My most important positive strategy is connection. In my life, I have found that the best way to embrace each day is to spend time with others. I find that if I spend time connecting with not only those that are close to me, but also others, I am less likely to forget how similar we are to one another. I believe that spending time with our loved ones is the greatest part of life. After the loss of my sister and wife, it is very clear to me that we cannot take our time together for granted, and I am grateful for the memories I have.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sergio Andrés Mendoza. Sergio is a former software developer and startup executive, who lost his wife Sarah to breast cancer in 2017, and created Pharaoun Cocktail Rings to honor the women in his life and to inspire women everywhere to feel more confident and beautiful when wearing one of his rings.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I spent the past 10 years working as a software developer and startup executive, but when I lost my wife Sarah to breast cancer in 2017, I realized that I expected more of myself.
Mortality has a way of crystalizing what is important, and even though I loved software, I believed I was capable of more. I asked myself: what should be my personal mission?, how can I be my best self?, and what should my legacy be?
The answer turned out to be to create Pharaoun Cocktail Rings, to honor the women in my life.
I was very much shaped by the powerful women in my life, and I believe that all women deserve to be honored. I find that in the chaos of every day, women forget themselves, their strength, their beauty, and their independence. My hope is that each of my rings inspires the woman wearing it to be her favorite version of herself.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
To live “on purpose”, I think that you need to believe that what you do each day makes a difference.
In my life, I prioritize connections with others, and I find my purpose through each interaction, however small that might be. Maybe it is as simple as smiling and greeting the people I see, or being considerate in my choice of words. There are also special opportunities to make a big difference, and I try to have the courage to seize and amplify them.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
I think that the more we objectify each other, the less happy we are. I find myself continuously battling for connectivity in my life. It is just too easy these days to live in your own world, on your own planet, and see everyone else from a distance. I believe if we can make that distance shorter, and make connecting with others an integral part of our lives, we will all not only benefit, but be happier.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
I’ll start with 3 recommendations about what not to do. It may be a little extreme, but I have 3 things I try not to do each day: (1) watch the news, (2) care about politics, and (3) commute in a car. I find that it is nearly impossible to be in a good mood after any of these experiences. If I know they are not going to have a positive impact on my life, I try to leave them out.
My most important positive strategy is connection. In my life, I have found that the best way to embrace each day is to spend time with others. I find that if I spend time connecting with not only those that are close to me, but also others, I am less likely to forget how similar we are to one another.
I believe that spending time with our loved ones is the greatest part of life. After the loss of my sister and wife, it is very clear to me that we cannot take our time together for granted, and I am grateful for the memories I have.
My next strategy is art. I believe that it is possible to improve myself, and a big part of that is expanding my world. As a designer, I seek every opportunity to collaborate with artists, but even outside of my work, I believe that the arts are our best chance to expand our thoughts and broaden our experience. I am really lucky because my sister and many of my friends are artists, but I also find inspiration in museums and performances all of the time.
My final strategy is accountability. The best way for me to understand accountability and make good decisions for the future is to remember the past. My great-grandparents made decisions that affect me, so instead of just thinking about myself and my children, I hope to make decisions that will be positive for my great-grandchildren as well. I am not talking about saving the world, or anything that broad, but instead I am talking about simple decisions that affect me and my family, in other words, my legacy. I have found that when I think generationally, I am not only accountable to myself, but also to my future.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl taught me how important it is to have purpose in life. His advice comes from a place of hardship, as it was tempered by surviving the holocaust, yet it applies to each of us today. If you are looking for a strong framework to make important life decisions, this book can help you find the way.
I also recently came across a children’s book that I have been thinking about a lot. It is beautifully illustrated and asks three important questions:
When is the best time to do things?
Who is the most important one?
What is the right thing to do?
These are essential questions for each of us to ask ourselves, and I loved the answers given. The book by Jon J. Much is based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, and is called “The Three Questions”.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“In a world that is changing so quickly, the biggest risk is not taking any risk.”
– Peter Thiel
I believe that Peter Thiel’s words are not only essential for business, but also as a guideline for our personal lives. He is telling us to live fully, to make big decisions, and to make the most out of life. In business it is necessary for success, in life, it is necessary for joy.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I design cocktail rings because I believe they represent something truly special. The cocktail ring is the woman’s ring. Worn on the right hand and not the left, it represents a relationship with no one other than yourself.
I want my rings to make women feel more powerful, more independent, and more beautiful. If I can help you feel stronger, I know you will do great things. My hope is that my rings inspire women to be their best selves, and I am excited to see what they will accomplish.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I just started a partnership with Southerners On New Ground (SONG), an amazing organization dedicated to civil rights. I believe that equality is a basic human right, and I feel privileged to be able to work with such an amazing team. I am donating 100% of the purchase price of my “We are Beautiful” ring to help them make a difference.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My personal mission is to encourage women to take the time to honor themselves, but I think every single person should be encouraged to be their favorite version of themselves.