Carlos Hidalgo is a Life Design Coach, podcaster, author, TEDx and international keynote speaker and consultant. Over the span of twenty-six years, Hidalgo has held corporate roles, started his own entrepreneurial ventures, served in non-profits and sat on numerous corporate
boards. Carlos is also a co-founder in two companies, a consultant to B2B organizations, and a host of The Life Design Podcast.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I moved around a lot as a kid, but I call the Adirondacks of New York home as I spent four years there and it is the place where I feel most relaxed and at ease. Moving around had an impact on me as every few years I was faced with having to make new friends, get acclimated to new schools, sports, etc. What I found was in defense to that I put up a defense mechanism of not letting people get too close. That impacted my relationships as an adult and it took me quite a while to understand the emotional connection and allow myself to be open and vulnerable.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I wish I learned vulnerability and the power that it brings to one’s life. As I just mentioned, I understand the root cause of it and have been able to undo the lies that I bought into. My life has improved dramatically by being vulnerable with my closest of relationships and letting them see the good, the bad, and the ugly. There is something that happens in a person when they lay it all out there for people to see and experience and the response is love and acceptance. I am just glad that it is never too late to embrace that about ourselves and experience our true selves.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I hear success being defined monetarily. This is part of what I wrote about in my book The
UnAmerican Dream. We are obsessed with money and excess and I know many people who have achieved it that I would not necessarily say are successful. I would like us to begin defining success by a different measurement. Are we living out our purpose? Are we staying true to who we were created to be? Are we engaging and experiencing deep, intimate relationships? This to me is a success – purpose over profit. The funny thing is, since I have adopted that mindset for my business and my personal life, I am in the best financial shape I have ever had in my life.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

The darkest period of my life was the end of 2015 and 2016. After giving everything I had to the growth of my business, making some poor personal choices, and neglecting my relationship with my wife and kids I hit rock bottom. I lost the passion for my business, my wife and I were separated after 20+ years of marriage and my kids were rightfully distant. I found myself treading water just to keep my head above water and what I realized is that these were all consequences of choices I had made over the years.

I had to make the decision to get help and get back to who I was created to be and stop looking at my accomplishments as my identity. I started seeing a therapist who was immensely helpful, I began reading anything I could get my hands on about purpose and being true to one’s core design. I made some hard decisions, like leaving the company I co-founded in 2005 and I began making these changes because I knew the only way to live a fulfilling life was to be my true self.

The work I have done is continual and I am always seeking to stay true to my identity and purpose. I have learned that life is best lived in a true community, that our hearts are full when we shed the false self and live from a place of authenticity and I have realized the work is never done, but it is worth it!

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I believe it is the work that I have done that I talked about previously and also, and this may not be in any business book you read, but I have, with the help of my wife, learned to hold things loosely and let go of certain things. This has included the need to forgive people who have wronged me. When you hold onto those grudges it comes out sideways and makes you angry. I hold my business loosely. It does not mean that I do not work hard; it means that I will do my best and let the outcomes happen as they should and be less controlling. I have found that when I am able to live in this way my thinking is clearer, my joy is full and stress is less. Like everything else, it is a continual work in progress.

What is your morning routine?

I have a pretty standard routine. Most mornings I wake up around 7 – I do not use an alarm clock unless I have an early morning appointment. I begin the day without my phone or any device. I read a few pages or a chapter of whatever book I am working on and then give time to have coffee with my wife. One of my biggest values is spending time with my wife and the morning is the best way to start. We get to talk uninterrupted, not distracted by our devices and as a result, continue to build a deeper and more meaningful relationship.

After that, I begin work between 8-8:30 and review what I need to accomplish on that day. I first respond to all necessary emails, check any industry news, ensure any deliverables are on schedule, and then dive into that day’s agenda.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

The biggest thing has been the adoption of what I call work-life boundaries. I think most try to achieve a work-life balance which is a lost cause as evidenced by the 70% of people who say they have none.

Work-life boundaries are more defined and harder to move. I have a handful of boundaries that I have established based on what I value – time with Susanne, my work, my emotional and mental health, my physical health. I then have defined timeframes that allow me to tend to and bring the best of myself to each of these. It has been foundational to the life design that I coach and speak about and has transformed the way I live.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I work in 90-120 minute sprints and then take a break. When I started this, I found it worked and then discovered scientific evidence that shows this aligns with our ultradian rhythms. These rhythms are something we all have and how we are all wired. Our brains can only function at high capacity for 90-120 minutes before it reaches a point of exhaustion. At that point, we are better served by taking a 15-20 minute break to allow all of the mental debris to be flushed out and our brains to be refreshed. At that point, we can begin our next sprint.

For me and others I have coached, what we have found is clearer thinking, more creativity, and being able to accomplish more, in less time, with better quality. It is something I highly recommend!

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Probably the book that has had the most impact on me is Loveable, by Dr. Kelly Flanagan. I read the book a number of years ago. During that time I was climbing back out of a deep hole of personal and business failure. The book connected with me in helping me re-discover my true identity and purpose which I am now able to bring to the work I do as a coach and consultant.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

The quote I have been embracing lately and have made it a hallmark of 2021 is by Walt Whitman, “be curious, not judgmental. I think in our world today we should all be a little more curious, ask more questions and take a beginner’s mindset to our lives and our work. I have found that when I do this, the world opens up and I begin to identify new opportunities I did not know existed otherwise.