Fascinated by the lives of others, one disciplined entrepreneur has a plan to bring their stories to life— one day and one person at a time.
By Heather Fish
David Makela, a Laguna Beach resident and entrepreneur, is a force to be reckoned with in the business world. He started young—he founded his first company at age 25—building businesses from the ground up and learning firsthand what to do, what not to do and, most importantly, how to convey the message of his products to clients.
His newest venture, a consulting company called Vizual Living—career and leadership coaching and social media optimization—is an innovative notion in itself, but David has taken it a step further, spearheading a project and blog called Vizual Living 365. With the help of his business partner and loving wife, Kimberly, David sets out each day to meet a new person—whether he or she is a local or tourist—and presents him or her with a set of philosophical questions that aim to “reach deep.” The questions do not vary, but each answer is unique and inspiring.
Now, more than halfway through his quest, David is determined to continue to meet new people and expand his horizons. Here, he shares his company, his project and how each person he’s met along his journey has touched his life.
Laguna Beach Magazine: What first prompted the idea of your new consulting company, Vizual Living?
David Makela: Vizual Living is a culmination of our lifelong work of building businesses and building relationships. The inception was [when I completed the Camino de Santiago, a historical pilgrimage across northern Spain, which was] a turning point in my journey to quit my day job and pursue my dream job [to] start Vizual Living with my bride, Kimberly.
LBM: Vizual Living 365 is a fascinating project. How did you come up with the idea?
DM: Last summer, I [walked] 500 miles [over] 28 days on the Camino de Santiago. I was meeting at least one new person a day, and I was fascinated by the stories I would hear. I was using Instagram as my journal and would share my stories and photographs at the end of the day. I came to find out that people could not wait to read the stories I would post. When I returned home, I thought: Why don’t I walk out my front door and meet at least one new person a day for one year? So, on Jan. 1, 2014, Kimberly and I made a commitment to meet at least one new person a day. … We love meeting people, building relationships and sharing their stories through photography and videography.
LBM: We understand that you ask everyone you meet for the project the same four questions. How diverse (or similar) are the answers you get?
DM: Most answers are very positive, idealistic, inspiring and heartwarming. The diversity is wide and quite amazing: people with a wide range of religious, political and worldviews; people from all walks of life socially and economically.
LBM: You’ve mentioned that part of your business plan for Vizual Living is taking your clients into “high definition.” What do you mean by this?
DM: Customers are hungry for stories about the person behind the project. People want to know the why behind the what. We are learning that visual stories that are personal and authentic resonate with the heart and soul. The clients we work for are experiencing greater clarity in their communication with their teams, and they are achieving greater results in implementing their plans.
LBM: Has Vizual Living 365 changed you or your perspective on Laguna Beach?
DM: It hasn’t changed our perspective; it’s broadened our perspective. We have a deeper love for all people who live [in] and visit Laguna Beach.