In this series, we sit down with the staff and subject matter experts (SMEs) that facilitate the many different workshops, Q&As, and processing calls with Tempest members.

Today we’re talking with Chris Marshall, founder of Sans Bar. Chris is one of our SMEs for Finance month in our membership program — he’ll be leading a workshop to help folks find a sense of purpose and direction in sobriety. Chris is a big believer in building community through entrepreneurship, his alcohol-free bar in Austin, TX, offers live music, a wide variety of mocktails, and a safe and inviting place for people looking to have a good time without drinking.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I had been a substance use counselor in Austin for eight years and held a comfortable position as a team lead. While I loved my job, I felt burnt out and lacking focus at work. I sensed a deep desire that this was the time to follow my dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. I slowly began to spend my free time working on a passion project until I was able to quit my job, and pursue developing my business full time. Today, I am the owner of Sans Bar which is a sober bar in Austin, the co-founder of Sober by Southwest, and I tour the country producing alcohol-free social events. 

What drew you to teach others about finding purpose in sobriety?

Once I took the leap into the world of entrepreneurship I became fascinated with how others pursued their passion, and I’ve become a mentor to individuals who want to follow in my footsteps. I am so excited to teach this subject because I feel that so many books around passion projects and purpose fail to capture the very real emotional cost of investing your time (and sometimes your money) into your passion project. 

What does the word recovery mean to you?

The definition of recovery has changed so many times since I stopped drinking in 2007. For the longest time, I measured my growth in recovery from alcohol use by the number of days I had been abstinent. I now see that counting days is but one metric we have to mark progress. Today recovery means that I work towards blissfully existing in my purpose. 

Do you have an affirmation you use regularly? 

My mantra is: do not let the perfect get in the way of the good. When I stopped drinking, I was smacked with the reality that I am a bit of a perfectionist and a control enthusiast. I thought that my life had to be perfect before I opened my own business. I give my permission to fail, to fall short, to get it wrong, and to be ok with the imperfect path ahead of me. 

Can you list a few things you have in your sobriety “toolkit”? 

My toolkit is filled with things that help me process my anxiety and depression. I have been in therapy for the past decade or so. I also love making delicious drinks at home after a long day of making drinks for other people. Running has become an activity that I’ve come to enjoy during the pandemic. After being inside for most of the spring, it feels good to move my body and watch my physical self work in a way I didn’t believe it could. I also really like to find creative things that challenge me to exercise my imagination. Lately, I have started to draw and I really suck at it, but it brings me back to the understanding that I don’t have to be perfect today to make a difference.

What’s the best part about being sober?

When I consumed alcohol, my entire life was about cleaning up the messes I made. 

The best part of being sober is the freedom I have to do anything I want to in this world. I am free to try new hobbies, to travel, to create, to build a business. I still have no master plan for my life, and don’t think I need one. As long as I am sober I am free to stumble and rise again. 

Want to learn more about Tempest Membership? You can explore the program here.