Sam Moore joins this week to explain his business philosophy and inspiring journey of creating Hazlo, his tequila mixer company. Sam illuminates his own journey in entrepreneurship with vulnerability and honesty, discussing the heavy influence of companies he admires like La Colombe and Chobani, and how he realized the power of treating his business like a person to be created rather than a product to be manufactured.
Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.
YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human
Alex: This week on Uncover the Human, we are joined by Sam Moore. Sam founded the company, which is a tequila mixer company, Hazlo, which is spelled H-A-Z-L-O, which is actually Spanish, as he explains, for DO IT , “Hazlo”. Sam has a wonderful vulnerability about him where he talks about how he came to starting his company, and he's really very honest about the ups and downs of starting it, and it feels very accurate to so many entrepreneur stories I've heard. I hope it resonates with everybody who's out there starting out, getting new things going, and really just enjoying living with passion and kind of finding their own values and how that guides good business decisions, good company decisions, and a better and more fulfilling life. Please enjoy.
Alex: Welcome to Uncover the Human, where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives.
Cristina: Whether that's with our families, co-workers, or even ourselves.
Alex: When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.
Cristina: This is Cristina Amigoni.
Alex: And this is Alex Cullimore.
Cristina: Let's dive in.
Alex: Let’s dive in.
Authenticity means freedom.
Authenticity means going with your gut.
Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself. Not just the parts you think people want to see but all of you.
Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself.
It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep rooted and true.
Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be.
It's transparency, relatability, no frills, no makeup, just being.
Alex: Well, hello, and welcome back to this episode of Uncover the Human. This week, we're joined with our guest, Sam Moore, who founded the tequila mixer company, Hazlo. Welcome to the podcast, Sam.
Sam: Thank you, Alex. It's great to be here. I'm excited for today.
Alex: We're really excited to have you here. One of the reasons we wanted to talk to you is that you had this really interesting philosophy in starting this business. You kind of designed it around building a business as a human and you said you kind of got this inspiration from the CEO of La Colombe Coffee. So I'd love to hear a little bit about that and what it means to build a business as a human and what that's meant to you, if you wouldn't mind introducing people to the concept.
Sam: Yeah. Well, like I said, really excited to be here, and it's kind of funny how we started. We talked about this serendipitously in our own personal conversations. Then lo and behold, you guys have a podcast called Uncover the Human, so it worked out pretty well. It's something that I was able to go to the BevNET conference, which is a major beverage conference, kind of a national conference that’s held in LA. Back in 2019, pre-COVID times, I was able to attend a session. There were the founders of La Colombe Coffee and Chobani Greek Yogurt Company.
It was actually Todd Carmichael, who was the CEO of La Colombe, where I honestly can't even remember the question he was asked. But he started diving into what it meant to him to build a business and how you're not just building a company. You're building a human and you're building this person that has so many different facets. They have a personality. They have ethics and everything like that. The question that he posed to the audience was like why not just create a good human. I just vividly remember turning to the person next to me who I had no idea who they were. We just were all sitting at this random panel together but just being, “Wow.” Like I'd never heard anything particularly in that fashion about building a business, and it really took hold of me.
That was the end of 2019, and I was about, let's say, six months into figuring out what Hazlo was. Or I should say a year and six months, so it was 2018 when I started this thing. That whole time, I was so wrapped up in the products like, “Let’s create this tequila mixer. Let’s build this thing.” That’s not easy to do in and of itself, so the frustration was getting so overwhelming. I was not even enjoying a lot of the building a company. But as soon as this concept was introduced of building a human, and a human like the product is just one extension of it. There's so much more that the company represents and everything there. That just got me really excited about what the potential I had to build and what I could provide to others and create for the sake of others beyond just a great tasting delicious mixer that Cristina was enjoying not too long ago.
Cristina: Yeah, it's awesome. Everybody should buy it. I drink it by itself with ice.
Alex: We're into the plugs section really early.
Sam: Yeah. I’m glad you picked up on that, the handoff I had there.
Cristina: I should’ve brought a little sample because I still have one left, and it's super fast delivery. So we're definitely sponsoring this officially or unofficially both.
Sam: Our delivery guy, he's one of a kind.
Cristina: He is. He even texts you to say, “I’m on my way. I just left it outside.”
Sam: Yeah. He waves to the ring camera and just like, “Hey, I’ll put it right here,” and then speeds away because I have to get back to my other job that I'm doing as well.
Cristina: Yeah. For metro area people, order this. Super easy, on the website.
Alex: This is now the official tequila mixer of Siamo. The person that we're putting together as a company likes tequila mixers.
Cristina: Really, really likes tequila mixers.
Sam: Yeah. We can talk sponsorships. Maybe not on the recording but –
Cristina: Only Hazlo tequila mixers. Not all, not the rest, only this one.
Alex: It’s the official one now —
Sam: Yeah, exactly.
Cristina: So this human that you've been building, can you describe it?
Sam: I think it's one of those things where I am not – It’s not to the point where I understand the human enough to really articulate the aspects of it. Not to keep referring back to the previous conversations we have, but how we started talking is I kind of pose to the LinkedIn audience that I think about hiring some people and really want to be intentional about the culture that I create because that's a large piece of this human that I'm building. What we kind of discussed is that the challenge that I was having was separating myself from the business, right? It was how do my values differ from the business values or should they? All these things, kind of this revolving door of questions that came from it.
Cristina, you made the great point of we're all one person. Who I am personally versus who I am running this business versus who I am and all these other areas of my life are essentially the same. Trying to delineate from who I am and what my values are as a person to who the business is or what the business's values are is almost trying to create two identities. That's just a recipe for disaster. Long way to say, like as I reflected on that and was thinking about what this business is like, right now it is just me. So the business values are my values, and the way that the business is run is how I run my life and try to make decisions in the best way possible. I'm also still trying to figure out who I am and all these different things too. So if you were to ask me to describe the business and the values, I would be trying to reach for straws of what I am and who I am. So I think for right now, it's a beautiful mess of a lot of things that we're figuring out as we go.
Alex: I like what you said. You said you weren't necessarily enjoying it as much as you'd focus so much on product development. At this point, you got introduced to this idea. By the time we were talking to you, you had the passion. You had the excitement because it was so – Could you describe a little bit about some of the differences and some of the different ways you've been approaching product development versus this more let’s build a human idea?
Sam: Yeah. I think it was a natural progression, right? Because this is my first venture or first time doing anything in the entrepreneurial space. My first attempt was the business is the product. That’s the only thing that matters, so let's create an amazing product and do it that way. One, it is really challenging to make a product. It is. Coming from the software space where that's where it's really challenging to make a software product, but there's kind of like an iteration of sorts where you’re writing code, you're testing it, you're doing all these different things. With a physical product like a mixer, it's chemistry. It's food science. You’re – Someone's in a lab. Let's put some things together. Try it. That was terrible. Okay, let's try a whole different iteration process.
But I also coincidentally have no chemistry or food science background, so it was a lot of hitting walls and not being able to see it. With me kind of judging my success as starting a business on how well I was creating this product, it made for a lot of just like spiraling, thinking I'm failing, right? Just like this overwhelming cloud of I'm bad at running a company. This is not how it's supposed to go. When this concept and this philosophy and I think the timing of it being introduced in my life was so perfect because I was – 2019 was a very interesting year for me personally. I decided to move from San Francisco back to Chicago. Spent the majority of that year living in my parents’ house, just trying to figure things out. Then come August, I make the decision that like, “Let's go test this out and let's see if I can build this company right now.”
2019 was a year of personal growth but in a very siloed way, where I was just eating right, working out, doing all the things that I was checking the boxes, what someone does to get like this personal growth. But when this concept of like there's so many facets to it, and it's this philosophy, it’s the way you approach life, the way you have conversations, it was almost like that siloed scope got widened. I started approaching everything in my life a little bit differently. So the easiest thing that happened is I stopped judging myself based on how well this product is being produced when I wasn't even the person that was making it. I was trying to find somebody who had the food science background or chemistry, and I was letting myself judge myself based off of how somebody else created a product, and it was just so disjointed and discombobulated and again, a lot of like suffering and self-doubt.
But as soon as I started thinking about it as a human, then it's like, “Okay. Regardless of how the product goes, how am I talking to people? How am I conducting myself? How hard am I working at this but also how hard am I working at being the best person I am, being the best son I can be, all these different layers?” That in and of itself, making up who Sam is, the human, to then translate to Hazlo the human. Lo and behold, a month later, that's when the formula was finished, and it just kind of was that alignment piece where all the dominoes started falling, and things came together.
Again, quick shout out to my formulator, Eden, the head of the mixology department of The Violet Hour. She made an incredible product, and finding her was a part of that path to self-discovery in 2019 that's ongoing. But it was incredible how having my scope widened and seeing it a little bit differently ended up completing this thing of finishing the product that I was judging myself based off of up until then.
Cristina: That's such a wonderful approach to not get stuck on the company is the product because it's true. The company is not the product. Also, because it's going to change if you actually want to keep growing and doing everything that a human life throws at you. Things are going to happen, and the company is going to have to adapt. So if it were stuck on this like, “But this is the product, and everything is the product,” now any change becomes a huge moment of resistance, a huge moment of trying to stop change, trying to stop the world from turning really.
Sam: It's almost like an identity crisis, right? Where if you're defining it by that, any change that needs to be made, it just makes you question everything up until that point. You kind of unravel at the seams. But if you're not solely putting your identity in this one place and everything there, you're much more malleable and agile to navigate it better.
Alex: Your journey mirrors so many that I've seen, including my own, including Cristina's, including even Raechel, who has also started a business. We've all gone through a very similar process, and it wasn't really even intentional. It’s just you end up very much kind of associating your identity to what you're doing and you have that. In the metaphor of the business being a person, associating the business to the product is putting your value, everything that it is externalized. I mean, it is this thing. Rather than the entity in the living thing that is the business, it is the actual product, which is more a byproduct, so to speak, of the business.
I've seen this play out many times and I really like your description of it because it just resonates very deeply with the idea of like you focus on these things that are external, you feel like your identity is external, and it takes that moment of like just I'm really not happy with this. I've felt it. I think, Cristina, we went through this a little bit when we were transitioning and creating more of Siamo. You really kind of boil it down to basics. I really liked how you described it as being like this siloed approach to personal growth because that feels like a really important part of I've got to take this one down to basics. When you do, you can expand much faster because you're operating from a totally different foundation than you were before.
Sam: Absolutely. I think it's to keep expanding on what my personal journey was during this time. I fell in love with the story that I had of I'm this guy somewhat successful in the software sales room that had an idea for a tequila mixer, and I'm doing these things. I put so much stock in the ability to say things like, “Hey, I've got this mixer brand that I'm making. But, oh, don't worry. I'm also successful and I am making money. I'm not just a struggling entrepreneur.” Almost like I was trying to elevate myself personally or my opinion of myself through this story that I would tell internally and externally.
That was such a siloed piece where it's like if I'm just the guy that works in software that has a tequila mixer company that he's building, it wasn't even like I have a tequila mixer company, anytime someone would say I had a tequila mixer company, I'll be like, “Oh, not yet. It’s an idea. We're working on it. We're in –” Because I wanted to conserve this like I wouldn't judge myself off of having a company because like, boom, automatic failure that pass / fail test. But I had this whole identity built up around there, and it created, one, a lot of just suffering and really judging myself based off of how I thought other people were going to perceive me in this way I would present myself. But it also kept me in that rut of just being the guy that like had an idea that he was working on, as opposed to actually doing the company, like having a company building a product, right?
I still had a company to go back to this whole human thing. There was a company there that was formed. It was forming everything there, and we were productizing. But I never wanted to acknowledge that because that would mean that, one, I have to be the guy that has a company, and I didn't feel like I've met that stature yet. It's an interesting process, the way that the human brain works and articulates the stories to make us feel more comfortable about where we're at and where we're going.
Cristina: It almost sounds like you gave yourself permission to create Hazlo and be the creator of it.
Sam: Absolutely. I think the turning point really came in September or October of 2019. I moved from San Francisco back to Chicago. I did it because I was starting this business. I was doing it, and July hits, right? We're in July, but then I moved in early February. So actually, it's a similar timeframe to when I moved to Denver, and here we'll get to that part too. But I was working with this person in LA who's building a product. It just wasn't working. We weren't seeing eye to eye. There was just a lot of miscommunication. I end up breaking the partnership. We go our separate ways.
I spent three months kind of just floating in the ether and I was talking to a bunch of other people that were formulators as well. It’s just I would get to the point of like, “Here's the contract. Here's everything.” I would just in my gut was like, “This is going to be the exact same situation as the last one.” They’re saying they know what I'm talking about, everything. But there's no – It just feels like it's going to be the same situation. So I just would choose not to go with them. Then September hits, and I'm like, “Okay. Well, I guess this isn't happening.” I threw my hands in the air and was like, “Well, I'm not going to keep beating my head against the wall when this just doesn't feel right.” I moved in with a couple friends in Chicago with a really short term, like three months. I was going to move to Colorado and just ski bum it for six months for the ski season because I didn't know what I was going to do. I knew I didn't want to be working in software anymore. Business didn't seem like it was going to work out.
To go back to what you said to kind of trigger this, I allowed – I gave myself permission. It’s okay now that you aren’t building this business. It's okay that everything's not perfect, and this thing you wrote out in the script is not going according to the script. I get a text or I get an email from Eden. I mentioned her earlier, but we had spoken on the phone in June, like when I was working on this formulator with the other formulator prior to — parting ways. We had a quick phone conversation. We tried to set up coffee. She's in the beverage world. She works at The Violet Hour but also does a lot of other things within the beverage community of Chicago. I get a text in early October like, “Hey, I'm free on Thursday. Let's grab coffee.” Instantly, I'm like, “There’s no way I'm going to this meeting.” The whole premise of this was like me building this business and us talking as entrepreneurs. I put my hands in the air. I thought, “Wait. Doesn't everyone know I'm not an entrepreneur anymore? Why are you contacting me about this stuff?”
Everything told me not to go. But it’s like a four-month build up that I just was like, “You know what? We're going to do it. Let's just see what happens. I'll go have a coffee with her. Worst case scenario, I spend 30 minutes maybe making a new friend. We’ll go our separate ways. Sit down to coffee, and she just casually asks me how things are going.” I legitimately just reflexively start spilling everything, like 20 minutes nonstop Sam talking of how everything's just not working. I can't – I want to make this thing. No one can make it for me. I'm so frustrated. I don't know what I’m doing. I think I'm moving to Denver, Colorado. It’s just this whole 20-minute thing, and she just let me go, didn't interrupt for a second.
Then finally, I came to a close. She pauses and looks at me and is like, “Sam, first, I just want to say as an entrepreneur to an entrepreneur, I empathize with you. This is super challenging and tough and what you're going through,” to go back to what Alex said, “Like it's really similar to what a lot of other people have gone through. So I'm here for you. Also, I don't know if you knew this but I have a beverage company or a consulting company that does beverage formulation. I love your idea. I think I can make a great product for you. Do you want to go?” I remember just sitting back and like my first instinct being like, “Why did you not say something sooner? Why did you let me just go for this long and not say something?” But from that meeting, my plan was to do a couple months in Chicago, go to Colorado, ski bum, and then just kind of like whatever. I just had no plan whatsoever.
Within a 30-minute coffee meeting, I had almost all of the questions that I've been asking about this business, this world answered. It was no guarantee, right? We still had to go through the legalities and the contract negotiations and everything. But I remember just walking out of that coffee meeting. I'm getting chills right now – I remember walking out of that coffee meeting and choosing to not go home or not take an Uber and just walk for 30 minutes just to decompress on what just happened. It was one of the first moments in my life where I actually felt like I was present in the moment. Get caught up in my head and everything going on. I just remember walking home and putting on some music and just shaking my head, like that really didn't really just happen just like that. There's no way that this is how this is going to go. It didn't follow my script, so like this can't be how this is working, right?
But it all ties back to that. I just gave up on making sure an outcome was perfect, and I gave up on following my scripts and being open to throwing away the new script I wrote. I was like, “Hey, ski bumming in Colorado. It’s going to be amazing. But I probably shouldn't leave right now. I probably should see this through and see where we're going with everything.” So that was a long, long way to say it definitely was like just me releasing control and giving myself permission to fail and to just kind of find a new path that’s not just based off of the script that I've written.
Alex: I’d love to explore it more and figure out if there's any reason to try it. But it feels like that is such a common storyline of like the moments. Literally, it seems like it takes often less than like a month between being like, “All right, this isn't for me. I'm changing my story up. This is all.” You relinquish control. So often, I don't know how this seems to almost magically happen. So often, that is when things suddenly start to really line up. Suddenly, all these external things that have just basically seem like you're banging your head against the wall suddenly pull back together. It’s such a – I don't know. I don't understand how or why and I'd love to understand the research on if it’s just all mindset differences. We come across so much differently when we let go of that control. Maybe it's just so much easier for people to engage with us.
But you've given a really great illuminating story of why stories and the stories we tell about ourselves are so important and what happens when we let that go, and when we relinquish a level of control, and then find some of the answers that we were yanking on those reins to go find for so long.
Sam: I've reflected on this a lot. Honestly, replaying this meeting because it was so many things lined up perfectly from that 30-minute coffee meeting. I think so much of it is that permission, right? It's kind of like putting your guard down. I don't need to pretend anymore or put up this front. When you allow your guard to be down, you're an authentic human being again. You can have empathy. You can articulate what's going on, and it's almost as if you're giving somebody else permission to be their authentic self too. So I think in that moment when I just reflexively just said everything, like I was not trying to impress her. I was not trying to come off as this put together human being. I was just the mess that is Sam. This colossal what is going on, fiery ball of whatever.
I think her seeing that, I think she saw that I wasn't trying to be something I'm not and I was indirectly was just asking for help. Just admitting like I don't know what's going on. I don't know where I'm headed. That’s that. I don’t have an and or a but or any finish to that sentence. I'm just lost. That allows somebody to come in and be like, “Here, let me help you get to this next portion.” I really think that if I had done anything other than just download and fully put everything out there, I think we would have casually had a small talk conversation about nothing. Shaking hands, walked away, and that wouldn't be that.
Cristina: I have so many thoughts about all of this. I'm trying to figure out if I can remember two of them. The other ones are going to go away. But on the giving ourselves permissions or something that you mentioned is “why does it always happen that in the minute we release, the answer comes or the solution comes or whatever it is that we're looking for that we were holding on so badly?”. As soon as we are willing to walk away, it actually shows up. I remember Deepak Chopra actually talked about that quite a bit in his books. I think it was about 15 years ago when I was listening to them. He talked about this area, this time, where you slip into the gap. The gap, if you think about something like remembering the title of a movie or the name of an actor or the name of your third grade teacher, and you know it's on the tip of your tongue, and it just doesn't quite come out, and the gap is the minute you're like, “Yup, giving up. I'm going to go get a Hazlo in the fridge and make myself a tequila.” That’s when you remember, as soon as you release this focus on wanting to remember it. That’s one thought. Of course, I forgot the other five that I had.
The second one, which I'm going to say because I do remember, it's I just listened to Simon Sinek’s latest podcast episode, I think it was at the end of June, on failure as entrepreneurs especially. I think it's with Suneel Gupta, I want to say. I hope I pronounced the name right. Suneel is a serial failure entrepreneur. Then finally, he became successful. But when he finally let go and realized what the magic formula to become successful was when he was invited as the keynote speaker to FailCon, which apparently, it's a conference on failed startups. That’s when he was like, “Wait, I need to be the keynote speaker. I'm that famous now for failing in every startups I found.” But he realized that the success came when he stopped trying to build businesses based on what he thought he needed to do and started focusing on what would make him come alive. That was kind of where a lot of VCs and people he was talking to finally also recognized, was the successful businesses are the ones that don't focus on the sales, the products, the whatever the market is going to take, and how do I sell this, and all this business stuff. They're the ones where the founders do what makes them come alive.
When you talk about your journey, all I could think of was like, “Oh, my god. He’s so alive. This is making him come alive.”
Sam: I love that. I mean not to dive directly into another story, but it reminds me so much of the decision I made to go forward as a craft mixer for tequila and being just only that. I think still to this day, I would say two out of every three people that I tell like this business is a product they have and everything. They’re like, “So why just tequila?” They’ll even be like, “Lime and mint, isn’t that a mojito? Shouldn’t this be with rum?” It is like a natural conversation from there. I think like leading up to, and this was that moment in like coffee or whatever, it sounds like this breakthrough. There was a lot more of just – The journey did not stop there in terms of all the breakthroughs.
But I just remember I would keep hearing these things. It’s like, “Okay. Well, everyone can be wrong, right? If it’s just a general mixer, that'd be great. I would just change the way I was talking about things and the way I would describe it. To your point, like I noticed the reaction I would get from people was like the most benign, just mute thing. But they were like, “Okay,” and then we just moved on. I remember thinking about that and being like, “Why does no one care about this anymore? Why is no one kind of like taking the bait?” It was because I was not reacting to it. It was coming out of my mouth as like this just very neutral thing that I was starting to kind of just say what I thought everyone else wanted to hear, as opposed to what I wanted to say.
There was a podcast that I heard. There's the Tim Ferriss Show, one of my favorite podcasts. He did an interview with Seth Godin, a really well known author and blogger. But Seth Godin has this amazing quote. Actually, coincidentally, I have said this to three friends in the last 24 hours. I'm going to go through some things right now too that it's coming top of mind, but he says that everyone approaches problems or what to do with their life. The question they pose, if you could do anything, what would you do? This is very open-ended, where every single thing in the world is an option, where you're almost overwhelmed with choices and probably just default to what's easiest or where you're already doing. It’s like, “This is fine. I'm good with doing this.” But he argues that the way that you should or not you should. Or a better way to approach the problem is if you're going to fail no matter what, like no matter what you did, what path you took, or what approach you took, what would you still do anyway?
I remember hearing that again. It's similar like wow moments of the Todd Carmichael thing where it's like, “I want to go all in on being a tequila mixer. Who cares about this mixer company or this general mixer company, and it just has no personality or no fire? When I talk about tequila, I get excited.” That energy is something that people feed off of. So if I'm going to fail no matter what, if this business is just going to go south no matter what, I definitely don't want to go south as the mixer company that I thought everyone else wanted. I want to go all in on what I created and where I was at. That was another moment where just like I heard the podcast, I started talking to my dad, and I just remember him like giving me a side eye. He’s like, “I think you're onto something,” and that was just another fire under my blood to keep moving in the direction.
Alex: That’s such a perfect example of exactly that, just the moment you find that story for yourself. I think you've hit the nail on the head there. There is a bunch of just reflective energy on that. I think people are going to – We’re all bombarded with products all day long. You see them on my Instagram all day long. You see them on every website you've ever gone to. You see it in TV, ads, radio, whatever. You see 10,000 products sent your way. Even just like a physical amount of energy that you have, you can only respond to so many. It's way easier if it's something that is that engaging, and that's a really great explanation of why it helps so much to be invested in what you want to be doing. It’s not just that that feels good. The reason that it ends up succeeding because that feels good, because that's where you're going to be able to produce the right amount of energy that people are going to respond to. They're going to want to see more about this.
I mean, we got to learn a ton about tequila mixing and tequila mixers, just through our first conversation with you. I mean, it's fascinating stuff, it’s something you're very invested in, and it’s very easy to have conversations with people who are excited about things. I mean, I think we can all relate to that experience of looking across the table and seeing that person with their face just lit up, whatever it is. It could be literally anything and it's just so fun to be around. Then you've kind of touched on exactly why that ends up working out when you distill it down to something that is aligned with your values, aligned to something you care about. It’s so much easier to talk about. It’s so much easier to get people on board with, just because it's there for you. You like it. It likes you. It’s a nice symbiotic relationship.
I'd be curious to know, in your own personal values that you've been kind of developing, how have you infused that in Hazlo? I mean, how's that journey been like? You’ve been kind of defining yourself. How have you been translating some of that? With the open-ended caveat that we all know that like these things change or we are going to change, our businesses are going to change. So not to say that this has to be set in stone, but I'm just curious what the initial journey has felt like.
Sam: It's been a winding road as these usually are. I think just kind of to 1,000 feet up for the listeners here, we're focusing in on the last couple years, but I've kind of always been somebody just really interested in figuring out the best way to be myself, right? A lot of that was just me trying to work really hard, checking the boxes that other people wanted, and focusing a lot on external. There was kind of this progression of realizing like I still feel terrible when I do the thing and succeed at what I think I'm supposed to be succeeding at. As this evolution was happening, I'd have conversations with people about core values. I remember like I would be guessing at what core values they wanted me to say. That would be like where I was. I would try to answer the question and what I thought they were thinking was like the most important core values.
That would end up with me just – Probably like 40 different core values were said during this time. I can't even remember any of them. None of them were really personal to me, and it was when I started kind of trying to get to know myself. I was reflecting on what are the areas that I think I need the most focus on and not necessarily what are my weaknesses. But I kind of saw core values as a way to wake myself up to recognize where I needed to pay attention to and where I could best steer myself and avoid making mistakes and falling into bad habits. The first core value that came to mind was honesty. It kind of goes perfectly with what I was just saying, where I was answering questions based off of what I thought other people wanted to hear. Nothing about that was honest or truthful to who I was. I just remember just a decision was made that I want to lead with honesty every second of every day and just kind of put myself out there. That was like the core, the first thing, the first pillar that was built, and just like having conversations with people and not to give more details on this.
I was the type of guy that like I would get a 92 on a math exam. Depending on who I was talking to about the math exam, if I thought they did better than me, I would say like I probably got a 95. If I thought they did worse than me, I would take it down to like a 82 just to kind of like raise and lower levels based off of that. I lived my life for whatever 20 some odd years like that. It was exhausting. It was so just taxing mentally and emotionally to constantly be just like morphing myself every second of every day. So that was the first kind of most important thing that I made a decision that I just wanted to be honest at all times.
Then came – That was the only one that was really there. I think that was a pretty good overarching value but actually took a values assessment. I can't remember the name of it, but it was forced in of the previous companies I worked for. I think it's like based off of the 30 different values here, like the ones who score the highest in. The one that was like the overarching category was like love. I remember just sitting looking at that screen and being like, “Yeah, I love people. I love things. I love sports. I love –” There’s most of I'm a very kind of emotional love forward person. You ask any of my friends. I'm a big hugger, a big – I want to embrace people. To go based off of the honesty thing, like that felt true as like the second pillar to me.
Then as I started filling it out and I didn't want to just pick on the site, we're getting to four. I guess I should have prefaced that. There's four total that I'm going to talk about. The next one, I just wanted to still in that same vein of how to live my life, how to just focus my energy and attention. I chose a pretty general one, hard work. So much of that built on like the previous one of honesty, and that I played sports growing up. I've worked at several different jobs and in school and everything. I never felt like I gave a 100% max effort at anything I did. It was like I would try. I would almost try to create myself to failure and give myself an excuse as to why I didn't succeed in that moment. So I wanted to just focus. Let's just 100% max it. We’re hardw-working. We do our best at everything no matter what, whatever that level is.
That kind of leads perfectly into my final one, which is courage and just this – I think so much, and it's probably been interwoven through all these, right? It’s like the courage to be myself, the courage to just not try to do anything, the courage to try 100% and fail and be okay with it no matter what the outcome is, that is something that I feel like I lacked for a lot of my life. I was scared of failure. I was scared to be myself. I was afraid of being discovered as this fraud. But the courage, just saying that to myself every day is like, “Today, we're going to be courageous. Let’s go do something that otherwise in every other stage of my life I probably would have opted out of or given myself some excuse as to why I didn't try or do something.”
Those are the core values that I'd recite to myself every morning and night. I follow the Napoleon Hill money statement, and I say that to myself in the morning and night. I remember when I would say the money statement before I had my core values figured out. Then I remember saying the money statement after – I was like, “Okay, I'm going to get this money but like only through living this way. There’s no I can't. These things have to be connected.” It's a good, consistent reminder for me on how I want to approach the day. Again, I'd like to go back to the first thing we talked about, which is building the human, right? How do I want to interact with everybody at all times.
Cristina: It’s such an important piece to do that work to figure out what the values are. It's interesting because we're big believers in using values to drive pretty much anything; life decisions, a company, how you interact with people, how you show up, how you figure out when you're not showing up at your best, and what's causing that. I'm sure there's data and research out there, but it's way deeper than just a paper or a report or a scientific finding. It's like what you described, is when you were not being honest, and honesty is one of your top values, and it's the first one you mentioned. So it is your top value. Then it's the disturbance. It's that your life is not going the way it's supposed to be. Things are harder. You don't feel well. All these things happen, so that's the data. That's the information of why doing the values work is vital, and keep doing it. So it's like you said. It’s not just a one-time thing. It’s recite them every morning. See how I feel thinking about money, when the value is versus not.
Then in the company, the human, the company, it’s the same way. So when you have values that, as we all know, a lot of times are nice and pretty and perfect words on websites and posters, but what are you actually doing? What's the human company doing to live by them? Is one team a value on a poster, but then everybody's siloed and can't talk to each other? Is honesty a value on the poster, and then we go and we oversell and under deliver? You can't do that because this disturbance becomes the energy of the company. People feel that, don't want to work in that. Even when they think they do, they really don't.
Sam: I think it ties back perfectly to what Alex was talking about earlier about that energy that you feel when you're talking to someone. They're being true to who they are. Your example of the – I think we've all worked at companies where there's these pretty pristine, like you mentioned, the poster. They say all these amazing values and just no idea what it means. Zero clue and like how do I act in that arena. That disturbance you're talking about, I think it shows up in so many ways, whether it's me as a former salesperson trying to sell a product, and I don't necessarily know. I don't understand the values, so how do I know how to articulate the product and really have enthusiasm about it and be authentic with it?
Then also from an inter-company type of environment, like how do I interact with my coworkers? How do I know how to hold somebody else accountable? How do I know if I'm acting in a way that's going to be held accountable? I think it's just so – There are so many layers to it, and I completely agree in the importance of it.
Alex: I'm going to go ahead and answer my own using your stories. I was wondering how it always seems like it works out when we start to let go of things. When I think about it, especially in reflection, your story when you talked with Eden was her name.
Sam: Eden, yup.
Alex: Yeah. When you had that conversation with Eden, I think one of the reasons that it ends up working out so well is that when you let go of everything, what is left and what is going to be there are your values. When you had that conversation with Eden, all four of your values were on display in spades on that one. I mean, it takes full honesty. You just let the mess of your life be the mess of what you wanted to say, and you just got it out. It took incredible courage just to do that and to go have the meeting where you're like, “I'm not even sure I'm going to have this meeting.” You’re discouraged to get there. Hard work to get through that. You decide, “You know what? I had this idea in the script that I was going to go move to Colorado and be a ski bum on this for a few months, that'll I'll figure it out after that.” You have the determination to change that and just the love of the products to go reinvest into this. I mean, all four were suddenly there because you'd let go of everything that wasn't that.
Maybe that is why it ended up working out so often when we do let go because no matter what we let go of, those core values are really, truly there. That’s why it's so helpful to know our core values because that way, we can start to guide from there. But when we do let go, that's what's kind of guiding us anyway. I think that's a fascinating aspect of your story, just how heavily on display all of those values that you explained very well were in that very pivotal moment of getting back into Hazlo.
Sam: I've never made that connection before, personally, and all the reflections that I've been doing on it. So I really appreciate you saying that. I think your point of if you release and give yourself permission and all that's left is your values, I love that. I love that idea and that premise because it's – I think that is what core values are. It’s your core. There’s no just engineering around it. It's all just put on display. Now, I'm running through all these other times and pivotal moments and like realizing the consistent theme of that really being what was, I lead with in order to allow for these positive outcomes to come.
Cristina: It’s a great way to actually figure out what the core values are. So do the reverse exercise. What moments that I let go and whatever I had been looking for or whatever script I created was put on its head, and I get exactly what I wanted and what I had been looking for. So what led to that, how did I show up, and that's the core values. From a company perspective, as a human, what I really love about that is the fact that if you do the work as a company to figure out the values and not just define and put them on a poster, put some standard words around them, make them all pretty, but figure out like how do we live by these every single day, every single person in the company. How do we hold ourselves accountable, like you said, when we go off because we're humans? As the company and as humans, we're not always – Even if honesty is one of my values, I'm not going to be 100% honest all the time. It's just the way it is. Whether it's a white lie or not, it's just not going to happen. So how do I hold myself accountable and how do others hold me accountable when they notice that we did not act according to our values?
That’s when you can realize, “Hey, is this client the right fit? Oh, it seemed like the right fit when we went through the sales process, and it's turning out not to be okay.” As a company, there's a decision to be made. Go back to your values. That's how you make that decision. You can keep the client and set boundaries based on your values, or you can walk away, depending on how much they've been challenged. When a project goes south, when people are – When there's a pandemic, go back to your values and figure out what you're going to do as a company. That's your answer. It's like you said. You shed everything else and you let it go. Your answer is right there, staring at your face, and I'm not passionate about values at all.
Sam: I felt it. We all took a moment to just absorb what came through the screen there. I think it's so powerful. Just from a personal standpoint, from a company standpoint. If you're failing or sputtering or just feel like you're not making progress in certain areas, just take a pause. What am I doing? Am I living by my value, right? Like it's such an easy way to like find that compass to point you back to the direction you want to go. Then like you said, from even both standpoints of a decision making process, like how much easier can it get to make a decision? Does it go against any of these things that we hold so valuable? Our values, like it's so powerful and thinking about the companies that I admire and really look up to and try to emulate. From what I can tell, that's where they've really kind of figured it out and understand that that's every step of the way we're leading in this way.
Alex: It’s a fascinating conversation. Thank you so much for joining us, Sam. I'm pretty sure we could talk about this for another four hours and likely will over some tequila at some point, with a mixer to be named.
Sam: Yeah, to be named later. Fill up the blank. It only costs X amount of dollars.
Cristina: It's really good. Go buy it.
Alex: But one thing we will have to ask people, and you've done a great job of illuminating a lot of this already, but just if you have kind of a summarized version almost. We love to ask everybody what your definition of authenticity is, what that means to you.
Sam: You guys are challenging me with a summarized version. I think you know I can pontificate on this for a long time.
Cristina: It's not three words only. You can go on for a while.
Sam: Yeah. I think authenticity is in the simplest form of being your true self and to go off of a lot of what we talked about. Not feeling like you need to put up a front and not putting up a front and not pretending in things torn down to whatever's left, which is the core values, as we discussed. But I think it's just, in the simplest form, being your true self and being okay with being your true self.
Cristina: Great summary.
Alex: Yeah, I liked it.
Sam: Thank you. You challenge me. I try to rise to the challenge when I can. This is a lot of fun. Like you said, we probably will do parts two, three, four, and five over some tequila and Hazlo.
Cristina: Yes. So where can people find you?
Alex: Which brings us to the part we’ve hit a dew times.
Cristina: Oh, sorry.
Alex: Yes, exactly. That's exactly it. That brings us to our other point. Where do people find you?
Cristina: Where do people find you?
Sam: I would love if as many people as possible can follow the Hazlo Instagram account. It’s @drinkhazlo, and Hazlo is spelled H-A-Z-L-O. I also do some personal things on LinkedIn, as well as Instagram. I think how we started having these conversations was we connected over LinkedIn. So that's a great way to find me. If you type in Hazlo on LinkedIn, there's only one employee. It's yours truly. So you'll find me really easily that way. Then on Instagram, I'm @do_smoore. S. Moore is my initials. My nickname in high school is smores, so we tried to include that.
I'm going to finish with this because we talked about it pre-recording and didn't put it in, but Hazlo is a Spanish word that means DO IT, and so very action-oriented. You can probably now reflect on the things I've been talking about and why that word means so much to me and why it became the name of my company. But, yeah, Hazlo on Instagram, LinkedIn. We're elsewhere but those are probably the best places to find me.
Cristina: Well, I love the explanation. I was about to ask you, so you beat me to it about what Hazlo means.
Sam: Same wavelength.
Sam: It only took us an hour. We're grooving.
Cristina: It took us about a minute in the first conversation but sure.
Sam: That’s right.
Cristina: Two hours plus a minute. But, yeah, it's awesome. I love the name. I mean, clearly, given our company's name being Italian, that means something, that really resonates with us. Probably our biggest core value is finding that you did the same thing. You found a name that means exactly the core of what the company as a human. It's the human.
Am: Well, I think in these next parts I'll talk about discovering that word and the origin story of it all because that in and of itself is another word. But I feel like I've talked enough, guys.
Cristina: Part two.
Alex: We’ll leave that as a teaser for part two.
Sam: Yeah, there we go. I love it.
Alex: Thank you so much for joining us, Sam. Thank you so much, everybody, for listening. It's been a wonderful conversation.
Cristina: Thank you.
Sam: Yeah. Thanks, guys. We'll do this again soon.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
Cristina: Thank you for listening to Uncover the Human, a Siamo podcast.
Alex: Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard, Jake Lara, and our score creator, Raechel Sherwood.
Cristina: If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review, and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts.
Alex: We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas, or questions. You can reach us at email@example.com or at our website, wearesiamo.com, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook. We Are Siamo is spelled W-E A-R-E S-I-A-M-O.
Cristina: Until next time, listen to yourself, listen to others, and always uncover the human.
Founder & CEO at Hazlo
Sam is an entrepreneur, lover of philosophy, and seeker of adventure. He believes that there is beauty in everything and his purpose is to help others find the beauty in their lives.