Interview with Andy Voggenthaler, the CEO of Race Guards
Race Guards was established in 2012 with the mission to provide “In-Race” race aid assistance to race participants from start to finish. Our team of medically trained professionals runs the entire race, in pairs, from start to finish providing support to runners who may be in distress, injured or needing medical attention. Race Guards are the only “in-race” race aid organization in the country, and it is our goal to be the standard of care at all running and endurance events around the world.
All Race Guards team members (with the exception of four paid staff members) are volunteers. All team members are endurance athletes, and the majority of them are medical professionals – looking for a way to give back to the running community. Race Guards have American Heart Association trained instructors on its team to provide the CPR, AED and First Aid training required to be a Race Guards team member. We work directly with the race director and race medical director to develop and execute a day of race medical plan.
Race Guards was launched at Finish Chelsea’s Run in San Diego, CA in March 2012. Since then Race Guards has expanded throughout the country, and in 2016 will support 40 races in California, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, Illinois, Minnesota and Texas. In 2017, Race Guards will be expanding its footprint in all markets listed above with expansion into Georgia and Florida. Race Guards has aggressive expansion plans in 2017 and beyond with new partnerships coming into place with the American Heart Association, HeartSine AEDs and others. Race Guards is also expanding its services into Hands Only CPR Training for race staff, volunteers and participants.
In this interview with Andy Voggenthaler, the CEO at Race Guards, we discuss the Race Guards charter of making racing safer for everyone by providing certified in-race First Aid.
Patrick: This is Patrick Henry, the CEO of QuestFusion, with the Real Deal…What Matters. I’m here today with Andy Voggenthaler. Andy is the CEO or Race Guards. Andy brings experience and expertise in brand development and strategic partnerships, having developed long-term licensing and business ventures for many companies including General Motors, Nabisco, Hang Ten, Dupont Teflon, Pebble Beach and AIG American General.
As the key business development executive at Matrix Direct, Andy was responsible for developing a complex yet extremely successful joint venture with AIG American General, which ultimately led to AIG acquiring Matrix in 2007. Today, Matrix is the leading direct marketer in terms of life insurance in the country. Welcome, Andy.
Andy: Thank you.
Patrick: Fill in the gaps. Tell me a little bit about yourself. You’re a local San Diegan, but where did you come from?
Andy: I grew up in the Bay Area in Sunnydale. It’s a great place to grow up as a kid. I always had a passion for sports. I was into water polo, running and triathlon as a young kid. I had these visions of going to Stanford. That’s what I wanted to do.
Unfortunately, like a lot of kids, I didn’t get in. I didn’t have a Plan B. A bunch of my buddies were going down to San Diego. I was into water skiing. I decided I would come to San Diego. I was here for the first semester, teaching water skiing and doing fun things.
Patrick: Did you go to San Diego State?
Andy: Yes, San Diego State, which is a big journey from Stanford to San Diego State. It was a great thing. Things work out for a reason.
Patrick: You’ve been in San Diego ever since?
Andy: Yes, ever since.
Patrick: Let’s talk a little bit about Race Guards. As I understand it, Race Guards has a corporate side, an LLC side, as well as a charitable foundation. During races, whether it’s triathlons or foot races, if someone has a problem and needs medical attention, you get involved with that.
Your website says, “We’re athletes who have a desire to provide support at running, cycling, triathlon and endurance events of any size and any distance. Our incredible team of CPR certified first responder volunteers ensure that participants have a safe and rewarding experience from start to finish. Race for good. Come join our team.”
You have sponsors as well. My wife, Amanda, just finished her first half marathon. She said, “Should I have a race goal?” I said, “The race goal on your first half marathon is to finish and not need medical attention at the end of the event.” She accomplished both of those things. She had a secret goal of having a certain time. Tell me about how Race Guards started. How did you get involved?
Andy: As I mentioned earlier, I’m a long-time endurance athlete. I love getting out there. “Go out hard and hang on,” was always my mantra. I’m not sure it works out to your benefit. Even when I was in high school, I saw people on the course having issues, myself included.
Over the years or running marathons and doing triathlons, I would see people having issues on the course. I thought, “There is a medical tent over there.” But no one wants to stop at a medical tent. I thought, “There has to be a better way for the little stuff, like cramping and chafing.” It’s always been in the back of my mind. Is there a better way to do this?
I was training for Iron Man Hawaii in 2004 at a training race in the desert. It was a small race triathlon. I got out of the water and ran to my bike. I started to put my gear on. You’re focused on your own thing, but I could tell there was something going on next to me. The guy was all over the place.
I thought maybe he was a rookie. I was paying attention to what I was doing on the bike. He collapsed into my hands. I grabbed him and said, “What’s going on?” His eyes were saucers. I yelled for help. There was a paramedic there, fortunately. He jumped over the bike transition area.
I looked down at the guy and said, “You’re in good hands now.” Another EMT came over. His eyes never blinked. I think he nodded. Then they were on him. I took a step back. Everything slowed down. Within a few seconds, they were doing CPR on him. The unfortunate news is that he died. He was 37 years old, the same age that I was at the time.
It was a defining moment. I thought, “There is an opportunity.” Through my work with AIG, I had won the community service award. I presented the idea of Race Guards. It’s about bringing teams of endurance athletes and medical professionals together, running in pairs. It can be fast pace or slow pace across the course with medical packs, tied into the medical director.
If there is something bad that happens out there, then off you go. I talked to AIG. At that point in AIG’s world, they had just collapsed. We sold our company. Then a year later, they collapsed. They thought it was a great idea. They said they’d like to sponsor it. It was under the Sun America brand name. They said, “Give it a go and see what happens.” At Finish Chelsea’s Run five-and-a-half years ago, we decided to try this idea of getting people certified with CPR, first aid and AED operations.
Patrick: You take people through that process as well?
Patrick: When you volunteer for Race Guards, you don’t necessarily have to have done those things. If you don’t already have those things, you facilitate that?
Andy: Regardless of your background, you’re going to have training through Race Guards on how to do it. If you’re a doctor endurance athlete or a medical professional of some sort, that’s different. Today, over 75% of our teams have medical backgrounds, such as doctors, EMTs and fire fighters. We will train all of them on how we do it out on the course. They’re there for first aid. If someone has a heart attack, some of us have AEDs. We can do CPR. The funny thing is, the first time we did this race, we certified. We said, “I don’t know if this is going to be a good idea or a bad idea.”
Patrick: When was this?
Andy: This will be six years in March. We didn’t know if it was going to be a good idea. Today, we have an app, which is amazing. Our technology is super cool. We keep track of everything. The race director gets real-time reporting. Back then, we finished Chelsea’s Run, which is a 5K. We had about 30 race guards and our gear from AIG. We were looking sharp. We did it.
It’s very similar to how we do it today with fast, medium and slow pace. We were in a 5K. I decided to hang out in the back with my friend Brad who is a race guard college buddy of mine. He was certified as well. Everything progressed. I didn’t know if anything was going on in front of us or not. I didn’t know if we were helping anyone or doing any good.
I looked over at my Buddy brad and said, “I don’t know if this is a good idea.” He said, “This is awesome. Keep going.” Then something happened 20 seconds later. We were running in Balboa Park. A guy was in his 60s. He wanted to look over the bridge to see the race coming around. He tripped on a curb and fell in front of us. He was bleeding. We were on it. We bandaged him up. That took some time, but he wanted to finish.
Meanwhile, the race was progressing. I got back to our tent at the finish line. All the race guards were back. I was thinking, “That was crazy. That guy fell down.” Meanwhile, there were some other issues. There were 10 to 12 people who needed stuff. Someone needed an ambulance ride, which wasn’t critical.
I got back to the tent. Here were all of these friends of mine who had been killing it like I had over the years with endurance sports. We were racing against each other and against the time. I looked around and everyone had a huge smile. They said, “That was so cool.” They were doing something that was totally different. Other race directors were there. They said, “Andy, can you come to our race?” The next thing you know, we’re off and running. I ended up leaving a nice job at AIG.
Patrick: You have volunteers, which we talked about. You have sponsors. Talk to me about that. Who are some of the big ones? How do you attract them? What’s their motivation for getting involved?
Andy: It’s a process as far as tracking down good sponsors. We knew that we were going to have to show our services to people for free. With old school race directors, they’re going to say, “Who are you? What are you doing?” Our whole model is to get sponsors going with you so that we can be at races, races in markets where our sponsors would like us to be. We want to do the service and help the race director. With good results, we turn that model to a pay-for-service kind of a deal. Sponsors would always be great, but paying for service is where we need to go.
Patrick: The race directors compensate Race Guards in addition to the sponsorship dollars?
Andy: They do now that we’re into it five years. Our initial model was, “We’ll come and do everything for free.” They might give us expo space for our sponsors for free as a trade. Here in San Diego, there are so many races. There are so many good race directors. They love Race Guards. Now we’re flipping the model from having sponsors primarily fund our business to more of a pay-for-service kind of model.
Patrick: Explain the corporate structure. You have the LLC. You have the foundation. How does that work? How do they work together?
Andy: The foundation came to us. It was an interesting opportunity for us. We were always an LLC from the very beginning. If people wanted to donate through the foundation, the idea is to help grow the Race Guard program, whether it’s a new market or to fund a new technology. That’s why the foundation is there. It’s a vehicle for people to do that. Surprisingly, most corporate partners come through Race Guards, LLC.
Patrick: You can get involved either way.
Andy: People can donate if they like to through the foundation.
Patrick: How big is the organization now? What percentage are volunteers?
Andy: We did over 50 races last year. That’s the tip of the iceberg. When you think about just running races, there are 30,000 races a year in the US. That’s not taking into account triathlons, adventure races, spartan races or cycling. We’re so tiny. That’s the opportunity. There’s really no standard of care today.
Anyone can say, “I’m going to do a race,” and get a permit for Balboa Park. I could say, “I’m going to do a race.” It’s not like you’re going to swim out in the ocean. You would need lifeguards. There’s no standard of care in racing, and there should be. Race Guards should be at every race across the country regardless. We are proactive. We can be reactive, but we’re proactive.
We’re helping with these little things in order to get more people across the finish line and reach their goals. We want to be there in case something bad happens. If they’re fine, that’s good, too. It’s comforting knowing that we’re out there and that, if you need something for a little thing that’s going on during the race, we’re there. We help get more people across the finish line safely. We also help with retention rates because the people have a great race experience, versus the race director who has one cup of water every two miles. Then people who have spent a lot of dollars on registration are mad because there was no support.
Patrick: How many metro markets are you in now?
Andy: We’re over 900 Race Guards across the country now. We had 50 races last year. We have a huge team in Texas. We’re in the Chicago area, the Midwest and Minnesota. We have big teams in California. We have a team in Boston. We’re growing in our markets where our sponsors typically want us to. We get hit up for races in South Dakota. There aren’t a lot of people in South Dakota so it’s hard for us to get to those races.
Patrick: Is this a company that you eventually sell or take public? Is it more of a non-profit?
Andy: We would ultimately like to sell it and grow. We want to be involved. Jeff Penrose is the President of our company. Then we have myself, our medical director, our national team director and our marketing director. We are passionate athletes. We’re passionate about what we do. We always want to remain there, but we may need some help to get bigger.
We’ve had 50 races. Let’s go to 300 races. Let’s go to 3,000 races. Ultimately, there’s an opportunity. We may need some help to get us to that growth metric. Today we’re at zero debt. We’re profitable. We’re not taking much out for ourselves. We can’t at this point. Ultimately, I can see this thing turning into something that has tremendous size to it as far as an ability to generate revenue but also help lots of people.
Patrick: Is there competition for Race Guards?
Andy: There’s not today. We’re the only ones doing it. Maybe we’re the only ones crazy enough to do it. There are a lot of moving parts to it. Fortunately, we have some great technology that we’ve developed that helps the race director see what’s going on. It’s like herding cats, getting all these Race Guards on time, trained appropriately with the appropriate level of insurance. We are down the path. Someone coming into it would have to figure all of that out.
Patrick: You told me how you got into it. Had you done startups before?
Andy: I’ve been entrepreneurial from the very beginning. As a young kid, I traded a bike for a motorcycle to get my first car when I was 12-and-a-half. I fixed up the car. People told me, “You’re not going to fix that old car.” It was a 1959 Edsel. I have an old car collection. By the time I was 16, I drove that Edsel from Northern California to Portland, Oregon and won best of show. I still have that car. I’ve always been motivated to do something when people tell me I can’t do it that way. With Race Guards, people said, “You can’t do that. You’re not going to be able to make that work. Who’s going to want to do that? That’s crazy.” You just charge on. We have our challenges. Sponsors are in and out. We deal with management changes. You just keep fighting the fight.
Patrick: Do you have any words of wisdom for the entrepreneurial audience?
Andy: If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, there’s always a way. You’re going to have dark days. Even right now, there are days when I say, “What are we doing? This is crazy how hard we work for little reward.” The idea is good. I’ve had plenty of ideas and tried down a path that just weren’t good ideas.
You have to know when to say, “This isn’t going to work,” and move on to the next one, and learn from it. Listen honestly to people. If they say something sucks, ask why. Learn from it or fix it. Ask someone else. If they tell you it sucks, then maybe it does suck. You can try something else or try a different angle. If there’s something that you’re intuitively passionate about, just keep going. Ultimately, things will turn around.
Patrick: I’m a big believer in that. You have to find that intersection of customers, your passion and domain expertise. It sounds like you’ve found that. If someone is a potential sponsor or interested in getting involved in Race Guards, how do they get a hold of you?
Andy: They can go to RaceGuards.org. We’re on Facebook and Twitter. Our website is the easiest way. There is an application if you want to be a Race Guard. We have 900 race guards. We have to keep track of them and their certifications. When they sign up for races, you need to make sure that they’re up to date on all of their certifications.
We have a platform where we do all of that and make it easy for the race guards when they come in. If you’re interested, fill out the applications. You can upload your certifications if you already have them. Sponsors can see all of our information on the website.
We’re just launching a Race Guards Alliance website. Here in San Diego, we have some favorite races, such as the San Diego Half, Carlsbad, the La Jolla Half and AFC. They’re great people. They’re great races. They’re well organized. They’re great partners of Race Guards. With the alliance, we do things for the races that are committed to putting Race Guards out there. We do special gear for them. It’s the pay-for-service model.
Patrick: Thanks, Andy. I appreciate you coming in today. Thanks for sharing about yourself and Race Guards. It sounds like you’re on the right track. What you’re doing is very cool.
Andy: Thank you very much.
This is Patrick Henry, the CEO of QuestFusion, with the Real Deal…What Matters.
It is Essential to have a Holistic Approach to Your Online Marketing Strategy
2017 was definitely an interesting year, which has included some crazy presidential politics, widespread “fake news” on the Internet, the continued takeover of the online world by mobile devices, and the evolution of social media platforms to include new features and services. If we look closely at all this, we may lose the big picture, but if we take a few steps back, it gets clearer. People are relying more and more on the Internet for their news and information, and the need for real-time access and ability to respond continues to accelerate. This has broad based implications for business, including B2B and B2C.
One thing that is critical in the success of any company is establishing leadership and authority online. It takes time, especially for a startup, and it is not a straightforward path.
So what are the keys to success in online marketing in 2018? Here is my top six:
(1) Build Your House on Land that You Own, Not Space that You Rent
As Michael Hyatt said, “When it comes to your (online) platform, you can’t afford to build your house on a rented lot.” You must to have your own website, your own domain name, and your own brand presence at the top if you want to have a successful marketing strategy. The temptation is very high to use and leverage a platform that has already been built by others. The problem with that strategy is that the owners of that property are constantly changing the rules, so it is difficult, if not impossible, to execute a branding and content marketing strategy on such a platform. Social medial platforms should be used as market channels, not the primary platform for your business. Companies that have made the mistake of building their house on a rented lot, so to speak, have sometimes paid dearly for this mistake. I am talking about social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn, but also blogging platforms like Medium and Tumblr. You should have a brand presence on at least two key social media channels that are important to your audience and your customers. You need to “hang-out” where your audience hangs-out. I also use blogging platforms like LinkedIn Pulse, Medium and Tumblr to repost my blog content. Social media platforms have tremendous reach, so they are potentially powerful channels for communication and distribution of your content. Use them in this way.
(2) Be Social on Social Media, Even as a Business
It is called social media for a reason. That is because you need to be social. You need to use social media channels as a way to interact with your audience and your customers. As mentioned above, pick the channels that work best for your business. There are a whole host of channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, Pinterest, Medium, LinkedIn, Google+, and many others. Craft a strategy that works for those channels and how your audience uses those channels, but also use those channels in the best way for your brand. With some channels like Twitter, you need to post frequently to build your brand, and this requires some level of automation. But don’t be a robot. Interact with your audience. Reach-out. Build alliances. Actively communicate. Be “live” with your audience sometimes.
(3) Implement Content Marketing as a Linchpin of Your Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is about creating and distributing valuable content to your target audience and customers, and it is also a critical part of a successful company’s marketing plan. There are various different mediums including: blog posts, white papers, video blogs or vlogs, infographics, memes, illustrations, landing pages, live video, podcasts, webinars, contributed articles, and demonstrations.
Creating content is important to establish your online credibility and leadership in yours and your company’s areas of expertise. As you get online, most people don’t know you, and so they can’t trust you. If you look at traditional marketing, you need to spend time with customers to build-up your credibility and to get customers to trust you. Online it is even more difficult, so you have to give stuff away for free without being overly promotional. As you establish your credibility and gain the trust of your following, you can start to market to them. If you really have something that they want and need, then they will engage with you. This is how you build your online sales funnel. It is the same old marketing story: AIDA…Attention, Interest, Decision, and Action.
Content marketing when done correctly also works to build the online authority of your web site. First you need to produce great content, and then use solid digital marketing principles to make sure that your audience sees it. “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?” I’m not sure. However, I am sure that even if you write great content, and you don’t do the right things to make sure it shows-up in search results on your key topic, or in front of your audience via a Facebook Ad or an email, it is likely that your audience will never see it.
(4) Use Inbound Marketing Due to It’s Superior ROI, Even if You Use It in Combination with Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is the traditional form of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience. It includes TV advertising, direct mail, billboards, and the like. Outbound marketing is the opposite of inbound marketing, where the customers find you, mostly through various paid and natural search engine marketing efforts.
The fundamentals of inbound marketing are writing great content, getting it in front of your target audience, and getting them to desire more information. To drive leads and conversions, you need to write great content, have a clear call to action for the target customer, give them something additional for free so you can get their email address, and market to them directly through email in a targeted and segmented way based on their area of interest. It is worth checking-out HubSpot’s Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics.
This is the way that inbound marketing campaigns should be run. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Consumers and business people are bombarded with advertising and promotions into their email inbox, and it is hard for the consumer to sort through it all. As a result, a lot of people don’t open the emails that they consider SPAM, or unsubscribe from the email list. As such, it is critically important that you are offering something that the customer really wants or needs, and you are using traditional marketing and sales principles, but in an online world.
I remember when email first started going into widespread use. There were so many people that had no clue about email etiquette including how to write an email, which customers they should put on the distribution list, who the email should be TO, and who should be CCed. Should you ever use BCC? If so, when? How do you state action items? When is it better to talk to someone in person versus sending an email? Unfortunately, many people, including a number of business professionals, still don’t know how to properly use email. The use of email as an outreach campaign to customers is very similar. However, email marketing has now been in broad based use for long enough that there are some good statistics and “best practices” about what has the best chance of working, and what does not.
Good inbound marketing requires an intimate understanding of your customers’ problems, your solutions, your unique value proposition, and an ability to clearly and crisply articulate that value in an environment where attention spans are short and growing shorter. That said, in today’s world, all companies need to be online, and they need more than just an online presence, they need to have an online focus and strategy.
(5) Know the Rules of the Internet, Use Them to Your Advantage and Outsource as Appropriate
Just like driving a car, you need to know the rules of the road on the Internet. This is easier said than done since Google is constantly changing their search algorithm, and the major social media channels like Facebook are constantly changing their rules as well. In this environment, you need to hire a number of experts that will specialize and keep current in the various aspects of your online platform development and management, or you will need to outsource. I think the best strategy is to outsource, unless you are an extremely large enterprise. And even then, you still may want to outsource.
Like starting any agency relationship, you need to know enough to keep the agency honest, and be able to ask tough questions. You need to understand some of the underlying tools and technologies, and measure results. Fortunately, it is much more straightforward to measure ROI for online marketing than it was for traditional marketing.
(6) Automate Where You Can
The sophistication of the tools to manage the elements of your online platform has improved dramatically over the last few years. However, you still need to have a level of sophistication and expertise to use the tools correctly. It is very easy to use the tools in a suboptimal way if you don’t understand the rules of the road, as mentioned above. However, you must use these tools in order to be effective and efficient in implementing an online platform strategy. Even if you outsource your digital marketing, you should have a basic understanding of key tools and what they do. You should have a strong partnership with your marketing agency where there is a level of transparency, and you can ask questions. At the same time, the bigger focus should be on ROI, as long as you feel that your agency is delivering results in a competitive and cost effective way.
The Internet is a noisy place, and it just keeps getting louder and more cluttered. Strategies that worked even two or three years ago no longer work to establish your online leadership and authority. Social media platforms keep changing their rules, Google keeps changing their algorithm, and numerous tools for managing inbound marketing, social, and digital strategies have been introduced into the market.
Bottom line, we have learned that success online requires a holistic marketing strategy that includes many of the traditional marketing and sales strategies that were used before the Internet, but now, digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing are required to ultimately succeed.
I will go out on a limb and say that any business, not just a business that was started online, but any business, big or small, that does not have a comprehensive online strategy & focus, and not just an online presence, will be dead or severely in trouble in the next 10 years.
This is Patrick Henry, CEO of QuestFusion, with The Real Deal…What Matters
When I moved to San Diego back in 2014, I had NO idea this city was so incredible. (I know..my favorite word. *rolling eyes*) But, seriously. San Diego is freaking amazing and every day I learn something new! I remember googling “things to do in San Diego” before visiting the first time, only to find Sea World, Legoland, and the Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove. Nothing else, and I thought, “Hmmm, kind of boring.” HA! I had no idea the restaurant culture was so intense, and the adventures can pile on in layers. There is something exciting to do in every single neighborhood in this fine city, and I am SO blessed to have captured so much of it over the past few years! From hiking to golfing to horses and parties (like Opening Day in Del Mar), there is SO much fun to be had here, and I have been having so much fun not even realizing how much content I’ve created. There are now over 275 stories posted here on thesdlifestyle.com all about San Diego!! And this year, the blog has made it to FeedSpot’s list of Top 50 San Diego Blogs and Websites on the Web! I feel so honored and I cannot thank each and every one of you reading right now for mentioning the next best place to try out for lunch, or asking questions that lead me to more discoveries in search of answers! I can’t wait to see what this next four years, and more, has in store!!
The blogs listed are the Best San Diego blogs from thousands of top San Diego blogs in our index using search and social metrics. This is the most comprehensive list of best San Diego blogs on the internet. These blogs are ranked based on following criteria:
Google reputation and Google search ranking
Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
Quality and consistency of posts.
Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review
Again, I thank all of our readers for checking out our blog and commenting! It really adds to the community! See you around San Diego!
I recently had the opportunity to video chat with Lauryn, creator of The Skinny Confidential (TheSkinnyConfidential.com) about her brand, style and life here in San Diego. I learned so much about business, not letting others get to you, and I even learned a bit about Michael, Lauryn’s husband! Watch the full video interview to learn about Lauryn’s entrepreneurial business and blog turned podcast turned fitness e-book (and much more!!):
Here are the 5 biggest pieces of advice I took away from my video chat with Lauryn on how to “win” at life in the upcoming year:
1. Beat to the tune of your own drum.
Lauryn just IS herself. Totally. She never apologizes for it, and no woman should have to. She inspires you to be honest with yourself and live your life for fulfillment. She says, “I never felt that it was where I was supposed to be, even in high school. I remember looking back at high school and feeling that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. That’s weird for a high schooler to say, but that’s how I felt. I started to realize that the reason I was feeling unfulfilled was because I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do or beat to the tune of my own drum. I was doing what other people told me that I was supposed to do. The second that clicked for me is the second that I rebelled and pushed back. I said, ‘Wait a minute. I need to reevaluate what I’m doing. I need to figure out a way where I can work for myself for the rest of my life and do things the way I want to do it.’ That’s where the Skinny Confidential came about.”
2. Don’t ask yourself how you will monetize your blog or website. Just focus on your passion, and then rinse and repeat.
Lauryn didn’t start The Skinny Confidential to monetize the platform. She started with a passion for connecting with other women. She says, “Looking back, that’s everyone’s concern. How do you monetize? That’s such a mistake. Everyone leads with that. I don’t feel that I’ve led with that. I think money comes when you lead with bringing value and community. I don’t think asking yourself, ‘How am I going to monetize?’ is the first question that I would ask. Lead with value. That’s how it started for me and The Skinny Confidential. It launched in 2010. I think I got 300 hits the day that I launched, which is nothing. I just kept doing it every single day for seven years, seven days a week. Rinse and repeat.”
3. Share your intentions with the world, and then, stay true to them.
Lauryn has always had pure intentions of helping others. She doesn’t just promote any random company and product that throws money at her. She’s very careful to be transparent with her audience. She says, “My intentions of building a community and providing value have always been the right intentions. I never want to pull a fast one on them. I’m not just looking to push product in their faces. If anything, I show what I really like. I say, ‘Leave what you don’t like, take what you do.’ I’m always doing give aways. A lot of bloggers will take the product that they get and display it in their room. I want to give it all back. I want to give back to the people who support me.
4. Find a way to keep in touch with others, and give back.
Lauryn is always looking for ways to give back to her audience. She says, “I’m doing this thing right now where I follow a lot of the people who have been following me on Instagram. The intent is that I’m wondering who some of these people are that I haven’t met in person. A big part of my brand is doing meetups, interfacing with these girls and talking to them, hearing about what they’re doing. I wanted to build something that was way bigger than Lauryn Evarts. The Skinny Confidential is so much bigger than me. With that intent, it comes off like that. I do want to inspire women to do what they want to do, when they want to do it, and not have to apologize.
5. Don’t be nervous to live YOUR life.
Lauryn is a huge believer in living life your own way. She travels a ton, and loves her busy life just like that. She’s realized you can’t hold back, and you can’t live for anyone but yourself. She says, “You wouldn’t believe how many people are nervous to do something because of their boyfriend, their family or what their mom will think. You can’t live your life like that. You have to live for yourself. Everyone’s different. I think that, nowadays, what’s cool is not to be someone else. It’s to be the best version of yourself. That’s changed. We used to look at celebrities and think, ‘I want to be like that.’ Now, in 2017 and going into 2018, the conversation will be, ‘How can I be the best version of myself instead of wanting to be someone else?’”
The first few minutes of my video chat with Lauryn taught me a lot about being grateful and having a positive attitude, and the rest of the video chat was filled with fun, valuable information, sprinkled with some GREAT recommendations of local San Diego favorite places from Lauryn. Is there something you’re dying to ask her? You can comment below, and we’ll be sure to video chat with her again soon to get your questions answered!
Almost every day, I drive by a construction site for a new development called One Paseo on the corner of Del Mar Heights Rd. And El Camino Real. It looks like it will be pretty amazing, and instantly my mind starts to wander with questions. A few weeks ago, I was so curious, that I reached out to Paul Komadina from CBRE and he invited me down to the brand new CBRE office in UTC to talk about their new office, and introduce me to Carrie Bobb who he explained would answer all of my questions. Check out my video interview with Paul and Carrie, and see for yourself how One Paseo will change the San Diego community:
Amanda: Hey everyone. It’s Amanda with the San Diego Lifestyle. I’m here in Carmel Valley, right across from the new project, One Paseo. I was intrigued. I had to find out more information. I searched and found some incredible people to interview.
It led me to UTC to talk with Paul Komadina. He led me through one of his amazing corporate offices. He talked with me about the project. He also introduced me to Carrie. You’ll find out more about her. They both had a lot to say about the One Paseo project. First, I want you to know all about this amazing new office that they have in UTC. Let’s talk to Paul and hear all about the new UTC CBRE office.
I have Paul Komadina here with me. Tell me a little bit about who you are and where we are.
Paul: I’m Paul Komadina. I’m Managing Director for CBRE San Diego. We’re a global commercial real estate advisory firm based in Los Angeles. We have a significant presence all around the world with 400 offices. We have three offices here in San Diego. We’re sitting in our largest office here at Westfield UTC. We serve two main clients. We serve owners of real estate across all product types. We also serve tenants who occupy real estate with small, medium and large companies, and everything in between.
Amanda: You just moved in here about six weeks ago.
Paul: Yes. We’ve been in San Diego for many years. We were across the street at The Plaza for the last 32 years. We made the transition here to Westfield about six weeks ago after a three-year planning development and construction process. It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been an amazing six weeks.
Amanda: Tell me some things about this office. I took a mini tour. Tell me some of the amazing features.
Paul: There are a lot of things that people have been excited about. First, we’re located in the premier shopping destination in Southern California in UTC. We have 1.3 million square feet of amenities right outside our backdoor, including a new flagship Nordstrom, and many other world-class retailers. Access to amenities, shopping and restaurants is number one. Second, a focus on hospitality is critical for us. It starts with the arrival to the office. We utilize a fully appointed valet out front.
Amanda: That experience was wonderful.
Paul: Our employees and guests utilize the valet. It’s all about welcoming people. Walking into the space, we have two full-time concierge that are here to manage the employee and guest experience. They make sure that you everything you need to be successful throughout your day. We’re sitting in the heart of our roughly 4,000 square foot lobby with 17-foot ceilings and 12-foot glass.
Amanda: It’s so open and bright with natural light.
Paul: We host a lot of events for employees and clients. We built a large lobby so that we can host all of those events here and bring people together. It’s not only for ourselves, but also to bring the community into our home. We have a number of events on the calendar over the next 90 days.
The community will be using our space to entertain. For us, it’s a great opportunity to become one with the community. Technology has been a huge element. We have a nine-screen media wall behind us where we can recognize employees and run Final Four games. We have four places in the office where we can open 12-foot high glass, 15 feet wide into the outdoors. We can bring the outdoors in. It’s been a game changer for people.
Amanda: Being able to get air in the building instead of just looking at it from inside makes a difference.
Paul: San Diego is such a wonderful place to be with an incredible climate. To not be able to be part of it throughout the work day is a lost opportunity. It’s a great chance for us to bring it in.
Amanda: It’s amazing that you saw and understood that coming into this building. How long did it take to build?
Paul: From the start of construction to move in, it was just shy of six months. From the initial idea to moving in was about a three-year process. A significant portion of that was going from a traditional office environment to an environment where not one single person, regardless of tenure or title, has an assigned workspace.
Getting people ready to live in a paperless environment where they’re living out of a backpack and don’t have personal space is a big change from what they’re used to. A lot of the three years was spent getting them prepared for this new environment. It’s been really rewarding. It’s a process that brought us to where we are today.
Amanda: It’s crucial because that’s where the world is going now. It’s paperless. I also noticed the desks where you can sit down or stand up, and change it with the push of a button. That is amazing.
Paul: There is a push within our company, and the world, to focus on wellness. We had a health and wellness committee that helped drive a lot of the things that are part of this office. Electronic sit/stand desks are really important. I can think of a handful of people in the office that, in the six weeks that we’ve been here, have not sat down one second. By and large, people are standing 30% to 50% of the time. That’s been a huge element that people are enjoying.
Amanda: I’m surprised by that. I like to sit down when I work.
Paul: Having the flexibility is the key.
Amanda: I take a break, get up and walk around. I’m sure it helps you focus and stay on track more. You’re able to get up and move, and still stay on task.
Paul: Our whole thesis is, how do we design a workplace that fits the way people work today and makes them more efficient, better at what they do and have more fun with what they do? People are able to sit, stand or move around the office. They can be mobile and work in the heart of the office, from a coffee shop, work station or private office. You need to have the flexibility to do it. That was the driving force behind the move.
Amanda: I was a little bit intimidated downstairs when I saw the big, neon CBRE sign. I didn’t know if I should go in or not. Do you welcome the public in or is this more for the people who work here?
Paul: First and foremost, it’s a place where people go to work. It’s primarily for our employees and clients. One of the things that we thought about was, when we move to a very public place like a mall, we’re going to have more people stop in. We’ve welcomed people who happened to stumble into our space.
They asked, “What do you do? Tell me about your space?” We’re welcoming all people to come through whenever they want. First and foremost, it is a place of business. We’re navigating some nuances that we’re not used to. Overall, it’s been great so far.
Amanda: This office is a step above the rest. What’s your message to people who are working in real estate or other closely related fields? What do you want them to know about this space?
Paul: In today’s environment, it’s about recruiting and retaining the best people. That could be in sales, financing, property management or a host of other things. If there are people working for other companies and industries who have an interest in anything associated with commercial real estate, our goal is to be an employer of choice.
A significant element of being an employer of choice is, what is your work place like? What’s the culture that it fosters? Based on our move here, we want it to be an opportunity to recruit and retain the best talent. If there are people out there who have an interest in commercial real estate and are looking for a new opportunity, we’re always open to entertaining new ideas about how we can incorporate the best talent into our firm.
Amanda: Do those agents come and talk to one person? Is it you? Are there different teams?
Paul: There are a lot of avenues. We’re a big company. I can always be a starting place for anyone. I may not have all the answers, but I can find the right people who have the answers.
Amanda: Do you have any final words about this amazing office here?
Paul: It’s been an amazing journey. People are resilient. Sometimes you have to challenge them beyond what they’re comfortable with. Sometimes they don’t realize what they want until they have it. Putting together a really good project plan, crafting the vision and showing how you’re going to achieve that vision has been a challenge with this project.
For me personally, that’s the part that’s been the most rewarding in getting people to where we are today. The impact of this space, the location, the design, all of the elements, and the impact on our people and our culture have been incredible. It has exceeded all of our expectations.
Amanda: It impacts the community as well. I can’t wait for your next public event. Thank you so much for your time today, Paul. If anyone wants to stop by and ask Paul a few questions, he’s welcoming you to do that.
Paul: Thank you.
Amanda: It was nice to talk with Paul about the CBRE office that’s open in UTC. I know what you’re dying to know about is the One Paseo project. I sat down with Carrie Bobb to learn about the details and how it will impact our fabulous San Diego community.
We’re here with Carrie Bobb. She’s an incredible lady. I want to talk to you about what’s going on in San Diego, these mixed-use spaces and how it all ties together. There’s so much going on.
Carrie: This project is amazing. Westfield had done an amazing job tying it all together. Everything is beautiful. I love our office. It’s where everything is going today with the best office projects and the best retails projects. The lines are being blurred. It’s all being tied together. That’s the essence of One Paseo.
Amanda: People keep asking me about it. I drive by almost every day. What is it exactly?
Carrie: It’s retail, office and residential. There is 95,000 square feet of retail, 280,000 square feet of office and 608 residential units. Every aspect of it is absolutely beautiful. They’re executing flawlessly on each segment. The residential is beautiful. The office is cutting edge. The retail is softer with a heavy emphasis on place making experiential retail.
Amanda: What is place making?
Carrie: The idea is that it’s a cool place to hang out with great shops and great restaurants. It’s more about how you feel when you’re there, evoking emotion and being in a cool place where you want to hang out with your friends and family. We’re picturing people in Carmel Valley in their neighborhoods standing on their driveway on a Friday night. The kids are running around. They’re saying, “What do we want to do tonight?” They say, “We’ll go to One Paseo and figure it out when we get there.”
Amanda: With the different mixed uses, will there be people living there, too?
Amanda: It’s not just another mall.
Carrie: It’s definitely not a mall. It’s small. It’s only 95,000 square feet. It’s very quaint and charming. It’s executed really well. Great restaurants and retailers are coming. We’re waiting to announce a few things. I wish I could tell you now. You will love it. It’s going to be great. I’m proud to be working on it.
Amanda: Did you have the vision for One Paseo and then it was about finding the location, or did you have this location and you didn’t know what to do with it?
Carrie: Kilroy is the developer. Their inspiration and vision for the retail part is a country mart. The inspiration is the Malibu Country Mart in the Bay Area. It’s almost like 12 to 14 different barn-type cottages across the property. You make little discoveries as you walk through the project. It’s not linear. You have to wander and meander. There are great common spaces, like the kid’s playground area. It is hollowed out trees. Kids can crawl in and out of them. Adults can do it, too. They have mason jar lighting hanging above the tables. Every detail has been thought through.
Amanda: People are wondering about traffic and parking. How will everyone get there? Have you addressed some of those things? How has the planning been going with that?
Carrie: The parking deck is done. There are many different points of entry. The access is really simple. Everyone goes into the parking deck at the entrance of the project. All paths lead to the parking deck. There is a high-tech system that tells you how many minutes for short-term parking, how many spaces are full and free. They’re trying to make it as easy as possible.
Amanda: I think it will be a benefit to people. As the community grows, this is another option that people have. They can shop and hang out. It’s for the better. Many people were nervous about it coming in. Was there something else planning on going in that space before they decided on that?
Carrie: The retail aspect of the project is really different than what was planned five to seven years ago. It’s been scaled down significantly. The design is so different. The people who were fearful of traffic are going to love hanging out there. The aesthetic and design of what they’ve done with the country mart, people who are in attendance have a change in body language. They lean in to see more. They’ve done a great job on the design.
Amanda: Has the business population been excited about this space?
Amanda: It’s packed in there already.
Carrie: We are merchandising it for the residents, too. The office and retail are close. The office and retail tenants tie in. The restaurants can cater to the office, much like they did here.
Amanda: It’s been amazing coming here today to visit this office. There’s so much going on in UTC right now. San Diego is booming. It’s growing and growing. I think it’s great. We have a problem with not enough houses. Hopefully we’re addressing that a bit. Is there anything else that you wanted to say about One Paseo? When will it be done?
Carrie: We’re shooting for March 2019 for a grand opening. We’re moving fast. I’m excited for you to shop there.
Amanda: Me too. I live right down the road. I will be there. Thank you so much, Carrie, for talking with me about One Paseo.
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