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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Henderson

Crafting Your Home for Thriving: Insights from Matt Barrios

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Matt is behind a house.
Crafting Your Home for Thriving

Matt Barrios is a researcher, skilled writer, and transformational coach who explores the world of inspiration, growth, and creativity through the lens of home. Matt, along with his wife and adorable baby, has embarked on a global exploration, diving into the homes and lives of experts and everyday individuals. Today, we delve into Matt's Mustard Framework, his podcast "Home Life for Extraordinary Impact," and his mission to create a world where everyone has a home to thrive in.

Exploring Matt's Background:

Matt shares his intrinsic motivation for focusing on the concept of home, stemming from a deep reflection on personal values and the realization that homes are multidimensional spaces where people spend a significant portion of their lives. His journey is a fusion of research, marketing, comedy, and coaching, with each experience contributing to his unique perspective on the importance of home.

Unveiling the Home Life for Extraordinary Impact Podcast:

The conversation shifts to Matt's podcast, "Home Life for Extraordinary Impact," where he interviews experts and everyday people from around the world, exploring various dimensions of home life. The podcast aims to deliver insights that help people thrive at home by considering the multifaceted challenges and joys associated with it.

The Mustard Framework:

Matt introduces the Mustard Framework, an acronym representing Mind, Space, Time, Tech, Relationships, and Delight. The framework is designed to help individuals create life-giving boundaries between work and home, especially in the context of the increasing trend of remote work. It provides guidance on balancing different aspects of life to enhance overall well-being.

Creating a Personalized Home: Crafting Your Home for Thriving

Matt emphasizes the importance of aligning one's inner values with the external environment to create a sense of home. He encourages individuals to explore their values, sentiments, and preferences to personalize their living spaces, whether renting or owning. Matt's approach involves an internal inventory of values and finding ways to represent them in the home.

Navigating Relationships at Home:

The discussion extends to the complexity of home life, touching on relationships and psychological aspects. Matt acknowledges that home is a space where everything happens—sleeping, eating, working, and connecting with loved ones. He explores the challenges and joys associated with relationships at home and the role they play in overall well-being.

Inspirational Insights:

Michelle prompts Matt to share inspiration for individuals facing a challenging week. Matt emphasizes voicing confidence in one's innate worthiness and dignity, encouraging individuals to explore their dreams and passions. He believes in the transformative power of hope and acknowledges the potential for growth and passion through overcoming challenges.

Matt's Vision:

Matt shares his vision of a world where everyone has a home that fosters growth, meaningful connections, and sets individuals up to make a positive impact on the world. He envisions homes as places of refuge and consistent growth, contributing to grassroots change in the world.

The Superpower Wheel:

In a fun twist, Michelle introduces the Superpower Wheel, and Matt selects a unique superpower. His choice is to touch objects and transform them into incredible meals, a creative and delightful superpower that reflects his passion for food and hospitality.

Closing Thoughts:

As the episode comes to a close, Matt expresses his gratitude for the opportunity to connect and shares his contact information. The conversation leaves listeners inspired to consider the profound impact of their home environments on their overall well-being.

Transcript of Video:

Michelle Henderson (00:17):

Hello everyone. Welcome to Michelle's Inspiration Hour, the podcast that's here to uplift your spirits and fuel your motivation. I'm your host, Michelle, and in each episode I'm dedicated to bring you a dose of inspiration, joy, and the drive to conquer your goals. Today we have a truly remarkable guest joining us on the show, Matt Rios, someone who embodies the essence of personal growth and global perspective, hailing from the vibrant city of San Francisco. Matt wears many hats. He's a researcher, a skilled writer, and a transformational coach. But his journey does not stop there together with his wife, an adorable baby, and we can ask him about his wonderful baby. He's embarked on a global exploration, diving into homes and lives of experts and every day individuals across the world. So get ready to dive into the world of inspiration, growth, and creativity with Matt. His insightful research and transformative coaching have the power to leave a lasting impact, and you can explore more of his work at home life design Stick around because this episode is brimming with wisdom and motivation you won't want to miss. So let's bring him on. Hello, Matt.

Matt Barrios (01:45):

Hello, Michelle. Gosh, that's like the warmest welcome I've ever felt. I'm just so pumped up. Thank you so much for all these kind things you said to me. It's all about me.

Michelle Henderson (01:55):

Oh, you're welcome.

Matt Barrios (01:56):

I'm thrilled to get to be a guest on this show. And yeah, thank you for the opportunity.

Michelle Henderson (02:01):

Well, and it's incredible to have you because once again, I saw your profile and I thought, oh my gosh, it's so different. I mean, because the people I work with spiritually, they don't really consider their home as being important, and that's where we spend almost what, 80, 90% of our time. And so I saw what you were doing and I thought, oh my gosh, I've got to have him on so that he can guide us with his wisdom and your research, because I also love the research that you're doing as well. But before we dive into that, let everybody know what inspired you to get along this pathway, this journey of yours that you're on?

Matt Barrios (02:46):

Gosh, Michelle. It's a long story. I'll say the shorter version, but the gist of it is that I'm just a very intrinsically motivated person around home. Me and my wife had a conversation years ago where we asked the question if there was just one thing each of us really wanted to stand for in life, and obviously we're going to care about other things as well, but if there's just one thing that's smack dab in the middle, what is it? And my response was home. I actually think home is one of the most important things in our lives. Part of it is what you described. It's statistically been proven that the average person spends two thirds of their life at home, and yet it's something that is almost like hidden in plain sight, so easy to forget. So it was a combination of that kind of deeper reflection about what makes me tick, what do I stand for in life, mixed with this realization of like, oh yeah, this is actually, there's multifaceted multiple dimensions of challenges that people face at home that I want to help guide people through. So yeah, that is kind of the story in a nutshell.

Michelle Henderson (04:06):

And those women, that wife of yours got you on the right pathway. Sometimes it takes minds that are alike and similar to get on the right pathway. So how do you think that being a comedian, standup comedian or improv comedian? Improv? Yes, improv. I'm sorry. I know there's a difference. Improv comedian and being a transformational coach, and I know that you were a realtor at one time.

Matt Barrios (04:35):

Yeah, I worked in real estate. I was a marketing director for a real estate company. I'm not licensed as a realtor, but worked with the team. Yes.

Michelle Henderson (04:45):

So how did all of these skills, how does this help you in doing what you're doing now?

Matt Barrios (04:52):

Gosh, that's a great question. So first on improv, improv applies across life, period. I remember going into my first improv class here in San Francisco, and it was so wonderful because everybody is on the same page, all beginners at the same time. So it's not intimidating. I used to say it's like recess for adults to get to go to an improv class. And you go and you play and you learn how to step boldly and confidently into an unknown space with a supportive team and create. And I think, so that's my biggest takeaway skill from improv is actually, I would even say not only a comfort, but a value for stepping into uncertainty in order to create. So I'd say that's really, really helped me along the way, real estate marketing, because I have this background in considering homes and residences so deeply, and then turning that into sales and copywriting materials.

I feel like I know what people are looking for when they think about home on that side of it, where do I choose to live? And just learning how to articulate it and turned it into graphic documents and so on and so forth, sales documents. So I guess, yeah, I don't know. Many of these things converge in this project for me, which I am just so grateful for the opportunity to bring my improvisational self who wants to step into the unknown and create out of nothing, the marketer in me that can do all the design work and the copywriting work and so on. And yeah, I think it's really fun opportunity and outlet to do this.

Michelle Henderson (06:45):

And let's go ahead and bring up your podcast. I know this is a part of it, and we'll talk about the different framework that you have developed for your workshops.

Matt Barrios (06:54):


Michelle Henderson (06:55):

But let's go ahead and bring up your podcast home life for Extraordinary Impact.

Matt Barrios (07:01):


Michelle Henderson (07:02):

What is your inspiration behind this podcast here?

Matt Barrios (07:06):

I love podcasting as a format. I think just getting the opportunity to listen in on people's conversations, and you get unique angles on people's lives. So I have a deep research background. I used to be an academic for a couple of years. I was working at a university as an English instructor, teaching students critical thinking and writing. Did a ton of research work. I'm also trained as a UX design researcher. So these things come together in my angle on this podcast, which is researching, really interviewing deeply people's experiences of their homes. From this design research angle. I could get very, very nerdy about this stuff. I love research, but what I do is I interview folks who are sometimes experts such as a Danish wood furniture designer who has this unique expertise on building these heirloom pieces in people's homes, and also sometimes everyday people.

I had a conversation with a Gen Z young lady who just finished school who lives in Italy, and I have been making these connections with folks around the world in order to get a global perspective on home. Ultimately, I am doing this so that I can deliver insights to people, distill these insights by thinking about what are the things that are deeply human about home and help us really thrive at home by exploring it from every angle. So that's the whole mission of this project. And every time I interview somebody, what I'm looking for is those insights, those interesting things of delight or surprise that are like, oh, you do that. That would actually be really helpful if everybody did that. Right. So yeah, it's really fun.

Michelle Henderson (09:07):

Right? Yeah, and I absolutely love that because you are having such a variety of people. And here everybody, to me, it used to be called the melting pot, but I think it's globally now because we're so transit, we can move from country to country. The one thing that I did see on your podcast, and I know that you talk about the design of the home as well, about making it personality wise and functioning, but I also saw, and I think it was more of the most recent one, is navigating narcissistic relationships at home. Yes. And I think that is so important because not only do you dive into the concrete, but you also dive into relationships in your home and the psychological part of it.

Matt Barrios (09:56):

Absolutely. Home, as I mentioned before, it's like a multidimensional space. Everything's happening at home. We're sleeping and eating, we're bathing ourselves. We're having conversations with people that we love. We're hosting, oftentimes we're working at home. There's just so many layers. So I think that's part of what excites me about a really in-depth consideration and research around home and coaching people around their home lives, is that it's actually a way to touch on a little bit of everything, including relationships and the deep inner worlds of people, which is something that really, really matters to me as well,

Michelle Henderson (10:36):

Because a lot of people, when you get home, you're stressed. And, you want to de-stress. And I think it's great that you're able to really look at the different aspects of the home so that somebody can actually just relax in their home, because that's what it's all about. And so let me ask you a question. This happens a lot with my clients, is they don't know how to make it their home.

Does that makes any sense? It's like they're either renting and they don't know how to change things. What would you recommend to them about how to make it their own so that they feel like, spiritually, this is where I need to be?

Matt Barrios (11:22):

I love that you're asking that question. One of my clearest initial research findings from interviewing all these people and compiling all this information, people consistently brought up the idea of feeling at home. What does that even mean to feel at home? So I started digging into that phrase with people, and I came to realize what people mean by feeling at home is there's an alignment between their inner self and their outer world. So the things that they value, their thoughts on their mind, whatever it might be, is somehow represented or nurtured or supported in their external world. So for example, if a person comes home and they're exhausted at the end of day of work, and they just really, really, really need a place that can be a home to them, and actually they need some rest. So a nice comfortable armchair, we could put your feet up, that is the thing that will deliver a sense of home for you. Right?

And we can also go deeper into that. So the exploration for people around their deeper values. Do you care about being surrounded by beauty and design? What is your art style that you appreciate and you want to hang on the wall? You can see in the background here you've got this cool African tapestry that and these kinds of things. So I would just encourage people to do the internal inventory of values that you have. How can they be represented in your home? What, for example, sentimental objects are important for you. So hanging family photos, displaying that heirloom armoire in the corner of your house or whatever it might be, and just setting up those spaces to do that. Because as much as we're renting here in San Francisco, and as much as we can rent places, we can also still for whatever amount of time, make it a place that feels like us and put our stamp on it. So yeah, that would be that recommendation for people, the internal look, and how can I represent this in the environment around me?

Michelle Henderson (13:44):

Hi, if you are being inspired by this episode, please share with somebody that will also be inspired. We are here to change the world. Alright, let's get back to the conversation. Yeah, absolutely. Love. Because you can see behind me where I had to find little trinkets that not only thought of myself, but what could really inspire people. Okay. So behind me, I have two different bobbleheads.

Matt Barrios (14:14):

I love it. What are they?

Michelle Henderson (14:15):

Okay, so I have a hundred of them, probably about 120. It was an obsession at one time, and it was a collectible. So what they do, they represent different characters from my favorite movies. And so I had a room after one of my child left for college, and I had a room dedicated for Bobbleheads. And it just made me, it was so much fun, and it brought me joy.

Matt Barrios (14:44):


Michelle Henderson (14:44):

My husband on the other hand, he's going, oh, where else can we put these Bobbleheads?

Matt Barrios (14:53):

Always the negotiation, right?

Michelle Henderson (14:55):

That’s exactly right. So sometimes you have to negotiate.

Matt Barrios (14:59):

Yeah. Can I ask you a question about that real quick? Yeah. Maybe this will actually help land the point that I was describing. Absolutely. What do you feel like those bobblehead represent to you? What do they signify or mean to you?

Michelle Henderson (15:11):

I love it because my downtime, I love watching movies, movies, movies, because it's so creative, and that's how I can just kind of relax and have a great time. So the Bob Heads kind of represent the child in me to have fun and have joyful moments in each character. It's almost like, okay, in acting, each character is a different personality as well. And I don't know why I connect with these characters, but I'm also, I love to read books, so I'm all into creative storytelling.

Matt Barrios (15:50):

Oh, cool. I love that. So it's a combination of nurturing this inner child, having fun, valuing joy mixed with this creative part of you that loves stories and storytelling and everything. And so then it gets represented in this bubble head collection. I think that's such a clear example of, oh, these are things that matter to me that I value in my life, and I'm actually going to surround myself with that in my home in order to have that regular reminder. That's so cool.

Michelle Henderson (16:18):

Yes. So that's it. That's exactly, and right now I kind of put 'em on the side, but I'm about to have grandchildren, so I'm thinking maybe these will be toys for my grandchildren as well. But it does, it brings me joy and also having plants. But let's look at your workshop that you're teaching, and you call it The Mustard. I know there's an acronym, but Mustard Framework, which is M-S-T-T-R-D, and it stands for different things. Can you talk about that framework and how you came up with it?

Matt Barrios (16:54):

Yeah, absolutely. So this framework is, I created it out of seeing the need that almost every person was having around creating life-giving boundaries between their work and their homes. So especially in an increasingly work from home work, remote sort of world, we quickly adjusted to that for a while, but nobody has really cracked the nut for how to do that in an ongoing, sustainable way. So that's what I was trying to do is serve people with, Hey, here's some wisdom, some guidance. Here's a framework that's easier to understand and implement in order to create some helpful boundaries, supportive boundaries between your work and your home. So it helps people who work from public, it helps people who are working in an office, but Mustard, it's an acronym, and each one stands for different dimensions of the home. So I actually recorded a good podcast episode that's a kind of flyover of it, and you can also check out the workshop. But yeah, it was so helpful for me to, in my own home, I had to test it out for myself in order to think through the many different things that it takes to create boundaries because, well, one of the first things that I go through in the workshop is the fact that sometimes we need really firm boundaries with things. Sometimes we just need a really light little touch.

We don't need something really, really crazy or intense with it. Sometimes we actually just need, I don't even know how to say it, but we just need a little reminder perhaps. So at any rate, real quick, it stands for Mustard, it stands for Mind, space, time, tech, relationships, and Delight. I like that last one. And so each, yeah, delight, right? What's it for? Right. We want to enjoy our lives, so making sure that it's still on our minds that we're kind of jiggling our life in order to set it up for being a delightful experience of home and our work.

Michelle Henderson (19:31):

Yeah. Who would've known that we would be working from home? There's so many people who haven't gone back yet, and they're still working from home. But it's so funny because I think of Disney World used to have this futuristic, I guess it's display or whatever, and a show, and you would watch it. There was this family under the sea, you could see the sea and somebody scuba diving and the mom's homeschooling, and they're looking through monitors, through homeschooling, and they're being taught by a different teacher. They're being taught by mom and dad is a scientist. So he's working and

I'm thinking, oh, how awesome. We're homeschooling. We are working from home. Who would? And we're looking through monitors, and this was back in the eighties. I was like 18, 19 years old. And it's so wild how somebody who actually looked at this as a perspective and the future actually turned out to be correct.

Matt Barrios (20:38):

Yeah, that is wild. Those sorts of, I'm a very futuristically minded person. Strengths finder. That's my top strength futurist. And so I'm always interested in this relationship between imagination of the future and what actually gets created. The future is all being built by people who are imagining it right now.

Michelle Henderson (21:02):


Matt Barrios (21:03):

That's the way it works. And so those folks at Disney who are like imagineers, that's what they call

them. Right? Yes. You imagine it, and then it turns into that, it turns into a reality. I love it.

Michelle Henderson (21:12):

Absolutely. I'm thinking, we'll never be looking into monitor and talking to each other. And here we are. We got our cell phones and everything else. Okay. So there, I'm going to ask you about inspirational. Now, if I came to you now, this is nothing. Well, I mean, you can turn it into your home or whatever, but if I am having a horrible week, and I came to you and I go, Matt, what kind of inspiration can you give me to get through the week? What would you tell me? What would you say?

Matt Barrios (21:44):

Yeah, just some inspiration through the week. I think I would just, let's say it was just a random person on the street who's having a hard day, and they come up to me and I would just voice confidence in them. That's the biggest thing I would do. And just remind people of how innately worthy and worth full of dignity that they are, how they get to be of service to this world. And that's such a beautiful thing. And that for me to share a moment with them and let them know, Hey, I respect you. I care about you. Maybe I'm not going to be in your life for forever or whatever, but I just, yeah, there's respect and dignity. So I think that would be just the biggest thing is reminding people of how innately value able and worthy they are. That'd be step one.

I think step two would also be asking them questions about what are you dreaming of? What do you hope for? And I've learned over and over again, the energy of hope. And again, going back to being a very futuristic person, to have a dream that you're working toward, that might be a five year, 10 year, 20 year dream, but to have that vision in your mind, that's like, I'm excited about that and that's the thing that matters to me and that I would love to give my life toward and remember with hope, and it is possible.

And then the final piece I'd say is, yeah, I think it probably dig into because, because times are tough too. I think I'd also be interested in like, yeah, where are you hurting right now? So what's the struggle? What's the challenge? Just tell me about it. And because as much as I think there's a surprising, maybe nugget of inspiration that is available when we dig into some of our hurts, challenges, pains, I've experienced that my pains are my passions. It's the things that I have hurt through in my life that now fuel the things that I care about most. Even on this project around home. It's not that I had a horrible home or anything by that mean by those means growing up, but it was a place of loneliness. And now what I really stand for and love is this passion around hosting and hospitality from the home. That's one of the layers that I really care about. So helping people transform the hard day, the momentary challenges, whatever they might be, and see if there's an opportunity to turn that into passion,

as well.

Matt Barrios (24:49):

Well. Oh, I love it. Yeah, all of that. I think all those things,

Michelle Henderson (24:52):

See, and that tells us who you truly are because you are a service guy. You love to service others, and especially to make them happy where they are in their home, which is so important. Is there anything else that we did not talk about that you want to make sure that we do?

Matt Barrios (25:13):

Oh gosh. I mean, I feel like I could always talk days and days with people. I just love conversations and it just makes me so happy to have a moment to connect with you, Michelle. So thank you for the opportunity.

Michelle Henderson (25:26):

Oh, absolutely.

Matt Barrios (25:28):

And I think, yeah, I guess maybe just the final thing, I'll just say, the vision that compels me in this project is a world in which everybody has a home where they can really thrive.

And it is a place of refuge and consistent ongoing growth as a person, meaningful connection with the people that they live with or that they have over. And it sets them up to make their greatest impact in the world around them. Because I think the staff of grassroots change in the world, it really starts the home and me caring about how your home is and inviting you over to mine and taking care of that with one another. So that's the vision that I stand for is a world in which everybody has a home that they really love and can thrive in, and that we stand for that for other people as well.

Michelle Henderson (26:23):

Oh, I love it. Love it. You ready for the wheel?

Matt Barrios (26:26):

I'm so ready. Yes. I'm so excited for the wheel. I watched the previous show and I was like, oh, I can't wait for the real part. We

Michelle Henderson (26:32):

Move it over and open it so we can see it. Now we can spin it. All right. You ready?

Alright, let's do it.

Matt Barrios (26:38):


Michelle Henderson (26:39):

Yeah, this is good bringing out your child in you, right? With the will.

Matt Barrios (26:44):

Oh, a hundred percent.

Michelle Henderson (26:45):


Matt Barrios (26:45):

I love games.

Michelle Henderson (26:48):

I love when it's on the corner. Okay. We're talking about my little bobbleheads. A lot of 'em are superheroes, but you don't have to look as superhero. So if you had to choose a super power, what would it be?

Matt Barrios (27:04):

Superpower. Superpower? Good question. Wow. I don't have a pre answer for this question at all. So let's see. Okay. This is what it would be. Alright. It would be to be able to touch objects like rocks or something and then turn them into with a touch, incredible meals.

Michelle Henderson (27:48):


Matt Barrios (27:50):

So it's like the Midas touch turn things to gold except for it turns into a really good food for people. So I could just serve people up really good food and eat great food all the time. Oh my gosh. Yeah. It says a little something about my mindset too.

Michelle Henderson (28:04):

That is a wonderful superpower. You know what I'm saying? That would be wonderful.

Matt Barrios (28:08):

Yeah. Feed people and feed myself and that'd be incredible.

Michelle Henderson (28:11):

Oh, that's awesome. Because see, you don't have to cook. You just spend the time talking and eating. Exactly. Yeah.

Matt Barrios (28:19):

I'd probably put on a few pounds if I had a superpower for sure.

Michelle Henderson (28:23):

I was going to ask you, is that zero calories?

Matt Barrios (28:27):

Oh, that's the true superpower. It tastes incredible and it's zero calories.

Michelle Henderson (28:31):

That's right.

Matt Barrios (28:33):

That's right. That's great.

Michelle Henderson (28:33):

Alright, Matt, where can everybody reach you?

Matt Barrios (28:39):

Okay. Yeah, if you would check out home life design, that's where you'll see a lot of what I'm working on with this project. And I'm also available on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. Those are kind of the primary places where I'll do some posting and stuff. And if you want to find links to all of that really easily, like my profiles, if you go to Matt Barrio, stop me. There's a quick little landing page that has the links easy to access.

Michelle Henderson (29:09):

Awesome. Well, you heard it from Matt guys, of how you can make your home, be your home. It's what you make out of it. And make it something special where you are not only physically feeling really good, but also spiritually. And that is, to me, the most important thing, is really feeling that you can come home and be relaxed. Take off your shoes and who cares what anybody thinks of you. And just because home is so important. So thank you guys for listening. Matt, thank you for coming on and I will see everybody next week.


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