Behind The Wheel, Episode 1: The Gonzales Brothers

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Each month we host a webcast with people who have decided to take a different approach to life. With great intention, they take control of the wheel and carve out a lifestyle that is boldly their own. These unfiltered stories and wisdoms are shared in a casual conversation over craft brews.

[00:01:08]“We’re starting Behind The Wheel to showcase people who live a bit different than the typical.. We see that in a lot of these van lifers that we’ve started to model this company after, but there’s many, many different forms that it takes.” — Alexandra Welsh, Yama

On tap today:

Yama: Banded Peak’s Javalanche Coffee Stout. This creamy little number infuses local Rosso Coffee (a local favourite of ours) beans directly into the fermenter. The coffee aromas balance perfectly with the low acidity and delicate sweetness. I love that they called it a “breakfast beer” because it makes me feel less guilty when I crack one of these open before noon…

The Gonzales Brothers: Hambela, by Monogram Coffee. Yes, it’s exquisite coffee, but beyond that this specific brew packs some serious impact back in Ethiopia. The company that Monogram sources these beans from, METAD, is strengthening local communities by providing scholarships, sponsoring educational programs for over 700 students so far, and they employ a workforce that is over 70% women. There’s a story behind the cup, your purchasing decisions can make a serious impact.

Ralph and Floyd Gonzales make up the duo commonly referred to here in Calgary as The Gonzales Brothers. Together, the duo is a “mini production house” that focuses on “storytelling and emotion-driven content”. We eagerly dig into their story, what excites them, and their philosophies on lifestyle design.

Not even 5 minutes into our chat, Ralph began to drop some serious wisdom; applicable to any business, craft, or profession:

[00:04:08] “There are so many steps that lead up to that final moment where it’s finally a whole bean roasted, ready to go to be ground up and then placed in your cup. There’s got to be so much respect up to that point” — Ralph Gonzales

These brothers approach their worlds with an articulate sense of intelligent curiosity, and wonderful optimism. In many ways they are opposites from one another — Floyd the structured pragmatist and Ralph the dreamer — but they share the same philosophies and ideologies about how they feel life should be lived.

[00:07:57] “I kind of put myself in as many uncomfortable situations as I can; using the camera and as an excuse” — Ralph

They were born in the Philippines but raised here in Canada. Being the first transition generation comes with it’s hurdles — sandwiched between your family back home, and those who were born here in Canada, it can be tough to gain a sense of belonging. Floyd found himself succeeding in school and following the path set out for him by their parents, while Ralph never quite grasped onto that concept. Ralph found his place in the creative community a few years before Floyd, and has carved out a respected name for himself while doing it. This excitement sparked Floyd’s interest quickly.

[00:29:26] “We are really quite different from each other. I was that kid who followed the script of growing up. You go to school you went to university and then you got a job afterwards. After I got that job after university I really just kind of felt like I was chasing what’s supposed to be laid out for me next. When I jumped into the creative world with Ralph.. I think that kind of broke me free from that set of expectations that I kind of had all my life” — Floyd

Passion is a word that bounces in and out of conversations daily, especially as you sift your way through your twenties. We’re told that passion is the antidote to boredom and dissatisfaction, and that it will lead you to happiness once you find it. People travel the world seeking to find this passion — they read dozens of books and listen to hundreds of podcasts. While it is an honest endeavour, and one that I’ve been chasing for as long as I can remember, Ralph chimes in with an interesting perspective.

[00:16:08] “I’ve kind of replaced the word passion with excitement these days.. because people can be passionate about a lot of things, but at the same time, does that excite you?”

They both share dreams of doing gigs on the road, in legendary places like New York, Texas or San Fran. This ability to live freely and be location agnostic is something they both are attracted to and is well within their reach.

“It would be awesome to have the flexibility to be in and out of the city, while you’re doing the thing you love” — Floyd

This love for freedom and unbridled creativity flows through to their dream of building a larger production house where “people can really freely create for themselves and find a way to make a living out of it.. a dream to have people work with us and ignite that curiosity” (Ralph). This particular dream is something that Ralph is undoubtedly dedicated to achieving; he let us in on the secret behind his forearm tattoo.

[00:37:43] “This is something I’ll share with you guys that I don’t usually share. So I have a Daruma tattooed on my forearm and in Japanese culture you only do a Daruma when you actually have a goal. You fill in one eye when a goal is set and you fill in the other eye when the goal is made” — Ralph

Ralph and Floyd share our deep love for Japanese culture. Japanese roots are embedded in the story, purpose and inspiration for launching Yama, and the same respect and admiration can be felt through Ralph’s words:

[00:38:31] “Japanese culture is fascinating to me.. there’s such an in depth philosophy and mentality behind it all.. like, wabi-sabi means finding the perfect in the imperfect, and Kaizen means the constant pursuit of improving one’s self”

We truly loved chatting with these guys and will be forever grateful that they were willing to be the guinea pigs for our very first Behind The Wheel.

To wrap up, we always ask our guests 2 questions at the end:

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(1) What is the purchase in the last year that has made the most impact in your ability to live more freely?

[00:40:11] “I kind of want to flip that on the other end where not really buying things the last few months made me live a bit more freely” — Floyd

[00:42:21] “The biggest investment is actually in myself and allowing myself to meditate.. having these little moments where I get to just sit in front and sit and really reflect about what I’m doing with my day and constantly asking myself the why of my life” — Ralph

(2) If everyone in the world would wake up to a text message from you tomorrow morning, what would it say?

[00:45:35] “Reality is an illusion.. all you really have is this moment right now. So the idea of thinking about what’s going to happen tomorrow and what happened yesterday is really not part of the scope” — Ralph

[00:46:34] “Small steps.. unravel all the overwhelming thoughts into small digestible pieces.. don’t worry about the bigger picture, eat away at it” — Floyd

HUGE thanks to our homies, Ralph and Floyd Gonzales! Check out the full webcast here!

Thank you so much for reading —

Sayonara, friends!

Patrick Bruns