February 2019 - Meet My Network: David Gamburd
* Meet My Network is a monthly blog series where Alyce highlights outstanding individuals within her network to share their professional and personal accomplishments *
In today’s ‘Meet My Network’ blog I’m excited to introduce you to my friend, David Gamburd who’s the Co-Founder at Alta Andina, which crafts and sells products using natural inputs and recycled materials within a local Andean supply chain. Alta Andina is driven by a commitment to conserve the environment, traditions, and heritage of the Andean region. Wow! I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty incredible.
I met David nearly 5 years ago through his incredible fiance Cori Jo Groza and it didn’t take long for all of us to become dear friends who are passionate about the environment and helping each one another grow to our full potential.
When I think of super interesting individuals who have taken the ‘path less traveled’, David is at the top of the list. For the past 2 years David has been living in Quito, Ecuador and epitomizes a creative, socially conscious leader. He along with 4 others, have built Alta Andina to ideally shift consumer demand and industry standards toward responsibly sourced and manufactured products.
Alta Andina crafts products using natural inputs and recycled materials within a local Andean supply chain driven by our commitment to conserve the environment, traditions, and heritage of the Andean region.
Alta Andina was founded with the purpose of conservation in Ecuador and the greater Andean region. We sell high-quality products manufactured from all natural and recycled materials, all 100% sourced and crafted in the Andes. By selling products and generating a revenue stream, we can focus on the true mission of Alta Andina, which is access to, and conservation of the Andes.
David was born and raised in the Bay Area and ventured further north to the University of Oregon where he studied Planning, Public Policy and Management. A few years later he found himself in Denver, CO where he was a Senior Energy Consultant with SolarCity. As you’ll read more about David’s passions here’s a brief preview to wet your appetite, “My entire career has been about doing what is in my power as an individual to fight climate change and conserve natural spaces.” We need more people like David and it’s truly an honor to share more about him and his work.
David (and Cori) were both instrumental in helping me realize my full potential as a professional coach and they have remained constant sources of support to me, both personally and professionally. Cleary I could go on and on about David and how awesome he and his work is but go ahead and read the interview below, I know you’ll enjoy getting to know!
1. Why do you do what you do? Aka how do your values align with your work on a day to day basis?
Alta Andina is all about conservation of, and access to, natural spaces in the Andean region. My entire career has been about doing what is in my power as an individual to fight climate change and conserve natural spaces. Although my day to day work with Alta Andina is focused on sales, marketing and a bit of everything, our sales at Alta Andina are a vehicle for the company to generate enough income to realize and expand our conservation efforts. As a for profit company, we have the flexibility to be aggressive as a sales organization, but then turn around and use that money to create the change we want to see in the world. I grew up exploring nature with my family. My dad used to take me to local hiking spots, rivers, state and national parks, camping trips and eventually harder hiking and skiing. I have always been happiest, calmest and my truest self outside, on a mountain. I want to raise my kids the same way, and pass down the same values I learned from my family about getting outside, and the physical and mental health that come from a lifestyle that includes fresh air and exercise. In order to be able to pass down those values to my eventual children, I first have to work to conserve the remaining natural beauty we have in the world.
2. Tell us a bit about your journey that has helped you get to where you're at today?
I started my career as a community organizer and door to door fundraiser, for CALPIRG at University of California Santa Cruz, where our team’s biggest success was helping to ban plastic bags in the city of Santa Cruz. I then joined SolarCity (now Tesla Energy) where in just under 5 years I went from entry level, to outside sales, to mentor and senior salesperson. As a salesperson, I sold over 270 installed residential solar systems and helped dozens of new staff learn the ropes. I got to a place in my career where I felt stuck, complacent and unsatisfied and started working with Alyce as my personal and career coach. Alyce helped me strip away distractions and listen to myself. I was lucky enough to have a partner who was willing to risk giving up our lifestyle and the comforts we had grown accustomed to, to travel, learn about ourselves, grow, and ultimately move to Ecuador where we’ve been for 2 years.
3. How has networking, both personally and professionally helped your business and/or career?
Before I worked with Alyce, I would hear the word networking and cringe. My experience with networking had been BNI groups and very sales oriented events where people shook your hand while they slipped you a business card. I had to redefine networking for myself to come to terms with the fact that I was not only good at it, but enjoyed it. Networking for me is less about the number of contacts, but the follow through and genuine relationship building with those contacts. Thinking of a networking event as a great opportunity to meet 1-2 incredible people and the work to strengthen those relationships, instead of getting as many contacts as possible, helped me get over my networking fears. For me, personal and business networking are really one in the same. Social events are some of the most comfortable and authentic networking that happen for me personally. Instead of thinking that networking only happens at defined events, I’ve also reshaped my thinking to enjoy the type of organic networking that happens at social events.
4. If you had to pick one networking tip, tool or strategy that's increased your confidence what would you say it is? (ie: utilizing body language, perfecting your elevator pitch, having a strong mental game, knowing the 'right people', following up etc.)
In starting a business I learned how much value networking creates. Small personal connections from my past come up frequently, and I have turned some of those personal relationships into business and personal relationships by having those folks do work with Alta Andina. I had to get through about a year of daily meditation to realize my ultimate tip to networking, which was to always focus on what I could provide in the relationship, not what I needed. That may sound simple or cliche, but at least for me it really took a change in perspective on how I carried myself as an individual. I learned to lead with my heart open, and in a place of wanting to listen more than I talked. My listening was focused on seeing how I could help, instead of listening for what that person could provide to me. This change really complimented my personality, as I’ve always been one who gets personal fulfillment through helping others, so in a way this was still ultimately driven by satisfying my needs. This was really a mental shift for me of just getting to a place of personal calm and acceptance of my needs, and then seeing networking as a way to help others, and ultimately help myself through the process. Today, I still meditate before a big social event or business event, as it helps me refocus my energy and get into a genuinely open mood. It is amazing how quickly small things in a day completely change your head space, and thus your ability to be receptive to the world.
5. What specific strategies or tactics do you utilize to maintain your various networks?
I love old school tactics. For me, a handwritten card will stick in someone's mind potentially forever, whereas any form of electronic communication can be instantly forgettable. If I have a great business lunch, or receive a gift, I write that person a handwritten note. I did this with my clients at SolarCity and found great success. Furthermore, I like to organize my thoughts by writing them down. If I have something important, or potentially difficult to communicate, I always organize my thoughts by writing them down first. Delivering someone a clearly organized note, explaining how I feel always yields positive results for me. My tip if you have an especially difficult situation whether it be with your partner, a friend, or a business contact, is to write the letter in the heat of the moment, and then edit it in the morning. You’ll be surprised how many sentences you remove or edit to be constructive instead of negative.
6. What challenges or obstacles have you faced along the way and how have you overcome them?
I think most people will relate to this, but my biggest challenge to overcome was myself, and still is. I’ve dealt with clinical depression since I was 13. Only recently have I really learned the tools to deal with that in a healthy way, through a healthy diet, regular exercise and daily meditation. Anyone with depression will know how difficult it is to overcome negative self-talk, and the spiraling negative thoughts that lead to anxiety, or vice-versa, the anxious spiraling thoughts that lead to depression. The connection between depression and anxiety is especially difficult in the professional world. It is hard to present one's best self or interact with others in a professional setting when you are overcoming anxious and depressive thoughts. For me, all of this was only highlighted and brought to the forefront starting a business. Small learning experiences can easily become ‘I’m not good enough and I’m going to fail’ if you can’t redirect those thoughts and spin them positively in your own mind. Feeding myself positive mental messages through meditation helps me balance out that equation.
7. What are your 'secrets' to success?
I preach authenticity. It is a simple, but hard to implement concept that applies to all areas of my life. I have worked hard to live an authentic life, and I believe that is also helping me a happy and fulfilled life. Authenticity applies to the smallest everyday situations, take networking for example, and applies to the biggest “why?” questions we ask ourselves. Using the networking example, being authentic might mean breaking the ice with someone by talking about how much you hate networking events like the one you’re both in, you might be surprised by what saying something authentic instead of something canned may lead to. Listening to your authentic responses about why you aren’t happy, or why you feel a certain way may be scary, but if you turn to face the music and do something about it, that always leads to fulfillment and happiness, no matter how difficult the path.
8. Where can people find you online or in networking situations to meet you in person?
I’m online through the normal channels, LinkedIn or Facebook. Always open to connect if you send me a message. Right now I live in Ecuador, but will be back in the US in Portland late spring 2019. I’ll be looking to get into some regular weekly groups and set up some networking events of my own. I’ll be very eager to continue practicing my Spanish when I’m back stateside, the networking I want to set up will largely be based around practicing Spanish.
9. Anything else you’d like people to know about you, your philosophy on networking or about your business in general?
My business Alta Andina crafts products from natural and recycled materials, and we source and manufacture everything in the Andean region. We launched our first round of natural leather products on Amazon in November 2018, and our second round of products is planned for February 2019. By supporting Alta Andina, you are buying a product that was sourced and built locally, supporting the economies of South America, and helping us fulfill our ultimate mission of conservation in the Andean region. You can read details about our supply chain philosophy, our providers, the materials we use, and why we started Alta Andina on our website (www.altaandina.com) where you can also buy our full assortment of products. Alta Andina is on Amazon as well, (Amazon Alta Andina) and you can follow Alta Andina on Facebook and Instagram.
I can’t stress enough how important working with Alyce was in making changes in my life. Overcoming personal obstacles is difficult, and having someone help with that initial push was the most important step I took in the whole process. Basically I admitted I needed help and accepted that vulnerability as a potential positive. To start, I was not an easy client for Alyce and I was fairly closed off and sometimes dismissive of a certain activity. After a short time of working together, Alyce helped me build the tools I needed to then go through the next steps of growth independently.
Thank you David for your sharing your wisdom with us and for dedicating your life to making our world a better place!