Marketing & Communications Director - Surfrider Foundation
Director of Marketing & Communications
group Y: How long have you been with the Surfrider Foundation and tell us about your role there?
Matt: I’ve been with Surfrider Foundation for seven years now. I joined the organization back in 2002. I’m the Director of Marketing & Communications, so obviously my role is to oversee all of the organization’s marketing and communications efforts.
How long have you been involved in environmental activism?
I was a Surfrider member for a few years prior to my coming to work for them, however my involvement at that point was pretty much limited to simply to tossing a few dollars to the cause. Don’t get me wrong, donations are the life’s blood of any non-profit organization. But it wasn’t until I started getting tangibly involved in campaigns that I discovered how satisfying it was; the empowerment you feel from actually rolling up your sleeves and fighting on the front lines. To be able to look back on a campaign like Save Trestles and know that you had a part in actually making a difference; it’s incredible.
Can you tell us about some new initiatives for the years to come?
Right now we’re ramping down our Save Trestles campaign, which we won this past December, and gearing up to launch a nationwide campaign to try and fight the government’s efforts to expand offshore drilling. This is lining up to be the biggest battle in our organization’s history – and one that have a profound effect on the future of our beaches and coastlines – so I’m excited about that. Surfrider will also be continuing on with our successful Rise Above Plastics campaign, which seeks to reduce the amount of plastic ending up in our ocean environments.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up Palos Verdes, California.
Where did your career start out and how did you get involved in marketing?
It’s been a bit of serendipity. I started out in action sports almost 25 years ago working for skateboard mail order giant CCS. This was back when the company was just getting off the ground; we were in this tiny warehouse the size of an apartment. It was amazing to see them years later and see how big they would become. After that, I worked for a few years outside the industry…including stints as a high school teacher and believe it or not, in aerospace. Then a few years later I ended up in Mammoth, where I started out working in ski school before moving inside and working for the Sales Department as a coordinator. Seven years later I had worked my up to Director of Sales, and was eager to stretch my legs a little bit - so I went out to Telluride to head up their Sales & Marketing Department. I was there for a year, when I got a call from the Surfrider Foundation asking if I would be interested in building out a Marketing Department for them. I jumped at the chance and have been here ever since.
Where did you go to college and what did you study?
I went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and majored in English
What are you listening to most on your ipod/car/at your desk right now?
It changes daily. Right now I’m pretty addicted to Pandora.com, which I’ve found is great way to discover new music. I can listen to that for hours on end.
What is the best advice you’ve ever heard?
Talk less, listen more.
What is the worst advice you’ve ever heard?
I don’t know if I’ve ever really received any bad advice – or if I did, I certainly didn’t take it.
If you could plan a group Y event, and there were absolutely no limitations–not money, location, activities, speakers, etc.–what would you do?
Well, if money or geography were truly not a factor, I think it would be interesting for a bunch of us to go somewhere in Africa and dig a well or build a school house for one of the local villages. I think the opportunity to go and experience firsthand a culture that is about as opposite from our little sphere of reality as you can get…
If you could pack a bag and get on a plane right now, where would you go?
Hopefully somewhere I’ve never been before. I dig going to new places.
What was the biggest life lesson you learned the hard way?
When it comes to the people that matter the most to you, don’t hold back. Give all that you can of yourself without expecting anything in return.
Finish this sentence, if I could do it all over again I would____.
Take more pictures… I honestly don’t have many regrets. I love the adventure that my life has been. I just wish that I remembered more of it.
What was one of the best things that ever happened to you?
That’s a no brainer – moving to Mammoth. At the time I was working this gig at Allied Signal Aerospace and making pretty good money – especially for back then. But something didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like I was on the path I was supposed to be on. So I quit my job, packed up my truck and moved to Mammoth (to teach kids how to ski for $7 and hour). My folks were soooo disappointed. But ultimately that move is what put my on the path I’m on now. Moral of the story: do what you love and give it everything you’ve got. Everything else will follow.
Tell me about your daily routine–what would be a typical work day for you?
I don’t know if I have a daily routine per se. We try to keep Surfrider Foundation pretty lean from a staffing standpoint, so everyone ends up wearing a lot of hats. It’s challenging at times, but every day is a new adventure.
Tell me something random about yourself?
I’m an avid PEZ collector.
Name a guilty pleasure?
Why are you interested in action sports?
Because it’s always reinventing itself; its ephemeral. There’s no rules in skating or surfing or snowboarding and I like that.
That being said, from a business standpoint these are interesting times. I think everyone is aware of the commodification that is taking place within action sports. On one hand, this benefits our community in that it allows both athletes and those of us in the industry to actually make a living doing something we’re passionate about. On the other hand, every new expectation we place on ourselves moves us further away from the ideals on which these sports and lifestyle were built upon. It will be interesting to see what the action sports landscape looks like in another 20 years.
Do you have a routine that you are superstitious about?
I actually don’t like to fly all that much, so whenever I board a plane I always reach out and touch the outside of aircraft – for luck. Even worse - I’m superstitious that by just telling you that, I’ve jinxed myself and will need to find a new ritual.
Do you rock out while driving in your car? If so, what song gets you pumped?
Are you kidding? - I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t rock out in their car or shower! I like to rock out to “Neon Knights” off Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell album.