Transformation = Opportunity?? (Sept Newsletter)

Does Transformation Equal Opportunity?


“Transformative Times” might be a euphemism for turmoil and confusion. The tumult and noise of government certainly is not a breeding ground for good business. And I think the same can be said for the disruption that is ongoing in our collective marketplaces. Our 24-hour omni market impacts every element of the supply chain from product inception to sales. Legacy brands have large, at risk, brick and mortar distribution. Young brands have no traditional retail and are initially free from all the margin tug-a-wars that often poison relationships. Technology, and Amazon, continue in an often disrespectful march forward without regard to legacy or branding or price. And currency and strategic manufacturing has re-emerged as a necessity for long term planning. And consumers? Well, locally it's clear that convenience is now on par with price as a consumer motivator.

Yikes… if this is opportunity, what does confusion look like?

There is no simple solution, of course. The shock and awe of the market transformation has resulted in a certain familiarity. Traditional retail has upped its game and started to turn the social revolution to its benefit. Brand managers are super aware of the impact of social marketing, both pro and con. Many now realize that successful brands have to stand for its values, especially in the absence of traditional leadership. Strategic corporate players are now re-aligning global manufacturing resources. Planned change is indeed happening.

The challenge for many SDSI executives is simply escaping the tactical world for even a brief period to gain wisdom or experience from others. And that is specifically why it is important for Executive members to get out of the cubicle and why it is so important for SDSI to provide leadership and educational opportunities that are relevant and timely.

We hope you have joined us for the Cross-Border trips…to Taylor Guitars and Baja Fulfillment. Or that you are aware of the Section 321 tariff strategies to avoid all tariffs on B to C or D to C. Or that Tecate and Tijuana based 3PLs are built around well-educated and willing warehouse personnel compensated at a lower rate than the average counterpart in China. Did you see Nathan Resnick at T’s Café (or on CNBC) discussing strategic manufacturing? Or Hookit’s amazing digital analyses of the value of sponsorship as seen through the eye of the global social network? Or the amazing presentation from Dr. David Bach at the Platypus Nuero about cognitive training and sport?

I am suggesting that transformative times can indeed be times of major opportunity. Networking may trump clairvoyance and it's a lot more fun. Join us, join your fellow execs, in the intense networking entity that we are. It's a great community, all the better when you are part of it!

Read the rest of the SDSI Newsletter HERE

Introducing: SD Lifestyle Originals

For years, it has been our goal to honor the brands and founders that have really made a significant impact on the San Diego Lifestyle. We have finally made something happen on this and put together a list of San Diego Lifestyle Originals that will be displayed on our website and we will share a company profile on each newsletter going forward… Our first one may be the quintessential piece of the San Diego Lifestyle – the fish taco!


Man meets fish taco. Man eats fish taco. Man falls in love with fish taco. Such was the case for Ralph Rubio, co-founder of Rubio's. As a college student, Ralph made regular pilgrimages to Mexico's best beaches to surf, sun and socialize, just exactly like many of us locals did. And like us, it was on one of these trips that Ralph sat down at a seaside taqueria and met his true love. He was hooked on the fish taco.

Unlike the rest of us, Ralph took action. With the help of his family, Ralph opened his first Rubio's, a walk-up stand in Mission Bay, San Diego. It was at that walk-up stand that America had its first taste of the fish taco. Soon, they too were hooked. As word of Ralph's fish tacos spread, so did his business. One restaurant quickly expanded to three, and before long, San Diego's best-kept secret was out. Rubio's started a fish taco phenomenon that spread from coast to coast. Each new restaurant brought not just The Original Fish Taco® recipe, but also Ralph's commitment to fresh and high quality ingredients. A commitment that has become as synonymous with Rubio’s as the taco that made it a coastal favorite. And “hats off” to Ralph for his vision and drive: he is one of San Diego’s true pioneers in exporting the culinary side of the San Diego lifestyle!

Read the Full August Newsletter HERE

SDSI and Qualcomm Foundation Join Forces to Support Female Founders and Growing Tech Businesses in the Sport and Active Lifestyle Space

SDSI and Qualcomm Foundation Join Forces to Support Female Founders and Growing Tech Businesses in the Sport and Active Lifestyle Space
- Qualcomm Foundation to sponsor SDSI Accelerator -

Solana Beach, CA, August 1, 2019 – SDSI and Qualcomm Foundation announce a new collaboration and increased dedication to supporting the rising number of female founders and technology related/enabled businesses in the Sport, Active Lifestyle, Health and Wellness space. SDSI Accelerator, SDSI’s established business mentoring program will be sponsored by Qualcomm Foundation for the next cohort and will bring new opportunities for program participants.

With the support of Qualcomm Foundation, SDSI is accelerating trends that are particularly promising to the future of San Diego County. The SDSI Accelerator program has graduated 86 companies, of which, 51% are female founded or led and 55% are creating sports technology related/enabled products or services.

“The exemplary community leadership of Qualcomm and Qualcomm Foundation will bring our SDSI efforts to new and incalculable heights as we seek to create new jobs, business and opportunity for those chasing the dream," said Executive Chairman Bill Walton.  “The Foundation’s support, as a foundational pillar of everything that is good in our beloved San Diego, will allow us to rapidly accelerate the future trends we are already witnessing in our sports and active lifestyle industry."

With Qualcomm Foundation’s sponsorship, SDSI Accelerator participants will receive unprecedented, dedicated mentoring sessions with senior Qualcomm employees that will include the rare opportunity to connect with experienced staff for feedback, contacts and guidance. 

The SDSI Accelerator is a 20-week business mentoring program for established businesses in the Sports, Active Lifestyle, Health & Wellness space who are serious about growth and scale. Each SDSI Accelerator company is paired with a team of mentors, tailored to their business needs. Since its beginnings in 2009, The SDSI Accelerator has graduated 86 companies, 82% are still in business, they have created nearly 550 jobs and raised nearly $86 million in capital.

Applications for the next cohort of the SDSI Accelerator Sponsored by Qualcomm Foundation will open on August, 5 2019. Interested in becoming a mentor? Learn more at

About SDSI
SDSI is a nonprofit business development organization dedicated to making San Diego the capital of the Sport, Active Lifestyle, Health and Wellness industry by creating jobs, business and commerce in our space. We have created a community where there was not one before to facilitate cross vertical collaboration, tactical partnership building, executive education and business mentorship.

About Qualcomm Foundation
Established in 2010 by Qualcomm Incorporated, the Qualcomm Foundation is dedicated to developing and strengthening communities worldwide. Specifically, the Qualcomm Foundation focuses on inspirational, innovative programs that serve diverse communities where we have a business presence. For more information about the Qualcomm Foundation and Qualcomm Incorporated’s global sustainability programs, visit

Is It Worth It?


Now there is a question that no Executive Director of any Business Development Not for Profit, organization ever wants to hear. After all, 90% of SDSI’s revenue comes from membership. The inherent promise that we have with each SDSI member is simple: we will deliver a service to your company that represents a value greater than your membership fee.

Well, SDSI is a business development organization, so our mission is pretty clear: Help members develop the business!  The challenge is to be relevant and timely.  The second aspect of what we are doing is development of a community of businesses in our space to move the industry forward and enhance the greater good.  For many, the blend of doing well and doing good is key.

I thought you might be interested to hear about a few of our recent activities and business topics:
• Montly SDSI Breakfast Collab: Ask the 'Eggs'pert
• Sourcify, Global manufacturing strategies and tariff management
• Corporate Valuation
• Specialty Financing
• Amazon 1.0, 2.0, 3.0
• Digital Marketing
• Cross Border visits to Taylor Guitars
• Rapid Prototyping
• CBD and Sport Medicine
• Platypus Neuro Institute on Cognitive Training & Athlete performance
• Cross Border 3PL visit and Section 321
• Meet the Legends with Legendary Bob McKnight and Pam Theodosakis sponsored by Banner Bank
• 2020 Olympic Games Introductory Sports Panel
• SDSI Gateway, Accelerator, and MBA programming

… to name a few!  But, the value of an SDSI membership depends on your involvement. The business network is powerful. Being a citizen in the SDSI community is equally important.  

Read the full July newsletter here

“They all went to Mexico, Buenos Dias, got to go” -Willie Nelson [June Newsletter]


Willie was ahead of his time: with all the back and forth between the Administration and China regarding tariff, uncertainty has prevailed. Will there be a 25% supplemental tariff on all China produced goods, or will interested parties find a middle ground?

A great economist said, “the consequence of market uncertainty is… uncertainty.” Several responses spring to mind, but it is absolutely accurate, if not trite and obvious.

It’s hard to believe that government can be responsive enough to out-wit the global market. In fact, over the last several months, companies who manufacture or source parts in China, are looking for alternatives. In our space, many cut and sew businesses in apparel or travel goods, have made the switch to Vietnam or other Asian countries. The footwear industry long ago moved deeper into Asia. Companies across the spectrum with high labor content in their products are seeking alternative resources as well. Sadly, very few companies are returning manufacturing the US.

MANY companies, small and large, are taking a hard look at our neighbor to the south. Many like the global leader in acoustic guitars, Taylor, have been there for several years... I view Mexico as potentially the “new China." It's 15 time zones closer, and it enjoys a well-educated labor force with average wages lower than China. It also has a large emerging middle class of consumers, many of whom share the same interests we have here in the North.

So, July 17, we have been invited by Baja Fulfillment to tour their facility on both sides of the border. It's a half day trip that can answer a lot of questions about how we could use the proximity of Mexico to the benefit of our business. Among the topics is transporting goods in bond from the Port of Long Beach to Mexico: how it works and why. I am sure we will see some significant opportunities to assess 3PL (Third Party logistics) costs vs our in-house tactics…and many other topics that always arise when we get a group of executives thinking about opportunity!

Members, email Nick to reserve a space.


Tokyo Olympics 2020: Be there for the first ever Surf, Skate, Climb Olympics (May Newsletter)

Hats off to Reef’s co-Founder Fernando Aguerre. Principally through his insight, commitment and relentless energy, there will be a modern Olympics, one that includes Surf, Skate and Climbing. Yup, the 2020 Olympics will be a break through where FINALLY the Olympic sport array will go modern… and we, and I hope you, definitely want to be there to see it all happen. Together we can share the inside look at the competition as seen through the eyes of our “tribe.”

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To make sure we do indeed get the insider’s look at the event and take in the marvels of Tokyo, we have teamed up with Adam Daily at FunLy Events, a local and well known SDSI’er, San Diegan, and veteran Olympic travel operator. He has a crafted up a trip for us July 23 to 29th, 2020. We’ll stay in the right places, go to the cool spots, see the right events… and get to travel with friends who really “get it.”

This is a great opportunity for personal travel or even as reward travel for core employees at your business. We are “all in” on this for sure…go to and make it happen!


Read the full May newsletter here

SDSI Joins the Podcast World (April Newsletter)

Lately the word “community” has been popping up more and more at SDSI. If we back track 9 years ago, the membership was essentially an eclectic group of individuals. It’s true, we all shared a little “something” that made us or our Brands edgy or maybe eccentric. The denominator that joined us… love of the San Diego Lifestyle and the business opportunities it created… was yet to be discovered. Under Bill Walton and John Sarkisian’s leadership we found the “it.” Fast forward to today and 100 separate companies have discovered that we are in fact a community. A $3.6 Billion dollar community! We have spoken recently about the members who have stepped up from being a resident in the community to being an active, involved citizen. Awesome.

It’s interesting. I agree we are all social beings and wired to connect. But our differences are substantive when compared to the norm. Our lifestyle activities, beach to desert, and all in between, have put our community on a unique path, with a unique branding attitude, and a necessity to separate from the pack and create our own destiny. Most of us are not doing what Mom hoped for!

Last week at the Eye of the Innovator event at the Belly Up, we had an amazing opportunity to hear from the Founders of Sector 9, prAna, and Hookit. Bill’s intro and Denise Yohn’s moderator skills were a huge “add” to the programming… It was very up close and informative…. inspiring and re-assuring as well. Check out the quotes Denise pulled from the event – some really great advice!

I was struck by the authenticity of the experience as well. I estimated that 1/3 of the attendees were Founders or early players in their Brand. How often have you been anywhere where that was true?

There’s more good news. The Belly Up facility is so “wired” that we were able to capture the presentations in excellent high quality audio. The consequence is 3 new podcasts. Iteration 1 can be found on iTunes, spotify, Google Play Music, or here for your listening pleasure. We will release one additional podcast per month, here forward.


Thank you to the 130 attendees at the event… to Mike Lawrence at Morgan Stanley and Danny DeMichelle at Elevated Internet Marketing, thanks for your sponsorship and great Leadership… Bill W, Denise, Panelists… BIG Thank You as well!

Hey, listen in!

Read the full newsletter here (sorry for the typo… I realize now that we are in APRIL, not March - time flies when you’re having fun at SDSI)

Join Us April 2 for “The Eye of the Innovator”

Next Tuesday…wow…time is flying by…at the Belly Up…really, our first chance to honor 4 legendary San Diego Lifestyle innovators from prAna, Hookit, Sector 9 and It's a gathering of our tribe, a chance to talk some story and a perhaps a chance to get a glimpse of the “X” factor that made it all happen for these amazing people.


Big Bill will kick it off. Denise Lee Yohn, a famous author, speaker and brand building consultant will moderate.

The cost is zero to all members and any guest you would like to bring who is interested in SDSI. It’s easy to RSVP just click here and contact Nick for your membership discount code.



Eye of the Innovator Event Announcement (and Feb Newsletter)


SDSI is excited to announce our big annual event this year will be The Eye of the Innovator held at Belly Up Tavern. This April 2nd event will be keynoted by SDSI Executive Chairman, Bill Walton. We will take a deeper look into what four successful San Diego Founders saw in their brand(s) which made them willing to risk it all to reach their brands potential. Moderator Denise Lee Yohn - longtime SDSI friend, professional speaker, and bestselling author of What Great Brands Do - will take us take us deep into the minds of four iconic disruptors and down the paths they took to see their brands reach their full potential.  

Steve Lake: Sector 9 Skateboards
Scott Tilton:
Beaver Theodosakis: Life’s A Beach, Bad Boy Club, Spy, and prAna
Mitch Thrower: The Active Network and

This event will be open to the public, SDSI member companies receive one complimentary ticket - please email for your access code.

View the Eye of the Innovator website for all the details… You won’t want to miss this one!

Read the Full Newsletter Here

Resident or Citizen? (January Newsletter)


In the midst of the current political climate, I was privileged to go to an Encinitas Town Council meeting… by the way, you are pre-invited to the same in your town, and you should go. Let me say, democracy is very alive and very healthy at the local level.

I attended our meeting because the Town has been facing challenges with the cycling community and shared road policies. The Council was nearing some decisions in Leucadia which might make everyday use of all 2-wheel vehicles safer, so I was all in.

I did not understand that there were far more issues on the agenda. One was to appoint a new Council member to a recently vacated post. There were 8 self-nominees. Each had 5 minutes to present themselves, followed by a 3 minute opportunity for supporters to state their case.

One of the supporters of Kellie Shay Hinze, the ultimate winner, said the following: “Kellie has the ability to mobilize people. She converts residents in our community, to citizens.”

What a simple, yet profound statement, “convert resident to citizens.” It caused me to think about my town and my involvement. It also helped focus my eye on the Community of Businesses in our Sport and Active Lifestyle space here at SDSI. There are quite a few business residents… and there are quite a few citizens as well. It’s easy to know where we each fit.

Our SDSI challenge in 2019 is simple: we are looking for more citizens to jump in and help us create commerce, new companies and new jobs in San Diego. So, if you’ve got a business or community leader in mind, even if you’re not sure if they’re a fit, send us a message and let us know. The more members we have, the more GOOD we can do! As Lou Holtz said famously: “It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing!”


View the full January newsletter HERE

Doing Well, Doing Good (Dec Newsletter)

So much to be thankful for... how about starting with living here… and pursuing our outdoor passions in what many people would consider paradise! Or for all of our amazing (and often eclectic) friends, associates, even competitors. Or those awesome sunrises that the dawn patrol surfers see, or 12 hours later, those amazing December sunsets we all see. Thankful, indeed, to work with the inspirational and selfless Bill and Lori Walton. Thankful to see new companies and jobs and a healthier economy in general. Or very thankful that organizations like the Kilkenny’s Lucky Duck Foundation have stood tall and tried to address the human catastrophe called “homelessness.” Doing Good for others counts the most and I think it's a timely point in the Calendar to remind ourselves that our successes are diminished by the sad experiences of the less fortunate in San Diego. I hope next year at this time I can report to you that I am thankful for trying harder to help those in need!

Read the full SDSI December Newsletter here

Happy Holidays All… Hope to see you December 11 for the Festivities! (November Blog)


I don’t want to jinx anything, but the Holiday membership mixer is really fun… don’t know how or why… must be the amazing mix of people among the membership. Hope you and yours can make it. RSVP to Nick.

There is always a lot to talk about at year end… how “this and that” came together... I usually try to avoid that kind of happy talk, but this year, please indulge me, because 2018 was a different year for SDSI.

The pulse of any Not for Profit is the renewal rate: the higher the rate, the more valuable the organization. We have a high renewal rate, but we know that we have to re-invent ourselves and stay contemporary to make sure we bring you the services you need, and to honor the investment you make in our business community.

So… 2019 marks a few high points in our quest to create commerce, new companies and jobs:

  • Gateway Development Series: for pre-revenue entrepreneurs or companies. The goal is to coach very new entities up to the Start line for the Accelerator. Our initial meeting at the awesome CBRE offices went well. We will proceed with these on a quarterly basis… details to follow.

  • SDSI Accelerator: new name same Springboard function. The metrics speak for themselves: 82 Graduates. $84M raised. 87% success rate over the 9 years. 46% women founded or lead. 1600 gratis mentoring hours rendered. Amazing!!

  • Masters: a new high level consultancy for companies looking to scale or pivot. This new effort makes our senior C level executives available to guide companies to their new objective. We have our first Company partnership underway now.

  • CEO Forum: modeled after several high level CEO forums nationally, the SDSI CEO forum provides an amazing peer group opportunity in a confidential setting. Our first cohort has launched. If you have an interest in participating in the second group, please contact us.

  • Breakfast Collabs: these are really fun and interactive breakfasts limited to 10 members. We meet locally and plunge into all kinds of topics. By now I hope we have reached every member at least once… if not, let me know!

  • Sport and Active Lifestyle Industry Economic Impact Report is nearing completion. It amazes me that our San Diego Lifestyle now constitutes $2 Billion in economic impact. We will share the full report in the next few board meetings.

That's it. Hope to see you December 11!

View the full November SDSI Newsletter HERE

What to do today (Oct Newsletter)

Friday morning…. What a Friday morning! Sunrise just hinting about the upcoming absolutely unbelievable San Diego day about to emerge. I jumped on my bike and routed myself down Cardiff’s PCH… the view was stunning. La Jolla looked like it was just a mile away… the Coronados were clear on the horizon, and ocean was glassy.


As I pulled into Pipe’s for my morning espresso, the eastern sky was slowly making its predawn change… the bluest of blue was in its way…

I tried to think about what I could do today in this town that the Associated Press called the “worst sports town in America.”

Let’s see, in no particular order and without much thought I could… mountain bike, street ride or cruise the sand. Or beach walk, walk the stairs, fly the Torrey cliffs, birdwatch, stand up paddle or surf or both… swim, snorkel, chase lobster, sail, row, or skydive. I could skate in a park or the new Olympic training ground, or down the street, or walk my neighborhood. I could play golf or executive golf or fly a kite or drone, or maybe go for a sail. I could go for a hike around the lagoon, or the desert or about anywhere in between. Or maybe a yoga session or a visit to the Swami’s park to meet and greet our street drummers, or how about heading to Borrego and try to spot some goats or sheep, or check out the foliage? We could ride our dirt bikes or cruise the amazing mountain roads. Or maybe get in a old guys’ hoops game at the Y… or maybe a little pick-up soccer at the park... or play a little tennis and our really good local courts?

Or maybe, just chill and think about what a great place San Diego is to live. Does an NFL franchise define a great city? Not for me, and a couple of million other San Diegans happily making a healthy and active life here in America’s Finest City!



Channel-less Distribution?? (Sept Newsletter)

Dateline: 20??: Channel-less Distribution?

Well, during my tenure here at SDSI, 3 years and counting, three events or occurrences spring to mind:

The first is the easiest one… we, you, all of us, have formed a community where there wasn’t one. It's an awesome thing for the home team to consider. Who would guess that a bunch of eclectic non joiners like each of us would reverse all previous experiences and join forces, rallying around our “healthy living” space and celebrating our role in setting the San Diego lifestyle business in motion. Wow, thanks to all of you.


The second experience was definitely Amazon. When we presented our first Amazon 1.0 clinic, I contemplated if Amazon was the devil or angel? I would say the question remains unanswered. But one thing is for sure. It has completely changed the face of buying, never mind retail.

It created very complicated selling strategies for major brands and similar actions by retailers. Specialty brands struggled with control issues and pricing. Retailers struggled with the same. Distinct market channels emerged to protect brands or prices or legacy distribution strategies. Pundits (me included) decided that the Omni channel was the answer… be everywhere, do a good job, keep high intentions… it will work out.

Uh, not so well.

The third wave hit me just this week when I saw this quote from the management team at Zumiez:

“With the increasingly blurred lines between retail channels, we’ve moved toward a channel-less world in which the empowered consumer isn’t focused on going into a store or buying online but rather transacting with a trusted retailer. With the barriers between the physical and digital worlds coming down and the increased speed at which individuals communicate, trend cycles are rotating faster than ever before. The same holds true for the pace at which demand for emerging brands can go from local to global in nature. In this type of environment where consumers can access so much information, a new level of transparency in retail is being created that is driving out inefficiencies within the market and forcing consolidation in the industry.”

Channel-less sales, empowered consumer, trusted retailers, rapidly emerging brands… brothers and sisters, the future is here right now. It’s an amazing time of opportunity. SDSI will do its part to create insights into the business tools for the future, continuing a special focus on digital marketing... it’s the new frontier!



Close Mindedness = Success Avoidance (August Newsletter)

Dateline: Summer of ‘62
“If everybody had an ocean
Across the USA
Then everybody’d be surfing
Like Californi-A

You’d see them wearing their baggies
Huarache sandals too
Bushy bushy blonde hairdo
Surfin USA"


Dateline: Summer of '62, Coronado

“Hey, who are these hodadds… so what about surfing and sandals…these Beach Boys should be the Valley Boys... They don’t even surf… Now we are gonna be invaded by a bunch of in land barneys who don’t know a board fin from a shark fin. I’ll still get my huaraches in TJ.“
BR, Yours truly,
Lesson 1: Close mindedness = Success avoidance.
Dateline: Summer of 2018, San Diego

Did you ever wonder, “how did they know?” In this case, the “they” of course is the Beachboys…be it accidental, serendipity, insightful…whatever. There it was for all to see: the global call to the amazing Southern California beach scene. Imbedded in those 8 short lines find the DNA for many of the cornerstone So Cal brands. In the interest of brevity, I will spare all the names and other events except Gidget, the 1959 Sandra Dee surf movie that “tipped” attitudes toward the So Cal Beach scene that exploded a few years later with the Beach Boys.

As a semi youngster grom at the time, I was opposed to all change as it related to “my territory” at the beach in Coronado. Rather than embrace change it made me all the more intractable:

“Hobie invented foam boards. Not for me. Balsa is beautiful.
Hobie grabbed our home-made skateboards and started an industry. Not for me.
Short Boards…you are kidding. No Way!
Hobie made amazing catamarans and teased us with epic surf crashes. I got interested.
Hobie made RC sailplanes. I was all in.
Oh, there’s school too…the beach was the antidote to that too."

Well, it turns out Hobie Alter was not the devil and the Beach Boys were not fakers, both were innovators extraordinaire. The amazing success of the many brands over the years serve now as a reminder that I had I been a bit more prescient or even a little insightful, I could have been part of the business end of the hobby. In fact, it took me 38 years in business to finally get back to San Diego and actually participate in the sport I have embraced for 60 years.

So the Summer of ‘62 is happening right now again. Innovation abounds. We see it through a slightly different perspective here at SDSI. It’s true our candidate Accelerator companies most likely do not produce surfboards or sandals, but they have the same innovation aperture that Hobie and Ekstrom and Rusty and the Aguerre brothers and all the other game changers had. They see opportunity all around them. They produce amazing new products and services in the Sport and Athletic Lifestyle space. Often they are techy. Often they are clever expansions of ideas as clear as “huaraches too.”

The cohort for our Fall 2018 accelerator program will be determined in the coming weeks, stay tuned to learn more about these amazing companies!



All God's Children (July Newsletter)

A few weeks back your SDSI team in total had the opportunity to attend the Brad Fowler Memorial Scholarship event on the field at Petco Park. Brad was Ron’s son, who struggled with addiction and was tragically lost at an early age. In his memory the Fowler’s started a scholarship fund for athletes who have overcome drug or alcohol obstacles and have gone on to be super achievers.

Well all us most likely think we have achieved a little something by this stage in life. I was cruising along feeling pretty ok about personal achievement …’til I heard the stories from this year’s winners. I will not be able to do them justice: imagine approaching high school as a 17 year old mother, or coming from a truly abusive alcohol infused home life or being accidentally fed meth amphetamines as an infant… and from this, pulling yourself up through the portal of sports to really excel in athletics and education… imagine. It's a good thing to remind ourselves that almost all of us started with a head start, specially compared to these amazing people. I can hardly wait to see them zoom by me on the road to life… super achievers is not sufficiently descriptive. You can help sustain these awards. Go to the Hall of Champions website and click on Brad Fowler Memorial Scholarship

We departed the field at Petco aswim in emotional thoughts. I have not suffered from addiction and somehow have avoided many of the associated challenges. By the time I hit the exit and started for my trusty Jeep, I have to say I was embarrassed at the riches I have in life…wife, family, friends, SDSI…that’s my community and I was counting my blessings.

Not for long. As we hit the exit I ran right into an immense human tragedy, the scope of which simply overwhelmed me. The depth and complexity of our San Diego homelessness is unavoidably there to see at a catastrophic scale. The Tailgate Park looked like an encampment: the block surrounding Father Joe’s are covered in tents and awnings and shopping carts, and of course the full and sad spectrum of the homeless community is unavoidably there.


You know, the reality is unavoidable, but solutions are not impossible. It's a very complex issue, fraught with both accurate and incorrect assessments by those of who are separated from the homeless community perhaps only by luck. The good news is there are many high-minded people in the public and private sector working hard to mitigate this tragedy. Fortunately for us, one of our leaders in the sports community is in fact doing something about it: Pat Kilkenny and his wife Stephanie are directing their efforts at Lucky Duck Foundation to create real world, tangible solutions. Check “One Act of Kindness San Diego" (1AOKSD) at the Lucky Duck website.

We can help them. As an example, they have created a backpack program. The contents are the must haves: socks, underwear, poncho, tooth brush, shoes or sandals, water, and hand sanitizers. Products many of us make: DONATE THEM! And for our bigger corporate members, why not create a matching gift program where your employees can make a donation to 1AOKSD and the corporation can match it. By the way Dan Shea, Peter Seidler and Pat & Stephanie are the force behind the erection of the three tents that were recently installed to help move the homeless off the streets. So, something can indeed be done. Let’s do our part here and help… donations, money, personal time. Remember, we are all God’s children!
Lucky Duck
Brad Fowler Memorial Scholarship

Full SDSI Newsletter here

WORLD Cup (June Newsletter)


Now there’s a word or phrase thrown around a bit… ”World” championship… let’s see, we have baseball World Series open only to the MLB teams located in the US or Canada. Or the NHL World championships… ditto for North America. The NFL is a little better… trying new locations in Mexico City and London. It seems a little cheeky to claim a World title if you don’t let the World participate. There are some much better examples: Little league Baseball for instance truly is global. Their World Championships actually is what the name implies.

And the NBA is doing a really good job. While many of us were transfixed watching the Warriors or LeBron, the CBA was busy, very busy with the China Basketball Association. Bet you did not know there was a CBA, right? Well there is and it is very big and robust, in some cases exceeding the amazing stats the NBA has here.

Of course, what prompts me to think Globally is the World Cup Soccer/Football event going on in Russia... This is truly a WORLD event with 32 countries participating in 2018. This number will swell to 48 for the US based 2026 Games. Viewership is historically astounding: 3.2 Billion people tuned in for the 2014 games. 42% of the total population of the WORLD tuned into Soccer. Wow!

The business marketplace is globalized. Entertainment is globalized via movie and music. In some new forward leaning ways, currency is being globalized with cyber currency.

Sport is next and it’s my premise that Soccer and Basketball will lead the way. A simple ball suffices for Soccer and a ball and hoop for Basketball. Throw into the mix instantaneous GLOBAL internet coverage and an African continent where 41% of the population is under 15 or South America, which is 50% under 21, and in China, well it's a lot!

Our membership focus is Sport and Active Lifestyle; local markets are maturing…. maybe it’s time to look around and see if we can join in on this “global thing!”


It's a “TRIBE.” Or is it a “Community?” (May Newsletter)

Let’s face it: all of us old time locals have a habit of referring to our place in the San Diego lifestyle spectrum as our “tribe.” The longer you have lived here, the more you become that; you were and are a pivotal and crucial Tribe member, put there to defend one and all from the “others!”

I have been thinking about this for some time so I went to our unofficial SDSI member, Merriam Webster, for some insights. Turns out a “tribe” is a group of persons having a common, character or interest. Yeah that's us… whether a cyclist, surfer, golfer, swimmer, walker, runner... or snowboarder, kiter, long boarder or now… a “foiler.” We throw up the collective wall (sound familiar), circle up the wagons and define ourselves by our activity. Good or bad are comments related ability, nothing more or less: i.e. “I am a (good; bad) short board folier.” Wow, really? Tribe for sure, summarized by activity.


Well, what if we were a group of persons with common interests living together within a larger society… hmmm. Mr. Webster tells us that is the definition of COMMUNITY. And I think it is a more accurate definition of our sport, active and healthy living “tribe” here in San Diego. While it is easy to describe ourselves by our activity, in the tribal sense, it’s also possible to tell us a little about what we stand for: i.e “I am a dedicated surfer. I surf everyday there is surf. But last year I joined the 100 Waves in a Day movement and raised $1,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.” Community member all the way, categorized by activity within the tribe and the greater social structure, namely our Sport and Active Lifestyle community here in San Diego.

It’s no stretch to say that SDSI has plotted a similar path: we evolved from Action Sport Innovators (tribal for sure) to San Diego Sport Innovators (Community for sure). It took us a while to realize that we are involved with businesses that help make the San Diego Lifestyle so amazingly appealing. Every tribe is here. But collectively we have magnetized ourselves into a core dedicated in part to helping our individual business, while, at the same time, serving as a gateway for all the other companies who want to join the Community. No walls here!

As a reminder, our Mentor Community has donated 1600 hours per year toward graduating 82 companies, with a 87% successful track record… who have raised over $80 million in Capital and, BEST of ALL, 46% are led or founded by Women.

Our SDSI companies do WELL as tribalists and do GOOD as community members. “Awwww-sssooome”, as we say in the tribe. Thanks for helping make it happen!



“Hey Sonny boy remember when we used to...” (April Newsletter)

...go to the store! Huh, what, go, as in actually go to a store?


It sounds cruel and disrespectful to our retail partners but everyone now has a pretty firm grip on the reality of the Digital Revolution. I remember that “dot com thing” in the beginning, way back in 90’s, “way back” meaning 20 or 30 years ago. We laughed at it and many ensuing generations of tech evolution, and the nerd population that came along with it.

Never in my dreams did I think I would be a part of the 91 million “Prime” US Amazon users and I never would have forecast my shamefully selfish shopping habits. Last week I bought a car gas cap for my Jeep online… $7.00. I may have hit the very bottom of the lazy shopper pit. My buddy Nick here, bought an awesome E-bike, same story. And we like retail.

But technology is moving forward, no matter what my thoughts are about it. And because we are immersed in the convenience and benefits of the Amazon generation, most of us have not looked forward. But we should, because we are barely 1 mm into the Digital Revolution.

As an example, Amazon is a retailer…their mantra is best prices and fastest, often free, shipping. But they mostly buy, hold and sell merchandise. There are over 100 million users here in the USA. They are driving new buying habits, empowering the consumer and forcing change on brick and mortar retailers. They are also forcing change on Brands. In those good old days Brands competed for customers with product. Today it seems like Brands are competing with Brands to get their share of the ecomm pie. Maybe that's why so many previously unique Brand offerings now look homogenized and the same?

But my point is that Amazon is a mega retailer, but in India and China ecomm is a PLATFORM, a universe of all things internet, and a flat out way of life. In China alone there are 600 Million (600,000,000) daily users on Alibaba alone. This world in some manifestation will come here sooner or later…might be the one thing that keeps Jeff Bezos awake at night.

For our industry I can now see the globalization of the marketplace… imagine a product designed here in California (make that San Diego), with a prototype built here on a 3D printer, with a manufacturer who makes it just-in-time somewhere else in the world, far away, and sending that same product direct to the consumer via FedEx, let’s say in Finland….all within a week. And just to round it out, with all transactions paid in crypto currency.

Welcome to 2020…2 years hence. Can’t wait!


Amazon, Quo Vadis? (March Newsletter)

As all members of SDSI know, Amazon is a frequent topic in our business forum. You can imagine the comments…from unprintable to laudatory. The question remains unanswered: “is Amazon a Devil or Angel?”


SDSI was among the first to poise the question 2 years ago in our very first Amazon workshop, presented then, as today, by Quiverr. Our local expert Ryan Mulvany pointed out to the crowd that “No Amazon strategy in indeed a strategy… for a train wreck. “ Three years later most all of us, retailer to brand managers, do in fact have a strategy. The choices are becoming more clear… sell direct, sell through 3rd parties or try the new Hybrid model by trying to do both. Many very successful brand managers have also taken the “no thank you” route and have actively, make that pro-actively, taken steps to make sure their brand does not appear in any Amazon portal.

All pretty good. As an industry, I think we have overcome the denial aspect and are slowly understanding that the consumer now is the ultimate brand manager. The advent and complete penetration of hand held devices has impacted the way we behave. Once upon a time Amazon was a gateway to lower prices. Now days it is often a gateway to convenience. Think about it… 20 minutes on the 5 to go 10 miles and 20 minutes back… or one click!

Yeah, I have to say Amazon is the little devil. I have made my choice. Its disruptive, annoying, unavoidable. But the big Devil is… technology. There is lots of good news about technology and one alarming thing: it does not care what you think about it, technology marches on with or without your endorsement.

The Industrial revolution is over.. completely. The digital revolution is about 1 minute old and it has completely changed our lives already. Want a glimpse of what could happen? Take this test:

What is the biggest economy in the world?
What is the 6th biggest economy in the world?
What is the 21st largest economy in the world?

Answer: USA, California, Alibaba! Make that, Nation, State and Platform!

We haven’t seen anything yet!