We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Arzt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Work like balance is one of biggest and most constant struggles in life. I am in a business forum and this is probably one of our most common discussions. Things have changed so much over the years. Being single and working for the man is so much different than being married with kids, having four businesses, potential opportunities and always hearing the ticking of life’s clock in the back of my head. Recently I have felt myself trying to push not so hard on work and chasing every possible opportunity. My daughter is 15 and my son is 12. My time with these two awesome humans by my side is getting limited and I think about it every day. I am now thinking more about stabilizing our current businesses while positioning myself to chase bigger things when they are out of the house. I am writing this from our RV from my cousin’s driveway in Moab. My son and I rallied out here for a week. We get up at 7 for school and work and we are trying to walk away each day at 2pm to adventure. He had a solid morning of school yesterday and then we went canyoneering in Arches National Park in the afternoon. If my wife and daughter were here also, I would call it successful work life balance. But pretty darn close.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Think what I love the most about my art and how it ties to my professional life is that photography was a hobby and passion since high school, Built my own darkroom in my parent’s basement. Was always shooting my friends snowboarding and screwing around. But when it came time for college and career I went the business route. Then into marketing in the snowboard industry. Wasn’t for several years in the snowboard world that I actually started shooting photos and selling them. So to have taken that and turned it into our business and now shooting imagery for some of the biggest and best companies in the world just blows my mind. I was standing on the top of a mountain in Greenland shooting photos for Warren Miller a couple years ago when it really hit me. Rob Kingwill and Seth Wescott were the pro snowboarders with us. I’ve known them both for 20+ years. There we were. In a place I could never have dreamed of going, doing something I never thought I’d get paid to do and with amazing long-time friends and heroes of mine. The fact that snapping photos got me there makes me very proud. The combination of snowboards and cameras has been really great for me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love how Denver and the surrounding areas often offer every season in one day. So much to do, it is almost hard to break it down into just one week. I’d start around the city. Right from the airport to Colorado Sporting Clays. People don’t understand how hard and fun it is to do sporting clays. Into the city for some bike rentals and cruising around. Milk Market is a must. Love all the Bonanno’s places but Milk Market is one-stop great food and times. Really awesome entrepreneurial story also. Seeing as though we own Battery621 at 621 Kalamath St I am pretty bias to that being a stop. Loving sharing about the mix of tenants that house there. Checking out what is being fabricated in our shop on any giving day, being shot in the studio and of course, a beer on the roof deck. Heading west, a hike at Red Rocks is always nice. Doesn’t matter what season. Love going up the canyon through Morrison and ending at the Little Bear in my town of Evergreen. Couple beers and then a walk around the lake. If feeling more adventurous a hike at Three Sisters. Even a bit more so, drive up Squaw Pass and hike to the fire tower on Squaw Mt. I think Evergreen is one of the most perfect places on the planet so endless other options here. One of the biggest outdoor skating rinks in the country is super fun in the winter. Further west and into the mountain towns and the sky is the limit.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Every single person I have crossed paths with over the years. There is no way I could sum it all up. Been so lucky to spend time with professional athletes, company founders, back country lodge operators, astronauts, random people in random places, etc. It never ends. Sure there were a couple a-holes along the ways, but I sure learned a lot from them also. My business partner and best friend, Frank Phillips, has been a force in my life for over 20 years. Ironically about the same time span as I have known my wife. These two people have made everything in my life possible. Jake Burton will also be one of my biggest heroes. His product changed my life. I went to work there for 7 years and get to spend time along side him. The culture of Burton Snowboards set the course for my partner Frank and I. Plus Frank and I met at Burton. Entrepreneurs Organization is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. A group of about 13,000 business owners from around the world. 140 members in our Colorado chapter. These are my peers. We learn, we share, we do our best to be better. Alan Lande / AKA Big Al – We met way back when. I needed to rent a condo in Whistler for a snowboard event and Al had condos. Big Al taught me you can be successful, know when to walk away from it, then focus on fun, but somehow continue to be successful. Full of wisdom, one-liners and the love of life. He’s been a mentor for over 20 years.
Website: www.thepublicworks.biz & www.battery621.com