🌴Hello, friends! 👋👋🏼👋🏾 During Mental Health Awareness month, today's Generation Si! newsletter is spotlighting how therapy shaped Daniela Sichel's career choice and path to entrepreneurship after a devastating personal loss.
🌴Her business partner, Mariana Morales, shares how her personal journey of navigating a new country as an immigrant with a child inspired her commitment to providing mental health services for those the system left behind.
🌴Together, you'll learn how the two Latinas came up with an ambitious plan to help others through a comprehensive wellness platform. I'll get to the mechanics of how they tackled specific challenges in building their digital platform in Part Two.
🌴For now, in Part One, you'll learn how Daniela and Mariana transformed tragedy and difficulty into something positive for themselves and others.
PERSONAL CHALLENGES CAN FUEL YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS
“Opción YO started when my father died. I was 8 years old and my family and I had a very tough time recovering… from the traumatic event.”
Daniela Sichel credits therapy for helping her and her family recover from her father’s death.
It’s also what led her to start the online therapy and wellness digital platform, Opción YO, along with Mariana Morales.
Morales was one of Sichel's classmates in Nova Southeastern University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s degree program.
For Morales, the struggle of being a new immigrant in the U.S. and alone made her empathize with what many people go through. She wanted to help those who are "forgotten."
She explains, “Knowing this situation – how difficult it is to start your life over in a different place and how difficult it is to find a job and to start getting everything professionally ready until you can be comfortable, I lived that situation myself. So, for me, it was very important to serve this population.”
THE TIP JAR (tips provided courtesy of Daniela Sichel & Mariana Morales)
Daniela: “Find a job in a place [where] you work for someone that is following “your” dream – so you can learn from that person.”
Mariana: “It was a tip from one of our investors that I really believe in: get ready for stomach ulcers. And, if we’re going to have these ulcers, it better be for something you really care about.”
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career):
Mariana: “You don’t need to do this alone, I would say to someone who is facing that question of, ‘What should I do with my life right now?’ I think that, one of the best things we have done is to [be] surrounded by people who know that we don’t have to know everything.”
Daniela: ”Find your way. Don’t be employed. Open your business. And follow your dream.”
“You need to know where… you want to get.” She says, even if you don’t know how you’re going to get there, you need to “trust that the process will open up and give you pieces, so you know what the next step is.”
Mariana: “Just ask yourself if this is something that’s going to make [you] feel alive?”
“There are opportunities to find something that makes you feel alive, to [make] you feel useful, to make you have a reason to live. And to not just exist, but to really live a meaningful life. And, if you find that this passion will give you that, then, why not?”
Daniela: “We need to make our passion our work. And that way, you are not working; you’re never working. If you find that, you find, really, the balance and the happiness in your life.”
Daniela admits, at the outset, it was difficult. She says, “It was tough at the beginning – the balance between family and work – not because I wanted to work less. Because I wanted to have more time for work… The world could stop. I wanted to make this big.”
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”/BEST “HOUSE” ADVICE:
Mariana: “My dad used to say, ‘El mundo es el que hace, no el que piensa.’” LOOSE TRANSLATION: The world is about the one who does, not the one who thinks.
Daniela: “My grandfather left Romania in a very bad way because of the war. And he went to Israel. And then he went to Venezuela [on] a two-week boat trip. So they got to Venezuela… and there was a huge boat. And he told my grandmother, ‘Look at [that boat]. We’re going to have one of those.’ And she told him, ‘Stop dreaming.’ He said, ‘No. We’re gonna have it.’
Daniela says her grandfather eventually got a boat – and, every year, he bought a bigger boat. The lesson she learned from his story is this: “If you set a boundary and a limit in what you can achieve, that’s the limit.”
She adds, “We need to dream big, so what [we] achieve is big. And that’s so important. The only one that sets the limits for success is your own self. No one else.”
YOUR MISSION: OFFERING A SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM THAT’S NOT BEING ADDRESSED
Morales and Sichel were on a mission to make their vision a reality. Morales explained, “How can we provide a solution to the people in need that were not seen by those giants out there, the giant providers of mental health?”
The answer not only helped them in their personal lives, but it also helped the friends and partners start a worldwide company, Opción YO, that focused on Latinos’ mental health, regardless of a person’s insurance or legal status.
SOMETIMES, A GLOBAL VS. LOCAL FOCUS IS THE WAY TO GO
The co-founders say the market and means of delivering care formed organically.
Sichel already had a successful private practice. So when her husband had to move the family back to his native Peru for work, Sichel told her clients she’d need to refer them to local therapists. “And they said, ‘No, let’s keep our therapy sessions via Skype. And when you come, we [can] have our sessions together.’ And that’s how I built a global private practice.”
For Morales, the internet also was a saving grace. “For me, online therapy gave me a lot of opportunities. I was able to work from home while taking care of my son. I did not have anyone around to help me. I thought that was a lot of help for me as a professional to be able to have this possibility to work like that… Since I am a bilingual therapist, in the U.S… naturally, organically, people who spoke Spanish were talking to me.”
AN EXTERNAL FACTOR (FOR EX. THE PANDEMIC) CAN HIGHLIGHT THE NEED FOR YOUR SERVICE
Sichel said the pandemic made it obvious that we, as humans, are vulnerable. “You cannot quit. That is part of being human. So it really let people talk about how difficult life is – because we were all in a very difficult situation.”
The business partners say they didn’t know exactly how they were going to be able to make their dream of starting a one-step, comprehensive wellness platform for Latinos into reality. But they learned throughout the process. Sichel says, if they would’ve known just how hard it was going to be, she doesn’t know if they would have done it.
And, yet, I could sense their determination with their mission.
OFFERING RELATED SERVICES MAY COMPLEMENT YOUR OVERALL MISSION
They say they started with 20 professionals in January of 2020 and now have about 300 professionals in more than 32 countries working for them in the fields of psychology, coaching and nutrition. The ladies say they’ve served more than 2500 clients worldwide.
As Morales explains, “I wake up every day, knowing that we are making a difference. And that is priceless… for us.”
INDUSTRY: Mental Health & Wellness
Idea: March 2019
Platform Ready: January 2020
Daniela: Born in Venezuela, Father - from Venezuela
Mariana: Born in Paraguay, Parents - from Paraguay
Mariana: Nova Southeastern University – Master’s degree in Marriage & Family Therapy
CUNY/Hunter College – Bachelor’s degree in Psychology
Daniela: Nova Southeastern University – Master’s degree in Marriage & Family Therapy
UCAB (Universidad Católica Andrés Bello) in Venezuela – Bachelor’s degree in Psychology
DREAM JOB AS A KID:
Daniela: “A veterinarian or a doctor… I decided to study psychology because it gave me the opportunity to help people. And that has been my passion. Always. To make the life of others easier.”
Mariana: “A little bit of an artist. A little bit of a computer person. A little bit of a creator. I mean, I wanted to be a businesswoman. I wanted to be a doctor. And I also liked drawing. I was one of those people that liked to do different things. And, right now, that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
BIGGEST GOAL YET:
Mariana: “When we think about wellness for people in Spanish, I want to be that… If you need a book, if you need a class, if you need therapy, if you need coaching, if you just need to work on your body goals to feel stronger, I want [to be] that place.”
Daniela: “We have the best user experience and the best professionals.”
Sichel says she wants Opción YO to be considered the go-to place for wellness services in the industry for Spanish-speakers.
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
The Basics: Get Your Business on Google
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Wednesday, May 11, 2022
10:00 a.m. EDT – 11:00 a.m. EDT
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
Learning How to Be More Productive
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SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) Orlando
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Thursday, May 5, 2022
8:00 a.m. EDT – 9:30 a.m. EDT
INSPIRATION FOR THIS ISSUE:
Someone once pointed out to me that there’s a big difference between “living” and “existing”. We were talking about a person being elderly and nearing the end of their life. There’s definitely a big difference between the two words. It focuses on quality of life. It reminded me that nuance matters. Words matter.
Then, Mariana Morales brought up “living” vs. “existing” during our interview. But, this time, I was hearing about it in terms of finding a purpose when deciding you want to start over with a career. It occurred to me that I had previously been looking at the concept of living vs. existing narrowly. It opened my eyes to realizing many people are just “existing” vs. “living” while young or middle-aged, not just when elderly.
And that gets to the heart of why many people become entrepreneurs. They need to feel like they’re fully living out their lives vs. just going through the motions without purpose.
You definitely don’t have to be an entrepreneur to find your purpose in life. Hopefully, the tips and advice in this newsletter help you manifest that purpose, whether it’s through small business ownership or in some other way.
The goal is the same: to help you experience life on a deeper, more meaningful level. I hope you experience the joy of “living” vs. “existing” – even if it takes a little time to figure out and even if it doesn’t fit other people’s definition of what it represents – at any age.
🌴Your support is greatly appreciated! #theskyisNOTthelimit