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Episode 24: Gerry Bulfin on Building a Successful e-Commerce Business

In this day and age, it seems that everyone wants to get into some kind of online business.  There is truly no end to what kind of sales can be transacted online, and with a global marketplace, the sky is literally the limit.  Seemingly, all one needs is access to the internet and a product to tell – but as Gerry Bulfin can tell you, there’s a lot more to building a successful e-commerce business than that.

Gerry Bulfin is the creator of a very successful online business, CleanWaterStore.com.  He began building a web site, and then dipping his toe into e-commerce, as far back as the year 2000 but did not launch the CleanWaterStore until 2005.  Since that time, his business has grown steadily and has become a remarkable success, selling millions of dollars of product to tens of thousands of customers.

How did he do it?  What strategies, tactics, techniques, and technologies has he used to become so successful in his niche?  Spoiler alert:  he’s tried it all and in this episode we discuss what has worked, and what doesn’t.  We talk about everything including organic search traffic, article marketing, Google PPC (Pay Per Click), social media, YouTube, Podcasting, and much more.  If you’ve ever had the idea of getting into e-commerce, this is an episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast that you won’t want to miss!

CleanWaterStore.com – web site

Clean Water Store – YouTube Channel

Clean Water Store – Facebook Page

Gerry Bulfin – LinkedIn Page

Episode 23: Jacob Martinez dishes on building the Digital NEST

There’s no question we’re living in a brave new world – our society (and every society!) is changing rapidly.  In today’s world, we need a whole new set of skills to excel, even just to get by!  The use of technology has crept into virtually every aspect of our lives.  Those who master these new and emerging technologies have a considerable advantage versus those who don’t.

At the same time, there’s a huge digital divide in our country.  While many people have access to the latest hardware, software, education, and high speed Internet access, many do not.  One chilly October evening in Watsonville, Jacob Martinez saw a teenager huddled outside a building in Watsonville, using a laptop and the building’s free WiFi which trickled out past the doors to complete a school homework assignment.  Jacob asked the girl why she she was doing, and she explained that she had no Internet access at home, and needed to hop on the free WiFi network from the building to complete her assignment.

With that, the idea for the Digital NEST (Nurturing Entrepreneurial Skills with Technology) was born.  Jacob Martinez had long recognized the disparity in access to I.T. resources  in his community as a huge issue, but meeting that teenager huddled in the building doorway on that nippy autumn evening galvanized him into action.  Soon, he soon went to work building his vision for a hip, cool, and colorful spot that encourages and guides its young members to become technology leaders in their community.

Today, only a few short years into the mission, the Digital NEST serves over 1,400 youth in its two locations in Watsonville and Salinas, California.  It’s an inspiring and amazing story about building a successful, innovative non-profit which is already successfully transforming lives in the communities it serves.

Digital NEST – web site

Digital NEST – on Twitter

Digital NEST – on Facebook

Jacob Martinez – LinkedIn

Jacob Martinez – on Twitter

Episode 22: Danette Lawrence has a Taste for Style

In this episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast I have a conversation with interior designer Danette Lawrence.  Danette has been in the design business for well over 20 years, and in those decades of toil she’s honed a keen sense of style.  She got her start as a designer working as a set decorator in L.A., but after doing that for a few years she felt the pull to come back to Northern California.  She left showbiz and L.A. behind but she brought the love of style and design back with her.

In this hour long conversation we touch on a wide range of topics:  her work in showbiz, and a dive into some of the reality TV shows that have to do with the interior design business.  We talk about some of the hottest interior design trends going on today, and also what kinds of things Danette thinks we’ll look back on in 10-20 years and wonder what were people thinking?

Danette makes a very interesting point though in that it’s OK if you design a home in a style that becomes dated in 10-20 years.  There’s a solution for that:  re-design.  She points out that people change over time – your needs, lifestyle, habits, family, etc., will all change, so shouldn’t the style of your home also change with the passage of time?  People can become stuck, and changing their living environment can help them become un-stuck in so many ways.

We wrap up the discussion by talking about some of the best places folks can go in the Monterey and San Francisco Bay Areas to get design and style inspiration – there’s a lot of fun shops to check out where you listeners can get inspired too.

Eye Design House – Danette’s web site

Eye Design House on Houzz

Eye Design House – on Facebook

Episode 21: Sam Reyes Comes In Loud and Clear

There’s all kinds of folks that live in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas. There are so many different perspectives, points of views, opinions, dogmas, etc., it’s amazing. It’s beautiful, really. But if you’re paying attention, you might notice that so much of the public discourse on relevant topics is basically an echo chamber of old(er) white guys talking about what they think is best for everyone.

That’s what makes this episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast so refreshing. In this episode, I spend an hour chatting with Sam Reyes, who works for a couple of radio stations in San Jose (Mix 106.5 and 94.5 Bay FM) and is also a co-host of her own podcast, the MESS. She’s only in her mid-20’s but Sam has a lot going on, and is working to create an amazing life for herself and her new family – on her own terms. We talk about a whole bunch of stuff – she’s a foodie, a body activist, and a young African American female in a business where not too many folks meeting that description have made their mark. What’s it take to succeed in the Bay Area in the broadcast industry? Listen to Sam and you’ll find out!

The MESS – podcast website

The MESS – podcast Facebook Page

Sam Reyes – on Instagram

Sam Reyes – on Twitter

Sam Reyes – on Facebook

Mix 106.5 – web site

94.5 Bay FM – web site

Episode 20: Zach Schwarzbach Judges the Criminal Justice System

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Zach Schwarzbach. Zach grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley, in the northern, wooded mountains of Santa Cruz county. Now in his late 30’s, Zach has been working with the Santa Cruz County public defender’s office for the past ten years or so. With a decade’s worth of experience in the court room and all around our system of criminal justice, Zach is today running to get elected as a Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge.

How did Zach go from a small mountain town to running for Superior Court judge? As a child growing up in the mountains and beaches of Santa Cruz county, Zach didn’t plan on having a stand-out legal career. In this episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast, we learn about the force Zach drove to get to where he is today. In a word, it’s passion. Zach didn’t expect to become an ardent practitioner of the law and criminal defense in particular, but he got the bug young in life and he’s been all-in for well over a decade, throwing himself unreservedly into the work.

You may have never wondered what kind of people end up becoming Superior Court judges – I can honestly say I never gave it much thought. But listen to what Zach has to say about the criminal justice system, and the power that judges wield. You’ll come away impressed and with a greater appreciation for the important role that judges – and people like Zach Schwarzbach – play in all of our lives.

Zach has the following public events coming where interested parties can come and meet him:

Wednesday, May 16th 2018 at the Monterey College of Law Campus on Water Street in Santa Cruz, from 12:00 to 1:15 – Candidate Forum

Thursday, May 17th 2018 at 6:30 PM, the NAACP is hosting a candidate forum at Resource Center for Nonviolence on Ocean Street across from the Santa Cruz county courthouse

Saturday, May 19th from 2018 4:00 to 7:00 PM at 2720 South Rodeo Gulch Road in Soquel – campaign rally and fundraiser

Episode 19: Victor Romero Sums Up the Mortgage Business

There are all kinds of reasons why you’d want to know what’s going on in the residential mortgage business, even if you don’t own a home or never plan on doing so.  One of those reasons is because you’d have a good reason to have a chat with Victor Romero, who is as warm, genuine, and driven a guy as you’d ever be lucky to meet.

In any kind of business, there’s all kinds of shenanigans going on.  The U.S. residential mortgage business, in fact, is kind of notorious for shady dealings – so much so in fact that it brought the global economy down to its knees back in 2007/2008.  And it’s just at this time in history that Victor Romero decided it would be a good idea to get into the home loan business, right at the exact moment when conditions in the industry and the economy in general were as bleak as pretty much anyone could recall in living memory.

It turns out though that the time was exactly right for a return to doing business with integrity.  In hindsight, it was the perfect environment for Victor to start his career as a mortgage professional.  His approach to life, and to his business, is one of care, honesty, diligence, and perseverance – and ten years later, it’s really paid off for him.  It’s a classic story of doing well by doing good, set in modern times and in terms that most anyone can relate to.

If you’re wondering what it’s like to be successful in a business where everyone else is closing up shop, and how to prosper through it to the other side, this is an episode you’ll want to hear.  It’s a long one, about an hour and a half, because we had such a great time talking that time got away from us.  But I bet you’ll be drawn in from the first few minutes as Victor tells his story.  I’m sure you’ll love hearing it as much as I did!

VictorDRomero.com – Victor’s Web Site

 

Episode 18: Steve Battelle Designs a Life in Solid Gold

There are some people who it seems have designed the exact life they wanted to live, with very few compromises.  You could say that Hugh Hefner was someone like that, maybe Frank Sinatra.  American men who did it their way.  You might add Steve Battelle to that list, even if you’ve never heard of him, because Steven Battelle has designed his life in solid gold.

Steve Battelle is a designer, manufacturer, and wholesaler of hand made jewelry, and he’s been doing it for over thirty years.  He isn’t especially rich, nor especially famous – but he’s been very successful at building a comfortable life for himself in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area, on his own terms, doing his work his own way just the way he likes it.

He grew up in a military family, and moved throughout the country and the world a number of times. Growing up, he had a keen interest in math and science, which led him to enroll in Cal Tech (of Big Bang Theory fame) and then later to a 10 year career as a veterinarian.  Towards the end of his career in veterinary medicine, Steve picked up the jewelry bug on a trip to Thailand, and his life was never the same again.

Steve began selling jewelry he bought in Thailand, and it wasn’t long before he started designing his own jewelry line in Bali, Indonesia.  He began working with silver and semi-precious stones, but over the past ten years or more he’s moved up to solid gold pieces with precious stones.  One specialty of his is incorporating ancient Roman and Greek coins into his distinctive pieces.

Sit back, relax, and listen as Steve and I discuss his story and how he’s been able to be so successful building a life to his own design – and how you can do just the same.

Steven Battelle – web site

Bask Jewelry – web site

Episode 17: Ian Magruder is taking off with Landed

Ian Magruder joined me for a discussion of Landed, the San Francisco-based startup company he works for.  When you sit down with Ian, you can really feel how excited he is about Landed’s work and its mission.  The mission is simple:  to help people buy a home, by providing down payment assistance.

Ask anyone living in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area today what the biggest challenge facing the area is, and you’re likely to hear that it’s the exorbitant cost of housing.  One group of people that is especially vocal about the high housing cost is teachers and other school employees.  Most communities in high-cost areas like ours are finding it a challenge to keep great teachers, many of whom simply cannot scrape together the down payment to purchase a home in the bay area.

Landed has stepped into the breach, making it possible for some of these folks to achieve the dream of home ownership.  And while Landed today is working with school district employees in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay region, they are already at work expanding both geographically and also beginning to work with would-be home buyers outside the academic realm.

The startup has a fascinating story to tell, and it’s not just one aimed at home buyers.  Landed is also working with community-minded investors to help them make long-term gains by investing in housing in a socially responsible way.  If you’re interested in hearing about a market-driven approach to addressing the high cost of housing, you’ll want to queue up this week’s edition of the Bay to Bay Podcast.

Landed – web site

Ian Magruder on LinkedIn

 

Episode 16: Khalil Moutawakkil and California’s Legal Cannabis Industry

It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of legal, recreational marijuana in California was simply a pipe dream.  For those of us who grew up with the war on drugs and “just say no,” the idea that one day recreational marijuana would be a legal and regulated industry in California seemed pretty far-fetched.  Khalil Moutawakkil grew up in Santa Cruz during this time, and like many of his contemporaries he had an appreciation for the cannabis plant that wouldn’t be dampened by its legal status.

When medicinal marijuana became legal in California in 1996, the cannabis industry began to come out of the shadows.  As of January 1, 2018 recreational cannabis use became legal in California, and it seems as though everyone today is talking about this new era in cannabis cultivation, production, sales, and consumption. One person that talks about it more than most is Khalil Moutawakkil, and I was fortunate to be able to speak with him about this new era of cannabis use in California.

Khalil Moutawakkil is one of the founders of Kind People’s Collective, based in Santa Cruz, California.  Kind People’s Collective became the first state-legal cannabis dispensary in Santa Cruz county, and they received the first 8 of 20 licenses granted by California’s Bureau fo Cannabis Control.  In addition, they obtained one of the first three cultivation licenses issued by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  When it comes to the booming and rapidly evolving legal, recreational cannabis industry in California, Khalil Moutawakkil knows what he’s talking about.

In a way, California’s nascent legal cannabis industry is like the California gold rush of 1849, with thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into the industry.  In the podcast discussion, Khalil likens it to a tech boom.  With the potential to generate billions of dollars in yearly revenues, it’s no surprise that the industry is receiving such intense interest from so many entrepreneurs and investors.  So tune in, turn on, and learn about the past, present, and future of California’s legal cannabis industry.

KindPeoples – web site

KindPeoples – Yelp

KindPeoples – Facebook

 

Episode 15: Adora Deva and the Cures for What Ails You

There’s a lot of unhealthy people in today’s crazy, mixed-up world.  Of course, there are many different ways to be unhealthy, be it physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and on many other levels. Let’s face it:  many of us are not living our best lives.  We’re not peak performers.  We’re being held back, we’re stuck.  It may be that we’re a little overweight.  Drink too much.  We smoke, or have chronic pain, feel sluggish and lack energy.  It could be we feel a lack of joy in our lives or have trouble connecting with other people, even those closest to us.  This is what I mean when I say that there’s a lot of unhealthy people around, because so many of us are afflicted in one or more of these ways.

But what’s there to do, if you sound something like what I’ve just descried?  Look, if you break an arm, it’s easy:  go to the hospital.  But if what you’re suffering from isn’t quite so acute, you should consider talking to someone like Adora Deva.  She takes a non-medical, holistic approach to healing that is uniquely hers.  Listen to this interview where she discusses the different healing modalities she uses to help people get on the path to health and well-being.  It’s a fascinating talk with a very fun and interesting person – who just might have the cures for what ails you.

Life Spirit Healing – Adora’s Web Site

Adora’s Yelp Page

Adora’s Facebook Page