We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Secrest and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
I’ve always been a proponent of the 80/20 rule – also known as the “Pareto Principle”. There seem to be infinite applications of this principle because nearly every day it helps unlock meaning and perspective across all domains of my life.
At its core, the 80/20 rule contends that 80% of the outcomes are a result of 20% of the effort and conversely, 20% of the outcomes result from 80% of the effort. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this principle in my current career as Managing Director of a family-owned construction business. In each project, the first 80% of the work is cakewalk and the last 20% requires the most effort – time, expertise, stamina, and creativity (and of course… finances!).
But beyond using the 80/20 rule for planning, forecasting, and operational management, the principle transcends its original definition. When I look at similar companies (e.g. competitors), it’s safe to say that about 80% of our work is exactly the same and a much smaller fraction is actually what sets us apart from the rest. As the company’s leader, I spend the majority of my day focused on the differentiating 20%. Internally, this means creating a strong value-based culture with my staff. Managing blue collar construction work requires a completely different framework, aptitude and flexibility than managing knowledge workers, and I’m learning that developing a culture based on trust, meritocracy, and gratitude is one of the ways that sets us apart from other construction companies in San Diego.
Outwardly, I strive to provide clear and consistent communication to our customers and all relevant stakeholders throughout the entire construction process, which is not for the faint of heart. Paying attention to details, empathizing with customers who may lack the understanding of construction processes, and communicating authentically and transparently is foundational to the service we provide. This differentiating 20% of my day-to-day job occupies 80% of my time, energy and effort, and is also responsible for 80% of the success, growth, and employee/customer satisfaction.
For me, the 80/20 rule is foundational to leading well in a complex world.
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.
I had the privilege of traveling internationally starting at a young age. By 25 I had visited over 50 countries and that number has since grown to over 65. Early on, I found that international exposure was the impetus for a more nuanced understanding of the world, a deeper appreciation for different perspectives, and the ability to affect change globally.
These experiences were the backbone of my undergrad and MBA education, my early career in international nonprofit leadership, my role as a husband and father, and now as a San Diego business owner and aspiring entrepreneur.
My tenure at OneHope, an international nonprofit, was instrumental in unlocking an entrepreneurial mindset, developing my leadership ability, and presenting countless opportunities to engage with inspiring leaders around the world. Among the many highlights of working across 30+ countries in the first decade of my career was living in Beirut, Lebanon and spearheading an initiative to inspire Syrians impacted by the War. Over the course of 18 months, I conducted research, convened stakeholders, interviewed film directors and producers, and worked with writers, designers, psychologists, social workers, and humanitarian specialists to produce a film-based trauma-healing program.
At various stages in the development the project nearly collapsed, but through perseverance, long days, and a commitment to the original goal, the project launched in early 2016.
Since then, it has been implemented in over 110 refugee settlements, impacting over 100,000 Syrians through live screenings and facilitated discussions. This project was a catalyst to OneHope’s work in the region and also for me personally. Major humanitarian organizations have asked to implement the program due to its quality and validated enhancement of participants’ psycho-social wellbeing. It has been one of the most gratifying accomplishments, especially since I have been able to see the tangible impact firsthand.
Now as I have taken the helm of a 30-year-old family business in an entirely different industry, this same resilience has helped me lead a diverse team, navigate a multitude of uncertainty, push through the difficulty of learning a new domain, and deliver value to various stakeholders with excellence.
When I’m not actively running the family business, I’m working on two side ventures:
– RYAN&WINE is a personal wine brand I created to introduce people to great wine from great producers around the world. Each month I host virtual wine tasting classes and send a regular email newsletter with monthly wine recommendations.
– TALENTA is a nonprofit startup on a mission to help Christian workers in the developing world achieve financial independence. We plan to launch our beta program this year in Lebanon, Jordan & Egypt.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Since my friends & I plan a lot of our travel around food, I would take them on a culinary journey throughout San Diego. Here are some of my favorite places for food, coffee, wine, and non-food places that make San Diego so great.
Tacos el Gordo in Chula Vista for the best authentic street taco experience
Herb & Wood for a fantastic wine menu, great service, and dependably delicious food
Born & Raised for happy hour on the terrace
Fort Oak for a great bar and dining experience
Pomegranate for the only authentic Georgian cuisine in Southern California. You haven’t lived fully until you’ve enjoyed Adjaruli Khachapuri.
Coasterra / C – Level at sunset for the best view in SD
Rakiraki on Convoy Street for my favorite ramen
Morning Glory for a fun breakfast and the only restaurant (other than Pomegranate) to serve adjaruli khachapuri.
And of course a California Burrito. Some of my favorites are: The Taco Stand, El Indio, Lucha Libre,
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters – all of their locations are great!
Copa Vida next to Petco Park
Zumbar in Cardiff
Dark Horse in Golden Hill
Wine & Drinks:
Rose Wine Bar in South Park for fun, funky & quality wines
Polite Provisions in North Park for classic cocktails and ambiance
Picking up wine at Bine & Vine, my favorite wine shop in SD, and enjoying at home w/ a home cooked meal
Places to go:
Torrey Pines Hike
La Jolla Tide Pools
Drive across Coronado Bridge
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First, I’d like to dedicate the shoutout to Rob Hoskins & the entire leadership team at OneHope who invested in me for nearly a decade, entrusting me with a myriad of opportunities and significant responsibility at a very early stage in my career.
Secondly, I’d especially like to thank Michael Early, my father-in-law, for offering me the opportunity to take over the business he spent 30 years creating. It is truly an honor to be part of such a rich legacy and solid reputation.
Kara Reynolds Photography (for kitchen image)