Top 10 Ways to Spot People from Los Angeles on Santa Barbara Trails

On average, you can find me on Santa Barbara’s trails 5 times a week. I have hiked, biked, barefooted, jumping stilted, run , unicycled and of course, yarnbombed them. They offer a wide array of styles and difficulty, including some fantastic spots for bouldering and rock climbing. Best of all, the trailheads are literally in our backyards, making it easy for anyone to get out there. Suffice it to say, I love being out and about in our mountains.

While being on our trails offers the opportunity for solitude, occasionally you’ll pass another hiker or two, and odds are, they will be respectful and polite. That’s why I often say, “The further you get from civilization, the more civil people become.”

However, there are two times a year when things change. Moments when our neighbors who reside roughly 99 miles to the South invade en masse. The week on either side of New Years Day and when the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is in full swing. How can I tell when the Angeleño have arrived? Here is a list of my top 10 ways to spot people from Los Angeles on the trails of Santa Barbara.

1 Black Clothing

The dead giveaway is black jeans, but they can also be black leggings with matching black lycra jacket. Must be matching.

2 Trucker Hats

I imagine it’s because they want to fit in among their redneck brethren, you know, the ones who chose to live way out here in the sticks.

3 Fancy Sunglasses

Typically, they are large frame aviators with gold rims.

4 Starbucks Coffee

They must think we have trash cans in the wilderness, but we don’t. Which leads to #5.

5 Coffee Cups Neatly Placed

Since we don’t have trash cans on the trails, they have to either carry that cup the entire way, including when it becomes more fatiguing than they had anticipated or place it on a boulder with the intention of picking it up on the way down. Unfortunately, so many cups wind up being neatly placed, it becomes impossible to discern one from another. Rather than risk picking up the germs of another Starbuck-drinking hiker, they leave it, figuring the caretaker will pick it up eventually.

6 Off-Road Ready Luxury Vehicles

You know they are thinking, “We’re going out into the wilderness. It’s a good thing we got the rack mounted fog lights for the Defender.” Like I said though, our trailheads are in residential neighborhoods. You could skateboard to them. But if you’ve got it, use it, right? So they use that off-road, four-wheel drive Cayenne to park on the curb. Why? Well, the trails are so busy this time off year, they’d have to park up to 10 car lengths away. Granted, they have driven to a location from which they will be walking for at least an hour, but why add another 30 seconds if you don’t have to?

7 They Travel in Packs

Rarely, will you see an Angeleño hiking alone, or even in pairs. Instead, they are more often sighted in groups of 6 or more, with the ladies in one group and the men in another.

8 Men Lagging Behind

This isn’t the stereotypical manly group, beating their chests along the way. The men in these packs typically dress the same, go at the same pace and talk about the same subjects as the ladies ahead of them.You won’t hear them discussing the fauna or even noticing the beautiful views, but you will hear discussions about nannies, neighbors, celebrities and new acquisitions. (If they’ve brought kids, they will be well ahead.)

9 Beautifully Coifed

This goes for both the men and the women. It’s not red-carpet type coifing, though. It is the perfectly styled, hair up, hat pinned, makeup understated, yet glamorous look you would expect of a socialite.

10 Instant Experts

If, on your way up, you pass someone on their way down who offers unsolicited advice or warnings about the trail ahead, chances are they are Angeleño.

I have provided this list, not as a criticism or to make our Southern neighbors feel unwelcome, but rather as a simple observation. They are a fascinating species.

Rise of the Creatives

When something becomes more efficient, it means it requires less energy. For example, before the spear was invented, humans needed to hunt in packs, chasing down their prey until it collapsed from exhaustion. With the spear, a hunt didn’t require as many people. That freed up much of the pack to pursue other interests.

Technology does that. 10,000 years ago animals were domesticated for farming, and plants were harvested, so we no longer had to migrate as the seasons and animals dictated. Hunters and gatherers suddenly didn’t have a purpose, so they pursued new interests and opportunities. Freed from the demands of daily survival, there was time to develop relationships, make pottery and forge with fire.

Until the late 1800’s, America was an agrarian society, with the overwhelming majority working on farms. With the industrial revolution, agriculture became infinitely more efficient, once again displacing huge numbers of workers. They were free to pursue other interests and opportunities, which led to the rise of the American factories. We became a manufacturing society.

Due to the more rapid pace of technological innovation, within 50 years, the majority of humans were displaced from manufacturing and were free to pursue new interests and opportunities. We didn’t need as many workers, so kids left the workforce and went to school longer. America became a services economy.

Now, technology is making service industries more efficient, once again displacing workers and requiring fewer people to produce the same amount. So, kids are staying in school even longer and people are once again free to pursue new interests and opportunities.

It’s hard to imagine how a gatherer felt when she was replaced by a farm animal or a cotton picker by the cotton gin, but I would imagine it felt just as awful as when a factory worker was replaced by a robot or a bookkeeper by QuickBooks. They must have felt just as uncertain about the future and their place in it. During these transition periods, people feel worthless and desperate. We grieve for the future.

The world goes on though. During these transitional phases, society has to deal with the rebalancing of how skills are valued and so it can be quite painful for those who are competing with technology, for it can typically do the job faster, better and cheaper. So what comes after a service economy? I believe it is a creative one.

Hence, the Rise of the Creatives title to this article and my New Year’s Resolution for 2015. So, what’s involved?

My goal for this year is to stop apologizing for being creative, to see the value in what I create and be okay with monetizing it, just like anyone else who delivers something of real value. I have worked in an industry where some people have made billions while proudly proclaiming, “I’ve never had an original thought in my life.” Yet, those same people can look at an artist’s work and say, “My kid could have painted that.”

I believe it is possible to stay true to your vision, to maintain pure, beautiful goals while making money, yes, even a lot of money. This year will be about experimenting with technology, social media, and traditional methods with the goal of learning how creatives can extract the value of their contribution to society. Why should a fiber artist be ashamed to make millions, but someone who hasn’t contributed an original thought in his life isn’t? Why should a painter or a writer work for free, while the new CEO of a company that has existed for 100 years doesn’t? When you bring joy and happiness to the masses, there is real value in it and it isn’t diminished when you get paid for it, any more than Instagram became less useful when it’s founders were paid billions for it.

Money is currency that can allow you the freedom to go bigger and bolder, to pursue your most creative visions. Why should we have to beg each time we want to try something new? Why grants rather not profits? Why should we have to depend on the whims of a few gatekeepers of cash every time we have a new idea? If there is value in beauty and smiles, and we can deliver it, why should we be ashamed to benefit from it?

This year is about being proud to be one of the creatives. It is about building not just the current project, but the foundation upon which future projects can be developed, without having to ask the permission of a non-creative each time. It is about understanding that the only way to not sellout, is to profit from our work. With money comes freedom. Freedom to push the boundaries of our imagination.

So this year is about learning how to be creative, how to monetize that creativity, and to help others do the same. Along the way, I’m sure I will meet others who agree with me and many more who will revile it. I will learn lessons and make lots of mistakes. I will be cheered and criticized. As I type, I’m realizing it will actually be no different than what I’ve dealt with as a yarnbomber in the wild.

I hope you will follow along, get involved, learn from my mistakes and successes and then share it with others. Change is coming. Power to the creatives!

Realizing Our True Potential

2001 is the year in which the iPod changed my life. At the time, I lived in South Kensington, London and worked in Mayfair, making my commute a 45 minute walk through Hyde Park during which I would listen to music. 1.5 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year added up to 23,400 minutes when I was awake, alert, and wasting time.

I hadn’t truly appreciated this obvious fact until one night a friend confided to me that he wished he could play the guitar. I know people make this kind of statement all the time, but for some reason, this time it stuck in my head, replaying over and over again. By the end of the night, his comment had grown into irritation.

Wishing should be reserved for things beyond your control, like winning the lottery or your kid getting into the college of their choice. Learning how to play the guitar, on the other hand, can be accomplished with absolute certainly. All you have to do is put in the time. In other words, you either want it and accomplish it, or you don’t. If I was being totally honest with myself, though, it wasn’t my friend’s wish that had really irritated me, it was all of my own wishes that remained unfulfilled.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, I could redirect that irritation, immediately. I purchased all 33 cd’s in Series 1 of the Pimsleur German Language program, ripped and downloaded them to my iPod. When I had listened to each of them at least three times, I ordered the next 33, and the next. After 10 months, I had completed the entire program. I’d never seen a written word of German nor spoken it to anyone, except myself when repeating after the recording (yes, I attracted my share of funny looks), but was hungry for more. I opted for an intensive course in Berlin.

16 days where you are completely immersed in the language. You live with a German family and attend classes all day long where only German is spoken.  By the end of the course, Berliners on the streets were responding to my questions in German and I was thinking auf Deutsch rather than translating everything in my head to English, and back.

Just 10 months after making the decision to stop wishing and start achieving, I was back in Berlin with my son, speaking to locals in their language. He was astonished, but what was truly amazing is that there was nothing amazing about it. I had made the simple decision to live my life deliberately, and nothing would ever be the same again.
I began selecting other items from my “wish” list, and ticking them off one by one. I raced cars, learned aerobatic flying, snowboarding, and ice waterfall climbing, to name just a few. Then I took it to the next level, formalizing the process through New Year’s resolutions.

In 2007, the year I moved to Santa Barbara, although I’d never been on a hike in my life, I publicly pronounced my goal to hike every trail in our mountains. I bought a map, marked them off one by one until I’d done them all at least once, and even kept a log of each hike on a website for all to see. Of course, the website didn’t get many hits, but the possibility that someone might read it kept me motivated to keep going.

2009 was the year of Biblio-Inspiration, in which I would attempt to read 50 books. Again, I kept a blog with reviews and excerpts I found interesting from all 50, and again, very few people took notice.

For 2012, I set 12 learning resolutions and 12 giving resolutions, chronicling my progress on the website, Learning resolutions were defined as “quirky, seemingly difficult things that most people marvel at, yet could be accomplished if you just make an effort and have the discipline and tenacity to stick with it.” The Giving Resolutions were defined as “12 charitable things that don’t involve writing a check.”


Sugar, a pitbull we fostered, had been scheduled to be euthanized 8 hours later.

On the charitable side, among other things, I built homes in Arizona for those in need, fostered a pitbull set to be put down 12 hours later, and registered to be a marrow donor. Not all of my attempts to give were received quite so well, though. My blood was rejected because I had lived in the UK, my sperm because of my age and my hair because it is grey. So much for feeling good about myself.

Some of the things I learned that year were, how to unicycle, play the drums, ballroom dance, and on my wife’s suggestion, knit. Initially, the plan was to knit a scarf, but to be honest, I wasn’t very inspired. Since the 2007 resolution to hike every trail, I have continued hiking 3 or 4 times a week, logging over 1,000 miles a year in the mountains. One day, while sitting under a 40 foot tall eucalyptus tree, 2.6 miles up the Cold Spring Trail, it hit me. Inspired by my childhood in South Florida, when Christo wrapped 11 islands in Biscayne Bay with pink fiber, I decided I would attempt to wrap that tree in knitted yarn. It turned out, the 2nd Annual International Yarnbombing Day was just 82 days from that moment, so I hadn’t any time to spare.


40 foot tall eucalyptus tree, 2.6 miles up the Cold Spring Trail.

If you’re interested, you can read the details of this endeavor and the rest of the resolutions from that year at For brevity’s sake, suffice it to say, I accomplished my goal by knitting often and recruiting help through social media. In the end, I had 400 square feet of knitted pieces which I donated to WarmUp America, a charity that converts it into scarves and blankets for those in need.

When I shipped off that yarn, I thought I was done with it forever, but a funny thing happened, something I hadn’t anticipated. Suddenly, images of my tree started popping up all over the internet. Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and business websites had not just pictures of the yarnbomb, but stories about how it made people feel to have seen it in person.

A non-profit in South Africa tracked me down, asking if I would help them do something similar in order to raise money and awareness. Another, in Stratford-on-Avon, England, included images of my work and noted me as the inspiration for their own project, in a presentation they were using to raise funds. Then a woman who had contributed a piece to my project was asking for help with her own yarnbomb installation. She needed contributions to be crocheted, though. So, I watched a video on YouTube, crocheted 27 pieces and shipped them off to her. I was hooked.

Over the next few months, I covered a massive boulder atop the Saddlerock Trail, weaved a giant spiderweb at Sasquatch Cave and created a huge Starfish which I hung 40 feet above the pools at Seven Falls. In May 2014, I wrapped 18 large boulders at Lizard’s Mouth, with knitted and crocheted yarn sent to me by 388 fiber artists in 36 countries and all 50 states. (Details at

The feedback has been phenomenal and with each installation, interest in my hobby has grown. The National Forest Service was quoted in the newspapers as saying the Lizard’s Mouth installation was “one of the most positive things to happen in the forests in a long time.” There have been multi-page and cover stories in all the regional newspapers, television news and even ArtNews Magazine, the oldest and most widely read art publication in the world did a full page story on it all last month. Sullivan  Goss, one of the most prestigious galleries in America now represents my work and is funding the next installation. Red Heart Yarn, is sponsoring my attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the largest granny square. Perhaps most incredible of all, I have 25,000+ followers on social media and more than 15,000 unique visitors a month to my website, All of which has been accomplished without the assistance of a public relations firm or much of an effort on my part.

In addition, I have had the privilege of speaking at corporate events and colleges, not so much about the artwork, but on the process of pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones, to realize our true potential. I’m often asked how it is that one person can occupy two seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum, investment management and large scale installation art in the wilderness. What is it that connects these two pursuits? The answer lies in the process. I believe that to be successful in global macro investing and to produce memorable, unique artwork requires an ability, and willingness, to see things differently, the tenacity to press on when others tire of asking “Why?” and “Why not?”, and the courage to venture out beyond where the majority congregates.