Rick Lite interviews business professional and author Carlos Hidalgo about his newest book The UnAmerican Dream.
RL: Tell me about your latest book and why you wrote it?
CH: I first had the idea of writing The UnAmerican Dream at the end of 2016. When I shared this idea with a friend of mine, he told me he felt it sounded like an “angry book”. To be honest, if I had started the writing process then, I am certain it would have been just that, an angry manifesto.
It was in 2016 when the life I was living and the work pace I had been keeping caught up with me and I crashed and burned.
All that I had wanted since co-founding my first company in 2005, all of the hours working, all of the travel, the growth of my ego and my obsession with proving that I was a success came crashing down around me. But it was not supposed to be this way. No entrepreneur or driven professional begins their journey with visions of a flame out. Rather the opposite. We have visions of success, growth, wealth and the list goes on. But my story, like those of so many I have spoken to since the end of 2016 are much different and I believed I had to write about it as those conversations made me realize I am far from being alone.
I wrote The UnAmerican Dream in hopes that if there are those out there like me (and I know there are), that they will learn from my mistakes and avoid some of the pain that I caused. I also hope it helps those who aspire to be executives and entrepreneurs. I hope they realize that there is no glory in the toxic hustle culture and success is measured by far more than the growth of your business and more so by being true to who you are and the depth of your relationships. I also want to book to help us all see a different perspective of workaholism, which is why I asked my wife to lend her thoughts in her own chapter as there is always an impact to our actions and absence.
RL: How long did it take you to write this book?
CH: I do not think I am like many authors as I began writing without a documented outline. I knew what I wanted to say in my head and a friend of mine was kind enough at one time to say, you know what you need to say, so just start writing. I began that process in mid 2017 and finished the final manuscript in 2019. If I was able to do it fulltime, it surely would have been faster, but I did not have that luxury. Additionally, during the writing process, I would read an article or have a conversation which would spark a thought, that would lead to some research and I would then add another chapter. Perhaps not the best way to put it together, but it is the way that works for me and I am proud of the final product.
RL: What was your hardest scene to write?
CH: By far the hardest chapter to write was the one entitled Sacrificial or Selfish? It is a chapter where I unpack the idea hard charging professionals are not the ones sacrificing our time with family, our presence with our spouse or children and countless other things. This is something I hear from many and I myself used to say. However, the reality is if we have not discussed what we will miss, if we have not had the conversations with our closest of relationships to let them know what they need to give up, so we can follow our pursuits, then we are not the ones sacrificing. Those who are impacted are and that we are just selfish.
The reason this one was so hard for me was recounting many of the things that I missed out on, a story about my then young son who hung up the phone on me when I called home from a hotel. It was a chapter full of regret and time that I cannot get back and while it needed to be told, it was difficult to journey back and live some of those hurtful times.
RL:What do you hope to accomplish now that your book is out?
CH: My goal for the book is to first and foremost help executives, professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs who may feel stuck, are perhaps bogged down by the constant pressure to “hustle” and those who have made work their god. I want to help them see there is a better way to define success, that purpose and worth are not found in our professions and that you can be wildly successful, build meaningful relationships and enjoy life, all at the same time.
RL:Does your family support your career as a writer?
CH: I am glad to say they do and so much so, that my wife Susanne, at my request, was gracious enough to write a chapter in the book and give her perspective. We both thought it was important to show “A View From The Other Side,” and what it is like to be married to a frenetic, unhinged workaholic.
I want my readers to understand that behind every manic business pursuit is a relationship that is impacted and I could think of no other way and not better person to tell that story than having her use her own words.
RL: What’s your favorite line from any movie?
CH: My favorite line in a movie is from The Princess Bride, when Wesley, who at that time is the Dread Pirate Roberts looks at Princess Buttercup and says “Life is pain your highness! Anyone who tells you differently is lying or trying to sell you something.”
The reason that I love this line is because of its brutal truth. I have had readers of The UnAmerican Dream tell me, I could feel the pain. It is there because it is true. However, what is also true is that it is through our pain that we can find joy, we grow and become a better version of ourselves. I believe we spend far to much time trying to shield ourselves or run from pain. The reality is, we will all encounter it one way or one form or another and that line could not be more accurate.
RL: If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
CH: I pretty much did, it is called The UnAmerican Dream. That being said, I believe my story is far from over, so I am sure I will have another one in me jusyt yet!
RL: Where can we purchase your book?