Live More Happy
Living Loving and Traveling the World
Ronald-McDonald

Giving back is so hot right now. Seems like some of the biggest brands out there are making it big off their claims of giving back and making a difference. 

I love this change in marketing trends, especially since my company, LMH Promotions focuses on social good business and for-purpose marketing and branding campaigns. (Fundraising, cause awareness, community building) I love seeing the consumer demand to see the impact their purchase is making. I love knowing that people really care. 

Of course there’s the brands that take advantage and claim they are making a difference while selling a totally toxic product (*cough cough*, Ronald McDonald, PEPSI Refresh, Coke RED, all the cancer causing products that rep PINK RIBBONS?)

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Now we are seeing a whole bunch of companies that “give back” because, lets face it, they have to now! (Woo hoo!) 

But does that mean that companies should be promoting their product and pushing it with a purpose just because its catchy or it fits their product or message? 

Many of the brands I have helped launch or support have started their product BECAUSE they saw a need. TOMS started because Blake saw the children in Argentina needed shoes. Anna Dodson started Peruvian Hearts scholarships for the orphanage she was adopted from in Cusco. I started hosting fundraising campaigns after seeing firsthand the lack of educational resources while traveling through the gorgeous, developing world. 

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I’m feeling hopeful for the future of consumerism because brands are being forced to give a shit and give back. 

Lets just not forget to hold these companies accountable. I know from first hand experience of a give back company that claims all over their site that their products are made in Costa Rica but sent their photographer to El Salvador where they moved their production years ago to save on costs. I saw the photos of their production facility and it was pretty grim. 

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There’s companies that come up with a product to support a popular cause, even though they have no personal connection to it. 

Where is the integrity in these situations? 

Does it even matter? 

If giving back is trendy, then does that mean we are becoming better as a whole society? If the good is being done does it matter why? 

Maybe not.

Just sharing my observations. Lets hear yours.

How Do I afford to travel?

I get that question often and Im sure people wonder it a lot more than I hear.

To sum it up, here is a conversation I had tuesday night.

Facebook Friend: What is the secret? How do I get to be like you and travel all the time.

ME: Lots of sacrifice!! No secret

FF: Ok. I want to do the same. I’m ready to flee!!!

ME: Don’t you have a dog? That’s a serious travel killer. My pets are low maintenance.

I rent my place on airbnb when I leave so it doesn’t cost me to be gone. And I don’t have stability. Never have so I don’t need it now… Most people need to have comfort and plans and nice things, I only need adventure.

FF: I do have a bulldog. Yeah I hear you. May I ask a personal question? What do you do for income?

ME: I have multiple airbnb properties I manage now

And I do marketing consulting

So I can work abroad

Writing, photography, video, social media, branding

And I will trade those services while I travel at hotels and stuff

FF: You rock!!!!! I want to be you when I grow up!

ME: Awww you can do it! Start Tomorrow!

Couchsurfing and airbnb is great for finding places to stay with locals for cheap. Skyscanner is a great place to find cheap flights as well as  blogs for finding flight deals or airline glitches. (Had an around the world ticket for $300 last fall!)

FF: That is amazing. Since I started my jewelry line I’ve decided I want to travel the world to find ocean makings for my jewelry.

ME: What a great idea!! DO IT!

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That was the exact conversation. As I wrote it out to her I thought to myself, I should blog about this.

This conversation just shows that travel and freedom and abundance is totally available. I am not wealthy or from money, I have no “sponsor” and I have a lot of responsibility and relationships in my life. It is a juggle and it is not for everyone but it CAN BE if that is your choice.

My friend didn’t write me because she was really that curious how I made money, she wanted to get confirmation that she could do it too. 

Maybe you need that confirmation too.

Go do it.

Find a cheap flight somewhere you have always wanted to go. Read a few blogs while you pack and just GO. You will feel so uncomfortable and out of place in a city where no one speaks your language. You have to figure out a map to find the right train to your cheap hostel for the night where you might meet some cool Germans who heard about this waterfall that isn’t on any tourist maps but apparently theres a rope swing and a rad view. You will have an amazing time but wont instagram it because you don’t have service and you are having too much fun anyways. Until later you are on the train again by yourself, on to the next town, feeling lonely and uneasy and the bread roll you bought to last you the day is starting to get stale and you wish you at least had wifi so you could instagram how much fun you were just having. You think about the past and home as you look out the window and see a totally different world outside rushing past you.

Its a completely different world and it creates a completely different you.

That is the adventure and the type of travel I love.

So what about that sacrifice I mentioned to my friend? The lack of stability?

Its true. The travel life costs more than money.

I have to work twice as hard when I am home to catch up with meetings, with friends, with family, with myself. I am always in a state of playing catch up. It costs me a lot of free time. I think most people take that for granted, not realizing that the hours spent shopping or on Netflix or on games, could be spent scheming your next adventure or the way to pay for it.

Travel can cost you relationships. I am always missing something, someone, somewhere. The first month of my new relationship was long distance because I was in Colombia and Nicaragua, two weeks after we got serious. Good thing he likes me!

I’m always living out of a suitcase, sometimes between two suitcases. One will be packed with regular every day clothes with a nice outfit for dinner and meetings and looking professional, the other one packed with hiking boots, bikinis & those zip off shorts/pants (yes, I own those.) This might sound awesome but it can feel like my life is in compartments and I never feel settled. I’ve had to create a lot of systems and stay very organized. 

For business abroad, I use the organization, communication and productivity tools like Google Drive, Rescue Time, Alfred, Trello and Skype. I have a plan with Boingo, a premium global Wi-Fi provider so I can work between adventures, especially airports and layovers. I have learned to be self disciplined and get stuff done wherever and whenever possible.

Okay I promise not to talk about the boring logistics in the crazy tight rope walk that can be my travel lifestyle if you promise to stop making excuses for yourself and just GO. 

ComicCon has always been one of my favorite weeks of the year. Not only has it been one of the most profitable events for my company, LMH Promotions, but it is a magical time when nerds rule the streets. Geeks and gamers come out of every corner (or basement) all over the world to dress as their favorite character and connect (in real life!) with others who share their passions for all things pop culture, occult, and intergalactic. The time, energy and creativity that people put into their costumes is worth getting an over priced sandwich and cappuccino on a corner cafe in the Gaslamp to people watch. 

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I’ve always loved walking the streets and interacting with all the real life characters, seeing the magic come to life all around us. Seeing San Diego, my home town, transformed into a action packed movie set with giant displays, life size props and interactive exhibits, always makes me feel a kind of childlike excitement.

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As a kid I was dressing up like Princess Leia and playing in a cardboard Millennium Falcon in my backyard. I was teased constantly for being weird and not being obsessed with N*Sync or Backstreet Boys, but Han Solo. Now it seems like everyone is suddenly a Star Wars fan, and one of the coolest events of the week is a Star Wars themed party on a Hornblower yacht! Where were all of you 20 years ago when I was training to be a Jedi all by myself?

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On the flip side, ComicCon has a very Hollywood side, with private parties hosted by the biggest entertainment companies with strict guest lists, packed with celebrities and the who’s who of the industry. Somehow I found myself on this side of ComicCon, often being the person with the clipboard turning nerds away, only letting the super cool kids who’s name were on my list, into the party. It pained me in my soul, because inside I am one of those kids getting turned away at the cool party. (Or if I was invited, I got locked outside and laughed at. I hope you are reading this you middle school dicks. I still remember that shit!)

  I find it strange that this convention, started for the nerds, somehow became about excluding those same people from the best parties.

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Don’t get me wrong, I loved being on the right side of the velvet ropes. Not only was I working with some of the most prestigious event companies and meeting and hosting some of Hollywoods most talented, but I was making great money. At 22 I was single handedly casting, hiring, coordinating and managing 50 models and bar staff for the Camp Playboy party the first year they did an event at ComicCon. (Why Playboy is even at ComicCon confuses me.)

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Talk about a shallow gig. I had to sort through hundreds of applications, many of them my friends and models I had hired many times and judge each one of them as if I was casting for Playboy. I had to objectify women, deny beautiful girls because their photos weren’t revealing enough or they didn’t wear enough makeup. I think women are so much more beautiful natural and healthy looking but the event firm I was working with were SO typical Hollywood and expected all the staff to have Playboy looking headshots and body shots. It was unrealistic to find that many models with events experience and hosting skills that also had a portfolio of sexy (photoshopped) photos. I was so stressed I lost sleep, couldn’t eat and barely enjoyed the night I had worked so hard to produce.

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I spent the entire check from that event on a one way ticket to Thailand and didn’t come back until I felt the whole thing was forgotten about.

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Sadly, I had girls come up to me asking why they were not hired or if they could apply for future events. I was being bombarded from so many directions I quickly booked another flight a few months later for Peru and Costa Rica.

Wanderlust_Escape_Travel_Gypsy_Runaway_CostaRicaI made the pilgrimage of the Inka Trail to Machu Picchu and thought long and hard about what I wanted from life. I was building a name for myself and my company by 23 years old. I was making great money, friends in high places and invited to all the best parties, but my heart wanted to be in Cusco, volunteering at the orphanage I had been fundraising for with those same fancy parties.

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Somewhere in the Andes mountains I decided I was going to only work with companies and brands that had heart and soul. I wanted to use my powers for good. I no longer wanted to work on the dark side of the Force. I’ve been training these Jedi skills for too long to let them go to waste. I vowed to let love and compassion guide my work and while its been a difficult road and tempting to occasionally sell out, its been the most rewarding choice of my life.

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Now I get to walk the streets and enjoy ComicCon as the nerd that I am. I’m not on any guest lists and I’m not really interested in being on one. But damn, that Star Wars boat party does look cool…. 

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akumal mexico tulum mayan riviera travel explore wanderlust backpack adventure

I haven’t been home in San Diego a full month and here I am in the Mayan Riviera in the Yucatan,  Mexico, on a completely spontaneous and unplanned trip.

akumal mexico tulum mayan riviera travel explore wanderlust backpack adventure

Monday I was heading to Vegas, working as a social media and event coordinator for a client at the Consumer Electronics Show for four days, when my friend asked me to come to Playa Del Carmen with her for the BPM music festival. It was way too last minute, way out of my budget and totally inconvenient.

She promised a free place to stay and the flight came from her stockpile of air miles from her even busier travel lifestyle. (Can you believe I have friends who travel MORE than me?)  I had no choice but to say yes.

Then panic hit me. Its always there, the anxiety and racing thoughts of all the shoulds and the responsibilities I am constantly taking on.

“I have so much to do.”

“I just got back from a major trip”

“I’m being irresponsible”

I had to answer all of these questions and doubts in my mind with what was being said in my heart.

“Just Go.”

I truly believe these opportunities open up for a reason. There is no accident my friend was in need of someone to come with her at the same time I was feeling the most pressure I have felt (from myself) in years.

Launching my second business, Givebackpackers, has been one of the most exciting and terrifying experiences of my life.  I am not just a consultant for a project or working for a specific campaign or event. Its entirely on me. However, its the first time I have had a business partner, and so its not entirely mine.

Working, traveling and having a very close friendship with someone is a wonderful and delicate situation. I love working with Krissy, I love traveling with her and seeing our dream come to life. We are living our purpose together. Helping people, while sharing the stories and creating a community of travelers with purpose, is the most rewarding thing either of us have ever done. Its also the most challenging.

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Having a business partner is like getting married. Both of those things have terrified me more than anything because of the risk of loss, heartache and betrayal. You have to trust completely, be open and honest and WORK on the communication, with patience, love and commitment.  I was finally willing to give the marriage thing a try a year ago and the whole thing crumbled around me leaving me with this feeling of absolute loss of control over my own life. It’s been an interesting year of examining my broken heart, my loss of all trust and what I learned from it. I want to throw myself back into that space of being open and trusting and glad I have a “wife” like Krissy to live this amazing life with. ;)

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I’m the kind of person that pours my heart and soul into something, weather it is my work, my volunteering or my partner, I want to give the best and deepest parts of myself but find myself hurt when I don’t get the same in return or things don’t work out like I planned. Thats one reason my new years resolution for 2015 was No Expectations.

This brings me to the Yucatan. While I was in Bali last month I kept thinking to myself, “This place is great, but its so far away and so touristy. I really love the Yucatan best.”

I thought this several times, knowing that I wanted to come back here and revisit the place I spent a few weeks backpacking in 2013. It was calling my heart and then the opportunity arose, completely unplanned and unexpected.

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I haven’t planned out the next week. My girlfriend only stayed the weekend and went back to LA for work commitments. Here I am now, “alone” but surrounded by amazing, intelligent, fun and spontaneous travelers from around the world. I’ve got my new amazing camera and laptop, a shitty rental car that makes my 98 ford escort seem luxurious and a week of no expectations.

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I need this week of unplanned, solo adventures. While on our trip around the world I was completely consumed by Givebackpackers, the kickstarter campaign, updating the site, creating content, working with artisans, touring non profit projects, sleeping a few hours to make the most of the daylight and work hours and while I enjoyed the trip, it was definitely a lot of work. When I got home I didn’t slow down for a second. I had fundraising events and a volunteer trip to Mexico the same weekend. I went to LA for a GUESS event and developer meetings, then Palm Springs for a Givebackpackers photo shoot and every minute in between was meetings and working on the website I am building for Givebackpackers and other website projects for LMH Promotions clients. 

I spent Christmas alone, working. While I am not a big Christmas person at all, I still realize how much I have been pushing myself to achieve and accomplish too much, too quickly, under too much pressure. Last week I spent 3 days straight at my desk without leaving or eating. My friends were worried and would come by to get me out of the house for coffee or make me dinner so I ate. I realize I am an intense person and sometimes, you just have to take a break.

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No expectations. Just taking a break to breathe and get back to me. Thanks for reading. While I am not publishing this to justify to you why I am here, I am doing it to justify to me, while hopefully inspiring you to see where you might need to lessen your expectations of yourself and others as well. Take a breath, you deserve it.

P.S. If you need a real break, Tulum is Heaven on Earth

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We are so pleased with our full page article in the San Diego Union Tribune’s Night & Day section in February.  The title was “Model Behavior” and we are so tickled to make the news for doing positive things in the community! Click the image below for the full story online.

 

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