Making New Cultural Waves in California and Beyond

As impressive as Orange County is in many regards, few people would consider this part of the state a cultural hotspot. However, these streets have seen the rise of many of the most important trends in music, food, and fashion for several decades. The young adults that came here in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s helped shape the tastes of an entire country. Even if they were originally drawn by the promise of world-class surfing or opportunities for year-round skateboard practice, their legacy actually lives on in the entrepreneurial spirit of Orange County.

The Sound of Southern California

Entertainment is big business in the OC. We have loads of clubs and concert venues; plenty of up and coming musical artists played house concerts here long before they got their big break. Innovators in many musical genres have come from Orange County and surrounding areas. Rap, hip hop, surf music, ska, pop, punk – countless innovators began their commercial success right here.

New California Cuisine

California’s unique climate makes it ideal for growing a fresh abundance of food throughout the year. This has provided chefs with an astonishing array of ingredients to experiment with. Furthermore, the many cultural influences that have shaped the population of this state have also provided an unending wealth of global flavors and culinary traditions. The result of this blending has been called California cuisine. In fact, any time you see these food innovations you are enjoying something that had its roots in California cooking:

  • Asian fusion
  • Asian street food
  • Health-conscious
  • Gluten-free
  • Local foods and the farm-to-table model

California cuisine and new California cuisine are distinguished by exceptionally fresh ingredients, often sourced as close to the restaurant kitchen as possible. Regional specialties such as avocado are likely to feature prominently in traditional California cooking; today many traditional Asian flavors such as spicy kimchee are being integrated into old favorites. Surprising and novel flavor combinations are a hallmark of California cuisine.

Culture Everywhere You Look

As a surfer, I know that taking calculated risks is a necessary part of success. This is a philosophy shared by many regional entrepreneurs. I think we are all the richer for their willingness to try new sounds, flavors, and styles.

California has so much to offer.
California has so much to offer.

Top 3 Connections Between Small Business Ownership, Entrepreneurialism and Surfing

If you’re riding the big wave of small business ownership, entrepreneurialism or surfing in Orange County, California, to achieve results you need to understand that form follows function. Dreaming and preparing are the driving forces behind taking action, whether it’s surfing, owning a small business or exploring entrepreneurship. To deliver results, a fast, flexible, fundable and scalable vehicle is essential. The top three connections between surfing and small business ventures include the following:

  1. Sharpening your board. Surfers know that the sharper the tip of a surfboard, the faster it will go. A unique selling proposition is a good starting point, but many entrepreneurs make the mistake of stopping there. You have to sharpen your pitch by clearly articulating a product or idea for your target audience.
  2. Accelerating success by mitigating risks. Starting a small business is similar to surfing for the first time. Planning for reduced risk in anticipated or uncertain situations enables you to establish methods for handling that risk. The result is accelerated success.
  3. Creating value. Nearly anything of value is risky, including the big wave or a new business venture. The key is understanding the risks before you leap into diversification. Establishing a winning concept, whether in surfing or entrepreneurialism, allows you to create value and manage whatever circumstances you encounter.

Few small business owners or entrepreneurs start by taking on the big waves. The difference between those who just imagine and plan and people who design and develop is taking action. The immediate intention of a surfer is to jump in the water, stand up on the board and stay on top of it. The long-term objective is riding a great wave. As an entrepreneur, the immediate focus is on self-funding or finding creative financing for the business venture quickly. The long-term goal is to ride a great wave of innovation and produce significant value.

Surfing and Entrepreneurship
Surfing and Entrepreneurship

3 Tips for Small Business Entrepreneurs

One of the utmost intimidating things someone can do in life is start their own business. Entrepreneurship is a high risk game that doesn’t pay off for everyone. With so much invested — time, money, and family sacrifice — it takes a lot of drive and passion to pursue dreams of entrepreneurship. However, high risk can result with high reward. Many small business entrepreneurs will tell you that the business model of a bigger competitor don’t always work in their own business model.

Here are three tips for small business entrepreneurs to help with the success of their business.

1. Ensure Your Customer Service is on Point
Nothing will kill your business faster than providing clients with with bad customer service. As many businesses thrive off of word of mouth recommendations, you can’t run the risk of providing a bad service. In a world where big competitors are in many small towns, it’s important to create strong bonds within your community. Creating partnerships and sponsoring events will help make you a staple in your town and known for your dedication to help it. As a result, your sales should continue to grow more and more by the day as your business is exposed to the locals.

2. Don’t Try to Beat Prices Set By Competitors.
Smaller businesses does not have the luxury that other retailers do when it comes to setting the price of their products or services. Sure the prices offered by other big retailers like Target, Amazon and Walmart are attractive, but more often than not, small business cannot afford to have the same prices. However, a price is not the only thing that attracts clients to a business. Focus on offering a positive experience that bigger brands cannot. Combining a unique and positive interaction will help clients to overlook just the price and outshine the competition.

3. Reward Your Customers
It’s been proven numerous times that reward programs will ensure repeat customers that spend more. When customers have something to work towards, it helps to motivate them to reach goals quicker. Think about it — you have a coffee shop that gives you punches for every coffee you buy. Once you reach 5 coffees, you get one for free! You are most likely going to return to that specific shop to get that free coffee as opposed to the one that offers no reward. Create a program that is tailored to your business! You are the one who knows your clients better than anyone so giving it a little thought will provide you with a leg up in your customer service.

The Evolution of the Surfboard

There are many different types of surfers and locations where to surf, but all of them have one thing in common – the surfboard! The surfboard has changed and developed over the past thousand years. Historians have been able to trace the roots of surfing back to 2000 BC where many of the boards were crudely constructed. I created a presentation to showcase the development of the surfboard. Please feel free to comment or share with anyone who might find this interesting!

The Evolution of the Surfboard from Russell Wallace on Vimeo.

4 Apps To Improve Your Personal Finances


Money is one of the major concerns people have in life. Concerns range from not making enough to spending too much for having too much debt, but the bottom line is people have some kind of financial worry. Creating and developing a budget is essential to ensure your way to financial security. With the national student loan debt being over 1 trillion dollars and a multitude of adults neglecting their saving for retirement, it’s important to take control over your financial situation.

If you don’t know where to begin, it can be alarming for those dipping their toes into the world of budgeting. Below I have listed four apps that will help to begin your journey towards financial stability.

Mint – Iphone, Web, Android, Windows 8
Available on a variety of platforms, Mint has received a considerable amount of press over the past several years. Mint’s technology is fantastic for viewing the big picture of where your money is being spent or saved. It tracks your bank accounts, investments and credit cards so a clear picture is defined of how you should be dividing everything up. The program allows you to create different budgets and project for future expenses. With beautiful visuals, Mint is a great tool to add to your daily routine.

Budget Boss – Iphone
Available only on the iPhone, Budget Boss is fantastic for an easy way to make a budget. Providing stunning illustrations to give you a visual reference, it helps to ensure you are not accidentally spending more than you expect. The one thing that really sets this program apart is the fact the app can predict your spending habits based off the information you provide. So, it may open to your eyes to how much you are really spending on that Starbucks coffee!

Yodlee – Web
Originally set up for banks, Yodlee has expanded into the private market. As a free tool, Yodlee gives people a great overview of their expenses with detailed diagrams. As it’s a read-only device, you never need to worry about anyone obtaining your information and using it. Currently Yodlee has over a million consumers and works closely with over 750 banks.

You Need A Budget – Web, Windows, Mac
YNAB is one of the leading apps in creating a budget and sticking to it. With a clear design, it makes it very easy to see where your money is going and providing tools to reach your goals. Outlined by their four “rules”, YNAB turns you into a financial superhero.

“Eddie” Returns After A Six Year Absence

“Eddie”, a big wave competition, took place at Waimea Beach for the first time in six years this past weekend. The waves reached a record height as many of them reached to be 60 feet. In order for a competition to be considered an “Eddie”, the waves must be over forty feet high and be sustainable all day. This year, El-Nino played a big part to the height of these waves as the weather pattern fueled the water and the creation of them.

2010_mavericks_competitionBig-Wave surfing has consistently drawn in a big crowd to the beaches of Hawaii. A record number of people lined the beach to watch 28 professional surfers engage the monster surges of the bay. It’s estimated that over 25,000 people came to the beach in awe of getting the chance to see the “Eddie”. Some people camped out for 24 hours to get a prime view of the competition.

Many people do not know the legend behind the heroic person it honors. Eddie Aikau was a Waimea Bay lifeguard and a surfing pioneer when it came to Big Wave surfing. The legend says that not a single person passed during his tenure as a lifeguard. At 31  years old, he lost his life retracing the route from Hawaii to Tahiti; something his Polynesian ancestors did. The canoe Aikau and his team were in capsized twelve miles off the coast of the Hawaiian island, Molokai. Eddie was last seen paddling on his surfboard in an attempt to seek help.

The competition was named after him to honor his contributions to the surfing community and the way he would brave waves that others were too afraid to. The competition name was cemented in 1984 after organizers of the competition debated if the conditions of the water were too dangerous. One professional surfer responded to the organizers stating that Eddie would go. Eddie’s brother, Clyde Aikau, is the only surfer to have entered the previous eight competitions. At the age of 66, this year was the last year he will be participating.

Besides the return of the “Eddie”, the competition had the largest payout in big wave surfing with a prize of $75,000. This year’s winner was John John Florence, a 23 year old native of Hawaii. He scored 301 points out of a possible 400. It was his first “Eddie” and a dream come true for him. He tweeted after the competition that “Such an honor. Thank you Aikau family, Brock, and Hawaiian water patrol ! A day I won’t forget.”