One of the great things about being based in San Diego is having the opportunity to regularly interact with a plethora of innovative thinkers. The community of intelligent and business savvy individuals in this city is abundant. Understanding that these people are in the area, but may not have the entire toolkit for entrepreneurial success has driven a couple of forward thinking collaborators to create a unique growth and learning platform called The Pineapple Project. I'm lucky enough to call these driven and visionary entrepreneurs my friends, and was able to sit down with them to gain an understanding of what motivates them to help people become a better version of themselves. They are Chloe Hom Banales and Mike Sebastian, partner founders of The Pineapple Project, and here's what they had to say.
What is The Pineapple Project? How did you come up with the concept, and why?
Chloe: I always knew that I wanted to create something that would allow me to give back in a big way. The “Something” project has always been on my mind. I was searching the internet looking for inspiration, and I love pineapples. Especially what they represent when given as a gift. So essentially I chose The “Pineapple” Project as the name of what my future outlet for giving back would be. To elaborate a bit, when given as a gift, a pineapple represents the phrase “ You are perfect.” As a growing business it is our belief that no one is given a gift that they do not have the capacity to fulfill.
Mike: The Pineapple Project is an annual event committed to empowering people to take responsibility and create extraordinary lives. The event is aligned in personal development, entrepreneurship, and contribution. We’ll be hosting twenty smaller meetup events a year that are bi-weekly and geared toward more focused topics. These smaller events will lead up to a much larger event that takes place once a year.
What type of attendees are you trying to attract to these events?
Chloe: The people who are going to be attending these meetups are going to be entrepreneurs. They may also be intrapreneurs. They’re people who have the mindset in which they want to give back or they want to become more fulfilled in their jobs. They’re also people who are already contributing and love what they do. We're also going to be connecting with the young motivated people that have questions on how to really create and design a life that they’re passionate about.
What types of opportunities are offered to entrepreneurs through The Pineapple Project?
Mike: What we’re trying to do is fill in the knowledge gaps that people may have. If someone’s trying to start a business and has a great idea, but doesn’t understand how to do accounting, or doesn’t understand how to do tax laws that shouldn’t stop them from creating what it is their after. So we provide an easily accessible destination where they can go to learn these things.
The biweekly meetups are smaller and deal with more granular topics, while the big annual event will be the main goal and cover a broad range of topics. Attendees can come to the events and learn what they’re interested in. More importantly they’ll be able to make contact with experienced resources that they are looking for. These resources will be able to answer a question in 15 minutes that the attendee may have been mulling over across six weeks of searching.
After leaving an event our attendees will have connections with companies and individuals who have been there before.
Chloe: They’ll have the knowledge to move forward with their next step. It’s going to be a transformative event where you're doing the work then and there. When you leave you’ll have tools in your pocket, a mindset for tuning into people that you want to connect with, and a community of contacts to fall back on in case you need additional help.
What makes The Pineapple Project different than all the other business accelerators or entrepreneurship programs out there?
Chloe: One thing that we have been set on from the beginning is that it's not just about business. It’s about who you are as a person; your way of being in and outside of your workplace. We are going to be working with other local companies such as The Evo Room, who really bring experiential learning into the events. They’ll be present with us in April 2017 at our larger annual event, and possibly at some of the smaller upcoming meetups.
We’re also really trying to incorporate more than just what your business dreams are. We want to address who you are as a person with the relationships that are around you. Do you bring mindfulness? Do you bring your health into play? As you know, being an entrepreneur requires a lot of energy and fuel. Whatever you’re feeding yourself be it food, drinks, books you’re reading, or content on social media, you’re doing that everyday. What you feed yourself makes a big difference in how you approach your life.
What is the geographic reach of the program?
Mike: We’re working with content creators nationwide. The smaller meetup events and the larger event are local here in San Diego. Our goal is to attract attendees from across the entire United States so that they can benefit from the opportunity.
Chloe: We’ll be hosting meetups in the Los Angeles area before the big event in April as well. I fully expect people from everywhere to attend the event in April as we will be bringing in speakers from everywhere.
Are the two of you going to be running the events that take place outside of San Diego?
Chloe: One of the things that we believe in 100% is community and collaborating with others who are aligned in the same mission. When you’re an entrepreneur you’ll be more successful when you’re able to get yourself out of the way and do for other people. We all have the same intent, which is to make massive impact in a positive way. A perfect example is our meetup that took place on Thursday, August 18th. It was in collaboration with The Startup Garage and The Lifestyle Business Accelerator.
We were connected to Tyler Jensen, who’s an amazing San Diego-based entrepreneur, through Danielle Blum, who’s also a leader in the space with World Nativ. It’s not every man for himself, and should never be that way. That’s a big reason why The Pineapple Project is going to be putting together collaborative events. We won’t be sitting up there and preaching to you. It’s really about what we can all learn collectively. So we eliminate the middle man and provide access to experienced individuals as well as interactive learning.
What channels are you using to spread your message?
Mike: Meetup.com, Facebook.com, Instagram, and a whole lot of networking. Networking has been huge! Most of the people that we’ve come into contact with so far have been through a shared connection in the industry.
What challenges are you facing in growing your organization?
Chloe: I would say time management, but that’s a pet peeve of mine. Everybody has 24 hours in their day, and it’s really a matter of what you choose to prioritize within each and every hour. The two of us have our own businesses outside of The Pineapple Project that we’re also building. So it’s been a balance of work, life, health commitments, and even social life commitments. It’s very important to have those outlets where you put your phone away or you put your computer away, and just be with the person who is in front of you.
Mike: One of the prevalent challenges I’m seeing is narrowing the focus down to a specific group. Everybody wants to be better. We would like to make everyone better. But we want to answer the question of, “Who can we help with these activities, events, and programs?” We have entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and people looking to better themselves. How to define the audience, and who to say “no” to has been an obstacle that we’re working to manage better everyday.
What tactics and strategies have you utilized to overcome adversity in your entrepreneurial endeavors?
Mike: Asking questions. It’s take a long time for me to really learn that I can in fact do this. There are a lot of things that I run up against every single day that I have no idea how to get to the end of. However, I know that there is someone out there that does have the answer...that has been in the same situation, and can give some kind of advice to help me get to where I’m going.
Chloe: Yes, asking questions and asking for help, as well as acknowledging and embracing the journey. One thing I’ve noticed when this question is asked to entrepreneurs whether they’re already successful or just starting out, is that personal development is going to be key. Getting yourself out of your own way. That has been huge for me. I’ve invested a lot of time and money in myself through various books, various programs, and various training sessions that have helped me to grow into the type of person who can now take on much larger tasks. The person I was a year ago would not be able to do what I’m doing right now.
When our large event comes up in April, I’ll be an even more improved person. It’s exciting! It requires doing something that intimidates you everyday, really stepping outside of your comfort zone not just talking about it.
Where do you want The Pineapple Project to be in 12 months, and what will next steps be at that point?
Chloe: A year from now we will have had our first successful event. It will have been attended by successful entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and Olympic athletes who share their wisdom and address much of what we’ve talked about here today.
Everyone is given the opportunity to overcome adversity. Everyone who has a big dream is going to have big challenges to overcome. We’re moving mountains to make The Pineapple Project happen, but it’s great because we know that it’s only going to get better and better.
This time next year we’ll be preparing for our second annual event, possibly a two-day event. In addition, like we mentioned before, we also see the program spreading outside of San Diego empowering other individuals to create a similar structure and host meetups like ours. It’s a movement! We want people to understand that they truly have it within them to succeed. No matter what their socioeconomic background, education, or current status in life is they have the ability to get where they want to be. They just have to bridge that gap.
Mike: What I’m most excited about seeing a year from now is when the person who had a better idea and better capability to execute on it than I did comes back and says, “Hey! I wanna talk at your next Pineapple Project because you connected me with someone, and that enabled me to do what it is that I want to do.”
Be unapologetic when it comes to your dreams and where your vision lies.
What is the funnest part about being involved in The Pineapple Project?
Mike: For me it’s learning. Like Chloe has said, “Push yourself everyday.” We’ve done that a lot so far, and the movement continues to get bigger and bigger. With every “yes” we receive from contacts, and every lesson from self-educating, it gets better. The further and further I go makes me crave more. I want to know how far we can take this. How can it get any better!
Chloe: It’s the leaps, the leaps in progress. We don’t always know exactly what we’re going to do to get there, but we know where we will be. We’re doing whatever is required of us to accomplish the goals. Whether it’s jumping on a Facebook live video when I have no idea how to position it, or doing other things like that. Some of it’s going to be uncomfortable, but it’s not about always about me. Sometimes it’s about the person you’re interviewing on that live video, and the content they can deliver that going to help your audience. Your fears don’t matter. They’re very small when compared to your end goals.
The other fun part is the community. Surrounding yourself with a tribe who’s going to encourage your work and say, “That’s really awesome!” versus those who just say, “Oh ya that’s a neat idea.” You really have to be particular about who you spend your time with and who you choose to associate with. Even on social media. Unfriend people who aren’t contributing to where you want to go. Be unapologetic when it comes to where you want to be, and where your vision lies.
How can our readers get involved with The Pineapple Project?
Mike: Facebook is a great place to see what we’re up to on a regular basis. Instagram is as well. We are www.facebok.com/thepineappleprojectnow or www.instagram.com/thepineappleprojectnow on each of those platforms. The website is www.chloeatsalot.com/thepineappleproject, you can also always reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chloe: If people feel strongly about getting involved there’s a link on our website and we can touch base via email. We are always happy to give anyone an opportunity to exercise their genius, talent, or whatever it may be. We’ve even had a friend reach out and help us with our logo, and we really appreciate that.
If anyone wants to contact us directly go ahead and send us a Facebook request, but also send us a message. I love getting to know what people are up to. It’s what gets us fired up about all of this!
We're honored to bring the concept and message of The Pineapple Project to our readers. Thank you Mike and Chloe for sharing your vision with us. We look forward to the success of your program. Please let us know what you think of The Pineapple Project in the comments below!