On this week’s episode of Establishing Your Empire we host Nathan Ryan. Nathan has a long list of experiences from being a designer for Disney to former CEO of a global digital agency (Toi) and now CEO of Blue Sky Partners. Nathan is also an advisor to the Emmy-nominated culinary magazine Life and Thyme and Co-Founder of the non-profit GoodPolitics, serves on the board of directors at the LBJ Future Forum at the LBJ Presidential Library & Museum, and on the Economic Prosperity Commission for the City of Austin. Our wide ranging conversation starts out in the area marketing and business consulting and goes all the way to Austin’s current homelessness situation and then to everyone’s favorite topic: politics.
Welcome to the Establishing Your Empire show. A podcast that inspires entrepreneurs, creatives and future business owners to pursue their passions, grow their organizations and build their empire. My name is Daran Herrman and creatively I’m best known for my photography. But business wise my claim to fame is growing a company from $15K per month in online sales to breaking the one million dollar a month barrier. And I’m sitting down with interesting people to talk about their process, the lessons they learned and how they have Established their Empire’s.
Nathan Ryan, thank you so much for coming to the podcast here.
I’m real excited to have you here today.
Why don’t you start and give us a little background of who you are and what you do.
Yeah, absolutely. I’m super excited to be here and I think I already mentioned this, but this setup really cool. I really appreciate it. Yeah, super cool. Keeping out in here. So my background do you want the longer, the short version? I would like the long version if you don’t mind. Well then we’ll see. So I was born in Houston or near Houston, in Conroe, Texas, which is just Northeast of Houston near the Woodlands. I spent the first three years of my life in a little town that I like to say. Sounds like Southpark made it up to make fun of what small towns, you know, what a character of a small town would, would be in Texas, but it’s, it’s called Cut and Shoot Texas and just say cut and shoot.
Oh, that’s so funny. And how small? I probably have you beat.
I think it’s, I think it’s about 2000.
Okay. I’m 200. But in between two towns? In Kansas it was in between two towns.
Wow. Okay. Yeah. You beat me by a magnitude of ten. Yes. That’s sad. That’s great. Wow. Okay. What was your, what was the town called? Gorham. Okay. What does another entity, and it’s spelled, it’s per now, if you looked at the spelling, it’s Gore ham, so it’s another, okay.
You wonder why the town sites stayed small?
No, I don’t. So spent the first three years of my life in cut and shoot, my dad was a pastor at a small church there. Got asked to go and work with a struggling church in Southern California, North of Los Angeles, called in Valencia in 1990. So on January 15th, 1990 and that date will be, we’ll come back later. We moved from Texas to California. And I was a musician growing up, so I was a drummer. I started touring as a drummer at age 15. I got married, my wife and I got married when I was 22. She was 21. We’ll be celebrating 10 years this year and says, man, that’s the thing. 10 years already. Yeah. It took a break from touring as a drummer to graduate with all my high school friends back at the high school that I went to. Cause I had been doing basically school, you know, on the road via charter school while I was touring.
Went back from my last a semester and then went back on the road. But shortly before my wife and I got married or shortly after, I can’t remember, I think it was shortly after I, I quit the band cause you know, $125 per gig maximum where you spend most of that on food and gas. Just wasn’t going to cut it. So I started studying graphic graphic design while I was on the road. And ended up running into an old family friend who turned out to run a studio that did most of the packaging, specialty packaging for Disney and Fox, a DVD releases. So I got to go in and he, he asked me if I want to come in and intern with him. And I went in and interned with him for about a year. Worked on everything from Pearl Harbor to send city too.
You know what was some of the other Roger rabbit rereleased and we did some really immersive packaging for that. And then he got hired by Disney as a VP, a creative director, and he brought me with him as a junior designer. So I dropped out of college and went and worked for Disney. Mmm. Was there for about a year and a half. And what was really interesting about that experience was it was a startup division of Disney, so it was about 18 people, so large startup, lots of funding, $200 million in Disney startup funding. But it was still a startup within the company and it was part of the larger company. So I had a very, very packed a year of learning about what startup culture it looks and feels like and how to deal with corporate culture with that year at Disney. And then went from there. I worked at a couple of larger in the LA area. I’m mostly focused in the film industry and then started an agency in 2011 with some friends called toy. We did work mostly in branding. And, and you know, at that, at that point in time, you could charge close to a hundred thousand dollars to build a WordPress website.
Right? Yeah. Not anymore. No, not anymore. It a little tough. It’s very hard. But we, that’s kind of the business we got into in 2011.
We scaled it up and four, four offices, two States, two countries. So we had, we started in Los Angeles. We opened an office in San Francisco because we were working with a lot of startups. And then we all but acquired, not fully acquired but all, but acquired a company in Buenos Aires. They became essentially the bulk of our production was done there. And then we opened this office in Austin in 2015. Mmm. And so in 2017 after two years of scaling toy up, I stepped down from the CEO position, which had been CEO for about three years at that point. Step down. And we started blue sky partners, the end of 2017. And blue sky partners essentially takes design thinking methodologies and applies them to building out business models and building out business operational plans and things like that. Mmm.
And we’ve been around for just over two years, as of last December. And then over the last few years I’ve gotten involved in a bunch of other stuff. I’ve always been really interested in, you know, I think there’s a through line here of design and organizing people and things like that. And I’ve always been interested in politics and policy. And so I run an organization here in town called good politics, my friend Liz. And then I’m on to city commissions the economic prosperity commission where we focus on, ah, making budget recommendations to council for things like workforce development and workplace readiness and infrastructure and you know, housing and affordability. And then I’m on the ethics review commission as well, which is you know, we, we essentially handle any internal complaint against a member of city council or members that he staff. And then I’m on the board of directors at the LBJ library’s future forum, and then I own a small stake in a hard ginger beer company out of Napa, just for fun.
So it sounds like that one’s just a more of the passion side of it. Yeah, it’s also very good ginger beer. Great. So, all right, so obviously the packaging company, you had that because of a contact, right? But how did you go from having a job that paid you money to starting your own firm? Because that can be very scary to a lot of people. So maybe walk me through that thought process and how that happened. Yeah, I mean,
So you know, this was in, this was in the, the depths of the great recession, right? And companies were, were slashing jobs pretty frequently. And one, one thing that happened there was when I moved, the reason I moved from Disney to an agency is because Disney was getting rid of a lot of people in the department that I was in and they, they made a deal with the agency that they were already outsourcing to, to take on Teamworks yeah. Work. And with that, if they were going to increase the contract, a few key team members as well. So I got moved over to it, the agency to work on some of the Disney work. Well, as those budgets continued to shrink, Mmm. They started looking for ways to reduce their contracts with the agency as well. So I had somebody approach me while I was at the agency and they didn’t say, you know, it was never brought up, Hey, you should leave the agency, we’ll give you the contract.
They said, we would like to give you a contract directly to work on these things, you know, can you bid on it? And then I bid on it and then I want it. And it was like my whole year’s salary basically. And then what now and then and then I had somebody contact me from princess cruises cause princess cruises was based in Valencia where I lived and they said, Hey we, we heard that you can help with some of the, you know, I was doing a lot of print design at this point and they, they do these crews, a port guides and they were like, we heard that you do a lot of design work. We heard that you do
you do print work, you know, would you be interested in helping design these port guides? And you know, this is not real. Like the stuff I was doing for Disney was real design heavy, right?
Like I’m thinking through the structure of these pages and all that kind of stuff. The work for princess cruises was like, here’s a word document, here’s a template, just add all of the copy into this. And so I landed that contract for a year and once I had those two, this was probably in 2010, it was very easy for me to just say, I’m going to step back from the agency that I have a full time gig. And I had just gotten married. So, you know, it was, it was very [inaudible] it felt like very tenuous, even though in retrospect it was actually really a great deal. You know, these two very, very solid contracts, very, very longterm. What, what, what’s interesting to me is you didn’t just stay just a freelancer. So I still think there’s a story there of, okay, I got some contracts and we have similar stories.
Yeah. I actually started my agency just because people kept [inaudible] said, Hey, you can do this right. You can do this. Right. and had a ton of revenue before I had even a name, but right. So walk me through how you grew it from a couple of contracts to at full ed agency. Well, so that was actually a different thing. [inaudible] Interesting. You know? So what happened was I had these two contracts that were good. But I, I actually, you know, this is kind of a theme as well. I do a lot of organizing. I enjoy managing, I enjoy working with people, all of that. I didn’t always want to be a designer. I didn’t want to stay a designer. So I had these two contracts. They were great. What else? I had some friends that really enjoyed doing design work. And we’re starting to, they were much more keyed into, I was very much in the entertainment world.
They were much more keyed into the startup space and so they started designing websites and things like that. And I didn’t have any experience with that. But what I was good at was dealing with clients and dealing with internal teams and working out budgeting details and all of that. Again, going back to some of that training from Disney, I wasn’t scared of walking into a room. I didn’t know where. I didn’t know what was going on. I, you know, I’ve learned a lot of really good skills for how to deal with people. And how to get down to brass tacks and negotiate and do all that kind of stuff. So when my friends were starting a toy, they brought me in essentially as a project manager. And at that point I started letting go of these contracts with Disney and with Mmm. Well I started letting them go and also they dwindled because they realized we’re paying way too much money to get this done.
This is very easy work. W and, and another wave of slashing budgets. They started slashing budgets and it made it easy for me to start taking on more full time work with toys. So I essentially started with toy as a project manager while I was closing out other accounts. I’m with my friends, Dave and Antonio. Mmm. And Dave was, you know, Dave was the guy who knew everybody in the Bay area and had a lot of connect connections and I could sell ice to an Eskimo. And, and Antonio was the, the creative genius still is and you know not with toy. He, he’s doing his own thing now, but it’s still a creative genius. And then I came in as kind of as operational piece essentially. And, and it was just the three of us to start. And then it, and then it scaled up rather quickly.
So, you know, for me it was, you know, I, I, I wish I could say I had like some sort of master plan going from step to step here. But I think I was trying to make the best choice given the choices that were in front of me with the goal of building something on my own with friends. And, and, and, you know, putting myself in a position where I could continually learn new skills. Right? Those were kind of the two things that were most important to me. And if we made some money in the process, then great. Which we did, which was good. Obviously you probably did a good job as well. So I literally just had somebody call me yesterday. He’s a project manager at a design firm. He’s got somebody sending him some contracts. He wants to move up that chain, either internally or on his own.
How’d you move from project manager to CEO? Like any advice there or what happened? Mmm, I think for me, you know, I did make it clear early on when I joined toy that that I want, I would love to run the company someday. So I was very clear with both of the founders at the time that that was a goal of mine, which is very important. I think that it’s, if you make your intentions clear and negotiations early on, it’s way easier than a year later. Yeah. Or you know, when, when the moment you feel like you’ve got the most leverage is also the most likely time that it could blow back. Right. You know, and so if you’re waiting to do, to take a step like that or to say what your true intentions actually are by the time you do it, people may assume you have different intentions, intentions and B very upset when they find out that you’ve been hiding that as a goal.
And so I, for me it was like I want to be really upfront and honest and, and you know, I felt like had a lot to learn from Dave and from Antonio and this was Dave’s, you know, second or third agency at the time and he’d done really well with his, his previous ones. So for me it was, yeah, I, I’m happy to come in. I know I have a lot to learn, but I also want to run this company at some point and if I get involved and if I give up some of these other things that I’ve been working on at the time, I was also running a magazine on the side, just fun focused on art in unexpected places. We did eight issues. We had 12 people working on it. You know, nobody ever really made any money that, that, that was meaningful.
But you know, again, this was recession, right? And a lot of people had just graduated college. They were creative types and, you know, essentially the, it, it proved a massive help from a community standpoint. But it also, it also was it really good resume builder for a lot of people. For me, a lot of times those side projects like that, especially creative ones, if I’m not losing money, it’s almost like you’re winning because if you’re
, if you can sustain it and you’re building community, you know, very similar to his podcast. Right. You know, it takes a lot of time, but you know, you’re building community relationships. Yup. There’s a lot of things that are happening. So, and money comes with that. If you can provide a lot of value, it can come in. It comes in different forms. Like it might not be exactly through the magazine, but through like you said, relationship.
Exactly. Well, then real quick just to, to recap the thought around, you know, project manager to CEO. For me it was mostly, it was mostly just saying, you know, I’m going to take on as much responsibility as I can. I’m going to learn and then I’m going to take on more responsibility. And it was just constantly that, right. It was constantly, I wasn’t saying, Mmm, you know you need to, you need to pay me more in order for me to take this responsibility on. It was, I’m going to take this responsibility on, okay, now look at these results. You know, we’re growing, I’m, I need to move into this position. You know, as I moved from project manager to director of operations to effectively COO to CEO and it was just constantly that it was, I’m taking on more. Okay. You know, as founding members and other team members got overwhelmed, I would take that stuff on.
I would figure out a way to deal with it either with myself somewhere else in the team or, or find another outsource partner, help us deal with things. And it was just constantly solving problems, constantly taking on more responsibility. And I think that was the way that I, right. I’m kind of moved up naturally. Yeah. Makes complete sense. It’s, and it sounds like also because your intentions were clear it’s almost like, let me back up a little bit. Always. A lot of people I help with their negotiations. I always say, Hey, don’t ask for a raise out of the blue, right? Maybe say, let’s do a meeting and then ask your boss or your manager or, you know, what can I do to be more impactful for the same organization? How can it provide more value? Go and do those things and be like, look, I did all this stuff.
Right. So, you know, can I then ask for the raise or compensation or the title or whatever you’re looking for. Yup. Okay. So one of the things with toy as well as blue sky partners [inaudible] is this idea that I looked up, it’s called a sprint methodology. So I’m very interested in this. Yeah, I’ve read about it, but I would love to hear how you explain it and give everybody some knowledge here. Yeah, absolutely. So sprint methodology, the idea is essentially, you know, if you’ve got a project right, let’s say with blue sky partners, a lot of work that we do is, Oh, we help companies, we help companies go from let’s say zero to one or one to two or whatever that growth stage is for them. Whatever that next step is for them. We help them get there. And one of the things that we end up doing pretty frequently is helping them kind of rethink their model entirely.
Well, how do you rethink a model? You’re going to do a lot of market research. You’re going to do some, you’re going to look at what their current operations, their current structure looks like. You’re going to look at what contracts and terms look like. You’re going to think about what the financial model is. And then you’re going to think about, okay, with all of those things, how do we implement this? And, and, you know, stretch ourselves, stretch the organization enough so that it can handle the, the change that is coming that it really wants. Right? But that’s a massive project. Mmm. If you don’t chunk it out. So sprints is essentially saying we’re going to, we’re going to look at this massive project, but we’re going to look at it in, in sprints. We’re going to, we’re going to look at it in chunks and we’re going to take, we’re going to take this big sort of nebulous thing and we’re going to turn it into step one is a week long sprint where we focus on really digging into your numbers and looking at where your money’s actually coming from and where it’s actually going.
And then sprint two is we’re going to build out a new model and it’s going to take us two weeks and these are going to be the steps. These are going to be the times that we get together in a room and we, we sh everybody shuts their phone off and we work on this one thing and we, you know, get the whiteboard and the, the post it notes out and we really think about how to prioritize everything that your company could possibly be doing to be making money and everything it could possibly be spending money on. And then we’re going to build the model out and then we’re going to test it with a bunch of assumptions and that’s two weeks, you know, and then we’re going to move on to what does this mean operationally? How does this change your structure? We spent two weeks on that.
So you know, the sprint methodology essentially just says we’re going to do as much work as we can all in the same room and we’re going to do very, very highly defined deliverables within a very, very, you know, ideally as quick of a time frame as possible. Right? So our sprints can go anywhere from one week to six, but we really don’t go beyond that six weeks. It’s about as long as we’ll go on a spread. Is that typically in person with, with your clients or? So we are actually as of this year where we’ve got clients in, in Maryland, in New York, in addition to Texas. And we are, we are kind of piloting the, the what the digital sprint consulting relationship looks like. But which makes sense. It’s way more scalable. And why not with video conferencing? That’s fantastic. Exactly.
Well, and you know a lot of, so we, so we do as part of those sprints, we do what are called work sessions. Part of our thought and part of our value prop with blue sky is we take a project that you don’t have time for it and we get it done. But that still means we’re going to need somebody’s time from our client’s side. But you know, after our first year where we were trying to work or do meetings, status updates, stuff like that, it was just, it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like it was a good use of anybody’s time, including our own. Mmm. Excuse me. Mmm. So we started doing what we call work sessions in the middle of these. So, you know, we’ll do a a two hour long work session with the client where everything we need to get from them for that week.
We get it done in two hours. We do it with them, we sit down with them, we get the work done with them. And then the next week we do it again and then we say, here’s the project, we’re going to review it with you. Okay. Where they’re going to know continue, we’re going to add more deliverables to this and we’re going to make tweaks and that’s going to be another sprint. Or we’re going to move on to the next thing. Cause you feel good about that. There’s so many things I love about this already. One of the items that typically will delay a project is simply the back and forth between the client and agency because there’s so many times I actually now even tell a client like, if you want this faster, literally all you have to do is respond within 24 hours.
Yeah. Yeah. So that’s, I love the how you get kind of get it all done in one time. I also think that there’s a lot of confidence on your part to sit, be able to do it in front of them, right? Like not, and I am sure you’ve done plenty of projects to the team and have great people, but for some reason a design agency. And I think in a lot of, in the creative world, we like to take, get the, get the task and then huddle and a little corners and do it. Yeah. so that’s interesting. Well, and you know, we, we do, we do have a partnership with blue sky with a company here in town called honeycomb. So we have started doing a little bit more marketing, but we’re, you know, we’re not primarily a marketing agency at this point.
We’re, we’re, we’re business consulting operations, things like that. But, you know, even even when we are doing a marketing project and we have honeycomb in the room, Mmm. One of our, one of, you know, [inaudible] we do a lot of mission, vision, values work with companies. But we intentionally said that we wanted to see how our values played out before we solidified them for blue sky. That said, one of ours that is for sure a value is, is that we are real, we are not fake. And we make that very clear upfront. Right. We actually, before I came here, we had a kickoff call with a client and, Mmm. You know, one of the things I told him was we, we kind of shoot from the hip all the time and we will tell you if we don’t know something, we will tell you if we need to do more research, we will tell you if we don’t feel comfortable taking that project on.
Mmm. And we will just, we want to have a good time with you. Like if we’re in the room and we’re working on something, we want to show our work, we want you to see how we’re thinking through stuff because the goal is that you are going to bring other people in in the future and hopefully you see how we process this. And you are able to bring other people in cause you’ve, you’ve gotten a little bit of a look inside. There’s no black box here. So yeah, I mean it’s, it’s kind of a principle of ours to do that. Love it. So how or why did you start blue sky partners? We started it for a few reasons. I think the first one would probably be, you know, everybody on our founding team has been part of and, or started scaled and exited their own company.
And we know how lonely that can be and we know how challenging that can be. And we also know that at a certain point you hit, you hit, you hit a wall where you are growing but you don’t have enough money to bring on a new, like full time executive. You also don’t want to start handing projects off to somebody at a junior level. But like consultants, hard, slippery and working with consultants is not always Mmm. A good idea. Yeah. Yeah. There’s a lot of bad ones out there too. Like coaches are mean. I think in every industry there is of course people that don’t have really the weight that they say that they have it all in. One of the stories that I talk about when, when you know, well we talk about what we do is I hired a client or a consultant wants to help us rethink our sales process and it was about a six week thing.
Got a PR, got a a PowerPoint back that looked like it had just done a find and replace on the name of the company and the names of people. And like nothing was special about it. It looked like a totally stock, maybe even purchase it from somebody else. And we’ve got a bill for 36 grand, you know, and so for us with blue sky, it was let’s come in and be really supportive for companies that are growing because we know what that feels like. Let’s price ourselves in a way that allows us to stick around and really act like we’re part of the team. And then let’s, and then let’s take the agency model that we know so well and let’s apply it to business development and business operations. There are tons of incredible subject matter experts that are consultants out there. [inaudible] Hate selling, they hate getting on the phone and, and selling themselves, but they really love doing the work.
So let’s build a M, you know, a partner network of people that are subject matter experts in finance and in facilitation and in a mediation and in legal. And then as we, you know, let’s build that into our model with their, their price points, their hourly rates was pay them more than they ask for. If we can [inaudible] as we work through these projects with clients, we save our clients money because we cover those subject matter experts under our budget. And we get to be really, really resourceful there with them throughout the journey. I ended up doing a lot of, you know, sort of one-on-one leadership coaching throughout these processes, even if that’s not a part of our scope, just because that’s just kind of like it’s just a big deal. It’s part of what I think blue sky should do from a mental health standpoint is to be a partner for some of these founders also.
Sounds like you might like that too, would do it regardless, I think. Yeah, I think it’s just kind of an innate, yeah, that sounds like it’s, so what about, so what’s your approach to marketing for your own agencies? Right. And it sounds like maybe even these freelancers probably help you with some referral networks as well. And so how, how do you market your company? Well you know, to this point it’s been word of mouth to this point. It’s been word of mouth and some strategic partnerships with groups here in town to produce events and one off things like that where we’re getting our logo on things. Mmm. You know, we really just wanted to increase name ID for the company. So we’ve been doing that over the last two years. This will be the first year that we actually start paying for advertising and things like that because we’re rolling out some, some stuff that’s a little bit, you know, marketing consulting is a little, it’s hard cause it’s fair.
It can be fairly nebulous. Even even marketing something like the sprint program or sprint retainer or anything like that, it can still, you still have to do a lot of work to get somebody to trust you the way that we want them to trust us. So jump in for 12 months. If they see us, you know, if they see our logo on a, an event that they really like they, they may come to us for something like that if they hear that pitch at that event. But online it’s just, you don’t get that same sort of interaction level. But we are rolling out a workshops this year that are going to focus on some things like Mmm financial modeling time blocking and mission, vision, values, all of which we have done up to this point and we have sold. But we’re rolling them out in a more packaged sort of like one click to purchase [inaudible] and we’ll be able to, to advertise those a lot better via online ads.
Yeah, I think it sounds like a, just a higher touch to all your, and that sounds like it’s a constant theme between not only your marketing but also when you actually go into a business. And you know, you don’t want to scale too, too fast, too quick. Like walk me through like a let’s a CLA, like if it’s an average client, what not, not really money-wise but like are these large companies, small companies? Like what’s their size? I would say the average client for us is doing about 2 million in revenue per year. A medium sized companies doing about 2 million in revenue per year. And like is trying to figure out how to get to four but, but there, but because they’re doing 2 million and they have been growing as rapidly as they have, they don’t have time to sit back and think about the longterm strategy.
Or even if they do, they get very quickly sucked back in. So we tend to come in at that point and help run those projects in the background that are more medium or longterm thinking. So that they can stay focused on their day to day but still get updates about that longterm stuff. That’s, that’s so important to them. Yeah. And before getting ’em moving from this guy partners, is there anything, and without giving too much detail obviously with clients there any like area where you can give some examples that would help people just listing the like, I have that problem. This is how you guys solved it perhaps. And I notice yours is very custom, so yeah, go ahead. Totally. I mean, again, the, the process I laid out before about a rethinking a model that that is fairly routine for us. You know, helping rethink a financial model, helping think about how that it turns into an operational model.
And then actually rolling that out. From a sales standpoint, from a marketing and messaging standpoint and from an internal team and morale standpoint, that’s pretty common for us. The other side of it would be, you know, I would say pretty frequently we are consulting on marketing. And we’re thinking about what a marketing strategy should look like, how to essentially build out a marketing department. What are some really interesting marketing projects or, or fun thing. We helped their company launch a book club that’s turned into a big revenue generator for them. We helped that same company launch a like a subscription box and this is the services company. So like they’re, you know, they are, they’re thinking outside of the box, I guess with the way that they’re doing their marketing and we help them think about how that fits into their marketing strategy, put that whole program together and launch it.
Mmm. So you know, that, that those are probably the most typical sales and marketing kind of straddling that line and helping either get that system up and running or actually coming in to help improve it or rethinking your model and rolling it out in all of the ways that it needs to be rolled out. I love it. So let’s, you’ve had a pretty fantastic progress, quick and click perfect progression for your career. Any like mentors that helped you along the way? Oh yeah. So I would say the mentor that sticks out the most in my mind. It was the CEO of the agency that I went right after Disney. I had a fantastic mentor at Disney. He’s, he’s the guy that really got me off the ground. Mmm. And, and gave me an opportunity to, to put in the work and, and, and kind of prove myself to myself and to other people.
His name was Brad gross, but then the, the second one he was the CEO at midnight oil, which was the agency I went to after Disney. And when I got promoted to CEO at toy I really didn’t know who to call. And I had a decent relationship with Tom, which is the guy’s name at, at midnight oil. But I didn’t know him that well. Mmm. But it just, I just decided I’m going to email him and tell him that this happened. And you know, T toy was doing really well at this point. This was late 2014, early 2015. And but it, but at the executive level, there weren’t as many, there weren’t as many systems or principals in places I would have liked. And it made a transition a little bit tougher. So transitioning into that CEO role meant I needed to like actually figure out what a real CEO looked like for a company that was growing the way that ours was.
And so Tom was the first person I thought to reach out to. I reached out to him, didn’t really expect much. He dove in, he got on the phone with me every week for, you know, two to three hours at a time. And, and just really, really took me under his wing. And here’s what, you know, at the time, a toy was probably doing somewhere between one and 2 million. His company that he was still running a midnight oil in LA was doing 77 million year. And he was taking as much time as I needed, texting me, calling me, emailing, looking over documents, helping me put together terms and conditions, talking me through hard leadership conversations I needed to have. Just a really, really, Oh, just, it’s the kind of thing that I think back to and I think he had no, he had no reason to spend his time doing this, but he did it and it meant a ton to me.
And then, you know, here in Austin I feel really lucky. I don’t have a formal mentor at this point. Sometimes. I really think I should, but I, I learned so much from so many of the people in this town, whether it’s Lisa and, and Dan Graham and watching what they’re doing over at Notley or it’s, you know God, there’s just, there, there, there are so many people that, that I look up to here that I try to glean as much as I can. From anytime that I talked to him while you’re very involved in here in Austin, so what about some recommendations to get some of that would want to get more involved here in Austin, but might not have a resume. That’s impressive. Right? So any ideas or recommendations there? Yeah, I mean, you know, one of the best things about Austin is that it is really [inaudible].
It is the kind of city that really doesn’t like to just sit around and talk about things. It does like to sit around and talk about things, but it’s the kind of city that if you sit around and you talk about it for too long, people are going to be like, well, what are you, who are you? I mean there are, you know, [inaudible] the, there’s a ridiculously high number of nonprofits here in town. The local government is actually surprisingly easy to get in touch with and talk to. Mmm. And so I think, you know, my, my first recommendation is always just reach out to any organization that you think you might have any kind of interest in either learning more about or volunteering with. Most of them will get back to you rather quickly. Most of them are very interested in getting more and more people involved so that more people are aware of their cause and, or are working on, towards their goals with them.
Mmm. And then beyond that, you know, there are just tons of, there are tons of really good entry points and most everybody at every event ever is willing to sit down and talk with you about what you would like to do, what you would like to be more involved with. And then, you know, again, another one of the things I love about the city is people are really open to say, yeah, I know that person. I’ll make the introduction. And so I would say, you know, first thing is feel, feel comfortable reaching out and trying to get involved somewhere on your own, but also, you know, feel comfortable bringing up to other people that you would like an introduction and start talking about the things you care about so that other people I can hear that and start making connections for you. Any organizations or events that you recommend?
Well, I would be a really bad co-founder if I didn’t plug good politics as what’s called a softball pitch. Thank you. Yeah. If I had missed that, you would have been like, you would have been looking at me weird. I’ll just turn off the cameras. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Go home, Nate. I’m good at this. So good politics. My co founder, Liz and I started it in 2018 really with the idea. Yeah, the idea behind it being so many people don’t like politics and objectively in a lot of ways politics is bad, you know, but we think that the possibility for good politics exists. We are hopelessly optimistic about this. Mmm. And we think the way you get there is to just kind of cut the BS and instead of focusing on issues we focus on connecting voters or potential voters directly with candidates or elected officials without you having to donate anything to them.
So our event on the 20th is, you know so we’re partnered with KUT, we’re partnered with move Texas. We’re partnered with the Austin monitor and we’re partnered with an organization called us tomorrow for this one, very similar to our launch party in August of 2018. And the idea is we’re going to have candidates from, you know, every, like a County commissioner all the way up to Congress in the room. So you can go from table to table, you’ll have a card with questions, you can ask them. You’ll get at their table, there will be a, a description, a job description of the, the, the role that that person is running for. So that, you know, you know, cause some of these things are very confusing, right? Like a, a railroad commissioner doesn’t really do much with railroads in the state of Texas, for example.
So we want to make sure it’s clear who you’re talking to and what they’re actually going to be tasked with doing it, where they’d get elected for this position. And I mean that’s the goal is to grab a drink, go from table to table, talk to as many candidates or elected officials as you can. And hopefully feel a little bit better about the fact that it wasn’t hard to talk to these people. And you know, get involved in whatever way you feel compelled to, even if that’s none at all. Yeah. I think that’s a great place there. The politics, you know, I don’t think people as divided as as it seems, I think it’s more just there’s some people that are more loud on the extremes, the left and the right, and there’s a ton of people in the middle way higher percentage.
And yeah, I think if you actually could have a slightly more personal touch and that sounds like a very big personal touch. Yeah. They could really help people get more involved. And you know, I, I agree with you on the polarization. I also, I also that, you know, part of the reason we focus on direct connection is that say you get more educated about a policy area, that’s great. You need to, we hope everybody does. We hope everybody is as educated as they can be. Mmm. But say you get really educated about a policy area while you’re, you’re more likely to get sucked into that polarization. The more educated you get about a thing. But if you, but if you feel like, okay, I’m learning about this and I’ve talked to my Congressman or I know that I can go to my city council, my member of city council, and at least talk to their chief of staff, maybe you will start focusing on solving the problem you’re really interested in rather than just winning the political fight.
And I think that’s kind of what we’re hoping, right, is that people start seeing the, the actual problem is the problem, not the other person as the problem. Mmm. Like that’s kind of what we’re hoping. That’s really interesting. So with does stay on kind of the events and being active in Austin, South by Southwest, coming up in about a month. Mmm. So walk me through your, can’t believe that you said that and I nodded like I was ready for it, but I’m not ready for you to sleep. Sleep analysis. You can stay awake. So walk me through your South by experiences, your recommendations, just that whole world. Yeah. Well, I found out this week that we’re actually curating a thing called focus fifteens on the 21st. This is the last Saturday of the festival. And we’ll be, it’ll be like Ted style talks. So it’d be four of them.
I’ll give one and I’m still security in the other three speakers for this. But so it’s on the last Saturday. Hopefully it’s not like eight in the morning. No, no, I think it starts at like 1:00 PM or something like that in a fully air conditioned room, you know, at the, at the conference center somewhere. But so we’ve got that on the 21st, which means I will get a badge, which is great. But I’ve done this, I’ve done this both ways, right? I’ve done South by without a badge. I’ve done South by with a badge. And for me, for me, my favorite thing. So I met with you forest probably two months ago and he and I were talking and I told him, I was like, my favorite thing about this festival is that it really just feels like the world’s fair comes to me like once a year.
It just comes to me like my whole, our whole city, the whole city of Austin turns into like everything you couldn’t ever imagine and you get to see all of it, you know, you get to walk into these installations where technology is being used at, like you’ve read about but you didn’t even know was real yet. Yeah. Or never even thought about. Yeah, exactly.
South by is whatever you want to make it to be exact and hate it and want to. And that was, and that, that’s, that’s kind of what I was building towards is like, you know, for me the best way to experience it is of course go through a day schedule, check off the stuff that you think looks interesting, but then kind of follow your fancy. I mean, I’ve walked into so many sessions that I didn’t think I was gonna really get into just cause it sounded slightly interesting and been like completely blown away by what I’ve learned. And you know, sometimes I’ve walked into sessions thinking it was another session and it turned out to be fine, but that was not at the session I thought I was at, you know, so yeah, I, for me it’s badge or no badge. Walk around, get into any number of things that you can get into and eat all the food and don’t drive so that you can drink all the free. But
Yeah, no that, so you can actually get somewhere. Exactly. I always do the bicycle. A smart. Yeah, completely smart. I live on rainy street for four years, so I was walk and walk or bike usually bike because you can get really, you get a lot of places really quickly. Yeah. Now I’m so, you know, mile and a half away. But what about saves the no badge. Let’s go, let’s give some recommendations. Like a lot of people think, okay, I have no badge. There’s nothing I can do. Right. Like they just give up before starting. Right. So maybe any thoughts there?
I mean, first of all, the number of just the number of sponsored houses around, you know founder’s house by my friends over at media tech ventures and, and media a player media, like
Awesome experience. Mmm. Inc and ink magazine and, Oh, I’m trying to think of the other really big like entrepreneurial business magazine, but inc does founder’s house as well. They’re fortune or something. Yeah. Do you know that there are tons of those that you can get into? You just need to give them your email address. And then beyond that, you know? Right. I don’t condone it. You can usually get into sessions.
Oh, I can own it without a badge, you know, you don’t know me too well, but I’m like the world’s like best sneaker into, to the best spots. Right. I carry around a big camera, so yeah. And sometimes like, if I know that I have someone with me I’ll carry around two big cameras given to somebody else. I have old pass badges can be from five years. Yeah. You know, I throw them on there. Yeah,
It was in 2018 and I, so almost every year, and I’m doing it again this year. I’m a startup, a pitch coach for the student startup competition at South by Southwest EDU. And I knew, I, I, this was back when, you know, Beto was really gaining steam and he was going to be on a panel at South by, you know, right. The interactive and I didn’t have an interactive badge, so I folded the top of my ADU badge down and just wa and you know, had had it on and walked into the back corner of the room. And then while I’m standing there, you know, for reason, terrified that somebody just come haul me out. Never happened. Obviously a Beto walks in and just stands right next to me. We talked for like 10 minutes and then, and then I went and sat up right in the front [inaudible] and watched him on the panel.
And yeah, I mean you can, you can kind of, you can kind of move fairly freely throughout. Yeah. And I think my recommendations would be just go and no, you don’t. I think if you have a strict plan, you’re going to be disappointed pretty quickly. I also think is don’t like try to like say you’re going someplace, you’re waiting in line, don’t think, okay, I need to change my decision. Cause if you keep changing your decision, you know, you’ll end up going from line to line to line. I also think the large acts, whether it’s music or even speakers is probably not always the best because there’s a hardest I’m big fan of the medium or even low and just going there for tennis and see, yeah, I ended up liking it a lot. Most of those you can get into without anything.
I would also say, you know, to your point, select everything you’re interested in but kind of assume you’re going to get to 25% of that. Yeah. You know, and, and, and again, the, the idea of like follow your fancy, like, you know, the part of the part of the issue is not just what do I go to do I go to this thing, do I go to that thing? It’s that I’m on my way to this thing and I see this other really cool thing. I mean, half the time it’s really worth it. Just like pull over and take a stop in that random installation. It’s really [inaudible] some of that, like the serendipity is some of that’s really cool. Yeah. Nice. Amazingly terrible, fantastic. All wrapped up in well in one very quick business recommendation from me would be whatever your CRM is, just crack your fingers and get that thing ready.
You know, the end of the day, if you can spend 20 minutes putting new contacts into your CRM that goes a really long way. You know, last year when we did this, we collected business cards the whole time and we had an, we built an entire pipeline, the followups and every night at the end I would take all the business cards in my pocket, put ’em in, create a, you know, a potential deal for them. And then immediately after South by was done. We just started moving those, those contacts through our pipeline to see if there was any, any potential business there or potential partnership or just, Hey this is a company we really like and we want to know more about. That was really, really helpful for us. So that’s another, Oh it was actually, it was something I was going to say pretty much exactly to that extent is I would always send them email even just from my phone right away.
Hey I met you at this house. Yeah. And I think it’s going to be nuts. Let’s chat afterwards or whatever it might be. Yeah. Because what, even myself, I almost go back through my scent and not, cause I, I’ll have all these cards and I’m like, yeah, your brains. Yeah. Which event? Which, which place did I meet you at? What were we talking about? All that kind of stuff. I’ll usually take notes on the card. It’s a good idea cause I’ll even want to reach out to somebody. But then there’s like five of those. Right. So you kind of start getting confused and you, you know, you don’t want to be spammy to them. You want to be like, Oh, this is how it went. And one thing that I, another thing that I did last year is when I, when I had run out of cards, I would just let that person email themselves from my, I just handled my phone.
It’s actually better, you know, like plug your plug your email address in right now and just, you know, right where we met in the subject line and send yourself an email and then you can respond to me whenever it makes sense. I love that. Yeah, it’s great. Yeah. So all right. Kind of going into more personal, like, so what does success mean to you or look like for you? I mean, clearly I would love to be as financially comfortable as possible. I’d also like to be in a position where I can give back financially as much as possible. That would be really successful for me. Mmm. I would say the opportunity to work with and work on issues that are important to me and support those financially, support those through, you know, whatever whatever gifts I possibly have in can give via something like blue sky partners or other ways is important to me.
And you know, with blue, with something like blue sky partners employing as many people as possible would be successful. To me. And I think we’re on a trajectory to be, to be hiring a decent amount towards the end of this year and going into next. Mmm. I think yeah, I mean, I, I, I dunno if you’re looking for a more specific answer, but that’s all. It’s all that’s university of man versus, yeah. So what about with the good politics thing and a lot of the nonprofit work that you do, do you foresee yourself ever into entering the political arena? I’ve thought about it. Yeah. And then what about currently of what you’ve done over your course of your career and your life? What are you most proud of? I think I’m most proud of the fact that, okay. You know, there are, there are, there’s a very, very, very, very small list of bridges that have been burned.
Mmm. Through all of these things I’ve been involved in, even when there’s contention, even when things don’t go the way that I want them to or we whatever that collective we is want them to. I think the thing I’m most proud of is that I can say I’m still friends with everybody that I’ve worked with and I work with a lot of friends and any of the coalitions I’ve been involved in, in helping put together, they get along. And so those, those are the relationships matter the most to me. The fact that those relationships are still intact, I think is the thing I’d be most proud of. It’s not easy to do. It is not easy to do. It is not, and I credit a lot of people for putting up with me. Okay. So you started Kenya, you know? Yeah. I would say CMA adult life at least.
As a band member, drummer, has your life turned out different than what you imagined? Yeah, totally. I mean 15 year old Nate thought he was going to be in one of your yeah, I mean, I, I definitely have gone a different route. I mean, I think part of the reason I picked design as a, an a focus area is just because it was creative. It was artistic, but it was also going to pay me. Mmm. But you know, I talk about this often with friends of mine who are also musicians who’ve ended up in business. And I tell them, you know, in some weird sort of way, I think being in a band the band that I toured with [inaudible] we weren’t, we were more of like a stadium rock sort of band, but we would jam a lot on stage.
Right? So you’ve got songs that would, you know, are recorded at four minutes, but we’d play them live and they’d go for 12 or 15. And it was kind of jazz S you know, very much just kind of following the leader and sometimes the leader would change and I was the one driving and then the next and then, you know, as the drummer and then next to the guitar player and star, you know, and so you, you learn all these really interesting ways to just improv with people and feel comfortable doing it. And I think that that, that skill
is still very present in my life. I’m completely comfortable. Mmm. I’m completely comfortable in Pravin, especially around a group of people that I trust to try to solve a thing or finish a thing. And so yeah, it looks completely different. But the stuff I learned then like some of the emotional intelligence, some of those other things I think is just absolutely invaluable.
What about you? Any, any regrets? Mmm, I regret not buying a certain guitar. At one point. I played guitar too and I would have guitars at home. And, and, and I think I probably also regret treating my, my tube amp the way that I did, cause it’s not in great condition and now I plug it in and it just crackles a lot. That can be fun though. But no, in general, outside of small things like that. Mmm. No, no, no, no real regrets so far. Yeah. Yeah. Mmm. So what does the future hold? Like what’s your, you know, a couple of years out, 10 year, 15 house, wherever you want to take it. What’s, what’s it look like? I think blue sky is thriving and growing at that point. I think we’ve added we’re on, we’re on track right now to add a few other verticals essentially.
That I, I can’t really get into at this point. But, you know, I think that blue sky will be growing. I would hope that good politics is scaled across the state. We’ve already been able to do some stuff in San Antonio and partner with some people in Dallas, but we hope that we can expand it even further, go into more rural areas as well to just let people know like, Hey, it’s cool to talk. It doesn’t have to feel like you didn’t have to feel like your Thanksgiving dinner table to talk about politics. And then, you know I do think, I do think, you know, at some point in the next 10 years, I’d love to jump in to the political arena in a more in a more serious way. So I don’t know what the timeline is for that.
But, but yeah, I definitely see that in my future. That’s great. Walk me through the so the LBJ presidential library, so you’re involved there. Give me two pieces, cause I think a lot of people even that live here in Austin, has it ever been [inaudible] and also like what you guys, what do you do there? Yeah, so I mean, the presidential library, like every presidential library highlights the accomplishments of that precedent. In this case, it’s LBJ and LBJ was a ridiculously accomplished president. So his library, you get to walk through all of the stuff related to civil rights and you know, some of the, you know, Medicare, Medicaid, things like that, that, that he put into place. But then also there’s a, there’s a, there’s sections on Vietnam and there’s stuff like that. It’s a really, really interesting deep dive into the history of an era that I think is very similar to ours.
Ridiculous technological change. This is when we were doing the space program at full force. We had a war that was not very popular and was not going very well. There was a lot of social upheaval and social issues that I think rightfully were being brought to the forefront and being dealt with. And people were really angry in general and scared. And I think that it reminds me a lot of how today feels. And so diving into that era at the LBJ library is really, really, Mmm, I think enlightening and interesting. No matter who you are or where you fall on in any sort of partisan spectrum. But then the work that we do with the future forum, Mmm is really focused on how do you take, you know, with the being part of the LBJ library means where we’re part of the national archives, so it’s federally funded.
And because of that we get access to speakers. And the weight that comes from an invitation from the library is pretty good. So we get to say, let’s bring, let’s be a bridge with the future forum between issues that are happening nationally, but are also we’re also seeing happen very close to us here locally. So something like homelessness or marijuana legalization or the census or I think, I think it’s, it’s a two weeks. It’s in two weeks week from this coming Monday. We’re doing an event focused on the, the Texas primary. We’ve got a reporter like one of the head political reporters from the New York times coming in. A few other folks that report specifically here in Texas to talk about the importance of Texas within the national landscape and the importance of these specific races that are going to be up on the primary. So just, you know, we get to do some really, really cool things. We get to invite some really, really interesting people out. I had dinner with former CIA director, John Brennan last year. Just some really, I mean that was intimidating. I’m like, what does he already know about me? Probably way too much. But, but yeah, just, I mean some really, really cool opportunities through that organization.
So how’d you get involved there? Like how did that happen? I’m an obviously you were already pretty involved, but is that just a relationship thing or does that something where you strive to go get it or?
Well, I had been attending a lot of the events cause I was really interested in the subject matter bringing friends. And I got to know a few of the board members on the organization. Mmm. And they did a call for, for board elections last year. And I got an email from two board members saying, Hey, I would like to nominate you. And I got nominated and I got voted on. So it sounds like a common theme. You seem to put yourself in some situations
And become involved and active a lot less than asking, Hey, I would like to be, it’s like you’re, you’re around and it just seems like the likely choice with your career or even with these other nonprofits.
So I like to, I mean, I do like to lead, but I, I like to, I like, I don’t, I’m not, this is not a leadership comment. Like I learned to lead by. No, but I, I like to, in my own life, I like to, I like to lead by actually doing the thing and if I like it and there’s an opportunity to get involved in a more official capacity than like, absolutely, yes. Oh, you know, this year I had to tell my wife, no more boards. I’m not adding, I’m not adding anything to my list outside of, you know, a few events here and there.
I like how you put that in it, more official capacity so you could still get involved, just not officially correct. So that way if you don’t, you’ll always have to show up. Exactly. So you’re also
The economic prosperity commission for city of Austin. So give me a short brief what that is and also like what maybe you see the future of Austin. Like what, where you at there? Mmm, so I’ll start with, I think that, I think the, the future of Austin is really right and I think it’s going to be much, much bigger than it is now. You know, Austin is on track to by 20, 40 B between three and 4 million people closer to four, at least. The central Texas area is an Austin, you know, is in a position where it needs to be growing up more. We need more density in the city. But we also, we also have a big a big, you know plus for us outside, you know, when we compare to something like San Francisco or Seattle or New York is we can actually grow out, right.
So I don’t know that that’s necessarily the best thing to do, but we can do it. And it puts us in a position where while we’re still going to have affordability challenges, we’re not going to have them in the same way that San Francisco in New York do. Mmm. So there’s that. Mmm. But Austin’s got a lot of really big decisions to make. It’s currently debating land use development code. It’s debating Mmm. Transportation bills. It’s it’s just made some massive changes on how it prosecutes or declines to prosecute marijuana and things like that. There’s some massive social changes happening here, obviously the, the homelessness ordinances last year the, that, that change sparked quite a little, quite a bit of political backlash. And so it does have challenges, but I think it’s, I think it is. Mmm. I think it’s approaching most things in the right way.
And I think it’s in a position where it’s going to continue to absorb a lot of, a runoff from major creative cities, major financial hubs. And Austin is going to continue to be one of those cities that’s playing on the world stage that other cities around the world want to know what it’s doing. So that’s my prediction for Austin is that it’s going to keep tinkering its way through those things. But I think we’re, we’re, we’re absolutely on track to, to keep growing and to continue to be a powerhouse and give it to give an idea. So I moved here in 2008 and I think there was 750,000 people in Austin, so we’re going to be like 4 million ish. Yeah, yeah. Within 30 years of me moving here. Yeah. It’s a massive growth and obviously there’s a lot of issues, like you said, with homelessness.
So I have a, probably a different outlook and thought process for the homelessness because I lived downtown and I interacted with a lot and to me it just wasn’t that big a deal. It was common there. Of course there’s some with some problems. Yeah. And I don’t, I know this probably might not be your area expertise, but any, any thoughts of like of where we’re going or what you would like to see happen there or, well, I mean on the, on the issue of the homeless ordinances, you know I tend to, I tend to think a couple of things. I tend to think the goal there was to say we know that fines on individuals who are experiencing homelessness keeps them from getting housed or getting a job or things like that because it, if snowballs, if they can’t pay it, it snowballs.
It becomes a warrant. They, they can’t pass backwards and then they get what they go through on thrown in jail, then that’s expensive for the city. Exactly. So I think from that vantage point, the idea was let’s remove a government barrier in order to give people an opportunity to lift themselves up by their bootstraps essentially. But politically what made it really hard is, I think it was done right before council took a recess so there was not, council was not around to defend it. And a lot of people who look, and I, and I’m not saying that people who disagree with that ordinance change are bad or anything like that. However, I think they had, I think there were some people who had some, a very strong, maybe ill intentioned motives that organized very quickly around this. And that happened pretty quickly after the ordinance change took effect.
And yes, there was a, there was a visual in a V a visible increase in in, in and ho the, the number of homeless individuals in more visible areas. That was kind of the point a little bit that’s right by the convention center and it was, you know, and that, but for the ordinances, you know, the, you want people to feel like they can be seen so that you can get them housed or get them services. You don’t want them sleeping out in the middle of a you know, a, a wooded area near a park, building camps out there. You’d rather know as a city where they are, so that you can start to move them through a continuum of care or get them the services they need and eventually get them into permanent supportive housing. Yeah. I think if you’ve got to do something for one, you can’t, you can’t just leave it.
It’s going to happen. Especially the growing city nice weather. There’s a lot of items there, a lot of nice people here. And to me, you know, removing all barriers as possible is, I think that’s the right direction, whether it was executed properly or not that that’s, that’s something different. But and to me also like, I mean there are people, I mean, we’ve got a, it’s part of an economy is great right now since it’s part of what, yeah. Our society fortunately or unfortunately has people who exceed extremely with very great means and there’s some people who don’t and that don’t fit in our society very well and a lot of mental health there. Yeah. I also think that the mental health is probably more of the fix and said of the some bandaids, but it’s hard to get them access to and Austin’s got great programs for that kind of stuff.
You know, there, there are, there are incredible organizations here in town doing really, really great work, whether that’s on the mental health a side of things or it’s on the housing end or it’s on the workforce development end. You know, there, there are some great organizations doing a lot of great work. The city does a lot of great work on this. They really do. They don’t get the kind of credit that they deserve for it, but the city does a lot of great work and they work in tandem with a lot of these organizations to do lot of great work. And you know, to your point, one of the things that I tried to do last year, Mmm. When, when, you know, it kind of blew up in everybody’s faces, so to speak, in July and August was, I tried to just have as many conversations and talk about those conversations on social [inaudible] with as many homeless individuals as I could, you know, because they are, they’re just people and they, they are some of the brightest, most interesting, nicest people.
I, you know, I had a moment last year where I was talking to a homeless individual and he told me, you know, he, he like put his hand on my shoulder and said something really, really encouraging to me. And I walked away feeling like, wait, I mean, like I, you know, I’ve felt guilty that he felt like he needed to be encouraging me. And more often than not, that is how those conversations go. And it’s just, it’s mind blowing how humble a lot of these folks are and how just good and kindhearted they are. And yeah, there are, there are a few instances that are not good. Nobody should ever be excited when there’s more violence. Mmm. And neither should we attribute all violence to homeless individuals, nor should we assume that any violence that happens comes from that community. Mmm. And that if it’s happening, that is less of a reason to help them. So, you know, anyway,
Yeah, it’s a one of those emotional spots. And I think this is kind of your point with your good politics is I think that when people will get emotional, some things, sometimes it gets difficult to talk about. And I wish it wasn’t that way, but at least you’re doing something about that a little bit. Mmm. Okay. So back to of the personal stuff a little bit. And then we just got a couple more minutes here. So what would you title this chapter of your life? Oh,
That’s a good question. Mmm. Mm,
Bananas. There you go. Or you could just be like blue sky. Pardon?
Yeah, no, no. I’ve got [inaudible] dot com that’s, yeah, yeah, yeah. Blue sky partners.com. That’s the title of the chapter. The line. No, I think it would, I think it would be bananas. Not because I eat a lot of bananas, but because things is, they’re just bananas. It’s been, it’s been like a, it’s been a decade full of ridiculous. And you know, the last three, four years, the learning curves have just been so steep. You know, maybe that’s better. Maybe that’s more approachable. Maybe I’d call it, maybe I’d title it. Learning curves,
Learning curves. Yeah. I like the name. Nice. Better? I think that’s more marketable. All right. We’re going with bananas. It’s right. Going with option, going with option one. That’s right. Now I lost my train of thought. Okay. So, all right. So I should have asked this earlier back when we’re talking about the band, but like, would there be any advice you would’ve gave that 15, 16 year old self?
Mmm, I think I would have told myself to write more. I think there are so many things that I have learned along the way that I forgot because I didn’t write it down. And I think I would tell myself to write more. I enjoy writing. I just can’t sit still long enough to do it. Mmm. But I probably would have told, I probably would’ve told 15 year old Nate to write more. And you’re talking about writing songs or more just journaling or more journaling and, yeah you know, keeping track of stuff that inspires me or makes me think or, you know, it’s really interesting the stuff that I have written down, it’s really interesting to go back and see how my thinking has evolved over time. You know, I’m a the, the, the core person is still the same, but I’m a very different person than I was ever.
I was. Most people are than I was when I was 15, so. Sure. And it’s nice to download that out of your brain too, and I think, yeah, being able to see it again. So do you walk me through maybe a David in your life? Do you do any of that journaling now, or meditations or anything like that? I do. So, you know, like I said, I have a hard time sitting still long enough to write. I actually tend to do a lot of journaling at the gym in Evernote. So it’ll be like, you know I have my grandmother’s knees [inaudible] do you know her? She’s going to be 90 this year and I have her eat her knees at 90 now. So I’m fortunate. So I use the elliptical or something else that’s low impact. And I’ll usually do it for about 40 minutes and I write a lot while I’m on it.
Mmm. So yeah, I love that. That’s actually an interesting, so I, I T I, I’ve been learning Spanish while at the gym. I think when you’re moving around and your brain really goes, or if I really need to think to, the gym to me is kind of a meditative state. Yeah. cause I can go through the workouts, kind of mindful of this and then I’m always thinking and a lot of times my best ideas come right from either at the gym or immediately after. Is there any routines that you have that that’s something that might help some people? Oh yeah, I will. I mean my routine is now just so ingrained, you know, one thing, one big thing that I shifted last year with all these new community initiatives and things I’m involved in over the last couple of years, I got to the point where the timing of my morning routine was the kind of thing that I had to give myself a little grace over.
But what actually happens during my morning routine is always exactly the same. I may wake up earlier or later, but I, I will, I will cancel things if I’m not going to get at least three hours to myself in the morning because, you know, typically I wake up between five 30 and six 30 and aye feed the dogs, start the coffee, we make the coffee the night before. So all you have to do is like walk in and like push the button and zombie over to the, you know the fridge, get some water. So wake up. I mean, it’s pretty standard, right? I’ll wake up, feed the dogs, drink some coffee, read usually for about an hour. Mmm. I’ll check my email, I’ll go to the gym, I write while I’m at the gym, usually, excuse me. And then I come home. I usually do about 30 to 45 minutes of work and then I go out and I have meetings.
But you know, one big shift outside of just giving myself some grace. So if I’m not up at five 30, I don’t feel like I’ve lost everything. Outside of that another big shift that I made because so much of my work is just, it’s public facing. It’s, I’m out, it’s, I’m doing things, I’m meeting with people, I’m at events, it’s all that kind of stuff. Mmm. It doesn’t give me much time Tuesday through Thursday to really get real work done. Basically from Monday night till Friday night, like I’m out. So one big shift that I made last year was I time blocked basically Monday until, you know, from when I wake up and start my day until like 4:00 PM I don’t schedule anything with anybody on Monday and on Friday. And that’s when I get the bulk of my work done throughout the week. And then it’s just meetings and events Monday night through Friday night.
Yes. Your batch process. I like that. So I do some similar stuff. I, you know, and you’ve seen I have the booking link, so 10:00 AM I don’t know, meetings before 10. Although words person, no, absolutely not. But I’ll say up til three in the morning. Yeah. But that, that, which was really gonna say it could. Yeah. Bad thing. Because say you did have event the night before and you know, I had a good drink or something. Yeah. Then you’re like, ah, you know, I’ll wake up a little later. Well, and that’s the thing is, you know, I have really learned, so one thing, one new thing I instituted for myself this year is now I have once a month I review my calendar for the next month. And I will go through and if I’ve added events that are going to go late or things like that, I’ll go through and I’ll just start rescheduling stuff the morning after those events, you know, so I’m not doing anything until noon, so I can do followups from that event.
And sleeping a little bit and do all that kind of stuff. So it’s kind of actively scheduling. I, I’ve been doing that a little bit without knowing, because now that so many people have can book me without me telling them to I’ve been blocking out like, okay, I don’t want any more meetings this day, totaling two weeks out, three weeks out. I, I’ve even done a month out. It’s just been like on a hodgepodge basis. But, and it’s interesting that it’s kind of happening organically. It’s so necessary though. I mean, building those, it lose the day too quick and even if it’s, you know you know, throwing a date night on or my wife, I do adventure weekends because we don’t get much time during the week. So there’s one weekend every month that is blocked out. I don’t do anything. It’s just she and I I plan one month.
She plans the next month. Mmm. [inaudible] Any place that you like to go? I mean, we live across the street basically from McKinney falls state park, so we spend a lot of time at McKinney falls. I love that place. We, we go see movies all the time. We’re at Alamo Drafthouse every week. Mmm. And, and then we love getting out to like Wimberley. We like taking day trips down to San Antonio, stuff like that. That’s great. Yeah. We’re doing a date night tonight. Go into dashboard. Confessionals hi. Yes. 2001 ask. Right. Here we go, man. Creaming infidelity. That’s right. Wow. Okay. That’s a throwback. It’s going to be kind of fun dinner beforehand. You’re close to my favorite one, two punch here. Well, one, two, three. It’s the pool. No. Yeah. Pool, burger, pool burger and a deep Betty cabaret. Betty cabaret. Yeah, there’s six 68 degrees or whatever kitchen, but I don’t go there very often.
But yeah, burgers, the hippy burger, which is a, it’s a vegetarian one. If you get it with the baking on top, it’s called the dazed and confused. That’s the best of the best. Really? Yeah. That’s the best. That’s better than a hammer. You had bacon. Yeah, it’s on the, it’s called the Daisy confused. Trust me to get that. Okay. A hurricane with a floater. Okay, good to go. That’s all you need is one. And I’m okay. For me, I just, you know, bike home. I used to just ride the bicycle. That’s nice. That’s really nice. Yeah. It’s gets you in trouble. My brother-in-law’s vegetarian, so like when he comes to town, he lives in Denver. He has to go to pool burger. Oh, it’s one of my favorites. Yeah. It’s fantastic.
Cool. They did a, you know, that’s a very interesting use of space to a very small footprint, but really good stuff.
Let’s wrap up with the last question. Sure. How would you like to be remembered?
As a friend.
Yeah, that’s a great short answer. I love it. Well, Nate, it’s a super pleasure to have you on the podcast. Really appreciate you coming by.
Yeah, man. Thanks for having me.