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Monica Ortega of ‘Stumblin’ Forward’: “Perspective and grace”

Perspective and grace. Building a business takes a lot of time in most cases. Playing the comparison game can make riding the highs and lows super difficult. Stay kind to yourself and when you’re lost just know you’ll figure it out and it will be ok. Go back to basics and keep it all in […]

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Perspective and grace. Building a business takes a lot of time in most cases. Playing the comparison game can make riding the highs and lows super difficult. Stay kind to yourself and when you’re lost just know you’ll figure it out and it will be ok. Go back to basics and keep it all in perspective. Always remember your “why” and take things one day at a time.


Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Monica Ortega.

Monica is the host of the online travel show Monica Goes, Author of the book “The Power of Pivoting — How to Embrace Change and Create a Life you Love”, and co-host of the podcast Stumblin’ Forward. She’s gone from being a singer to an actress, to an on-camera host, to an author and everything in between. Her goal is to inspire others to break out of their comfort zones and learn to lean into the pivot.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Thank you for having me! I always knew that I wanted to do something in the entertainment field but I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like. Growing up I always thought I’d either be on Saturday Night Love or Broadway but after college, I moved to Nashville to sing and write country music, then to Los Angeles to become an actress and eventually realized my true love was being a host! I started my travel show Monica Goes back in 2014 with the hopes of inspiring others to break out of their comfort zones, face their fears, and create a life they love.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I remember being on set acting and wondering if I’d be home in time to watch ‘The Bachelor’ and thinking “this doesn’t light me up the way I thought it would. It was when I started reading the book ‘You Are a Badass’ by Jen Sincero that I realized I was happiest, would lose time, and was my best self when I was emceeing at big music festivals and it hit me like lightning “Oh my gosh, I want to be a host!” Shortly after I started taking hosting classes, I had a teacher tell me to create my dream show and put it online as a way to get seen and get auditions. For me, that was an adventure travel show. So I started hiking and filming myself on my phone and Monica Goes was born! 6 years later, and 100 episodes in, it’s become bigger than I ever imagined.

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

Yes and no…I remember I kept thinking of business ideas and would pitch them to the companies that I worked for. I would get SO frustrated that they never seemed to pay attention and just kept thinking I should just do this myself. But once I started Monica Goes I realized that I had no clue what I was doing! In hindsight, I wish I would have put more time into creating a business plan and learning about marketing and tech. It’s definitely been a lot of trial and error!

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

Quite a few! I was unhappily married when I started the show and a big reason I fell so deeply in love with my work was that it was an escape. I was doing something that I loved and could hopefully inspire others. My ex also didn’t like to travel so the show filled a much-needed void in my life. So I guess my ex? But I also had friends who sat next to me while I learned to edit and everyone along the way who encouraged me each time I wanted to give up. I could have never done all of this alone.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

When I started looking around, I saw loads of adrenaline junkie videos of people wing-suiting off cliffs or super fit girls rock climbing and I thought, “What about all of the ‘normal’ people who may want to get outdoors but haven’t done much before”. My goal was always to show that if an everyday, average person like me can do these things anyone can! I quickly learned I’m afraid of everything so a lot of the show became about inspiring others to break out of their comfort zones by really pushing myself out of my own. That, and I wanted the show to be about the destinations and adventures, I’m just the host showing people how it’s done. I didn’t want a travel vlog about my vacations, I truly wanted people to watch the show and then go travel there themselves!

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • Tenacity! There were SO many times I wanted to give up or didn’t see the next step forward but always kept pushing and continued to find a way to keep going.
  • Time management: Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of self-discipline. Creating a daily (sometimes hourly) schedule helps me to block out my time to make sure everything gets done. We wear all the hats in business so whether it’s taking 2 hours to learn a social media app, or a day to edit a video, every minute is essential.
  • Be ok pivoting and staying curious. There’s what you love to do and then there’s what converts and propels you forward. In the dream scenario, they’re the same but there have been times in my business when that’s not been the case. Facing fears doesn’t always pay the bills, working with destinations does…I had to ask myself how to merge the two so I could continue to create something I loved and believed in while also staying afloat. The show has become bigger than just the YouTube channel; it’s pivoted into a podcast about entrepreneurship and a book about embracing change. Sometimes we don’t always see where things are going but they make sense in the end.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

Oh man, I think the worst advice I’ve ever received is how to cut corners, grow a social media following quickly, or trying to recreate what others are doing. It’s easy to get stuck in the comparison game but if you believe in what you’re creating, you have to believe it will find the right audience in the right time as well.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

Yes! Burnout as an entrepreneur is SO real. The three biggest things that have helped me, is to do batch work (creating a lot of content at once and scheduling it out), being detailed in my scheduling to stay on track, and having boundaries. I’ve had to set a hard-out time at the end of the day. If I don’t think I can get it all done, I will wake up earlier but I still have to be done at the same time each night. Scheduling in personal time has helped me make sure my work isn’t my entire life.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Always be true to your word and be reliable. People need to know when they hire you that you’re going to produce amazing work. Go above and beyond and give them more than what they expected. And be yourself! Trying to pretend you’re a bigger deal or “sell” someone on a fake persona is useless and exhausting. Staying authentic to who you are and who your brand is will help you find the RIGHT audience for you.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

The more you stay yourself and over-deliver, the more people will trust you and not only come back time and time again but also sing your praises to other future clients. Over time this helps you build credibility and people know they can trust you to make great content.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

One of the biggest mistakes that I see is not knowing what it is that you’re offering or how to scale. This was a mistake I made when I first started out because I never thought of it as a business. My advice is to treat it as a business, create an outlined and detailed plan, and have goals right from the start. The other big mistake I see is people trying to “fake it till you make it” and trying to cut corners to reach the top. Be patient and stay the course. Any other way will ruin your credibility in the end and it’s not worth it.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

Absolutely! As an entrepreneur, our businesses are like our babies, we invest so much time and energy that every high and low in the business can turn into a high and low in our emotional state. In a “regular job” the business belongs to someone else and at the end of the day, whatever happens, falls onto the CEO, not you. In EVERY business, whether it’s yours, or someone else’s there are waves of good and bad times. The key is to learn to ride out the not-so-great seasons without taking it all on mentally and letting it destroy you.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

My first big tears of joy moment happened when I was reaching out to a destination about filming and they responded with “Send us your packages” and I realized, holy cow! I can actually make money at this! The other big moment I remember was when I got the call from Matador Network that they were selecting me to cover their live social media feeds from St. Patricks Day in Ireland. I felt like I’d won the lottery. I was going to a dream destination of mine to do my dream job for a dream company. It felt incredible.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

Ooof there have been a few…because I didn’t treat the show as a business when I started, I was spending all of my commercial acting money on travel. When my divorce happened and my savings was suddenly wiped out, I thought I was going to have to give it all up. I had to ask for help which was incredibly difficult and humbling for me. The last time everything shifted was when the pandemic hit. Suddenly all of my travel contracts, speaking engagements, emcee gigs, everything was gone.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

When the pandemic started and I realized travel was out for a while I actually took a break! It was SO difficult to give myself the time off but I was also super burnt out. In that time, I reevaluated and ended up writing my book “The Power of Pivoting” and started co-hosting the “Stumblin’ Forward” podcast. Stepping back helped me realize that my mission wasn’t just about helping people book their next trip, but it’s really about inspiring people to push out of their comfort zones and create their best lives in general.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Wine…j/k!

  1. A great support system. Friends, family, other entrepreneurs, find people who will help you ride the waves and encourage you to keep going. I highly recommend connecting with at least one other entrepreneur because they GET IT! Having my fellow entrepreneurial neighbor to walk with, vent with, and strategize with, helped me stay on track.
  2. A business plan. Having specific strategies and goals can help you come back to your “why” when things get tough in your business. Knowing there’s a purpose to what you’re doing can be the lifeline to keep you going.
  3. Boundaries and balance. Know when to give yourself a break and schedule in some self-care. As entrepreneurs, our business can become our entire lives if we’re not careful. Make sure to balance out time with loved ones and time away from your desk.
  4. Find some woo-woo stuff that works for you. Having an outlet for your emotions can be crucial for everyone, not just entrepreneurs. Whether it’s faith, meditation, journaling, vision boards, working out, or a combination of all of these, keeping your mental state in check can help you ride the highs and lows of business.
  5. Perspective and grace. Building a business takes a lot of time in most cases. Playing the comparison game can make riding the highs and lows super difficult. Stay kind to yourself and when you’re lost just know you’ll figure it out and it will be ok. Go back to basics and keep it all in perspective. Always remember your “why” and take things one day at a time.

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

I believe resilience is all about being adaptable. In business and life, getting stuck in the way you think something “should” be can be paralyzing. Resilient people learn to adapt to change and pivot when necessary. It’s all about shifting your mindset from setbacks to setups and staying positive. Instead of seeing changes for all of the bad things they can be, resilient people look at all of the opportunities they can find to grow more.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

I always thought life was linear: school, job, marriage, kids, etc. When my divorce happened I was suddenly left standing there with a blank slate. It was the first time in my life I stepped back and asked myself what I wanted my life to ACTUALLY look like. From there it was all about making a plan and creating steps to reach those goals. I was terrified of change but when the biggest change in my life happened I learned that 1. I was ok and would figure it out. 2. I was stronger than I imagined. And 3.I could CHOOSE what was next. Once you realize that there’s a lot of opportunity in each day and in each choice, it makes the changes a lot less scary.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

Yes, I am definitely an optimist. A big part of it for me is my faith. I know that there’s more to the picture than I can see and I trust God that it will all work out in the end. Having plans and schedules also helps me to stay on track and keep moving forward during difficult situations. And nature. Everything seems more in perspective after a good long hike.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

I believe positivity trickles down from leadership and spreads in all directions (and so does negativity). If you can provide a positive work environment for your clients and team, people work harder and better. If a client enjoys working with you they will come back time and time again. If your team is happy, they create better results, leaving the client happy, leading to more work. It’s all a win-win!

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

“Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts. Remember that when you find yourself at the beginning.” Hope Floats.

This quote has helped me learn to embrace the journey and see endings as opportunities for amazing things! My other favorite (I’m a big quote person) is “Every day is fresh, with no mistakes in it” Anne of Green Gables.

Seeing every day as another change to start over helps me keep the short-term in perspective and a good reminder to let whatever happened before go.

How can our readers further follow you online?

My show, book, and podcast all live at www.monicagoes.com

The travel show Monica Goes is on Youtube www.youtube.com/monicagoesshow

On social media, you can find me across the board @monicagoesshow and @powerofpivoting

The book “Power of Pivoting — How to Embrace Change and Create a Life You Love” is available on amazon.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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