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Steve Ecker Building a Brand That Has a Positive Impact on People
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Steve Ecker Building a Brand That Has a Positive Impact on People


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Entrepreneurship: Building a brand that has a positive impact on people

Steve runs the podcast Trust The Grind, where he explores how creatives, athletes, and business owners discovered their path to a more authentic and meaningful life. Each interview takes a close look into how these leaders overcame obstacles to pursue their calling, manage the daily grind, and make the most out of every day.

He also created Plan Dope Shit, a planner that helps him have a clearer mind and know exactly what to focus on for the day. His mission is to create work that helps people get their sh*t together while giving back.

A portion of their proceeds will be donated to Art Start, a non-profit organization based in NYC that hosts various workshops empowering the youth through art.

Social Media Profiles:

Location: Maryland


Okay, here we go again, Steve Ecker, welcome to Saltwater High.

Dude, thank you for having me.

Oh, man, I'm stoked to have you here. Yeah, let's talk about what's going on. You're in Maryland. Is that what I saw?

I am. Yes, I'm in Maryland. I grew up in Maryland and I was living in New York. But, there's the thing called COVID and just relocated back into my parent's house in Maryland and to work on my business full time.

Sweet, sweet. Were you in New York City?

I was.

Yeah. I have a good buddy that's been there for the whole COVID. He's in theater, actually. And theater just got hammered, right? He was on Broadway and he hasn't worked since May or whenever something like March.

Yeah. I feel so bad for people like that especially like entertainment, restaurants, because the city just went to a complete lockdown, shut down. I was lucky to be able to go back to my parents' house and not necessarily be stuck in my small apartment. So I'm very fortunate, but I do feel for all the people that weren't necessarily able to get out.

Yeah, definitely. And what's Maryland like? I've never been to Maryland, actually.

Maryland's cool, so we got a little bit of everything. So growing up, my family loves going to the beach. And shout out to my dad who actually forwarded me your email.

Oh sweet.

And I found out about the podcast through him. He forwarded me the email then I signed up for the lake and I was like, "Oh yeah, awesome. Derek seems awesome. Let's connect." And here we are talking to one another. My dad's a big surfer, loves your brand. And yeah, super sarty for me that email.

Awesome. Is he in Maryland also?


Okay. I'd love to talk to him about where he's surfing up there and what it's like. Dude, I have no idea. Southern California born and raised and I've lived in Europe a bit and then kind of Indo and stuff. But surfing the East Coast, I just have no clue.

Yeah, I would recommend. I don't want to throw shade, but definitely West Coast is way better for surfing, but we usually go to like Ocean City, Assateague Island. Assateague is actually pretty chirpy because they have all these wild ponies everywhere just roaming free.


So, yeah, it's a cool spot to surf, but definitely West Coast is where it's at for sure.

Nice. So you have a podcast called Trust the Grind, is that what I'm seeing here?

I do. I have a podcast called Trust the Grind.

Dude, tell us what's that all about.

Yeah. So basically every week my co-host and I, he was my college roommate, we interview an aspiring entrepreneur, athlete, artist, and we just kind of figure out how they became to do what they love to do, essentially. So a lot of the society tries to tell you to work the corporate job, climb the corporate ladder, and we want to interview people that were going in their own lane, essentially, and wanted to do something that was meaningful for them, and through the path of figuring out what that is and just seeing their hurdles along the way. And you would be an amazing guest. So maybe I'll have you on after this interview.

Dude, I would love that. And it sounds like that's right up my alley. I've been preaching that very song, I think, since the very beginning. Obviously, being a surfer, you're pulled in different ways, right? You're like you got to look at the wind and the tide and the ocean, see if the swells are good today and are not good tomorrow. And working a nine to five job in that kind of environment, it would just drive me crazy. And it must drive a lot of surfers crazy that think like they're stuck in that, right? So, yeah, dude, that sounds perfect. Well, especially for COVID, bro. Everyone's rethinking what it's like to set up a remote office or work from home and which isn't also like if you've got kids, and I don't, but if you have kids and you're trying to juggle work, kids and then your life, I can imagine it's truly a different kind of grind. That's probably not the grind you're thinking about, right?

Oh, but the thing about the grind is no matter what stage in life you are, you're always figuring out something. It's always a process of figuring out the next thing. I'm in my mid-20s. My struggles are going to be way different from yours. But we're constantly evolving and growing and kind of back to your surfer point of working a nine to five, that's what I was doing in New York. I was working a corporate nine to five. I started out my career at Macy's being a buyer, and I was selling children's clothing like little boy's clothing. And I hated it. I just hated everything about it. It was grueling. And everyone always tries to tell you advice about like, "Oh, you just need to stick it out. You just need the next role that will get you fired up." And I found it so interesting how people would tell me advice when they don't know what's going on inside my head. I would be like, "How do you know what's best for me when you're not living my life?" And that kind of just taught me to always trust my gut and intuition, essentially, where if you know it's not right, don't stick it out just because everyone thinks you should stick it out.

Yeah, let's talk about that a little bit. That's such a great advice, I have to say. No, but it's a great story, right, I think so many of us live, and I lived this for a long time so society says one thing, your parents maybe or maybe not say one thing, school tells you another. Everyone's telling you the story, right? It's like buy a house and work towards retirement and then you're free. And I always thought that was B.S. I was like, I want to go to Indo for two months this year. No job's going to give you two months off, right? And that's the kind of life I want to live. And you know what, really, I'll just tell you a quick story that one of my very first trips to Indonesia back in the day, I think I was still in college, probably I actually did my masters, too. But I was between my bachelor's and master's. And I went to Indo and I always thought I was hot, right? I was like this college kid, I'm in Bali for the very first time of my life, and I'm like, "Yeah, I'm here for two weeks." And I remember rolling up to this Australian dude and I was like, "Hey, bro, how's it going? Are you going to surf tomorrow?" And he's like, "Hey!" I go, "What are you doing?" He goes, "Oh dude, I'm traveling." I'm like, "Oh, how long are you out for?" He's like, "I'm traveling for one year." And in my world, it was one of the moments in my life where my brain kind of cracked. I was like, dude, is that even possible? The first thing I thought was, oh, what about your resumé, right? What your future employer's going to think? Like if I see that in somebody's resumé now and I'm hiring them, I'll hire them over somebody who's stuck at a job for sure, right? Because you get so much life experience. Imagine taking a year off. And I actually ended up doing it eventually because of this guy that I met a couple of years later. And so, it was one of those major "Aha" moments when I was like, "Wow!" I think I even asked him, "Is that legal?"

It's pretty much illegal in the U.S. To build it off at that point, I did a backpacking trip after I graduated, kind of similar story. I was going through Europe and I would meet all these Australians that were traveling for the year and my friends and I just looked at each other. We're like, "Damn!" Like Europe and everywhere else has it figured out where they value the life experiences versus the corporate job or get a job right away.

Yeah. Do you think that's shifting, though? It was pretty prevalent when I was younger, but do you think the newer generations are still swallowing that pill or do you think there's some, I mean, obviously, with the gig economy, right and so but like the dude who still wants to be on Wall Street or you were like a buyer at a major retail chain, which is a lot of people would kill for that job, right? So I don't know. Do you think that it's changing at all?

I think it just depends on the person. Because as you mentioned, yes, I had a job that's very sought out. And when I told people, people were impressed and that became my identity as a buyer in New York. And people at my school in my program, they were shocked that I got that position. They're like, "Oh, that's my dream job." And I'm just like, "Really? That's it?" But so kind of just going against the grain, I guess, I grew up skateboarding, so maybe that's where my little rebellious, kind of against the man work. But I think it's just people like to feel successful in the eyes of society that once they get into it, they have this like kind of identity struggle or trying to figure out like is this the right move for me? Because I constantly ask myself, because on paper, I had this great job, living in New York City, supporting myself, but I wasn't fulfilled. And that was something that I was constantly struggling with. It's like, okay, how do I do work that I find meaning and also giving my gift to the world because everyone has a gift that they can offer. It's just whether or not you take time to think about it, pursue it and launch it.

I love that, dude. Yeah, that's amazing. I totally agree. So in your journey, what was the moment when you were you kicking it at Macy's and just filled a big fall order and you just looked in the mirror like, "Forget this!" What was the breaking point?

Yeah, I'm laughing because there are so many moments where I'm just like, "Fuck this shit." So, my office was right in Midtown, my floor had no windows, so it actually felt like a dungeon. And there are some meetings where I would just have anxiety like no other and I'm not an anxious person by any means. But I had meetings where I was like, "I need to get the fuck out of this room and get some fresh air and walk around." And probably that was a cycle for a year. And I was getting bad migraines. I was really stressed out. So basically I took it upon myself. Okay, I started getting into podcasts, I started reading books about personal development and self-growth, and how do you overcome tough situations. And through my search, I kind of found that people who plan out their days have a better chance of attacking the day, make them feel better like start working out in the morning. And I was using a daily planner that I bought at Staples and I was pretty good but then I would have moments where I just didn't fill it out at all. I'd go weeks or months. And then I felt like a piece of shit when I didn't fill those days out because I felt like I let myself down. So I just kind of had a moment, I believe it's probably one of those meetings where I just was like, "What if I just designed a planner that I wanted to use that was like a journal, a scheduler and a place that I could write and reflect on my progress and what's going well, what can I improve on?" So that just kind of led me down this rabbit hole of just doing different designs and eventually led me to making the product called Plan Dope Shit, which eventually led to me changing the name to be Trust the Grind. But essentially, I wanted to make a daily planner that wasn't out in the market and that was tailored to me that something was like eye-catching, it's bright orange. It's very similar to the Mark Manson's "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" like type of branding. And I was like, "I think this would be a cool planner." It was something that I wanted and I just kind of went through the process of creating it and multiple different designs and eventually just got it printed. And I was like, "Holy shit, I just had an idea that I just made."

Dude, that's what I love about being an entrepreneur, right? It's that you get this what I call inkling, right? You get an inkling about something and that inkling becomes a product that impacts people's lives hopefully in a good way. And it sounds like this is amazing. It's pretty cool that we're talking today. I'm a big Cal Newport fan. I don't know if you're familiar with his work.

Yes. He's great.

"Deep work" and then, his other one was "So Good. They Can't Ignore You" which I love that one. So he just dropped his planner today. And it's kind of it's more based on the time blocking philosopy. So it's just time blocking. So I think, somebody would maybe get your planner and like have a time blocker on the side or something, right? Dude, I just picked it up before this interview.

I'll send you a copy, man. I got you.

Oh, I would love it, man. I love it. And I totally agree with you. I've been using a paper journal for I don't know, probably six years now and then doing reflections, and I was using the Passion Planner for a while, which I really liked that they had these monthly reflections, which I felt were really it's just helpful to step back and look at your life and see what's working and see what's not. We spend so much time pushing the envelope, right? What's the next thing? We're always so busy multitasking. And all the studies are showing that's all bullshit. You got to concentrate on one thing without interruption and follow a plan. It seems so basic, dude. But in today's society with the phone going off non-stop and everyone's on social, I feel we're at a pivotal point in society where you're going to either be able to do deep work or you're not. Your whole life is going to be shallow. And that pivot point is going to reflect the kind of happiness and joy that you have in your life. So I just applaud you for putting a planner out. And I can't wait to see it. Yeah, dude. I'm happy to hear that there are other people talking about this.

Yeah, I couldn't agree more with everything you just said because I've had so many people come up to me and be like, "Yo, you should make this app. Yo, you should do this." And I'm like, "Yeah, that's cool. But that also costs a lot of money." And also there's something very beautiful and powerful about writing things on pen and paper. While I was in a dark place working that job that I hated, I found that whenever I journal, I felt a lot better because I got it out of my head. And also I could work through a lot of things. So that was the power in journaling that I discovered that I'm like, "Okay." I had three different notebooks. I had like a moleskin, I had a daily planner, then I had another general notes. And I was like--excuse me.

Combine. That's alright, dude.

I literally just had like a mental fog, I'm like, "What's the word where you combine everything." Yeah. All right, so what if I just combined it all and I don't know, made it fun. And also my big thing was like, if you didn't do it for a week, it's okay. We got your back. You pick up right where you left off. The goal isn't to do it. I mean, ideally, you do it every day. But, it's forgiving. The thing is, there's no wasted pages here. It's like you start something and you finish it. And that's kind of tapping into that deep work where you just want to focus in and just accomplish something, and there's something really satisfying about doing something from start to finish.

Yeah, absolutely. So tell me a little bit about the process. Well, first, I want to go back to the podcast. So you two are working hand in hand? Are you kind of, it sounded like the product is now the name of the podcast? Is that what I heard?


I love this kind of stuff.

So this ties end really well because in December, I launched only the product "Plan Dope Shit" and that was the website, that was the brand name. You went there, it was just a daily planner. Then about four or six months of just doing marketing for the planner, it was difficult to build and grow a brand just based off on products. So then I was doing research during COVID of ways how do you grow a brand? And it was either make a YouTube channel, write a blog or start a podcast is a phenomenal way to grow the brand. And I'm not the best in front of the camera and I don't want to write that much. I feel like blogs are just kind of outdated at this point. So I was like, "I love podcasts, I love talking to people. Why don't I just make a podcast?" Then I realized I didn't want to do it by myself, I wanted a co-host. And my college roommate, Alec, was he did like radio stuff in college. And I was like, he's actually talked to me about making his own podcast. And I'm like, "Oh, that's perfect. We know each other inside and out. We got a good rapport." And I hit him up and he was super down for it. And then we're like, "Okay, we need to come up with a show name." And we did this exercise where we wrote down 30 names three different times to figure out the best name. And because the first 10 names you come up with for a brand are dog shit. I looked at the list and I'm like, "Oh, God." There's something about just forcing yourself to come up with an X number. I guess that's my random side note. If you're trying to come up with a brand name, just write a bunch and you'll be surprised what you come up with and "Trust the Grind" was one of them that we both really liked. And we're like, "Okay." The show that we want to do is talking about the entrepreneurial journey, the artist's way, and also the process of being an athlete and how they get there. And we just thought that was a very good encompassing story to build a show around. So we released about 10 to 15 episodes and we're getting confusion because we're directing all these people to go to Plan Dope Shit Instagram page, but our show was called Trust the Grind. And the reason why--oh, I forgot the main point. So the problem when I was trying to grow the brand was I was making digital ads on Facebook and Instagram and because I had the keyword "shit" in the username, all my ads automatically got denied because I was violating the profanity policy.


So I was struggling. If you can't do any digital paid advertising, it's very, very, very tough to grow organically. And basically, after a while, we got the show, we're picking up some momentum, we're gaining followers, and a lot of people were really vibing with our show. I did not want to change the name from Plan Dope Shit to Trust the Grind, but my co-host, Alec, kept on being like, "Yo, we got to do it." And I'm stubborn, I'm a Taurus, so I guess if for those who are interested, they'd be like, "Yep, that's him." But eventually, I budged and we changed the name to Trust the Grind Company. And basically, we've been able to advertise and it's been a great change. So it was a good pivot moment for me. And also sometimes just because I made the brand doesn't mean I'm always right. It's a good way to adapt and having more coherency across the brand and the podcast, it makes it more into like a brand and lifestyle where before Plan Dope Shit was just the product. Plan Dope Shit daily planner is still a big strategy within Trust the Grind. But it's just one element and not the main focus now because the brand has evolved over the past year with the podcast and with changing the name to Trust the Grind, we're also able to get into apparel and different outlets of other ways since. One thing that I found out is not everyone uses daily planners. I know that's kind of like a shocker, but especially in 2020 people are like, "Oh, why would I plan my day when I'm just sitting in my house in lockdown?" I'm like, "Okay, smart ass, fuck you."

Yeah. Good luck with that life.

Yeah. So any advice that I offer, don't launch a daily planner during a pandemic. But the podcast was just like a really organic way to grow. And also I've been connecting with some amazing, amazing people so I highly recommend. There's always stuff saying like, "Oh, it's too late to start now." It's never too late. There's always a way to find to grow, yeah.

Yeah, I love that story, dude. And I have to side with your partner on this one that Trust the Grind, though I like Plan Dope Shit, I get that and as soon as you say that, I get it; but I think from a branding point of view, Trust the Grind is just more, I don't know, it's easier entry point, I would say.


Like Plan Dope Shit, I'd be like, "Oh yeah, I get it." But, I don't know. Do you know what I mean? You got "dope" in there. That's like double from Facebook - "dope" and "shit", right? The two things that they don't like.

I'm on Facebook's most wanted, apparently. I still submit ads and they'll reject it. I'm like, "Come on, man. I changed. Give me a second chance." It was just kind of one of those things where I thought like Plan Dope Shit just like I don't know, I just for some reason I can't tell you why I named it that way, but I just did and it start. But I'm also really happy that I adapted into a newer name that's, as to your point, where it's more of a brand now and totally building something that more people can get behind, because I would constantly meet people and they would be like, "Oh I don't cuss. I find this offensive." and I'm just like, "I'm sorry but I'm not." It's something I worked really hard on. So it was a good pivot for me, I guess that's what I'm trying to say, where it's like I don't, to your point - the barrier of entry - don't make it harder on myself. I was making it harder by trying to be prideful that I came up with this name and I was like, I can find a workaround around these advertisements. And no, sometimes, it wasn't the best name and I'm glad I changed it because now we've been able to grow and expand into those new audiences without restriction like shooting ourselves in the foot, essentially.

Yeah, yeah. Cool. And what's it like having a co-host? Do you guys do every episode together or do you kind of switch it up or how does that go down? I actually tried to start this podcast with a buddy of mine who owns a surf shop. So I thought, oh, it's a perfect kind of like the surf brand manufacturer with the surf shop, right?


But he couldn't commit and I think he's bummed now because he sees how much people are liking the podcast. But yeah, I was kind of wondered how that goes down with the partnership.

Dude, I love it because my co-host is my college roommate, one of my best friends. It's a way that we get to interact more on a daily basis. And we're working on a project together and we both have the same values and we're aligned. And I think that's a big thing if you are approaching a partnership. A lot of people say, "Oh, be careful working with your friends." And it's like well, if you guys are on the same page, then you guys can be open and communicate in ways that a random person, let's say the surf shop owner, if you don't have a tight relationship, you might be hesitant to call him out on something where I think if you are building something, there need to be open communication and not holding anything back. And me and him we just always have a great time. And that's something that we pride ourselves in our shows that our guests always say that they always have a good time, they love connecting. And that's what podcasting is. It's just getting to know people and just having a conversation. And I love having conversations with my best friend and we just have someone join us and take them, ask them questions and get to know them. It's awesome.

Yeah, that's pretty cool. I can see that it brings a different perspective, right? I've had a couple of business partnerships over the years and it's not always easy, right? It really requires kind of a different level of relationship. You're kind of, in some ways, you're kind of married to that person where you're working on something together, you're growing something like a relationship. So, yeah, my hat goes out to you for going for it. And I think like you said, finding somebody that you are already tight with is really the key.

And I think with just hosting a show, I think the hosts need to have good rapport. That was my main thing, is that there's going to be moments where I forget or I go blank on a question where he can pick up where I'm filling in and vice versa and we can build off each other's ideas. And we are still pretty new in the game so there is going to be new stuff that comes up, new hurdles. But at the end of the day, I think it's important to establish your friendship first if you are going in business with a friend or doing some sort of project with your friend. Never jeopardize the friendship for the business. I think you always got to be tight with your boy because you don't want a project to ruin your friendship.

Yeah, well said. Are you guys running ads or are you just basically building the content and promoting the planner and that's kind of your ad in a way?

Yeah. So we run a few digital ads on Insta and stuff. Mainly, I've been finding I don't know, I'm curious about your answer to this as well, but when I promote like the podcast episode, it doesn't do as well as compared to I have these props, and my questions and thoughts and ideas or like meditations, I like to call them, where I post those and run an ad on that and get way more engaged, make it way more people come into our page versus an audio clip of an episode. So it's a lot of trial and error, just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. And I'm in the process of figuring out what is the best advertising strategy, because we do have a podcast, we do have products. So what's like the nice mix that gets people to us, but not necessarily coming off as too sale-sy? So it's a very fine line.

Yeah, this has to be a whole genre. In fact, I just Googled this the other day. I was trying to figure out how people are promoting their podcasts and there isn't much out there. I've had the same experience you've had. My lead is usually the brand and then the podcast is kind of an extra bonus, right? I'm not sure how many people find the podcast except for somebody like you, but your dad knew the brand. So mine is usually the reverse. People are already connected to the brand and the podcast comes later. But so I'll usually drop the podcast in an email flow, right. That maybe they bought the bodyboard bag and then I'll be like, "Hey, check out our podcast if you don't know about it." That sort of thing. So it's a tricky one and I don't think anyone's figured it out yet. And I don't know how many people actually search like Apple podcast for podcast. I never do. My buddy's like, "Hey, did you see this? Did you hear this podcast?" Or another podcast, this is one that I find a lot, another podcast mentions a podcast and then I'll check it out because I already trust, right. Trust. I have confidence in that person. So everyone go check out Trust the Grind.

Ayy thank you for that plug.

Yeah, bro.

That's kind of in my research for podcast advertising the way that it's very interesting because if you think about social media, when you're on Instagram, you're there to look at pictures, you're not necessarily there to find podcasts. But I was reading one blog article that was saying you should promote on that person's or that platform. So if you have a podcast like the point that you just said, the host shouts out another podcast that's already a podcast listener more likely to check out another podcast because it's very hard to get people to go in between platforms.

Yeah. Yeah, true that. Yeah, nice. And tell me a little bit about the Art Start. Tell us what you're doing. You're giving some proceeds, I love this, to a non-profit?

Yeah. So when I basically was making the brand, I wanted to get back cause and I was living in New York at the time and I was doing research. I didn't want like too big of an organization, but I also wanted something that was impacting a lot of people. And I stumble across Art Start, which is this phenomenal New York City-based art charity or organization where they basically help inner-city kids and also underfunded schools in New York City have art programs essentially. So they'll provide all these, so basically with COVID, they've adapted to do these, they ship art supplies to these kids' houses and they'll host the Zoom meetings and they'll still do the art exercise. And I'm a firm believer that everyone should have access to make art, especially when you're a kid because that's when your minds run wild and you just got to let your ideas run free. And it sucks when you hear that kids aren't able to create because of funding whether that's from government or what it is, I think every kid should have the opportunity to create because everyone's creative. People say that they're not, they just haven't found their outlet that they're creative. That's a little sidebar on adult. But yeah, I just thought it was really cool how they were just focusing on kids and just given them a platform to make art. And they had this expedition called "See Me Because" and basically it's this whole expedition about how these kids are viewed as a certain type of person based off society's stereotypes about them. And it's really sad. And they're like, "No, but I want to be a firefighter. I want to be a photographer. I want to be a teacher." And their staff will Photoshop them being the certain profession that they want society to see them as. And it was a really, really cool exhibit. And it just goes to show that everyone needs a fair chance to make and create.

Yeah, I agree. Were you involved in art growing up or how did you get this interest in supporting this cause?

Yeah. I've always been a very creative kid growing up. In high school, I took photography, did all the art classes in high school. I'm really into graphic design now, even though I didn't go to school for that. There's just kind of I've always felt like I've had a lot of creative ideas and I think that's kind of what led me to making the planner and things like that. But I think everyone should have some sort of creative outlet; whether it's painting, drawing, sketching. There needs to be something that you just get lost in and enter that deep work and enter a flow where the only thing you're thinking about is what you're focusing right in front of you. So my recent art that I've been doing is like these collages where I take a bunch of magazines and pictures and rip them up and make a collage on like contact paper. And every time I do it, I have no idea how it's going to come out and I don't have a plan. But for that hour or three hours, I just get lost in the process and let my mind wander. So I think it's really refreshing and everyone should have some sort of activity where they just get lost and silence the concept right in mind.

I love that. And did you use InDesign for the planner? What kind of program did you use?

Yes, I usually use Illustrator.


That's the one I know the best of. All the Adobe programs are phenomenal. There's definitely a little barrier to learn it. But once you learn it, there's so much that you can do with it. And I'm pretty self-taught. Like I said, I didn't go to school for design. So that's something that I encourage people like even if you didn't get traditional training, there's always a way to figure out what you want to do. There's so many YouTube videos, there's so many tutorials that if you want to put in the time and work, you can figure it out.

Yeah, Canva's another good one for kind of they have a ton of templates. I mean, not for a planner, but if you're doing, social media posts and that sort of thing. We use that quite a bit here at Wave Tribe.

Yeah, I'm a huge fan of Canva, as well. And just because all the templates that you can take something but also make it your own. Whenever I use Canva, I'm always like, "Oh, I like this layout, but I'm going to change it to be more reflect into my brand styles." I'm a big fan of Canva, as well.

Yeah, that's a good one to start with if you don't have any of these application experience, because it does take time to learn those for sure.

It definitely does. And the cool thing about Canva, it's free unless you upgrade to the pro account, but it's a phenomenal starting ground and they have some really, really good stuff to just get started. I'm constantly looking on Canva's templates just to get ideas for myself then if I need to, I'll throw it in Illustrator. But Canva has saved me so much time compared to where I used to make photo collages in Illustrator then I'm like, "Oh, wait, there's a template on Canva?" Like for the podcast and things and I'm like, oh, just dump everything in and just make it your own branding. It's a phenomenal online tool.

Yeah. So for the planner, you released version one, I assume you're working on a second version. Is it a date stamp timer or is it kind of open-ended, you write your own date in?

Yeah, so you write your own date in. Right now, I got the first order. I'm still working on the inventory for that. So I'm not going to do a reorder until I sell some or sell most of them. But there is going to be, based off like getting feedback from people, I'm definitely going to redesign it and just clean it up a bit. There's a lot of little things that people have called out and I'm like, "This is phenomenal. Thank you for providing this feedback." Because I think that's also something very valuable, is that when you do make something, your way isn't necessarily everyone's way whether you want to believe it. You want to go to the grave thinking it's like "Yo, this is it, this is it." No. You got to be humble and be like "Yeah, I don't need that section. I can condense this. I can make this smaller." I think feedback is critical and crucial.

Yeah. I'm a big fan of Seth Godin who's a marketer and his whole thing is ship it and then perfect it later. Like get the feedback after you ship the first version, then get their feedback. And it's going to be a much better product because everyone tries to make their first product perfect. But it'll never be. It'll be perfect to you, but it won't be perfect to somebody else, right? So I love that whole concept of just getting it into the market and then iterating from there.

Absolutely. I'm a huge fan of Seth Godin. I did one of his workshops, the Bootstrapper one and man, if you are in an idea or have an idea, I cannot vouch more for this program because basically, you put everything you have out there and everyone just peer reviews it and you don't know these people. So it's honest reflections. And I was doing it with at the time it's called Plan Dope Shit and I got a lot of really good feedback about how to condense it, how to brand it. And also that's a big thing is it's never going to be perfect when you launch. So you might as well just launch it and read and react and make the adjustments where you need to.

Yeah, definitely. Big shout out to Seth Godin. A lot of the reason I'm here is because of reading his work over the years and I'm actually just finishing up the creatives workshop that he puts on. So if anybody is interested in any of this, he's got so much great content and the workshops are amazing. Basically, it's exactly the way you laid it out. You're online. He was in a perfect position that COVID, bro. I have to say. He's been working on this with all MBA program for the last couple of years, right? And then he started to launch these kind of probably offshoots of all MBA, which were more focused on the creative, more focused on writing, more focused on marketing. And then COVID hit. Oh wow! I know he didn't plan it that way, but great positioning on his part.

Oh, absolutely. That's the reason why I did it, because I had all this free time, and the one I did launched in April. And I was, "Yeah, I got the time to do this." And it was really, really fun and challenging as well. That's a really cool thing, because when you launch a business, you don't get direct feedback every day. You just kind of do things and you just kind of just read data or whatever the response is. But it's really very valuable to collaborate with other people and get their ideas from a totally non-bias, also very business smart person as well because if they're taking the workshop, they're working on something as well. So it's just being in the room with like-minded people.

Yeah, for sure. Do you have any other products in the pipeline for next year?

We got this. Yeah, it's actually in production. It should be hopefully on the website in a week or two. But basically it's called "Count Your Blessings" where it's much more condensed version of the planner, where it's very similar to the 5-minute journal where it's designed to be right next to your bedside. So first thing when you wake up, you write down three things that you're grateful for, what's going well and what's one thing that you want to manifest into the world. And it's supposed to be just a quick exercise. It's just like boom, boom, boom. Then at the end of the day, you write down three things that were awesome for the day, that one thing that you would like to change, and it's just going to be like a 4 x 6 notepad. Really, really pumped on it, because this one is going to be way more easier. And the convenience, because I know like I'm the creator of the daily planner and I don't use it every day. I know that sounds bad to say, but that's the truth. But this one is I was like, "Even if I'm traveling, how can I write down things that I'm grateful for, things I want to manifest into the universe and also reflect on the day?" And I just made this quick little design and every day also has a question of the day to make you think and reflect on just different things in life. One of them is when was the last time you felt like a kid? Because I think it's very important to think about different perspectives and ask questions that aren't usually asked, and make you think it's like, "Okay, when did I really get lost in a moment and just felt like a child?"

Dude, I love that. Yeah, I did the 5-minute planner or 5-minute journal or whatever it was called, and people don't realize how powerful it is just to write down three things you're grateful for, like three things you're stoked on or whatever language you want to say. Because I think so much of people's thought is around anxiety, negativity, worrying about whatever money, COVID, the election, whatever it is, and just making that small shift to be like, oh, I'm grateful. I surfed today and I did surf. I'm grateful that I got waves today. And I'm grateful that I got to talk to you and have a great podcast, whatever it is. It's so powerful, it's so powerful.

It really is. And it's so simple, but it's so overlooked. And to your point, the three things I'm going to write down that I'm grateful for, it can be so basic, just having a roof over your head, having a bed that you sleep in, having clean clothes that you can wear, connecting with Derek, the man, this is my first podcast interview so the tables have turned for me, but this is amazing experience.


Yeah. It's just going back to the point that you brought up about people worrying about the election anxiety and things like that. I've been reading Joe Dispenza's book "Becoming Supernatural", and he talks about this point about if you think about what you did yesterday, you can predict what you are going to do tomorrow because people live in this like past, present, he calls it, where you keep on thinking about what you did in the past and then that's going to predict your future where he's like, no, you need to think about present, future. So what's happened in the past, it's there, you can't change it. But what you can do is your relationship with the present and what you see for yourself in the future. And that goes into manifesting and things like that. That's a whole another conversation but that's something that write down things that you're grateful for. It's like, hey, I'm grateful for this next new job opportunity if you've been laid off, it's like I'm thankful. And his big thing is give thanks as if it already happened.

Can you just tell me the name of the book again? And the author?

Yeah, it's "Becoming Supernatural", Dr. Joe Dispenza. Really, really interesting stuff. He goes into science. I don't really understand it, but basically he has all these case studies where people basically overcoming cancer through meditation. It's out there, people are like, whoa whoa. But the way that you speak to yourself and where you put your attention becomes your reality is a big point that he talks about. So if you are focusing on the negative stuff, more negative is probably going to happen to you.

It just makes sense, right? If you're spinning in negativity, your life's going to be that. It doesn't have to get more scientific than that, right? And it's funny because this happens quite a bit. Surfing teaches you so much. Sometimes when you take--I'll make it personal because it is, I'm taking off for a wave and I think I can't make this drop, right? It's like a pretty solid wave. And I fall every time I think that. Like if I think I can't make this wave right at the pivotal point of dropping in, I always fall. But if I can shift that and I do shift it quite a bit and I'm dropping in, I'm going to stick this thing, and I stick it. It's just that's the way it works. Obviously, sometimes you're going to fall regardless. But the point is, when I'm thinking I can't do something, I can't make a wave, I've already given up on the possibility. That's the best way to put it.

Yeah. And I've been getting back into skateboarding. I haven't really skated regularly in 5 years. And it's funny, I had a session the other day and I was just skating a mini, just picking up stuff that I used to be able to do, probably skate for like an hour or two. And I was like, "I haven't eaten shit yet. This is very unlike me." Literally, the next run I do, I eat it so hard and I'm just like, "All right. Don't think about that."

Yeah. There's a lot around manifestation. I'm still working through that but what you said was right on. I think you can go too far, right, on the side of manifestation, which, I think tomorrow I'm going to get a million dollars in my hands, right? So, how you thread the needle between fantasy and positivity, I guess you could say. And maybe the lines really blurry, right?


Maybe if I did think I was going to get a million dollars in my hands, it will actually show up. So I don't know. I'm kind of I'm not a full believer. I believe in manifestation. I believe in positive thinking. I all think those things are super important. But I'm still wondering what were that line of fantasy and illusion is. That's it. Like this illusion, this elusive thinking. And maybe that's part of my own challenge that I haven't quite figured out yet, right?

Yes. I mean, you're keeping it real. Let's be honest. Because you like the secret, whatever that book is, it's like to your point, oh, think about million dollars and it's there tomorrow in your hands. It's like, no, that's not how it works. You still have to put in the work. You still have to put yourself in situations where the universe will let you answer and it's something that I've been recently experimenting with. I'm no manifestation guru or advocate for it. But my thing is, all right, if I just think about it and write down stuff that I want to happen in my life, then I know what direction that I need to take actions towards, and that's where I use it because, you can sit in the mountains in India or wherever and meditate in a cave for 4 hours a day, but most likely things aren't going to happen, that you truly want. Yeah, they might happen in your mind, but you also need action behind the thought. So if you have a clear intention of what you want to accomplish for the day, for the mind, for your life, then you just make baby steps towards that every day that once you start putting yourself in those situations, from my experience, I have seen some rewards that I'm just like, "Oh, shit. Okay, if I didn't do that, this wouldn't have happened."

Yeah. I think what you just said is one of the hardest things in life - is to figure out what it is you actually want.


Trying to answer that question like what do you want? Because everything is possible, right? Everything is possible. And you can make, especially in today's society and world, we're privileged, we live in America, we have all these opportunities. But I think very few people know the answer to that question or they don't even ask the question. What do I like? And so I try to break it down like I want to surf every day, right. I want to travel. I want to be healthy, right. Yeah, dude, it's hard to answer that question in a big way.

Oh, absolutely. It's a tough one because if you essentially are staring yourself in the mirror and being like, what do you want in this life? And you're like, most of the time you say, I don't know. And basically from my reading and research on this question, people say, well, "What do you don't want? What do you not stand for?" And through my personal experience, I was like, "I don't want to be working a job that I hate and building something that isn't making an impact on society." So it's kind of like coming up with non-negotiables for yourself. I think what do you want is endless question. No matter what you achieve, if you want a million dollars in sales, you get it. Then you say, what's next? It's a never-ending question.

Yeah. That's why I think reflecting on maybe the smaller movements are also as important, right. Because you could have a million dollars in sales or you could have half a million dollars in sales, but if you're surfing every day and that's something really valuable to you or you're spending time with your family or you're skateboarding, dude, if you have ten million dollars in sales but you haven't skateboarded or surfed in five years, then what the fuck? Right? What kind of life is that?

Yeah, absolutely.

So there's definitely there's a balance between really realizing what's important for you and then creating your life. I always thought we did it backwards. We're always taught to do it backwards. We were taught go out, find a good job, make a bunch of money, find a wife, get a house, retire, right? But actually that's the wrong way to do it. First you got to figure out what you love to do and then you got to figure out a life that supports those passions or those not even passions like just dope shit, like the stuff whatever it is. And it's different for every single person. That's why when we started this conversation, you said nobody can give you advice because they can't. Nobody can give you advice because they don't know what you love, right?


So dude, I think that's the key to all of our journeys is that. Figuring out what we want and then creating a life that serves that. And then hopefully that is also part of being good to the planet and also serving other people like you're doing with your nonprofit and creating great products so people find joy, right? But until you answer that first question, like if you nail all those other things and you still haven't answered the first one, which is what do I want, then you're not going to be happy.

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And the thing is everyone's their own author. You can change the chapter, you can write the next page, you can move forward. But at the end of the day, you also need to ask, what are you here for? What's your purpose? What's your mission? What do you want to accomplish? Because I think just in general, we're all here and we all have a gift and everyone is worthy of fulfilling that gift that they can give. But very few people, I don't want to say very few, but people are scared to ask those questions and confront themselves and shed their old identity for a new one. And just for my personal experience, yeah, I moved out to New York, I had this whole old identity, but also that one wasn't serving the person that I wanted to be. I want to be like you like if I want to go to Indonesia for 2 months and surf, that's what I want to do. I want to make a lifestyle like that. But my old life wouldn't let me support that because I had a lease, I had a job. But I think you just got to identify what would be your ideal life? Like if you could wake up every day and do whatever the fuck you want, money's not an issue, what are you doing?

Yeah, dude, I totally agree, totally agree, bro. Great man, this has been such a good conversation. Do you have anything else you want to put out there into the world?

No, man. Just thank you for giving me a platform to talk on. I really, really enjoyed this conversation. And yeah, man, you're my type of dude and definitely love just bouncing ideas off and I think just like kind of building off that if you're listening and you have an idea, just don't be afraid to share it with someone. Because I'm sure you can relate to this when you release a board bag, it can be scary to launch a product and put yourself out there but the amount of impact that you can have on the world or just even a small group of people, it can go way farther than beyond you. Because I'm blown away by someone listening to my podcast and I haven't seen them in 5 years. I had a friend call me that I haven't talked to in 7 years tell me he loved the podcast. And I'm just like, "What? Really?" You just got to put stuff out there. That kind of went off the rails a little but.

Sorry, bro. You can go off the rails. I love it. Everyone, please go check out Trust the Grind, the podcast and also the planner. I can't wait to get mine. I'll do a definite review of it and I'm sure I'll love it. And I have a feeling this isn't going to be our last talk, bro.

No, man. Super down to connect whenever. Also, I need to get one of your board bags for my dad. I just need to figure out what size he needs.

There you go. Yeah, let us know and we'll take care of it.

He's got like 10 boards. So I know he doesn't have a bag for every one of them.

Nice! Find out, say "Dad, what's your favorite board?" And then we'll get him a bag for that one."

Yeah, perfect. Yeah, yeah. Since he's got to rep the Wave Tribe because he's on the email list. He's the reason why I'm talking to you right now.

Dude, I love that. That's awesome.

Yeah. And just kind of like bouncing off that whatever people send you, don't be afraid to pursue it. I filled out Derek's podcast application thing. I was like, "All right, we'll see where this goes." Now, I got a new connect.

Yeah, no. And a new friend, bro.

Yeah, a new friend.

Yeah. That's awesome. Alright, bro, you have a great day, and we'll talk soon.

Yeah. Sounds good.

All right. We'll have all of your Instagram and podcast and everything in the show notes. So if anyone's interested in checking that stuff out, which I'm sure you are, you can find it in the show notes.

Yeah, absolutely. And one last plug for anyone listening. Anyone listening goes to Trust the Grind sees anything they like, 15% off with promo code wave tribe.

Nice. I like.

Yeah, man. And also feel free to shoot me a DM. I love connecting with new people and glad to help out any way I can with wherever you are.

Sweet. Stoked. See you, bro.

Yeah. Later, man. Thank you so much.