Cassandra Altmann & Location from Another Angle: Stories to Stretch You

BetaHaus.Life Cassandra-02

Where are you from?

Welcome back to the 14th installment of the BetaHaus.Life Podcast! We are thrilled to have Cassandra Altmann in the studio today. Cassandra was the very first person we met when we moved to San Diego. She and her mom are both from here, and as we’ve found out, it’s not unusual to find that many people you meet here are transplants from somewhere else in the world. 
But we wanted you guys to hear from Cassandra today because she has an ownership and a viewpoint on San Diego that has birthed a passion for the city in her. As a Real Estate Agent, she has a vested interest in seeing the city do well, and she loves watching people come to love the city the way she does. San Diego is cool for a lot of reasons, because it’s such a unique place. She says it’s a city that wants to be bigger than it is, more like a San Francisco with its cultural worldliness more-so than a sprawling Los Angeles model.
Where San Francisco is an adult in this respect, Cassandra says that San Diego is more like a teenager. San Diego is young, and she’s still trying to figure out who she is right now, and accepting who she is, too. San Diego is a beach town where you can also drive a short distance and go snow skiing. We’re also a border town, so we have some identity issues because there is so much to do in a relatively small space. 
 
When you’re setting up your business, no matter where you are, you need to have a grip on the identity of the community that you’re serving, selling to or trying to empower. And knowing your city is so much more than just knowing your way around. You have to meet people, know their wants, needs, dreams, hang ups & concerns. To do otherwise just makes you impersonal & creates a disconnect before you even begin.

An International Hub

Cassandra reminds us that because of the businesses that are here, the universities and the military presence, there is a lot of attention on San Diego on an international scale. And that attention draws people from those far and various places to come and live here, calling San Diego their home. When ElizaBeth & I moved here, on Cinco de Mayo, we found out that Cinco is more of a San Diego thing than it would ever be in Mexico. Cassandra has a friend that moved up from Guadalajara, and she told Cassandra that it’s not really a thinginMexico. Knowing how to navigate a mix of cultures is becoming more and more of a reality for us here in the U.S. 
 
If you aren’t being affected by these shifts now, then you likely will be soon. We love diversity, we love the mix of flavors that it brings to our neighborhoods, our cultural scene and our lives. But we must always have an attitude of learning when it comes to navigating new territory with our neighbors. There are so many international communities here in San Diego.Coming from Kentucky originally, Elizabeth & Ilived in a pretty diverse city, but San Diego is next level, and that’s awesome.

The Side-Hustle Quotient

There’s obviously a high cost of living in SoCal. So it’s no surprise that loads of people have a side hustle or three running. There’s also a large amount of creative minded, multi-passionate people here in San Diego, and so to be confined to doing just one thing becomes counterintuitive. People know they can play in multiple areas of work, and not have to give up doing the things that they love. 
The trick is remaining balanced in the middle of it all. The old days of doing just one, okay to well paying job and sticking with it for decades has passed. Here in San Diego, it’s not hidden anymore. So many people do what they do, and then do their second job that they love, with no concern about people knowing they run multiple directions with their work. Making the transition from rigid to flexible is a choice. It’s a lifestyle to be lived. That means you’re likely to work 6 days a week, and that’s okay, because you’re calling the shots, going where you want to go and doing what you want to do.
 
As a small business owner, you have to understand that the margin you need (and we talked about this in episode 4) must be a priority. You have to schedule time to be healthy, to be with family & to hang out with friends. Otherwise, you’re hustling and killing yourself for no reason. Respect yourself & others will respect you. 

Choosing Your Where 

San Diego is a great place in regards to choosing an environment to live in, too. If you want urban, we have it. If you want urban-boho with a beach, we have that. If you want mountains, trails & open space, we have that, too & most everything in-between. 
San Diego is made up of so many distinct, little areas. Some, like the downtown area & the East Village, have been transitioning. They are walkable spaces that are now being populated with new shops, businesses (like Beta Haus Studio) and residential areas. There are loads of advantages to location, whether it’s what’s available within walking distance, access to highways, public transit and so many other amenities. There’s a lot to take into account. 
Some neighborhoods are hungry for new businesses. For example, San Diego is a brewing hub. There are areas of town where that industry has become more of a focus. Old manufacturing spaces & dated buildings are being reinvented and new life is coming in behind them. And gentrification is definitely a thing, too. People with the best intentions are moving into neighborhoods, hoping to see new businesses come in, to create community where people had pulled back into their homes due to other issues. 
And there are other growing pains that come with these changes. There is a growing need for housing in San Diego, but the number of Air BnB’s continues to increase. Some people use them as their side-hustle, it’s their supplemental income. For others, there is an attitude of “if it’s available to buy, it can be an Air BnB.” 
However you slice it, you need to be comfortable wherever you are. Be productive, love your neighborhood well & be a good neighbor in it, too. Choosing your location is going to have a longterm impact on your business. Think about the people you are trying to reach. If you’re a brick & mortar location, where will they interact with you? Will they like coming to your location, bringing their clients to your location? Is it clean? How’s the parking & traffic? Does it feel safe? Are there good places to eat nearby? Think about what you would want in your location if you were seeking your own services & then look for that space. Even if it needs a little elbow grease, it’s totally worth it to be in the right space.

Spotting Tourists

We love playing spot the tourist here. Cassandra and her friends play “spot the lobster” in the summer during our May haze & June gloom. It’s grey, it’s overcast & you’re still getting roasted alive. In the fall and winter, everyone in bikinis and board shorts on the beach while the natives are in jeans & jackets tend to stand out, too. It’s part of living here, just like the permanent flip flop tan lines we all wind up with. 
 
Does your business cater more to people who are in town daily? Are you seeking to build a long term business/client relationship? Then maybe that busy, trendy area isn’t where you want to be. There may be so much transition that people who stick around don’t even go to those areas. Maybe the tourist traffic is a bother, or parking is impossible. Think about the barriers to business that seemingly busy places can bring. Maybe being on the fringe of those busy areas is better than being in the thick of it all. Maybe, you’re better served in a quiet business park or office building. Think long term. Think credibility. Sexy is good, but it’s not everything.

Everyday you see the water is a good day

San Diego is one of those cities where the location builds appreciation. “You don’t have to get in the water,” Cassandra said, “you don’t even have to get in the sand. You can see it and it you can say ‘It’s all going to be okay.’” Outside of San Diego is okay to visit, but San Diego is everything to people who live here. So much so that the people who live here tend to forget how other people even live where they live. It almost stops making sense to live in another way. Everyone loves being here…for the most part.
We had our adjustment period when we moved here. But once that ‘settled in’ feeling hit, we really had that moment of “Oh, this is great.” We travelled up to San Francisco, all through L.A. and when we got back to San Diego, we had that feeling of “This is home.” 
 
When you’re setting up your business, you need to be comfortable there, too. If you’re an accountant, don’t go set up shop in the artists district if that’s not your vibe. If you’re an artist, don’t go set up in the financial district. Common sense goes a long way when it comes to choosing your location, but you need to fit in to become a fixture.
 
But then again, sometimes being super different is a draw, too. Give yourself time to think it through & weigh it out.

Getting outside of your bubble

Cassandra works with a lot of clients that are relocating here. Sometimes it’s exciting, but sometimes there’s a lot of fears & concerns. But when she engages with their interests, what they like to do, they find out just how much there is to do here. As Cassandra says, “You’re not just meant to cocoon up in your house every day. San Diego is your backyard. San Diego is your playground, so where do you want to be, what community really leverages what you love to do and connects with you in your heart & mind…and helps you cut that commute time down.”
Plugging into a community helps you feel like you haven’t given up so much as you transition into your new space. Getting to know your neighbors, in that community that’s a good fit for you, that integration becomes a very natural thing. You meet people in pubs & restaurants, churches & parks and you see the same people over and over again. These local spots help resonate the home feel for so many people, & small businesses help fuel the community. There are areas of town where chain restaurants are super hard to find. We tend to get more excited about our neighbors getting to express themselves, and we can support them as they add value into our community. 
Cassandra was pretty emphatic about supporting “your" local spot. If you like it, then you’d better be there at least once a week, supporting them and making sure to encourage your friends to do the same. Those businesses need that body in the chair. We need to rally around those spots so they’ll be here for others later. And if you’re a proponent for their business, simply because you like them & what they do, then they’ll likely go to bat for you, too.

Diversity in the marketplace is good. Even in San Diego, in our suburban neighborhoods, the transition is beginning to trend toward local coffee shops, & new businesses are coming in more often. People are reinventing their community and creating that local draw again. It really is great to see these businesses open that are in cahoots to see their communities stick together, kids running around, families out and around. People still want that place to relax, unwind and we’re seeing that coming around more and more. 
 
How can your business make the dreams and desires of your community come to life?

The Last Bits

And as we close this one up, please hop on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to keep the conversation going. Leave comments where you can. Ask questions as you have them. We love giving you feedback, too!

If you’re in the San Diego area, we’d love to see you in person. We can help you start the journey for your new masterclass. You may have an awesome idea for a podcast. Maybe you're planning a Youtube show. Do you have training videos that need to be recorded? Whatever audio & video content you need to produce, we're here for you.

We’ve walked these pathways. We're looking forward to seeing you walk yours.

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