november project

Stories From New York - Part 1

For a few days, Justin Kanoya traded in the title of San Diego DJ, for New York DJ.

For a few days, Justin Kanoya traded in the title of San Diego DJ, for New York DJ.

After spending a few days in New York I completely understand why Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, creators of “Seinfeld”, one of the most successful TV sitcoms of all time, had no shortage of material. Being in New York was like being in an episode of Seinfeld.

It was like nothing, but still everything. And I really can't make this stuff up. 

Mutual Job Love
“You have the best job in the world.”

I've heard these words before, usually coming from a person who works the average 9-5 job that keeps them within the comforts of a cubicle. But this time those eight words were coming from someone who arguably has a way cooler job than me.

They were coming from Anita Patrickson. A wardrobe stylist. But not just any stylist … a celebrity stylist. The type of person whose job is to suggest to Hillary Duff which piece of statement jewerly she should wear to the MTV Video Music Awards; confirm to Julianne Hough that her “boyfriend blazer” is just right for that Super Bowl party; and to let Chrissy Tiegen know that yes, indeed, her ensemble for the Golden Globes looks perfect because, well, she’s a supermodel and basically she looks good in everything.

And I only know the term “boyfriend blazer” because I saw it on Anita's Instagram.

I play the music of today’s hottest stars. Anita hangs out and dresses them.

I guess “best job” is all relative. I only had one response as she took a stab at scratching on my Techincs 1200s.

“Your job is pretty cool too.”

Celebrity stylist Anita Patrickson took a shot at DJing during the launch event for Fitbit Alta.

Celebrity stylist Anita Patrickson took a shot at DJing during the launch event for Fitbit Alta.

This is the 'Shroom Burger at Shake Shack. Looks delicious and is delicious. But there's no meat.

This is the 'Shroom Burger at Shake Shack. Looks delicious and is delicious. But there's no meat.

Shake Shake Fail
This was my first journey into New York since the existence of Shake Shack, the popular burger and milkshake joint. I was excited to finally try this burger, and the stars lined up as I found myself in close proximity to one as my friends and I were deciding on a dinner spot.

In fact, we were at the original location located in Union Square. After a quick scan of the menu, I had committed to the SmokeShack, a cheeseburger topped with bacon and chopped cherry peppers. We waited in a relatively short line and just as it was my turn to walk up to the counter, I hear my friends discussing about the ’Shroom burger and the ’Shack Stack. I see the ’Shroom has something to do with a fried mushroom and as all of this is happening and I wanted to ask them what the difference in the two were, I get called up to the window.

Without knowing the difference between the ’Shroom and Shack Stack, I idiotically switch my SmokeShack order to the ’Shroom, assuming I was in for a taste of a meaty and fried mushroomy goodness.

I would soon find out the difference. For those not in the know either, the ’Shroom is simply a friend mushroom patty. No meat. What vegetarians order at Shake Shack.

I left New York, without having the chance to get back to a Shake Shack and have yet to taste one of these burgers.

HashtagFAIL. #shakeshackfail

Is it Too Late To Say I'm Sorry
Generally when pedestrians bump into each other, they will apologize and move on. This is especially true in San Diego and something I noticed in my recent travels in San Francisco and, of course, Vancouver.

But, oh New York.

As I was walking among a throng of people on a subway platform, a man, looking to be in his late 50s/early 60s, with a rolling suitcase was approaching and about to cross my path. One of his wheels ended up rolling over the foot of the guy walking next to me, slightly tripping him up.

A stare down ensued. The man, also appearing to be about the same age as they guy who just had his foot rolled over, had a look of disgust.

What does the man who had just committed this understandable accident say? Does he apologize? Nope.

He simply uttered with equal disgust and that New York accent: "Maybe you should pay better attention."

Jumping The Turnstile
November Project is the free fitness group I am a part of in San Diego, and there are tribes all over the country that welcome visiting members with open arms. I was excited when I realized my New York trip was overlapping with a 6:30, Wednesday morning, the day and time NP meets all over the U.S., Canada and Europe.

I Uber'd to the workout, because guiding my noob self on the MTA at 5:30 a.m. just seemed like a recipe for disaster. But after the workout, knowing I had time to spare and new friends (NP-NYC peeps) to help me  guide me to the nearest subway station. When we arrived at the ticketing area we were met with two very long lines to purchase tickets. I said my goodbyes to them as I got into line and they scanned their transit passes and headed to their respective platforms.

And I began to wait.

After about one minute, I hear someone yell my name, "JUSTIN!" I look over toward where I thought I heard it coming from, trying to make out a familiar face through a crowd of New York commuters. And I see Tammy, on the other side of the fence, motioning me to come over.

She opens the emergency exit door, the one exiting passengers use when they don't want to use the turnstile exit. Technically you're only supposed to use this in an emergency, but when's the last time a New Yorker followed rules.

With the door swinging open, she motions me toward her, and enter through this exit, without a ticket.

“That line is ridiculous.”

“You're gonna get me arrested,” I say. To which she replied, “Whatever, I'll get arrested for you.”

Want more? Here is Stories From New York, Part 2.

#NPSummit 2015

Traveling to Utah for miles, smiles and hugs

Sheila and I on the podium. We didn't win, but that doesn't mean we can't pose on the podium.

In August 2014 I attended my first November Project - San Diego workout, which is a free fitness group, started by two guys in Boston in 2011. NP is now comprised of tribes in 25 cities across four time zones in the United States and Canada.

I’ve written about it before, so no need to rehash on why it was one of the catalysts for change in my life in this past year, but yes it’s been wonderful meeting new people and gaining new experiences.

One such experience is the feeling of being a part of a team when training and competing in various races. Before joining NP, I used to run races, not necessarily alone, but feeling like just another face in the crowd, another pair of legs running miles. Joining a run club/fitness group is one way to gain an immediate support system, both on and off the course.

Now when I race I have this comforting feeling seeing people I know running alongside me. Or hearing a spectator yell my name as I pass them. And then there is the person that does not even know me, but knows my tagged, “grassroots gear” shirt that reads “November Project,” and I hear  a hearty “Go NP!”

Before NP I also had never run a race outside of San Diego. Now, in the past year, I’ve participated in the Ragnar SoCal Relay Race (Huntington Beach), Mammoth Half Marathon, Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon (Vancouver) and most recently the Park City, Utah stop for the North Face Endurance Challenge Series.

One would think that these destination races would mean an absence of all the great things I mentioned. But it’s actually quite the opposite, because each of those trips/races has been taken with November Project - San Diego friends and meeting new NP friends at those destinations. However, none have been more bigger than the Park City Trip.

This race was the designated location for November Project’s annual leadership summit. A gathering of the leaders of all the NP tribes. This alone generates more than 50 motivating and selfless individuals. Additionally, those leaders brought with them representatives from their 25 respective tribes. In total there were well over 400 … maybe 500 grassroots gear wearing people.

November Project Boston poses for a group photo.

November Project Boston poses for a group photo.

Every Monday and Wednesday morning in San Diego, It’s always amazing for me to see an average estimate of 75 people showing up on early mornings to have their heart rate stretched to capacity. But to see this gathering of hundreds from all over North America was moving.

At one point, after I finished my run, I was sitting in the middle of all the chaos (which in this case was smiling faces, arms hugging, legs dancing and overall euphoria).

I observed all of these happy and supportive human beings and was hit with this crazy realization: This is all because two people, Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric, wanted to stay in shape and workout during the month of November a few years ago. Just two guys, issuing a challenge to one another and growing it into continent wide community.

It’s a testament that we are never alone. That there are always people within the race and along the sidelines cheering us on. That there are hundreds of people waiting to join whatever movement you want to bring forward.

And that our hopes and dreams are worth exploring, because one day they might actually amount to something.

Dear Lululemon: You’re Doing It Right ... And This Has Nothing To Do With Clothes

This letter is to no one in particular at Lululemon. It could be a customer service manager, marketing director, executive Vice President or maybe even CEO Laurent Potdevin himself. 

This letter is to anyone at Lululemon who would find it comforting to know you are doing it right. And I’m not just speaking about your product line, because yes that is all kinds of right, but I’m speaking about your corporate culture. 

The values you instill in your employees and the way they carry those values through the customer experience, it’s all working.

Where is this coming from? Let’s take a step back to just over a year ago.

My wife and daughter enjoy frozen treats at the 2015 Seawheeze Half Marathon race expo. 

Are you familiar with the movie “Sliding Doors”? The lead character, played by Gwenyth Paltrow, faces a crossroad at the beginning of her day as she descends upon a stairwell at a subway station. In one scenario, she snags her coat on a handrail causing her to miss her train by just seconds. In the other scenario, she does not miss the train. The movie goes on to explore how different her life plays out based on the outcome of those two scenarios. 

In life, we also have these scenarios. A missed train or bus; a missed green light; dorming on the fifth floor instead of the fourth floor freshman year in college. The outcomes of these varying experiences affect who we meet, who we become friends with and the direction are lives go.

At the age of 40, I have had many “sliding door” situations. I can pinpoint two that I would label as “life changing.”

The first was a phone call I made that ultimately led to an internship during college, which led to my first job out of college, which led to another job, which led to meeting my wife, which led to  … well you get the idea.

The second of these moments was in February 2014 when I decided to attend a free run club meetup organized by the Lululemon store in La Jolla, California. The announcement, posted on Facebook, promised a healthy dose of hill work. This was something I needed because I was running the “hilly” La Jolla half marathon just a few weeks later. Had there been no mention of hills, I probably would not have attended. I didn’t really have any other incentive as I was already participating in another run group and I wasn’t necessarily looking to find another social group. I just wanted to learn a little hill running technique. 

I showed up, met Lululemon run ambassador, Sheri Matthews, and had a great workout. The following week I returned and eventually became a regular attendee through the spring and summer. 

During those months I met a lot of people and I got to know them as we shared running miles. I also learned of another free workout group, November Project, and started regularly attending those workouts in late August. At this point I was inadvertently expanding my social circle and getting into the best shape of my life.

Many of the people I was training with each week were employees from the various San Diego based Lululemon stores. I was also meeting other ambassadors such as Helen Cloots and newly crowned run ambassador and November Project San Diego co-leader, Lauren Padula

Through my interactions with ambassadors (whether at a workout or a casual conversation) and the employees (whether at a workout or shopping) I was also learning more about Lululemon’s culture.

I saw how these people were setting goals and committing to them. I saw how nonsense of the past didn’t bother them and it was all about forward thinking. I realized that the life we create is just that … it is the life we create. It doesn’t need to be dictated by someone else. Only we have the power to write our own history and make the best of whatever “sliding door” we take.

I also watched as people around me were leaving their jobs and diving directly into a life that means something to them.

And so I did the same thing.

I delivered this message to my co-workers the day I announced I was leaving my "day job" after a 13-year career in public service.

After years of pondering and 13 years in the same government job, I walked away to build up a mobile DJ business that I have half-committed to for the past decade. The decision to do that was not an easy one. But I realize the trigger to make that decision all stems back to that one day I said “yes” to attending a hilly, Lululemon run club workout.

You’re doing it right Lululemon. The values you instill in your employees means they carefully choose who their local ambassadors are. It’s not just someone that looks good in your clothes, but someone that also breathes the same values you hold important. 

These employees have also become my friends, both offline and online. 

When is the last time you “Facebook friend requested” a retail sales clerk … probably never?

I’ve started to brand myself as both a fitness and yoga DJ, providing beats for Lululemon shoppers and one very special yoga event at Parq San Diego nightclub.

On occassion I have the privilege of DJing for Lululemon customers at Fashion Valley Mall and downtown La Jolla. 

Lululemon run ambassadors, Pace Beavers and all around awesome ladies, Lauren Padula (left) and Sheri Matthews. 

Running the 2015 Seawheeze Half Marathon
Now this journey has come full circle.

This past week I descended upon the homebase of Lululemon in Vancouver, B.C. to participate in the annual pilgrimage of runners and yogi’s at the Seawheeze Half Marathon. It served as the perfect bookend to this summer, which of course started in May when I quit my “day job.”

Here I was, in the beautiful city of Vancouver, with my strongest supporters, my wife and daughter who cheer me on in life and in running and I was set to run a race orchestrated by a company that has brought so many other supportive friends into my life. 

Coincidentally, two of them -- the aforementioned, Lauren and Sheri (shown in the photo on the right) -- were official pacers, running about 20 minutes ahead of me. It was poetic that ultimately Lululemon was what led me to these ladies. They’ve helped me set and achieve personal goals by following in their virtual footsteps, setting the pace for the next chapter in my life. But on this day, I was literally following them, en route to a 1 hour and 57 minute finish time.

At the end of the race -- as they do everytime I am working out with them -- there they were, with a big hug and high five.

I suppose the only way to end this would be to say thank you. Keep treating your employees right and they will continue to treat your customers right. It’s amazing how that philosophy trickles down.

Thank you.

Lululemon Fashion Valley - Live In-Store DJ

DJ Justin Kanoya performs at Lululemon Fashion Valley to celebrate the Rock n' Roll San Diego 1/2 Marathon and Marathon Weekend.

The Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego ½ Marathon and Marathon is the biggest running event in San Diego and takes place the first weekend in June every year. To celebrate the big weekend, the Lululemon store at Fashion Valley Mall invited me to spin some tunes for their customers.

It was a big weekend for me as well. I was a participant in the half marathon finishing with a time of one hour and 55 minutes with my November Project teammates (see the pictures in the slideshow below).

I always love playing music at retail stores, especially Lululemon. Their sales staff truly appreciates me when I am there and I can tell they are having as much fun with the music as their customers. It’s also great because the music I play is open format, so I play genres all across the board. After viewing my race photos, checkout the setlist below.

Setlist - May 30, 2015

  • Betty Who - Somebody Loves You

  • The Notorious B.I.G. - Juicy (Intro Clean)

  • Justin Timberlake - Senorita

  • Taylor Swift vs Lauryn Hill - Blank Space (DJ Skillz Throwback Blend) (Short Edit)

  • Lauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing)

  • Bobby Brown - Every Little Step (Select Mix Remix)

  • Positive K - I Got A Man

  • Natalie La Rose f./Jeremih, Fetty Wap, Sage The Gemini & Troy Ave - Somebody (Remix - Clean)

  • De La Soul - Ring Ring Ring (Intro Clean)

  • Mariah Carey, Da Bratt, Missy Elliott - Heartbreaker

  • Iggy Azalea f./Jennifer Hudson - Trouble (Promo Only Intro Edit)

  • Major Lazer & DJ Snake f./MO - Lean On

  • Zedd f./Selena Gomez - I Want You To Know

  • Culture Beat - Mr. Vain (Select Mix Remix)

  • Real McCoy - Another Night (Intro Clean)

  • Ghost Town DJ's - My Boo (Francis Mercier vs Posse Remix) (Short Edit)

  • Ariana Grande - One Last Time (Promo Only Intro Edit)

  • Carly Rae Jepsen - I Really Like You (Promo Only Intro Edit)

  • Clean Bandit, Jess Glynne - Rather Be (Select Mix Remix)

  • Paula Abdul - Forever Your Girl (Short Edit)

  • Whitney Houston - How Will I Know

  • Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake - Love Never Felt So Good (Wedding Crasherz Party Break)

  • The Whispers - Rock Steady (Short Edit)

  • Young MC - Bust A Move

  • Jeffrey Osborne - Stay With Me Tonight (Hot Classics Remix)

  • The Commodores - Lady (Hot Classics Remix)

  • Michael Jackson - Off The Wall (Hot Classics Remix)

  • Alesso - Heroes (Basic Tape Remix) (Clean) (Extended)

  • Wham! - Everything She Wants (Short Edit)

  • Ella Henderson - Ghost (Oliver Nelson Remix) (Extended)

  • Johnny Gill - Rub You The Right Way (Short Edit)

  • Mellow Man Ace - Mentirosa (Extended)

  • Boyz II Men - Motownphilly

  • Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight

  • Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk (Kue Funk Edit) (Short Edit)

  • Usher f./Juicy J - I Don't Mind (Promo Only Intro Edit)

  • Nick Jonas - Jealous (The Rooftop Boys Radio Edit)

  • Pebbles - Girlfriend

  • Janet Jackson - When I Think of You

  • Madonna - Holiday

  • Maroon 5 - Sugar (Promo Only Intro Edit)

  • Tove Lo - Talking Body (Clean)

  • Fifth Harmony f./Kid Ink - Worth It

  • White Town - Your Woman (Select Mix Remix)

  • Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life (Select Mix Remix)

  • Backstreet Boys - I Want it That Way

  • Len - Steal My Sunshine (Select Mix Remix)

  • Skee-Lo - I Wish (Select Mix Remix)

  • Ace of Base - The Sign

  • S.W.V. - Right Here (Human Nature Duet) (Select Mix Remix)

  • Naughty By Nature - Jamboree (Intro Clean)

  • Iggy Azalea ft M0 - Beg For It (Dennis Blaze Remix)

  • Fergie - L.A. Love (La La) (Select Mix Remix)

  • Nelly - Ride Wit Me Ben Harper - Steal My Kisses (remix)

  • Jack Johnson - Sitting Waiting Wishing

  • Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud (G Duppy Reggae Remix) (Clean)

  • OMI - Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Radio Edit)

  • A Tribe Called Quest - Electric Relaxation

  • Mystikal - Danger (Been So Long)