My guest, Julio Alvarez grew up with a father that continually criticized him for most everything he was and everything he did. This set him up for an intense and ongoing need for external validation. Once he got away from his father, he realized that he took the critical voice with him... in the form of his inner critic. He went through a period of time where he did everything he could to numb himself to the effects of that critical voice. Through trial and error and personal growth work, Julio came to understand that his love, acceptance, and compassion for that inner critic was the key to building the inner strength that he needed to be able to fully validate himself on an internal level. Woven into this story of the inner critic is Julio's beautiful account of meeting the man that became his current husband. The way the two stories intertwine is filled with hope. If you struggle with an inner critic or a need for external validation, this episode is for you.
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Coach Maddox 0:01
Hello, Julio Alvarez and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. I am so glad to have you here today. I've been looking forward to this.
Julio Alvarez 0:10
Oh, hi, Maddox. Good to see you. It's so good to see you. Thanks for having me.
Coach Maddox 0:15
Yeah, I'm excited to get into your story. And I just can't wait to publish this and see how the listeners respond. Because your story is a unique story. I haven't heard it yet. But I already know that it's a unique story.
Julio Alvarez 0:30
Well, thank you, listeners. I hope you follow in.
Coach Maddox 0:35
Absolutely. So would you like to tell the listeners how we know each other?
Julio Alvarez 0:40
Sure. We actually met this year at the gay coach's conference up in Eastern. Eastern Mountain.
Coach Maddox 0:48
Yeah, mountain. Yeah. Upstate New York. Yeah. Yeah, we spent like four glorious days in this beautiful, like secluded retreat, learning all kinds of great coaching staff and of course, connecting with each other. And there was this. This time when it was all wrapping up, it was the last day and people were leaving, and, and who, you know, I ended up sitting in rocking chairs on this balcony overlooking this little lake. And it was our first time it was wrapped. And we were having our first real connection. And we talked for the longest time, and it just left such an impact on me that I think about it. Often you just the exchange and the stories that you shared. And the way we were able to connect was very memorable.
Julio Alvarez 1:45
Yeah, it was like a real life podcast episode, except overlooking water on two beautiful chairs, surrounded by gay men.
Coach Maddox 1:52
No recording, but yes. The thick of it, didn't we? Yeah, that was really be so well. Let's jump in. And I guess what I'd first like to ask you is what does it mean to you to be an authentic gay man?
Julio Alvarez 2:14
I think what it means to me, to be an authentic gay man, is to live from the truth of yourself. I think we spend a lot of time trying to be somebody who we're not. And I, the lesson that has taken me the longest to learn in my life is recognizing that our number one job is to let go of who we think we're supposed to be. So that we can make room to embrace who we really are. And to me, that is what it means to be an authentic gay man is honoring that. And following that.
Coach Maddox 2:50
I love the way you language that. Wow. I mean, I've gotten a gazillion different answers to that question. And they've all been right. This is the beautiful thing. They've all been right. But yes, I love the way you language that I really resonate with that. And you know, just to give you kudos and acknowledge you, you figured it out a lot earlier in life than I did.
Julio Alvarez 3:16
Yeah, and you know, that's the thing that I learned and on this journey is that we're all figuring it out. You know, and we're constantly in this state of peeling back the onion and becoming a truer, richer, fuller version of ourselves. I think I had this idea. Back to the idea of being authentic. I grew up with this idea of, you know, I needed to be on the cover of a magazine, I needed to make millions of dollars, I needed to have beautiful homes, I needed to be a man of status and symbol. And what I've realized is that, you know, it's kind of like Michelle Obama titled her book becoming because the reason intention for the title was that you're always becoming you're constantly becoming a truer version of yourself. And, yeah, that that resonates for me.
Coach Maddox 4:04
Yes, it's a continuum. It's not like a, it's not black and white. It's not like an on and off switch. You're either authentic or you're not authentic. There's that gray space in the center, and we're all somewhere on that continuum. Yeah. And it's a lifelong process, exactly the lifelong process, you know, to get further and further into that deeper, richer self that you're referring to. I love that. Okay. Well, let's move into the big topic of the day. That is for you to tell us about what has been your biggest challenge in this lifetime that you've gone through or are continuing to go through something you may still be working on.
Julio Alvarez 4:53
I think hands down the biggest challenge that I have more and more control over each day. It's a daily practice, but It would probably be the voice inside my head, specifically, the negative voice inside the head, the part of me that from the moment that lives in scarcity, the part of me that from the moment I wake up and look in the mirror and don't feel skinny enough, or pretty enough or confident enough to the moment I go to bed where I feel like I didn't get enough done, or I could have done more, or maybe I could have eaten healthier foods, that voice that sits with me incessantly, persistently, aggressively all the time, learning now to have compassion for that voice and recognize that that voice is armor that I put on as a boy as a child to protect myself. And the older I get, the more I realized that that armor actually is not serving me. And it holds me back in a lot of ways. And it's learning how to quiet, quiet the voice manage the voice put the voice in perspective, so that if I had to some surmise what that is, it's the voice, the negative voice inside my head is the biggest thing that I deal with.
Coach Maddox 6:14
Well, and when you look back, you said realizing that it wasn't serving you. But to look back when you were a child and that was put in place. Did it serve you at that time? Did it do what it was intended to do? Which was keep you safe?
Julio Alvarez 6:33
Yeah, yeah, it did. I was. Well, first of all, for those who aren't aware I'm first generation Ecuadorian American, my dad, my dad's Ecuadorian came here at 15 Not speaking any English, you know, moved into suburb suburban New York, conservative, white, middle class, suburban New York, my mom's Italian they met had me as a teenager. I mean, they were 19. No money in the bank trauma and trauma infused families and upbringing. Had me didn't go to college, trying to figure their stuff out. And when I was born, from the moment I was born, I was born cross-eyed, actually, my eyes, my left eye was born inwards, and they had to surgically straighten it. I was also light skinned in a world where my dad was dark skinned, and I was just a different person. So from the very beginning, I struggled with feelings of worthiness of affirmation of love from my dad, always incessantly. I mean, there was just literally Incessantly All day, every day, some critique some version of an oh, I will no this no, that no, this there was never a yes. And there was always a no, but and so these, the voice is what I hear today is a lot of that. And I think in when I was younger, it was trying to protect me by keeping me away from that and keeping me at bay. And now I realized that that voice actually holds me back from being my authentic self.
Coach Maddox 8:06
I think you're right, there is a point it does serve us in the beginning, I look back at those voices. And they did what they were meant to do at that young age. But then there's this point where there's a shift. And instead of working for us, it starts working against us.
Julio Alvarez 8:26
Yeah, and I think a lot of our trauma and our stress, you know, stress is wanting something to be the way that it isn't. And so we live in this world where we get angry at ourselves for having this voice inside my head. That's what I used to do, I used to get, I used to beat it up and numb it with alcohol or drugs or work or food or purchasing or whatever. And I realized the job here is not to demean and be literal and negate the voice. The job is to show compassion to that voice. Because that voice is a part of you, it makes up who you are, it is the sum of your experiences. And your real job into life is to see it for what it is and honor it and love it. So that you can so that it reduces power so that you can let put it in the backseat, the visual that comes to mind for me is being at the steering wheel of a car, you know sometimes versus that thought oftentimes used to be at the steering wheel used to be in the driver's seat of my life. And every day is a daily practice through my meditation, I learned okay, I get it. You're here, you want to have control of the car. But this isn't for you right now. So I hear you and I see you and I feel you. But now you need to go in the back seat and I'm going to put a seatbelt on you. And that is literally how I process now. When I come up against that voice in my head with the deepest compassion that I can call in that moment.
Coach Maddox 9:55
That's actually brilliant and the visual that you do in meditation along with it. That's actually LEED brilliant, you know, I can relate to what you're saying I too, had a very, very critical father. And there was a point in my evolution when I realized that, you know, when I left home when I moved out on my own, and wasn't around him on a daily basis, that that criticism had become such a familiar thing. That when he wasn't there to criticize me, I took his job. Yeah, that inner voice is us taking that role and perpetuating it because it's so familiar that we're uncomfortable without it.
Julio Alvarez 10:45
Whoa, that's big. That's big. Yeah. It's almost like when Mike, first of all, my dad kicked me out in high school, we've always been at odds, but then in high school was the straw that broke the camel's back. I mean, he throughout my college application letters, he physically attacked me, the cops arrested him. And we had a whole, you know, a whole a whole thing. I was adopted in high school. And I was actually there was a part of me during that time, I didn't talk to him for about a decade after that, that I was so proud of myself that I was able to cut him out of my life. In fact, I giggle now, because I was so sure that this man, I could just put up a wall and cut him out. And what I now recognize hindsight, is that the motherfucker was there the whole time. You know, he's still there. Like, there's a part of it, that doesn't go away necessarily. And my job was not to push it away. My job was to give it love. And so that resonates when, when you share that?
Coach Maddox 11:44
Well, you know, we I know that at one point, I said to my brother, when my my dad was nearing death, I said to my brother, you know, if you if you have unresolved things with dad, I really encourage you to talk to him before he dies, because it's a lot harder to let go of that when they're dead, than it is to let go of some of it while they're still alive. And he listened, but I, you know, it makes he did end up having some conversations with my dad. But it makes sense to me what what you're saying, you know, we we think that we can just block people out, but there's a part of the lives inside of us. And, you know, no matter where you go, there you are. Yeah. I love the way you have really realized that it's not a kill it off. It's a it's a you know, love it. Love it. Yeah. Be compassionate and love it to, to heal it.
Julio Alvarez 12:51
Yes. And here's how I learned it. The way that I recognize this pattern was working in my jobs in tech. You know, I was always the youngest one in the room, I started at Apple, went to Google went to Tumblr helped Airbnb and Lyft go public. I'm in these very senior rooms, with billionaires with CEOs making variant and strategically rigorous decisions, primarily sis white males with a lot of power, and a lot of ego and a lot of pressure, in many ways, showing up in rooms, reflecting back to me the energy of my father. And so I started to realize, whoa, this is really interesting. How is it that certain rooms I walk I used to say I was like cilantro, I would say 90% of people fucking love me and 10% hate me, and I'm okay with that. I'll deal with that. But is what it is the 10% I'm going to lean into it even further. And what I now recognize is that 10% Were the people in these rooms, these very powerful, high performance rooms, who were reflecting back to me the patterns and emotions and energy of my father. And in that moment, I was in a stress response, I became dysregulated and did not know how to show up as my authentic self. And it took First it started as a whisper. It started small, it was a small conflict with my manager. Like guys a fucking prick. He's got some parables saying some shit like that with all these people in this room, you know, whatever. It was like it started small and then it got louder and louder and louder and louder until eventually it was a brick knocking me upside my head I was when I was at Airbnb. I had gotten fired. I was working with Brian Chesky, the CEO every week on launching luxury. This the luxury Airbnb brand as we were preparing for IPO. It turns out when you fly close to the sun and you're in these really senior rooms, it gets very tough. There's a lot of tension. There's a lot of ego. There's a lot of power grabs, I didn't I didn't realize a lot of this stuff. And so here I am bright eyed and bushy tailed, like trying to do good It started realizing, whoa, there's a lot of energy. There's a lot of behaviors in this room happening. How? Why am I showing up differently? What's the difference right now. And it took a lot of healing work, the journey of hiring a coach and doing lots of healing to realize, oh, okay, I see what is happening here, I see what's happening here. And now I can't unsee it. It's like a portal, where once you start to see the pattern, you can't unsee it. And that gives you the awareness to start to, you know, from a neuroplasticity perspective, start to rewire your brain and build new habits. And that actually led me to leave tech and say, Wait a minute, that whole room of of executives who are making these decisions, every one of them needs a coach, because every one of them needs to understand that when they show up in a room that they are bringing with them. Energy, behaviors, patterns, certain ways of thinking and processing and feeling and acting. And if you're not aware of those, they can show up in ways that marginalize other groups of people or don't serve other groups of people, or harm yourself or actually don't add to a psychologically safe team. And so that that was my journey through corporate tech, in those moments being around high powered men who reminded me of my father. And then I, as a result showed up well intentioned but poorly misunderstood. Those were the moments in sum total, that got me to realize, oh, wow, this is the learning opportunity. And this is what I want to help other people get to.
Coach Maddox 16:40
So, question, you're in these high powered rooms with these execs, and they're really reminding you of your dad, they are pulling out behaviors that are really it's reflecting back to you the whole relationship with your dad. Do you think that it's possible that that was the universe's way of supporting you? And showing you what needed to be healed?
Julio Alvarez 17:11
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 17:15
You know, I mean, I've kind of come to believe that we, people come into our lives, and they, they're the actors in the movie of our life, those men, those high powered men came in as actors in the movie of your life. And they were in a supporting role. Yeah, to reflect back to you what was then healed?
Julio Alvarez 17:39
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I really believe that everything that is happening to you is always happening for you, if you choose to look at it that way. Everything has come to serve me and I did not know I didn't feel that way. At the time. Let me tell you, I was so stuck in shame, getting fired. So stuck in shame. Here, I was at the top of my career working with the CEO. On these two things, we had just launched the sexiest product line that Airbnb has ever had. And HR came in on Monday at 9am and said, Give us your laptop, thanks for your launch, but we're gonna part ways from here on out. And it was a huge shock to my to my ego. I mean, I, I was so taken aback by it, I did not know what to do. And it wasn't until I was able to own my story and turn towards it and really make that mess my message. I can't tell you how many clients I have, or exploratory conversations I have where every time I talk to somebody who confided in me that they've been fired or laid off and, and their tone, their energy changes, they feel that people feel so stuck with this, that they can't actually share it and they can't talk about it. And it's it's been an amazing healing opportunity for me to claim it and own it as the learning as the universe putting this in my path, so that I can heal and then hold space to share it so that others can see their heal their story reflected in mind. It's okay to be fired. It's okay to come talk about it. It's okay to ascertain what the learning is from it.
Coach Maddox 19:18
Well, you sharing your story, you're giving them the permission to perhaps explore their own story and and share it. Yeah. You know, for most of us to say that we got fired, we got canned is a very, very shameful thing. And we'll make all kinds of shit up to avoid telling people that we actually got fired from a job. Yeah, we will. We will, you know, we've got all kinds of links and the fact that you were able to own that. Yes, yeah. Is pretty huge. Pretty well. Pretty big stuff.
Julio Alvarez 19:57
Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing that. And as you say that At what comes to mind for me is this idea that we will do almost anything to not feel pain, including inflicting pain on others. And so a lot of what I saw in those rooms, in these high performance intense rooms, was pain and people inflicting pain on others and uncertainty and ambiguity and instability and not knowing how to manage one's emotions, not connected to self. And so what happens when you're not connected to self you project onto others informs that you may or that may or may not be serving the moment. So that's really interesting. Now, as a coach, as a literally a professional coach, my job is to sit and hold space for these leaders and these tech companies, so that they can explore these emotions and explore what's happening and what's feeling and what's coming up so that they recognize, oh, wait a minute, this is an idea. But I have agency here, I can choose to act on this feeling. Or do what I need to do to create space and regulate yourself get centered, get grounded.
Coach Maddox 21:16
That's so doesn't come naturally for us as men, because we haven't been socialized that way. I had a long conversation over dinner last night with a gentleman where we were talking about how you know, in this society, we socialized man and man up, you know, boys don't cry. You know, it's, it's, and this is a nother whole topic we won't go off into it's that it's the result of the way the patriarchy works. Yes, but let's not go down that rabbit hole. I really,
Julio Alvarez 21:49
but but it is. But it is a good point that it is a in every story that is shared. thanks to people like you with this podcast. We move closer and closer to understanding our shared humanity. That, you know, you know, Steve Jobs, by the way today that we're recording this 11 years ago, he passed away. And he was a very influential person in my life. I looked up to him as a kid. And you know, he I forgot where I was going with this. But it was something about Steve Jobs.
Coach Maddox 22:35
Okay, it'll come back. And if it doesn't something else, okay. Don't come
Julio Alvarez 22:38
back to place. Yeah, the masculinity thing. Oh, this was the thing. You know, one of the things he was so famously said was, you know, everything that's been created has just been made up by humans. These are just ideas that human beings have made, you know, every idea, everything from a legal statute to a product to a home. I mean, everything's just been made up by humans. So you actually have agency you have the power to claim that and change it. If you don't like something, you have agency to change it. This world is 14 billion years old. We're here for 80 years, give or take, like, how are you going to use it is, is how he used to think about things. And I just, I just love that.
Coach Maddox 23:18
I agree completely. But we got a world of sheeple. Yeah. You know, we got a, we got a world of people that would rather blindly follow than lead.
Julio Alvarez 23:30
Yeah. And what's at the root of that the root of that is people not willing to reckon with their story and look inwards, and to figure out what is true for them. What is true for you, that is why integrity, that's integrity, right? Living from the truth of yourself.
Coach Maddox 23:49
Volunteers, and I think, I think sheeple they follow because if something goes belly up, then they can blame the person they're following. When you step into a leadership role when it goes wrong. There's no place to pass the buck. Yeah. But you know, sheeple are about people that are that pass the buck? Yes. It's like I just want to blindly follow somebody else. I don't want to be responsible. Because what if something goes wrong? You know, nobody wants to face that.
Julio Alvarez 24:24
Yeah, they don't want to recommend Larry. Yes. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 24:27
Yeah, it takes balls to step into leadership.
Julio Alvarez 24:33
Yeah, you're right. You're right. It does.
Coach Maddox 24:36
You know, it takes it takes courage. It takes strength. It takes determination. It takes a lot of stuff to step into leadership. Yeah. And yet later, you know, it's I was really marvel when a topic leadership comes up because we, we think in terms of some people have that and some people don't? Well, the truth of the matter is, we're all called to lead our own friggin lives. Yeah, so we all have to have some type of leadership skills, maybe you don't lead the masses. But you've got to lean into your leadership because we all are called to at least lead one thing. And that's our cell phone.
Julio Alvarez 25:25
Yeah, beautiful. Well said, Yeah, we all have the capacity to connect with our inner leader. And everyone's platform may look different. You know, for Oprah, it was a clap. It was a stage with millions of people, you know, for you. It's this podcast that's growing in the nine months that you've done it, you've said, you know, how many 1000s and 1000s of people are engaging with your posts and listening, I mean, everyone's platform is different, and everyone has access to the inner leader within them. And I recognize that I mean, gosh, I've been, my mom lives in a Habitat for Humanity home, which is a Christian, nonprofit organization that builds homes for underserved communities across the world. And I've been doing community service since I was a kid. I mean, for as long as I know, I've always been the you know, the one who runs the club and Middle School, the Interact Club, or the Sioux community service club, or the soup kitchens, or the food donations or whatever, like, this is in my blood. And I, what I now recognize, as I start, the next act of my life, is that every single one of those fucking food drives, and coat drives, and car washes. And dances are serving me in this moment, because I am so attuned to what it means to connect with people and lead gracefully and bring people together, that now my job is to help. Other leaders cultivate that because this is not a switch that you turn on empathy and compassion and heart opes heart heart centered leadership is not a switch, you can't read a book about it, you can't buy a pill, you can't buy a certification. I mean, this is consistency over time, this is a muscle you have to build it little by little
Coach Maddox 27:14
thing that has to be developed. Now I fully get that you came into the world with some innate leadership skills to do the things that you're describing as a kid, I guess. Yeah, you can. Some people got some innate ability to lead and some didn't. But we all have the ability to start building a muscle. Yeah, no matter where we started, you know, some of us you got a head start, you naturally had leadership just running in the in your veins. Yeah. But it doesn't mean that somebody that didn't get an ounce of that, at birth, can't build that muscle and learn, right? That's right. We think we tend to think that people either got it or they didn't get it. And that's not true, right? Anybody can lead if they just choose?
Julio Alvarez 28:09
Yes. And and to add on that it's like, this started in sixth grade making a poster, you know, sign up for who driving leadership. It was, it was one little thing that led to one little thing that led to one little thing compounded over time. And frankly, that's a metaphor for life. Like what is my definition of success? It's consistency over time. Whether you're at the gym, okay,
Coach Maddox 28:33
you didn't have the awareness that you were leading did back then? No, you had no language for it. You were just following your bliss. Yes. But following your intuition and and doing what was coming naturally to you. And you had no idea that it was leadership?
Julio Alvarez 28:52
No. No, I don't. And in fact, I only really realized that in the last 18 months. I mean, that sounds crazy to say, No, not really. It's true, it it's really only manifested itself at as I started to make this pivot away from corporate to become my own CEO to start my own company. Let's go with Julio like, literally, I am now realizing Holy shit, everything that I have planned from a community service event to a networking event to launching a major product like iPad. It's all coming to serve me in this moment, as I now take the wheel and start this next journey of my life.
Coach Maddox 29:38
When you had that realization, was that just like exhilarating,
Julio Alvarez 29:45
huh? Yeah, it's um, it's actually it appears in my body. And it is this silvery, white, glistening, powerful beam that protrudes through my body. be out to my arms through my legs through the top of my head. And I get it every time I walk from my apartment to the to like I do, whether I go to the gym or go for a walk or whatever, you know, some days I'm eager and I want to lift weights other days, I can't be bothered, and I want to take a walk other days, I walk very slowly to Starbucks. But like, you know, what I do in those moments is I deep breaths, and I connect to myself, I have a check in with myself. I like i i bring to mind that power that light. And I gotta tell you, it's unbelievable. Like this is what flow this I imagine from all the texts that I've read is what flow feels like and looks like. It's like this.
Coach Maddox 30:42
Yes. Yes, yeah. I just know that. There was that moment when I had a realization because I had done lots of shit in my life that looked like it and went nowhere. I had done lots of stuff that never got off the ground or, you know, never never became successful. And then there was this moment when, like you, I realize, Wow, that has had a powerful roll. All along. Everything that I've done even the smallest of things. Yeah, has been leading me to
Julio Alvarez 31:22
this my specific
Coach Maddox 31:24
Julio Alvarez 31:26
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think the real opportunity for listeners and for humanity, especially this decade is you can choose to look at all the chaos, the the impending recession, the stock crash, the tension, political tension, the environmental tension, all this stuff, you can choose to look at this as, oh, my life is doomed, why bother? Or you can say, Okay, what's what what's in my control? What can I do? What's one step at a time?
Coach Maddox 32:02
Yeah. I get it. I love it. I have to ask myself that question frequently. What can you do? You know, which is really different than I think people might think, you know, for me, it was realizing that I really, really needed to stay in my lane. We have this thought that we need to go out and rally or we need to become an activist or people. We needed to jump on some wagon. And I, I there was a point that I realized, no, you really need to zero in on what you do best. Yeah.
Julio Alvarez 32:44
And that goes back to the very first thing that goes back to the very first thing we started this podcast with, which is the biggest opportunity I see amongst my coaching clients. At the highest level, the common denominator is letting go of who you think you're supposed to be. So that you can create the space to embrace who it is that you really are and discover that. And that once I was able to really truly embody that idea. Everything changed for me, there was no looking back, there was no looking back from corporate like I, my light, everything changed.
Coach Maddox 33:23
Well, and I love that and I want to I want to circle back because we started this conversation with that inner critic being or the voice of your your dad, the inner critic, being the biggest challenge. And I want to come back to that and unpack that for the listeners. Sure. You have worked to overcome that in whatever what way that may look, you know, you said it was not about obliterating the critic, it was about compassion, and love and acceptance, and D all of the above. So let's dive deeper into that. Because I really want the listeners to get the value of your wisdom and what you've learned in your journey. And really being able to put that inner critic in perspective, because there's a reason it's in there. You know, it's not always bad. But sometimes it can be misguided.
Julio Alvarez 34:34
Yeah, is there a particular place you'd like to start or explore?
Coach Maddox 34:39
No, just whatever's coming up for you. You know, you talked about you know that that inner critic just beaten the crap out of you. And how do you where did you start with that? Let's start there. Well,
Julio Alvarez 34:54
yeah. Well, first of all I have this inner critic has always had our high quality bar in a world where I never I never felt successful. My dad. My dad and I were always in struggle. And so I knew even my family. I mean, gosh, sometimes my family the electricity would the phone would go off because someone forgot to pay their phone bill and it'd be like, oh, there it goes. So and So forgotten. You know, like, we got to talk to her next month because her phone bills her phones out, you know, and I was just like, this is not the life I want to leave. I don't this is not me. I'm not here. This is not okay. I never want to have to worry about whether or not my fucking phone is going to go off the hook because I can't afford to pay it. So that voice propelled me to excellence to get out there to put myself out there to go see the world to go try things. I didn't have money. I didn't have resources. I did it all on my own. I mean, I would fundraise. I was like I was working at 1314 years old. I was a telemarketer. I sell I sold chimney sweeps to rich white people in Westchester. And I made good money doing it. I was 14 years old, in this room with no windows with a bunch of old ladies smoking cigarettes. With a phonebook like literally one versus the other calling itself chimney sweeps. But it was a cash only job. And let me tell you something. I did well, I didn't well. So anyway, all that is to say the voice propelled me to achieve to get to NYU, I got a full scholarship when I was adopted, like I was adopted through Rotarians from Rotary International because I was doing volunteer work. So naturally, you know, I met them through the organization, I went to NYU, I got a full scholarship, I got a literally interviewed and got jobs at all of these companies, which by the way, you know, at the time, still today, the acceptance rates at these companies is less than 1% of all the applicants that apply to Apple and Google and Airbnb and Lyft. And it propelled me and pushed me. But then it got to a point where it was no longer serving me and what I would do to quiet the voice is I would numb. You know, I now recognize thanks to people like Gabor Ma Tei, Dr. Gabor Marty, who just wrote a new book, actually, which is beautiful, but I I now recognize that addiction is just trying to solve a problem, right? We are numbing, we're trying to solve the root problem. And so I got caught up. I was working too hard. I was partying too much. I was numbing. I was being very aggressive in my life with my partners. I mean, gosh, I've I've must have gone through I think I lost count at 600. You know, I mean, I was fucking every Tom, Dick and Larry, I could find because I was doing well at work but miserable inside, like luck, disconnected for myself looking for validation. I was looking for worthiness of love and belonging despite all of the accolades of the big companies, the lots of money, the status and the prestige. The one thing that I was missing was that they I did not feel worthy of love and belonging. And I was searching incessantly for it, through drugs, through partying, through sex parties, all of this stuff, right. And then it got to a point where I was like, wait a minute, I knew my seat of self, my seat of self. That's my spiritual guide that inner GPS, that inner knowing, always knew I was I've always been connected to that. I think that's because of my mom. She was she's she's, she's a pretty spiritual woman. And I think even when I was abusing my body or abusing myself, and whatever way it was, I knew I was doing it. I was conscious of it, and I chose to do it anyway. And the difference is, that has happened for me in this next act of my life, as I now realize I have the tools to bring that consciousness forward and have the agency to make a decision that I'm going to do something or not do something and I didn't realize that before the voice in my head made me feel at the mercy of like shit I need to do anything and everything to quiet this this is too noisy. It's destructive. Yeah, I'll pause there.
Coach Maddox 39:24
You're you're begging the question. You said I was searching for validation anywhere could get it basically. Yeah. And that begs the question, did you ever find it
Julio Alvarez 39:45
I did find it I did find it I'm trying to think about first of all I did find it I'm trying to think about when I find it found it I don't know that it was a haha like silver bullet. It was a series of things that happened to me and my life a series,
Coach Maddox 40:04
let me let me re ask my question. Let me refine my question a little bit because you were looking you were searching for it externally. Yes. Outside validation. Did you ever find that outside validation that actually soothed the thing that you were numbing yourself for?
Julio Alvarez 40:29
No, I mean, I think it was a temporary soothing, right, like you go on Grindr. You message 10 Guys, maybe two of them respond. They come over you have some fun. And then you're like, you know, you that feels good short term, but then you're right back to where you started. So no, there was nothing.
Coach Maddox 40:45
And how long did it take to get right back to where you started? Oh, was it quick? It was quick. Like, an hour a day, a week, an hour? I think it's important to call that out an hour. I have come to believe and tell me what you think about this, that when we seek external validation, any shape, form or fashion, it's a bottomless pit? Yes. There's no, what we're seeking is never going to be filled via external validation. It's a impossibility. Yeah. Yeah, what didn't you finally discover that quieted that need for external validation? What was it that you finally found that had more of a lasting fulfilling effect than wasn't the bottomless pit?
Julio Alvarez 41:52
I think it was the moment I met my husband, which I met whom I met at the lowest point in my life. It was early 2018. I had just been fired from Airbnb. I was so they had given me a good severance. So I went to Virgin atlantic.com and bought a first class ticket from New York, to San Francisco rather to London. And I was like, Look, I'm just and I called up every person I knew in London and said, I'm going to party let's just let's just fucking like, let's have a good time. Let's have it out for a week. I'm just gonna, like I need to, I'm going to numb the shit out of this because I do not want to face it. And so I'm gonna numb the shit out of it. And so I did that. And so I got on the plane. And so this is lowest point in my life. 2018 I had just been fired. I had signed up for this thing called the Hoffman process, which is a spiritual seven day retreat where, for people serious about change, who were looking to do the inner work to heal to start the journey. It was the first time I had ever meditated. It was the first time I've ever journaled really about my life. It was the first time I had gone back to understand patterns that I got from my family that I grew into. And so I got let go. That program was like a month later. Two months later, I had some time in between. I went to London. The first night I'm there. There are reports of a snowstorm. I'm on Grindr. No luck. No one wants to go out of their house. I get a DM direct message on Instagram because I post a story. It's some dude named John from Wales Wales is about three hours from from London. I'm like, Oh Allah, this was easy. I don't even have to work for it. Sure. Tomorrow 330 to 430 at the word, we got the tape monitor and I can squeeze you in. Now mind you, I had a whole week of party plans. And here was this kid messaging me from Instagram. He had followed me a few years back because I started an organization called out in tech and you know, gay techies is a small world. So he had loosely knew me we'd never met but he knew me from social media. He messaged me, I'm into it. The next day he comes in the snow starts to come down. He is the last train from Wales into London Paddington station or whatever station it was at the time. It comes to meet me at the museum. We hang out for an hour. It's very cute, very innocent. Boy from sheep town. I mean, this is like rural rural UK here. First of all, I had no idea that he was coming at Farhad, I know we would not have met this, we would not have done this because there would have been too high of a probability of failure. So I would have double or triple booked him to hedge my bets to make sure I was optimizing my time. I mean, I was that good. I was good. So we're at the Tate Modern. He'd come from Wales. I met my friends. I can squeeze him in for an hour it starts to snow bad and all of the tree rains all turns out it was the worst snowstorm in a decade in London, and all of all of the public transit system shut down. So now he's stuck with me. I'm like, fuck, I have all of these plans. I'm ready to go do lines. I'm ready to go party. I'm ready to go do all this stuff. How awesome will it be like with the snow, and now he's stuck with me. And so what beat what was started out as two hours or an hour, two hours became a week, he ended up staying with me. And right before we ended, I thought, okay, it's gonna be a holiday romance. He I did not tell him anything. He has no idea what's going on in my life. He's meeting me at the lowest point of my life. And he's like, I said, Look, I'm going to this thing. I don't know what it's going to do to me. I need to focus on that. Like, this is a cool holiday romance. Nothing more than that. Okay, fine. What if I book a flight for like, you know, after your retreat, I can come visit San Francisco, and I'm not sure I'm not sure is but fine. I acquiesced.
I fly back to San Francisco. He booked the flight I fly back to San Francisco. I go on this retreat. It's seven days you check in your phone, there were 40 people. I mean, you're crying, you're doing real deep inner work. You really are coming home to yourself and understanding who you are at this on the seventh day. First of all, they take your phone, right so you don't have phone you don't have radio, you don't have TV. It's just like you nature and your healing and other people and teachers. And it's very popular Justin Bieber's done it Katy Perry's done it you know, the whole kitten caboodle. It's one of these it's it's a it's a concentrated way to start to do the inner work start the inner work. On the seventh day when we get our phone, John tech is, you know, he's one of the first text messages that obviously come up. And you know, after all this work. I mean, it was really the first time I'd ever learned to meditate my life. I'd never meditated ever. I was like, wow, this is so interesting. Like, I'm either going to use all these skills one day, or I'm going to make today day one. And I may not have the answers, and I may not get it right. But boy, I'm gonna fucking try. And that's, that's how it started little by little. So at the lowest point of my life, to get back to the answer your question, the moment I surrendered, to trying to control everything around me. And the moment I decided to move with the flow of my life, and just surrender to what the universe had in store for me, and let go of my need to control every aspect of my life. Everything started to work out. Everything changed. It was that moment, literally, the lowest point of my life, the universe was like, Hey, guy on your high horse, think you're hot shit, you're gonna get fired. You're not going to know what to do. You're going to be stuck in shame. And I'm going to introduce you to the man who's going to be your soulmate. And you get to decide what you're going to do. And that
Coach Maddox 48:04
was oh, man from Wales. But can your husband? Yes? Yeah. The guy you're with now is the man from Wales. That's that man.
Julio Alvarez 48:13
Coach Maddox 48:14
I didn't know that. That's that's a new part of the story to me. Oh, my gosh.
Julio Alvarez 48:18
That's how I met my husband.
Coach Maddox 48:22
And it's been now for
Julio Alvarez 48:25
Yeah, yeah. And we only have four, almost five. And we were long distance for 18 months. And I was like, God, I don't think this is going to work out. And then we moved in together. He came to San Francisco, we moved in together in October 2019. And we said, let's just try living together and see if we like each other. October 2019. And then march 2020, hits, and COVID happens. And so then we're like, holy shit, like, what are we going to do? Are you going to go home? When are we going to see each other again? Should like are we a thing? Should we matter? Like, wow, this is we were a thing we so we went on March 16 2020. It was the last day before all of California shut down. And we went to Napa County because we were living in San Francisco at the time we went to the Napa County County Clerk's office, there was tape everywhere, and they were ready to shut the lights. And we said, Whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute. We have to get married. They they turned the lights back on. They found a witness who was a friend of one of the employees, they went to the back room, we had the ceremony. And then we live together all day every day working the rest of that year and didn't kill each other and didn't kill each other. In fact, quite the opposite. We were looking around at all of our friends in the world and struggle and we were just that so much peace.
Coach Maddox 49:46
Julio Alvarez 49:51
all from the lowest point of my life. And I reiterate that because I recognize that relationships are hard right now. When everyone is in seeking connection, and people want to find partners, that is really all the crave and all the talk right now, people have fucking to do lists people have, I'm going to try for one day, and I'm gonna get out of that. And they have all these stories wrapped up and relationships. And my message to people who are looking for love is that once you've done everything, first you have to fill your cup. First, you have to commit to loving yourself first, for becoming connected to yourself first. And the minute you're willing to surrender that to that. That's when everything else follows. Everybody's out here trying to find some Larry or Tom to solve a problem, or I need this or I need that. And I'm like, you, you're never going to work out unless you are connected to yourself. And that is the only way that someone else can be invited into you. I wholeheartedly believe that.
Coach Maddox 50:58
What an incredible story. So what do you think? I mean, here you were, you had this plan of a week long debauchery in London. And the universe had a different idea for you, obviously. But during that, those days in London in the snow, what shifted internally? Can you define that? Or draw trust a little bit of a boat picture of what shifted to go from I'm just going to numb this shit out of myself with drugs, sex and alcohol. And suddenly, I've met my soulmate.
Julio Alvarez 51:47
Hmm, wow, that the I can feel that question in my heart. Here, here was the difference. I actually, I don't think I've told anybody this story. But the first night I met him, when we were at the Tate Modern. I actually, after the Tate Modern, I had a work event, I was finishing off the last few things that were photoshoot I was doing so I had him go to one of my friend's house and I was like, just hanging out here for a couple hours. Like, I'm gonna go to work, I'll come back. And when I came back, my friend who is a party, partier had him in a hot, you know, all over the place drunk like, and this poor boy from Wales, this innocent guy from Wales was getting swept up in the very short space that I had. Let him stay where I was staying, hanging out with you. And I was just like, Oh, my God, like, the protector in me came out. And I was like, This is not good. Why is he doing this? This is not nice. We need to get out of here. And that first night, there was this like, wow, like, I really cared for this person. Like, I really wanted to help this person. Because he didn't know what he was doing. He was just innocent. His point of view was like, Whoa, is your friend. And he was offering me really strong drinks. And I didn't want to say no. So, you know, he told me to go in the hot tub. And he told me to have this really strong drink. So I did it. And so here he was just being authentically kind and caring and considerate. And here I was being like, What the fuck? Why are you drunk? Like what happened? Like, what, what? What's going on here? And so in that moment, instead of being angry and being like, Well, screw you, I there was a there was compassionate energy that came over me that was like, this guy. He's like the real deal. And he doesn't, you know, I'm gonna take time with him. That was the first night. And then the second night. We got to hotel the second night, we went to heaven, which was the gay nightclub in London. And there was an Elton John AIDS Foundation fundraiser. And the game was hosted by a drag queen, that you would get on stage and you would karaoke a song and then they would intermittently stop the song and ask for money. And so long as people were giving money, the music would continue and the person can continue to take off their clothes for more money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation fundraiser. And John decides to go up and sing. I think YMCA I don't remember what it was. I have the video. He got naked on stage. Like he performed the whole way through raised money for the foundation, and got naked in front of everybody. And I was just like, wow, that. Here I am on Grindr looking for nine inch Cox. And this is what courage looks like. This is what authenticity looks like. This is what this guy is the real deal. Like this is real. Like here he is just like no shame in the world getting up there dancing, singing, having a little fun to raise money for a good organization. He's not caught up in the dirt. Arma of what he looks like or what he says, or how much money he has, or what his status is or who he's connected to or what he's wearing. It was just, hey, this is a cool, fun thing. And so those two moments, the extreme of the first night being the sort of drunkenness and then the next night, the confidence, I think it was those two things that were like, wow, this is this is really interesting. I've not really had that before and not not really allowed space for that. That's what comes meeting
Coach Maddox 55:32
him changed you didn't it? Oh, definitely. Yeah, definitely, like in a really big and profound way.
Julio Alvarez 55:41
Yeah, because I felt like every time I went on a date, or was hooking up, there was always a mask on, there was always a part of them that they were not showing that there was something that people were hiding. And I could feel it and smell it and sense it. Even myself, I was doing it too. We were all doing that, right. We all have our masks on that we're hiding. And I it, it was just the moment where we both had our masks off, and we were both just being our full, authentic selves. That was it.
Coach Maddox 56:15
Okay, there's the the bomb right there. There's the wisdom bomb right there. Please say that again. You know that that everything in the universe shifted in that moment is
Julio Alvarez 56:32
when we were able to be our authentic selves. And we were able to be our authentic selves in that moment with each other. without the worry of fear and shame, and vulnerability, fear and shame, uncertainty, whatever, but just be our authentic selves. In both moments and moments of pleasure, but also a moments of pain across the whole spectrum. I think a lot happened in a short amount of time. You know, and I hope
Coach Maddox 57:06
platform is built around authenticity. And it's my belief that authenticity is the means that coupled with vulnerability are the means to change our lives. The means to bring us out of loneliness and isolation. The means to help us create better friendships and better love relationships. On in every area of our life, whether it's family or friends or co workers, the workplace. Yeah. Authenticity, authenticity and vulnerability are key to our peace and happiness and fulfillment. Do you in your experience, does that align with your experience?
Julio Alvarez 57:59
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, as Brene says, right, you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage. Period. And, and vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage. Yeah, and what I was able to witness with my husband, John, in that moment, was vulnerability on different extremes here. He was the first night meeting him and then on the stage getting naked in front of all these people that have raised some money, I was just like, holy shit, if that's not vulnerable, I sure as hell wouldn't do that. And so I was like, wow, this guy, you know, there's something about him. And then I went to heal, you know, I went to the started my inner work and to this day, we are partnership is, you know, moments of a thread of moments of vulnerability with each other, you know, whenever we're in struggle, all of us are made of strength and struggle. So in our, you know, so many moments of us will sit down and have real heart to hearts. You know, we have like little roundtable discussion, we need to talk about this, we need to talk about that. That's just like a part of what we do now. That's great.
Coach Maddox 59:26
That's beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. So circle back and put a put a, put a bow on it for me how, how you've come full circle with that whole inner voice that we started this conversation with?
Julio Alvarez 59:47
Well, I reckon so to put a bow on it. All of us have an inner voice, I believe. And for those who are listening who don't think they have the inner voice, the thing in your head that's telling you that you don't have the inner voice is the inner voice. First of all, good call. So I believe everyone has the inner voice, I believe. And so to put a button on it, my journey has been learning how to love it an offer compassion to it kind of self compassion, like Christina says kindness to it. And the more kindness that I give to it, this, the less power it has, over influencing the way I show up in my world, in my life in the world. Sometimes the voice is useful and productive and serving. Other times. It's not, it's my job, sitting from the seat of awareness to determine what I do with that voice. And so there's the boat, the takeaway is, there's actually another way to talk to yourself, you don't have to be negative all the time. There's another way to talk to yourself. And my number one priority now as a high performance leadership coach, is to walk alongside people because this is not a road, you cross this is a road you walk along, to walk alongside people, as they learn how to change the way that they talk to themselves. Because when you can do that, you change your mindset and you change your life.
Coach Maddox 1:01:22
Yes. Beautifully said. Beautifully said, what an amazing story. I mean, I didn't see that coming. I didn't see that coming at all. I mean, I'm just mesmerized by how things just turned on a dime when Mr. Wales came from, you know, the countryside and changed the trajectory of your life.
Julio Alvarez 1:01:56
And to tie that briefly to my dad, this was a man who saw me for me, like, and I allowed the space for him to see me for me, John, you know, not he didn't see me as the tech guy, or this guy. He saw me for me. And in a world where I always was in struggle for my dad's love and worthiness. And to have someone say, I see you, I hear you. I love you. I appreciate you. I mean, gosh, I can't maybe my dad has said that once,
Coach Maddox 1:02:28
but what you just described is the answer to the opposite of all of the external validation. You know, we, what we all really want is just to be seen and heard and validated. And by validated I mean, not validated in the external way, but seen and heard. When we're truly seen and heard that is a form of validation that isn't Oh, look at me, you know, I'm on tick tock with no shirt. Yeah. 4000 people are going to tell you how hot your upper body is. Yeah. Yeah. You just described the antidote for that. insatiable thirst for validation. Yeah, say it again.
Julio Alvarez 1:03:33
Well, first of all, I think peace is an inside job. And I think all of us we all want one thing. We want to know, do you see me? Do you hear me? And does what I say mean anything to you? That's really what we're all looking for. We're looking for that validation. Absolutely. And why? Because we're not cognitive beings that feel, Oh, it's easier to think than it is to feel all of us run around thinking cognitively. Here's five tips to do this. Here's 10 steps for this. Here's you know, whatever like this is my strategy for tick tock. We are not cognitive beings, we are emotional beings that think a lot and emotions are at the wheel here. Which is why feeling seen and feeling heard. And feeling understood is how you it is how it works. It is
Coach Maddox 1:04:39
how it works. You have brought amazing wisdom to the conversation today. So
Julio Alvarez 1:04:45
thank you, and thank you for everything. I thank you. I'm so proud of you and I'm honored to be a part of this community.
Coach Maddox 1:04:54
Thank you. It's it's an honor to have you here and hear this story. I'm I'm just unreeling it's such a beautiful story. I'm reeling. Well, are you ready to move into rapid fire questions?
Julio Alvarez 1:05:09
Sure. Let's do it. Hang on. I'm gonna get a sip on my matcha latte.
Coach Maddox 1:05:13
There you go. So, when was the last time you cried in front of another gay man?
Julio Alvarez 1:05:22
Oh, yes, sir, last night with my husband.
Coach Maddox 1:05:26
I love it. I knew that was probably going to be an easy one for you. That's not such an easy one. For some people, you are very connected to your feelings and your emotions. And I think that is definitely one of the things that I find so beautiful about you.
Julio Alvarez 1:05:42
And for those of you listening, struggle, and for those of you who are listening who struggle with crying, or tears, it's just energy moving through your body. You know, emotion needs motion. If you find yourself holding back the tears, remember this phrase, emotion needs motion. It's just energy. And so when I cry, I fucking cried because I let it out. And it create leaves space for more love, and new ideas and growth.
Coach Maddox 1:06:13
If we have emotion, and we don't give it motion, it gets stuck in our body, and then it manifests as disease. A lot of people don't believe that, but it's a real thing. All right, I love that. So what has been the most difficult aspect of being a man of color in the GBT Q community?
Julio Alvarez 1:06:42
It's the struggle of identity. Am I a part of the Latin group? Or am I part of the gay group? You know, like, which group Am I a part of? You know, sometimes you don't feel Latin enough for the Latins, or you don't feel gay enough for the gays or so I think it's that that tension? That is the most difficult part for me.
Coach Maddox 1:07:04
And where are you with that tension? Currently?
Julio Alvarez 1:07:08
I used to think it was an either or. And now it's a yes. And so I'm gonna do all of it. The Latino gay New York first generation adopted, I'm taking all of it. I'm using all of it. I love it. Let's go into Leo, baby.
Coach Maddox 1:07:26
You're maximizing community is what you're doing. You're allowing yourself to fit in wherever you choose to fit in. Yes, I love that. All right, final question. If you could go back in time and say anything to the younger you? How old would he be? Or how old would you be? And what would you tell him? I mean, how would the person that you would be talking to be that was the way it
Julio Alvarez 1:07:54
were? I think he'd be he'd be he'd be early 20s. Having just he'd be early 20s getting into these big tech jobs. And I would say to him, relax, relax. It's all going to work out. Just relax, take it one step at a time. You don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to figure out everything. Stress is wanting something to be the way that it isn't. So your number one job is to move with the flow of your life. And you're not going to have it all figured out. That's what I would tell him.
Coach Maddox 1:08:36
Could you say that stress line again?
Julio Alvarez 1:08:40
I think stress is wanting something to be the way that it isn't.
Coach Maddox 1:08:46
Wow, that is profound. I got something in my life right now that's stressing me out. And if you're spot on, I'm wanting something to be what it isn't. Thank you for that. That's my takeaway for today.
Julio Alvarez 1:09:05
Beautiful. I'm glad I could help. Oh, this is wonderful. Your your this is great. Thank you. Thank you so much. This
Coach Maddox 1:09:11
has been wonderful. And I want to, first of all tell you that it's been an honor, honor to have this conversation with you an honor and a pleasure and a privilege. And I want to set leave you with one thing and that is in my eyes. You are indeed an authentic gay man. Thank you, please receive that.
Julio Alvarez 1:09:34
I receive it. I receive it and I believe it
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