People Are The New Black
Ryan Sisson, CEO of Moniker Group, on making people the new bottom line in business.
Ryan Sisson sits at the helm of a multifaceted organization called Moniker Group. This San Diego based collaborative idea environment is the muse to some of Southern California’s multimillion-dollar redevelopments. But the genesis story of Moniker was, as Sisson would say, very accidental.
“The beginning of Moniker literally started with a couple friends, who got together once a week and started writing things on a white board. We were all guys with ideas, and we wanted to explore those ideas more. When other people heard what we were doing, they wanted to bring their idea to the table and have us white board it for them. Those sessions turned into a start up consulting business.” Remembers Sisson. They soon began getting paid and were forced to come up with a name for their company and open a bank account so they could cash the checks that were coming in. Sisson adds, “Some other friends hopped on board – Mingo Palacios, Jon Allen and James Guitterez – and we started getting requests to work and do creative elements for conferences. This eventually led us to the Catalyst Conference. These were experiential art builds that we discovered we were really good at. And that’s when we knew Moniker could be a viable business opportunity. We started doing interactive art and stage sets for conferences all over the country. Catalyst hired us to do that first piece and have hired us every year since. It’s been fun to speak into those spaces.”
The Catalyst Conference may have put the Moniker name on the maker’s map, but Moniker soon outgrew the experiential art build contracts and into broader territory. They began to look for a permanent home and found one at an empty downtown warehouse.
“Moniker Group first made its mark on San Diego’s real estate landscape with the launch of Moniker Warehouse, a multi-purpose arts and business center in downtown’s East Village neighborhood. The warehouse, which opened in 2005, serves the community as an outpost for nonprofits, start-ups, artists and entrepreneurs as well as a home for Moniker’s design and fabrication brands, Moniker Design and Moniker Made.” states a recent article in sdnews.com.
Sisson believes the secret to their success is in the people that make up Moniker Group. He hopes to create a whole landscape of businesses that are focused on using the influence of the company to empower and develop people. He has a passion to see people fully alive, envisioning a whole city that is fully alive. He believes San Diego is a city on the rise, claiming that it’s not just beaches and surf culture anymore, but also art and business and it has a beautiful story to be told.
While Sisson has his hands full juggling what will soon be nine different companies under the Moniker Group umbrella, he stills finds time to invest in events like Creative Mornings, National Parking Day and a local favorite called The White Flag, an event created around the art of introduction – bringing friend groups together to be introduced to other friend groups.
“The White Flag was started to bring people together and to introduce friends to other friends. There was no other agenda. It wasn’t to make money or to network. It was simply to build community and have a healthy, authentic connection. Legend has it that when Frank Sinatra lived in Palm Springs he had the two tallest trees in the whole valley. When he was having a cocktail party he would raise the white flag on those trees to invite people to that party. That’s where the name came from. I was part of the founding group with some other friends here in San Diego, the first one hosted at Moniker Warehouse. In the beginning it was a word-of-mouth community. My friends and I who started it, we believe in just doing things. Not to overthink it. But to just get together, have an idea with some friends and do it.” says Sisson.
This go-for-it mentality seems to be a common thread among Sisson’s personal and professional projects. For someone who claims that he is nothing special, he has raised the bar for “normal” people with many successful endeavors under his belt. The online giant Google heard about Moniker’s talents and hired them to up the ante at a company event.
“Google recently hired our event design team to do some cool creative elements for an event they were throwing. We got to build out some fun pieces to represent their brand and bring them to life inside the building. It was fun to use our creativity to help set up an environment for a company like Google like we had done so many times before.” Sisson says.
Sitting under a sign above his desk that reads The dream is free but the hustle is sold separately, Sisson attributes his success to his faith. Stating that his life has been about 25 percent hard work, 50 percent faith, and 25 percent pure ignorance. What he lacks in schooling and experience, he makes up for in fortuity and a gambling attitude that his team’s acumen will earn a great return. And so far the risk is paying off.
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