We had the good fortune of connecting with Nathalia Montenegro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nathalia, how do you think about risk?
I don’t think about risk as most people usually do. The first association people have with risk is the idea of losing. Their first thought when calculating risk would be “what can I lose?”. Despite this is not completely unwise, I think that focusing too much on that, prevents you from growing in so many ways. Because if you want to go further and grow in your business or in your life, you have to lose what you have, you have to leave from where you are stepping now so you can step further. You have to let it go of what you are “grabbing with your hand” right now so you can hold something better later. In fact, comfort sometimes is the only thing people have to lose. It is the illusory sensation of security they get from being in a place where they dominate.
They might even be unhappy with the work they do, with how much they make, and with the rude boss they have. But they stick to that because they are in the “known”. This gives them a sense of control just by knowing how these things that make them unhappy works daily. Me, since I was a kid, on the other hand, I would never put so much focus on losing, because I developed this sense about everything being temporary, that nothing actually is mine, and nothing lasts forever. So, I would think, “what will I gain if I choose this path?”. And by talking about gain I don’t mean “the final prize or result”. I am talking about the greatest winning ever, the kind of winning that will stick with you forever and will grow exponentially: experience.
It was like this when I decided to quit my job six years ago, as a brand manager in a company to start my own consultancy firm on brand strategy. I couldn’t go on one more day at that job. There I felt I was wasting my life, my potential, and that I was losing the most precious thing in life: time. And guess what: I had no idea how to start a business or how to get clients. I had nothing guaranteed to come next or an opportunity in front of me. Despite I had nothing guaranteed, on my own risk evaluation, I calculated that the riskier thing ever would be to stay where I was. By keeping the job I would lose time, joy, and future financially and personally growth perspectives. If I decided to leave the job and start my own consultancy business, here is what I would gain: learning how to build a business, learning how to get clients, and learning about negotiation and communication.
And I would gain all of that because I had no option to not learn all those things. Since I had no guarantees that it would work, I had to learn to make it work. The biggest winning is the learning you get during the process. Because I learned that you can always turn knowledge into value. And if we pay attention, we learn more when we step farther from our comfort zone. From what is known and safe. The biggest mistake about risk is that people think that what they have now “is everything they have” and they fear losing it all. But one thing that I realized through life is that if you got there once, you could get there twice. I am not saying that choosing risk is easy because most of the time, it will require effort and practice.
If something is risk and “too easy” I would doubt if you are really winning something in the long run since learning requires practicing and effort. If you combine risk and luck, I am not sure if that is the best place to be, but if you combine risk and learning, there is no way you cannot win.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I run a consulting business on brand strategy helping businesses going through transformations to re-align and expand consciously. My role is to bring clarity to leaders about who their companies are, to develop and harmonize long term brand strategy with shorter steps, and to provide guidance to build meaningful and fulfilling companies. I believe in businesses that are conscious of who they are, aware of how they can promote the bigger impact to improve the lives of their customers, while its leaders feel fulfilled by the journey they are on. The truth is that our society nowadays, is shaped by businesses, they are the ones who influence people’s lives daily about their choices and behaviors. They are the ones that can stand by something that matters with impact, serve people better, and influence policies created by governments.
When we shift our focus to “serve people” and make their lives better, we shift it to a more humanized approach to how we do business and why we do business. I want to help to develop companies that understand the importance of human connection and how it should form the core of all businesses, across industries. And it all starts within the founders or leaders of a company. Brand means value, and by developing a brand strategy what you do is generate value to the audience you serve, and when you do that, you end up gaining capital value, market value, and social value.
We can picture the brand’s vision, as if it was a destination towards where you are driving your car (business). If you don’t know where you are going, you can end up all over the place. This is how I help leaders to build consciousness to their potential and how to set their business to get there. I think that sometimes it lacks humanity, that there are approaches that create lots of rules, and fixed blueprints, “copy and paste”, and that it doesn’t help to expand potential only to create limits to leaders that sometimes get confused in their journey they have been on for so long already.
It fulfills me so much when I see the face of founders that “A-HA!” moment when all their business life makes sense and they realize how connected it is to who they are, what helps them to become so innovative in their fields. Brings me joy when I see the client gaining clarity about his/her vision, connecting with a purpose, excited about how the business is contributing to a larger impact. And then they get excited to generate a change inside so it can reach the outside. Although, I call what I offer ‘brand strategy’, it is so much more than that, it is such a holistic approach, that generates true reconnection with themselves, reflects on how they think and do business, and generate so many positive actions to their teams and customers.
And knowing that I can contribute that way to create a positive impact in the world fires up my heart every day! The way I got to where I am today, it was by practicing what I preach to my clients. Define your values and take the decisions (the hard ones) in that direction. I don’t believe there is ‘easy’ for anything worthy in life. I never had guarantees on anything, from starting a business to moving to a different continent, I was always doing what seemed to be the “right” decision for me, even if it was against all chances.
And I don’t regret a thing! So, I almost created another business to become my client so I could show the value of what I could bring to potential clients. After I finished this project, I started to present to people and then I got my first client.. and then other.. and then other.. so on. Through this journey I have been on, there are 3 main learnings that made all the difference so far: Focus on what your customer is looking for, not on what you have to offer.
To ignore clarity of emotion and connection from the founders, and not considering it on the long term brand strategy is suicide in a short term, resulting in a not authentic brand. Emotion moves everything. Listening and making questions is the greatest way for understanding and create change.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I feel that I am lucky (twice!) in my life. First, because I had the opportunity to travel and live in different countries and second because I choose this amazing little fisherman village in Portugal, Ericeira, to call my home just 30min driving from Lisbon, and also a world surfing reserve! Definitely, this is a gem to come once in your life at least. Most people who visit here ends up coming every year! The village of Ericeira is such a charming place, an old town with buildings painted all white and blue, just by the sea, on the top of a cliff.
It is an unforgettable scenario! Ericeira has a mix of the traditional Portuguese culture and way of living, combined with the surf lifestyle there is everywhere around, and the people that come from all over the world attracted by the mystical vibes of this place. My favorite beaches to visit is Ribeira de Ilhas – where happens part of the world surf championship (WCT), Foz do Lizandro – where you can find cute cafés and restaurants, and São Julião if you are looking for a more raw scenario.
Boardriders is the famous spot to be around, a mega surf shop, with a bar and café, a skate bowl to ride, and live shows every weekend, is where you can go to chill, have drinks and enjoy the best vibe with an amazing sunset view! To hang out at night, Adega is the best place and the oldest bar of Ericeira, but still firing up every day. Wednesdays are always the best day to be out at night. Tubo is another local bar that is known for getting together with friends.
For eating, you will be able to find the best seafood in the village’s restaurants, very fresh and traditionally prepared! But since I am vegetarian I am not so aware which restaurants are the best for that! But these should not be hard to find. My favorites to eat are Green is good (amazing health food), Red Chilli (Indian), Beach pizza (they are the best!) and the café Dear Rose, charming, amazing food, my favorite!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family played a big role in the development of how I perceive risk which led me to the choices I made. My parents were always super supportive about me following my dreams and when I needed support to make the hard choices, every time I was struggling in doubt on what to do next they would make me feel loved and say “choose what makes you happy”, and without a doubt, their encouragement helped me to build the confidence necessary to make hard decisions.
Also, stories of normal people who decided to make a big shift in their lives to live a life more aligned with their values different from what was established around them really inspire me a lot. And because I get to travel a lot, I get many opportunities to meet people with stories like these. I think that it demands so much courage and faith, there is no way to not be stimulated to question your life and make moves that would reflect more the kind of life you want for yourself, than moves just to build a life to show to others.
As an avid reader that I am, books and their authors have always been key to me to keep up the inspiration and learning along the journey. I would love to give a big shoutout to “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, it can be kind of cliché, I know, haha. But this is one of the simplest, short and deep book at the same time, I got to read in my life. And last but not least important the book “How to fail at almost everything and still win big” by Scott Adams is deeply insightful and high-spirited to inspire us to look to situations from unusual perspectives.