Changes

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. — John F. Kennedy

It seems fitting that I should find a quote from John F. Kennedy to help explain the change happening in our lives. We’re headed to JFK’s part of the world, after all.

After nearly 17 years in San Diego (8 of those with Danielle), we’ve decided to pack up and move east. We make this announcement with a mix of emotions: excitement, exhilaration, trepidation, sadness, and hope (among others, of course).

Some will ask why we’d ever want to leave sunny San Diego. We’ve worked hard to build our careers here, have a strong network of friends, and now have years of fantastic family memories. Every weekend is like its own little “staycation” with day trips to the beach and all the attractions that this town has to offer.

But a few things are missing. Growing up, both Danielle and I had the privilege of living close to our grandparents. I remember seeing my grandparents at nearly every school function – band concerts, football games, track meets – you name it. They were always present.

More importantly, nearly all special holidays were spent with family. Of course the big ones – Christmas, Easter, New Years – but for me, even a routine Sunday would typically involve time with our grandparents. Church, Sunday dinner, and watching the Cowboys play (and usually lose).

By contrast, in San Diego we’ve spent a lot of those special days on our own. We’re grateful for all the friends who have invited us to be with them and their families for those special times. We’ve spent countless holidays with the Johnson/Mestre/Renovales clan over the years – and we will always remember and appreciate feeling like a part of their extended family. We have fond memories of holidays and events with the Caffos (our next door neighbors in Point Loma). More recently, we’ve become very close with Toni & Wayne – our neighbors in Carlsbad who treat Will and Phoebe like their own grandchildren. And reaching way back – I remember “The Orphans” Thanksgiving Day dinner with Colin Farnell at Hennessey’s in PB, which morphed into a full-blown Thanksgiving once we were both married and had children.

So now it’s our turn to spend time with our family. This move will make a routine Sunday into a family event. We’ll be close to Danielle’s parents and sister (and her family). We’ll spend time in the places where she grew up. Our kids will learn to swim at the beach where she learned to swim (although Will has already done quite well in the Rancho Carrillo pool). We’ll reconnect with her childhood friends and know the feeling of being in a tight-knit community. We’ll be in a small town – something that Danielle and I know well from our childhood, and enjoyed as youngsters. Finally, we’ll be in a better position to visit Texas and spend more time with my parents and our friends and family there.

While we’re sad to leave all the incredible memories and close friends here in San Diego, we’re looking forward to a new adventure, exploring a new region, and spending time with family. And of course, Southern California will always be a part of who we are, how we found each other and started this great life together.

A few of the FAQs that we expect from those who know us best:

Are you crazy?
Yes, yes we are.

Do you know that they have real winters in Boston?
Yes. At least some of us are aware of this. Others, not so much. We’ll all have to adjust. L.L. Bean is just a click away these days.

Where are you headed?
Scituate, Massachusetts. A quaint seaside fishing town of just under 20,000 residents about 45 minutes south of Boston and 45 minutes from Cape Cod. Scituate is the New England town you see in the movies. A town full of history, full of stories, and less than 30 minutes from Plymouth Rock – where the Mayflower landed and the Pilgrims settled.

Scituate is the kind of place where they hold events for the entire town – Fourth of July Parades, Heritage Days, and a St. Patrick’s Day parade for the most Irish town in America. It’s also a place where (sadly) good Mexican food will be in short supply.

Why Scituate?
As most of you know, my parents still live in the house where I was raised near Dallas (very similar to Danielle’s situation in Scituate). Of course the topic of Texas vs Massachusetts was a big part of our discussion around leaving San Diego — and was one of the reasons why we’ve waited until now to make that decision. By leaving San Diego, we were in essence making a choice – a choice of one location over another, but also spending lots more time with one set of grandparents and still having to travel to see the other side of the family. While that part of the decision wasn’t easy, moving to either location will free up opportunities to see both sides of the family – and will hopefully lead to more holidays and vacations with everyone, including in-laws, together.

What about your house?
That one was easy. With the limited inventory in Carlsbad, specifically Rancho Carrillo – we put the house on the market and it sold within a matter of days. So fast that we actually had to work a rent-back into the agreement so we could stay through the month of July.

When are you leaving?
July 27 for the kids and Danielle; Aug 2 for John.

Are you ever coming back?
Only time will tell. I’m hopeful that we can be in a position financially to own a second home here someday. And there’s a chance that we may retire here when it’s all said and done. In the meantime, I’m certain we’ll work San Diego into the family vacation rotation on a regular basis. We’ll also keep our condo in Mission Valley that is currently rented, so we’ll have to come back and check on that as well.

San Diego will always hold a special place in my heart. I still remember the feeling I got when I first drove over the last set of mountains on Interstate 8 and saw the city limits sign (that was December of 1998) to take my first set of orders in the Navy. Those first few years are a blur now, but I also remember the feeling of coming back from deployment and reaching “One SD” – that’s the buoy that marks the entrance to the San Diego harbor. Sailing back into the Big Bay on a Navy warship was always a fun experience. My first apartment at La Mirage, a two year tour of duty in Coronado, my first house purchase in La Mesa, Vegas quick strikes, Skip’s Garage at Thruster’s, Pickford’s Party at the Mammoth Lodge and at RT’s Longboard (which then morphed into the machine known as Rock Out Karaoke), a two year shore duty in Point Loma, living three blocks from the beach in PB (where I proposed to Danielle), our first date at Cass Street Bar and Grill, our house on Dumas Street in Point Loma where we brought Will home from the hospital, our first home purchase together in Carlsbad where Phoebe joined our family, beach days, pool nights, cruising the historic 101 – these and so many others were all great experiences over the years.

A lot has changed since I first arrived in 1998, but my love for this town and its people will remain. Thanks for the support, thanks for the memories, and you stay classy, San Diego.

A New Chapter

After nearly five and a half years at the University of San Diego, I’ve decided to leave for a new job with Vistage International.  This move for me is bittersweet, since I have enjoyed my time at USD and I’ve built so many great friendships.  My new role will be as a marketing manager for a program called Vistage Inside, and I’m really excited about the new challenges I’ll face there.

My work with the MS in Global Leadership program has touched the lives of more than 350 graduate students in 24 cohorts  (myself included, as I graduated from the program in 2008).  I’ve become friends with many of these alums, and continue to enjoy hearing how they’ve made an impact in the world.

Our word-of-mouth marketing has remained a strong part of the recruiting strategy, and stands as a testament to the quality of the program and the level of satisfaction of our students.  We’ve made great strides using social media to communicate with alumni, students and prospective students.  More than two years ago we established a student-written blog and created more ways for them to tell the world about their experiences in a graduate business program that strayed from the traditional MBA.

I’m leaving behind a business school that has built a lot of momentum in the past few years.  The part-time MBA program was recently ranked #14 in the US by Bloomberg BusinessWeek and many of the same A+ faculty from that survey teach in the MSGL program as well.  As the USD school of business administration continues to gain attention on the national stage, so does the MS in Global Leadership.

My time with USD included two trips to China (Beijing and Shanghai), two trips to Buenos Aires, and numerous recruiting trips around the US.

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My time at USD will always hold a special place in my heart, since it was during these five years that I met my wife, got married, and welcomed our first child into the world.  I’m thankful for the time I’ve been able to spend with my son during his first (almost) two years, and the work-life balance I’ve enjoyed has been a situation most could only hope for.

Moves like this don’t happen without a lot of help.  And help shouldn’t go unrecognized.  So many people have been a part of my professional network for the past few years – offering advice, making introductions, writing recommendations, and providing encouragement.  Bob Schoultz, Dean Dave Pyke, and Stephanie Kiesel were instrumental in my professional development over the past several years.  Their support of my learning and development in the marketing community has been incredible.  Special thanks to Bob for giving me the opportunity to work at USD in 2006 and for his support, guidance, leadership, and friendship for the past 5+ years.  Thanks to the rest of the MSGL team – Stephanie, Sam, & Suzy for always having my back.

There are so many others I could (and should) thank here – but my word count tells me I’m already beyond 500.  If we got together for coffee, had lunch, exchanged emails, talked on the phone, met at a conference, grabbed a beer, tweeted, LinkedIn, Facebooked, or traded business cards – you deserve thanks.  It’s highly likely that your influence helped me reach this point in my career and I’m happy to have you as a part of my network.  If I can ever return the favor…

Most of all, thanks to my incredible wife Danielle for all your love and support.  I love you.

Stay tuned as I embark on my next adventure.  I’m anxious to get started, but first – let’s enjoy a great holiday season!

My Blog: A Year in Review

Last week marked my 1-year anniversary of starting my own personal blog.  Since I’ve actually stuck with it and kept somewhat of a regular schedule, I now have a lot to look back on.  Thanks to all of you who have read, commented, and linked to my blog this year.

My Family at Grand Canyon - Sometime in the 80s

When I started my new blog, I set out with only a couple of specific goals:

  1. Write about subjects that interest me, such as marketing, technology, social media, travel, music
  2. Write at least one post per month.

As for the first goal, this one was easy.  I find a lot of interesting things on the web and I like to stay current on the newest social media trends.  I didn’t write much about music (besides recapping the concerts I’ve attended), but maybe I’ll do more with that in the next 12 months.

With 34 posts under my belt, goal number two was easily met.

So what were my favorite posts?

Ty Webb Has Real Klout

My personal favorite (mainly because it includes a strong reference to the movie Caddyshack) was my short blog on Klout, the new service that measures online “influence.”

My most visited post was written about what we can learn from the Chilean miner rescue from a leadership standpoint.

I also enjoyed writing (and re-reading this week) all my posts about my family and travel.  Honorable mention goes to my posts on marketing and related events I’ve attended.

So where will the next year take me?  Who knows.  I just hope you’re able to come along for the ride.

Facebook in Argentina

I recently returned from a 2-week trip to Buenos Aires with the most interesting professor in the world and several students from the University of San Diego’s MS in Global Leadership program.  They were studying business strategy in the global environment and I had the chance to tag along.

As a digital marketer, I like to pay attention to how businesses are using technology in their marketing mix.  In Buenos Aires I wasn’t surprised to find that traditional billboard advertising was very prevalent.  I also wasn’t surprised to see that most (if not all) contained some sort of URL.  It was extremely rare, however, to see a Facebook URL or icon – or any other mention of social media – in traditional advertising.  I also don’t recall seeing a single QR code.  Not much of this came as a surprise, since the country is still considered to have a ‘developing’ economy.

What did surprise me was the extensive use of Facebook pages by the local government (of all people!).  In fact, “el Gobierno de la Ciudad” does a great job with Facebook pages.  In nearly all of the public spaces, plazas, monuments, and parks, I saw signs like this one that directed visitors to a Facebook page that included a map of the area, photos, and lots of information.

As a first time visitor to the Facebook page, I was directed to a “Welcome” tab, which had a prominent call to action – “like us!”

Since returning home, I’ve done some digging and found at least 55 different pages created by the city of Buenos Aires.  Many of these pages have quite a bit of activity from different visitors – well wishes, comments, and questions.  What’s great is that the community administrator does a nice job of responding and really being part of the conversation.  They’ve actually created 55 different online communities for these public spaces.  It’s interesting to note that these aren’t all huge parks and major attractions, but rather small neighborhood public spaces.  Additionally, many of the Facebook pages include links to SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos, and other rich content.

So the city government in Buenos Aires has Facebook pages dialed in.  Maybe private industry will follow.  What overseas ‘best practices’ in social media have you noticed?

Traveling with the Most Interesting Professor in the World

In a little more than six weeks from now, I’ll be departing for Buenos Aires with a study abroad group from the University of San Diego’s Master of Science in Global Leadership program. The group will be taking a global business strategy course with a professor I’ve always enjoyed – Dr. Jaime Alonzo Gomez.

Dr Jaime Alonzo Gomez - The Most Interesting Professor in the World

 

Dr. Gomez would definitely be in the running for the “Most Interesting Professor in the World.” Consulting for global companies like Dell, WalMart CitiBank, and many others, Dr. Gomez actually has stories of his face-to-face meetings with company CEOs to accompany many of the HBR case studies used in class.  Students will have a chance to meet with execs from the Latin American headquarters from WalMart and discuss the challenges of bringing the American idea of the big-box superstore to Argentina.

Study abroad participants will also have plenty of opportunities to soak in the local culture through a city tour, a tango show, steak and red wine dinners, and a city bicycle tour.

I had a chance to go on this trip three years ago, when I was a student in the program and enjoyed it immensely. Here are a few pictures from my first time around. Best part is that my wife will be joining me for a week in the country and we’ll get to do a lot of things together. Stay tuned for a post in January with new pics and stories!

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The Value of Travel

I’ve been a fan of traveling ever since I can remember.  When I was young, my family would load up in the big red Suburban at least once or twice a year and hit the great American highways to another state – many times that meant several states.  Starting in Crandall, Texas, we were able to reach most destinations within a couple of days.  I recall enjoying the different foods, accents, and attitudes we encountered around the US.  We soaked in the local flavor, staying in modest highway motels and travel lodges.  We perfected the 10-minute gas/bathroom/dinner stop so we could always keep on truckin.’  As a result, I had visited nearly 40 states before I graduated high school.

John on the Alpine Slide, Durango, Colorado

My Family at Grand Canyon

As I grew older, we traveled further – including a trip to the (now former) Soviet Union when I was only 12.  I vividly remember trading “American” items like blue jeans and bubble gum that Russians didn’t have and couldn’t get for Soviet memorabilia and black market items.  It’s funny to think how even at that age I had a mind to negotiate with the traders and had to overcome cultural obstacles, language and age barriers.  I ended up with a few really cool items: a full-size Soviet flag, a Ushanka hat (complete with earflaps and the hammer & sickle pin), a set of matryoshka dolls, and a sailor’s dress uniform hat.  All that for some branded clothing that no longer fit – Reebok, Levi’s, and Nike.  I’d like to think I drove a pretty hard bargain, armed with the knowledge that they simply couldn’t get American clothing in the USSR.

A few years passed before I was overseas again – this time in Japan, Dubai, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia.  These were all port calls with my first Navy ship, USS RUSHMORE (LSD-47), in a pre-2001 terrorist attack world and it couldn’t have been more fun.  As a more mature person, I began to see the fundamental differences in the way many people outside the US live.  I remember encountering incredibly friendly people in each country.  I also got to try some new and interesting foods and had (what seemed like at the time) several near-death experiences with wild taxi drivers.

Since my time in the Navy, I’ve had a chance to travel even more. With USD, I was able to study abroad in Buenos Aires, where we looked at international business strategy while immersed in the local culture. We enjoyed visiting the South American headquarters for Wal-Mart and hearing their take on the recent currency crisis, dealing with Bentonville attitudes towards management, and stocking their discount stores with more food items than everything else combined (over half the store was food – fresh fish, wine, cheese – and all great quality!).

Also while at the University of San Diego, I participated twice in the Global Leadership Conference in Shanghai, China.  Both times the conference was preceded by a visit to Beijing, where we visited with an American expatriate who had lived and worked in China for nearly 20 years.  He expressed some of his highs and lows while working in China and gave some great insight for those who were considering making a career overseas.  We had a unique opportunity to visit the GM headquarters in Shanghai, where we heard a German manager speak about working for an American car company in China.  The entire trip reminded me of Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat and just how small today’s business world really is.

Climbing the Great Wall of China

Global Leadership Students at GM Shanghai

Between my family trips, graduate school, and the Navy; I’ve seen several countries and 44 of the 50 United States. Here’s hoping I can add more to that list very soon. One thing that stands out from a conversation in Shanghai in 2008: no matter where you are in the world, people are more alike than they’re different.