Mauricio Estrella has become quite a celebrity over the past few weeks and rightfully so. In just one week, he received 800,000 views of his inspirational blog post How a Password Changed My Life. Since then, the blog has been carried by the likes of Huffington Post, Business Insider, The Daily Mail, Lifehacker and the Sticky Password blog.
At a low point in his life Mauricio was a man who was just going through the motions, when he discovered that those motions were just what he needed to get his life in order. What makes the story even more special is that, as the means of affecting big positive changes in his life, Mauricio’s chose something very unusual … his password.
We’ve been so taken with Mauricio’s story that we wanted to chat with him about making changes in his life and, of course, about passwords.
Mauricio cheerfully accepted our invitation for an interview.
Sticky Password: When did you decide that you wanted to share your story with the world?
Mauricio: About 3 months ago, after I got the engagement ring that I mention at the end of my story. I thought this is it. That’s when the loop closed. It all started after my failed marriage and now it’s going to [complete] the cycle with me getting married again. I thought the story itself was a bit too softie and might be perceived as something cheesy, but I wrote it with an open mind anyway. I tried to not make it too much about me but more about the way these affirmations/passwords helped me.
Sticky Password: Are you still using passwords to inspire change in your life?
Mauricio: Ha ha, of course. Last month a friend of mine recently started poking me about losing weight and exercising, so I started combining a bunch of different things, including [a new] password.
Sticky Password: Have you tried your inspirational method for other password-protected accounts like your personal email, or is your work account a special environment?
Mauricio: I haven’t tried with personal accounts. The account at work is nice because the password, in its simplest form, enables me to get things done. Send an email, write a report, upload a file, etc. Behind this password prompt, there’s always something that I get ‘access’ to. These tiny accomplishments throughout the day help to validate the affirmation/password in my head, and the momentum of that feeling of achievement stays alive through the month.
Sticky Password: Do you look forward to that monthly prompt from the Microsoft Exchange server?
Mauricio: Yeah! I have a calendar reminder that says ‘Next password change is in 5 days’ so I have a bit of time to think. Right now I’m in middle of a savings plan and some trips for later this year, so I’m figuring out what to use next.
Sticky Password: Considering that you were under pressure to come up with the first password (Forgive@h3r), it’s an awesome password (strong and memorable). What about the other passwords from your blog? Did you start planning those passwords (Quit@smoking4ever, Save4trip@thailand, and the others) in advance, or did they come to you when that Microsoft Exchange server prompted you to make that monthly change?
Mauricio: The quit smoking password was my first validation after Forgive@h3r. I saw the prompt to change my password and I thought to try something extreme, to validate if these affirmations really worked or not. I told a couple of friends that I will quit smoking that day, and all of them, knowing me for a couple of years already, were literally laughing at that random statement. To their surprise, since that day, I haven’t smoked a single cigarette since.
This story is very hard to believe for some people, but I have tons of witnesses of how I literally stopped overnight. It’s weird. But it’s awesome. It feels amazing btw. If you or any of you guys smoke, quit that!
Sticky Password: What was the hardest password out of the group you listed in the blog for you to remember?
Mauricio: There was one related to my work. At some point some internal restructuring left me floating in a fuzzy area for a couple of weeks, and I didn’t want to let that feeling affect my work.
Sticky Password: What other techniques are you using to make positive changes to your life since your wonderful password revival? (We saw the back-against-back discussions technique you posted on Quora.)
Mauricio: I rarely use the back-to-back discussions idea, but whenever things escalate and need to be mediated more effectively, that method always works. I’m writing a piece on it right now. I’ve been doing a couple of other things, like calendar reminders to remind me to don’t eat out, or to take money out of one account and put it into another one for savings. I CC my fiancée on those calendar reminders, so I get the extra pressure or ‘poke’ from her to get it done.
Lately I’ve been using lego pieces as counters of how many ‘meetings’ I accept per week, so I stay focused on doing my tasks rather than talking about them. I have 10 tokens that represent 10 hours. Each time I organize or accept a meeting, I take one token out. When I run out of them, I decline them. People know me for not liking meetings, so they’re supportive. Obviously if there’s a critical meeting I need to attend, I do it.
Sticky Password: Are people bombarding you with emails about the story telling you that it was inspirational? In addition to the attention in the media, have you gotten hundreds, or even thousands of emails?
Mauricio: I did a podcast recently with a guy who asked me the same question ha ha. I was thinking about the Flappy Bird guy the previous night when I got 30,000+ views in one day, and thought ‘so this is what he was talking about’ when he said “this game changed my simple life, so I’m taking it down”. In a way, I feared that my post might affect my simple life as well. I went to bed and woke up with 150+ emails overnight.
I got around 800k views in a week, and 200k on other sites who republished it (Huffington Post in English, French, and Portugese, Esquire, Business Insider, etc.). It was nice while it lasted. Now it’s back to 2000/1000 views/reads a day or so.
Sticky Password: Thank you, Maurio!
Here’s the link to the Modernpreneur podcast Mauricio mentioned in our interview.