Turning 40 and realizing “fine” is a four-letter word

Serban Mare is an immigrant who came to the US from Romania when he was 23 in search of better opportunities and a better life. He did everything he was “supposed to” and then came to understand the meaning of the maxim “be careful what you wish for.” In his mid-30s, he described his life using a couple of four letter words: He was FINE. He was LOST. He encountered a concept that sent him down the rabbit hole, reading, listening, learning, experimenting, evolving. Which ultimately led him to say YES to a 40th birthday project that took a year and a half to plan and more than a week to accomplish.

Guest Bio

Serban is an expert in personal development, self-help, and peak performance. He is a Professional Speaker, Certified CBT Practitioner, and Life Coach. As a Project Manager, Serban learned how to map out steps to escape the typical “work towards retirement life” and has engineered the path to a more authentic, joyful, and fulfilled lifestyle.

Serban came to the United States with $200 to call his own and through adversity created a better life for himself and his family. Despite achieving the “American Dream,” he realized he craved deeper meaning and fulfillment. After undergoing his own personal transformation, he accumulated an abundance of knowledge which he desires to share with others on how to live a higher quality, passionate, and meaningful life.

Commemorating 40 on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Serban Mare came to the United States from Romania when he was 23 and looking for better opportunities than he had at home. What he thought would be a relatively short stay has turned into making a life here.  

Early in the year that he turned 40, Serban was having dinner with a friend who was shortly to turn 50 and their wives. The friend had a plan to do something grandiose for his 50th and Serban wanted to be a part of it. That thing was hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. Serban’s reaction was: “I’m in. Let’s do it.” His wife took a couple days to think about the seven-day hike and signed onto the trip four days later. 

The pact was made a little over a year before they went to the mountain. A lot of the following year was spent finding the right equipment since getting a blister can be what determines success or failure. 

Serban calls hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro the most memorable thing he’s done in his life. 

The 40 Transition

While Serban commemorated his 40th birthday in an uncommon way, he still went through a pretty typical life transition. Serban’s vision of a life well lived was to go to college, find a corporate job, get married, have some kids, get a dog and save for retirement. That was the blueprint he followed until he was 35.  He and his wife decided not to have children, which, he says, gave them more time to ponder about life. 

Serban went to lunch with a friend he hadn’t seen in a while. The friend asked how he was and he seemed full of genuine interest. So he thought, and answered: career, fine. Relationships, fine. Health, fine. Nothing was great. He realized he felt like he was going around in circles and that’s when he wondered if that was it. Was there anything more to life? Or was he just going to go around in circles for the next few decades. 

His wife sent him to Lewis Howes’ podcast, The School of Greatness, and particularly the episode where Les Brown talked about how to defeat a negative mindset. This is where he first encountered the concept of “growth mindset,” which led him to Carol Dwek’s book, Mindset. This led him to realize that he could do so much more, which several years later led him to climb the tallest mountain in Africa. 

Serban defines growth mindset as the understanding that we can do anything if we set our minds to it and truly believe it. Maybe the thing you’re striving for is hard and you can’t do it yet but if you keep practicing and you’re consistent, you can. It may be a simple concept, but he came across it at exactly the right time. He says that he proves to himself over and over that he can do so much more. 

An early proof of “I can” for Serban was public speaking. As an introvert and non-native speaker he was scared to participate at meetings at work. Just introducing himself was terrifying, but he realized it was holding him back. So he found a chapter of Toastmasters in his area and started working on public speaking. At first it was hard and he was bad at it but with practice it got easier. Today Serban thinks he’d like to be a professional speaker. 

He started noticing the energy around his relationships – which friends were energy drainers and which made him feel great. Today he limits the time he spends with friends whose relationships he’d consider ‘fine’ and focuses more time on relationships with people that are ‘great.’ 

Finding Purpose

Serban has started to recognize the patterns of how we can move from being okay to being great and he’s realized that he wants to share them as much as he can. He thinks by embracing the growth mindset we can go beyond the “ever-looping rat-wheel kind of life” and get to something more meaningful. He wants to inspire people to look for their next adventure and to conquer their own Kilimanjaro mountain and he’s pursuing three avenues to do that including keynotes, a course he’s creating and 1-to-1 coaching for people who want to find their next season in life.


The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

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Stephanie: Hello Serban

Serban: Hi, Stephanie.

Stephanie: I'm so, so happy to have you here with me today. Thanks for joining me.

Serban: Yeah. Thanks for having me. I'm excited about our talk.

Stephanie: Yeah, me too. Me too. I thought that I had a pretty cool 40th birthday with my 40 Drinks Project, but not so in comparison. We'll get to that in just a minute. You have an accent that tells me that you are not a born and bred, uh, American guy. Tell me where you come from and how you got here.

Serban: Yeah. Definitely. The accent is not a Southern accent. I actually came from Romania when I was 23. I came looking for better opportunities, thinking that I might work for a few months and then go back home. But then at one point I saw that the work that I was doing in one hour, two hour here, I could buy a pair of jeans . Whereas back in Romania, I used to work for a full month to get that pair of jeans. So I just realized that America is the land of possibility. So I decided to pursue a career and life here.

Stephanie: Wow. What kind of career are you in?

Serban: I work in the electronic semiconductor industry. Worked my way towards it. I do that right now.

Stephanie: Nice. Can you tell me a little bit about growing up in Romania? Mostly, I'm just curious how it's different from what you see here.

Serban: Yeah, I mean, definitely right now, the Romania of current times is totally different than when I was growing up. There was not a whole lot of possibilities. I keep telling people that if you weren't an engineer, a lawyer or a doctor, you weren't successful in Romania. That's pretty much the blueprint that I saw growing up. And it was the only options that I had. There weren't any other avenues, like becoming an entrepreneur, becoming a public speaker, a podcaster that, that didn't even cross my mind. We weren't well off, hence the reason why I've pursued something a little bit better here in America and that's one of the reasons why I felt that here I have a lot more possibilities and a lot more opportunities. So it's totally different. Now it's a little bit better but back in the day, it was very, uh, very stiff the options that you had.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm Well, one of the things I'm most interested to talk to you about is how you celebrated your 40th birthday. You told me that you had a friend who's 10 years older than you, who had a crazy idea to celebrate his 50th and he roped you and subsequently your wife and some friends into it. Will you tell me a little bit about that?

Serban: Yeah, absolutely. Somehow we ended up with my friend at dinner, just my wife and his wife and myself. And we were just talking and having a good time. He was mentioning that the following year, which is 2022, he would turn 50 and wants to do something grandiose. And there was always this chatter of doing something instrumental, I was thinking, "Well, I'm turning 40. What did you have in mind?" And then he proceeds to tell me all this laborious things about the plan of we are taking this company and we're going this many days and we're doing this. He searched everything and did an amazing job of just easing everything that we had to do. And what it was is he wanted to hike Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. And I was like, "I'm in, I'm turning 40. You're turning 50. Let's do it."

Stephanie: Okay. So, all right, before we go any further, that to me seems absolutely insurmountable and impossible. Are you a fit guy? Are you a hiker? Are you someone who is active that this is not. as huge a mountain as it is to me?

Serban: For sure. That was my one advantage. My friend is not that active. He bikes every now and then, but he's not as in great shape as I am. I do like to go outside. I've actually run a few marathons. I like to go at the gym. I have a mountain here in Phoenix where I live, where I go every week and hike it. So I was in good shape. But the thing is that with Mount Kilimanjaro, even if you are in the best shape that you can be it can still go sideways really, really fast. It's not just physical that you have to overcome, but it's also mental and it became, it became quite apparent the summit night.

Stephanie: Okay. All right. So take us back to dinner. You said you were in, was your wife in as quickly as you were, or did she need more convincing?

Serban: she definitely had to mull it over because, granted it is seven days, eight days in total, seven intense days of hiking up with only our clothes and no water. I'm not a camper I have to admit, neither is my wife, and to just comprehend that she would have to be with just men going on this hike, it was also something that she really had to assess if she can handle it. We ended up being seven guys and my wife, we called her the Snow White and the seven dwarfs.

Stephanie: I love that.

Serban: It took her about three to four days to think about it. She didn't say anything at the table. She didn't say that she's in or not in, but I remember she coming to me with puppy eyes and says, "I want to go." And I didn't think she wanted to, so I was so excited because it is an uphill battle, especially being a female on a mountain where restrooms are not the best.

Stephanie: Yeah, I bet. Yeah. It's not quite as easy for us to pee in the woods as it is for you.

Serban: Exactly. Exactly. It's a major factor.

Stephanie: I'll bet. Oh my goodness. Okay, so we have dinner. You say you're in, four days later your wife says she's in, then what? Tell me about training. Tell me about getting ready.

Serban: This was a year and some before we started hiking. So a lot of it was preparations of getting equipment and getting the right equipment because the challenge that you have hiking it is you get a blister. Or you get some kind of a infection and you get some stomach aches or you don't have the right shoes. And all of that was just a, a continuous struggle because, you know, I go hiking, but I, I use regular shoes. I'm not too keen on which hiking shoes am I gonna use. And it was a lot of research, a lot of coordination with all the guys that signed up The whole year we're getting closer and as we're getting closer, we're getting more intentional with our hikes, with our trainings. We're having to go as a group to a closer mountain here to Phoenix, that's at a higher elevation because the biggest challenge that we face with Kilimanjaro is being able to adapt to that high altitude. And it took a lot of weekends. A lot of weekends and a lot of miles just walking with our backpacks slowly and just the dedication of continuously pushing yourself one extra week, one extra week, knowing that you have that goal.

Stephanie: Wow. So then you get on a plane and you head to Africa. You said it was the best vacation you ever had you put vacation in quotes. . Tell me about your vacation.

Serban: You know, looking back, it was such a different experience. Even though there was the struggle of going up the mountain, as a whole, it was the most memorable thing that I have done in my entire life. And there's plenty of people in the group that said it as well. In Africa, if you go to either Kenya or Tanzania, where we went, you must do a safari. You have to see the animals. We did a two day safari and it's it's it's undescribable. I tried to tell people that the way you see Lion King, where all the animals are just running around and they're all around you - that's exactly how it was. It was unbelievable to see giraffes and zebras and elephants just coexisting in this tight ecosystem. It was beautiful. And that was the first two days where we were able to, um, relax a little bit. My wife, her luggage got lost, which was...exactly. It was scary for a few days until we figure out that yes, it's in one place, but it's gonna make it before we start ascending the mountain. The people were very welcoming. We were waving at them and they were waving at us. They say "Jambo" as hello. It just rolls up the tongue, it's so beautiful. And just being with the people there, it just made it magical.

Serban: Even before hiking.

Stephanie: Yeah. I have to tell you that a safari is on my bucket list. That is one of the things that I look forward to doing someday. Spending some time in that place with the giraffes and the elephants and the lions. Oooh I'm drawn to it.

Serban: Even when you say it, it takes me back. We did a walking safari where literally giraffes are like a pack of 20 are 30 feet away from us. It just gives me chills thinking back up that moment. Everybody should do it. it's incredible to see those animals.

Stephanie: Mm. Mm. So I can imagine how scary it would be for your wife to lose her luggage at that point, because you've spent a year finding all the right gear and all the right shoes and boots and backpacks and all of those things. And so, whew, she found her luggage and then you head to the mountain and what's that like?

Serban: You know, it's baffling to think about it because even when we were doing the safari, the mountain is so tall, right? It sits at 19,300 feet. You can see it from afar. We were looking at it from all these different places and we're thinking "Really, we're gonna be able to get all the way there?" That's how it was even the first few days. We are so far out from the peak that we're looking at it and it seems insurmountable. It was crazy to see it. You see it from afar and each day that you go, it gets a little bit closer and it gets a little bit closer.

Serban: To me, it's very indicative of any goals that we're setting in life. Right? That's kind of how I see it is you you're striving for something, and at first it's so scary that you don't even know that you can achieve it, but then you just keep going towards it a little bit more and a little bit more, and then it gets closer and you start thinking, maybe I can do it. It kind of felt like that.

Stephanie: Yeah. You said it's a seven day climb.

Serban: Mm-hmm

Stephanie: Are all the days similar to each other? Are the days different? I have no concept of climbing a mountain like that.

Serban: Mm-hmm yeah, The reason why we picked the seven days is because it gives the team that's hiking the best chance to acclimate with the altitude, but it also the most scenic route. Day one, we were hiking through a jungle where you see monkeys and it's all green and beautiful. And then day two, it turns in a little bit more deserty because Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano, so it there's rocks and different type of scenery. And again, you get closer to it. I think day three is when we get to the base camp and the tents are already set up and everything, but we realize looking down at the tents that we are above clouds. It was just breathtaking when you you look towards the far down on the mountain and you're just sitting and you see a blanket of clouds just kind of on the lower side of you. It's breathtaking.

Stephanie: Wow. Okay. So day three is base camp.

Serban: Sorry. Let me rephrase that. Each day we are moving to a new base camp. First day, we reach the jungle. Day two we are getting out of the jungle. Day three we're getting even closer. And every time we are seeing the mountain closer and closer. Each day we have to get our gear and walk to the next base camp to get to the top.

Stephanie: Oh, my goodness. So day three, you're above the cloud line.

Serban: Yes. Yeah. And it was, it was like that every day, from that point on.

Stephanie: Oh my goodness. So anything I know about mountain climbing, I've either watched in a movie or read in an article. The one obviously that there's so much about is Everest. I know it's a cold environment as you get up towards the top. Is it similar at Kilimanjaro? Is it a winter environment at the top?

Serban: That's a very keen observation because that was the biggest fear that all of us had is that it's gonna be so cold that we are gonna struggle to hike. Fortunately for us, it was not raining, which was incredible. It was the dry season, so we picked a good time to go. And then the cold, it was colder in day three. When we woke up there was frost on the ground and everything, but we had plenty of clothes to where we weren't cold. And the summit night, which is the biggest challenge there was that we were expecting the minus 21 Celsius, which is probably around minus 16 Fahrenheit. I don't remember the calculation. It was supposed to be brutal.

Serban: We dressed appropriately. Unfortunately it backfired on us because it wasn't that cold. And we were too hot.

Serban: But you are right. Typically there's a lot of wind and there's a lot of cold, but we had the gear to keep us either warm or cold.

Stephanie: Okay. That would be my thing is do I have enough clothes? Living in New England, in New Hampshire, we have a significant winter, a long winter, and I'm not a big fan of winter, but as long as I have enough clothes I'm okay. That would be my thought because I know of course you're in Africa where on the ground the environment is hot and summery, but at the top... Okay, so day three you're above the clouds. What's the terrain like once you're above the clouds and looking at, day four, five and six, is it all pretty much the same day to day, or does it continue to change?

Serban: The terrain became just rocky and dusty, for the most part. It was just the obstacles that we had to overcome 'cause at one point we were looking at the elevation gain and it was saying that no you're gonna be starting at this elevation gain and you're gonna get to the same elevation gain, but nobody really looked closely to realize they were gonna go 2000 feet up and then climb down and then go back up again and then go back down.

Stephanie: Oh my God.

Serban: That day kind of took us by surprise. And it was a hike. It was a bolder hike. There's one portion where it's called the Barranco Wall, where they, have what's called a kissing rock. And you literally have to hold your head, hold yourself to make sure that you don't fall back 'cause it's just narrow path.

Stephanie: Oh,

Serban: Yeah.

Stephanie: oh, I'm also afraid of Heights. this is, This is not my, uh, my dream here. I'm just amazed at it. Well, it's probably good you didn't know you'd have to go up and down 2000 feet, vertical feet, over and over again on a single day. It's probably better not to know that ahead of time.

Serban: Yeah, I can tell you that even though there were difficult portions of it the fact that we were eight in the team and we were in really good spirit and the folks that were taking us up were also very encouraging, it's difficult, but it's also very, very enjoyable. Nobody said, "This sucks. I'm not gonna carry on." We knew that we were gonna keep going and just observing the clouds that are way behind us and the mountain that's right in front of us, all of it was very bearable and enjoyable.

Stephanie: So all eight of you made it to the summit.

Serban: Yes.

Stephanie: Okay. There was an asterisk in your face there.

Serban: Yes. The summit night is the thing that was the challenging one for everybody, because I, for one, developed a nasty cough day three. So I started taking antibiotics. My wife started having back pains because she never really trained for a long period of time with her backpack and it wasn't sitting properly. Some guys had stomach pains, the food wasn't sitting right. We had a few people who were a little bit bigger, so they were adjusting harder with the elevation. Everybody's struggling. One of us actually had a panic attack the day prior to the summit and he could not control himself. And he's a regular guy he just panicked and just didn't didn't think he can do it.

Stephanie: Well, I wanna tell you that I'm with him. That seems quite reasonable to me to have a panic attack the day before you summit.

Serban: It's funny you say that because the guides that were with us seemed unfazed, which kind of tells me that that probably happens quite often. The thing about the summit night was the fact that we just hiked in the morning and then we ate and in the afternoon we had to go to sleep. So we were supposed to sleep around two or three o'clock and wake up at 11:00 PM, eat, get up all our gear and start hiking in the middle of the night.

Serban: Our group was a little bit slow, so we were probably the last ones to start going up. And because typically there's a long line and there's a lot of people and everything. It was full moon and we're an hour and a half in. And all you hear are the crunches of the rock and our feet. And it's quiet and we can see the snow up top, but we're moving snail pace. I think we made one mile in more than two hours. It's just incredibly slow and everybody's hurting, everybody's tired. It's hot, it's cold. You don't even know depending if you're moving a little bit faster, you're getting too hot. it was a challenge. We started breaking in two separate groups. Some of us were a little bit slower. I was in the group that was a little bit faster. And it's just imagine it's three miles, that is the length of the summit. It took us eight hours to do three miles.

Stephanie: Oh

Serban: I think crawling takes shorter than that.

Stephanie: Wow. What is it that makes you go so slow? Is it the altitude?

Serban: Exactly. It's the altitude, and then it feels like you're climbing a ladder. It's so steep. It's it's three miles, but it's 5,000 elevation gain. 5,000 feet. So you have to keep going, but you can't go fast 'cause you're just running out of oxygen. And everybody's struggling. I think we were probably six hours in, and we're not there at the top yet. People are in pain. My wife started having severe back pain, so she's taking too many pills 'cause we are thinking let's just numb her out, but we overdid it. But, at one point, I wanna say it was seven o'clock in the morning, all of a sudden we see the sunrise and first it's under the clouds and we can see the beams coming through the clouds. And then all of a sudden it just rises above the clouds and that just gave everybody a needed energy boost.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Stephanie: Here in New Hampshire, we have Mount Washington, it's a 4,000 footer. but it's, the big, mountain here and when you get to the top, you can hang out, take in the views. How long did you spend on the summit

Stephanie: once you got there?

Serban: Because of the altitude, you can't stay that long it's about 30 minutes. If you would see the pictures, it almost seems like you're you're on a flat surface, peak wise, but it's harsh atmosphere where more than 30 to 40 minutes, you start getting more lightheaded just because you just came from 15,000 and you're at you're at 20,000. It gets you loopy. So we went there, six of us made it. We were all impressed. Took a lot of pictures. The person who had the panic attack was in a slower group and we didn't know if he's gonna make it. After we take the picture, we started going down and all of a sudden, right behind the rock, he turns with his helpers and we got so excited. It was such a cool moment because we knew if he makes it, the other person make it. And it was an experience for all of us. We were all cheering for each other and it was such a good feeling to know that everybody's gonna make it.

Stephanie: That's unbelievable. Um, did your wife make it?

Serban: Yes. She, she did. Yeah. At one point she was turning into a zombie, couldn't talk. She said at one point that she fell asleep walking.

Stephanie: Oh my God.

Serban: A friend of ours had one of those energy goos and she got one of those energy goos and all of a sudden life came back into her right close to the summit. It was definitely a good moment up top because, it's cool to get there, but it's also cool to know that we can do so many more than we think that we can.

Stephanie: Yeah. It sounds like that energy goo gave her a little turbo boost, right for the end. Did the two of you make it to the summit at the same time or were you in different groups?

Serban: We stayed together. We were a group of six and then there were two other guys that were left behind, so all six of us made it to there at the same time.

Stephanie: Wonderful. That that is amazing. So, first of all, congratulations, I am in awe of your accomplishment and tell your wife. I said, "Go girl!"

Serban: Yeah,

Stephanie: That's amazing. How long does it take you to come down? Cause if it's seven days up, how long does it take you to come down the mountain?

Serban: About two days

Stephanie: Wow.

Serban: You're descending like crazy. Yeah. It's a totally different route.

Stephanie: You're just rolling.

Serban: That's exactly it. It's a lot easier, you have a better pace going down just because your oxygen is a lot better, so it's a lot easier to go down. Plus seven days on the mountain, it, it gets to you like, I think at the day six, someone said that he was done. Of course we had to summit, but once we hit that summit, we're like, okay, let's get back down.

Stephanie: Yeah. Get me somewhere with a bed and a toilet

Stephanie: food. A shower. oh my goodness. That is amazing. I often ask in my sort of intros and outros, if, if anybody knows anybody, who's got somebody who had an epic or amazing 40th birthday celebration. As of now, my friend, you have won the cake, because this is an amazing achievement.

Serban: Thank you.

Stephanie: But we also wanted to chat a little bit about you had a more typical evolution that a lot of people are having around turning 40 and yours started in your mid thirties. So you came to the United States when you were 23 and you took up a career and you built yourself a life. Then in your mid thirties, you said you found yourself, well, there are a couple of four letter words you used, the first was lost. And the second was, you said that everything was fine. Tell me a little bit about that.

Serban: That's exactly it. I came to the United States with a preconceived notion of what life is about, and this was mostly generated by my parents, as well as growing up in Romania, like I said, there was not a whole lot of opportunities. So my vision of a well lived life was to go to college, find a corporate job, get a home, find a wife, have some kids, get a dog and save for retirement.

Serban: and that's pretty much the blueprint that I followed up until I was 35. I think I kind of started wondering if there's more, because, my wife and I, decided that we don't wanna have kids.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm

Serban: which kind of liberated a little bit more of our time to ponder. There was this moment where I went to lunch with a friend that I haven't seen in a few years, and we sit down and he's full of interest and genuine, genuine interest. He asked me, "How are you?" And I don't know why the way he asked that question, it kind of got me wondering, "How am I doing?" This is exactly how I felt like: career? I'm fine. Relationships are fine. Health is fine. But there was nothing great. You know, it felt like I was just going in circles and that's when I started having this wonderment of, "Is there more to life? Is this it? That's all I'm gonna do?" Luckily my wife, being supportive and all, pushed me towards a podcast from Lewis Howes and had on Les Brown. It was the first time I was ever introduced to Les Brown, and I heard about this concept of growth mindset. I've never heard of that before, nor did I thought about it. I know we all have our growth mindset in certain areas like career wise, I just need to work harder to get there. But we struggle when it comes to health. Oh, I can never do this in my health. And this is exactly what happened at 35, I recognize that I can do so much more and subsequently, you know, 3, 4, 5 years in, this is how I end up hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, because today I constantly try to ask myself, can I do more?

Stephanie: Back up just a moment and give me a definition of growth mindset as you define it.

Serban: Yeah. It's simple. I think I would say that we can do anything we set our minds to, and truly believe it. There's that famous quote "If you can, or you can't, you are right." And up until that point, when I understood of growth mindset, I was like, "Well, um, others can do it, but I, I can't. No, yes. They're successful in that, but no, that's not me. I can't do it." And reading that book, it just tells you that, "Hey, you can't do it yet. You can't do it yet. But if you try, if you practice, if you're consistent, you can." It's a simple concept, but yeah, I think I've heard it right at the appropriate time where I said, "Well, let me try it. Let's see if this is something that I can do." And it set me on a path that, I'm fortunate to say that I've proved, I'm proving myself over and over again that I can do so much more than I think that I can.

Stephanie: Well, you certainly proved it to anybody who might question that this year to climb that mountain. Can you remind me again, the name of the book?

Serban: It's Carol Dweck Mindset.

Stephanie: Okay. And the podcast you said you listened to?

Serban: It's Lewis Howes. He had on Les Brown. Les Brown is a motivational speaker.

Stephanie: Okay, great. How did you know that you were. Fine. So many of us go day to day, month to month, year to year, we just put one foot in front of the other. We keep doing all the things that we are supposed to do or things that are there for us to do in our lives. How did you ever figure out, "Oh, this is fine. This isn't great." How could you tell the difference?

Serban: I think the realization came when I recognized that I'm just running in circles, you know, we get, we get so busy with our day to day that we don't have time for anything. We have to take care of our home. We have to go to work. We have to go to the parties and all of these things. And as weeks went by I started looking at my Sunday when I was looking back at the week, and I'm thinking, "Oh, there was nothing different this week and nothing next week, nothing next month" and so on. It was just a wonderment that kind of kept building up. Like, "Is there more or is this is all I have to do." And then just being curious and interested in the answer, "Is there more", and really looking for something that would satisfy that question.

Stephanie: Well, and I think you just nailed it, that curiosity is the thing that opens the door.

Serban: That's right.

Stephanie: Because as soon as you ask the question, it's like the door appears in front of you. Like it used to be just a wall, but now there's a door there.

Serban: Yeah, I Tony Robbins says this, right? It's where focus goes, energy flows. For the longest time, I was continuously focusing on, "Well, I don't know if I still want this job. I don't want this job, but I don't want this boss. I don't don't don't" That's where my focus was going and all of a sudden I was thinking, "Well, what do I want?" And shifting that focus to the things that might be interesting to me really poured my energy in a totally different direction to have that curiosity and discover something new.

Stephanie: That's wonderful. So since that time, you said you changed your career.

Serban: I've changed my career. We haven't talked about this, but one of the biggest things that I had to overcome once I adopted the growth mindset, I wanted to prove to myself that it is true. And one of my biggest fears was speaking in public. Growing up in Romania, there's no come in front of the class and present something. I was sitting in the back of the class, just being quiet, very shy, introverted. And I noticed that it was affecting my career because just being in a meeting with five people and having to introduce myself was terrifying. Luckily I had a Toastmaster Club at my work and I said, "Let me just give this growth mindset to try." And I go in and I'm horrible at it. I'm sweating. I'm nervous. I can't find my words, but then I keep plowing through this growth mindset ideas. Like what if I keep doing it? And that that's really alleviated my struggle to be able to speak in front of others. Today I'm even more ambitious to where I want to take that pain that I had for not being able to speak to actually wanting to be a professional speaker.

Stephanie: wow.

Serban: Mm-hmm

Stephanie: In in your second language.

Serban: Yes,

Stephanie: That's pretty impressive. So you've changed your career. You've run a bunch of marathons. You are pursuing speaking, and you said your relationships changed. Your relationships now are you call them booming? Tell me a little bit about how your relationships changed.

Serban: That's right. Yeah. I used to hang out a lot with friends that just like to party. And I always felt a little bit of an oddball there because I do enjoy having conversations with people, but I don't like just talk surface, if I were to have this type of conversation every single day, I would love to have them, but surface stuff, I've noticed that I kinda shy away and just sit in the back. And just because I was growing, I started to notice which friends are the ones that are energy drainers. I don't know if you've experienced this, where you go and chit chat with a friend and all of a sudden you come out of there like you've been in the boxing match and you're just depleted.

Stephanie: I find that I recognize it in the opposite way. When I have a visit with someone or I spend time with people and I come out and I feel so full and buoyant and happy and alive, that's where I notice it. That's like, oh, wait a minute. I don't get that all the time. It's certain people that bring that out in me..

Serban: Exactly. And that is where I found the booming relationships where I recognize also the ones that are giving me energy whenever I walk away, just like you said, it's like, man, I felt great. I can't wait to see that person again. I can't wait to have another discussion. So I've tried to limit the amount of time that I spend with the ones that are not energy fill-ing, and spend a lot more with those that do. I enjoy the conversations with them.

Stephanie: Yeah. So you're limiting your time with the people who are fine and focusing on your time with the people who are great.

Serban: That's that's that's well said. Yes.

Stephanie: Yeah. You said that you found something you're passionate about and you found a purpose in your life. Can you tell me about that?

Serban: Yeah. And it kind of piggybacks off of what we were already talking about because, I don't know why, I think a growth mindset is something that everybody should recognize and try to try to embrace and try to look for not just a ever-looping rat-wheel kind of a life, but just look for something more meaningful and the way I've started to recognize these patterns of how we can move from being okay to being great. I'm wanting to share with as many as I can this concept in such a way that they can find their better life, their greater life, their next season in life. And that's, where I'm dedicating a lot of my energy is just sharing this message and trying to inspire people to look for that next great adventure conquer their own Kilimanjaro mountain.

Stephanie: And is there a vehicle you're using to do this? Are you coaching or anything like that?

Serban: Yes, there's three avenues that I'm taking. One is public speaking, doing keynotes, workshops as well. I'm looking to put together a program that will help anybody in seven weeks kind of get into the right mindset, understand their limiting beliefs and their struggles and how they can overcome those and what they can do to just live better, you know, body and mind. Because I feel like it's very important on both aspects and that's the second avenue and the third avenue, it is coaching doing 1 on 1 sessions with folks who want to find their next season in life.

Stephanie: Wonderful. That's amazing. Tell me where people can find you online if they want to check you out.

Serban: Yeah, they can go on Instagram. I started putting some of these thoughts and ideas in small one minute snippets, just follow my name Serban Mare is S E R B A N M A R E. That's my handle on Instagram. And, there, they can find the website where I have more details about all this program, the one-on-one coaching, and if they want, I put together like a four step pillar process to just get them going.


Serban: They can find that through my Instagram,

Stephanie: Perfect. Serban. This has been amazing. I am still in awe. I know you said that when we first got on today, you said the hike was just a couple of months ago and you're still reminiscing. And I joked that I would still be recovering, which is very much true. I am truly in awe of your accomplishment. Not only your your mountain climb, but also your evolution and also everything you've accomplished in a country that's not your first home and in a language that's not your first language. It's truly amazing.

Serban: Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate you saying that, Stephanie. Thank you.

Stephanie: And thank you so much for joining me on the podcast.

Serban: Yeah, thanks for allowing me to share my story. I hope someone got inspired. It was good talking to you, Stephanie.

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