The Blog

BLOG: Meet Emily

Meet Emily Schmutz. She’s a photographer, singer, hiker, yogi and ELEVATE member. Emily is also the owner of two businesses – Keeping Composure Photography + Summit Mountain Weddings. Learn why yoga and focus have been vital to Emily’s success at work and in life.

What do you do?

www.RenditionStudios.com, Laurie@RenditionStudios.com, 720.560.1611

I am a lady boss of two separate (+ related) businesses in Summit County; I am a photographer and I also curate small, intimate weddings + destination elopements. I share a beautiful studio at the base of Copper Mountain with my boyfriend, Pepper the pup and Shai kitty. We’re a pretty tight-knit group! When I’m not at my desk or photographing, I like to sing with the Summit Choral Society, hike with the boy + pup, be on the lake any chance I get, explore new places in + near Summit and yoga. Lots of yoga.

What’s your goal for this year?

My biggest goal for the coming year is to really hone in on the branding of my newer elopement planning business and narrow the focus of the business.

Why did you move to Summit County?

I have been here for seven years this June, and love it more every day! I moved here from St. Louis, MO for a change of scenery and lifestyle, and the general awe I find for the mountains that now surround me every day. (I decided to move here just two days after visiting, and held true to it!)

What motivates you?

Working for myself is a huge motivator. Everything I do (in work and out of work) affects my businesses and my lifestyle. It has helped me become much more aware of where I spend my energy.

What’s your biggest challenge?

I face two big challenges every day: 1) Prioritizing and managing my time to be the most efficient I can be is tough. Time is the most valuable thing we have, and every day I challenge myself to focus and work hard so that I can be more present outside of work. 2) Learning not to compare myself and my businesses to anybody else. It’s so much harder than it seems, and I have to remind myself daily that my path is my own and nobody else’s.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Carnefix Photography http://carnefix.photography/

My little mountain family. I want to spend as much time with my fur babies and my partner-in-crime/best friend every single day. Oh, and the mountains and ever-changing weather and light is also a huge plus!

What’s your WHY in work and life?

Creating + sharing joy. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing my clients just had the most amazing hour or two after starting off shy and timid in front of the camera. Trying new things + leaving the comfort zone – that’s what it’s all about!

How do you manage setbacks and challenges?

Yoga! Haha – really, though. Coming to my mat grounds me and clears away all of the “noise” surrounding a challenging obstacle. My focus and motivation after yoga is unparalleled.

Why work at ELEVATE or any coworking space? 

The social aspect of working in a coworking space is really appealing. My home office is within our studio, and as much as I enjoy working there, sometimes it gets a little small. Getting out of my normal workspace helps me focus, too.

What’s your secret sauce or superhero power or secret weapon?

It’s a secret… 😉 But if I must share something, it would be finding time for myself, whether that means yoga, a rare pedicure or a solo road trip. Me time + quiet time is my secret weapon.

What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs?

Don’t compare yourself to others in your field, but watch what works and what doesn’t. Do your best every day, and realize that every day your best might not be the same.

Favorite outdoor spot?

In the middle of Lake Dillon on a kayak or scull. You see a whole new Summit County from Lake Dillon!

What are your favorite podcasts, quotes or books?

Jess Lively’s podcasts are awesome! Favorite book: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.

 

Photo credit for featured photo:  Carnefix Photography http://carnefix.photography/

BLOG: Meet Dan

Dan Russell is a high-powered, ambitious visionary who founded Kiss Ventures, a digital marketing agency focused on product launches. He recently moved to Summit County to snowboard, mountain bike and grow his company.

Find out more about Dan, why he joined ELEVATE Breck and his passion for using technology to improve humanity.

What do you do (for work, life and play)?

I run the vision and high-level ops for my business and love to spend time outdoors. I’ve taken up snowboarding this season (been a skier my whole life but already love boarding more 🙂 and mountain biking in the warmer months.

What’s your vision/goal for the next year?

Double revenue each quarter. We crossed the 6-figure mark in 2016 so we’re ramping up sales and team-growing initiatives. The whole company is virtual so I’m also really focused on building a strong team culture.

Why did you move to Summit? How long have you been here?

Loved the area and the community. Been here for about 3 months

What motivates you?

Using technology to improve humanity. I have an exponential technology-focused philanthropic community that I manage on Facebook that was borne out of a think tank I ran in NYC in partnership with the Xprize foundation. All of the operations of my company are aimed at sending a portion of our financial profits to that community

What’s your biggest challenge?

Systematically measuring and improving my performance as a leader

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

So many things. Coffee, for one. More philosophically, the challenge of growing a team and scaling the business

What’s your “WHY” in life or for work?

I’m on this earth to leverage emerging technology to improve humanity. That means starting and scaling multiple technology businesses that have humanitarianism built into their operational DNA

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

Getting out of my own head through meditation and sports, then returning with a fresh set of eyes and ab abundance mindset

Why work at a coworking space?

Friends!

What’s your secret sauce or superhero power or secret weapon?

I’m a visionary so I naturally gravitate to conversations (or unconsciously push conversations toward) peoples’ life purpose and how they’re achieving it. I have a “mechanical” mindset as well, so I’m great at putting processes/plans behind large and ridiculous visions.

 

 

 

 

 

BLOG: Meet Chris

Meet Chris. He’s a snowboarder, full stack developer, skateboarder, sky diver and ELEVATE member. We sat down to talk to Chris about his work, his goals and his insights for other mountain town folks who are trying to balance work with riding and getting outdoors.

What do you do for work, life and play?

Full Stack developer and snowboarder.

What’s your vision or goal for the next year?

Mastering remote work while exploring with new mountain adventure friends.

Why did you move to Summit? How long have you been here?

I grew up skiing copper & Frisco was always my mountain home base.

What motivates you?

Responsibly pushing mental & physical limits.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Staying social & actually completing my side projects!

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

A finely tuned plan & a hot cup of coffee.

What’s your “WHY” in life or for work?

Great work invests back into yourself, with compounding interest.

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

There is no wrong decision, just the next decision.

Why work at a coworking space?

To avoid ‘sweatpants productivity’ levels.

What’s your secret sauce or superhero power or secret weapon?

I love to fly 🙂

What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs or remote workers or innovators?

Always stick to an adaptable plan.

Favorite trail or outdoor/indoor spot to be?

The rocky Frisco hills overlooking Dillon.

 

Blog: Meet Candy

Meet Candy. She’s a non-profit consultant, triathlon athlete, entrepreneur, animal lover, and ELEVATE member who is always pushing herself to reach new heights.

We caught up with Candy and asked her some questions about what makes her happy, what makes her tick, and what goals she has for the upcoming New Year. Take a read here:

What do you do (for work, life and play)?

I work for myself and run my own fundraising/development consulting business. I work with local non-profits to help them with all their fundraising needs.  In life, I love to play!  I am an endurance athlete and like to focus on half ironman triathlon distances.  I love to ski, road bike, mountain bike, trail run and eventually want to learn how to rock climb and canyoneering.  I love to explore Summit County and neighboring Park County with my two dogs, Roo and Monroe. 

What’s your vision/goal for the next year? (BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

I am in the process of a new business venture with two very talented local ladies. We  are in the process of creating our website. It’s entitled Life with Altitude. We plan to launch in December so stay tuned for details.  In addition, my 2016 BHAG will be to compete in Escape from Alcatraz June 2017. It’s an Olympic distance triathlon (1.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike and 8 mile run). The swim takes place in the frigid cold waters of the San Francisco Bay where you jump off the back of a ferry boat.  The bike is an 18-mile hilly and very technical course through the streets of downtown San Francisco and the run is 8-miles along the shoreline of the bay climbing up the infamous beach ladder course!  Although it will be at sea-level, the course if not for the weak at heart.  It’s a bucket-list race for sure!

Why did you move to Summit? How long have you been here?

I moved to Summit in February 2013.  It’s going on four years. I moved from Philadelphia and it was the best decision of my life! I can’t imagine living, playing and working anywhere else.

What’s your motivation?

My motivation is continuing to step out of my comfort zone.  I love the challenge of conquering my fears or of the unknown.  Nothing is more exhilarating in feeding my soul.

What’s your biggest challenge?

I think LIFE is the biggest challenge.  Curveballs are constantly thrown and it can weigh you down but it’s how you look that those solutions to bounce back.  We only get one shot at this and I want to make the most of it.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Literally, my dogs.  Their sweet faces, unbridled energy and unconditional love is infectious.  They help me start my day with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. 

What’s your “WHY” in life or for work?

To help others.  It’s why I do what I do.  I want to help people succeed and organizations grow to help benefit the community at large.

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

With patience, kindness to myself, and counting on my emotional intelligence as a reminder that I am resilient.  I’ve experienced the sudden death of my father late in life, two divorces, living in a third world country with daily violence/crime and sexual abuse as a young child. Through all that I’ve still managed to move forward and never look back.  I try my best to learn from my past of course but I know once I set my mind to something, I realize I came come out stronger on the other end. That’s a powerful thing.

Why work at a coworking space?

I like the open work space, the positive energy, and the people I have met so far.  Working from home is hard and I’m a social person.  I find this is a good weekly balance to my work week. 

What’s your secret sauce or superhero power or secret weapon?

In grad school I was called “Candy the Connector”.  It doesn’t take me long to meet new people and I love the energy I get knowing I’m helping others connect in our community.

What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to try. 

Favorite trail or outdoor activity/spot to be?

Two spots:  I love to run or mountain bike the Horseshoe Gulch Trail and open water swim in North Pond in Silverthorne.  There is something special swimming outdoors and looking at the mountains.  It’s the best way to feel like your problems don’t exist and why I love Colorado so much.  Nature is the best medicine.

Anything else? (favorite podcast, book, quote)

My favorite poem is INVICTUS  by William Ernest Henley.  It was the same poem Nelson Mandela read daily in prison.  The last two lines guide me everyday and it’s now tattooed on my left wrist:

“I am the master of my fate:  I am the captain of my soul.”  Words to live by!

BLOG: Meet Jill

Jill Benbow is a runner, skier, biker, mom, community manager and a member of ELEVATE’s community of entrepreneurs, tech workers and badasses. When she’s not listening to podcasts or working for a Seattle-based tech company, you can find her out on the trails running, skiing or biking. She’s also downright hilarious and one of the masterminds behind ELEVATE’s Thirsty Thursdays (our member-only Thursday afternoon get-togethers).

What do you do (for work, life and play)?

 I’m a Senior Community Manager for RealSelf, a Seattle-based tech company.  When I’m not doing all things community I’m an outdoors enthusiast and enjoy getting into the woods as much as possible be it via ski, bike, or run.

What’s your vision/goal for the next year? (BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

I have a pretty full plate right now so my main focus is just getting through each day.

Why did you move to Summit? How long have you been here?

I moved here after graduating from CU Boulder 13+ years ago in an effort to never grow up.  It half worked.

What’s your motivation?

Usually being able to afford the next beach vacation. 

What’s your biggest challenge?

Time management 

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

My annoying alarm clock, mornings will never be my thing.

What’s your “WHY” in life or for work?

To do my part to make the world a better place, even if it is just through a kind comment or a simple gesture.  Never underestimate the power of simple kindness. 

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles? 

I spend some time thinking deeply about the issue, then come up with steps to move forward. 

Why work at a coworking space?

I’m more productive at Elevate versus working from home.  When you work from home you have laundry and dishes (and a fully stocked kitchen).  It is also harder to totally disconnect from work when you are done, blurring the work/life balance.  Having a physically separate place to work has helped my work/life balance tremendously.  The social aspect is something really valuable, it is great group of people to share a workspace with.  Working at a coffee shop does not offer the same benefits.

What’s your secret sauce or superhero power or secret weapon?

I can solve any problem with a trail run.  The answers just show up and everything makes sense.

What’s your advice to other tech workers/remote workers?

Try coworking.  Seriously.  

Favorite trail or outdoor activity/spot to be?

I’m just happy to be in the woods! 

Anything else? (favorite podcast, book, quote)

Podcasts – Being Boss and My Favorite Murder

Books – Game of Thrones (patiently waiting for the next one!)

BLOG: Meet Kimberly

Meet Kimberly Swank. She’s a snowboarder, CPA, IRONMAN finisher, entrepreneur and ELEVATE member. To sum it up, she’s a numbers guru with a lot of letters following her name. Kimberly Headshot LinkedinCheck it out: Kimberly Swank, CPA, MBA, MSA. She’s also the founder of Swank Accounting, LLC, which all adds up to a financial whiz. And a financial win for her clients.

We sat down with Kimberly to find out more about her and how the startup world relates to competing in an IRONMAN or snowboarding at Breck.

What do you do (for work, life and play)?

Work and play are part of my business and life. If you’re a snowboarder or skier, we’ll most likely be conducting a business meeting or two on the slopes in the winter. (let me know if you want to schedule a “meeting” this winter)

Enjoying life while working is the Swank Accounting business model. Our motto is “Finance is Fun!”

I’m the proud Managing Principal/ Founder of Swank Accounting, LLC. As a full-service accounting firm, our customers are small businesses, high net worth investors and non-profit corporations. The services we provide are CFO Consulting, Accounting, Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation/ Strategy.  We’re based out of the new ELEVATE Breck location but we service all of Summit County, in addition to Eagle County, Boulder and Denver.

What’s your vision or goal for work this year?

Swank Accounting, LLC is more than a business to me. Each client is special with a different set of needs. I’m a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Masters in Business (MBA) and a Masters in Accounting (MSA) from Notre Dame coupled with 20 years of experience as a business owner and high-level corporate professional.

Our goal is to continue to grow in Summit County while providing a customized high level of service to our clients for their accounting and tax needs. Our knowledge and experience is what differentiates us from our competitors and enables us to provide a broad range of services from bookkeeping to accounting and from tax services to CFO level consulting.

Why did you move to Summit?

IMG_8052One word… Snowboarding. Winter snow sports are my passion. Living in Breckenridge, you quickly learn that your level of snowboarding will be ratcheted up a few notches. When I found myself joining my friends at 4:30am to hike or snowshoe up a mountain for fresh tracks, I soon realized the different level of athlete in the mountains. I was fascinated and loved coming home at 8:30am ready to work for the day while people were just heading onto the slopes.

At the end of last season, I bought an AT ski set-up and am determined to conquer the mountain … on skis, as well as my snowboard. Look out!

What’s your motivation?

My greatest motivation is “Living The Dream.” Several life events have made me realize that every day is special and should be lived. Breckenridge affords me this privilege. Where else can you go cycling for a 35-mile ride straight up a mountain in the morning and then go work for a full day?

What’s your biggest challenge?

An intense work ethic is my biggest challenge. It’s true. If I don’t watch myself, I’ll work the entire day and miss out on enjoying the mountains. I’m learning to work hard and play harder.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

My client relationships, friends and my dog get me out of bed every morning. I have great people in my life. Working on surrounding yourself with people that work as a team and genuinely care about you is so uplifting and important. It’s what makes my life spectacular.

Last year, I had a client that was struggling to direct their business and had started to lose their focus. We’d meet every two weeks and go snowboarding. On the lift rides, we’d strategize and discuss business ideas. Recently I met with him and I was amazed at the turnaround. They had clearly defined their goals and were working to improve their business and financial objectives.

What’s your “WHY” in life or for work?

ELEVATE recently had a speaker/Author, Clark Vandeventer of the book, unWorking. As he was communicating the idea for his book, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. He is explaining my life.” It gave me a great reassurance that I am on the right path of my life.

Since I was 18 years old, I have been seeking the purpose and meaning in my life, my “WHY”. It is not until the last year I finally feel like my why has been found: Living a life with great people, being involved in exciting and interesting events and savoring a life with purpose and direction that adds value to other people’s lives.

How do you ELEVATE your business and your life?

Recently, I made the decision to rent dedicated space at the Breckenridge ELEVATE location. This decision has been a significant shift in my mentality and business. Being a part of this community that Amy Kemp has so expertly compiled has led to my sense of belonging and significance in Summit County. The connections and people that you meet through ELEVATE are a cut above the rest. ELEVATE attracts business owners with integrity, motivation, and a sincerity and friendliness that makes the space feel like you are coming home. I look forward to “going to work” every day.

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

IMG_8501Setbacks and obstacles are just a delay to my end goal. I feel that every time something “goes wrong” this is a chance to learn what you are really made of and grow to be something better. Growth does not happen when everything goes well. Growth happens when obstacles are in your path.

Training for a half IRONMAN when you have never done a triathlon tends to bring many challenges you do not anticipate. It is at this point that you realize that strength of mind and purpose keeps you moving forward and attaining the goals you set. You may not get there the way you think. However, when you keep focused on your end goal, it is amazing how creative you can be.

I grew up on a beach in Florida and have been swimming since I was learning to walk. I thought for sure the swim would be the easiest part of the IRONMAN race. However, I was not prepared for the mental challenge of containing the race adrenaline coupled with not being able to see in the water, having to spot your course with minimal race markers, and getting boxed in a large group of swimmers. In a nutshell, I panicked. Finding that I could not put my face in the water without panicking I quickly realized I was going to backstroke the 1.2 miles. The guidance of one of the paddleboard officials keeping me on course allowed me to meet the cutoff time of the swim by 5 minutes. Perseverance and a sheer stubbornness to refuse to give up led to this success.

What’s your secret sauce or superhero power or secret weapon?

I can read minds.

What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs?

Never Give Up, Never Surrender. The life of an entrepreneur can have major ups and downs. Savor the ups and know the downs are short lived. It is also important to surround yourself with solid, positive, supportive friends and mentors. It can be lonely being an entrepreneur. Having people to bounce ideas off of and help with keeping you on track or even just to give you a pep talk can be the difference between succeeding or failing.

BLOG: Meet Jason

Meet Jason Rush. He’s a novelist, runner, snowboarder, software developer and ELEVATE member who organizes a monthly writer’s critique group.

We sat down with Jason to find out more about him. And asked him: what makes him tick, what are his goals, what’s his advice for other developers and to reveal his super power. Here are his answers.

What do you do (for work, life and play)? 

I’m a software developer at Panda Strike. We’re a consultancy, working in a number of different fields, with clients ranging from Disney to Weedmaps. I’m currently working on a couple of IoT (Internet of Things) projects, one for a company that does smartgrid energy software, where we have smart thermostats that let an electric utility reduce demand on the grid during peak times, and another for a company that makes street signs that a construction company or the Department of Transportation can change messages on remotely.

I’m also a writer with a focus on speculative fiction. I have one short story produced by the Pseudopod horror podcast and two other stories that I’m currently shopping around. Over the last three or so years, I’ve been focused on writing (and rewriting) a horror novel called Mad Maddie, which I hope to start pitching to agents and editors some time this summer.

Outside of that, I do all the regular stuff that brings people to Summit County: hiking, trailrunning, snowboarding, snowshoeing, anything to get me outside on a sunny day. 

What’s your vision/goal for this year?

My main goal for this year is to wrap up the editing phase on my novel and start the process of finding an agent. It’s a ridiculously long process, so I have no delusions of actually publishing this year, just getting the ball rolling.

Why did you move to Summit?

I spent about five years trying to convince my employer to let me telecommute, but they would never agree to it. Then one day, the company moved the office to downtown Denver, and my pleasant 10-minute commute turned into 45 minutes of stop-and-go traffic. As much as I liked my job and my team, I decided life was too short for a bad commute, and I started looking for a new job with the main goal of working remotely. After talking to an old friend at Panda Strike, I ended up landing a job there last summer, and with nothing tying me to a specific location, my wife and I decided to move where we’ve always wanted to live: the mountains. 

What gets you motivated (for work or for a life goal)?

I’m a pretty goal-oriented person, so I’ve found that I’m most likely to get things done if I focus on the short-term, and set concrete, attainable goals. With work, that means focusing on one feature at a time. With writing, one scene at a time. 

What’s your biggest challenge?

The flip-side of my answer to the “motivation” question: If I focus too much on the end-goal instead of short-term goals, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To feel like I’m not making any real progress. Some part of me has to always be focused on the end-goal to make sure the short-term goals are complimentary, so it involves a little self-deception: knowing what the final product is, but defining success in smaller buckets.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

 Working on cool stuff. Lately that’s meant working on IoT projects, which have a particularly cool real-world element that most software projects don’t. There is something very satisfying about running some code you just wrote and seeing the temperature change on a thermostat, or the message get updated on a traffic sign.

What’s your “WHY” in life or for work?

I love learning new things. With work, that might mean learning a new technology, figuring out a new algorithm, or solving some new problem. With writing, it might be figuring out some new character, how someone thinks, how they react to certain situations, etc. 

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles? 

I think the main reason I got into software development in the first place was because I loved problem-solving. Obstacles are just something to figure out, and it’s usually what makes my job fun. Pretty much every day, I run into something I have literally no idea how to do, and breaking that problem down, figuring it out, learning something new, that’s what keeps me going. 

What’s your secret sauce, secret weapon or superhero power?

I’m not sure this qualifies as a secret sauce, and is possibly even an anti-power, but I try really hard to balance work and life. I’ve worked 50+ hour jobs, and I’ve found that I generally get less done in a 10-hour work day than in an 8-hour work day due to fatigue and dissatisfaction. Again, this is starting to sound like an anti-power, but I think it’s pretty true for most people. And if I make sure I schedule time to write, to jog or hike, read a book, watch TV, and so on, then when I’m at work, I’m focused and I can plow through whatever is thrown my way. 

What’s your advice to other tech workers/remote workers?

Find a community. I think one of the biggest challenges in remote work is isolation. A coworking space like Elevate is a great way to recreate the good parts of working in an office (like water-cooler chats) without the bad parts (unnecessary meetings, etc).

But for a remote team, I think it’s also important to create community across the team. At Panda Strike, we try to get the team together in a Google Hangout once a week (“Panda Time!”) to chat about anything other than work. It lets us put faces to names and get to know each other a little more. It goes a long way toward making the group feel like a team.