You Are What You Choose

It’s Sunday here and the sleepy city of Bogota is just waking up.  It’s about 8am and I just took a walk down the street in search of an open cafe but found only wandering dogs and signs that said cerrado.  I had a curiosity and realization come over me as to why everything was closed. Ah, the culture here is predominantly Christian so most of the places are probably closed for that reason. Which made me think shouldn’t I be resting too? It’s funny how these subtle reminders can cross your mind.


ImageI decided to head back to the hostel to do some writing before breakfast. So here I sit in the midst of the outdoor dining community  of Hostel Explora in the charming town of La Candelaria. I look up and see a beautiful little garden with a green vine hugging the old red bricks as it climbs towards the sky.  I slouch slightly in my chair and start reflecting on the recent (over the past year) choices I made that brought me here, as if to take it all in.  The choice to leave the agency world and embark on the Surfr adventure, the choice to create Startup Palm Beach, and the slew of daily choices that brought me here.

I thought why are times like these so significant? So I researched the word reflection and came across this golden nugget by Drucker, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” So true… 

That’s life and here I am sitting in Bogota in a beautiful little garden, staring at the wall, waiting on deysayuno and reflecting what brought me here. The one thing I discerned is that everything we do in life is a choice. Each decision carries us to the next set of choices and opportunities. 

I pause in mid thought to say that this post isn’t about success rather it’s about understanding why we decide what we decide daily.

Quiet reflection on your existence is healthy. It allows you to check in on who you’ve become. It allows you to engage your life’s personal mission statement or that which is the foundation of your decisions.

I reflected on my mission and recalled the decision to leave The Palm Beach Post and start investing my energy in people instead of merely working for money. Yeah, that’s it, my benchmark for decision making (for now at least).  Have you thought about yours?

One of the beauties of life is that subtle reminders come in all shapes and sizes and are often made available when you’re open and honest with yourself. In my mind, life is not about perfection but purpose. Take some time this week to reflect on your personal mission statement and remember that, “You Are What You Choose”. 





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Playing a Bigger Game in Life and Nelson Mandela

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. – Nelson Mandela

Ahhh, Friday!  It feels so good to sit down and just indulge in the peace of punching the keys even if it is just for a moment.  The smell of Guatemalan Counter Culture coffee is in the air and Shane n Shane is strumming peacefully in the background.  I’ve taken some time this morning to reflect on the passing of Nelson Mandela which affected me in a couple of ways.  I was in a unique position last night because I was watching the news anticipating the Surfr interview my business partner and I did with ESPN that was inevitably bumped by the breaking news of Mandela’s passing.  I can’t imagine there were too many people, across the globe, that were in my position.  I’m not new to the camera and I have made several appearances on tv across the country. Quite frankly even standing at Nick and Johnnies (I don’t own a TV) looking up at the TV I felt kind of bad because I’m on the news a lot now (4 times in the past 2 months).  Then it hit me…  I was in the fractional percentile of people to be headlining the news in the United States and my segment was replaced by Nelson Mandela.

In reflecting on that this morning, I thought about how significant it was and what it meant to not only headline the news with a product that I launched as an entrepreneur but to be replaced by someone that made such a marked impact on the world.  A man that encouraged a nation and brought peace to a region.  A man that spent nearly a third of his life in prison then became president of the country that wronged him.  Someone that inspired the world to be a better place and lived a life of fullest potential living by the credo, “We must use time wise and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

My prayer this morning was one of thanksgiving.  Dear God, thank you for putting people like Nelson Mandela on this earth so that we can learn from them, be inspired by them and encouraged by their life.  Thank you for the strength to persevere in impossible times where hope may seem lost and through the times of uncertainty.  Thank you for the passion displayed by such a man that woke up, daily, with the intention to be a good steward of his gifts and lived a life he was capable of.

In conclusion, I draw a parallel and relate to Nelson’s way of being that holds me to a higher standard.  I am encouraged by his life and  celebrate it this morning.  My business coach, Peter Marcus, always talks about playing a bigger game in life and it is often a challenge to me because just when I think I have a situation figured out I’m reminded to not “play small” in life.  Those are words to live by and worthy of addressing in every situation because it allows you to consider the bigger picture of those impacted downstream by your decisions.

How will you play a bigger game and live a life you of fullest potential?

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Where Coconuts Grow

I was thinking about my existence in this town the other day.  Like what is this place all about?  Why do I live here?  What makes this place so special?  I had a healthy internal dialogue about my existence and why I was doing what I’m doing here in this town.  I know that I love the scenery because it reminds me so much of where I grew up in Hawaii.  However, I felt the urge to dive into the details of the environment surrounding me, from the people, to the flora and fauna, and ultimately how my personal beliefs affect my actions in this space.  I soon realized, after doing some research, that I live at a latitude where coconuts grow.  For some reason this was a profound moment for me because I started to extrapolate the significance of it.  I mean there are a lot of plants that exist in the world but the coconut tree is very unique.  The City of West Palm Beach sits at latitude 26.7 Degrees N, just inside the mark where Coconuts Grow.  (coconut palms grow between the regions of 20-27N latitude)

Mary-Lily-&-Henry-FlaglerHistory of Palm Beach

In reflection, I realize that why we do what we do stems from our beliefs.  With that, history is telling of the environment we’re in and how it has shaped this region.  This area’s history in particular all points to one man, a man who became the founder of the Florida East Coast Railway and the co-founder of Standard OilI was born in 1830, Henry Morrison Flagler (HMF), son of a minister out of Hopewell, New York.  HMF is known as the father of Palm Beach and the grandfather of Miami.  His accomplishments are numerous but during his time in Palm Beach he erected two hotels and spurred the first land boom throughout the late 19th and early 20th century.  He was a pioneer in the company of likeminded pioneers Morikami, Singer, and Mizner and because of these men, among others, I can sit here and soak up the energy of this place and breathe my passion for entrepreneurship back into it.

If you know me you know that I don’t hesitate to say how remarkable West Palm Beach & Palm Beach are.  I’m stimulated by the underlying current of beauty, creativity, and brilliance that’s exuded by the atmosphere and those residing in it.  Even for someone that is not as well off as many of the people around me, I still benefit from the beauty of the meticulously landscaped vegetation of Palm Beach & Downtown West Palm Beach.  There are a lot of public places where I can co-mingle with the lifestyle of the rich and famous but what matters most is the energy I receive by taking the time to soak up the nature surrounding me.  The golden sunshine, the green parrots squawking, cool coco-water from a fresh coconut, the crystal blue ocean, and the loggerhead sea turtles hatching beneath the mounds of sand up and down the beach.

One of the coolest things, If your lucky enough, is finding yourself poolside at the Palm Beach Inn, now The Breakers Hotel, where you’ll be undoubtedly surrounded by game changers, innovators, moguls, entrepreneurs, tycoons, professionals, and well, a plethora of intellectual asset and resource.  These people are drawn here by the same foundational movement that made this area so popular and it seems as though that some of these folks are so old that they never left.

I feel like society has come full circle from the fortunes amassed during the Guilded Age through the roaring 20’s then the crash of the stock market in October 1929.  This areas resilience has been tested in the most trying of times  in the 20th & 21st Century from the ’29 market crash to the 1935 Storm of the Century Hurricane, The Great Depression, World War II, assassinated presidents (Kennedy lived in Palm Beach), more wars, the market crash of 2008, and the Madoff debacle.  Through it all I think we found that the natural beauty of this place, the fervor of the people and legacy of wealth kept it all together.

Jimmy Buffet sang a song about, “Changes in Latitudes & Changes in Attitudes” which depicts the emotional connection of the tropics and evokes a sentiment of relaxation and utopia.  One would think that it’s not by happens chance that he lives here too.

Having spent my fair share of time in Hawaii as a child and more recently having traveled to the other side of the world and back I can confidently say that I’ve experienced enough to know what makes this place so special.  The blue ocean, the active sea life, the weather, the coconuts trees, the parrots, and everything else that goes along with living in the right latitude as Jimmy Buffet so eloquently sang.  This is as close to Hawaii as you’re going to get living in mainland USA.

sumba homeLife, Protection, Resilience, Community

Beyond the beauty is the people, the ones that are making their way in this market by carving out their own path like HMF and friends did so many years ago.  I said earlier that we’ve come full circle because I feel as though the playing field has been leveled and I now represent one of those pioneers.  As I approach my 30’s I can say that I know that the grass isn’t always greener and I feel as though it’s an honor to be able to make my way here in one of the most attractive places on earth.  The fact that I’m literally writing this and thinking about punching the last few keys so I can go surfing before work is one of the biggest blessings I think I could ever have.

In conclusion, we live where coconuts grow so don’t forget that because they’re significant.  You may have never noticed it but coconuts don’t grow much further north and that’s important to note because coconuts are a source of life for many people around the world.  In my travels to the fourth world island of Sumba, Indonesia I was walking along the waters edge just past the water buffalo bathing and talking to a Sumba warrior named Tinus (which bought his wife with 8 buffalo).  He pointed up to the hillside and said, “You see the big patch of coconut trees?”  Yes, “That’s where the village is”.  Water is hard to get in Sumba, you have to walk very far but fortunately coconut water is an excellent source of nutrients.  Not to mention it is what they use to build their shelter among other things.

In closing, enjoy this beautiful paradise that we live in and don’t forget to look up every now and then when you’re standing on the sidewalk next to a million dollar home think about what that coconut tree represents to others across the globe.

To me the coconut tree represents Life, Protection, Resilience, Community.



west palm beach spring twitter

tinus n nick

palm beach surf

Posted in Blogs

Bali Hi

I’m sitting here drinking a homemade lemongrass ginger iced tea overlooking an infinity pool with 3 forward facing Bali style villas, a plumeria tree to my left and a stone ox to my side thinking about what it means to be here in such a remarkable place. I never imagined either in high school or in college that I’d be an entrepreneur or someone who creates things and gets paid to do so, much less travel the world like this. Looking back however, I can see how it was God’s design for my life as one choice has molded another and shaped me to become who I am today. With that, I want to say how encouraged I am by the people I surround myself with and those that have come my way. Especially my new business partner Chris and the people I’m staying with here in Bali. Over the years I have seen people come and go some of which were close to me and I thought might be lifelong friends. So I’ve learned to cherish moments with those in my life no matter what their status is. Those that I’m currently with are young, kind, thoughtful, genuine, outgoing, smart, risk takers, and extremely successful. I’m inspired by their mindfulness and excited to explore life’s opportunities with them.Image

My experience in Indonesia thus far has taught me some foundational lessons about myself and my spirituality. I traveled here to gather marketing materials and create videos for Surfr App launch but I’m finding that God has me here for so much more. I haven’t been here 24 hours and I’m completely enthralled by the smiling people, the surf, and the spiritual energy surrounding the Balinese culture. Temples are present in every home and they light sacraments morning, noon, and night. I find this so fascinating because their spirituality is so visible and culturally sound. It’s opened my eyes to the reality of how far my country has gone in the opposite direction. Ironically, the USA, where we supposedly can practice religion freely has become a country where our foundational religion, Christianity, isn’t visible at all. Not to mention the overall sentiment of Christians has completely changed and It saddens my heart to think about how negative it’s become. Our country has a real identity crisis unlike the country I’m currently in…

 Indonesia, you are a beautiful and majestic place. Looking forward to getting to know you over the next few weeks.

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Bolero Flashmob Mt. Dora, FL

My agency, Mohnacky Marketing, was asked to produce a video for a very special and interesting event that took place in Mt. Dora, Florida.  After hearing the idea to do an orchestral flashmob, I thought to myself, wow that’s going to be fun and chaotic (there were 100k+ people coming to town that weekend).  With that, I happily agreed to the project in anticipation of the challenge ahead.

Check out Bolero, performed by the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra & Mount Dora Center for the Arts sponsored by Main Street Leasing.

Take note of the beautiful sunset time-lapse at the end. (def. one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen)

Posted in Marketing

Escaping from Alcatraz

A Triathlon in San Francisco

As the aroma of Sumatra (coffee) fills the air and the last drip hits the pot I await to taste the boldness of a fresh brew this Monday morning. Okay, don’t judge me, normally I have my first cup of coffee before 9:30am but I decided to go back to sleep after the 5:30am long course swim practice. Ah, swim practice… Today was the first day back in the pool since the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.

For those of you that don’t know, I did a triathlon on March 3, 2013 in San Francisco that demanded a 1.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike, and 8 mile run. In one word, this event was, incredible. In one sentence, this event broke down my body but strengthened my mind and spirit so much so that I felt stronger by the time I finished.

It was the week of February 16, 2013 and my friend Lacie asked me if I wanted to go to San Francisco because one of the guys that she’d been training was doing Escape from Alcatraz and we had a free place to stay. Me being the last minute up for anything kind of guy that I am I said, if tickets are affordable then you can count me in. Not a few minutes later she asks me, “If you go do you want to do the triathlon?” At that moment about 50 thoughts hit me like a brick. I could feel the weight of the thoughts in my head trying to rationalize my decision as it was being processed. All I could get out of my mouth was Umm… I don’t know… Out of intrigue and confusion I asked, why is there a spot available for me to do the triathlon? Isn’t it a lottery event? Well, she says, “Mat had a buddy that was going to compete in the event but his friend didn’t feel like he thoroughly trained for it.”

Oh man, exactly what I wanted to hear!!

Ok, let me get this straight… You are asking if I want to do the triathlon, on two weeks notice, in place of someone that felt like he didn’t train enough over the course of a year?? I resorted back to, umm… uh… I guess I’ll do it. I mean it’s Alcatraz, I have to, right? At that point my whole psyche changed from thinking of a leisurely trip to San Francisco to straight up survival mode.

The next day, I was in the water training for long distance. I did a mile set then another, putting in 2 miles per practice. I ran 6 miles that week to find that my knee still bothered me (still need to get it looked at) but I felt confident enough to run the race. The bike training consisted of me looking online for a bike rental in San Francisco not to mention I hadn’t been on a road bike since 2003. Yeah, there wasn’t any training on the bike…

The following week’s training was pretty much just tapering in the pool and no more running to let my knee heal from the 6 miles the week prior.

Thursday 2/28/13 – San Francisco here we come!

(stay tuned for the rest of the story) Image

Posted in Fitness, Lifestyle, Travel

Be Confident & Believe in Yourself

I just finished watching an interview that an old friend did with his Alma Mater, Full Sail University, talking about his road to success at AWOLNATION and felt moved to write a post about the formula of success.

It was 2008 in Orlando Florida where I first met Kenny. I stepped foot into a house full of what I soon learned were pro and semi-pro wake boarders, artists, and college students.

Kenny Carkeet now rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals for AWOLNATION was jamming with a couple other guys in a cozy office/sound room when I met him. His fingers quickly pulled away from the down stroke of his electric guitar as he reached out to introduce himself.  He engaged in welcoming conversation and followed it with an introduction to the rest of the band members of then, “Evolution Heart.” (I still have the little rectangular band sticker placard on my old dresser)

kenny carkeet orlando

Fast forward a month or two and you’d have seen Kenny and I stroking an agreement, on the coffee table in his living room, to sponsor his band with t-shirts and swag that I produced under the label Stigmata, formerly Statik Apparel.

You see, the reason I moved to Orlando was to seek out opportunities within the wakeboard industry and promote my clothing line. I spent a couple years in the corporate world after college then decided I was ready to move back home for a change of pace. During this time I spun off a clothing company called Stigmata from a company that I founded in ’06 called Statik. The line obviously didn’t take off but I learned a lot about working with people, networking, sponsorships, managing expectations, design, surf shops, and grassroots marketing along the way. (side note, it’s ok to fail because not every venture is going to be a hit)

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