Dream, Play and Decide: How Being True to Myself Led me to Live my Best Life

February 26, 2024

How being true to myself led me to live my best life

“Did you respect the dreams of the child you were?”

This question from a song I love is constantly on my mind. So often in life we get caught in some situations that are not that bad, but not quite the ones we imagined for ourselves when we were younger.

This thought has always scared me, but also made me take some decisions to always prioritize doing what I want, rather than what I should do.

“A-t-il respecté les rêves de l’enfant qu’il était?” - Gaël Faye


In business school, after a 6 months internship in a fancy media agency in NYC, I had the opportunity to use the rest of my “internship year” spending 6 months in the French army.

I was into it because to me it seemed like a sporty summer camp where we could on top of it drive a tank and jump out of planes (to name a few of the many funny things I did there).

Many were the people telling me it would be a nonsense because it was not consistent with what I was studying (business).

Well, they were wrong.

On the business side, I learnt a lot about leadership, leading by example, taking decisions in a restricted amount of time with a limited context. On the personal side, it was one of the best experience in my life, as I met so many inspiring and humble people. Also, I really pushed myself at an age when you always want to know your worth. Finally, I think sharing this experience during interviews might have been a key factor why I was hired to start my career at Google a few years later.


When at Google, I had a lot of fun, first in Dublin where I learnt what it was to work and be an adult, while teaching twice a week Muay Thai to 30+ of my colleagues. I also discovered new hobbies, like kitesurfing and skydiving.

Then I moved to Morocco (result of a business opportunity combined with a break up that made me feel I needed some fresh air), where I discovered surfing. I was on a career path heading in the right direction. I was doing good at my job and I liked it. However, I felt that I needed some adventure; taking a sabbatical leave seemed to be the right option to go for it.

I was advised against by a lot of people with very reasonable arguments that it could slow my progress, hurt my career and not look good on the resume.

I did it anyway.

I used these months to spend some quality time with my girlfriend who I was in a long distance relationship with. Then I crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a sailing boat; I had no experience in sailing whatsoever, so it was definitely an adventure for me. I sailed with a couple and a guy I knew, who became a very close friend during this trip. We had plenty of time to discuss his remote lifestyle.

These long discussions inspired me to keep moving and make tough decisions. A few months after this trip, my girlfriend broke up with me, so it was the perfect moment to say goodbye to Morocco and go live in Mexico.


Fast forward a few years later, I was now in Mexico, still working for Google. I felt it was time for a change as I sensed I was at the end of a cycle. I got contacted by a big Pharma company to launch their digital department, and decided to join them because it was interesting to me to discover a world that seemed to be so opposed to the one I was coming from.

After only a bit more than a year, I realized I was not where I was meant to be.

Jim Rohn said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Unfortunately for me, I was spending time with people I didn’t want to become like. Fortunately, it was on me to change that. If I could not change the people around me I could make sure they would not be around anymore. So I started thinking about quitting, but it was scary as I didn’t have a safe plan B for what was coming.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” - Jim Rohn

I reached out for advice to different people who I knew would have different points of view; some would push me to do it, like the friend I made over the Atlantic crossing. He reassured me telling me that as in a game, I would eventually end up on a path that was the one for me, even if it means taking other ones that are not.

Others would tell me not to do it, because why risk a good paycheck, a stable situation and a job that some others would envy just because “I don’t feel I’m where I should be”.

Ultimately, both types of advice did not change the way I felt, I was already decided to make a change. I guess I just needed some kind of validation.

Professionally speaking, this experience was not the most exhilarating time of my life, but there I met two people who are now very close friends. Also, this uncomfortable feeling of not being where I should be also pushed me to deeply question myself, what I wanted in life, and how I wanted to live it.

I remember at this time having written: putting thoughts on paper is for me a good way to assess if they are only temporary or the reflection of a deeper feeling.

These were the first words of the notebook I started:

"Define success in your own terms, Achieve it by your own means, And build a life you are proud to live." - Anne Sweeney


Inspired by a former colleague who later became a good friend, who had successfully launched a 100% remote business, I decided to launch a similar business (selling stuff on Amazon), and make the most of it by managing it while traveling.

So I took the tough decision to quit the big responsibilities/big paycheck job to launch this online business (about tough decisions,I recommend this amazing talk by Tim Ferriss; my favorite take away “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life”).

I lived off of it for about a year and a half, I worked from NY, France, Spain, Morocco, the Mexican Pacific coast. I would decide 100% of when I would work. As I was approaching the 2 years, I was not reaching the KPIs I set up for my business, I thought it would be time to look for something else. My business was running (and still is), providing me to live, but I didn’t want to settle for just an average achievement.

“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” - Jerzy Gregorek

Also, I realized that I was feeling disconnected to people I loved, not only because I couldn’t share my travels with them as their situation couldn’t adapt to mine (at that time I didn’t want to adapt to theirs), but also because I would feel disconnected from them in social gatherings, as my personal situation being so different to theirs, I wouldn’t share much of what I was doing/feeling at the time, thinking they would not get it anyway.

I needed to get back to a more “conventional” life, so I started working on my own consulting firm. It seems to be the way to keep the flexibility I cherished so much, while being in touch with some “real life” businesses and people.

I actually didn’t get to launch it, as in the process I was contacted by Mercado Libre, the biggest ecommerce platform in LatAm. They were interested both in my Google experience and Amazon experience. I had an amazing time there, being around smart, funny, compassionate and demanding people.


About two years ago, I met a girl at a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu camp in Austria where I went to spend some quality time with my brother that I only get to see twice a year.

After COVID hits, she reached out to me as she was moving to Mexico. We started hanging out and training together. She invited a friend of hers to my birthday. One day, after a BJJ training, I drove her to a dinner party she was attending. The host of the dinner was this friend who came to my birthday party, so she invited me. I was sweating, in sweatpants and hoodie, but she convinced me by telling me she was cooking a salmon quiche.

The last guest was a friend of theirs. He has the project of cofounding an e-commerce investing startup and was interested in my profile. A few weeks after I joined Merama.

As I am writing these lines, a few weeks after joining, I think I have never been more excited in my life.


Wanting to play the soldier made me enter Google.

A sentimental break up made me available to take an opportunity in Morocco, where I would live in a sea-view house right by the Atlantic.

A sabbatical leave that was supposed to slow down my career gave me the experience of a lifetime, and hours of discussion with a friend, followed by some self reflection that would shape the choice of living in another country a few months later.

In Mexico, I left a comfy situation to go to a new industry that I might not like. I eventually didn’t like it, quit the big paycheck job without any guarantee, started a business, lived off of it for almost two years wherever I wanted with nobody to report to whatsoever.

I felt disconnected to people I love; as I was starting a more “conventional” business, I got recruited by Mercado Libre, spent an amazing time with amazing people, learned a lot.

After BJJ training, I got lured to a dinner by a salmon quiche, and met a guy who hired me a few weeks after to go on a crazy adventure with.


A common trait that I see is that a lot of decisions I took were actually the result of me being inspired by some friends (or even strangers) who did really great things. Wanting to do similarly, I would reach out for help/advice to understand what worked for them, then adapt it so that it could work for me.

Also I realize that the best things that happened in my life were not the results of personal efforts or achievements, but mainly of decisions taken because of social interactions with friends or lovers.

"Always follow your inspirations, do not underestimate the power of social interactions." - a wise guy

Another one is that as much as I think asking for advice from people whose opinion you value is important, you should ultimately do what feels right for you.

Not only it prevented me from having regrets later in life, but in my case it actually led me to live some experiences I wouldn’t even have dreamed about.


This mantra is mine. I designed it at a “mantra workshop” in 2011, which purpose was to really identify what moves you in life. Ten years later, I believe it is more valid than ever.

As Omar Khayyam says in one of his Rubbaiyat, “Be happy for a moment, this moment is your life.”

I realized that since I’m at the age of taking my own decisions, this is how my life went: happy moment after happy moment, building a happy life. I am so grateful for that.

Obviously I would be lying to say that I never had any issue, setback or even deep sadness and broken heart during these years. But looking back I realize that these “down” moments were mostly due to external factors I couldn’t have had any impact on anyways, and that most of them had a positive impact on the long run.

That’s why I’d rather focus on what I can have an impact on, and act on it (Seneca would be proud of me).

"Be happy for a moment. This moment is your  life." - Omar Khayyam

So yeah, ask for advice, but don’t necessarily give them too much importance if you feel it goes against what you feel and want in life.

Give yourself the time to Dream, think about what happiness means for you, then act on it. Always remember that life is no more than a game that you should Play, the goal being to get where you want to be. Be brave enough to Decide on what you have to do to get there, even if it's tough.

This is your life.

Dream it. Play it. Decide it.


Arthur Ampen

I’m your strategic partner in transforming early-stage tech companies across LATAM. Drawing upon my 12-year journey shaping high-performing teams at industry giants like Google, Mercado Libre, and Merama, I specialize in guiding emerging firms to construct dynamic commercial teams. I help you pinpoint the precise talent profiles required, execute targeted recruitment strategies, and engineer adaptable processes for scalability. With me, you’re not just getting a consultant; you’re gaining a seasoned leader dedicated to propelling your startup to new heights.