Drinking Guayaki Tea with Sasha Raskin – A Leading Coach in Boulder

Drinking Guayaki Tea with Sasha Raskin – A Leading Coach in Boulder

Sasha: Are you familiar with Guayaki? Have you heard of Yerba Mate before? It’s not the tea, it’s South American kind of loose tea. They’re the biggest company in the world for that. It may be interesting for you to meet with the owner. 

Octavian: Ah, Guayaki? I haven’t heard of it before.

Sasha: You can see the products in probably every store that’s here. They have yellow cans. They’re my sponsors in a different project that I’m doing.

 Octavian: Oh, super cool. How do they sponsor you?

So I started a record label and I’m a musician as well. I started a program here in Boulder called Natural Highs for kids as part of substance abuse prevention and providing healthier alternatives for “getting high.” Music is one [alternative], it releases a good amount of nice neuro-chemicals. So they can record for free in my recording studio and the grants cover it. Guayaki gives free mate and gourds.

Wow! That’s so exciting. Just yesterday when I was running I was listening to Greg Plitt, he’s passed on, he’s also a motivational speaker, and that’s what he said “I don’t need to shoot up for this, I don’t need to snort it, I just wake up and I put in my best! [That gives me fuel].” 

Yeah exactly, because it’s available but I think the tendency to think that it needs to be something outside [of yourself], or you need to pay a lot of money for it, or it needs to be illegal.

Right, that’s what I’ve started to realize slowly and surely, that it’s all inside. What inspired you to set this thing up for kids?

Well, it’s a good question. I discovered music when I was 9, and when I was 14 I started composing and recording.

What instruments were you using to record?

A lot, I sing, I use the keyboard, and I work with the computer.

I used to mess around with FL Studio and Ableton so I may know a little bit about what you were up to.

Yeah, so I started recording a lot of instruments, singing, music composition, and so I started releasing my own music. Music for theatre, for movies. It’s great, when I was a teenager I had the chance to have a few mentors that changed my life but mostly it was a lack of…

A lack of?

A lack of grown-ups that could support me around that and growing up. I’m happy to be that person and give my help with that. It’s so empowering. You’re a musician too and if you think, or how would it feel? I don’t know, did you release music so far?

Yeah I was kind of surprised that you knew that, I have two or three songs on YouTube, SoundCloud.

Yeah so how did that feel for you when you released them? Like finished and released?

It felt really good. I mean just yesterday when I was going home, this woman that I had met at a yoga studio when I was living in Virginia, she sent me a recording of her listening to my flute, and I’m hearing my flute playing and I’m like “what the heck?” That’s kind of weird to get that as a message.

That’s so cool, and it comes back to you.

Yeah and as I was listening to it I was thinking “aww this is so cute. Who is this? Is this her son playing a recorder?” I’m like “no way! That’s my Native American flute. That’s me. Oh, that’s nice.” That’s how I felt, it did feel empowering, like I was there in a way. I was driving home I mean when I got the message, but I was also there making her happy. She really loved it and wants to make a movie with me.

Yeah, so for a teenager to have a song on Spotify when they’re like 15, 16, it’s like you walk around in the world with such a thought of accomplishment. When you think about the next things: “should I go to college? Oh I don’t know. Well, I have a song published, I finished that.” It’s power.

How did you find out that it’s so empowering? What was your experience with making music?

Well, it was kind of back-and-forth. I was very shy. My story is a story of Russian-Jewish family immigrating to Israel and immigration was very tough. So it was very isolated. My parents were busy with survival, financially and emotionally. I was kind of by myself and it was hard for me to connect with the locals. It was easier to connect with immigrants, but finding music it was this world with its own rules and I can just dive deep into it.

I was painting and writing all my life, but I feel I didn’t have this ability to directly touch emotions and souls of people with that type of art. With music something magical happened and I was able to have this strong and direct connection.
Wow, I’m so glad to hear about all of this and learn about it. What was your connection with making the music and touching people? What’s your intention behind it?

It’s interesting I held an interview with Eric Clapton, like 15 years ago. He was talking about him and his friends, “none of us started music because of good noble reasons. We all wanted booze and girls and what not.” So I had this “oh I need to be rich and famous” attitude, as well as it feels so good to create things. I can go and not be in my head so much. Then it started transforming and I started a band, worked with other people, and built a community around the band. It was like “oh, I can have friendships that are based on common interests.” So that felt very nice. [As well as] producing others, at a young age, and seeing how their ideas are manifesting into reality with my help.

So it seems like you’ve got a pretty good foundation, you do painting, music, you’re a life coach, do you ever come across challenges in your life and how do you overcome them?

That’s a good question. My biggest challenge today is being here on an international student Visa, which is going to run out in May next year. So I feel like my clock is ticking. I moved here to do a Master’s program in psycho therapy and I’m now finishing a certificate in marriage-family therapy, and I have a therapy practice and a coaching practice. The business is great and I feel I’m helping people, lots of friends, good community, good romantic relationship, and I feel like I need to leave all of this very soon. So that’s my challenge, basically how to stay here.

Gosh, that’s a difficult one. I mean, I immigrated here when I was a child it took like a decade to get the Green Card squared away. That was a long process in itself, so I really feel for you, it can be a little nerve-wracking.

I feel like with your profession it would be easier to get a work visa?

So the challenge with a work visa is that even if I get it, I will still need to go for a lottery, after getting it.

Oh really? Are you serious?

Yes, so I have the privilege of having additional advantages because I have a Master’s degree.

Yeah you’re educated so…

Only 2 out of 5 of people with my Master’s degree get a work visa after they found someone to sponsor them.

Oh, God… Ah… Okay I remember that process. My dad was sponsored for like a decade, so yeah…

Even with that, even if I get the sponsorship, I can not have my own business. I was not employed for 20 years, it’s always been my own businesses. Right now I have 5 different businesses. They’re overly successful and I love them. I can not imagine myself working for others. That’s one thing. The second thing is if I’m for some reason laid off, then I need to leave. There’s no way for me to find another work visa within such a short time, within a month. So it’s like living on a… yeah, it’s not very sustainable.

Yeah it was hard for my father because being laid off wasn’t an option, especially after we came here. So no matter how crappy your employer may get, you have to stick with it. It’s really crazy.

Exactly. Do you mind if I get my tea, and would you like some?

Yes, please.

[Tea intermission]

…It doesn’t really have any effect on me actually. I moved to Israel when I was 7, then the connection between Israel and the U.S. is very good.

Ah, I see so that’s what you’re working with there? An Israel citizenship?

Yes.

That makes sense. I’ll head out soon by the way, my roommate needed a ride to work at 12.

Ah that’s sweet. I would love to hear from you too, besides the interview. How was your interview? You interviewed for a company?

Yes, I did. Thank you for remembering. I did well, I pretty much have the position should the paperwork and everything work out. There was an issue with it twice, once because I added in my middle name after writing in my first and last in pen, and then the second time I scratched out a date I wrote incorrectly, so I get a call from them yesterday. I’m like “oh my God, I can’t believe this.”

It must be annoying that you got the job and then…

I know right, I can’t believe this because I haven’t had that happen before with jobs. I’m sure I’ve scratched things out before, it’s normal. Who’s going to forge a date on a job application? So yeah it was a bit disheartening, but yesterday I went out to a café, writing a story just like this, and they told me they’re name was one thing when they came here, but they go by a different spelling to make it less confusing.

Not to mention that they also have their middle name on some documents and not on others. So I’m like wow, I’m not the only one going through this craziness.

My partner switched her middle name to her first name and the same kind of discussion [came up], so definitely not alone with this.

Are you serious? I can’t imagine what trying to switch it might be like. How did you get into sex therapy and stuff?

So my partner is a couple and sex therapist. I do it a little bit as well as a therapist, because I’m a family and couples’ therapist. Right? People don’t talk about it, which is kind of interesting. Like finances, they’re huge in life and most parents have not talked about finances at all. Except some education on how to do a budget, people got some very interesting messages when growing up but no real knowledge that money is equal to survival.

This tea is really good by the way, thank you.

Good, I’m happy.

You know, in regards to not getting the finance education from parents. I don’t think I did myself but I guess it would have really helped. When I was in middle school there was like this program, I forget what it was called [JA Finance]. There was this book and the teacher would make sure you’re filling out this notebook with hypothetical groceries and bills, and at the end of the year you got to go to this place called JA Finance park. It looks like a small bank, grocery shop, small trading stock place that you go into buy stocks and see how you do.

That’s really cool,

I thought it was, but the implementation of it was so shoddy. I feel that it didn’t much. I went on to buy stocks in high school, buy like AMD it went up 66% in 3 weeks, nobody mentions stocks in finances. They pay be talking about how to pay your phone bill and how to budget for it, but that’s not building wealth, that’s just surviving.

Yeah, good for you.

Oh thank you. I haven’t bought stocks again, actually at one point I got my friend half a Bitcoin, this was all in high school. I got myself half a Bitcoin too, I gambled it all away. He gambled away $10, made it back, so he had $50 worth. Then it shot up, it was worth $500 for him. If I hadn’t wasted it, I’d have $2,500 today off of that $50 bucks. So… yeah… (Laughs)

So actually I noticed you reference your partner as partner, and I’m curious if that’s because you’re mindful of he/she pronouns. Or?

No, it feels better to say than a girlfriend. I don’t know why. And she’s partner in so many other ways, she’s a business partner in so many other ways. We have a [music] bend together.

Oh I see, wow I really like that. That’s how I referenced to my girlfriend as, I mean in the past when I had one, partner. It was the same reason, like girlfriend? It didn’t jive that much.

It’s like for a lack of a better word. I saw your website, useallset.com. Did you pause it or?

Pause it? What do you mean?

Like do you still do it?

Yes, I still do it.

I’m curious why you went into finding a job or like..?

Um, [web development] is not as stable because I never really built like a steady method for getting clients. I’m not really searching right now for getting them, but  I feel like there’s a huge rift in web design, over-charging, and it would be easy to get everyone a webpage without overcomplicating it. I think that business owners shouldn’t have to know a lot of the things that they have to know right now to have a webpage. It should just work, like buying an iPhone, you don’t know how the microprocessor works, or what hard drive you need SSD or HDD, it doesn’t matter.

 So that’s something I’m working on the side. I also like to write, I write daily. I feel like that makes me more intentional.

Oh nice, what do you write?

I write about my day. It’s called storyofoctavian.com so I’ll literally about anyone that I meet, my thoughts, it’s been ridiculous I’ve been averaging like 4,000 words per post recently.

That’s insane.

Yeah.

I think it’s insane in a very good way.

Yeah, I mean sometimes it’s rough because I’m sitting there for 2 hours cranking out 4,000 words.

How about a book? That’s something I started writing yesterday.

That’s actually something I started writing yesterday.

Good, I actually have two coaching clients that are writing a book which is very exciting to support them through the process.

Oh I bet! What are they writing about?

One is writing a book about journaling and the benefits of writing. Different kinds of journals you could have.

Oh! No way!

Which is interesting because her struggle is to sit down and write. It’s counterintuitive because she’s instructing people how to write and she has the same problem. The other person is writing a book about… They’re actually doing two books, one about physics, the other is more of a philosophical discussion: is there God? Is there not a God? From different perspectives.

I will probably head out in 5 or so, but journaling is really powerful so I found that the easiest way is to just do it online. If it’s a [paper] journal I end up with 10 different ones, they get lost, my hand cramps up. I’m curious about your view on the second book, do you have an answer for yourself?

About religion?

Yes.

I think that any cosmology, any theory about the way the world is structured, is great as long as it solves you and makes you a better human being. I think it’s like even song classes, they all have different colors, I think as long as there’s not clinging to the theory, but “oh it’s something that I can use” and also holding the fact that it might not be true necessarily, or it might not be true always, and that at the end it’s a mental construct of humans.

If someone is extremely religious and it helps them be kinder to others and follow their passions, whatever that might be, then it’s great. If they’re religious and they prosecute Jews, like 500 years ago and come up with stuff like the inquisition, it’s not that helpful.

God, no…

But yes, that’s the intention, and how much clinging there is.

I like that. That’s kind of the Alan Watts’… I’m a huge fan of him.

Yeah, he’s so good.

He’d say if you want to be Buddhist, Taoist, have at it. My friend says that she’s a big fan of the Dalai Lama, and he says I was born a Buddhist but really my religion is kindness.

Hmm… I love this, I love it.

I love it absolutely. I noticed that you have a lot of these, I don’t know if it’s Chinese or Japanese, I’m curious how it came about into your life, what it means.

I love the idea of communicating complex messages in visual forms and concise forms, I think that’s my connection. I’m connected to the ideas that come from Asia a lot.

I see. It’s beautiful how much culture there can be in an Island or a small part of the world that evolved over thousands of years. My friend said that because it’s small at times it’s hard to find literature at times. I actually wanted to read some Japanese books just because it’s rare, refined, you know?

Have you read Murakami, it’s fiction actually. It’s not non-fiction. He’s probably the most famous Japanese writer. Very unique writer and nice flow.

Good, good, I’ll have to read him. Now I have a head-start. The last question I have, seeing that you are a creator, is what are you creating next? What are you working on right now?

So the first thing, I’m going to start my doctorate in family marriage and therapy. That’s very exciting. Also I start ADHD support groups now in Boulder, so that’s my next project. Almost all of my clients in coaching have ADHD, and me too, so I work a lot on brain chemistry and how those challenges can be worked with. As well as how to use the gifts of ADHD. I think it would be extremely supportive in high schools as well. I work mostly with adults that have ADHD.

Gosh, you know I wish there was some way I could help you stay here in America. I just want to go to somebody in the [immigration] office and wrangle them and say we need this man in America! He’s making America great! [I have no political affiliation, I was using the words America and great together before the existing president.]

That’s very sweet.

Yeah I’m really grateful for you taking the time to meet with me. It’s really inspirational to hear all of this great work that you’re doing. I myself didn’t know if I had ADHD in high school and what was going on, so I really salute you.

So you kind of suspect that you had it too?

Possibly but I’m of the idea that Michael Phelps had it, if you try and put him front of a computer and tell him to be a cubicle worker then he’s going to fail. So I feel that, I mean I didn’t know it before, but I can find other things. It’s like okay, just find a different outlet. You don’t have to be a cubicle worker [funny for me to say because I made for a good cubicle worker for a full year]. 

Since you like chai and things like that, I’ll go ahead and bring you some. I live just down the street.

 

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