We want to show off the cool people who help make 729 Solutions the great company it is. We are more than just a bunch of employees – we are interesting, innovative, and talented people who need a little recognition! This time project manager, James, joins us to discuss his role here at 729, ultrarunning and being a dad.
Tell us more!
In your own words, what do you do here at 729solutions?
I’m a Project Manager at 729 Solutions.
I’ve been working with 729 Solutions for almost 13 years, but I’ve actually worked with Rob Fife for almost 20 years. We met when we were developers for the same agency in Oakland. I worked there for about 5 years, and then I moved back home to San Diego where I did freelance web development for a while. Rob had me work on a few projects when he and Randy Chang started 729 Solutions. They eventually hired me as a Front-end Developer and Project Manager. It’s crazy to think that we’ve been at this for such a long time!
How do you like working for 729 Solutions?
I love working for 729 Solutions. We work on a wide range of interesting projects from mobile to web apps, so it’s never a dull day. We also have a group of very talented people working with us. As a project manager, it’s great to have a dependable team that has experience with several aspects of our industry.
There seem to be a lot of surfers here at 729solutions!
Really!? I know that Bill surfs–he better since he lives in Hawaii!–Who else is a surfer on the team?
Fernando! What do you love about surfing?
I actually hated surfing when I started. It has a steep learning curve, and I had many trips to the beach where I couldn’t even make it out to the lineup. (This still happens!) Once I stood up and actually rode the face of a wave, I was hooked. The thought of drowning or getting eaten by a shark is always a concern, but once you start catching waves, the fear fades away – most of the time. I actually met my wife, Lesley, surfing; so there’s a sentimental aspect to surfing for me. Although we don’t paddle out as often as we used to, we still go to the beach with the kids. I’m sure we’ll start paddling out more often as the kids grow older.
Where is/was your favorite place to surf?
Nikki, our Creative Director, is married to a surfer. As I said before, I don’t surf as much as I used to but Wolfgang has been motivating me to paddle out at Del Mar, 13th street. It’s a fun spot and the vibe in the lineup is usually friendly.
If you could go anywhere, where would you like to surf?
I’d like to take the family down to Sayulita in Mexico for a surf vacation once the kids are old enough and have learned how to surf. I hear it’s a nice little fishing village with great food and fun waves. The warm water would be a bonus!
In your bio it says you were an “ultra runner.”
Haha! Did I really say I was an ultra runner? I’ve run 50k and 50-mile races, but it’s been a couple of years so I hesitate to call myself an “ultra runner”.
What is ultra running?
I think it’s when you run anything longer than a marathon (26.2 miles).
How long have you been doing that?
I started running when I turned 40. It’s something I never thought I would enjoy, but a friend of mine invited me to train for a half-marathon around 10 years ago. It was tough at first, but, just like surfing, I eventually got hooked. I should also mention here that I’m not a fast runner, but I really do love it. I’m currently running 24 – 32 miles per week.
What was the longest race you have participated in and/or the hardest to accomplish?
A 50 miler is the longest race I’ve ran. I “blame” my wife, Lesley, for getting me to do it. (laughing) I was part of a trail running group called “Trail Crashers”, and they were talking about signing up for the PCT 50 in San Diego. Lesley said to me, “You should do that,” and I said okay without really thinking about what I was getting myself into.
The race was definitely challenging, but the hardest part was all of the training needed to condition myself for running 50 miles. There were weekends where the training plan had me run around 22 miles on Saturday and 26 miles on Sunday. That’s a lot of running and hiking! I actually didn’t mind the training especially since I was part of a great running group. It was the time away from my family that was tough.
After all was said and done, the PCT 50 was my most memorable run. The race is up in the mountains, and much of it is on the Pacific Crest Trail. It was snowing on the way up the mountain, and Lesley paced me back down for the second half of the race. It was an amazing experience, and running it with my wife made it extra special.
What does the training look like for a marathon?
It’s a commitment for sure, but I love setting up a challenge for myself to see if I can accomplish it. For me, training for races looks the same regardless of the distance. There’s the goal (finishing a race) but the real effort is sticking to and following a training plan for several months before a race.
You seem to really enjoy being a dad, can you talk a little about how that has changed your approach to the world?
I absolutely love being a dad. It’s very challenging but it’s also extremely fulfilling. Every day is different especially with newborns and toddlers. They grow up so quickly, and it’s fun – even mind-blowing – to watch them become their own unique personality. I’m not sure being a dad has changed my approach to the world, but it’s definitely given me a deeper appreciation and respect for my parents. Sometimes, when the kids are misbehaving, I realize that I used to do exactly what the kids are doing at that moment. My mom and dad were very patient with me, and this has definitely shaped my parenting “style”. I also want to give credit to my wife, Lesley, for being an amazing mom. I’m grateful that we work well together as a team especially when it comes to the kids.
Do you have any other interesting hobbies that you want to share?
I’m fascinated with all things paranormal, so, much to my wife’s chagrin, I like listening to podcasts and watching reality shows and documentaries about that subject. The possibility of UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, and even “ancient aliens” really intrigues me. The 2017 disclosure by the US government that the Pentagon was actively investigating reports of “unidentified aerial phenomena” is validation that there’s something strange going on in our skies. The footage they released that was captured by military pilots is incredible. I like to think that I have a healthy amount of skepticism, but I’m also really drawn to the “What if it’s true?” aspect of paranormal phenomena.
And my favorite questions to ask: Besides sushi… What is your all-time favorite food?
Oh man, that’s tough. I love to cook and eat! I’d have to say my favorite food is tacos, and if I have to choose just one, it would be fish tacos.
What is your favorite food to cook for yourself if it is not the same as above?
I love to cook chicken adobo with jasmine rice. Adobo is a Filipino dish, and it was one of the first things I asked my mom how to make when I moved out of the house. I guess you could say it’s my go-to comfort food. Chicken adobo is easy to make and super flavorful. Now I’m hungry!
What is your favorite food (or restaurant) to eat out?
Because we enjoy cooking, my wife and I don’t eat out much because our expectations can be pretty high (plus we don’t like to spend money on things we can do ourselves). That’s not to say we don’t like eating out, but we tend to order things we wouldn’t make for ourselves at home. One of our favorite places to eat is Captain Jack’s in Long Beach, where we go for the red king crab. It’s a decadent experience with huge, delicious portions of crab served in the shell. Since it’s a couple of hours away from us, we’ll find an excuse to go there on special occasions, but only if we’re heading north to visit friends or family.
Anything else you would like the world to know about yourself or your work?
I can’t think of anything else. Thanks, this was fun!
"As a project manager, it’s great to have a dependable team that has experience with several aspects of our industry."
James Loren - Senior Project Manager, 729 Solutions
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