From being lost in life to finding my purpose and building Karisma
Only a few are fortunate to find their core drive, and it takes a few steps to get there. This is the story of how I found it, and how I’m turning my dream into a reality.
Concretely speaking, I will touch upon the concepts of coliving, mastering your life, and how a desire can turn into a business. This article will also touch upon key learnings on a journey of alignment, how I went from being a failure in school and lost in life to finding my passion and living a meaningful lifestyle.
October of 2020 was the beginning of a very special journey. Years of wondering about life and its meaning, wanting to understand and master it, had led to this moment. During a late-night convo with my roommate, I had just stumbled upon an idea that, one year later, turned into “Karisma”, my life calling and now full-time job. Karisma is much more than just a business for me; it is a philosophy of life and a representation of my dream life.
Before we dig deeper, I’d like to give a massive shoutout and thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this journey filled with learnings and growth. You have shaped me into the person I am today and, without you, none of this would have been possible.
It all goes back to my rebellious school days in Barcelona, when I lacked motivation and trouble was all I had in mind. I almost repeated 9th grade and was very close to getting kicked out a couple of times, making me think I wouldn’t amount to much.
Something changed after spending 10th grade abroad in Boston. During that time on my own, I was constantly outside of my comfort zone and also found my first love. I realized that I was capable of much more than I thought and, most importantly, I now had a big goal: I wanted to get into a US college to get back with her and there was nothing that was going to stop me.
While the relationship didn’t last, having a mission to go after turned me into a surprisingly good student. I also became friends with Marvin, who is half German half Colombian and who shared the same goal as me. Together, we pushed each other constantly to improve and excel. Once we both got into our dream school, I realized the importance of setting goals, taking action and working in a team. It gave me the confidence to believe in myself and go after the things I really wanted.
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” — Pablo Picasso
University taught me a lot and opened up my world, especially through all of the international people I met. However, as a business major, I felt like we were all expected to pursue a career in consulting, accounting, finance or a few other options. It seemed like this was the route you had to take towards “success” but it just didn’t feel right. There had to be more to it.
In the summer of 3rd year, everyone was expected to do a summer internship if they wanted to increase the chances of landing a good job after college. I just wanted to travel and do something that would excite me so I found a middle ground by getting an internship in Rio de Janeiro. Without really knowing it then, this was the beginning of a new chapter.
There, I shared an apartment with 6 people roughly my age and became especially close with my dear friend Finn Dollimore from New Zealand. We immediately bonded over wanting to become the best version of ourselves, traveling the world and living a meaningful life. We constantly pushed each other to take responsibility over our lives and step out of our comfort zone while sharing learnings and having a good time.
My experience in Rio was so transformational at the time that I was not going to let it end there. I wanted to keep traveling, meeting inspiring people and growing so I took the upcoming semester off (I had enough credits to do so) and booked a flight to Australia in September 2019 with a backpack and no plan in mind.
I got a sales job in Sydney on my second day to finance my travels through the entire Australian East Coast and eventually South East Asia where I met so many diverse and fascinating people from all over the world. I not only met backpackers but also digital nomads and location-independent professionals who were living like this every day. It blew my mind.
“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.” — Max Depree
Looking back, what made that experience so memorable wasn’t so much the nice temples or beaches but rather the people I met along the way. Everyone I met shaped me and made me grow in one way or another by introducing me to new ideas, opinions, ways of living or cultures. From everyone I met, I learned something new. When engaging in these reciprocal exchanges, true transformation happened and solid friendships were made that I still actively stay in touch with.
When I returned home for Christmas of 2019, I knew 2 things for sure: 1) I didn’t want to be a follow the typical 9 to 5 (nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t the thing for me) and 2) I had to find a way to make what I had just experienced in Rio, Australia and SE Asia not just a one time vacation but my lifestyle.
I still had to finish my last semester of college, though. There, I returned to the stress of having to get a good job and feeling that you needed to have your life figured out. That reality check led me to a big realization: society expects you to go to school, get a corporate job, get married… and while those things are valuable, most of us never really ask ourselves what it is that we truly want for ourselves.
“Somewhere between college graduation and your second job, a chorus enters your internal dialogue: Be realistic and stop pretending. Life isn’t like the movies.” — Tim Ferris
I knew I wanted to do something that involved surrounding myself with fascinating people, traveling the world, growing personally and having autonomy over what I do. Once I graduated in May of 2020, I still wasn’t fully sure what I wanted to do so I kept searching by moving to Dublin where I got a sales job at Oracle. While this wasn’t my passion, it was a unique opportunity to sharpen my skills, become financially independent and surround myself with top talent.
There, I lived with my colleague Giacomo Coppola from Italy and his friend Max Cowen from Louisiana who quickly became my best friends. Both were very entrepreneurial and almost every day we would brainstorm ideas, share knowledge and push each other while also having an amazing time and throwing some of the best parties in Dublin (there wasn’t much competition during lockdown).
That special night in October of 2020, Max — a man with a big heart invested in the success of his friends — helped me realize that experiences that involved human connection and personal growth were what I had been truly passionate about. Even though that was still so broad and unclear, he encouraged me to pick something and go after it with an open mind. That something was a surf camp in Portugal made out of shipping containers, even though I barely knew anything about Portugal and I sucked at surfing. Don’t ask me why.
“We learn the way on the way.” — Shannon Kaiser
(After all, you can’t know what you want for yourself until you try.)
The next day, I started reading academic papers about surf camps, reaching out to Portuguese friends and networking with people in the industry. Despite the progress, I had doubts and the idea took many turns but I knew that going in one direction was better than no direction at all. Early December that same year, I came across “coliving” through my friend Javi Miquel from Barcelona and I felt like I had just won the jackpot.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs
With remote work not going anywhere, coliving not only had huge potential but also involved everything I loved. I immediately ditched the surf camp idea and embarked on the Karisma journey (shoutout to Giacomo for coming up with the name), driven by the desire to elevate people’s lives and create memorable experiences through deep human connections.
I would always look forward to finishing work just to continue researching and reading all there was on coliving. I also connected with everyone I could to dig deeper, learn more and make my presence known in this very young and welcoming industry. Since coliving was a thing in its infancy accelerated through Covid-19 and disrupting the way we live, most people I talked to were genuinely passionate about it and willing to help. I felt in my element, bonding with people who were challenging the norm and seeking to live authentically.
“Deep human connection is the purpose and the result of a meaningful life — and it will inspire the most amazing acts of love.” — Melinda Gates
That Christmas I met up with my dear friend Anibal from Barcelona, an ambitious yet humble blockchain expert, who many months earlier introduced me to the crypto space before everyone was talking about it. Once I shared with him the idea of Karisma, Anibal not only believed in my mission and decided to support me financially but also made me realize the potential of it and dream big. Joining forces turned Karisma’s vision from a humble and small coliving building into whatever we dared to believe in.
Once I realized what was possible, Karisma became much more than just a business or coliving brand; it became a way of living that I wanted to share with other individuals globally also seeking to take life into their own hands and create their own destinies. By creating a coliving community, I would be able to make a deep impact in people’s lives by allowing these members to form deep connections, achieve a healthy work/life balance, find meaning, grow personally and professionally as well as inspire themselves and others around them.
“You’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” — David P. Brown
Karisma’s philosophy is deeply ingrained into everything we do and believe in. Here you can find more about Karisma’s philosophy.
I felt blessed and still do to have found this idea and be able to work on the thing I’m most passionate about. There’s so many incredible people that have helped me and Karisma get to where we are today. Anibal made me dream big, Jacob designed a stellar visual brand, Finn created the website, Javi helped me uncover the true meaning of Karisma, Max made sure I stayed on track, Alejandro Marti helped me with social media, Gui Perdrix co-hosted with me my first pop-up coliving, and the list goes on and on.
The interactions I’ve had with these and so many other people are a perfect representation of the true power of coliving. These coliving-like experiences in Boston, Rio, Australia or Dublin were the ones that made me grow and find myself while having the best time of my life. These experiences have turned me into the best version of myself, helped me realize what’s possible and given me the motivation to take responsibility over my life.
“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” — Thomas Jefferson
Karisma was, without a doubt, something worth taking the leap for. After 11 months in Dublin at Oracle, I quit my job and moved to Portugal to become a remote worker. Karisma was what I was dedicating most of my time to but I also took on a freelance remote job in a marketing agency to learn more, put myself in the shoes of the customer and have financial stability until Karisma got off the ground.
Karisma launched in February of 2022. Instead of starting with a physical building, I started building the brand and community through temporary pop-up coliving experiences in Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Croatia and Morocco. Looking back, this was the best decision I could have made, considering my lack of experience and financial resources.
Fast forward to now, Karisma is set to open up the very first physical coliving space in January 2023 in my special home of Barcelona. This community-first approach has not only given me so much clarity around where I want to take Karisma in the future but also contributed to growing a waitlist of 88 to our Barcelona home and receiving 12 applications 1 day after opening up the applications.
While I didn’t even imagine something like this would have been possible, I now have the freedom to work on what I enjoy most where I want and when I want. I’m in charge of making decisions that have a true impact and every day put my hearth and soul into this project. Maybe I’m spoiled but I could never go back to working a job I’m not aligned with.
“Once you’ve truly controlled your own fate, for better or for worse, you’ll never let anyone else tell you what to do. A taste of freedom can make you unemployable.” — Naval Ravikant
If you’ve gotten this far, thank you so much for your interest and support. I hope you’ve gotten some learnings out of this and thought about what it is that you want out of life. We only have 1 after all, and we should do all we can to make the most of it. It is our responsibility to make life memorable and meaningful.
If you don’t know what it is you want to do, just get started and surround yourself with people who elevate you. Sometimes that one thing has been right in front of you the whole time and all you had to do was look inside yourself. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey.
I wrote an article on "How to find your life purpose" that goes more in-depth into the 3 steps I took to find my thing and live my dream life.
Recently, I decided to document the entire journey of how build Karisma, including how we transform the first property, to share my learnings and create more proximity with those who are interested. I invite you to follow us on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
And, I’d be curious to know: what have you learned on your journey of alignment, and what resonated with you here? Comment below 👇
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