We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonja Montiel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sonja, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Growing up as a very timid and anxious kid, learning the value of risk taking took some time. I am grateful for my father who presented opportunities for me (perhaps by force in some cases) to take on physical risks from climbing boulders and learning to be a soccer defender to skydiving and leaving home for college. These physical experiences built up my courage where I learned about my capabilities to endure and succeed. I also learned that my relationship with fear meant to lean in rather than run from.
Today, risk is to acknowledge my courage to:
– experience the unknown whether it is physical, emotional or relational,
– assess my outcomes however it may land, and
– let go of expectations to ensure I enjoy the journey.
As a wife, mother, educational consultant, parent coach, and youth soccer coach, I continue to live a positive risky life to seek the uncomfortable where I continue to learn and personally develop, and I help my clients do the same.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
As an independent educational consultant, I have a unique approach supporting teens and college students, as well as their families, through college planning. Beyond the transactions of ensuring requirements are complete, essays are written authentically, and application and financial aid processes go as smoothly as possible, I focus on helping young people discover purpose. This includes:
– reflecting on their “why” when it comes deciding their next steps after high school and beyond
– practicing their skills in critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving
– creating stronger connections to the adults who are raising them to ensure they have life mentors after leaving the nest
We witness our students go beyond titles of engineers, business leaders, teachers, and doctors. Instead, they are innovators, creators, and compassionate problem solvers because we protect their worth and authenticity so that they feel ready to take on the world with clarity about who they are, what they believe, and what they stand for.
I also extend my support to parents and educators ensuring that our children’s educational experiences support their health, wellness and success that will last a lifetime.
If I reflect on my life overall as an entrepreneur, the hard work is the daily hustle and balancing my commitment to work and family. However, each day feels exactly right because I am compelled to act on my belief that we can protect the brilliance of children by creating healthier environments in their education and connection to family. My own clarity makes it is easy to show up.
And more recently, I co-founded and co-host The DH (Decided Heart) Effect, where my partner and truth teller, Hilary Bilbrey (founder of Live Inspired) and I highlight those who live with a decided heart and create positive impact within themselves and their community towards unity.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Living in Ventura County:
1. Let’s stop by Five07 Coffee Bar and Eatery and get a vegan maple ginger chai (not vegan but love this stuff!). Oh, and don’t forget to order their avocado toast with the red pepper flakes and edible flower on top!
2. Then we will take the 101 and drive to San Buenaventura State Beach. It’s less busy and there is a great 1.5 walk to the pier. This isn’t your Santa Monica pier. Instead, it’s very quiet and you will notice the wildflowers growing all over on the beach sand.
3. Hungry? Fine, we will hop over to the Ventura Harbor Village where there are so many choices from fresh seafood at Andria’s Seafood Restaurant & Market to gourmet grilled cheese at 805 Bar & Grilled Cheese. AND of course, we will have dessert at Coastal Cone Ice Cream and get one of those Taiyaki fish-shape waffle cones!
4. Before we leave, I want to get some jewelry from Harbor Village Gallery & Gifts (they have other things too). It’s so affordable and we will be supporting local artists!
5. Finally, we must take an entire day hanging out in Downtown Ventura, a mix of coastal culture, barefeet, and upscale. There are tastes for everyone from thrift shopping to boutiques. Window shopping becomes an adventure and you will never go hungry. Plus, parking is both free and easy! I know…crazy right?
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Klaus Jaenichen Sonia Andre
Bella & Gaby Montiel
Hilary Bilbrey with Live Inspired!
The Decided Heart Effect
“Cassandra Speaks” by Elizabeth Lesser
Lori Schneider with Empowerment Through Adventure
Steve Dornofrio with Wise Escape Empowerment
“…and she sparkled” by Joan Steffend