Attorney & Founder - iMATER NOW
Podcast Host - Attorney Heart
Describe your legal background and your current role today.
I have been a Trial and Appellate Attorney in California for over 11 years and have worked for legal aid and private law firms, as well as the California government during that time.
During the first 8 years of litigating and doing trial work I did not nurture all dimensions of my well-being. I also saw other friends and colleagues struggling to find balance. Many times, I had to put my clients, my trial, my appellate brief, my family, my friends, my demands, my expectations, all before even thinking about my wellness.
I decided to change the equation several years back and commit to exercising regardless of whether I had a trial or appellate argument coming up. It was a powerful change. This eventually led me down a path where I learned to nurture all dimensions of my well-being. While I was not expecting it, it made sense that by focusing on my health, it increased my level of performance. I was thinking clearly, effectively managing my stress, and staying centered and grounded.
I decided to start a business called iMATER NOW and a podcast called Attorney Heart to help colleagues learn how to effectively manage stress, move away from self-judgment, and learn how to foster holistic wellness in their lives every single day.
Today, I do not allow a single day to pass without taking time to nurture all areas of my health and I love helping others do the same!
What inspired you to pursue your current career?
A very close friend of mine passed away from a heart attack a few years back when he was in his mid-40s. It was very sudden. This was a powerful blow to my heart, but it awakened a desire to nurture my health, and eventually, it awakened a desire to help others do that same.
Making the change from full-time trial attorney to full-time high-performance coach was not easy. I struggled with the decision. I had to work through fear and self-doubt, but after doing so, I decided to leave the comfort of my job, the secure pay, and its benefits to start iMATER NOW. iMATER NOW is focused on supporting and coaching attorneys and professionals to ensure that they put their health and wellness first. I learned that by doing this, you actually increase your advocacy impact and influence.
What three words would you use to describe your role?
Joy. Excitement. Fulfillment. These are the states of being that I help others find in their lives.
Name one movie, song or book to describe your career.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Remain in the present, don’t allow the pain of the past or the stress of the future overpower your present moment. That is all we have, the present moment.
How has your legal education/background shaped the way you perform in your current career?
I attended UC Davis Law School and that experience was a huge challenge. Same thing with the bar exam and with the first 4-5 years out of law school. My legal education has given me the courage to take on complex and difficult challenges. I had never been an entrepreneur before, and as a first-generation Latino attorney there have been many entrepreneurial lessons along the way. My legal education prepared me well for the challenges I face now.
Personally, coming from a low-income, immigrant background I learned how to hustle from a very young age. I learned to negotiate as a kid when I would go to the swap-meet with my parents. I learned the value of a dollar and how to make it last. Budgeting in a low-income family was key, sometimes we lived week-to-week but my parents always managed to provide for their family. These skills are actually important as an entrepreneur. You have to learn how to hustle. You have to know how to budget and stick to your budget. You have to know how to negotiate. I’m proud of my background and how it continues to provide an important set of skills.
What lessons learned or unexpected challenges did you face in your current role?
Entrepreneurship is a different game than litigation and trial work. The effort you put is what you get out. I knew that I had to make certain mindset shifts as I embarked on my new roles as a business owner, author, speaker, and podcaster. I have learned that everything takes a little (and by a little sometimes I mean a lot) longer that you expect it to. Things will not always go how you envision them. You have to remain nimble, ready to adjust to the current situation. You have to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Sometimes fear and self-doubt will come up when you least expect them and when they least serve you. You have to learn how to manage these emotions and mindsets or they will paralyze you. My first year of entrepreneurship is the culmination of small, smart, steady steps, and I know that in the coming years I will continue learning more lessons!
What advice would you give to those career pivoting or pursuing a career beyond the practice of law?
2 pieces of advice: Develop a high level of emotional intelligence. This is the key area that we tend to disregard as attorneys and it is an area of wellness that I work on most with my clients. I failed to nourish it for many years, and while we may survive the legal profession without it, we certainly will not thrive. As a high-performance coach, I help my clients go from self-defeating self-talk to self-empowerment through self-awareness and self-management. This makes you unstoppable, unshakeable because you know where your inner power stems from and you will need this as you enter the uncertainty of entrepreneurship or any other career beyond practicing law.
Also, develop a high level of patience. You can live you live from two mindsets, a stressed-out mindset or a relaxed one. You have a choice, you do, but sometimes it feels like we do not. As attorneys we are taught to see the problems day-in and day-out and it can be difficult to turn this skill “off.” Learning to turn this off when you are not at work is important and will allow you to remain patient in other aspects of your life. The change happens slowly and over time, but it is doable and, in my opinion, necessary to make a successful transition to whatever career you decide to pursue.
What is your personal motto, mantra or favorite quote?
"It is important to foster love and joy in our hearts, minds, and spirits, it keeps us healthy, motivated, inspired. Without them we aren’t truly living." - Fernando
Fernando Flores is the Founder of iMATER NOW and the Host of the podcast, Attorney Heart. After realizing the benefits of prioritizing one’s health, he became a high-performance coach and now strives to spread the message and assist attorneys and professionals in achieving overall healthy mental wellness and being. You can learn more at iMATER NOW.