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, 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