Help Support Declining Species by Attending a Special Mission Wildlife Event in San Diego
Mission Wildlife is a wonderful organization that helps educate people about declining animal species. Each year, they host a fundraiser at a private home in San Diego, and this year promises to be another wonderful experience! (Buy tickets here!) We got a chance to sit down with Julie Scardina, Animal Ambassador, and talk to her about this upcoming event and what it really means to the organizations it will help on October 7th when it happens.
Tickets are available now here at this Eventbrite link. There are two types of tickets you can purchase, a general admission ticket, or for a bit extra, you can purchase a VIP ticket, giving you admission into the event over an hour early. This will allow you to meet the animals and get very close and personal with them.
Once the general event begins, there will be animal demonstrations and announcements but there will be limited time to meet the animals, so make sure to grab a VIP ticket and get there early! See you there!
Here’s what Julie had to say (and don’t miss the ending where I demonstrate how Mission Wildlife will be receiving donations via a feathered friend of Julie’s!!):
Amanda: Hey everyone. It’s Amanda with the San Diego Lifestyle. I’m here today with a really exciting guest, and a co-guest who is even more exciting. This is Julie Scardina and she is with Mission Wildlife. Why don’t you tell us who you are and how you came to do this?
Julie: My background has always been with animals. I’ve been an animal lover since I was born. I’ve worked for many years for Sea World and Busch Gardens. I was able to do a lot of amazing and spectacular things, one of which became a passion for me. This was conservation.
I realized that the animals we worked with at Sea World are ambassadors for their wild counterparts. Through that process of learning more about what is going on in the wild, I realized that there are a lot of big issues out there. In the last 40 years, more than 50% of the animals on the planet have disappeared. That’s huge in terms of numbers.
It has become my life’s passion to be active in conservation and figuring out ways that we can help. One of the things that I’ve been fortunate enough to do is travel a lot. I’ve been to all seven continents. Every trip is amazing. I love seeing new places, and especially viewing wildlife when I’m there. Going to Africa the first time blew me away.
There is the diversity and number of animals that are there. Seeing the changes in the last 20 years that I’ve been going is something that I felt we need to do something about. I was on a trip in 2013 with friends and family. We visited some conservation partners Ewaso Lions, Uganda Conservation Foundation and Save the Elephants.
On the way home, we said, “We have to do something to help these organizations fulfill their missions and help save these species.” So, we did. We created a fundraiser that became known as Mission Wildlife. This is our fourth year. On October 7th this year in Poway, we’re having our fourth fundraiser.
It’s not just about raising funds for these organizations but also about raising awareness. We do it in a way that is fun and entertaining. You come and meet animals. We brought one of the ambassadors. This is Brisbane.
Amanda: What kind of animal is he?
Julie: Brisbane is an umbrella cockatoo, or a white cockatoo. He is just one of the many ambassadors. He will be collecting donations. We’re practicing this. We’ll also have other animal ambassadors there to meet, such as a serval from Africa. It’s a small to medium-sized wild cat.
We’ll have a lemur, which was made famous from the Madagascar movies. We’ll also have a number of other different species, hopefully an African porcupine. Sea World will hopefully be able to bring some of their ambassadors. I’m hoping for a penguin.
Amanda: You never really know what you’re going to get.
Julie: No. We’ve had a variety of animals over the past few years. It depends on what’s available.
It’s only $50 for a ticket if you get it before September 25th. After that, it will be around $60. There is also a VIP event that gets you there about an hour and fifteen minutes early. This means that you have greater access to the animals. We’ll have the animals out. We will have some otters as well.
The venue is a private home with a swimming pool. I have a feeling that there might be otters in the swimming pool. There will be a lot of fun stuff. There will be a live auction and a silent auction. We have a formal safari that will be auctioned off in Namibia through Piper and Heath. Piper and Heath has been fantastic. They’ve been our main sponsor for all four years. If anyone wants to travel to Africa, I recommend going with Piper and Heath.
There is no one that comes close to the amount of attention to detail. Chris and Emily own it. Chris is from Namibia, so he knows what he’s talking about. He was my guide when I went on safari in Namibia with Jack Hanna 15 years ago. He and his wife moved to San Diego. They now have two boys. They are a great family.
Amanda: Did you disconnect and then reconnect with them in a different way?
Julie: Yes, I halfway kept in contact with Emily since she was in San Diego.
Amanda: What time does the VIP event start?
Julie: The VIP starts at 3:30 in the afternoon. Then the main event starts at 4:45. You can buy tickets for either one. We’ll have valet parking, food, wine and animal ambassadors. The conservationists are coming from Africa to talk about the work that they’re doing. People will get a chance to interact with the conservationists.
One is Laurie Marker. We are supporting cheetahs this year. Every year, we pick two different organizations that are working to save an imperiled species. A lot of people realize that cheetahs are in danger. Cheetah Conservation Fund has been working to save the cheetah for many years. Laurie Marker has been their founder and executive director for the entire time. She’ll be at the event speaking for a few minutes.
It’s about getting to know them on a personal level, asking them questions and interacting. We will also have Julian Fennessy who founded Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Most people do not realize that giraffes are in severe decline.
Amanda: I did not know that. Giraffes are my favorite animals.
Julie: It’s really important. Raising awareness is important but also the fact of helping these organizations to help save the species. That is critical. Giraffe Conservation Foundation is the only organization working totally to save giraffes. It’s really important that we help them and get them support so that they can continue to do the research.
They’re just starting to publish the fact that giraffes are one species even though there are all of these different types. They recently figured out genetically that there are four different species. That helps because one might be endangered where another one might be threatened. This helps with protection and for us to understand what their populations need.
Amanda: There is so much studying that has to go on with this, for years, and in so many different areas on the planet for this. I remember when I first went to your event. It was all about bonobos. A good friend of mine, Debbie Sandler, loves bonobos. I had no idea what a bonobo was.
Julie: That’s what happens.
Amanda: At the event, I remember them saying, “Who knows what a bonobo is?” Not very many people did. I’m glad that there are events like this that bring awareness and teach. It’s educational but in a fun way where you get together with other people in a fun atmosphere. It’s laid back. It was so much fun. We go every year now.
Julie: That’s what we’ve found. Once someone goes once, they want to come back again and again. We’re expecting well over 100 people. Our fundraising goal this year is $50,000. We’re going to try and double it next year so we want to get new people coming.
That’s why we’re reaching out and asking for help in supporting these organizations. We have Sea World locally that has supported us as a main donor. They’ve supported us with tickets. The VIPs also get a goody bag, which is not necessarily little. There will be some Sea World tickets in it and other swag. It will be a really fun event.
We also have the Annenberg Foundation from LA. They are helping us through a donation. Our committee is made up of local San Diegans. Deb Sandler is on our committee as well as a few folks from Sea World, Julie Byford and Heather Armentrout, and her husband Anthony Armentrout.
Then we have the Piper and Heath crew, which is Chris and Emily Laubenberg and Mark Fullman. Everyone has helped all year long. We plan for this event all year long It’s an amazing event. I have no doubt that anyone who comes will feel like $50 was way less than what they’d pay for an event like this.
Amanda: It’s like a complete VIP experience getting to be this close to the animals. I remember when a penguin came out right in front of me. You do not get to do that. It would cost thousands at Sea World.
Julie: We will have our animal show as well as the animal meet and greets.
Amanda: Is that the best way for people to donate to the cause, to come to the event? People might think, “Giraffes are declining, but what I can really do to make a difference?” Where does this money go? How does it make a difference?
Julie: One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event go to these organizations. From the tickets, there is a fee that Eventbrite charges. There is no administration. There are no people we are paying. Wildlife Conservation Network based in San Francisco is acting as our umbrella organization that the fees go through. They cover all of those administrative fees and credit card fees. Anyone who comes is helping those organizations directly. If you cannot come, please feel free to make a donation on the site.
Amanda: Buy tickets and mail them to a friend or give them to a neighbor.
Julie: Find your favorite animal, go online and find an organization that is doing good work. Over the years, we have supported several different organizations. There are so many that need our help. Most people don’t realize that lions are in severe decline. There used to be hundreds of thousands of lions. Now there are less than 30,000.
You found out about bonobos. They are only found in one country and they are declining. There are a lot of reasons, like loss of habitat, illegal wildlife trade and conflict with humans because of the growing human population. We need to support those people who are living in Africa, in the field and getting the work done.
That’s a really great way to help prevent these extinctions. Other ways are making sure that you are an informed consumer and you’re not buying any products that would lead to endangerment, such as live animal products or parts and pieces of animals like ivory from elephants. Up until about five or six years ago, a lot of people didn’t put together, “If I buy a little ivory statue, that means that an elephant was killed for it.” Unfortunately, there is an elephant killed every 15 minutes for its ivory. We’ve raised money for organizations to help.
This is an awareness driving event. I take groups to Africa every year. I remember a man who had called me after we talked about what we were going to be doing as a group. He said, “My wife asked me, what’s the name of the Z country that we’re going to?” People don’t really know Africa. After we went, we met with the Painted Dog folks. Painted dogs are critically endangered. We met with some of these organizations and people who are doing work there.
They come back. They want to go to the fundraiser. They want to help the causes. Now they understand. They also understand what behaviors and mechanisms are happening and how we can help prevent it. I’d like Brisbane to show you a demonstration. Hand him $1. We’ll be taking hundreds and twenties at the event. He gets a treat for that. We would love it if anyone who is interested would come and participate or make a donation.
Amanda: Thank you so much for talking to me today, Julie. Thanks to everyone watching. Come to the event. I can’t wait. I’ll be there. I’ll probably bring my camera and record some of the special things going on. Hopefully this brings a lot of awareness so that people show up.
Interview with Patrick Henry, author of PLAN COMMIT WIN
In this interview with Patrick Henry, CEO of QuestFusion and author of PLAN COMMIT WIN: 90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup, we discuss the genesis of the book and how it was designed to help entrepreneurs, company founders, startup CEOs and business owners build great companies and get them funded. Patrick bases the principles in PLAN COMMIT WIN on his decades of experience in building businesses and running startup and growth companies.
Amanda: Hey everyone. It’s Amanda with the San Diego Lifestyle. I’m here today with Patrick Henry, author of Plan, Commit, Win. As a lot of you already know, we blog a ton for the San Diego Lifestyle, and Patrick has written a lot of stories for us. We’re really excited to have him here today talking about his book.
When he’s not writing stories for us, he does business consulting right here locally in San Diego. I wanted to bring him in to talk more about the details that are in his book, and how it can help any business owner, even if you’re not looking to take your company public or do a huge deal with investors. You can still use a lot of the great content that’s in here. Welcome today.
Patrick: Thanks a lot, Amanda.
Amanda: I want to dive deeper into your book and give people a better feel for the content. One of the main things I wanted to talk about was at the beginning of your book. You talk about a hierarchy of needs that you have for raising capital for your business. Tell me a little bit about that.
Patrick: In addition to working on the San Diego Lifestyle with you, I run a professional consulting business where I focus on providing strategic guidance to startups and entrepreneurs. I help them raise money. The catalyst of the book was that a number of different entrepreneurs who would approach me wanted to raise money, but they didn’t have some of the basic things that you need in place.
I feel that you need these things based on my experience of raising a lot of equity capital for my companies. I run three different companies. I’ve raised over $200 million in equity financing. In a 30-minute consult or one-hour meeting, it was very difficult to convey all of those concepts.
I sat back and said, “What do successful companies do in order to be successful and raise outside capital from angel investors or venture capitalists?” The thing is, you build a great company. The book is about how to build a great company. I believe, if you promote that properly, great companies get funded. Even though the process of raising money is always challenging, difficult and takes time, you will have the fundamental pieces in place. As I took a step back from that, I developed this hierarchy or requirements for raising outside capital. It starts with intelligent ideation.
There are lots of good ideas, but what really makes a good idea? Then there is strategic planning, understanding your market, target customers and the competitive landscape. On top of that, there is the business plan. How are you operating your business? Do you have an annual budget? How are you holding yourself accountable? How are you setting key milestones, measuring and meeting them?
Then it’s about execution and doing the things you said you were going to do. Typically, when you’re meeting with investors, you’re not going to have a first meeting, and then someone is going to write you a check. You will be meeting with that same investor two or three times over a period of several months. They will want to know how much progress you’re making towards those milestones.
If you’re building anything beyond a sole proprietorship, it’s about building a great team. I think startups are a team sport. You need to get the best people around the table. I have a chapter on teamwork.
Eventually, you need to have a great presentation, which isn’t just the investor pitch deck. You need a strong elevator pitch, executive summary and an understanding of the frequently asked questions that investors, plus having a great presentation. That’s the hierarchy that I cover. I developed a process around how you climb that hierarchy as an entrepreneur in order to successfully fund and build your business.
Amanda: That’s great information. I know that everyone just wants to get to the top of the pyramid, put their presentation together, email it to some people and hope it works. Then they want to answer questions along the way. Take it back to the idea. How do you know as a business person if your idea makes sense and should be a business?
Patrick: I think a lot of people get caught up in this. Most of the companies that I advise are further along. They’re beyond the idea stage. They’re beyond the bootstrapping stage. They’re raising their first round of institutional financing from venture capitalists. If you get into that early-stage company where you’re looking to raise some seed financing, you still have to be able to explain why you think your idea is a good one, and why you think the market is important. There is not a consistent set of beliefs around this. There is controversy.
Amanda: People say, “Follow your passion, no matter what, even if it’s not going to make you money.”
Patrick: Follow your passion, but do you know if you have a good idea when you’re at the beginning stages? A lot of these concepts are from the lean movement. Lean startup. Lean entrepreneurship. It says, build a minimum viable product. Get it into the market. Test that and get feedback from actual customers.
I think that is sage advice, but there are things that you can do before that. Is there even a market opportunity for the products that you have? Who are the target customers? If you do build a minimum viable product, you have to know which customers you’re going to go after, who you’re sampling it to and what solution you’re trying to replace.
Is there a substitute product in the market today? How are those customers solving that problem today? Is it an extremely important problem for those customers? In my experience in dealing with many business opportunities over the years, customers have tens if not hundreds of problems.
If it’s not one of the top two or three issues that they’re dealing with, they’re not going to work with an unproven startup to solve that problem. It’s never going to boil up to, “I’m losing sleep at night over this issue. I’m really desperate for a solution. I’m going to rely on an unproven startup for this solution.”
In the chapter on intelligent ideation, I go through a set of six tests that you can do to help you get a better idea. Do you even have a good idea? Is it a viable business proposition? Not all good ideas can make money. It’s about having a good idea that has a market opportunity where you can make money.
Amanda: After that, once you’ve decided on your idea, you’re going to go for it. You think it’s great. You’ve looked at the market a bit. I know that a big chunk of your book is about taking that idea and getting down to the basics, looking at the market and having a strategy and plan before you get to a business plan. What are the things overall that people need to look out for, plan and know that they don’t already know? Can you give us insight into the problems that you look for?
Patrick: I’m a proponent of planning. In the book, I talk about planning over a three-year horizon. I don’t think you really need a five-year plan. I think it’s extremely difficult to forecast revenue over a three-year period much less a five-year period for a new company, especially if you’re in an innovative area where there isn’t an established market.
Some investors may request a five-year plan, which you can extrapolate from the third year. A lot of it is the fundamentals when you’re doing strategic planning. It’s about the situation analysis. It’s the topographical map of your market landscape. Who are your target customers? What is your customer avatar? How big is the market opportunity?
Are there different segments of the market where you’re going to go after an initial defensible niche first, and then fan out to additional opportunities over time? What does the competitive landscape look like? How long will it take you to get from Point A to Point B if you’re building a new product? How quickly can a new customer adopt your technology? How much does it cost you to acquire a customer? What’s the lifetime value of that customer?
These are the same questions that sophisticated investors are going to be asking you when you get in front of them. You have to do this homework and have some set of assumptions, validity and testing around those ideas. This is especially when you’re raising institutional financing. They’re just going to blow you out of the water. You have a very limited amount of time when you’re dealing with professional investors. It’s short attention span theater.
If you don’t have their interest and attention in the first five minutes of a meeting, you’re going to have a real problem trying to keep their attention for a longer term. You have to know your stuff. You might have watched Shark Tank. They nail you with all of these questions right off the bat. They want to know if you really understand your business. Although there are some things in Shark Tank that aren’t really accurate in terms of how you raise money, a lot of those elements of it are very important.
You have to be able to think on your feet. Part of thinking on your feet is being prepared. Have a strategic plan. Understand the customer, the market and the competitive landscape. Know what it takes to get from Point A to Point B with a new product. These are all very important.
Amanda: A lot of it is looking around at your competition. That was a huge part that I didn’t really understand until I started to read the book and learn how much the competitive landscape has to do with it. I thought, if you build a great company, no matter what, you’ll be successful no matter who else is out there.
I started reading all of these things about your competition and thought, “Wow, there is so much else to do.” Companies try to be successful. Then there is another company that’s doing exactly the same thing. I know you have a few exercises in there that people can go through when it comes to the competition.
Patrick: Competition is interesting. There can be direct competition with people that are doing the exact identical thing as you. What is your differentiation? It’s always important, if you’re building a business and you want to make money, to have a unique value proposition. How is what you’re doing different and unique from all the other folks out there?
In most businesses I’ve built, that requires some kind of differentiated intellectual property. There are other companies that build big consumer brands and it’s more around soft things. For instance, you can look at Airbnb. There is not a whole lot of technology involved in building Airbnb. They built a good brand. They have an innovative idea. They use the available technology in a way that other people haven’t used it before. It’s an interesting way of cobbling together what already existed.
The important thing to understand is, even in an emerging market where there isn’t an established set of competitors for what you’re trying to do, customers are typically solving problems in some way. There’s a substitute product. There’s a substitute solution. There’s something that you’re replacing that currently exists.
That gives you a proxy for the market opportunity. Is the customer losing sleep at night because the current solution is so horrible, so expensive, arduous or difficult to use? They say, “I wish I had a better solution.” Then you come to the rescue with a better solution.
Amanda: It’s like folding socks and laundry. I put it in the washer and it washes. I put it in the dryer and it dries. Now what? Why isn’t there a machine that does the rest for me? It takes all night to match up these socks. It’s terrible. Where is the sock machine?
Patrick: When you get through that, how much is someone willing to pay for it? If it’s just a pain, people will say, “I’m not going to pay you for a sock folding machine because that costs more than my washer and dryer.” Then there’s probably not a big market opportunity.
But if it’s something that you can slap on the table that costs $10 or $15, and it folds all your socks, maybe it is a great product. It’s about what the customer is willing to pay for it, how effective it is for solving the problem and how important the problem is to them.
Amanda: Do you need to figure that out before you get it into the customer’s hands?
Patrick: I don’t think so. You can have a proxy around it. This gets back to the lean movement. You have to get something in customer’s hands to really test it out. Even in intelligent ideation, there is a portion about testing and refining the idea. Once you go through these basic things, like if there’s a customer, a market, and a competitive solution that already exists, you still need to get something into the marketplace. Then you’re going to iterate.
You’re going to learn things every time you give something to a customer. They’re going to say, “I like this. I don’t like this.” You build those new things in and take out the things they don’t like. You continue to make it better.
Amanda: For all of the local business owners in San Diego that already have their idea, a plan and a business that’s running where they’re making money but they’re a little confused or not running the best that they can, I know you have a big chapter in here on teams. Talk a little bit about that and how you hire more people when it’s just you and you’re finally ready to take it to the next step and build a good team.
Patrick: Team building gets back to what is essential for you to build your business. What core competencies do you need to have? If you’re building a super high technology company, you probably need some engineers with specific expertise in particular disciplines. If you’re building a biotech company, you probably need scientists, people with medical backgrounds and people who understand the FDA approval process.
You’re looking for best-in-class people and hiring for skills and abilities. On top of that, it’s not as if you want 15 or 20 individuals who are amazing in their own right but can’t work together. It’s a team sport. I think a lot of entrepreneurs focus purely on roles and responsibilities or skills and abilities. Those are critically important.
It’s very important to get the best, most talented people that you can, but then once you get all of those people in the same boat, you need to get them rowing in the same direction. That requires communication, a common set of beliefs, culture, vision and passion around that vision, especially with Millennials.
This is even more important. If Millennials don’t buy into the vision and mission, they will move on to the next thing. It’s always been important, but it’s even more important with today’s workforce.
Amanda: I know that you’ve done a few different videos on culture. They’re really interesting videos. I never thought about that. Is it possible to create what you want your culture to be and then feed it to the rest of the people? Do you get together as a team and decide what you want your culture to be?
Patrick: I think it’s both. You need to have a vision of what you want as a company founder, what you want your company to represent, how you want your company to be perceived, what you want to accomplish and your passion. This is not only in the marketplace but from a softer standpoint.
How are you trying to change the world in a positive way and not just make money? What’s your purpose beyond making money? If it’s just about making money, I don’t think you’re going to be able to build the team that is necessary to accomplish great things. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to make money. I’m a capitalist. I think that’s fantastic. But I think you need to have that purpose, passion and drive beyond that.
Then, as you add other people to the puzzle and to your team, they will have some say on how things develop, especially that core team, the first 25 to 50 people. As you get those people into your company, that’s going to establish the foundation of your culture and what you will represent. As you start getting past 100 people, it’s pretty well set at that point. It’s hard to come in and completely change a company culture when it’s already been established.
Amanda: That’s the ultimate goal, right? It’s to build a large company and have an end result of another company buying you or going public.
Patrick: Not necessarily. There are awesome companies that have 5 to 15 people. Not all companies need to be enormous, like Apple, Google or Facebook. If you want to have a multi-billion-dollar valuation and address a multi-billion-dollar market, then you need a bigger company. The backbone of the US economy is small to mid-sized businesses.
A lot of the principles in Plan, Commit, Win apply to those businesses as well. You might be addressing more of a niche market. You might be addressing a more concentrated geography. You might not have the desire to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the event that you have that kind of business, good business principles are good business principles. Understand your customer. Understand your market. Understand your competitive landscape. Understand how you win. Build great teams. Execute. Hold people accountable. All of those things are important in any business.
Amanda: Do you think that everyone who reads this book will end up on Sand Hill Road or are there other ways that you can meet with big-time investors and have a successful company here in San Diego?
Patrick: It’s been interesting. I had a relatively successful Kickstarter prior to the launch of the book. I raised between $12,000 and $15,000 in the Kickstarter.
Amanda: Congratulations on that.
Patrick: It was great. There was a lot of interest around the book. A lot of it was from small to mid-sized business owners. Maybe that was one third of the people. Two thirds of the people were investors and people in my ecosystem that supported that as well as people who are entrepreneurs.
There’s a mix of people who are interested in the book and the concepts. For instance, some of the endorsements that I have on the book are from venture capitalists, big-time board of directors and angel investors who sit on a lot of startup company boards. They think this is valuable information for their companies. It’s been interesting.
We’re at the very early stages of the book. There’s a lot of excitement around it. We’re only a month and a half into the launch. It’s exciting.
Amanda: Tell me exactly where people can find the book.
Patrick: It’s on Amazon.com. We have it in three different formats. It’s in the paperback version. It’s on Amazon Kindle as an ebook. It’s also on Audible if you like audio books. In the initial launch, we just did the paperback and the Kindle version. I got a lot of feedback that people wanted to audio book version. I worked with an actor who does this type of work for a living.
Amanda: It’s not you reading the book?
Patrick: It’s not me reading the book. He’s a very solid business person who understands business and technology. He’s a professional that does this type of work for a living. I think he did a fantastic job on the book. I worked for a month and a half in collaboration with him to get the audio book done. It’s now available on Audible, iTunes and Amazon. It’s out there in whatever format you like.
Amanda: I like to have the book so that I can put my notes in there and highlight things so that I remember them later when I’m doing things in my business. Thank you so much for all of your help with me and my business in making San Diego Lifestyle so successful. Thank you for writing for us, and writing this book. I appreciate you coming in and talking about your book. For anyone who wants to be more successful in your business, make sure you pick up a copy of Plan, Commit, Win. You can go on PlanCommitWin.com and pick up the book. Thank you so much, Patrick.
Patrick: Thank you, Amanda. I really appreciate it.
Jacob From Dollar Diligence Tells His Story of Paying Off His Student Loan Debt and Affording to Travel as a Young Millennial on a Budget
There are few things in life that I enjoy more than traveling, but as a 20-something high school math teacher, I don’t necessarily have the funds to jet set around the country or the world as much as I would like. Yet I am able to travel as a young millennial, thanks to some smart debt repayment strategies and a commitment to picking up extra gigs whenever necessary to pay for my passions. (When I was a teen I learned these simple tricks visiting San Diego!)
Like many 20-somethings, I started off my working career with a significant amount of debt. Fresh out of college, I was staring down $25,000 in debt and was uncertain as to how I would ever dig myself out of this financial hole. Overwhelmed by the sheer size of my student loans, I knew that I had to come up with a strategy if I was ever going to find financial freedom.
My game plan started by figuring out exactly how much I owed, along with the terms, including the interest rates, for my student loans. Doing this helped me to realize that I could be saving a significant amount of money each month by refinancing my student loans.
Refinancing is a process where you can obtain a new loan — typically with a lower interest rate, if you qualify based on your creditworthiness — for your student loans. I refinanced my student loans to get a lower interest rate and more favorable repayment terms. This helped me shave thousands of dollars off of the total amount that I owed, along with putting extra towards my student loan payments each month. I was able to make these contributions towards my student loans because I made major cutbacks in my lifestyle while repaying my loans.
I moved in with my aunt and uncle to save on living expenses and rent, and stopped going out and spending money on non-essentials. I then picked up freelance writing and photography jobs on top of my full-time job as a teacher. Essentially, my free time was spent working rather than going out — and all of my cash went towards paying off my student loans. It wasn’t the most exciting time of my life, but by devoting all of my extra money towards my student loans, I was able to pay them down quickly and save a lot of money in interest. I paid off $25,000 in just 15 months. Doing so has given me the freedom to pursue my other interests — such as travel.
How It Paid Off
Now that I am debt-free, I have the ability to pay for things such as travel. Yet I do still have many other financial goals, such as retiring by my mid-30’s. With that in mind, I try to avoid breaking my budget when it comes to vacations. Instead, I’ve come up with some strategies to help me pay for vacations without compromising my future.
When I was paying off my student loans, I started to work as a freelance photographer and writer. This extra cash helped me pay down my loans quickly. Now that I am done paying off my student loans, I can use this same money to fund my vacations, in one of two ways.
Throughout the year, I continue to pick up jobs as a writer and photographer. This money can be put towards a variety of things — such as a vacation fund. Because it is separate from my salary, it can be used for something different than my regular expenses. If I want to go on a big trip, I can scout for additional jobs and set aside the money for that trip. That way, I’m not dipping into my savings, retirement or other important financial stockpiles in order to have fun.
Once I am traveling, I can keep up the freelancing to pay for my fun while I am there — or replenish my travel fund for the next trip. As a writer, I know that a lot of clients will pay for well-written pieces on local hotspots. Similarly, beautiful shots of beaches, overlooks or scenic overlooks could sell as well.
I may also search for photography or writing jobs in advance of my trip so that I can pick up some extra work while I’m on my trip. This may allow me to extend my vacation, or do a few extra fun things while I’m away. After all, if I already have my camera, it only makes sense for me to earn a few hundred dollars taking some pictures while I am on site at a great location.
How You Can Get Started
Of course, affording travel as a millennial isn’t always as simple as picking up a camera or putting a pen to paper. But if you have a skill or a talent, consider picking up a side gig to supplement your income. Earning some extra money can help you put away enough money to fund your next trip, and may even help you continue to earn money while you are on vacation. If you’re still a teenage, there are plenty of ways you can save money to help lessen costs so you can save more.
Most people have some extra time on the weekends or during the week — so it only makes sense to devote some of that time to picking up some jobs or commissions to help you get to where you want to go. Whether it’s a beach vacation, a trip abroad or a cross-country road trip, a side gig may be just the ticket to affording to travel as a young millennial.
Jacob Evans paid down $25,000 in student loan debt in just 15 months. He chronicles his journey to financial independence over at Dollar Diligence. You can learn more @DollarDiligence.
90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup Explained in Patrick Henry’s Newest Book
Last week, Patrick Henry, CEO of QuestFusion, announced the publication of his new book PLAN COMMIT WIN to help startups obtain funding to grow their businesses. “Building and running a successful startup takes tenacity, perseverance, planning, and promotion. It also takes money,” he explains. In his book, Henry presents a three-part plan that enables companies to move beyond bootstrapping and attract outside capital. It is the same process that Henry used to raise over $200 million for his companies, and execute over $2 billion in M&A transactions.
Building on his mission to provide strategic guidance for startups and emerging growth companies, Henry shares examples from his own experience, as he goes step-by-step through his formula for success in PLAN COMMIT WIN. “It takes about 90 days to implement the methodology end-to-end, assuming you are starting from scratch. It can also be used as a screening vehicle to see what components you may be missing from your plan or pitch,” he explains. Not only does Henry’s process help articulate future goals, it also provides investors with a clear understanding of where the business is now and where it is going. The PLAN COMMIT WIN™ process includes:
Assembling a Team
Innovating & Adjusting Your Ideas
Planning the Course
Executing the Plan
Henry sums up PLAN COMMIT WIN this way: “If you follow this process, you will establish a stronger foundation for your business, increase your chances of getting funded by the right investors, and ultimately drive business success.” Essential reading for anyone starting a business, PLAN COMMIT WIN provides practical tools that will increase the chances of creating a company that endures. You can buy PLAN COMMIT WIN on amazon.com here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patrick Henry is the CEO of QuestFusion and a writer for our site!! (See his articles here!) He has over 25 years’ experience in managing high technology companies. As CEO of Entropic, he took the company from a pre-revenue and pre-product phase to a successful NASDAQ listed public company. Henry has a bachelor in Engineering Science and Mechanics from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of Southern California.
Bringing Local Businesses Together in a Place They Can Expand and Flourish
“Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.” -Dee Hock
Tucked away on a popular road in Carlsbad sits the Carlsbad Gateway Center, a privately owned center that is home to a collection of fantastic businesses open to the public. I sat down with Toni Adamopoulos, who has been the full time property manager since 2005, to talk more about these businesses and what they have to offer. I also took a tour around the property to visit many of them, and was pleasantly impressed! The best part about most of these businesses is that you can actually watch them making their product right there on site! Most locations have large windows looking into the manufacturing/production side of the process. What an incredible grouping of local companies! Watch the video for the full story:
The owners of the Carlsbad Gateway Center are very involved with the day to day operations of the businesses that are housed here. Toni explains in the interview how refreshing it is to work for a company who truly goes through a lot of thought and focus to bring in the best tenants for the area. They are focused on fostering “makers” or the people behind the business, along with health & wellness professionals.
It is an incubator park, with most spaces being around 1500 square feet, which is pretty small for this type of environment. Some tenants take more than one space, but for the average startup, Carlsbad Gateway Center has plenty of options for those that couldn’t get into a regular industrial park. Because of the special zoning here in Carlsbad, this gateway center is a wonderful collaboration of businesses, and once they start to grow, the center can easily allow for that, helping businesses get into larger and larger spaces on the premises as needed.
As Toni says, “Where else can you go where you can get your taxes done, go get a facial, grab a beer, buy some workout clothes, get a kombucha and buy some bread?” Being at the Carlsbad Gateway Center, you’re not in the hustle and bustle of downtown, and although you’re not in the main village of Carlsbad, you’re in a park like setting, where trees are being replaced as they need to, with fruit trees for a more useful setting. Although we did not see every business in the park, we did have the pleasure of visiting a few very exciting places!:
Happy Pantry – At Happy Pantry, they ferment anything and everything. Mostly fruits and vegetables, and they create delicious kombucha, which I tried for my first time on my visit to Carlsbad Gateway Center. Happy Pantry really believes in the health benefits of the culture, and they are starting the process of providing education to the public also so that others can begin to learn more about the benefits of fermentation.
Prager Bros. – Prager Bros was started by two brothers in a small backyard. Eventually they made it to the Carlsbad Gateway Center, where you can stop by and watch their breads and delicious pastries being made almost daily. The passion these brothers have for what they do is unmatched. They serve organic products that they really care about. They started with just bread, but now have expanded to cookies and other delectable pastries.
Oh Juice – At Oh Juice! I met Katie, a passionate employee, who explained a lot about cold pressed juices and how much better they are for you than home pressed juices. You can watch the juice being pressed right there through the large glass window if you stop by Oh Juice. You will be sure to find juices you like (and maybe a few that you don’t) and make a point to talk to one of the employees about the benefits of this incredible process. You will not regret it.
Overall, if you love the farmer’s markets in town, but don’t love the farmer’s market experience necessarily, the Carlsbad Gateway Center is a perfect place to visit. There is plenty of parking, and the businesses are open much more often than one day a week! If you’re a fan of these fabulous businesses, I encourage you to come and visit, meet these owners and creators, and talk with them about their products and how they truly benefit San Diego. Do you come to the Carlsbad Gateway Center already? What is your favorite business you’ve visited? We’d love to hear from you!
Helping Business Professionals in San Diego Play Their Best Round of Golf Using Trackman Technology
“As a Former Touring Professional, I know how challenging golf can be playing for a living. I am happy to offer my clients a coaching experience that will lead to more self-confidence, improved Golf IQ, lowering anxiety on the course and providing many ways to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of shots. I share with each of my clients that their best golf is right ahead of them. Now, we must commit to getting better, embrace the wave of awesome technology and enjoy the journey to better golf..” -Geoff Goldstein
What is Trackman?
Trackman. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It is the newest cutting edge technology taking over the game of golf, and now you can find Trackman wherever Geoff Goldstein is. (Watch the video above to get a feel for how it works.) Geoff Goldstein is a luxury golf coach in San Diego who turned pro in 1996. He has competed in PGA Tour Qualifying and U.S. Open qualifiers, four times reaching the U.S. Open Sectionals. Geoff holds course records at seven courses, including 60 at Eastlake CC and 59 at Salt Creek GC both in Chula Vista, Ca.
How Does it Work?
Geoff currently coaches C Level executives, entrepreneurs and business professionals here in San Diego and also hosts traveling getaways to Reno, Nevada. You can easily see how Geoff’s coaching style is different by watching some of the testimonial videos on his website. His biggest advantage however, is the use of Trackman 4 technology integrated into his lessons. This technology allows him, within 90 seconds, to calibrate the software with a target in front of the ball. After it is synced, Trackman captures tons of information as the player swings the club and hits the ball. Geoff can break down every single swing into many different aspects, and truly enhance your skill level faster than ever before. From club speed, to spin, to “smash factor” and more, this technology (that is about as big as a laptop), can diagnose it all.
How Can I Get Involved?
Geoff gives lessons at Barona Creek Golf Club and also travels to a few other clubs to give instruction from time to time. You can visit his website GoldsteinGolf.com to get in contact with him and book a lesson time. He offers packaging on pricing so be sure to take advantage of that. If you are a serious golfer looking to improve your game, a session with Geoff and Trackman will surely get you fired up! Barona also has a casino and hotel, so you can come visit Geoff and stay the weekend to practice your game outside of your Trackman sessions.
Business professionals from all over San Diego county travel to Barona frequently in search of Geoff’s instruction and new Trackman 4 technology. His passion for the game of golf is unparalleled and his knowledge is enough to make any golfer seek his valuable coaching time. Have you played golf at Barona Creek Golf Club? Let us know how your experience has been! If you’re looking to tryout Geoff’s Trackman 4 technology, learn more and contact him via GoldsteinGolf.com.
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