost handcuffs to keep us there, right? So, I’m just gonna stop talking and let you.
Vanessa Santos: Well, the one thing that I learned after a lot of trial and error, and by trial and error, Is carrying the fears and the wishes of my family on my shoulders, carrying the fears and the wishes of my community on my shoulders and thinking that I had to be the one to be the legacy creator and you can absolutely be this legacy creator without self sacrificing.
I also had to remind myself that my parents made a choice. Just like we all have free will and we make a choice. Sometimes those choices don’t lead us to the places where we once hoped. But I realized that if I was going to continue to try to live up to anybody’s expectations, even my parents, then I would be doing myself a disservice because they have such a limited field of view coming from where they came from.
And they had a limited amount of experiences that they were looking at it from a particular lens. And so I knew that the only way I was going to stretch and expand myself, Was to put myself in situations where they couldn’t fathom me being there and where I was absolutely afraid of going. And so I chose to find uncomfortable situations.
I chose to find environments where I was only either the only woman, the only Latina, just so that I can prove to myself that I can do it and also prove to my family and my siblings, cause I’m the eldest of seven. That there’s other ways of succeeding and success is determined by how you feel in your heart and the thoughts that you are at peace with in your mind when you go to bed.
It’s not determined by your desires and desires of your family members, because if you’re going to live your life for them and try to complete, you know, please everybody, then you end up being nothing to yourself. And that to me was just a moment where I had two jobs at one time, providing for myself, providing for my family.
Trying to just be there for everybody, but I was utterly exhausted. And when you are the eldest and the strong one in the family, seldom people check in on you, right? You kind of have to be the one to check in on yourself. And there was a moment where I was just like. I am not happy, but it’s not my parents fault.
I’m the one that’s choosing to put that and see it as a burden, as opposed to see it as an opportunity to do something different. And the calling for me was when I had a conversation with my mom, and she said to me, as long as things feel good in your heart, and you’re okay with the thoughts that are running through your head, it doesn’t matter what any one of us think.
It is not your job to complete our wishes. And I just held on to that and this is something she told me in my 20s, in my 30s, most of it, I still was trying to please because it takes a lot of unlearning to try to please the world and please yourself because we’re not raised and taught to please ourselves.
We’re not raised and taught that. Life is all about pleasure and maximizing all the lemons and making the most beautiful life of lemonade that you possibly can. We’re not. and so that took a lot of unlearning, but I will never forget those words because I’m a master journaler. I love to journal anything.
So anytime someone says something really important, I go to my journal and I often reflect and I go back to it and I’m just so lucky that My mom had the foresight to say something like that, not knowing the kind of impact it would have on me eventually, to go left when everyone in my family was going right.
And not because they couldn’t or they didn’t want to, it’s just the circumstances and the environments they found themselves in. I just chose to do something different so that I can break those patterns and then be the legacy creator.
Erika Cruz: That was, we could end the podcast episode right here and literally it was so, so valuable.
So many mic drop moments, so many insights and you know, it’s so, I didn’t realize that you were the eldest of seven and being the eldest daughter of immigrant parents, there’s a whole, I mean, you’re literally carrying Everything on your shoulders. It is so much. And as, you know, this culture that has conditioned us to people please and to change our behaviors to please others.
What I’ve learned through my journey, and I’m sure you’ve learned this too, is the most loving thing that we can do for other people is please ourselves. Because if you live your life looking to please other people, you are not living authentically, meaning you’re not showing up as your best self, meaning you then could be resentful.
Right. And I love how you were also just, you took ownership. You were like, it’s not my parents fault. Like I’m choosing to be here. And I think it’s, a lot of. a lot of people in our community. It’s so easy to learn about trauma and then point the finger, but like we also need to start turning the finger back around at us.
Like where have we had a choice here and where can we begin to take that ownership to unlearn? Because that is our family get ahead and our community get ahead.
Vanessa Santos: I mean, amen to that because I remember when I became a vegetarian, my family was really concerned. They thought I was out here starving myself.
They organized a FaceTime intervention with my abuelita and my abuelita could not fathom that I was not eating steak, pernil, that I was not having pollo. She thought something was going on and I realized that trying to force people to understand was not going to be the way that I would succeed. It was just for me to continue to live my life in the way that it best serves me.
And then through that it will create some ripple effect of change. And now my family no longer makes jokes about me not having kids no longer makes jokes about the fact that I’m a vegetarian. No longer makes jokes about the fact that I quit a six figure job to go into entrepreneurship, go into community service work where I, you know, a third of my salary compared to what I was making in corporate.
And. It’s just so necessary to make those bold and courageous moves for the sake of yourself. Because the saddest thing for me, and I don’t know why I’ve always had this visualization, was looking at myself when I’m much, much older, and having to reconcile with the image that I see in the mirror, and then saying damn, but you could have done that.
But why didn’t you do this? Because that is not a place any one of us want to be in. And I want to be able to look at myself, with or without a pimple, with or without hair done, with or without looking sad, but just be so deeply happy because my heart is happy. Because the thoughts in my head are at peace.
And so many of us can look like we have it together on the outside because we’ve been conditioned to push through. And I’m comfortable with getting it all the way wrong. In many ways, for the sake of getting it right eventually, and that’s where pivoting and the path not linear, all of that is just be comfortable with the messiness of life, especially when you’re when you are on a self healing journey is so important to be okay with.
Sometimes it’s actually going to feel like a telenovela. Sometimes your life is going to be all over the place. And I stopped apologizing or stopped caring about me constantly having to look or be this example, right? Because folks often tend to put you on a pedestal as well. And I’m just showing up as the human version of me every day.
Again, authenticity over perfection. And however that unravels and unravels, but at least I’m giving you something to watch.
Erika Cruz: That mirror exercise that you just. talked about is so powerful. I think people assume that they fear failing, but I think the real fear is not really living to your potential and not actually going after what it is that you want.
And there’s actually a study done. I’m totally going to quote this because it’s in a book that I have, but I’m not going to go find the book right now. I did a study,at a nursing home and they. It was all about the fear of failure and what they learned after interviewing most of the patients that were there at the nursing home was that it wasn’t that people regretted trying things and failing.
They actually regretted not trying the things that they wanted to do, even if they would have failed. And so your mirror exercise, what you just described, I feel like everybody after listening to this podcast episode. Episode should go and look in the mirror and what comes up? what would those regrets be?
If you were at the end of your life, looking back, what would you have regretted not doing? Because that is your next courage project. That is exactly what you
Vanessa Santos: should be working on. Amen. And be comfortable with looking beyond the superficial. I’m not talking about looking at your appearance. I’m talking about being comfortable to rendezvous with your shadows, to rendezvous with the parts of yourself that you haven’t fully healed, and to consider what your inner child, and just consider what you really, truly want, because sometimes we lie to ourselves, All day that we even forget what we want and what we came here to do.
And that takes a lot of work as well in order to do that. And I feel every single day, it’s a new opportunity for me to make sure that I’m not lying to myself, because if I am, then I’m just going to lie to others.
Erika Cruz: Ooh, that was so deep and so true. Still work in progress. We all are. We all are, right?
So you’ve spoken about growing up in a Section 8 home in New York, but then you were a VP at MasterCard and had all of these amazing job offers. So I would love to know how did you overcome money stories that you maybe grew up with to allow abundance into your life? Abundance of opportunities, abundance of finances, whenever you were making the six figure salary.
And how did you go from, how did you feel worthy of these opportunities coming from the background that you came
Vanessa Santos: from? I’m not going to lie to you. I have for a really long time in my twenties, I felt really ashamed about the fact that. We grew up on welfare on section eight that if it wasn’t for school providing food, I wouldn’t eat.
And I used to always get made fun of for being skinny. And what folks didn’t realize is that I wasn’t trying to be skinny. We just didn’t have food. And, you know, my parents did the best they truly could with what they had. They migrated to this country really young. And then within didn’t,
Have the opportunity to have options and choices trying to survive in this country that although it was built on the backs of immigrants, isn’t created to support the very people that have actually built this country. And I grew up with a lot of shame about around money. Also, I grew up with a lot of stories regarding my family and how they, their relationship with money, their relationship with money became my relationship with money.
And so I had three notions. You have to work incredibly hard to get money and the only way to get money is to be the best, to not ruffle any feathers, to absolutely be obedient. Number two was that you can’t trust institutions because they’re just trying to take away your money. So it wasn’t until mid 20s that I understood 401k IRA, because in my teenage years, I started working when I was 13 and early 20s, I saw it as, oh, that’s just the government trying to take my money again, right?
Conditioning. And a third thing was listening to how my family perceived money as something that only the men do and bring home and the women stay home and provide in other ways. And so all three I tried to be a model of, but something didn’t resonate with my inner being. I just felt one, I want to make my own money in my own ways.
And yes, I may not have an Ivy league degree because I found myself being in situations where I was always the only one in the room without an Ivy league degree, but somehow I made it there. And it’s because. I will outwork the F out of anybody. I have no problem figuring things out. And I also have no problem saying, I don’t understand what this is, but I will figure it out.
And I think that scrappiness that growing up low income, figuring out your next meal, figuring out how are we going to pay the bills, figuring things out. Because at a very young age, I became the head of household. I essentially became. My parents, and my childhood wasn’t a traditional childhood because I had so many people to look after siblings and cousins that I was always comfortable with having to figure things out for the sake of surviving.
And then in order for me to get out of the survival mentality, it took me going broke as in having no money to my name after making a ridiculous amount of money in my twenties. And then that’s when I realized, Oh. Wait. Money is actually easy to make. You can make money. I’ve done it by having multiple jobs.
I’ve done it through investments. I’ve done it through associating myself in the right environment and asking them, Hey, would you invest it here? What did this do for you? How much did you invest? I had no shame in asking questions. And I think that’s another beautiful byproduct of having growing up. And the way that I did is that my naivete became a source of power for me.
I think. Was not uncomfortable with what I didn’t know. I was excited to get my questions answered from people that look like they had their shit together because I never felt like I had my shit together. And so to go from a survival mentality to an abundance mentality, when it came to my finances had all to do with realizing money is a tool.
I can easily make it. But do I have to self sacrifice my well being in order to make it? And when I make it, do I know what to do with it? So two things it took me a long time to understand, and it wasn’t through having two, three jobs, having side hustles, doing work with my therapist, reading a lot of books, doing a lot of journaling, and a lot of self reflecting and unlearning the things that my family kind of bestowed upon me in terms of how money is made and how money is nurtured.
And so I always had this… I would say precarious relationship with money up until my early thirties, because I always made a lot of money, but I wasn’t really good at holding onto it. I was really good at consistently letting it go. Why? Because it was that thought of, am I actually worthy of this money or I might as well use it.
So I don’t lose it. Right. And these are all conditions conditioning that I had to unlearn. And so I’ve been doing that work on for the last six, seven years. And that’s Where I actually feel that my abundance mindset began to come front and forward was when I was comfortable with, I realized the patterns that I have, I will make a lot of money, but it immediately goes out the door, not only to pay the bills, but to give it to people or to use it as a source of power because I’m not comfortable With investing on it, in it, investing my money.
And it wasn’t until my mid thirties where I found myself once again in a situation where financially I could not provide for myself and my family. And I remember going to my therapist and saying, I have to be doing something wrong. How can I make six figures? How do I have a side hustle? And I can’t seem to make ends meet.
It’s like this constant wheel of living paycheck to paycheck. And she said, it’s not you. it’s your mentality. It’s how you’re looking in your relationship with money. It’s being comfortable with having nothing because nothing is freedom. And the moment you realize that the number in the bank account is just the number, it’s the value in yourself, that’s when you start to open up your abundance.
And I was like, okay, so I started doing exercises and I would take screenshots. When I had 20 in my bank account, when I had 38 in my bank account, 100 of my bank account and looking at it and just being, I am so happy. I have this money left over because there’s so much I can do with it and reframing using myself as a case study and reframing my own thinking and not looking at myself like any less than because I wasn’t wearing the newest designer stuff because my money, my bank account didn’t reflect what I was actually, contributing to the world.
It really takes a lot of. Self love to take the moment and acknowledge that money comes in seasons as well. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more and just there’s nothing wrong with losing it. As long as you understand and recognize the patterns, but give yourself the grace to realize that this relationship with money is ongoing, especially when you grew up in environments where there was such a lack of that you had a desperate energy towards it.
and if you have a desperate energy towards anything, you’re actually going to repel it. And so understanding. How I am as a human being, I don’t chase, I attract. I became really okay with the fact that I only had 33 in my bank account. And when I became really okay with that and was just so joyful about the fact that I even had 33 in my bank account, that’s when.
New opportunities start to show up. That’s when I understood the power of negotiation and advocating for myself. That’s why I understood the power of, Ooh, compounding interest. If I do invest, this actually does pay off in the long run, but it took time reading lots of financial, literacy books and being patient with myself and not expecting myself to measure up to somebody else’s version of success, financial success, and just being comfortable with what my current financial situation is, knowing.
That I will get myself to the point where I will be happy one day because I’m so comfortable living the way that most people won’t so that one day I can live the way most people can’t. Bam.
Erika Cruz: Bam. And now you are organizing Amigas and wealth events. Look at that.
Vanessa Santos: And now I organize events about building wealth because I realized that was a path to financial freedom was being able to invest in your future self.
Even if that means putting five to 20, 25, 50, a hundred dollars, whatever you can, whatever nominal amount you can in a individual retirement account, an IRA, something so that you are Safeguarding yourself from the future. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t predict the stock market, right? You can’t predict what’s going to happen, but at least you’re training yourself.
You’re conditioning yourself to distribute your finances in a way where it’s not just in a traditional bank account or savings account that actually yields nothing in return for it to sit there. If I’m going to take a risk anyway with the bank, I’d rather take a risk when I’m going to get a higher return.
And so that’s why I invest as opposed to just have my money sitting in a traditional checking or savings account.
Erika Cruz: Love it. You talked about, I’ve heard you talk about this before, but I just heard you talk about it right now as well. You briefly mentioned, being naive and the power of that. And when I first started my business, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
And funny enough, I have a tarot card deck right here. And the one at the top right now is the fool, which is all about being naive and just being naive. being super optimistic. And, you know, I think that if we were to recognize, if I knew what was ahead from, you know, the struggles I was going to need to overcome and the things I was going to have to learn embarking on this entrepreneurship journey.
I don’t know if I would have done it. So can you talk to us? Yeah. A little bit about the power of being naive.
Vanessa Santos: Oh my gosh. I love the fact that I was so incredibly naive because if I knew that. I needed to be in corporate environments where men interrupted me and spoke down to me where even women were my biggest adversaries as opposed to my advocates.
Being in situations where I was nearly houseless, actually there was a point in time where my family was, we had a house fire and it was a friend of mine who belonged to a church and they did a fundraiser for us so that. I could have food and clothing. And so it was just this constant cycle in my life that I’ve been noticing of highs and lows.
But I felt comfortable with the fact of not knowing is not a curse. It’s a blessing because if I knew ahead of time, I would have to be houseless. I would have to put myself in very uncomfortable situations in a corporate place, just for the sake of opening up the doors for not just myself, but all of the other folks behind me, especially when I think about my siblings.
and this is where privilege of being a white Dina comes in because I. understand that I am actually the only white Latina in my family. My father’s from the Dominican Republic and my mother’s from Ecuador. My family is either very Caribbean looking and very Ecuadorian indigenous looking, right? And then there was me and I understood that privilege and I thought if it’s this effing hard for me to be in the space, to get a promotion, to be heard, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for my siblings.
And I just couldn’t allow a world or situation where they would just have to do all the things that I had to do for the sake of just making a buck, for the sake of earning a living in this country, for the sake of the American dream and not knowing. It’s actually really exciting because you have the opportunity of an abundance of doors to walk through.
But when you try to lay everything out and plan everything, it’s like you’re pigeonholing yourself to just a specific door. Why do that when the universe is the biggest menu that you could ever enjoy from? Just put in your effing order, but stop making the order look a certain way. Be okay with the fact that sometimes the universe is nope, not right now, or not this, or maybe later.
But you have to be willing to experiment and go through different doors. to do that. And the only way you’re going to do that is by not trying to have everything figured out.
Erika Cruz: Yes. I can’t tell you how many times I coach women who just want certainty and they just want to know, and they just
Vanessa Santos: want to control. There’s no such thing as certainty, just like there’s no such thing as when people say a stable job. No such thing, which is why I’d rather be responsible for my own wellbeing.
Hence why I’m an entrepreneur.
Erika Cruz: Exactly. When have you walked? I mean, I’m sure you’ve done this many times, but feel free to share whatever you’d like. When have you walked away from something that looked great from the outside looking in, but you being in it knew that it wasn’t. a soul alignment
Vanessa Santos: for you?
Okay, these are, that’s a big question. There were two pivotal moments. One was actually my previous marriage. I wanted so desperately to have someone look out for me the way that I look out for everybody else and have The idea of a perfect family growing up in a household of divorced parents, of alcohol abuse, you become really sensitized.
and when the first person is nice to you and gives you all this love, you think, Oh my God, this is what it has to be stability. And I craved that. Ideal of a perfect marriage of the things that you saw on Instagram and the couples and all these things and being married to somebody that was amazing on paper, but that deep soul connection wasn’t actually there still sticking through it for the sake of making that person happy as opposed to making yourself happy.
But again, I learned the self sacrifice from the women in my environment was a moment of, Oh shit, why am I doing this? Why am I dishonoring myself because I’m not going to actually make myself, my soul was like, girl, you have no business being married right now. Like zero business, but I did it anyway.
Right. And I’ve been very vocal and honest about this so that when I asked for divorce, it wasn’t because there was anything wrong with him there. It’s just, he wasn’t for me. And I didn’t think it would be fair to continue to lead somebody on knowing that inside of my heart, I didn’t even know who I really was.
I was just trying to fit in all these ideals, trying to understand what being a perfect wife was trying to figure out what creating a perfect marriage looked like when I didn’t have examples of that around me. And that was a very pivotal moment in recognizing that my soul was just like, sorry, homegirl, this situation is not for you.
And it took years to get the courage to ask for a divorce.
Transcripts provided Surprisingly was my corporate job. I had gotten the title. I had gotten the six figure salary with bonuses I was making over 250k a year and I thought that I had made it but my soul was Crying because I was dishonoring myself on a daily basis doing shit that I didn’t actually love things that I wasn’t passionate about Learning things for the sake of pushing someone else’s profitability goals and not actually helping my own profitability goals.
And it didn’t take until it took until my body had to make me sick. For me to pay attention and say, okay, you can’t keep putting yourself in situations where you wait years to advocate for yourself, thinking that somehow someone’s going to pull a magic wand and fix it for you. Making that leap to saying this doesn’t work for me, even when it seems like the perfect situation on paper, it’s really hard because it’s not going to make sense.
To the majority of the world, but I also realized as long as that makes sense to me, I mean, I mean, because I lived too long being a professional people pleaser. What would it look like if I people please myself?
Erika Cruz: Ooh, that is a question. I want everybody to journal on. What would it look like if I pleased myself?
Oh, I love that so much. So you talked about your getting sick, right? So is this how your intuition has spoken to you or how do you listen to your intuition? Because I think a lot of people get tripped up over Is it my intuition? Or is it just fear? And how do I know to listen to my intuition? So, and it could be different for each person, right?
We all have our signs. So, how do you know when you are out of alignment? And perhaps it happened in these two situations, but how does your intuition speak to you?
Vanessa Santos: So your body speaks to you and there are the universe that sends you signals, it’s just we’re not paying attention because we’re too busy trying to push through and move through life as opposed to enjoying the present moment.
My body is my strongest ally. It tells me really quickly when something is not right. Sometimes I just choose not to listen because I am stubborn because my analytical self, my egoic self is like, there’s no way. No, maybe that’s just you not giving them the benefit of the doubt. Because I do live by a mantra that is, if you give people the benefit of the doubt, you always get the benefit.
But not everyone is as genuinely good hearted as some of us are. Like I, I consider myself to be genuinely a good hearted person because I see people in situations and see the positive. I see the light. I see what they can’t see yet and it gets me excited. People aren’t really like that. And oftentimes I’ve betrayed myself because I listened to my analytical brain.
And not my heart. There’s something that Michael Singer said that stuck to me and I believe it was in the untethered soul or the surrender experiment. One of those where he said that the heart goes to the mind. When it’s trying to run away from itself because it doesn’t want to deal if you have like a sinking suspicion that I’m like, Mmm, I don’t think this is gonna work out or there’s something off with this person or I feel like I constantly have to change My words or change my behavior for the sake of that person not being ruffled.
That’s your effing intuition That is your inner being telling you’re not showing up authentically Because if you’re actually being kind not nice if you’re being kind and being honest, but then that person is Has the willpower of choice, but is still choosing to engage despite what you told them.
That’s on them. It’s no longer on you as long as you’re being honest with yourself, but your body is your number one indicator. It’s just that we have to find ways to connect with our body to understand how it works, to understand it’s movements, to understand its triggers, to understand its signals.
For me, my signals happened in my chest and in my, my, you know, my abdomen, my chest will feel tight in situations where I feel like, Oh, I’m shrinking myself for the sake of helping someone, or I’m not honoring my voice, right? The throat chakra and I’m really connected here. So my chest will tighten up.
Now my gut, what people will call it is the intuition of, Oh, this makes me nervous. Why is it making me nervous? Because I’m probably afraid of not doing things right, but then I have to remind myself Well, at least I fucking tried. I hope I could curse
Erika Cruz: The podcast name is chingo in our revolution. You could say all the bad words you want
Vanessa Santos: And so now I have conversations with my body just like I have conversations with my organs And I’m, and I asked them, what do they need?
What do they want to eat? How do you feel? How does this person make you feel? How does this situation make you feel? How does this environment make you feel? But it’s about being comfortable with sitting with yourself in silence, even if it’s just a minute and minding what actually matters. Which is really hard, because we live in our head a lot.
So imagine if you spend more time actually trying to decipher and understanding the language of your heart. You and your intuition are going to be like this. And then listening to your intuition is going to help you. But every time you betray yourself, it’s like your ego gets louder and louder.
Your shadows come more forward and present. It’s not about ignoring them. It’s about coexisting and understanding that they’re there for a reason because they’re trying to teach us things. So my cues come from my body, my physical body, and sometimes I’m not going to lie when I met, when I meditate or I get really good deep sleep, I just get messages and I get signals.
And they are really telling as to the kind of moves that I need to make next, and it’s just up to me to make the choice to listen.
Erika Cruz: I love that you said a good night’s sleep because yesterday, the night before I didn’t sleep well. So yesterday I was just kind of anxious the entire day and I was looking to make a decision in my business and I was putting all this pressure on myself to make a decision.
And I said, you know what, I’m going to sleep on it and let myself. Come up with it in the morning and this morning I got in the car I was going to go to boxing which I like to use it as a ritual as like a rage release every time I go to boxing class. I’m like, what’s been pissing me off lately. Let’s just let it out right now.
but right before I left, I ended up just doing a poll and I was like, I’m going to let my audience pick. And then I was like, okay, but I have to give them options. So then I just on the spot came up with three options. And I was like, you know what? I think I really like option number two. It has 70 percent of the votes.
And I was like, wow, look at that. Sometimes we’re looking to force things when, if we can just allow it to come to us. It can just happen, right? It flows into us. And, you know, I called off an engagement, obviously, you know this because this I remember when I
Vanessa Santos: said you were so brave. I would have saved myself a lot of money had I done what you’ve done.
But it took,
Erika Cruz: well, here’s how I knew. I couldn’t sleep at night. I was extremely anxious. I also had migraines, like you described the migraines when you were at that job. I could not go to the bathroom. I couldn’t poop. It was like my body was trying to hold on to everything, right?
Vanessa Santos: All those things, but that’s the thing.
Those are the signals of your body’s girl, I’m blocking you here for a reason. let unblock me. And the way you unblock yourself is literally removing the things that are holding you stagnant, that are keeping you stuck. But you had the bravery to call off that engagement because I had all of those cues, but I fully ignored them.
Completely ignore them for the sake again of making somebody else happy thinking that well, as long as he’s happy, I’ll eventually get there. And that is just a sad way to live because you’re doing more hurt to everybody involved in the long run. Yeah.
Erika Cruz: And it takes time to be able to understand your intuition.
Right? So it took you years. It also took me years. I was working a job I hated for eight years. I was in the tech industry. So there was, I think we tend to want to shame ourselves like, Oh, I should have known. And it’s always, I should have known when you’re looking back. It wasn’t, I should have known when you were in the
Vanessa Santos: moment.
There’s no, I should have known because how the F are you going to know who is giving you this roadmap? Who’s giving you this guide? I can tell you for a fact that anything I have accomplished has been through leaning in on people that I’ve been there or that I’ve been supportive or a hundred percent on my own willpower and desire because never were there situations where I actually go to anybody in my family for advice.
when it comes to business, when it comes to relationships, when it comes to anything that is impacting my life. Because they, they’re not where I would want to be. So why do you go to people that aren’t where you want to go or that don’t have what you have? You know, so it’s just people. Sometimes we allow way too many cooks in the kitchen and you have to be very judicious with who you’re getting feedback and advice from.
if you’re not out there rolling up your sleeves with mud on your face, then why am I going to come to you for advice? Because you’re going to give it to me from a very particular point of view. From a very narrow lens and my depth of field is like this. Because I like to now trust in myself that I’ll make the right decision and it’s not even about the right decision.
It’s making a decision. Whether right or wrong, you made a decision. You’re making a decision that’s meant to happen in that moment in time because you’ve chosen to do so. And whatever the outcome will be is the outcome that’s intended to be. We forget about the journey that we’re living on this moment.
This conversation that you and I are having, I’ve been sitting here just in silence, also absorbing it and thanking the universe and thanking you for the opportunity to express myself. So that in hopes that maybe somebody else would be like, okay, let me go make that move or let me take this moment and actually listen to this podcast episode and not do 20 things at once for the sake of having to get my to do list accomplished.
Erika Cruz: Oh, I love what you said also about making a decision. There’s this false concept that there is a right decision. There is no right decision. There’s the decision that you make. Right. And even if you make the wrong choice, like you’re always going to learn from it, right? People like, let’s say you have option a and B people don’t want to make the wrong decision, so they don’t choose Homegirl, you could have already chose option B, realized that was the wrong one, and gone to option A, and already been way further ahead. Right.
Vanessa Santos: Right. Make, just make a decision. But we do shame ourselves. We are our harshest critic, on top of the fact that we measure ourselves. Against someone else’s ruler against someone else’s definition of success of joy of life of happiness And i’ve been guilty of it of comparing myself to what I see on instagram But when you end up meeting your idols when you end up meeting the people that you thought had it all together and you realized Oh, they don’t know what the fuck is going on.
You’re like, Oh, we’re all in this human experience together. That is 0. 01 percent of somebody’s life. The same way that, you know, Instagram mirrors what Latinas get funded in this country, 0. 001 or whatever it is. that’s how minuscule it is. So why? Are you measuring your life against what you see on a little app?
Erika Cruz: Okay. We’ve already kind of touched on this a little bit, spirituality, but I would love to know how has leaning into healing and your spiritual practices supported you in entrepreneurship and career growth?
Vanessa Santos: so I’ve had businesses before, some were acquired and some I just fell flat on my ass and almost had to file for bankruptcy.
And so I sold my house or I got rid of things for the sake of getting out of that hole out of that space. And it’s because I was trying to do things by the book, by the business books that I learned or following the guidebook of white men around me. But white men don’t have the lived experiences that I have.
this society that we live in, this world is construct. Wasn’t conducive to helping me thrive if I was trying to play by its rules. The game has been rigged from the beginning. And so for me to get to browser’s council and rescue princess and by rescue, I mean, rescuing yourself. I knew that I had to be comfortable with learning the cheat codes with, failing and getting back up again.
But the only way I was going to do that is to lean in on my inner knowing, which is my version of spirituality, which is trusting that there are higher powers that guide us trusting in the wisdom of the universe, in the wisdom of my ancestors, in the whispers that I get when I meditate, when I connect and I open up those doors and those passages and the moment that I said to myself, entrepreneurship is spiritual for me, Because it comes from a heart place.
It comes from my soul. When I make decisions, when I think about what I’m going to create for the community, when I think about what we’re going to design, what partnerships we take on, what opportunities, what events we create. If it was all from here and it was all about money, dollars and cents, our community would absolutely reject that.
The reason why our community Feels the way that they do when they come to our events, when we meet in person is because they can feel and sense the genuineness that Anna and I, where we pull our ideas from, right? It comes from meditating. It comes from being in nature. It comes from inner prayer. It comes from, this is my way of entrepreneurship and I’m fucking okay with it.
Because I have to be comfortable when you lay your head at night and you put your head on a pillow and you are sitting there with all these thoughts that are like fucking scrolling through your head. The reason why people wake up with anxiety is because they know exactly how their day is going to go.
I have no idea how my day is going to go because I’m not trying to tie myself to principles that weren’t even created for me. I let my spirituality guide my decisions. I let my intuition guide my curiosity. So when I wake up, I have excitement because I have no fucking clue what’s going to happen legitimately.
I will know some of the meetings that are going to be on my calendar because we’ve been on there for weeks. But for the most part, I have no idea. So it gets me really excited because when I don’t know something, I have gotten comfortable with sitting in and saying, What feels right and making business decisions based on what feels right.
It’s going to be for the greater good of our collective, because what’s happening in this country due to capitalism and greed is because everyone’s focused on bottom line and profits. And I feel like there’s a world and a place that we’ve created that, you know, within our community, within our culture at We All Grow, that you can’t have people in profit.
Take center stage and harmonize for the sake of the better good of the collective.
Erika Cruz: That was beautiful. And it really is. If you have not attended an event, a We All Grow event, I highly recommend that you do because it completely changed my life. I didn’t learn about We All Grow until I want to say It was the beginning of 2019. And, I heard Ana Flores on a podcast that I randomly came across.
I was working in tech at the time on a very lonely little Island being the only Latina in my company. And I found, a podcast. Hosted by a Latina and I was like, podcast exists by Latinas, what is this? And I heard the episode with Ana Flores and she talked about the We All Grow event and I looked it up and it was sold out.
And I said, no, I can’t go. And just, I think I was really on a search for my community because I felt so lonely. And I ended up going to, it was called Latina. It is called Latina coalition event in the San Jose area. And I met somebody there who told me she was going to We All Grow. And I was like, Oh, it was sold out.
Well, three weeks later, she forwarded me an email saying that We All Grow was looking for volunteers. So I applied to be a volunteer and that’s how I ended up. we all grow in 2019 and
Vanessa Santos: I was like, I feel like I went to a wheel grow event. Really? Yes. It was in 2019. So you and I were both in long beach and hotel Maya for the first time.
Yes. And both we were working in tech at the same time.
Erika Cruz: Yes. Ooh, I just got chills right now all over my body. Yes. And so I ended up getting picked as a volunteer. I show up. I have no idea what I’m doing. And I was like, I’ve never seen. So many beautiful Brown women with different hair colors and hair textures.
And it was just, I, after that first day I said, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life. But what I do know is that it has to do with this community right here. And yes, so it completely changed the trajectory of my life and my career. And I met so many amazing people in 2019, obviously then the pandemic occurred.
During the pandemic, obviously the next event was postponed and I started my business and I was like, I don’t know exactly what this is, but it’s focused on Latinas. this is what I know. And it was just so magical that the next time the event happened. You were partner and co CEO and I was a storyteller.
How crazy is that? Isn’t
Vanessa Santos: that the most craziest thing? I have chills when I think about it because I attended in 2019. I went by myself, right? Again, putting myself in uncomfortable situations. People are so afraid to do things alone. When you are okay. With your own company and yourself, you actually end up craving it more than being with the gen pop.
Sometimes I’m like, I just don’t want to, I just really enjoy my own company. And same to you. I realized that the summit was sold out. And I got lucky that Ana extended an invitation to go because we had met previously. at that time I was working at MasterCard and I was doing the women’s leadership network, which is the BRG group within the organization, doing really good work with an incredible group of Latina women that are trying to help one another succeed and grow in the corporate ladder within the MasterCard walls.
And I had just been to CES. I got an award. I had. I had won all these like corporate conferences and you go there and you realize it’s so stale. It’s so black and white, everyone’s wearing gray and you just don’t feel like you fit in. And so you shrink yourself and it wasn’t until the summit in 2019. But I remember attending again, not knowing what to expect because sometimes I purposely choose to not do research so that I don’t sell myself on the idea of something.
And I allow myself for curiosity and wonder to take center stage. So I was like, I’m just going to wing it and see what happens. And I end up meeting some of the most amazing human beings that I have ever met. There were Latina. They were brown. They were beautiful. They were happy to see me there. That were.
Not trying to stab me behind my back that weren’t trying to close the door that we’re just like, Oh, don’t you have a blog? Oh my God, I know this contact. They’re looking for another Latina creator. And that’s how I got my first brand deal through someone I had just met at summit. I made the most incredible friends.
I remember sitting there and looking up at the stage, listening to Ana speak, just thinking. There’s a reason why the universe had put her and I together. There’s a reason why she extended an invitation for me to come and attend. I, my story with her is not done, but I will sit with this and I’ll allow it to manifest in a way that it did.
Because one thing that I have always been okay with has been delayed gratification. It doesn’t need to happen right now. It’s just, I already know it’s mine. It’s just a matter of time of when, because I know it’ll be the right time when it finally decides to show up and manifest. I met her at the, at the beautiful party that we do every time we have our summit.
At our celebration party. And I remember that was also the first time I accidentally took an edible. I thought it was a piece of chocolate and I was also vegan and plant based at that time. And I accidentally had a chorizo taco. So on top of the fact that it was extra high and got a stomach ache the last day, I couldn’t participate in anything.
And I felt so bad because I was like, here’s this woman extended this beautiful invitation. And I can’t even partake in wellness day, which was day two, which was, you know, what my soul needed the most. But even though just thought I infer my heart, you know, high hung over or whatever, because I had been experiencing a lot of first, I was like, I’m going to sit here and just watch these women.
And they were doing a yoga class in the morning. And the yoga instructor was like,no, everybody participates. Even if you can’t just be in this energy and receive. And I was like, okay, here’s a Latina that just told me to come here. I don’t have to do anything. Meaning I don’t have to give to receive and allow other women to pour into me.
That was just like,like a mind break. And I remember that Monday morning, that Sunday night flying back home that Monday morning. Telling my husband Derek. Oh my god. Now I have to go back to work after I just spent an entire weekend with the most Incredible human beings I had ever met and now I have to go and do the nine to five thing again I have to go and be the robot.
I had to be the top performer. I had to be the over performer I had to be the people pleaser I had to be the Latina that knew it all that was preparing for all the parties but still got her Deadlines in time, but took on the extra projects just for the sake of getting promoted. I had to be all the things that it’s not what I actually truly wanted to be in my soul And I remember going to our brg group going to hr telling them about this wonderful event I was like, what do we need to do?
How does mastercard sponsor this? What can we do? And With all the best intentions, it just never seemed to work out But when I finally left, Anna approached me and said, would you be willing to host a masterclass for the community? And I said, hell fucking yes, I will. And the masterclass was on helping Latinas build a brand from the bottom up because Some of my beautiful experiences at MasterCard was being part of the StarPath team, which is the entrepreneurial sector of the organization, which was helping to scroll, you know, to, scale business ideas, throwing ideas at the wall, building them, seeing what comes of it.
And so you learn a lot about building, growing and scaling brands. And so it was a joy for me to be able to do that for women like me. And I had so much fun hosting that masterclass that when it was over, I cried not because of sadness, just because it’s like, Oh my God, I found my calling, which is, I learned all this wisdom and I don’t need to have all the answers, but what I know is how to guide people to a solution, but allowing them the power of choice to make the decision that’s right for them based on what their heart is feeling coming from a heart centered place, which is very opposite of where I, how I was operating from in the corporate world.
And when I finally decided to quit and left my six figure job, I went to the desert to have time with myself, my spirituality, to find myself again, to figure out what is my purpose in my role in life. And I thought I need to be in community again. I need to be and help more Latinas. How can we do this?
How can I? So I started journaling and I was like, Oh, this place exists. I was like, I’m not going to create another wheel girl. She’s already done so much work. So you know what? Let me sit on it and see what comes to me. The following morning, I get a call from a big company that we use every single day that gets us things delivered in less than two days, sometimes 24 hours, offering me what would have been the biggest job of my career.
And they were like, you can get to meet the founder and you can get to meet this. And I said, shit, I would just be trading one golden handcuff for another. My LinkedIn would look poppin, but again, why am I living so that my LinkedIn to look cute. that’s not why I was put on this earth and I turned on the job and the moment I hung up, I was like, Oh my God, I just said no to all that money.
Oh my God, what am I thinking? Oh, and I was like, you know what? Nope. Nope. I’m going to, I’m going to trust. But when your head is doing this while you’re thinking that’s your body like telling you girl. It’s a no It’s just we don’t listen to our body and for that moment I said what will happen if I actually listen to myself if I honor my heart if I honor my inner whispers Let me start and let me see what happens.
And so that was the first doorway that it opened the second doorway was when Immediately I hung up and I said no to that job offer. Anna sends me a text and said, Hey, I have a wild idea. Can you talk? And I immediately respond with capital Y E S. Yes. So she calls me, I pick up the phone and she’s I have a wild idea.
And I said, yes. She’s you don’t even know what it is yet. I was like, I don’t care. My heart called you like, I don’t think you understand. I just journaled about this. It’s just hear me out. And so that conversation is what led to us employing this co CEO model to show community members that collaboration is absolutely the precipice to helping you get to your goals that two Latinas can thrive, support each other.
Whether or not they agree on every single thing, but they can still get to an end goal in mind and doing so together. And so, same as you, 2019 Summit was the pivotal moment in my life that just course corrected me to where I needed to be and where I am today. Had I not gone there by myself, again, I would have never, I know I wouldn’t be here, but it’s because I said, let me, I mean, what’s the best that could happen?
But we don’t because we’re always trying to analyze and have the entire path laid out. You can’t do that. You can’t script your life. Yes. You can be the main character. Yes. You can be the director. You have choice, but you can’t actually script it. Otherwise you’re, it’s going to be boring. Why do you want to know everything that’s going to happen?
Erika Cruz: Amen to that. Wow.
Vanessa Santos: Okay. I don’t even know where I went, girl. You asked me a question. I
Erika Cruz: don’t
remember what the that yoga class. I was in yoga teacher training whenever that summit occurred, and I was getting my yoga certification. So I ended up, I think it was Jenny who was teaching the class. So I ended up assisting her with that yoga class. So we were like both in the same place, how crazy, but I love what you said about like magic happens.
At We All Grow. It really does. And I mean, look at all of these synchronicities just in this conversation, like business is spiritual. It really
Vanessa Santos: is. It is. I have chills speaking to you. And I think that’s why, when I saw you at Las Founders, I was so excited to meet you because obviously when I joined, I poured through everything.
And I remember going through photos of our previous summit and I was like, Oh my God, I know her. Where do I know her from? And it was photos of you. I didn’t know that you were a volunteer, but I just remember seeing you there. And I was just like, why does your face look so familiar? And then I opened up my phone.
It was my Tik TOK. And I was like, Oh my God, she went to summit the same year. Like I just, and I was like, and I follow her at Tik TOK and I love her advice. I just love how she shows up. So when I saw you. I was like, I need to go say hi to her. I just didn’t realize all the synchronicities that now today we have this beautiful blessing of sitting across the zoom, across the video monitor.
Yeah. Sharing our own stories. It’s just, how wild is life?
Erika Cruz: it really is. And I love how whenever you talked about how you received that offer, mind you, you had just walked away from a job, right? So everything inside of you, all the conditioning inside of you is we no longer have a steady paycheck.
We no longer have this. And I do feel that the universe never wants us to fail, but it always wants us to learn a lesson. Right? And if we don’t learn the lesson, we’re going to keep repeating, like we keep going to school until we learn the lesson. And I feel like that was a moment where you learn the lesson because you didn’t just jump into another job and it would have been so easy to do that.
And I had a similar situation. I walked away from my tech job and I was feeling free and I was so excited. And then a few weeks go by and then I was like, Oh crap, can I actually make money? Oh crap, what am I going to do? Right? Right? And my CEO text me, my former CEO, and he’s Hey, Erica, can you talk?
So, I was like, sure. So I get on the phone with him and he’s Hey, so, you know, we, you know, we’re working with this pharmaceutical company. obviously, you know, the product, you know, the client, because you’ve been managing the client while we’re working with them in Argentina now. And we’d love to bring you on as just a contractor so you can continue to work on your business.
But we would need you to fly to Argentina. And I love travel and I love. Working with people from, you know, different, especially Argentina. I was like, yeah, I want to go there. And I had to sit with it. And I felt this pit in my stomach and almost like this pressure on my chest. And I was like, I feel like this is a test from the universe.
what are you going to do? Are you going to say yes to yourself or to use your words? Are you going to say yes to your LinkedIn looking good? And. I ended up choosing myself and it was the scariest thing because of course my mom was like, that’s perfect. Then you don’t have to worry about making that much money.
Take it. And, but in my soul, I knew, no, I can’t. So I just want to highlight that moment, right? The moment that you said no to that, look at the other opportunity that
Vanessa Santos: opened up for you. We just have to remind ourselves that we have a lot of doors to walk through. We just, again, we pigeonhole ourselves thinking that we have this one singular door because the idea of what we sold ourselves on, you’re allowed to change your mind.
You’re allowed to say, eh, let me hit them with a plot twist. It’s my story to tell. Let me walk through a different door. Let me do something different. If I want to be different, let me do something different. We can’t keep doing the same thing in and out, but then expecting a miracle to happen. There’s really no such thing in that way.
You have to be energetically centered in a place to receive the blessings that you want, but you have to be willing to be uncomfortable and to challenge yourself to receive them. Same as you. I was like, I don’t know how I’m going to make money. But then the day I decided I could start coaching because I had the certifications.
I had the knowledge, I had the know how and it was just something that felt right because people were coming to me the first day. I said, okay, fine. let me check it out. Let me see what will happen. And let me try it universe. What’s the best that could happen. That first day I get to 5, 000 coaching clients had to make 10, 000 my first day.
That was double more than double than my salary. And I was like, Oh wait, is that I forget. I know how to make money.
Erika Cruz: Yeah. Yes. Oh, you bring up such a good point. Like we are the source of our abundance, not a job, not an opportunity, not a person. And we forget that. We forget how powerful we are. Oh man, we can take this so many different directions.
Vanessa Santos: are the source of joy. We are the source. We have it all. It’s just that we forget because we expect so much external validation. And I’ve been guilty of that, right? I’ve allowed someone’s lack of showing me love affect my self worth. But that’s only because I allowed that was a choice But the moment I looked at myself in the mirror, looked at myself, my soul, I was like, yeah, if my journey is to be on my own, if my journey is to be coupled, if my journey is to be in Portugal, if my journey is to be wherever it may be or whatever that may look like is being open to that, but reminding myself that I have everything within me.
To be happy, to be abundant, to be powerful, to be influential, to be creative, to be financially free. But we put ourselves, it’s like we have all these different sticky notes and we cover ourselves and it’s like we’re covering our energy. We’re not allowing our own light to shine because sometimes we’re uncomfortable of being too much and taking up too much space.
But we need more unicorns in this world. Otherwise, again, this world is going to be boring and whack, and you want people to have something fun to say about you, right? I trust that the circles I’ve put myself in, by the time I walk in, I already have fans because my people know how to speak of me, right?
And I do that as well for my friends. They’ll walk into any room and be like, Vanessa got me. They never have to worry and think about what people are going to think. and that goes again with having so much love for yourself that you have no problem looking at another Latina, another woman and be like, girl, you are the mac and cheese with truffle on top.
Erika Cruz: Exactly. Ooh, extra truffle, shaved truffle. Extra truffle. Oh. So you are. The first reflector in human design that I’ve ever met . And when you told me that you were a reflector, I was blown away because only 1% of the population is a reflector. And I’ve taken a course on human design. It’s part of how I coach my clients as well because it makes a difference to understand how your energy works.
And yeah, as a reflector, your aura, resists samples and reflects the aura of others. And it also, you are like a super wise observer of life, with a great gift of reading other people, and reflectors are meant to be at the heart of their community, and they know exactly when a community is functioning properly, and when something needs to change.
And as I, Learn more about reflectors. I’m like, you are exactly where you need to be for our community and how beautiful to, you know, like the universe put you here and this is exactly where you need to be.
Vanessa Santos: I, again, I really was curious about opening up all the doors that everybody told me not to opening up all the different doors.
And I am no Z. I’m just like, if I’m like, how did they make all that money? Let me go figure that out. Let me go figure that out. But being a reflector is I mirror a lot. And so the good thing about mirroring is that. It tells you, gives you a barometer of what’s not working. And I’ve had to get comfortable with the fact that with being a reflector, you have to wait for every lunation.
So every full moon is when you wait to make a big decision. And sometimes that’s hard when we coexist in an environment that business is such a rapid pace. Decisions have to happen so fast. Clients, community members, everyone has so much, so many expectations. Right. Of what you need to be and how you show up for them.
That being comfortable with having to sit back and say, I need to actually reflect in order to reflect. Yeah. I can’t reflect if I don’t give myself the space to do so. And if I’m doing myself a disservice, then the community is going to be at a disadvantage because I’m not showing up in the way that I am designed to thrive.
Right. So I love human design since I’ve been learning about it and understanding it. And when I found out it was a reflector. I was like, of course, because I always mirror energy, but that’s why I’m also so protective of my energy and the people that I spend time with, because I am a very open spirit, but sometimes people take right.
And not because they have bad intentions. It’s just everybody is desiring for support for help for that olive branch for that opportunity. And I love to be able to give, but I’ve recognized that I have had the pattern of spreading myself too thin. Of becoming something for everybody, but then no one to myself and what has taught me, you know, the more I learned about human design and being a reflector and, you know, being tried dosha as well.
everybody has, you know, there’s 3 dosha. I’m all 3. So I don’t have a core center, which is also interesting is my energy field has to be protected. So the people I hung out with, how long I hang out with people, I can easily get drained. And so. Me isolating is my mechanism to protect myself from that.
Unfortunately, some people don’t like it when I do that because I’m not available to them in the way that they want. I’m not available at all times and you can try to be honest as much as you want but at the end of the day everyone’s still gonna process what you tell them through their own filters.
But again, as long as you’re comfortable with the feelings in your heart, and the thoughts in your mind, how those people perceive that is on them. So in order to thrive as a reflector, I have to honor my rest. I have to honor and protect my energy. And if I walk into a place and the vibes don’t feel right, I leave.
There are also people that hide behind the guise of doing social impact and social justice. And you can spot those right away. And so I have to also be careful because I’m from New York and my face will say it all. So I’m like, you know what, I’m going to get myself out of the situation because. My energy read your energy because energy snitches and I know how to read.
And so because of that, I just rather remove myself and retract. And so it’s so cool to understand the things that you are highly sensitive to and the things that you have a depth of perception for, because if you use that, it really can help you be very powerful in so many aspects personally and professionally.
Erika Cruz: Love it. Ask for what you need. Know yourself and remember that people are going to take whatever you say to them through their perspective and you can’t change that, right? The best thing you can do is advocate for yourself. I feel like I can be responsible for other people’s feelings. Exactly. I feel like I could talk to you all day, but I want to be respectful of your time.
Vanessa Santos: I can’t wait to do a weekend fest. We’re going to do a lot more talking.
Erika Cruz: I know. I can’t wait. I told Vanessa, I was like, Oh, don’t worry. This won’t take up the whole time. And now I’m looking at the time and I’m like, well, I
Vanessa Santos: lied. Girl, have you met me? You know, I could talk.
Erika Cruz: So tell us. How can people, get their ticket for weekend fest?
What is weekend fest? And then anything else that you want to share with us? Where can people connect with you? So first tell us about weekend fest and then I’ll ask you the
Vanessa Santos: other. So weekend fest, are two one day iconic events, last founders and wellness day under the same. So last year we had summit and we had a plethora, an abundance of activations, of workshops, of experiences.
And the one thing that we do, which is why we conduct a survey after every single one of our events is Anna and myself, Melissa, our VP of marketing, the team, we actually sit there, we come through every single response. We’re not like these other organizations, and I’m not talking about Latina centric or community centric when they ask for data, they do that so they could sell your data.
We’re not a marketing platform. We’re a community platform. So for us, deep listening is important. So what we uncovered at summit is that folks were loving it. They were like, this is the best thing ever, but they felt like they were missing out because there’s so much to do. Right. There’s a lot, there was a lot.
We, we over delivered because that’s what we do. Because again, there’s such high expectations of us, especially when you’re Latina, when you’re Latina, you have to show up perfect, you have to show up in so many different ways because people are always looking to fault you. And so we over delivered and what we encountered was that folks felt like they were missing out.
So this year we were a lot more intentional with the programming. So Weekend Fest allows you day one last founders to get all of the mindset, the coaching, the experience, the information you need for anyone with the entrepreneurial spirit. Regardless of the size of your business, you can never not learn.
You need to be a student of life. So that’s day one. Day two is wellness day. So after you’ve had your mind nourished, after you’ve made authentic connections, after you’ve heard from our powerhouse speakers day two, you get to heal the innermost self because the way that Anna and I thrive is we.
Harmonize spirituality with self care and business. It’s not one or the other. It’s, they have to coexist. Otherwise, nothing actually is going to thrive. So wellness day allows you for healing sessions, the most amazing keynote speakers, and it allows you to also connect with your, with yourself in a, in an environment with other Latinas, with other women that want to see you succeed.
And that’s a very uncomfortable place to be. And what I’ll say about weekend fest is. Be comfortable with getting yourself out of your own comfort zone, out of your own environment. There’s a reason why we choose the destinations that we choose sometimes. It’s because we want to get you out of the comfort of your zip code.
Because you’re not going to show up or be the same or interact the same if you’re at the comfort of your own little house. And I took that leap of faith in 2019, as did you, when we went to Long Beach, California, and look at where we are today. And so my invitation to folks is everybody is always questioning the investment when it comes to investing yourself.
When you invest in a coach, you are investing in your future self. When you invest in your portfolio, you’re investing in your financial freedom. When you invest in taking yourself to events that are actually going to be congruent to helping you get to where you want to be. You’re effing unstoppable, but people question when it comes time to investing themselves.
But if you walk into their closets, they have all the designer stuff. They have all this unnecessary shit that isn’t actually making the money. And then they wonder why they’re not growing. Right. And I had to realize what. A profitable investment actually looks like, and for me, a profitable investment is buying myself a ticket to weekend fast, getting myself a life coach, which I have spiritual coach, which I have, because how can I be expected to show up and nourish others?
If I’m not nourishing myself, I’m not going to let my cup get empty. It needs to be overflowing in order for me to have capacity to give. But if the moment we start questioning our value. Oh, this ticket is too expensive. Then you’re saying you’re not worth that. And that’s something that needs to be unpacked and explored or this coaching package or this coaching thing is too expensive.
Really? Because I can guarantee you that you spend more money on chucherias that won’t give you the growth that a coach like Erika Cruz could give you. You get what I’m saying? So that’s what I have to say about Weekend Fest.
Erika Cruz: I’m going to be there. I hope to see you all there so I can give you a huge hug.
Vanessa will also give you one. Yes. Love hugs. Yes. So what else is going on? Well, by the way, we’re going to link everything. We’re going to link your social media down below. We’re going to link Weekend Fest down below. And what else do you have going on? And where can people find you?
Vanessa Santos: Oh, please come and look for us at WeAllGrowLatina on Instagram, at WeAllGrowCommune, which is our events handle on Instagram.
I’m at Vanessa Santos Fine. And what is happening with me now? Well, The exciting thing is that we’re planning for 2024. We are producing the things we need to produce this year, but we’re planning for 2024. And I’m also planning on what my word of the year will be, right? I try to be very intentional. This year, my word was surrender and honoring that surrender and honoring that idea of control.
because as a tourist. Sun as a cancer, rising as a Capricorn moon, I have found myself trying to plan things and what I’ve learned in the art of surrender and what I’ve learned when I’ve been most successful is, when things go on plans and what I don’t know so leaving room for interpretation and so Working on what my word of the year will be for next year planning for 2024, but also planning my solo trip I take a solo trip every single year To nourish myself and kind of figure out where that will be and I don’t decide with here I wait for a sign from the universe whether it’s an email from coaches that I follow whether it’s a retreat invitation or whatever it may be and that’ll be My opportunity to decompress and I also find that to be very rewarding and cathartic because that’s where a lot of Ideas come from as well.
So I can’t create if I don’t give myself the space to heal.
Erika Cruz: Yes We cannot force Creativity comes when we allow the space for it. Oh, it’s so beautiful. Vanessa. This has been such A beautiful, insightful conversation. I can’t wait to go back and listen because you said so many amazing things.
You dropped so many gems. I can’t wait to go back and listen because
Vanessa Santos: I can’t wait either. I never know what I say. I swear I don’t channeling. Yes. It, I never, and I, everyone will be like, how did that go? And I’m like, you know what? I don’t know. I just speak. So I hope I did you.
Erika Cruz: Right. You did.
You did. People are going to want to listen to this twice because you said so many amazing things. Funny enough, when I got on the stage at We All Grow at the last summit, I got off and I was like, I don’t even know what story I told. I don’t even know if I followed what I was supposed to say, but how beautiful, right?
To be so connecting. You were divine.
Vanessa Santos: You were divine. I was so proud of you. Oh, thank you. And so you were so good. I remember I was cheering you on. I was like, Oh my God, she’s going to do so good. I was, I remember. And I said to you, I’m going to sit front row. It’s you did. I
Erika Cruz: remember
Vanessa Santos: seeing you on the couch mesmerized by you.
Erika Cruz: Yeah. So it’s beautiful when we allow ourselves to channel. Thank you so much, Vanessa. Thank you. I can’t wait to see you in person. I can’t wait to hug you at weekend fast. We will live, leave all the links down below. If you took anything away from this podcast episode, be sure to take a screenshot and tag both of us on Instagram because we can’t wait to reshare it.
Thank you. I
Vanessa Santos: want to know what people thought and what people enjoyed. Cause I love being able to double click with them and ask them why. So please let us know what you loved about this episode.
Erika Cruz: All right. You all know what to do. Thank you. Thank
Vanessa Santos: you.