Episode 30: Rex Northen is Saving the World with Cleantech

Rex Northen is saving the world with cleantech. If you were to ask him if that’s true or not, I’m sure he’d demur and say no, or that it’s an exaggeration.  If you ask me, it certainly isn’t an exaggeration, although of course, he isn’t doing it single-handedly.  Rex is only one of, I’m sure, hundreds of thousands of people working to save our planet – but he’s going about it in ways that few people are thinking about. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of his work, because climate change is an existential threat to our very viability as a species. Rather than just fret, protest, and be afraid, Rex is out there working to find solutions to the Earth’s rapidly warming climate.

And he’s doing so in a very practical, very Silicon Valley way: working to create commercially viable clean technologies that will reduce carbon emissions and other toxic waste products at such scale that they will positively and measurably reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And that’s a very exciting prospect indeed, as it may mean that our children and grandchildren might actually have a bright future on this big blue marble.

I realize that there are a lot of altruistic people out there who will take exception to the idea that we can save the Earth through commercially viable means. However, if you think about it, the greatest likelihood of making the kinds of dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is through the creation of green, clean technologies that will compete cost effectively in the market against all the “dirty” technologies of old.

Don’t think so? Then this episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast is definitely for you. It’s also for you if you think you have an idea for a clean technology that could be commercially viable and you’re looking for a way to bring it to market and turn it from an idea into reality.

Contact Rex Northen via email at rex at

Find Rex Northen on LinkedIn

Episode 29: Rick Jackson is Fixated on Credit Repair

Rick Jackson is fixated on credit repair.  He’s been an entrepreneur almost his entire life, starting out at 19 years old by opening a small gift shop in Merced, California – which grew into a huge gift shop with over 5,000sf of retail space.  He  began by renting the property, but an un-repaired roof leak led him to a conversation with the landlord who ended up selling the entire 10,000sf building to him.  That purchase began his career as a real estate investor, even as he expanded his gift business to include wholesale as well as retail, and eventually manufacturing as well.

Everything was going well, until in 2006 the flood gates from China opened, wiping out his manufacturing business.  Cash flow crunches ensued, and he was forced to consider filing for bankruptcy.  Fortunately, he was introduced to a man who was able to repair his credit.  Within 3 or 4 months, his whole credit situation began to markedly improve, and within six months he was back in good standing with the credit agencies.  It was such a miraculous experience for him that he decided right then and there to get into the credit repair business, way back in 2007.

In our discussion, we talk all about credit repair – how it works, how much it costs, how long it takes, how much a credit score can get boosted, etc.  But one of my biggest take-aways from the conversation was that credit repair isn’t just for people who need to “repair” their credit.  Rather, “credit repair” should be considered good financial hygiene.  By working with a credit repair specialist like Rick Jackson, you can boost your credit score thereby lowering the interest you’ll pay on loans you may need, potentially saving you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

Rick is making a special offer to listeners of the Bay to Bay Podcast:  he will give a full money back guarantee if your credit score does not improve within 60 days of starting the process!  You can contact Rick via his web site: Credit Repair Bay Area

Episode 28: Steve Bennett is the Man About Town

I open this episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast by mentioning that it seems as though every time I turn around, Steve Bennett is there.  It could be a meeting for a chamber of commerce, business council, a charity fundraiser, school harvest festival, and of course everywhere on Facebook – there’s Steve Bennett.  So I began to ask the question – who is Steve Bennett, and why is he following me?  🙂  One thing was clear:  Steve Bennett is quite the man about town.

Steve currently works for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, but as you’ll hear from our talk, he’s had a bunch of different jobs with a number of newspapers both here in California but also up in Oregon and Idaho.  Recently, he spent a number of years working for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County.  Steve grew up up on the foggy shores of Pacifica, just south of san Francisco and spent the earlier years of his life exploring the San Francisco nightclub and music scene, before he battened down the hatches and went to college, earning degrees in broadcasting and journalism.

He’s friendly, outgoing, and a great conversationalist – but that doesn’t explain why I see him everywhere I look.  As you’ll learn in this episode, Steve is a master networker.  It seems that he knows everyone in town, and that helps him with his greater mission:  to make our community a better place.  He was taught early on the importance of giving back and working in your community, because we don’t live in an amazing place purely by accident.  It takes work from people like Steve Bennett who actually care about what goes on in their community.

Not coincidentally, all this networking also helps Steve in his job, which at the moment is managing advertising sales for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.  We spend some time talking about sales, too – and how Steve encourages the salespeople on his team to get out to these functions and do their own networking.  And that’s crucial, because a warm relationship is so much better and more effective than a cold one.  And that’s a lesson that everyone should learn, regardless of their mission or the business they’re in, and that’s what makes this episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast so worth listening to.

Episode 27: Jake Knight with Confessions of a Bay Area House Flipper

Jake Knight confesses to living the dream – he’s a Bay Area house flipper. It seems that house flipping is all the rage these days, and the idea of flipping homes here for big bucks is a fever dream of many. In fact, ATTOM data estimates that nearly 6% of homes sold in the US in 2017 were flips – hundreds of thousands of houses each year. From coast to coast and state to state (and in every county in California!), houses are getting flipped, probably just down the street from where you live.

Who’s doing all this flipping? The answer is people like Jake Knight of Skye Homes LLC. He says flipping is the only thing he’s really wanted to do since he got out of high school, when he read Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  It took him a while before he finally got into the business for real, but now he’s been a legit Bay Area House flipper for the past several years. With a background in finance and mortgage lending/underwriting, he takes a keen eye to every project he works on to ensure his ventures are profitable. But more than that, he’s concerned with creating value at every step in the process, including for the sellers of the flip homes he buys.

We had a very wide ranging discussion and covered a lot of hot topics which will be of interest:

  • What makes a house a good flip candidate
  • Finding houses that are good candidates for flipping
  • What kinds of people sell to flippers?
  • The value proposition for home sellers working a flipper
  • Competition in the flipping business
  • Financing flip projects and buying real estate with no money down
  • Determining how much to pay when acquiring a property
  • Pricing Strategy for the Resale
  • Working with REALTORs
  • Determining what materials, appliances, fixtures and such are appropriate
  • Books and web sites useful for flippers
  • How long does it take to flip a home
  • Saving on taxes
  • Real estate flipping in a changing market
  • The importance of networking and where and how to do it in the Bay Area

If you’ve been thinking about getting into flipping, this is certainly an episode you’ll want to tune in to and listen to over again.

Episode 26: Brad Kava, Journalism with the Write Stuff

It’s such a singular pleasure to sit down for a talk with a really good storyteller. And that’s just what Brad Kava is, and it has been his calling for over four decades. Starting his professional career as a stringer for the New York Times, Brad has worked for a number of newspapers including the Kansas City Star, the San Jose Mercury News, the Santa Cruz Good Times, the Patch, and quite a few others. Brad certainly has the “write stuff” when it comes to Journalism, as you’ll hear in this lively discussion.

Mr. Kava is currently the chair of the Journalism department at Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA. He says that even in this digital day and age when the traditional newspaper business seems to be a shadow of its former self, interest in journalism itself is alive and well – maybe stronger than ever. The Journalism department at Cabrillo College has grown from just 50 students when he took the reins to about 150 today. He credits President Donald Trump for the surge in interest in the field.

Naturally, that leads to a discussion of Fake News, and the idea that journalists are an “enemy of the people.” We discussed Bob Woodward’s new book Fear about the Trump administration, and the parallels between now and the time that Woodward rose to fame as the lead investigative journalist for the Washington Post during the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon Administration.

It was a wide-ranging, fast paced, and fascinating discussion and we wrapped up with a tangential discussion about the Santa Cruz Rail Trail, of all things. I think you’ll really enjoy this episode, on many levels. A good story is like that.

Episode 25: Lynn Renshaw and Santa Cruz Together Fight Rent Control

In this episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Lynn Renshaw of Santa Cruz Together. You may not live in Santa Cruz, but the topic of our discussion is of interest to all Californians: rent control. Santa Cruz Together is a grassroots organization of Santa Cruz voters who are opposed to Santa Cruz Measure M on the November 2018 ballot.

There’s no denying that there is an affordability crisis in Santa Cruz, both for homeowners and renters as well. In fact, Santa Cruz is rated as one of the least affordable cities in the entire U.S.A., so it’s not surprising that there is a lot of concern in the community about the high cost of housing.

The question before us is, how do we deal with that? The folks behind Measure M believe that the best way forward is to establish strong measures to limit increasing rents. The folks who oppose Measure M point out that rent control actually does not control the cost of rent for most people, but rather it has the inverse result: rents increase, because rent control removes units from the rental housing stock while at the same time discouraging the construction of new rental housing.

Whether you’re in favor of or opposed to rent control, this is a very informative episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast. Please do share it with anyone you know who is concerned with housing affordability and rent control, regardless of if they live within the city of Santa Cruz or beyond.

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,  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! – 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