In June, I traveled to Dubrovnik, Croatia to attend Awesomeness Fest, “an invite-only transformational event that gathers an extraordinary community of change-makers and visionaries who are driven by epic ideas to impact the world – entrepreneurs, employees, artists, leaders, innovators, visionaries and more.” Awesomeness Fest calls itself a “growth accelerator,” and it isn’t kidding. A five day conference and festival with powerful speakers, eye-opening breakout sessions, hands-on activities, yoga, meditation, parties that rock your socks off and a Give Back Day that leaves you heading home open-minded and open-hearted, thinking… So this is how you do life.
It’s the kind of event you go to thinking, How did I get here? I don’t deserve to be here. And the kind of event that sends you home thinking, Oh, I brought myself here for this purpose.
To explain Awesomeness Fest any further would probably do it a disservice. It’s not something that can be explained, you just have to experience it to understand. Why? Because like any destination and experience, it’s not where you are or what you are doing, it’s who you are with. Imagine being surrounded by your five smartest, most successful, talented, entertaining, prettiest, funniest, ambitious, kind-hearted friends and multiply that by 60. One is an investor in education-based startups, another is a model and TV personality, another started a school in Bali, another is a motivational speaker to the likes of Oprah, the other is buying an island in Croatia as a result of the festival to found a retreat, and the other is Tanya Lopez, Events Director of Awesomeness Fest.
It’s hard to believe that someone so strikingly gorgeous on the outside could be as gorgeous on the inside. I guess that’s what Awesomeness Fest does to you.
Beach party turns to afterparty and I’m in a beautiful corner suite in the Radisson Blu staring down at the water, taking it all in. Then I see the light of someone’s laptop out of the corner of my eye. A kindred spirit, never not working, on her laptop with 30 new friends getting to know each other in her room at the wee hours of the night. I introduce myself and thank her for allowing us to retreat back to her room to keep the energy going. I ask her about her passions and if I could share her story. I love when late night conversations turn to daytime affirmations.
Friends, meet Tanya.
Tell me about yourself
I’m a global event planner, organizing events like Mindvalley’s “Awesomeness Fest,” a transformational event for entrepreneurs and thought leaders that focuses on personal and professional growth and development.
I’m of Colombian and Cuban heritage but was raised in the US and have lived in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and SE Asia handling events, marketing and communications for companies and clients like Nike, Mindvalley, NBC-Universal, Neiman Marcus, the Emmy Awards, the Latin Grammys and more.
Part entrepreneur, part hippie, you might find me jet-setting around the world finding a perfect 5-star venue for an event or at a meditation or yoga retreat in some obscure part of the world.
What do you do for Mindvalley and what do you love about it?
I’m the Event Director for Awesomeness Fest. I love what I do because I’m able to leverage some of my passions and strengths to create a magical experience that has an incredibly positive impact on the people who attend and the world. I’ve seen such beautiful transformations in people who have come to Afest and it’s such an honour and blessing to be able to play a role in positively impacting people’s lives and all that comes out of those shifts.
I work with an incredible team to bring together conscious, brilliant and purpose driven people in a paradise location to connect, learn, grow and magnify their positive impact on the world. What’s not to love!? :)
What or who inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who are living their dreams and making their life an art. Who are clear on who they are and what they want and are living a life that is balanced between passion and purpose.
I find inspiration in many ways—meeting and connecting with conscious, intellectual and interesting people, film, literature and music and, one of the most important for me, traveling! I’m a lover of beauty and super sensitive to the aesthetics of my surroundings and love to be in beautiful environments, either in nature or in a picturesque city or setting. Being in these kinds of settings always calms my mind, feeds my soul, and brings me clarity, good ideas and positive vibes.
What do you love about travel?
I’m really adventurous and love to have new experiences that enrich my life and push me outside of my comfort zone. I’ve camped in the Bush in Africa, swam with sharks in Mexico, hiked to Machu Picchu and have explored many spiritual practices in Bali and Asia. I’ve gone paragliding and white water rafting in Colombia, caving in the Philippines, sailing in the Caribbean and rock climbing in Thailand. I’ve driven cross country in the US, climbed the Great Wall of China and have trekked the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. Travel has given me all these incredible life experiences that collectively have helped shape who I am and my unique perspective on the world.
Recently however, I’ve been asking myself how to get more out of travel beyond my own personal enjoyment and experience. Like, “What am I doing with these experiences? How am I putting all this travel to use, to truly enrich my life or that of others and the world?” I feel like I’m coming to a point where travel isn’t just about adventure, being in a beautiful scenery and enriching my own perspective anymore but taking it to another level. I’m not sure what that is. Maybe it’s creating art inspired by what I’m seeing, maybe it’s starting to volunteer when I travel, I’m not sure yet but it’s an answer I’m searching for.
What is your fondest travel or food memory?
I have so many! Traveling and good food are a few of my favourite things in the world so it’s hard to choose. Right now, I’m in Tuscany, Italy and this is pretty far up on the list. I rented a car and found an absolutely adorable and ridiculously affordable farmhouse in the middle of the countryside. It’s a little very old stone house in a remote area on lots of land with horses, cows, dogs, cats, chickens and more. I have fresh bread, eggs and fruit daily brought to me by the Italian family that lives on the property.
On the weekend or in the evenings, I take long drives with no particular destination and see a landscape dotted with farms, vineyards, medieval villages and castles. It’s like something out of a fairytale, the beauty and experience is beyond words for me.
The pasta, pizza, bread, wine and gelato is ridiculously good and I’m sure I’ll gain 10 pounds being here! Before this, I was in Croatia and I love Mediterranean cuisine— fresh fish and seafood (I had octopus salad every day, sometimes twice a day), salad and grilled veggies, etc. It’s just as delicious as the pasta and pizza but lighter and I don’t feel nearly as guilty about what I’m eating.
Another favorite memory is wine tasting and eating incredible food in Stellenbosch, South Africa. I could go on and on when it comes to food and travel…
What have you learned in your travels that you would like to share with the world?
That we’re incredibly blessed. Me, the people I know, probably all the people reading this now. We’re so privileged just by the mere fact and chance of where we were born. That we can read and write, have shelter and food, education and freedom. It’s like we’ve hit the lottery of opportunity with so many options of how we can choose to live our lives. I think it’s really important to understand this and not waste this blessing.
Also, that despite our differences, whatever unites us is stronger than what divides us. We all fall in love and experience heartache, are united in our love for common things like sports and food, want the best for our loved ones, laugh, cry and dance and have dreams and fears. We might live our lives differently but there is common thread among us all.
I’m currently building my website and blog and refining the direction that I want to take with it but I know I want to merge my love for travel, events and festivals, lifestyle design and personal growth.