Weston Westenborg - Problem Solver

Los Angeles Athletic Club - Downtown, Los Angeles

Weston Westenborg is a pretty sweet name. We met up at his second home, The Los Angeles Athletic Club in Downtown LA on an overcast Sunday afternoon. Weston works in tech and thinks a lot about the future, but his affection for the past and tradition is beyond endearing. He is also a representative on the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council, which is a pretty big deal to us here at SND. Weston’s enthusiasm for life and the things he loves is infectious.

What brought you to LA, and how did you find your way?
(Sighs) Well, I’m not really sure I’ve found my way. What brought me here was in 2009, my good friends were starting a company, and they wanted me to start it with them. It was called Farmscape. They are still around; they’re the largest urban farming company in California. I did that for four or five years, and it was great. So, yeah, that’s what brought me here.

How do you define yourself career wise?
I almost hate that question more than anything.I think it’s the most boring thing you can ask someone. I usually say, “I work at a tech company.” I think I need a better answer because people always wanna know what company I work for or more about that. I guess because tech is interesting right now or something.

What would you ask instead?
I guess it depends on the context of the situation. I’m more curious about where people live in LA or how they spend their time or what they do. Like, your work does define you in a bunch of ways, but at the same time… I spend most of my waking life thinking about work or talking about work because I am at work most of my life, so when I am not at there, I am happy to have to not engage in that anymore. So…

So, what is your company about exactly?
(Laughs) Joymode is a company based in Downtown LA. The general premise is that we want to enable people to have great experiences that they are not able to have because they are limited by the stuff that they own. What I mean by that is if you wanted to go camping next weekend, and you didn’t own any camping gear, you use our app, and we bring you a tent, camping stove, chairs, sleeping pads, and the whole shebang. Then you could go camping and come back with a small fraction of the cost that you would have paid to own that stuff. We pick it up when you’re done, and we clean everything. We have a bunch of other stuff like high-end kitchen equipment, power tools, and our backyard movie night package with a projector and chairs is our most popular. I’m the Head of operations.

Have you ever been called a hipster?
You know, I don’t think so. I think that I think of myself as a hipster, but then when people are talking about them with negative connotations they don’t, like, look over at me. It may because now I look like a more square, boring-preppy-dude-bro-tech-person or something. Someone called me a tech-bro the other day, and I was kind of offended. But, I used to be an urban farmer. Like… you know, moved into the not-the-nicest-neighborhood as it was gentrifying. Like… drink third wave coffee and craft beer and whiskey and all that shit. Like… listen to bands people have never heard of. Stopped liking those bands when they become popular…

What does being a millennial mean to you?
I remember before cell phones and internet, but not really. I remember the time that existed, but I never had to live my adult life before that existed. Technology has had a profound impact on how we think about the world. I think that exposure to technology, and all of these values that are in the cultural zeitgeist now--people wanting to live in cities, social cohesion, wanting to spend your career pursuing more than just money, etc.--are what define my generation.

How do you feel connected to your generation?
I feel very connected to my generation, and I think that I am pretty stereotypical of my generation, in that I value all of the things I just mentioned, wanting to live in a city, wanting more out of work than money, etc. I guess I also love the internet, and technology, and think that our generation is going to have a powerful and positive impact on the world compared to where we are inheriting it.

What is your favorite thing about living in Atwater?
I think that Atwater is the best place to live in the world. It’s the place that I am happiest, and I love everything about it.

What are your favorite spots in Atwater?
Favorite places... Proof Bakery. Tacos Villa Corona. Individual Medley. Dune. Canele. Farmer’s Market. The LA River. There’s a bunch of great stuff up on Los Feliz too. Oh, and Alias Books!

How do you get around the city?
I have a car. I try to take the bus to work - I work Downtown. For awhile I had to drive a lot for my work, but that’s not really an issue anymore. I’ve been trying to take the bus to work every morning. It drops me super close to The Club [LAAC]. So, I’ll swim, sauna, shower and then walk to the office from here. Then usually bus home.

Do you see yourself staying in LA?
I think so, yeah. Everyone has their flights of fancy: I want to go live in a foreign country for a year or something. But, like, I love it here. My family is here. A network of friends and career opportunities. I have finally - I haven’t figured it out by any means - but, if I could sort out how to buy a house here I would. That’s kind of you committing to a place for a real amount of time, so...

What’s your favorite thing in your closet?
Umm… it’s weird. I don’t think there’s anything explicitly my favorite. There are a few things I love in my closet, like, I’ve got a couple of shirts that I really like. All of my wine is in my closet, and I don’t know if any particular bottle of wine is my favorite thing, but I do love drinking wine with my friends and family, so… that’s nice. 

What’s a typical Sunday like for you?
I wake up on Sunday morning, a little late, not super late, like 9am. And, I leave my house, and I walk down my street, Sunnynook Drive. Atwater is a beautiful, suburban neighborhood on the east side of LA.
There’s a ton of trees. Right now all of the jacarandas are blooming purple. It’s 73 degrees and sunny. There’s a little breeze, and you just stroll through this quaint neighborhood, and there’s this main strip where there’s all of these shops and my favorite coffee shop in the world. Then I cross the street and go to the best breakfast burrito place in the world (if they are open). And, everyone knows my name. I know all of their names. I have a relationship with them. You either sit on the curb or there are some tables, and you eat your burrito and you drink your coffee, then you go to the Farmer’s Market. It’s just super relaxing and pleasant in every way. And, that’s everything that I love about Atwater: it has a lot of amenities; it’s super walkable; it’s the kind of place you can have real relationships with people.

What’s your favorite film?

What is your favorite record?
A River Ain’t Too Much To Love by Smog.

Who would you invite to dinner living or dead?

Where do you want to travel to?
There’s this trade-off I have to make every time I think about where I want to go, which is visiting friends or family, and maintaining my relationships through travel versus going to places that I am particularly excited to see. I went to six weddings last year, which ate up a lot of my vacation time and travel dollars. It was great, and I had a great time at all of them. I have two good friends who are going to be in Berlin this summer, so I will probably go there.

What inspires you?
I love solving problems. I love that everyday at my job is different, and there is no right answer, so you kind of have to invent the solution to everything. I am also inspired by really creative people trying to make it whole-heartedly.

What is your astrological sign and how does astrology play a part in your life?
I’m a Libra. The most prominent role it plays is my mom is a true believer and super into it - does like full chart readings and stuff. And, I think the whole thing is a bunch of baloney. But, it’s my mom, so I can’t be mean about it. It’s pretty hard for me as a skeptic, secular humanist, empirical thinker to take astrology particularly seriously. I will say that it is, like many things, a lens that you can view different situations, and I have seen that people get value out of it based on that.

What is your Myer-Briggs personality type?

What are your favorite qualities in a human?
Empathy. I have a hard time with tolerating people who can’t put themselves in other people’s shoes. I love driven and ambitious people. Also, people who are on-board with creativity and don’t think about the practical side of things.

What is your idea of happiness?
My Sunday morning routine is deeply happy for me. I have a good friend who made a pact with her college friends that they would all move to Denver, Colorado by the time they were thirty. And, now they are all there. They are starting to get married; they have this amazing community. And, I pitched this to my kind of group of friends at the last wedding I was at, and everyone agreed it was nice, but no one seem to be willing to make a personal career sacrifice to make it happen. If we could all live in the same neighborhood and get married and have kids and do whatever we are going to do, and live in the same community that seems like the most amazing thing.

What’s your favorite color and flower?
I can send you a photo of not only my favorite type flower, but the specific one. I took a picture. My favorite color, I wouldn’t think of it as my favorite color, but some days I look down and I am wearing blue shoes, blue jeans, blue socks, and a blue shirt. So, I guess it’s blue.

Who is your favorite artist?
That’s a tough one. I guess, my sister, Kailee McGee? I don’t really like all of her art. Sometimes it’s really challenging for me, but I really love it all. She actually gave me something for Christmas that made me so angry I cried, then I made her cry, and then I finally understood it and love it. Even though it’s sometimes hard, I’m supportive of all of it and glad to be a part of it.

Do you have a motto?
I should figure out how to make this succinct or catchy but: you should always forgive everyone; always believe people are coming from a good place. Anytime someone cuts you off in traffic or whatever, you should just assume their mom died or something. If you live your life that way… because you don’t know what’s going on in their lives or anything. The world would be a lot happier if people forgave people and gave them the benefit of the doubt.

For further Weston related discovery dive into his social media and follow him @westonw
Read more about things Weston didn't talk about here.

If you would like to join the athletic club, please contact Weston directly here.

This portrait is part of our ongoing collaboration with Millennial Instinct.

Photography: Camille Cotteverte
(Flower photos used with permission from Weston Westenborg.)