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Unhustle Podcast

Sabbaticals: A Necessary Disruption For Better Outcomes With Doug Mackaman

Milena Regos

In a world obsessed with busyness and chasing success at all costs, we end up burnt out, stressed out, and lonely. At Unhustle, my vision is to shift this paradigm. It’s about finding the sweet spot between doing and real living, embracing a lifestyle that balances life enjoyment with purposeful achievement. This is the future I’m creating with Unhustle—a sustainable, prosperous future for ourselves, our families, communities, teams, companies, and the planet.

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Reading Time: 23 minutes


The concept of a sabbatical becomes more foreign as the years go by, and people just don’t have the resources to take a year off work. Doug Mackaman has offered a bespoke solution for the new generation. Doug is the Founder, CEO, and Disruptor-at-Large for Sabatigo. Their mission is to provide a transformative, mindful, intentional yet compressed journey for leaders and peak performers to regenerate new fuel and perform better. In this episode, Doug chats with Milena Regos about how they’re achieving their mission and breaks down their itinerary designed to make the most of your travel. Tune in to learn more about their disruptive and innovative concept to battle burnout in the modern work arena.

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How Transformative Experience Can Benefit Leaders And The Workplace

In this episode, I’m joined by Doug Mackaman. He’s the CEO of Sabatigo. They are trying to do something amazing. He has an amazing team of people that are working with leaders on taking them out of their normal environment and working with them on changing their perspective on things towards more creativity, grit and empathy. Here is Doug.

Doug, welcome.

It’s great to be here.

I’m very intrigued and super stoked to connect with you. I want to hear and learn everything about Sabatigo. What is Sabatigo? What does it mean? How did you come up with the idea? That’s three questions loaded up into one.

First of all, I’m super excited to be engaging with you and the Unhustle movement that you are driving. I think that there are a whole bunch of different affinity businesses that are forming or have been forming over the last few years. Sabatigo comes as a family member to that group. We are the concept of an intensive and bespoke regeneration. Given what we know about burnout right now and how depleted our human capital resources are across all different kinds of corporations, I think the moment is here. It’s here for Unhustle and Sabatigo.

Our concept is essentially to disrupt the old model of the sabbatical and create a smaller format, more compressed in time, but very mindfully and intentionally curated. That way our travelers or our Sabatigoers can regain their edge, energy, connection and passion over the course of one of our journeys. We are strategizing journeys that will last two weeks in length and take our lucky Sabatigoers on a regeneration voyage that will have one week in Paris, one week in Berlin, and come home using our toolkits to continue their own journey once they returned to their normal lives at home.

I’m in. When are we going?

Our first journey is set for November. We want Unhustle to engage. I have joked with you that Sabatigo can be partly powered by Unhustle because we are such affinity kinds of projects. We are starting on November 6th in Paris with a small group of beta travelers who are coming for our pilot launch. We will be back with a vengeance in Europe in April after we have had a chance to do some of the necessary editing that the pilot will certainly produce.

How did you come up with the idea? What was the name mean?

It comes from a slightly brutalized version of the Portuguese or Spanish sabbatical. We brought it around as this idea of a mini-diminutive short sabbatical. Let’s face it. You and I both want to do a year-long sabbatical, but our lives don’t allow for that. The other thing we found as we started shopping our idea around is that even super forward-thinking big companies have abandoned the HR benefit of a sabbatical in many cases. Why? Because people left for too long.

They get too disengaged. They went too native or too local, or they just look for jobs and end up never coming back. Sabatigo was meant to be a compressed small thing. That’s where our name came from. It’s meant to be playful and hint at the regenerative power that travel can have. I think you would agree that travel in our experience is a massive reboot moment and experience.

Travel is a massive reboot moment and experience. It has that regenerative power.

I don’t know if you know my story about how I started Unhustle, but the a-ha moment was during a ten-day sabbatical. I can testify to the rejuvenation aspect of shifting perspectives, getting outside of the office, being able to reconnect with your soul and yourself, and finding a deeper purpose. Have you done a sabbatical experience yourself?

I have been a professor for many years. I have had actual formal academic sabbaticals twice. In one of those experiences, I wrote my first major book with the University of Chicago Press, which was on burnout and medicine. It’s called Leisure Settings and published by the University of Chicago Press.

What year was that in?

That was a long time ago. It was 1998 when I published that book. That’s how long I have been working in this field of burnout and regeneration. My piece was essentially to look back at history and look like the 19th Century and the origins of the modern middle class, and explore the first examples of people coming into a doctor and saying, “I feel stressed and exhausted. I’m not performing as well on my job or at home.” That early history of burnout is located in the 1840s, 1850s or 1860s. The first treatments were super holistic. People who had these symptoms were sent off to health spots. My book is all about the rise of the early leisure industry doctors and these holistic cures for the first-ever modern expressions of burnout. I have been on this for a long time. That was sabbatical number one.

Sabbatical number two is also related to the business of Sabatigo. With that second sabbatical, I worked with a whole bunch of universities all around the country and develop this state-of-the-art, brand-new kind of global study program for university students and their professors. We called it the Abbey. We located this incredible program in a 1,000-year-old Benedictine monastery in the heart of France’s Loire Valley.

Into that place and tiny little town, we took over 1,000 students over the course of almost a decade and a half. With our courses, intensive, immersive learning, all the lectures and teaching we did in the streets, the villages and the vineyards, we changed these people’s lives. I developed that program during my second sabbatical. I then run that program and spin it off into different study abroad programs. That feeling of teaching people and mentoring them in real settings where history took place and innovation happened, the moment to be mindful and present is so all over the place and right in front of our clients and students.

That’s what my career became. I continued being a professor, but what I did was developed that Abbey program and the other programs, including the huge juggernaut program I run now called The Catalyst. All of that study abroad fervor came to a head and developed into these massive global programs because of my own time that I took on my sabbatical. I hope that answers your question. I have found them to be super important to me in terms of being innovative and reconnecting to my best energy.

UNH 4 Doug Mackaman | Sabbatical

Sabbatical: They can’t solve their burnout issues and stay in the same workout context but they can by finding a voice that says, “I have to recover my sense of wonder, my sense of agency, my sense of perspective and mindfulness, and my sense of ownership over my own narrative.


You are obviously very passionate about it, and it comes through. What interested you in exploring the topic of burnout in the first place? Did you have your own experience with it?

At that time, I did not. I was young and eager. I was a PhD student at UC Berkeley, working with some of the top young historians in the whole world who were in my PhD cohort at Cal. We have these amazing faculty teaching us every single day. I did not have burnout but I had a set of questions like, “What were the tension points for the emerging middle class or as the French called the middle class, the bourgeoisie?” It was not just some pastoral walk out of the farm into the factory and into management where people don’t get dirt on their hands and run into trouble. There are all these tension points. I found this question of stress and work-oriented stress to be a fascinating one, particularly the gender dynamic around it.

When these first men come walking into their doctors saying, “I can’t sleep. Be quiet about this but I’m impotent. I can’t focus on work. I find myself crying at times.” These are men walking into male physicians, and the physicians are looking at them saying, “There is no diagnosis for what you are talking about. You could be a hypochondriac, a person with hypochondriasis, maybe. You got this female thing almost of hysteria.” We don’t even have a word for what these men are talking about as their experience.

There certainly is no word like burnout. This moment of the origin or the genesis of this part of modern life fascinated me. It’s work stress. It also fascinated a ton of others back in that period. The fathers of sociology like Emile Durkheim. Durkheim and others in the 1880s, 1890s, and around that period are looking at work stress and finding something that’s terrible. Young men in droves are killing themselves. It’s one of the reasons why Durkheim’s seminal work called Suicide is this call to arms, to doctors, and to others in the period to take seriously the fact that this is not some boutique affectation condition.

This is cutting young men down. The diagnosis of hysteria does not work because hysteria is a female condition in this period. They create a new diagnosis that comes to be called neurasthenia. It eventually morphs into work stress, work fatigue, and all kinds of other things. I was interested at the beginning of this. That’s what my book is about. The startling thing is how very few of these many issues I looked at first are being voiced in medical literature in the 1860s. They sound exactly like what we hear now when our Sabatigo survey respondents come clean and tell us what their burnout is doing to them and how they are experiencing it. It’s almost like the language has been lifted from the wilted pages of history, and I’m not exaggerating.

Have we learned anything in all these years? Are we treating it in a different way?

We have learned a lot and learned the power of self-efficacy. Our young tennis star from Japan has learned what happens and what it means to say, “I’m putting my mental wellness ahead of a game that’s very lucrative to me and that I love with all my heart.” We have learned the power of our own voice and to say, “I have mental wellness issues.” I can’t tell you the number of people I talk to because of the platform that Sabatigo is giving me, not because of my work as a research scholar, but Sabatigo.

It’s one thing to regenerate people, but it’s another thing altogether to simultaneously achieve talent, escalation, and enrichment.

People come to me now with burnout stories. What I hear time and time again is that they can’t solve their burnout issues and stay in the same work context. They can solve them by finding a voice that says, “I have to recover my sense of wonder, agency, perspective, mindfulness, and ownership over my own narrative or story.” That efficacy that we see now, young people talk openly about mental wellness and their needs, and thank God they do. Those conversations were impossible back in the era of my major research. Indeed, those conversations were not even possible largely many years ago. At least on the issue of efficacy and being able to talk about mental illness and wellness, we have made progress.

I have talked to so many people who will say to me that they know they are burned out and can engage professionally with the passion they expected of themselves and their employers’ needs, but they can’t get back to good if they stay in the context they are in. Part of what Sabatigo is about is we think it’s possible for our Sabatigoers to get back to good without having to leave their profession or even the job that’s driving them down.

They need to get that backpack on, that suitcase pulled behind them, and the power of new, discovery and exploration. It’s that feeling of traipsing through a great city, unpacking your things in a gorgeous hotel where you are going to be planted for a week. Doing what we are going to ask them to do every day with our mindfulness pathway, perspective learning, and all the elements of innovation, entrepreneurship and growth mindset that Sabatigo is going to tee up.

We believe that those people are going to leave their jobs if they don’t do this because that’s what our research tells us they are planning to do. If they do the journey and they reconnect to themselves, they are way less likely to pull the ripcord and throw it all up in the air and start over in a new career. Our lesson and the teaching we hope to give our Sabatigoers is simple. The easiest thing is to change and quit.

If you keep quitting and cycling through jobs every 2 or 3 years because there’s something new and attractive or better benefits or more money or whatever, that’s fine. At a certain point, there’s a payday from that because you have not engaged and built relationships. You don’t have that continuity that 5, 6, 7 or 8 years in the same company and the same set of teams can give people. It’s a feeling of belonging that’s lost. If we always flip the lever that says, “I’m so out of here. I’m gone.”

That return investment from taking a two-week trip that can potentially change your life instead of changing your career or looking for another job could be exponential. You are onto something.

I appreciate that. Most of the disruptors who work on Sabatigo are super high-powered accomplished scholars and business leaders. Virtually everybody who works as a disruptor with Sabatigo has led a major company, owns their own business, is a published author a few times over. None of us is new to this regeneration story. This is a super important point. None of us is new to the challenge, dynamism, and growth that comes from escalation and enrichment.

UNH 4 Doug Mackaman | Sabbatical

Sabbatical: At least on the issue of efficacy and being able to talk about mental illness and wellness, we’ve made progress.


It’s one thing to regenerate people, which we believe Sabatigo is going to do through our mindfulness exercises, being away from the stressors and triggers of everyday life. It’s another thing altogether to achieve talent, escalation and enrichment simultaneously. That’s where we think we have something amazing dialed in because together with me, we have an amazing team of super passionate and connected disruptors, second to none.

These folks are going to take the Sabatigo escalation principle and our enrichment ideas to the streets of these amazing cities so that we are talking and walking on what we call Wonder Walks all over Paris for a week or Berlin for a week. We talk all the time about things like, “What does success looks like for you? What constitutes a successful life?” Those are all super important conversations, but let’s throw a wrench in that for a second. What does change look like for you? What does life change look like? Does it mean changing apartments or getting an Airstream in Baja, or having one in Northern Minnesota as I do? Maybe. I think that’s tangible and great, but life change also is about mindset.

Some of that mindset stuff that we want to work on in Sabatigo is about toughening your mindset and realizing when you have to gut things out, and when things that are super adverse feelings to you help you channel this deeper thing instead of crushing you. One of our lead disruptors, Dr. Paul G. Stoltz, is the world expert on grit and adversity responses. Paul is right. Adversity does not crush or kill emotionally.

People who are used to understanding that adversity is always going to be there. Instead, adversity helps you train your body to jump over a higher hurdle. The first time you are in high school or college, you had to run over a hurdle. You are like, “What in the heck? I’m going to trip on this thing every time.” Paul is right. As you get better, your adversity response changes.

When Paul and I are working with our Sabatigoers in the streets of Paris, we walk with them together down the cobblestones of the neighborhood called Le Marais. We circle around a specific set of streets centered around their Rue des Rosiers. We speak about the deportation of the Jews. This is something I have written a ton about and done a lot of scholarly research on as a historian. I have taught for decades in this environment.

We are talking about the level of adversity, the crushing moral and human toll of the Second World War in France, the Holocaust, the occupation, and the deportations, then Paul steps back and speaks in terms that are less about history and more about what human beings are capable of overcoming. We are going to finish one of those wonderful walks in front of a small bakery on their Rue des Rosiers called Finkelsztajn and Sons founded in 1946 right after the Second World War. That’s an adversity response.

Life change is also about mindset.

When I talk about regeneration with Sabatigo, it’s about getting people back to good. The escalation and enrichment pieces are about giving people new fuel, not just for the first week or month when they are back home but for years after, new fuel that burns differently. That’s about perspective and how lives can be made better by a new mindset. I hope that did not go on way too long, but I have a lot of thoughts on this having taught for so long.

Why do you call your team members disruptors? I heard that term a few times and I love it.

It’s the term in business that’s everywhere in the way that agile was years ago. The thing that I love about that term for us that is not about the trendiness of the word is we are bringing people into the Sabatigo family who are intellectual gadflies. They are teasers. They prod, push and cajole. They got an edge to them and their massive research careers to back up the hyperbole that they sometimes will lay down.

Our amazing disruptor, Dr. Natalie Nixon, is like Paul Stoltz. She’s everywhere on LinkedIn and beyond. She got this brilliance that Sabatigo adores her for that transcends any of her specific ideas, but her specific ideas in the book that she’s come out in 2022, The Creativity Leap, are beloved by everyone on our team. Why? Because in that way that a scholar can, who also runs her own business and does keynote addresses for big bucks all around the globe, Natalie plays with a simple concept that’s highly disruptive.

Her simple concept is that as people who want to innovate and create, we have to toggle constantly between two poles of getting things done. One poll is about wonder, awe, consideration, reflection, and pondering deeply, “What are we doing? What’s the best way we can do what we are doing?” She does something that’s not meant to be a smackdown to any generation but is powerful. She counterpoints wonder with rigor. She explains in her book how there’s no amount of riffing and saying, “I’m going to do something great,” will ever do something great.

That wonder has always to be balanced very intentionally by rigor. That’s the thing that I think speaks so fluently and powerfully to the startup nation of our moment right now, where we have VC Titans and amazing startup geniuses who are throwing these dart ideas right down the field. It’s unbelievable. Yet as great as many of those ideas may be, they have always to be balanced. If you are going to sail, you fly those beautiful sails on top of the yacht. They look great. Those are what everyone sees, the colorful things that everybody onshore is like, “Look at that.”

Without the keel underneath or the centerboard like in the case of my little 19-foot boat, without that counterpoint, there’s no forward progress. The boat simply turns around and runs with the wind. That’s the only way it goes. You and I both know that is not innovation. Running with wind is not going to get it done. That’s where Natalie as a disruptor is so phenomenal for us. The sail is a gorgeous wonder and awe and super creativity, but the centerboard or keel is what allows you to sail into the wind. Without it, you can’t get it done.

UNH 4 Doug Mackaman | Sabbatical

Sabbatical: It’s easy to change and quit, but if you keep quitting and cycling through jobs every 2-3 years, there’s a pay day from that because you haven’t engaged and built relationships. You don’t have that continuity that 5, 6, 7, or 8 years in the same company and the same set of teams can give people.


I don’t need to tell anybody else who is doing a startup, you are doing Unhustle and I’m doing Sabatigo, we have to remind ourselves, don’t we? Sometimes we can’t work as hard as our bodies will let us work, or you are not Unhustle and I’m not Sabatigo. We have to chill. There’s some powerful stuff that’s happening. We love our disruptors and they are all disruptive. If you tell people who have great ideas that they are going to have to work 10,000 hours on those ideas, it’s not surprising that some people say, “I’m not going to do that. I want to do this for three years. I want somebody to buy me out for $50 million and walk away and do this again.” That’s not going to happen for hardly anyone unless you are willing to do that rigor piece. That is so part of Natalie’s argument. Thank you for asking.

I see Natalie’s piece being taught somewhere where they were sailing, don’t you?

Let’s all get on a yacht.

Tahoe, Baja and a couple of places come to mind.

You and I have spoken about the idea of doing a more accessible, shorter version of Sabatigo that could either be done as a long weekend retreat. Along with some very close advisors and friends, you have had prodded me and discuss this with me in different ways. I’m warming to this because the need for regeneration is so huge. The need for escalation is as big, and the reluctance on the part of our top C-Suite bound, or they are already at the C-Suite leaders to take a week off of their paid vacation, let alone two weeks to come on something like Sabatigo. It’s back to the 19th Century stuff that I did my research on for my book.

There’s a male and now it’s also carried by women who are in the C-Suite too. There’s this, “I’m too powerful and important to this organization. I can’t show the weakness needed or any weakness that anyone could look at, ‘I’m taking two weeks off for my mental wellness.’” That looks like the hero is crouching behind a curtain saying, “Don’t look at the hero crouching behind the curtain.” The more I think about some of these ideas we have discussed, the more I’m tuning in to the idea that we want the Sabatigo journey to be the two-week story.” It’s already a compressed version of a traditional sabbatical.

You and others like Mark Randall and Ruchika Sikri talked about this idea to me of having power-up weekends and regeneration escalation sessions that happen in a great location like Tahoe, your neck of the woods. It makes a ton of sense as long as Sabatigo can teach mindfulness, perspective, and innovation like we are built to do. The timeframe on whether that’s for three days or two weeks may be less important as long as we can do good and do good work for people who need that help. I’m tuning into you on this. I appreciate your thought leadership.

You are welcome. I will give you an example. I went out one morning on the lake on my paddleboard. I was cruising and gliding to the water. The sun was out. I had my dog with me on my paddleboard, and was trying to come up with a subtitle for my book. I have been racking my brain trying to come up with something here at the house. All of the sudden, the flow, the water, the ease, the joy and the energy shifted my perspective. I came up with at least three titles. There is power in connecting with nature in terms of regeneration. There is power in reconnecting with the universe.

Adversity doesn’t crush or kill emotionally. It helps you train your body to jump over a higher hurdle.

I love Europe. I am from Europe. I love the cities as we talked. In terms of what you are trying to achieve, innovation, exploration, wonder and awe, there is something to be said for being in a beautiful place, but I can’t tell you what to do. I’m more than happy to do something with you. Maybe we can explore ways down the road. Perspective shifts can be done in a day or an hour.

You raised a great point with the paddleboard story, which I wish I was out there with you and the dog. It sounds perfect. You made me think of another one of our amazing disruptors, Dr. Max Frenzel, who’s German but lives in Tokyo for a long time. Together with his business partner, they have got a business that’s super akin to yours and ours. It’s called Time Off. Max happens to be one of these geniuses who can wear adeptly about five different hats from theoretical physics to AI developer, to beat and music generator, you name it. He’s a cultural artificial intelligence guru.

He kindly sent me a copy of his book, Time-Off, and it’s a little bit like the epiphany of reading Natalie. You read Max and what’s so amazing about his piece is he takes things down to an almost microscopic level. It’s a little bit like you are saying. You can be transformed in a day or maybe even an hour. Max has this beautiful piece about being a tourist in your own neighborhood, and trying to create that discovery mindset and that growth and exploration zealousness that we usually associate with having jet lag and being in Reykjavik or wherever we might be in Tallinn.

Max rightly says, “Why don’t you try and dial that energy up for a walk around your neighborhood and look up at the architecture, look down at the street, think about how you are able to change your own mindset and have this sense of wonder even where you are most at home in your life.” I’m on board with this. I’m more and more on board with the idea of having our main piece of Sabatigo would be the two-week journey, but offering two other product or service lines that are important. The first new service line we want to look at are these ideas of weekend-long retreats. They are huge. They can do a tremendous amount of good.

The second piece is more getting my amazing roster of disruptors who are already super high-powered coaches to some of the biggest CEOs in the world. Linking them up with the Sabatigo brand and diving into it myself and saying, “I want to begin regeneration and escalation coaching work that’s done in a virtual setting. It culminates in some of these shorter sessions or culminates abroad in Europe in our longer two-week format journey.” Thank you to all of you guys, from Max to Natalie. There are so many great ideas. You guys are the finest of a pot of people I could possibly think of.

I have that motto as well. I live in beautiful places but sometimes you get a little tired of the same beautiful place. Traveling like a local and living like a tourist is always a good way to go about it, and explore and discover. I never get tired of exploring this beautiful lake. I have been here for many years and I’m still in awe every single day.

UNH 4 Doug Mackaman | Sabbatical

Sabbatical: We have to remind ourselves that sometimes we can’t work as hard as our bodies will let us work.


I know that because of the pandemic, you have not been able to get home to your European family and your roots in such a long time. How is it going to feel for you to connect back with those people and those places that have been so obviously foundational to who you are as a leader and a person? What are those first experiences of your own regenerative journey back to family and familiar places that you have been removed from for so long? How is that going to feel for you when you get to make that journey before too much longer?

It’s amazing to get back there. Every single time I get back there, we talk about shifting perspectives. It’s the best thing because it reminds me of who I am. I walk back on the same street. I see the same things. I speak the language I grew up with. In terms of shifting perspective, travel for me is reconnecting with my family, my roots, how I grew up, with some traditions, rituals and practices. Anything that I grew up with is good for me. It’s spiritually good for myself and it grounds me. I make it a point to get back every few years. Now, I can’t tell you that I’m looking forward to being on a plane for twelve hours with a mask on. It does not sound good to me at the moment.

My family wants me to get back. We want to be together. Even if it’s not in Bulgaria, we were tossing ideas around like, “Where can we go to get together?” We have not made any plans yet. I’m not sure I’m interested in sitting twelve hours on a plane with a mask on at this stage. It’s key to my happiness, knowing who I am, my identity, and regeneration from taking me out of the status quo a little bit. I’m looking forward to doing that as soon as possible.

I get that. I was not raised in Europe like you, but I have raised all four of my kids on regular rotations abroad. I have lived and traveled. I have owned a little house over in Europe. It’s not just that I have spent a lot of time there, which I have. I have also spent some of the most emotionally engaged and intensive moments of my life there. That’s super sustaining and has been to me during COVID when it’s been one thing to think about and talk about the Sabatigo proposition. It’s been another thing to imagine like, “When can this happen? How will this be received by the world when we ask for it to happen?”

It’s been sustaining for me as a person to have these emotional tentacles that go back to specific tiny cafes in Paris or particular streets in Prague or a statue I can think of in the Tiergarten of Berlin. I get that maybe that sad to engage people emotionally. I understand that could be what one would think. For me, those are color combinations that I paint myself out of trouble with. By trouble, I mean the depressive claims that life is going to make maybe on all of us. There will be claims that are depressive that are made on our spirits. You can’t constantly push those away.

In my experience, you have to figure out how to engage and work with them, and how to talk yourself through those times and moments. One of the things I do is I grab for that pallet brush and those colors that are not from my home place, and are not from where I was born and raised or went to college or grad school, but where I have had this emotional other life.

You speak a bunch of languages and you speak them well. Do you ever think that there’s part of your emotional way of being or your even personal energy that’s different when you are speaking your normal mode of American English now versus any of the other languages you speak? Is there a different way to arrive at yourself when you are in one of your other languages? Do you know what I’m asking you?

I don’t do well in Bulgarian, which is probably why I left.

Why do you think that is? What do you think you don’t do well in that language? I’m interested in that.

The need for regeneration is so huge, and the need for escalation is just as big.

I don’t have an answer for you. It changes my energy. Bulgarians are very resilient and adaptable. You are a historian. We have dealt with a lot of stuff. I grew up during communism. In terms of resilience, adaptability and toughness, we are all these things. I remember walking on the street as a kid, and people don’t smile. If somebody smiles at you, it’s like, “What’s wrong with you? What are you smiling at?” It’s a different way of living and thinking. That might have been ingrained within me in the actual language and my being.

Going back to what you were talking about in terms of painting that picture and going back mentally, in a way, that is a little bit of a shamanic and spiritual hack. That is how you change your energy. How do you go from being in that depressed, tired and exhausted mental space to more of “Remember when?” You put yourself in the coffee in Paris, eating a croissant, and mentally transfer yourself there. You can shift your energy quickly that way. That’s probably why you are reflecting on that. It works.

When I’m in France, my French is basically like my tennis, guitar playing and sailing. It’s a comfortable version of mediocre that allows me to be myself. I used to work a good bit with a fabulous professor from a small school in Texas named Dr. Lynn Hoggard. She wrote a gorgeous lyrical piece. Her French is immaculate. She’s been a professor of French for a long time. She wrote this glorious tribute to this notion that when you learn another language, you acquire an opening to a part of yourself that you would not have gotten into without that language. It’s not just, “Go learn Portuguese.” It’s not as literal as that. It’s more lyrical.

Her argument is that by trying to release the pressure and the energy to communicate in a language where you’ve got to work and do these circumlocution workarounds to find the words or paint the picture of a simple sentence in a second or third language, you have this wonder through your own self and linguistic tools that give you a moment of a-ha. This is a sense of being me, Doug Mackaman, without this language, that I’m not great at but I’m good enough at.

I don’t have a full picture of who I am, who I have been, and who I’m damn determined to become. When I make an argument about travel, it’s not just, “Let’s go to France. It’s beautiful. Let’s go to Germany and see above.” I believe the power of who we are is unleashed. Every time you get to clank with some new keys and put that key in and turn that deadbolt, suddenly you breathe with a deeper chamber. You see with clear eyes. You hear without that bog of constantly having earbuds in. That’s where a better version of you is waiting at that moment.

I was very interested in languages as a kid and wanted to learn. To me, it opens up a whole new world. You are definitely on point there. I can talk to you for days, but I don’t want to be respectful of your time. Where can people find out more about you?

I’m on LinkedIn as a Douglas Mackaman, PhD and with the business, Sabatigo, The Regeneration Journey. Look online for Sabatigo. is our URL. We are super eager to be talking about this with you, Milena. Thank you so very much for the chance to be on your fabulous show and brainstorm with you. I am crazy about talking with you. Thank you.

I’m so excited we have connected, and we are in each other’s worlds. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us both. Thank you.

Thank you, Milena. All the best and we will be in touch soon.

Thank you so much for tuning in to the show and reading this episode. I hope you got a lot out of it. Connect with me at for more help on your journey to creating a sustainable, live-work-play design, and feel free to reach out directly to me. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review and share it with someone who needs to unhustle and you help more people find it. You can download my free eBook to see The 7 Superpowers of High-Performing Unhustlers at Also, tag me on social media, wherever you are @Unhustle, and let me know what was your biggest takeaway from this episode. I will see you in the next episode. Stay healthy and unhustled.


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About Doug Mackaman

UNH 4 Doug Mackaman | SabbaticalDr. Doug Mackaman is Founder and CEO of Sabatigo. He is Sabatigo’s Disruptor-at-Large, focussing on History, Culture, and Art. Doug’s pioneering books Doctoring on Vacation, and Leisure Settings are used by professors of business and culture around the globe as case studies in the history of professional burnout and regenerative travel. He has 25 years of experience as a distinguished university scholar and leader of high-impact immersion programs abroad. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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