Today I’ve got the authors of a worldwide artistic movement. Evan Meyer and Ruben Rojas. Evan, the founder of a highly successful SAS company, and Ruben with a finance background. Both artists, who were able to use their business knowledge and scaling abilities to turn this hobby of making “ugly” walls beautiful and run a successful nonprofit and for-profit called Beautify Earth…which is responsible for painting murals for over 60 brands, in over 80 cities worldwide, over a hundred local NGO’s with over 10,000 murals!
LISTEN to this pod right here by clicking play or choose your favorite listening platform below. You can also WATCH the video podcast below that! Check out the show notes at the bottom to get more details about the contents of this episode. Enjoy!
Show notes in order of appearance:
- Ruben’s last oh shit moment.
- Evan’s oh shit and hell yea moment.
- We’re gonna talk about making ugly things beautiful, about art, we’re gonna talk about making money with art, bureaucracies, and loops, but first Sebastian wants to know how Evan and Ruben met.
- Evan and Ruben share a bed together.
- Comfortable of masculine men to share close spaces. Importance of sharing vulnerability amongst business partners.
- A moment in Evan and Ruben’s initial friendship when they realized they could potentially be business partners.
- Beautify Lincoln in Venice, CA. The very first Beautify Earth project.
- Why should we beautify cities and boring or ugly walls? Besides the obvious visual aspect.
- Started mini projects like Beautify Williamsburg and other cities.
- Seb asks, “How can you just reach out to cities? It sounds very bureaucratic to get permits and things like that can you give any advice to anyone trying to get through to a city for a specific project?”
- Ruben was in finance and at one point realizes, “Hey I can be an artist full time and make a living out of this.”
- Seb asks, “How does it feel when you realize you can make money doing something that drives you like art? Especially with art… seems very fairy tale.”
- Evan’s successful SAS company Ride Amigos and handling a side hustle and passion.
- Where is Beautify Earth at today? Beautify Earth’s for-profit sector.
- Importance of implementing a for-profit aspect in order to scale.
- Importance of implementing operations into such a large scale art project and bring in skills from “traditional” business into scaling art and creativity.
- Showing companies what badass wall art can do for them.
- Ruben’s favorite art installation.
- How artists can get in touch with Beautify to become a part of the team in their own city.
- Evan and Ruben give their 2 most important traits for a conscious leader to embody.
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Below is a transcript of the video podcast created by Seb’s Robot buddy, Zekton. He tends to make mistakes so please forgive him if you find errors or some funky sounding sentences. For the real deal, watch the video or click on your favorite audio Podcast platform above! Enjoy!
Sebastian Naum (00:09):
What up guys? You know, I feel like one of the things that people perceive to be the hardest to monetize is creativity. You may be thinking that’s not true. Creativity is heavily monetized, and that is in fact the truth. But when it comes to being an artist or becoming an artist, it may seem like one of the hardest careers to go after. Have you noticed how bad-ass and beautiful street art and wall murals have become over the past decade? Have you actually noticed the difference that a sick mural makes to a particular street, especially if that street or wall was a dump before and now it’s filled with creativity that inspires well, this beautification process of rough streets and boring walls has been blowing up today. I’ve got the authors of that movement, Evan Mayer and Rubin Roe huts, Evan, the founder of a highly successful SAS company and Ruben with a finance background, both artists who were able to use their business knowledge and scaling abilities to turn this hobby of making quote unquote ugly walls, beautiful and run a successful non-profit. And for-profit called beautiful earth, which is responsible for painting murals for over 60 different brands in over 80 cities worldwide, for more than a hundred local NGOs with over 10,000 neurals that is a crazy number. Hang out with Evan Rubin and myself, and listen to not just their story of how they got to where they are today and how a side hustle and passion can become a worldwide movement, but also to why we should even be paying attention to this beautification process in the first place. Enjoy the show.
Sebastian Naum (01:42):
What’s up guys. Welcome to the show. How’s it going? It’s going right on guys. Right on. I’m excited. We’re going to talk about some cool today. We’re going to talk about art. We’re going to talk about scaling art internationally. We’re going to talk about bureaucracies issues with cities. We’re going to talk about making money with art. It’s going to be a good time, but first I always like to ask my guests. I’m going to start with Ruben. Ruben. When was your last Oh, moment.
Ruben Rojas (02:11):
Ooh. Uh, when my dog Tuesday came over to me with a little hanky that said,
Sebastian Naum (02:21):
Oh, that’s awesome. I love that. That’s amazing. Amazing. Congrats. I haven’t. When was your last hell yam moment? Oh man. I had an Oh moment. I know. I got you. There you go. Oh. Give us the Oh. Anyway, I was making chicken broth and I realized I had a, I take, I mashed the bones in my chicken broth and then it’s a little bit of a thing. And then I had to strain it and I put it in a pot, but the pop was a little soapy. It wasn’t rinsed well. So I had the chicken broth didn’t work out
Ruben Rojas (03:01):
That is called self cleaning, chicken broth, Evan for a man of efficiency. You drink it and your teeth are already brushed and clean for your gut health Palmolive. Yeah,
Sebastian Naum (03:14):
That’s awesome guys. Well, I’m excited to get going into our and talking about beautifying and everything, but you know, I got to say that I’ve heard that you guys have cried on each other’s shoulders before you’ve shared a bed together. So give us a little bit of the good stuff, a little bit of background on that.
Evan Meyer (03:32):
We should, we should just get right into the goods, get right into it. Who’s the fork and who’s the spoon. Rubin’s got a few pounds on me. So I think he likes to be the, uh, the big spoon for the work efficiency of mattress space. That’s right. Yeah, it’s true. We had to share, we had to share a mattress a couple of times. Um, one time it was smaller than other than another time. Um, uh, one time was in a workshop that we took together and we had a little bit of an outing and there was a shortage of beds and we said, screw it. We’ll share it. And that was a twin size bed if I recall correctly. Right. That was, that was a twin.
Evan Meyer (04:20):
Oh yeah. Very good. Rupert is a great sleeper though. I will say he’s not an aggressive sleeper. Doesn’t snore, you know, I mean really, really doesn’t swing his arms or anything. It was really pleasant. Um, and then the second time we were, uh, Reuben, why don’t you tell the second time, the second time we were in this charming little town in Clarksdale, calm Clarksdale and Mississippi. And we stayed at this really cool place called the shack up Inn, which basically is a plotted, muddy dirt, literally. Cause there’s planks, you have to walk off or you kind of fall into the mud pit. And it was just 10 and we slept in there and it’s because our other buddy was with us, but he’s six, four, and got even more pounds on both of us. So sharing a bed with him was really not the move. So Mississippi, he sleeps with his arms. I can’t really do it in this view, but his arms are wide wide angle. I remember him saying like, no, we can’t do it. Cause he takes up the whole bed with his arms and legs spread open. Remember,
Sebastian Naum (05:26):
I love that. So clearly you guys have become close over the years. You’ve become close friends. Um, and outside of all the joking around it, you know, I think, um, clearly the guests been vulnerable about each other around each other. Now outside of having to share a bed, I know you guys have become close friends and you’ve shared vulnerability. How important do you guys feel that having shared vulnerability between business partners can be in a partnership
Ruben Rojas (05:54):
It’s important because when I don’t call Evan back, he
Ruben Rojas (05:58):
Tells me and lets me know, instead of holding it against me and vice versa, we tell each other things and we have no problem doing it. I think that’s the most important thing because we’ve, we’ve had other people and we’ve worked with other people and sometimes you just hold it in and it’s either Evan and I talking to each other about other things because we can’t talk to that person about it. So I think it’s, it’s good. It’s healthy.
Sebastian Naum (06:22):
That’s great. It is healthy. I mean, it’s, it’s good to be able to communicate all that. It just allows for just to get into the next thing. And now I have to worry about holding grudges or anything weird going on, you know, allows you to focus on the business and, and focus on, on your mission. Yeah. So, um, at what point, uh, Evan, did you guys realize that the friendship could turn into, uh, you know, business partners or was it kind of the other way around where like the idea started flowing about the business and then the PR the friendship?
Evan Meyer (06:51):
Yeah, well, I think it sort of started together. There was a, there was a passionate moment around the mission that, that, um, when we met that sort of created those sort of future engagement very naturally. So I think they sort of grew together. Um, we became missionaries together. Um, while our friendship grew, please share, uh, the mission or is to end ugly wall syndrome, uh, and to, uh, eliminate the world’s ugliness, uh, or in our urban environments or even suburban environments. Um, and, um, by using art as a way to create color and inspiration, instead of blend boring blighted facades that we have to experience every day and we realized the power of inspiration and the power and color and the power that art has. Um, and it should be understood universally, um, parts are, we just got taken a backseat and now we’re exposing that through, um, through what we do.
Sebastian Naum (08:03):
I love that. I love that. And let’s why don’t we talk about that very first project, which was beautified Lincoln and for anyone listening that needs that context. So Lincoln Boulevard is actually a little chunk of PCH, which is Pacific coast highway and Pacific coast highway basically runs all the way up and down Northern, like all the way up and down the coast, California gorgeous and Lincoln Boulevard that chunk runs through Venice, California. And like, you know, 10, 15 years ago, Venice was pretty rough to say the least and still is. And in some ways, and it’s crazy, cause you’ve got some rough streets around like multimillion dollar homes. It’s a little bit of an anomaly, but Lincoln was, you know, for lack of better word, pretty ugly. So what was beautiful Lincoln? How did that start? Which was the seed that basically planted for, uh, you know, international scale. So what was that about?
Evan Meyer (08:56):
Yeah. Um, that was well, let’s see, I was part of my neighborhood association at the time. Uh, I called the urban park association and I always like to say that just a little plug for community and local, local orgs and neighborhood associations get involved and join a neighborhood association. If you have a feeling about something you want to change or something you want to do, it all starts local. It all starts at your neighborhood level. So I always say quit complaining about federal politics. Start getting involved in local in local activism and make a difference it’s change you can make. And it actually started there where I was part of, um, uh, this, uh, our neighborhood association here in Santa Monica. And there was a, this, this, this stinking link, it was called stinking Lincoln is what everyone was referring to it as. And there was a lot of politics around who the city owner stayed on it and how they’re getting that money and make it better and all the ways that improvement.
Evan Meyer (09:54):
And I should say other than I think some bus lane changes and some street pavements not much has been done in the last 10 years, other than the dozens of murals that we started doing there, uh, that have now transformed pockets of Lincoln. It’s super, super cool to see. And, um, and it runs through Santa Monica and Venice. And, uh, during this time, uh, other little, um, neighbor, uh, other beautified projects took off. This was about eight or nine years ago and other little knit beautify Crenshaw took off. And we had beautify Rockaways in Brooklyn, all these little, you know, bringing people together to make a difference. And at the same time, uh, Ruben and I were doing this thing together. And, um, can we realize there’s an opportunity to turn this into a global, uh, real global movement together. Uh, and uh, we formed a nonprofit called beautiful earth and, uh, we, uh, plowing the ugly fields of walls ever since. And that is,
Sebastian Naum (10:58):
And just to tell anyone out there exactly what it is that you guys do, like just specifically like you paint murals and like electrical boxes and things like you basically make them bad, right? Like what, what do you guys do on these, on these ugly walls?
Ruben Rojas (11:13):
Yeah. So basically it, you seen beige and gray and it’s taking over the world and it looks like prisons, right? It’s like, where’s nature. Where does it look like? You put a little bit of color, even it’s as simple as blue triangles or red circles or yellow circles, it doesn’t matter or Epic masterpieces. And when you start realizing, as people start feeling better, they take more responsibility and they look at something that’s actually a work of art. There’s just a huge difference. So it’s simply the before and after is really what the powerful thing is. People sometimes think, well, I’m not an artist or I’m not this, or I can’t do that. Paint the whole thing pink. Right. There’s a very famous building in West Hollywood on Melrose. And just, that makes a difference. So it doesn’t have to be like a photo, realistic portrait of a person. It could be simply as an amazing, bright, perfect color. So, and that’s it, it just makes everything completely different.
Sebastian Naum (12:11):
I love that. And I know Evan, you just touched on it just before, but it’s not just the visual aspects of the obvious of making something beautiful. It does a lot more than that, right? It does. Yeah. So tell me a little bit about that. Why do you think it inspires? How does it change the vibe of the neighborhood of the street?
Evan Meyer (12:30):
Sure. Well, I’ll start with just carrying forth with what Ruben was saying. I think it’s a good segue into what you’re asking, which is the difference is intention. The difference is something that feels and looks like it was cared for versus something that looks and feels like there was tagging there and you covered it up with blotchy paint. Like what do people look at? Like when you look at that wall, what do you think, Oh, that had tagging on it. Now it looks like two tones of uneven, beige different tones of beige like that. It looked probably look better with the tagging. I’d almost rather see writing on the wall sometimes than the way that they cover it up. It’s so bad because at least it’s authentic the covering up. It’s just like you’re hiding someone’s expression. Um, and so the, the, the difference is intention.
Evan Meyer (13:28):
And what happens when you put forth that intention is most of these problems? I won’t say all of them, but up to 95% of the tagging starts to go away because people are not interested in destroying art. Some people do, and that’s really neat. Okay. But it does, it reduces it by like where we’ve seen and not just us, but even academically and research that’s been done. And through many arts organizations, even San Francisco started giving money to landlords who got tagged a lot because they realize it’s a better investment than covering graffiti. Um, so that’s another one of the byproducts. So it’s the way you feel. And this all starts with the way you feel when something is ugly. Um, and I want to use that word carefully because that can sometimes be, um, when it’s, when it is unintentionally neglected or intentionally neglected or an unintentional wall space with intentional neglect, you feel that that’s the difference. So like Ruben said, it could be a pink wall. It could be a triangle, it could be simple tasteful design, but it’s showing that you took the time to even think about it. It could be cheap. And it could be just a little bit of thought. That’s all. I love
Sebastian Naum (14:52):
That, man. So it’s the intention. And essentially it changes the energetics. It changes the energy that it gives out, which helps create a different energy around that street, around that neighborhood and inspires. I love it.
Evan Meyer (15:03):
It’s a cared for space and people start caring for the space, reduce later, reduce loitering and vandalism and everything increased foot traffic. People come to see the art. It’s an economic play. It’s one of the best things you could do for the economics of a small street, like is to bring art and culture to it and expose that to the world.
Sebastian Naum (15:23):
I love it, man. That’s awesome. So can you just reach out to cities and just try to get stuff done? It sounds so complicated. It sounds bureaucratic. You know what I mean? Like what, like, can you give, if you had to give, you obviously had to jump through a lot of hoops, are there any tips you can give to someone that’s trying to do stuff with the city that you’d be like, dude, just go at it this way and it’ll actually save you some time.
Ruben Rojas (15:45):
I, I want to answer this in one way and it’s complimented together. You gotta be tenacious and you got to not take no for an answer. Like Evan’s been plowing through Santa Monica for years, and then even now it’s still, if it wasn’t for our love for what we’re doing, it’s kind of one sided. Like that part is going to get all the benefits, but do it for the benefit of what you’re trying to accomplish. Don’t worry about what the city cares about or the politics or this you’re going to have to swallow your pride and ego in many cases, but just be strong on your mission moving forward. But that aside from tips,
Sebastian Naum (16:25):
So keep that mission and be tenacious.
Evan Meyer (16:28):
Yeah. For the sake of, and for the sake of clarity, I, I, the relationship with the city of Santa Monica has been wonderful for for many years, and it’s difficult to get things done in general in sometimes through cities, when you have an idea and you want to push it forward, I have been so grateful for the relationships and the support of the city and the different neighborhood groups. We have built some like, it’s truly all of these, these, these local organizations and the city that have come together for some amazing projects. But, um, but like Ruben says, yeah, it does take tenacity. Um, you may be the only one or have a few people who absolutely see in a small city, the power that art has, or that murals have, or right to make this kind of transport, um, transformation to do it on private walls and private buildings than other things. So, you know, it’s, it’s really about building community, working together with the local, with the different groups and, and, and yeah, it’s sort of, it’s not much different than any form of entrepreneurship. Not everyone sees what you see immediately. You have to sometimes educate and enroll and get people to, to bring people on board, to get them to understand. And when, no matter what the vision is, that’s what building a mission. That’s what building a business is. It’s with building it or whatever it is you’re doing, right?
Evan Meyer (17:55):
These are different.
Ruben Rojas (17:56):
And to add to that, isn’t it like one right door? You knock on, like, we’ve done murals with almost every department in multiple cities. You would think it’s arts and cultural affairs or this or that. But no, it’s like the quirks or trash or that, uh, police department or the neighborhood association. You never know who you’re going to be working with other local nonprofits that are boosting small business, like, uh, biz business improvement districts, right? The PIO on Pico, things like that. Main street has a bid too. So there’s different bids in different cities and different communities that you can also be working with to help move all of this.
Sebastian Naum (18:35):
That’s super interesting. And a great point because it translates to just about everything else. You’re trying to work with big corporations or big companies. And you think that you got to reach this C-level executive or this manager or this title or this one, and maybe they like five different people say no, but just keep knocking on the door from different. Somebody says yes. And you get to it, you know, and that’s okay.
Evan Meyer (18:54):
Don’t take no for an answer. If it’s a good nature thing, you believe in it in your heart. And you know, you know, not everyone at the same priorities as you. And, um, so that’s, that’s really, the tip is expect that most people are gonna say, no, you have to be welcoming that. And learning each time they say no about why and getting smarter in your approach. Um, it’s learning.
Sebastian Naum (19:21):
Yeah, absolutely. With anything in business. Yeah. So Reuben, you were in finance and you were doing this as a side project. You used to draw, you weren’t like, you were like, you knew you were an artist, but you weren’t like, it wasn’t necessarily like a part of who you were as like, Hey, I can do. At what point did you see it? And like, Hey, this can be a career. Like I can make money doing this. I can, I can make money making art. And I think that that’s a really important thing too, because art is one of those things that seems kind of, fairytaley like, Oh yeah, like not like, you know, like five people could make money. Do you know, do an art, like when did that hit you? And what was that like? What was that feeling like? Hey guys, I just want to remind you, if you want to find more content like this, you can visit Sebastian nom.com. That’s Sebastian, N a U m.com. You can also get a ton of other marketing resources for myself and my agencies ranging from SEO to social media, influencer, marketing, branding, web development, and more again, that’s Sebastian nom.com. Thank you. And enjoy the rest of the show.
Ruben Rojas (20:20):
Well, it didn’t happen right away. I mean, I painted the first one second one, the third one, and I still worked full-time for three years. I was doing both for three years before I finally said, you know what? I’m not going to the office anymore. And part of it is you have to bet on yourself, but you’ve got to be smart. And anyone that asks like, how do I beat turn my side, hustle into something you got to make sure enough is coming in to keep you afloat so that when you do quit, you’re not back to the safety net like, Oh, rents, do I got to go get back a job? So realizing that, so I was testing out, how can I make money doing art? Whether it was my art or not, it didn’t matter. Can I bring in a project? Can it feed me and doing that several times over and over now you could replicate something.
Ruben Rojas (21:05):
So in finance, I had a formula it’s ten three, one, 10 meetings. Three of them keep one becomes a client. So I knew that every time I had 10 meetings on the books, I would keep three of those appointments and one would become a client. So I could start counting on income. There was no formula to art. There’s nothing I could put like that, but I was starting to see, well, how can I bring in projects that paid me something, whether I did the art or hired someone to do the art or project manage or yada yada yada. So it’s just, it was a little bit of a balancing act and then continually to bet on myself and then realizing all of this became something I didn’t know from day one, that this was where I was going to be. I had no idea, but I always say Evan’s the one that made me paint my first mural.
Ruben Rojas (21:50):
So he’s the, he’s the founding member of Ruben, but also with the platform and with beautify, it’s really, what’s been really difficult is in artist. And we, and I’m only speaking from experiences. Artists are very focused on one thing and they have tunnel vision and they don’t realize that if you start working with other organizations, giving up pieces of things to help sell your work, you’re actually moving forward. And moving ahead. So one of the beauties about what we’re doing here is we’re creating this marketplace to allow artists to put up their resumes for free to go look for walls for free. And if you get a project you get paid and yes, beautified takes a piece of that. So we got to keep the lights on. We got to continue developing, but now if you get a big chunk of something from a project that wasn’t there, maybe you do two, three, four a year there’s income. Now you can start counting on, that’s actually a little bit of a formula. It’s not 10 31, but once a month, go try to get a project. Maybe you land one on top of everything else that you’re doing. Right. So just realizing that partnering with people and collaborating with people is going to get you to move forward and move ahead because we can’t do everything on our own. I should.
Sebastian Naum (23:09):
Yeah. That’s great advice. And I think bringing up the aspect of the side hustle, you know, I wanted to actually bring that same thing up, uh, to Evan and cause I know Evan, you have, you ha you know, you had, you were involved in a very successful SAS company called right. Amigos, which I know you’re still partly involved with, but at the time it was, you know, your main thing, it was your baby and you’re fully committed to that. So how do you manage, how important was the side hustle, which would beautify also like Ruben side hustle when that side hustle also has a lot of passion involved. Right. And really care about that mission. How do you, how do you manage that?
Evan Meyer (23:49):
Yeah. Um, good question. Um, yeah. Right. And he goes is also my baby. I love, I love the company. I love the mission. I love the people. The team is amazing. I was one of the hardest things is like, I love these people. Like, uh, you know, it was, it was, it was emotional. It’s a relationship in your life. Um, and the way I managed it is I never really partied with him. Like I parted with the day to day, but I never, like, I’m still like, you know, feel like I’m part of the company. I just don’t day to day I’m, you know, I’m, I’m at this point probably close, closest to considered as an advisor, um, to the company. Uh, and after, geez, I guess 12 years, 13 years almost since I started it. Um, yeah, I think that’s it. It’s always a piece of you like, and you know, these are people who’ve become friends of mine like this, this, this is, uh, this is a family. Um, right. Amigos is a family. I think
Sebastian Naum (25:06):
That I’m getting, sorry to interrupt you, that I’m getting from both of you guys is like, look at the end of the day, there’s a lot of schools of thoughts that people say you need to focus a hundred percent of your energy on one thing. Um, and then there’s that idea of like, you know, don’t put all your eggs in one basket and, you know, have a bunch of different things. And like, obviously that can get, you could spread yourself too thin, but I’m a big believer in the side hustle. And that side hustle can become your main hustle. And when it becomes your main hustle, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your other main hustle that you had before is dead or goes away. It could also then now that main hustle becomes another one of your side hustles. And so if you can learn how to manage that and find great team members, like you were saying, Evan, and count on people, and that’s a way to, to, to also diversify yourself, um, your skillsets to keep life exciting.
Sebastian Naum (25:56):
And also, Hey, like at different times, you know, in life too, like some things won’t do as well as others. And it also helps too, in terms of like, obviously your, your personal economics, but more so than anything is the idea too, of being able to pursue like a different missions and passions, which is, which is I think pretty awesome. So guys, where’s beautiful earth at today. It’s scaled a ton. How many cities are you in, in the world? And also it started started as a nonprofit, but you guys created a for-profit branch. So what’s the dynamic there.
Evan Meyer (26:28):
Uh, um, all right, well, I’ll, I’ll give the stats first. Um, uh, to date, we have been able to place, uh, through, um, um, uh, hand curated murals, local policy and organization working, uh, to help build and train other local organizations we have now placed over 10,000, uh, murals.
Evan Meyer (26:55):
Evan Meyer (26:56):
Amazing. Yeah. We’re and, and a lot of that, most of that was all done really well. Ruben and I it’s been tough. We haven’t made a dollar yet from, from anything with beautifying the last decade. Um, other than if someone pays us to do, uh, our own art, cause we’re both artists obviously. So, you know, if, if I get hired as an artist, um, you know, then sometimes I get hired on as an artist. Our profiles are on, are on beautified. Um, but, uh, we’ve worked with hundreds of local NGOs, uh, and, and, uh, municipalities we’ve and we, uh, and other local orgs. And we have, uh, worked with over 50 national brands to date. Wow. Yeah, like some awesome campaigns around community lead to local leadership and communities and community leaders. And, um, to, to supporting, you know, uh, homeless, uh, ending homelessness with recently with the people’s concern.
Evan Meyer (27:56):
Um, and, uh, to, um, there’s just all of these different causes that you can identify basically that have been promoted as part of these, uh, sponsored campaigns, uh, which is really, really special. Um, so in basically in seeing all of the success through the non, through the work of the nonprofit, we realized it’s time, we ease the pain of the logistics and the execution, and a lot of the laborious work that goes into it, negotiating and planning and figuring all this stuff out. And we need to build a technology platform that is going to help this mission continue to thrive faster than ever. So we are one family. Uh, usually it starts the other way around where you have that you for profit, that then creates a nonprofit for whatever reason they decide. We came with heart, soul, passion and volunteerism first for almost a decade, and then realized in order to take this thing to the next level and leverage the power of capitalism and economics, and really incentivize people in the right way to see the economic value of art. And that is what we are so focused on now is we are creating and finally showing the real value that has just not been able to, this is why like schools can’t get funding for art easily, right? If the, always the first thing to go and arguably one of the most important things you can have in your life emotionally, creatively, and it’s always the first thing to go. And it’s because people are not able to quantify that value and we are finally becoming able to do that.
Sebastian Naum (29:38):
That’s that’s awesome. So it’s how important is it to bring
Sebastian Naum (29:42):
Those aspects from when you created the poor for a for-profit side of the business and bringing traditional business aspects into the nonprofit in order to make it scale, right. The operations and the technology, like you said, I mean, it’s key, right. To bring that aspect and to make it, to bring the good things of capitalism, right. That the benevolent aspect of capitalism into it.
Evan Meyer (30:10):
Yeah. Sorry. Uh, I, I think I, I, I’m not clear exactly on the question. Can you read it more like a statement,
Sebastian Naum (30:23):
But yeah, I guess, are there certain aspects or like certain aspects of the operations of the for-profit that make it easier to scale? Like, are there specific aspects of like what a traditional business had that made it easier for this bit, for this to now scale and get to soap, you know, 50,000 murals in so many cities and worldwide?
Ruben Rojas (30:46):
Yeah. So the way I would answer that is just telling you how a mural comes to fruition, right? The timeline could be anywhere from a month to a year, and it started with door knocking, Hey, do you want a mural, your walls ugly, Hey, you know, just like old school, real estate canvassing, then you go from there and then you go back and forth on things. They finally say yes, then you go back and forth on an artist and you go back and forth on design, and then you go back and forth on money. Then you go back and forth on supplies, insurance, and all that. Then you go back and like, that is a lot of time conversations, emails, and talking to people. And how many of those can you actually do maybe 10 a month if you’re a efficient person? So what the technology does is removes all the back and forth because now it’s just in the platform. So essentially you could be doing a hundred now versus 10. So it took a lot of that out. There’s still all that conversation to get to that point, but it’s just streamlined. Now you could have one person project managing a whole bunch of projects where before it was, so hands-on that one project manager actively had maybe four projects and the tool’s not,
Evan Meyer (32:02):
I gonna have to be just used for murals. It could be used for any sort of minor infrastructure. You create a project that community wants to do, or someone wants to get done. Cities can use it to manage these projects, um, organization, you know, local orgs and even big corporations can be using this to manage. So there’s, you know, we’re, um, they have it all in one place. They don’t need to go to multiple, uh, uh, parties to do all of the things they would have normally done. One vendor. We handle everything, all the contracting insurance payments, just we make, we take all that liability off of HR departments. We are the, um, yeah, or for cities in general, we just did another one where they manage like a dozen projects right off the bat through, uh, uh, of the K rails project here in Santa Monica that we did, it was like that would have taken months. And we basically between starting it through the pro, uh, an ending it through beautify was a matter of weeks. That’s normally taken like six months or something or something like that.
Sebastian Naum (33:07):
I’m, I’m obsessed with that aspect of bringing, you know, traditional business aspects into like a nonprofit or a give back, uh, in order to scale it. And you can just make such, such more of a difference. And also, you know, it also helps make more money, which helps make more, more of a difference, which is essentially what this podcast is all about. Right. In a sense. And so one of my missions in a way, when, um, you know, you think about the cost of that giving back and doing good and like conscious quote unquote capitalism and things like that, you know, you know what we’re growing up, uh, you know, the, the idea of like giving back or volunteering or doing nice was like, kind of nerdy. You know, if you think about it, and this is not going to go across the board for anybody, for everybody that’s listening, but you know, you grow up and it’s not like the coolest kid in school was the one volunteering and doing purpose driven things.
Sebastian Naum (33:55):
You know what I mean? And if they were a lot of the times, they were probably hiding it again, there’s exceptions to it, but that, wasn’t the thing. So part of my mission is kind of like, you know, showing that this, this is really cool actually, and you could actually make a lot of money doing it and money equals freedom. And the more money you can make and the more freedom you can have, the more of a difference you can make and you can actually scale good. So I know you guys resonate with that and in a little bit of a different manner, you guys, um, how is it that you’re like part of your mission is also showing some, you know, big time companies, quote, unquote, boring companies, maybe that some bad art can really make cool and actually help businesses as well.
Ruben Rojas (34:35):
Yeah. So being in service, that’s it, it’s the greatest reward because if you just do it, it feels good. And some of the Easter eggs at the end of that journey, where all of a sudden, like here as an example, I did good and had a couple people help me paint a mural. One happens to be the head of X company that then says, Hey, I want to do 20 of these. And then something like that continues moving forward. So that’s one example of things that have happened. But at the end of the day, all we wanted to do is I go out and paint an ugly wall. Cool. And have some people take responsibility and few really cool about it. And also these adults are feeling like children. And to go back to what you originally said, you know, I know, I remember when I was growing up, the only back stuff was like in church and religion.
Ruben Rojas (35:26):
I don’t remember. It’s becoming the culture it’s becoming, like, we start seeing a lot of companies are wanting to give back to the community. It’s like, there’s a billboard and there’s that marketing, but is it really speaking to who’s in your neighborhood? Where are these corporate offices? What can they do in that immediate neighborhood? Not just advertise to the world or the masses. And it’s just super rewarding. Take the money out of it, take the awards, take everything out of it when you’re done. It just feels good. And that feels right. And that’s all that matters.
Evan Meyer (35:59):
Yeah. I think the, like, there’s nothing cooler than, than being part of the community that you’re serving. Like that’s the coolest, like, like working within the community, putting a box in a community and saying, buy our stuff and having a, just a bell planting your box there and your corporate box and, and thinking that everyone’s like, Oh, that’s not cool. You’re just being big and corporate. And you know, I’m not, it’s the way it is at the moment. But our, one of our missions is to help corporations integrate into local, into local communities. Use local artists, embrace the local values and the local carte cultures. Don’t just plop your box on a, on a main street and think everything’s cool. That’s not cool. You’re immediately going to be like, Oh, the big company is going to come and drop their box in the middle of our little street.
Evan Meyer (37:00):
That’s a problem. No one wants that. They take it because they have to, there is value there. They do provide product or service. That’s important, but it’s the feeling right? Again, it’s the intention like, did you just plop your box in the middle of our main street or did you try to show that you’re part of this community? And it doesn’t take a lot, but it does take a little thinking about it and thoughtfulness, and that’s cool. It’s cool to relate to the people that you’re trying to sell to. It’s cool to get a feeling that it’s not just about selling it’s about you actually caring about the people that you’re selling to, because the things that you’re selling and the services you’re providing are making their lives better, and it’s important for them to thrive and you really do care. And if you don’t, it comes off that way. We want to help them tell that story and, and be authentic and embrace and change the cultures in the organizations. So that they’re thinking about not trying to be authentic, how do we become authentic, but actually being authentically caring. Amen. That’s awesome.
Ruben Rojas (38:17):
And if we’re going to add to that, let’s add one more thing. It creates company culture, right? These companies are trying to create a culture, are trying to create loyalty amongst their employees. How do you start nurturing that, get engaged, get them engaged. And that starts adding to that culture of giving. And then they realizing, Oh, my company cares about me too. Not just the community and getting them involved and activated. Absolutely,
Sebastian Naum (38:42):
Absolutely. Ruben, do you have a favorite mural that you painted?
Ruben Rojas (38:46):
You know, I get asked that a lot and they’re kind of all have their own, very special, unique story and share and stuff that goes with it. So they all are. Evan would like me to say that it’s rebirth, which is on the corner of ocean park and main because we did it together. I would say it’s the default answer should automatically be the first one I ever painted, but probably my five favorite ultimate. When I look back just hasn’t been painted yet. Okay. Suspenseful,
Sebastian Naum (39:32):
There’s a guitar in your background where you’re trying to tell us you want her to play something on the guitar. Did you want to play something right now? I just, I’m just trying to like feel you right now. I don’t know if that’s,
Ruben Rojas (39:42):
There’s a guitar in the background. Uh, uh, only because, uh, music is a big part of my life. I, um, well feel free if I have to, I realized, I realized to do this. I sort of have to take some time here and move things around. I realized I didn’t prepare. I can.
Sebastian Naum (40:04):
Next time. We’ll make you sing something.
Ruben Rojas (40:06):
Yeah, I could probably do it. It just have to set it up
Sebastian Naum (40:12):
Right on guys. Can artists get in touch with you to become part of the team and make some money doing badass and ugly, boring walls in their own cities around the country, around the world, because how does that work
Ruben Rojas (40:27):
Go to beautify earth.com, registered as an artist, put a minimum of five completed murals up there and start trying to apply to them, to walls and stuff. Obviously you can email us as well. There’s a ton of information on there, but the easiest, first thing you should do is start your account, register your profile. It’s like the LinkedIn for artists, a little goal that we have.
Sebastian Naum (40:52):
That’s cool. That’s really cool. Both of you guys are, you know, great examples of conscious leaders. Um, Evan, what do you think are two most important traits that a conscious leader has to embody today?
Evan Meyer (41:09):
Um, optimism. And I’m going to give three. Okay.
Ruben Rojas (41:22):
I know you asked for too, but I’m still going to get through it. Please get it.
Evan Meyer (41:27):
Ruben Rojas (41:29):
Want to say optimism with realism is your base, but pushing
Evan Meyer (41:34):
Forth, optimistically, um, learning, being well, being able to see things objectively and take feedback often and continually iterate on what, on what you need to do to create your vision. Yeah. And third is empathy. Um, I mean, I could probably give six, but these are just the top three there’s communication. Uh, I could, I could get it, but empathy is so important and I don’t mean it in like maybe I do it. It became like a buzzword a little bit, but I know what you mean about the bus stuff, right? You’d be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and realize that there’s many different perspectives in the world. And not everyone thinks like you do sort of like a step of becoming an adult too. Right? You realize like, Oh, not a lot of people forget that they still haven’t embraced that people have different priorities. They think differently. And you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes to understand what they need in order to see the value in what you’re doing or why they just don’t need it. And it’s not for them and be able to swallow that. And that’s fine. Not everything is for everybody, but that’s, so I’m gonna go with optimistic realism, uh, learning relentlessly and empathy. I love it. Ruben
Ruben Rojas (43:07):
I’ll make it shorter since Evan took all that. And I’m just kidding. Um, Simon Sinek, let’s take a page out of his book, start with why, why are you doing this? You can burn out at anything, no matter how much you love it. So you gotta have your wives secure and strong and it directs everything. Your direction. Your come from keeps you empathetic, keeps you learning, keeps you optimistic. And then the other one is personal responsibility. Also falls into a few things that Evan said, but I always have to check myself as like, what did I not do here for you to not understand what I was trying to tell you? Instead of saying, you don’t understand me, you did it wrong. That’s not fair. Right? Evident. I think completely different, like way differently. Um, so we got it. That’s part of our relationship on how moving that forward. So personal responsibility and know your way.
Sebastian Naum (44:03):
That’s awesome guys. Well, uh, for anyone listening, you’ll be able to check out the show notes and get all the links in there to follow Evan, Paul Rubin and follow, uh, beautiful earth. And, uh, if you’re listening to the audio podcast and you still have, and you like this and you haven’t subscribed, just, just subscribe already. And seriously guys loved it. Thank you so much. You guys are awesome conscious leaders. So just keep being, you guys really appreciate you being on today. Thank you so much. Thank you for having us, Sebastian.