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

Episode 14: Bay Area Bygone Days with Matt Wanhala

Ever meet a guy who you just loved to shoot the breeze with?  The kind of dude where, even in today’s hectic mobile-this, app-that, instant-everything you just want to stop what you’re doing and sit down to enjoy a good old fashioned conversation?  I met a man like that – his name is Matt Wanhala.  He’s in his mid-70’s now, and has spent pretty much all his life in California.  In those decades, Matt got around quite a bit, and he’s seen and done a lot of interesting stuff.  And some of the stuff he’s done hasn’t maybe been that interesting, but when you hear him talk about it, you’re interested nevertheless!  Listen to Matt talk about growing up in the rugged north coast, fishing for tuna, filming a movie, hanging out with the rat pack, a brush with Charles Manson, black helicopters, throwing rocks at President Nixon, and so much other fun stuff!  Matt’s had a lot of good times, and he shares quite a few of them with us in this charming and rambling episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast.  Tune in, turn on, and enjoy!

Episode 13: Residential Assisted Living with Gene Guarino

The San Francisco and Monterey Bay area is full of high-earning families who are always looking for good investment vehicles to bank their hard-earned gains.  Many folks with money to invest consider the real estate market – but with real estate prices as high as they are, the cash on cash return for many real estate investments hardly justify the risk of the investment itself.

For all those would-be investors who are finding diminished returns on their real estate portfolio, Gene Guarino at the Residential Assisted Living Academy has a message you’ll want to hear.  There’s a tremendous investment opportunity for folks who are looking to buy, open, or lease residential assisted care facilities.  That may sound like a lot of work to some – but it doesn’t have to be, as you’ll discover when you listen to this episode.

There’s an incredible opportunity here, as the number of people who will be needing assisted living continues to grow for the next twenty years as baby boomers begin to reach that stage in life where they can no longer live on their own.  Smaller facilities such as are run in single family homes often provide residents a better, yet more affordable quality of life than offered by many of the larger, institutional senior care facilities.

If you’re looking for a sound investment strategy that is taylor made for America’s greying demographics, you owe it to yourself to listen as I speak with Gene Guarino at the Residential Assisted Living Academy.

If you’re interested in learning more, please visit this link to sign up for a 1 day free introductory course from the Residential Assisted Living Academy!


Episode 12: Turn Around Interiors takes Home Staging to a Whole New Level

I managed to get Jo Ann Cureton and Lisa Nicks-Balthasar on the line to talk about their passion: home staging. This dynamic duo runs Turn Around Interiors, one of the most popular home staging companies in Santa Cruz County (California). As you listen, you’ll understand why they’ve been able to stage some of the finest homes in our coastal region. We discuss how they got into this business, what attracts them to it, and why they keep at it after so many years. You’ll learn what their background and training is like, and why it’s so important that every home being sold get staged.

I asked them a lot of questions a homeowner might as, such as:

  • How much is a typical home staging budget?
  • Does every home need to be staged?
  • What homes benefit most from staging?
  • Is it important to stage a home, even in a tight market with no competition?
  • Should you stage the exterior as well as the interior?
  • What are the hottest trends in home staging these days?

Before the episode is over, you’ll understand why and how home staging gets homes sold more quickly, and for a significantly higher price than the non-stage competition. If you keep listening until the very end, you’ll hear about a very special offer they’re making just for listeners of the Bay to Bay Podcast!

You can contact Jo Ann and Lisa through their web site: www.TurnAround-Interiors.com. You can also reach them by telephone, Lisa at (831) 586-1844 or Jo Ann at (831) 239-7719.

Turn Around Interiors staged Villa Monte Verde

View more photos of their staging work on this home’s web site