At Awesome Office, we think that education is magic. If you've heard the show, you know we're big on personal growth, and there are few things as crucial to growth as investing in yourself via education. But our current system of higher education isn’t without its flaws - in fact it’s been in the midst of massive disruption for the last ten years or so. And while a ton of ed-tech companies have sprung up to solve many of the challenges that our system faces, there’s one area that has remained largely untouched - the college admissions process. (If you just shuddered thinking back to the stress of getting into college... we're right with you on that). Luckily this week’s guest Avriel Epps is here to change that.
Sometimes Virtual Reality gets a bad rap. Everything new is a little scary, and there’s a fear on the part of some that widespread adoption of VR means that we’ll somehow get “lost in the Matrix.” But as this week’s guest James Iliff tells us, that isn’t likely. Why? Because virtual reality isn’t about cutting yourself off from the world, it’s about expanding your experience of the world, and enhancing our understanding of who we are as human beings.
We’ve talked a lot about why your work environment is so important when it comes to maintaining an outstanding company culture, but no one has summed it up as succinctly as this week’s guest, Russell Shubin: “Form follows intention.” These three simple words are a guiding principle for Russell, and in the context of his life’s work, they point to creating spaces where companies can innovate and individuals can thrive. Russell is the co-founder of and a partner at Shubin Donaldson, a leading architecture and design firm that create awe-inspiring commercial interiors. In other words, he builds Awesome Offices for a living.
How do you start a global philanthropic movement? If this week’s guest is any indication, all it really takes is a few beers and about 30 mustaches. Seriously. According to Adam Garone, that’s exactly how The Movember Foundation was born way back in 2003. Adam is the co-founder and Chief Mo Bro at The Movember Foundation, the only global charity focused solely on men’s health. Since 2003, Movember has empowered millions of men and women to join the global men’s health movement, raising more than $850 million and funding 1,200 breakthrough men’s health projects in 21 countries focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. And it really did begin with 30 friends throwing a party and growing some sweet ‘staches.
Rarely do you meet someone who exudes as much positivity, joy, and generosity as today’s guest, Roman Tsunder. Roman is the CEO and co-founder of PTTOW! and WORLDZ, two premier events that unite the top business leaders from around the globe. What started as a dream among a few friends with a one year “serendipity plan” has evolved into a powerhouse event series that has featured speakers like Tony Robbins, Kelly Slater, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We caught Roman just as he's finalizing the last details for the next WORLDZ, which is being held July 31 and August 1st in Hollywood, CA. According to Roman, the driving force behind it all has been his belief in “irrational generosity.” It’s something he’s experienced personally in the most successful leaders, and that he believes might actually be the key to their success.
Welcome to the 100th episode of the Awesome Office show. Yep, you read that correctly - 100 episodes. (Crazy, right?) Those of you who have been on this journey with us from the beginning know that the show has evolved a bit over these past 99 episodes. Since launching back in 2015, we’ve interviewed bestselling authors, learned from CEOs of some of the fastest growing companies in the country, recorded in front of live audiences, and of course, added a co-host - the lovable Sean Spear of Hughes Marino. But we believe - and I hope you agree - that as much as we’ve changed, the core mission has stayed the same: to provide meaningful insights on culture and leadership that will help you improve your business or just become a better version of yourself.
Food for thought - what we eat matters. It might seem obvious, but the daily decision about what we eat has implications that ripple through our lives in unexpected ways. It’s not just about how our food choices affect things like our mood and overall health and well-being (although that’s obviously super important). The seemingly trivial question of what we eat and how we eat it defines our relationship to the global food supply, and in this way shapes our impact on the world we all share. No one understands this better than Erik Oberholtzer, the co-founder and CEO of Tender Greens. A classically trained chef, Erik cut his teeth in fine dining establishments in places like San Francisco, cooking for the city’s wealthy elite. Fed up with “cooking for the 1%,” Erik moved south to LA and launched Tender Greens, a “fine casual” concept specializing in healthy, delicious, and sustainable food at a price point anyone can enjoy.
Did you ever wonder why we’re so passionate about creating awesome offices? It’s really pretty simple - Where you work often determines how you work. And how you work ultimately determines your success. This week’s guest is Brendan Wallace, the co-founder and managing partner of Fifth Wall, and the perfect person to break down how our physical environment impacts our work and lives. Fifth Wall is a venture capital firm focused on technology solutions for the “Built World.”
Hmbldt CEO Gunner Winston doesn’t want to settle for best-in-class. In part, that’s because hmbldt’s space - the cannabis industry - is so nascent, that beating their competitors just isn’t a big enough challenge. But more than that, Gunner sees medical marijuana as simply a consumer product, no different than a lot of other CPG brands. And in the CPG space, a superior brand is a gigantic competitive advantage. So Gunner and the hmbldt team are setting their sights higher. They’re not on a mission to build a best-in-class brand, but a world class one. Picture the Coca-Cola of Cannabis.
This week we’re going back to the archives, to bring you one of our earliest and best guests, Hank Fortener. Hank Fortener is an adoption expert, speaker, and sought-after authority on culture and leadership. As the founder of AdoptTogether.org and World Adoption Day, Hank has dedicated much of his life to helping young people who are “without a tribe” feel a sense of family and belonging. AdoptTogether’s mission is simple but powerful - to create a world in which there is a family for every child. Through his organizations, Hank has helped thousands of families raise literally millions dollars towards adoption expenses to help bring their children home. Luckily for us, Hank has applied much of his learning around human behavior and belonging to the business world. In our conversation, Hank talks about the importance of empathy in organizational cultures; why solving problems is the most important job of any individual, team, or company; and why storytelling is at the heart of great leadership.
Ask Erik Huberman what sets Hawke Media apart from other marketing agencies, and he doesn’t mince words: “Most agencies suck.” In fact, that’s one of the main reasons that Erik founded Hawke Media more than three years ago. Hawke Media is an “outsourced CMO” company that provides creative marketing solutions to some of the coolest companies around. Hawke has seen massive growth since launch, scaling to nearly a hundred employees and landing big name clients like Verizon, InCase, Creative Recreation, and many more.
In case you haven’t heard, esports are kind of a big deal. They’ve attracted massive worldwide audiences, sold out live events at Staple Center and Madison Square Garden in mere minutes, and boast an aggregate viewership that has eclipsed traditional sports like baseball. To bring us up to speed, we talk to someone on the leading edge of the esports revolution - Mike Milanov.
How’s this for a recipe for success: Work at McKinsey. Go to film school. Take over a high-level entertainment strategy role when your colleague has a mental breakdown. Start your first company in your mid-thirties. Sound a bit... circuitous? Well it's precisely the path that today’s guest Adam Zbar took, and it seems to be working out. Adam is the CEO and founder of Sun Basket, a San Francisco-based meal-kit delivery service that makes healthy cooking easy by delivering ready to make recipes and organic and non-GMO ingredients every week.
Sometimes being the company that VCs just don’t “get” can actually work to your advantage. Take MeUndies, the wildly successful direct-to-consumer lifestyle brand on a mission to produce the world’s most comfortable and sustainable underwear. After a seed round in 2011, they found that convincing investors to pour money into their subscription-based underwear business was more challenging than they anticipated. Compared to some of their startup peers, they often felt a little underfunded. But this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Being largely bootstrapped taught them an important lesson that they would have never learned any other way - the importance of taking calculated risks. When you’re underfunded, you have to be savvy enough to see an opportunity when it arises, nimble enough to mobilize and take advantage of it, and brave enough to actually pull the trigger.
There’s no one out there who embodies the idea of “enjoying the journey” quite like today’s guest, YAS founder and CEO Kimberly Fowler. YAS stands for Yoga And Spinning, and is a pioneering hybrid fitness concept that combines yoga for athletes with the high-intensity cardio of spin. And quite a journey it’s been. Before she launched YAS, Kimberly had already lived everywhere from LA to New Jersey to Monaco, been an attorney, a corporate executive, and a professional endurance athlete. Kimberly’s story is one of incredible grit, creativity, and constant reinvention. In this conversation, she takes us through several pivotal moments in her life, major forks in the road that forced her to pause and ask “now what do I do with my life?”
He also has the track record to back it up. Since beginning his career in Silicon Valley in the 90s, Rafe has founded, invested in and advised dozens of startups, including Pickem Sports, Full Tilt Poker, and Crowdfunder. To date, his companies have generated over $1 billion in revenue and $450 Million in liquidity to stakeholders. He also has the distinction of being the only Awesome Office guest to win a bracelet at the World Series of Poker. But Rafe’s success hasn’t come without challenges, and his entrepreneurial path has taken him to a few dark places.
The Giving Keys has put up some impressive numbers under president Brit Gilmore’s watch: 70+ employees. 1400 retail stores around the globe that sell their products. Half a million keys sold to date. But there’s another, even more impressive number. 100 - that’s the percentage of the company’s production team that is staffed by people who are currently transitioning out of homelessness. This week, co-host Sean Spear sat down with Brit Gilmore, the president of The Giving Keys a “pay it forward company” that makes necklaces from keys engraved with inspirational messages. Besides making beautiful hand-crafted jewelry, the company also works with local nonprofits to hire individuals who were recently homeless.
By all accounts, LA’s Rareform was doing pretty well. They had a unique product that was clearly resonating with Millennial consumers - one of a kind bags and accessories made from repurposed vinyl billboards. Then a little thing called “Shark Tank” happened.
If you ask Seth Epstein what his company, Los York, does, he could tell you that that they create "culture defining content" for top brands like Samsung, Motorola, and JBL. He could tell you that they're the creative agency of record for the Jordan brand and work with athletes like Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. He might even tell you that they’ve been called Nike’s “advertising swat team” by Inc. magazine, and landed at #8 on the coveted Inc. 5000 list. But he’ll probably tell you that they’re in the business of “Holy shit.”
There's no doubt about it - big changes are coming. New technologies like artificial intelligence and automation will fundamentally alter the way we work. But what will that look like, and how should companies adapt? This week on the show co-host Sean Spear interviews Chris Rising, the Founder and President of Rising Realty. Chris is a 19-year veteran of the real estate business, and someone who’s always been ahead of the curve in terms of building spaces that support how the most innovative companies work.