126 episodes

Digital Hospitality is a weekly podcast that helps business owners develop a mobile-first Internet strategy by sharing stories of innovative brands and personalities who are outranking the competition in search results.

No one said running a business was easy. Let Digital Hospitality be your guide.

The Digital Hospitality podcast and video series features in-depth — and uncensored — conversations with digital entrepreneurs, media personalities, online celebrities, and much more.

Shawn Walchef is the host of Digital Hospitality and owner of the Cali BBQ restaurant and sports bar in Spring Valley, near San Diego.

Follow along across multiple online platforms: podcast players, social media, and on CaliBBQ.Media. Subscribe online wherever you enjoy digital content. www.calibbq.media

Digital Hospitality: A Cali BBQ Media Podcast Shawn P. Walchef

    • Marketing

Digital Hospitality is a weekly podcast that helps business owners develop a mobile-first Internet strategy by sharing stories of innovative brands and personalities who are outranking the competition in search results.

No one said running a business was easy. Let Digital Hospitality be your guide.

The Digital Hospitality podcast and video series features in-depth — and uncensored — conversations with digital entrepreneurs, media personalities, online celebrities, and much more.

Shawn Walchef is the host of Digital Hospitality and owner of the Cali BBQ restaurant and sports bar in Spring Valley, near San Diego.

Follow along across multiple online platforms: podcast players, social media, and on CaliBBQ.Media. Subscribe online wherever you enjoy digital content. www.calibbq.media

    The Hottest Fires Forge the Hardest Steel | Forged part 2 (DH 026)

    The Hottest Fires Forge the Hardest Steel | Forged part 2 (DH 026)

    Still catching your breath from the mountain hike with FORGED? Well, Navy SEALs and Marines don’t slow down so neither will we. On this second part of our interview with FORGED, CEO Mike Sauers and Marketing Manager Samantha Bonilla joined Digital Hospitality’s Shawn Walchef as they head to South Bay Rod and Gun Club for a shooting session preceded by a history lesson of the FORGED Brand full of business tips.

    The power couple behind FORGED Brand finds themselves in the front seats for the latest Cali BBQ Media Podcast as we appropriately find out that FORGED was started out of the trunk of a car. Check out the first part of our day with Mike Sauers and Samantha Bonilla.

    These days, FORGED Brand is making waves digitally as seen with social media campaigns starring Chris Pratt, John Krasinski, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and others. Some of these campaigns have raised more than a million dollars for veteran and first responder foundations and charities like The Murph Challenge.

    However, the brand was not built overnight. Sparked by a devastating moment during a firefight in Iraq in 2006, Mike and his platoon’s desire to help a wounded SEAL inspired the quick creation of a t-shirt to fundraise for their teammate and close friend’s Elliott’s medical expenses.

    “We wanted to help raise funds to aid with Elliott’s recovery. I had a little experience making shirts and hats for the platoon,” reflects Mike. “We made a shirt, we started selling them around the team and we ended up making a lot of money in a short period of time. We used the money to aid with his recovery and then a couple guys on the team started asking me to make more t-shirts.”

    Taking on the ask, Mike recruited another SEAL buddy who was good at graphic design. They started making shirts for the team and selling them out of the trunk of a car. By that holiday season, it was clear they had a hit on their hands.

    “I think I made more money doing [shirts] that month than I did in the NAVY!” Mike reflects on that pivotal December. Inspired by the success, the decision to move from SEAL work to a clothing company was on. “If I can’t get this thing going in two years I’ll come crying back!” Mike pledged.

    This upstart clothing company’s name? FORGED, of course. Well, wrong. Originally named KNOX – a play on hard knocks – business was booming for Mike and his graphic designer. That was until they were hit with a C&D four months in. As it turned out, KNOX already existed. “We were able to sell our existing inventory, recoup our money back, and then we started searching for names.”

    That search for a new name would not be easy. Ironically, it would be an old shirt from Mike’s SEAL days that would inspire many new shirts to come.

    “One day I was looking through my closet and I came across my old Hell Week t-shirt. There was a saying on the shirt that said: The hardest steel is forged in the hottest fires.” 


    “I thought about that because ‘forged’ is a saying we used on the teams, like, Hey is that guy forged?” recalls Mike. “If something is forged it means that it’s formed with great concentration. If you looked up the definition of forged it says, ‘to form by heating and hammering, beat into shape.’ If that’s not the definition of someone going through SEAL training, then nothing is! I really resonated with that word. Forged is used over and over again in the SEAL Creed.

    • 32 min
    Strength through Adversity | Forged part 1 (DH 25)

    Strength through Adversity | Forged part 1 (DH 25)

    The Forged brand was born on the battlefield and built to give back. With military experience and tireless dedication, the team behind Forged always pushes forward, no matter the challenge.

    Running a business is never easy. But through adversity comes strength.

    For Forged CEO Michael Sauers, a former Navy SEAL, and Marketing Manager Samantha Bonilla, a former Marine, the brand means pursuing a higher purpose and giving customers that same strong feeling when they put on a Forged shirt or compete in The Murph Challenge.

    “Anybody can go put an American flag on a shirt,” Mike Sauers said on this episode of the Digital Hospitality podcast. “But you’ve gotta give meaning to that shirt.”

    “There’s dedication, sacrifice and lots of adversity that’s been overcome in this brand — and your brand!” 

    We joined up with the amazing couple for a hike up a mountain in San Diego where we learned how Forged is growing their brand online and offline by providing value and giving back every day.

    Taking Mike’s SEAL background and Sam’s Marine experience to grow the Forged brand, this hike covers a lot of ground. Headed to the top of the mountain, the two discuss how they live the brand and raise funds and awareness for veterans and active duty with some of the savviest marketing campaigns Cali BBQ Media and Digital Hospitality has ever seen. 

    Sounds busy right? It is. Still, Mike and Sam take time to be active.

    “We typically try to plan at least one hike a week,” says Mike.

    Climbing up the mountain, Mike and Sam are both on the job but also living their truth of sharing their stories of how life has shaped them and how they build their business. For Mike, becoming a SEAL was in his DNA. With a lifetime love of competitive sports and the great outdoors, Mike’s active body and courageous heart made joining the Navy SEALs the move to stay on the move. Wired the same way? He’ll tell you how to get involved.

    “Nowadays with all the technology it’s actually fairly easy to research the process,” says Mike. “If you go on the site there’s information and they’ll hook you up with an actual Navy SEAL recruiter. They’ll basically brief you on all the requirements.”

    The SEAL requirements included aptitude tests that measure physical, mental and psychological categories. Needless to say, Mike passed these tests, but as a SEAL rookie and later a SEAL leader he keeps it real on how human and humbling the process is.

    “Any Special Ops training isn’t easy,” says Mike. “You know it’s gonna be hard. You have to that that mindset before you even step in.”

    Sounds kind of like relationships, right?


    Stronger Together:

    Just like their service backgrounds, Mike and Sam have grown through the challenges of dating with the sense of appreciation and humor to smile about it. Mike has opened up Sam to conquering fears in life while Sam has helped Mike grow professionally.

    “Before me and Mike started dating, I never went to the ocean, lakes, nothing. Fish scared the s**t out of me!” says Sam with a laugh. “Mike booked a snorkeling trip. I wouldn’t go in, I refused.” With a few curse words and the reminder that he paid for the trip, Sam took the plunge and the rest as they say is history.

    “I jumped in and it was the greatest thing ever. I haven’t been out of the water since.”

    The next hurdle? Well actually it’s a mountain: skiing. 

    Before they hit the slopes though, the two are still on their very literal and figurative climb to build Forged. 

    “It didn’t start when we had all these followers,” reflects Sam who now manages a Forged following of over 124k on IG alone. “It took time to build that content.

    • 46 min
    It Only Takes 1 Match to Light 1,000 | Dr. Jenelle Kim of JBK Wellness Labs (DH 024)

    It Only Takes 1 Match to Light 1,000 | Dr. Jenelle Kim of JBK Wellness Labs (DH 024)

    Merging ancient traditions with forward-thinking trends, JBK Wellness Labs is ahead of the curve when it comes to self-care but in no rush just the same.

    Led by the tradition of the Tao, founder Dr. Jenelle Kim and her partner in business and life, Craig Nandoo, are utilizing Eastern healing powers and philosophy at their West Coast Headquarters for a self-funded self-care business that’s serving companies and individuals around the world.

    Digital Hospitality visited JBK’s Miramar HQ to hear how family traditions have built a family business that’s growing at a pace as sustainable and time-tested as their products. 

    Relying on tradition, leaning into the going natural movement and always ahead of the curve, Jenelle Kim and Nandoo collaborate with clients to make herbal supplements that don’t just burn with buzzwords but actually work due to finely tuned formulas. Kim’s long family lineage in Eastern medicine comes with an understanding of how to best formulate supplements in order to best help those in need.

    “I come from a long lineage of doctors, herbalists and practitioners. I like to always ground myself in remembering before I do anything is that they dedicated and sacrificed their entire lives to understanding the human condition when it comes to mind, body, and that balance. And I’m talking centuries!” emphasizes Dr. Jenelle Kim.

    “Throughout these centuries they put their mind and heart in understanding the human condition to create certain herbal formulas of medicine to make sure that we’re able to live as human beings in the healthiest, most beautiful way possible. That’s my lineage.”

    The first woman to carry that lineage, Dr. Kim’s ancient family formulas – known as Bi Bong – see the key combinations of herbal ingredients found in her family for centuries now helping others worldwide as part of a multi-million-dollar business.

    Creating custom care products for brands carried in high-end retailers like Nordstrom, Whole Foods and Bergdorf Goodman as well as luxury hotels such as the Ritz Carlton, the Mandarin Oriental and the Four Seasons, JBK Wellness Labs serves as the contract manufacturing collaborator for the best brands in herbal self-care. This ranges from beauty to dietary supplements birthed from ancient tradition in JBK’s research and development center by a staff of 25.

    Well-versed in Eastern Medicine, well-educated in the West, Jenelle Kim is using her dual hemisphere knowledge to create a global brand at the most booming of times. With industry experience dating back to 2006, she has proven early on CBD products by using it for skin care since 2012 and forward-thinking in regard to men’s grooming with the launch of Tao of Man brand.

    “In East Asian, men’s grooming is huge!” explains Jenelle Kim. “I’m still watching as it starts to blow up here and I do see that happening.”

    And blow up men’s grooming will, but while JBK is early on the trend in the West they’re ahead but not rushed. Just like the name Tao of Man suggests, Jenelle and Craig are as strong, rooted and flexible as bamboo.

    “The Tao is the way,” says Craig Nandoo. “We talk about destiny and where the Tao has taken us in our route to where we are now. The concept of the Tao is very essential to a lot of our life. Sometimes it’s good to push, sometimes it’s good to pull and sometimes it’s just good to go for the ride.”

    Contrary to most peers in the Western worlds of entrepreneurship and beauty supplements, Jenelle and Craig are measured in their growth, focused on formulation over flash and always purposeful in their product.

    Just how do these Eastern ideals play into their business philosophy?

    • 41 min
    Inside the Soft Opening of Graze | Sam the Cooking Guy (DH 023)

    Inside the Soft Opening of Graze | Sam the Cooking Guy (DH 023)

    Is staying in really the new going out? Leave it to Sam the Cooking Guy to get people out of their nooks by throwing a dinner party night in and night out at his newest restaurant Graze.

    Offering a laid-back living room setting that makes every guest feel like old friends, he’s taking care of his crew just the same by keeping everything efficient in the kitchen. Lucky for Cali BBQ Media, we got to go behind the scenes at Graze to see just how Sam came up with his latest concept on this episode of Digital Hospitality.

    Sam the Cooking Guy — the man of 1.5 Million YouTube followers and only one knife — is on his second restaurant in San Diego’s lively Little Italy Food Hall. Located directly across from his first restaurant, Not Not Tacos – yes, yes you read that right – Graze offers at home ambience with fine food that’s just as cozy and comfortable. Trying to unwind on the regular? Graze’s Wine Club offers monthly wines and member perks, complimented by cool beach breezes best enjoyed with the piazza’s outdoor drinking layout.

    Shawn “King of the Soft Opening” Walchef got the inside scoop on Graze from Howard Solomon – a regular on the Cali BBQ Media Podcast and Sam’s righthand man. Howard and Deborah Solomon were previous guests on Digital Hospitality, where they discussed their Solomon 2.0 hospitality leadership coaching business.

    Specializing on sliders, salads and flatbread, the Graze crew bring recipes to life in a kitchen no bigger than yours backed by creative cooks. The close quarters are both well-staffed and smartly equipped with Easy-Bake Oven efficiency bringing puffy Polpetto di Mano that’ll make you sink into the couch and a hand cranked cutting board stacking up thinly sliced prosciutto you could only get with an airplane and a time-machine.

    So, just why did Sam choose to open his newest venture with his smallest kitchen?

    “Because we didn’t have room for anything else!”

    Trying to do more with less – and succeeding at it – the food comes out faster than the drinks go down with the vibe proving chiller than the beach’s breeze.

    “It’s this whole idea of being inside of Sam’s living room and he’s throwing you a dinner party,” explains Howard Solomon of Solomon 2.0.

    “It’s very relaxed. Grab a bottle of wine, have a nice cocktail, it’s meant to be a really comfortable environment just like you’re in Sam’s living room. There’s little knick-knacks from his own house, it’s very personalized. It’s on brand and it’s all about Sam.”

    Ready to enter Sam’s world? Family photos and couches in the living room make guests and local regulars feel like fast friends with The Cooking Guy. Well-known and also well-traveled, Sam’s use of an indoor/outdoor layout brings a casual combo of bar/restaurant to San Diego that’s usually only seen in Europe. Essentially, modern West Coast cool meets the classic components of the Eastern Hemisphere’s rich food scene. Who’s mad at that? Not us.

    Ready to roam? Graze is the name of the space but it’s also the name of the game if you’re using the piazza to its full potential. Say you don’t fall asleep due to comfort food and living room seating to match, you can easily walk 10 seconds across the piazza to Sam’s first baby – Not Not Tacos – to get your Nashville Hot Chicken taco fix.


    • 22 min
    Lions don’t lose Sleep over Fretting the Sheep | David Meltzer (DH 022)

    Lions don’t lose Sleep over Fretting the Sheep | David Meltzer (DH 022)

    Every day, David Meltzer wonders: How can I be of service.

    David Meltzer is an entrepreneur, author, coach, speaker, and humanitarian.

    Yet, his greatest success is watching others succeed.

    “More and more is coming to me, I’m just making room for it now,” David Meltzer said on the Digital Hospitality podcast. “By being of service, and asking for help.”

    This is an episode that we’ve been waiting to do since Digital Hospitality began. David Meltzer has not just found success in business. He’s found success in life.

    There’s few people more inspiring than David Meltzer. His life’s mission is to empower more than 1 billion people to be happy. He’s well on his way.

    Because when you have a positive impact on one person, and they in turn go on to impact another, then you’re on your way to impacting the world.

    We sat down in David Meltzer’s office at his Sports 1 Marketing in Irvine, California, to talk about building relationships, effective marketing strategies, finding your frequencies in life, and the importance of gratitude.

    It was the day after the Super Bowl LIV when we visited Sports 1 Marketing to spend time with David Meltzer and his amazing staff and interns.

    Not only did we record an in-depth and inspiring podcast with the mentor of many David Meltzer, but we got a tour of the Sports 1 Marketing operation, learned more about his tremendous team, and — as a BBQ Media Company does — fed them slow-smoked pulled pork, wedding beans, and some of our other specialities.

    Next time, we’re bringing brisket. That’s a promise. We take our Media as seriously as we take our BBQ.

    Learn how David Meltzer has inspired us at Cali BBQ Media and how he can inspire you toward your own greatness on this episode of Digital Hospitality. 

    There are new episodes of Digital Hospitality to watch, listen, and read every week. 

    Let us know how we can help you and be of service. podcast@calibbq.media

    Spreading Goodness, Showing Gratitude:

    One of David Meltzer’s mottos lays out his mission simply: Make a Lot of Money, Help a Lot of People, Have a Lot of Fun.

    “There’s a lens that I look through life with, and it’s not just one lens it’s a Kaleidoscope. It has three different colors to it.” David Meltzer said about his Meltzer Kaleidoscope. 

    The first lens is Gratitude, finding the light and love in your past, present, and future.

    The second lens is Productivity, figuring out how you can be of service, help, and provide value.

    The third lens is Accessibility, not merely being available, but striving to impact as many as possible in the flow of life.

    When you combine all three, you have a deeper way of experiencing existence.

    Finding Customer Touch-points:

    David Meltzer strives to connect with people as much as he can.

    These days, one of the most convenient ways is through your cell phone. That’s a powerful tool that you carry in your pocket.

    Through digital content publishing online, David Meltzer and his media team are able to spread his messages to the world in the form of video, audio, and writing. It’s done wonders for David Meltzer.

    But don’t underestimate the power of a voice call, especially in an age where people are usually more prone to fire off a quick email or text than actually dial someone up.

    In his content and in his communication, David Meltzer always wants to provide value to others.

    Drawing inspiration from modern marketing masterminds like Gary Vaynerchuk, David Meltzer has been able to merge the old school and the new school int...

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Marketing Insights from a Career in Sports | Luke Gilbert, San Diego Seals (DH 021)

    Marketing Insights from a Career in Sports | Luke Gilbert, San Diego Seals (DH 021)

    Luke Gilbert has lived a rich life in professional sports.

    From building partnerships, to marketing, to sales, to tech, to media, to being a former lacrosse player himself, the San Diego Seals Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships has gained experience and expertise in all angles of the sports entertainment business.

    During his impressive sports journey, he’s worked with large venues, teams, and leagues including NASCAR, Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, and Major League Soccer.

    Luke Gilbert is a real Sports Renaissance Man.

    On this episode of Digital Hospitality, we sit down with Luke Gilbert in the San Diego Seals Team Store to talk about his career in sports, building strong partnerships, and how to deal with setbacks in business and life.

    The conversation is full of great ideas, and is often hilarious and revealing. Make sure you check out the entire episode so you can hear about Luke Gilbert’s sojourn in the skies during his time as a flight attendant.

    His personality really shines on this episode.

    Listen, watch, and read about Luke Gilbert’s fascinating journey and we hope you’ll be inspired on your own.

    Let us know how we can help you. podcast@calibbq.media

    Living LAX:

    The sport of lacrosse has long been a part of Luke Gilbert’s life. He grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and was a fan of the Baltimore Thunder, often attending their games.

    That’s back when the uniforms featured tight spandex shorts. How times have changed.

    In 2003, Luke Gilbert was even drafted to play in the National Lacrosse League’s former San Jose Stealth team.

    Now he gets to have a big part of making a team operation run smoothly and strategically with his work activating successful partnerships for the San Diego Seals.

    As you can probably tell, Luke Gilbert loves lacrosse. It’s easy to see why. With a 30-second shot clock and a tight field size to maneuver in, it’s an action-packed sport.

    If you’ve been to a hockey game, Seals lacrosse matches have a similar feel. Of course, lacrosse is an entirely unique experience that any fan of sports should check out.

    “It’s just non-stop action, up and down the field,” Luke Gilbert said about lacrosse. “It’s played in the same space as an NHL hockey rink, like the San Diego Gulls for example. Same size field, same set-up with the boards and the glass.”

    “You don’t have to be a lacrosse fan, you just have to be a sports fan who enjoys action.”

    Lacrosse has a lot of room to grow, but with people like Luke Gilbert and the Seals and NLL operations running the show, it’s sure to continue catching fire around the country.

    Part of a Team:

    It takes a lot of work to run any business. The many moving parts of a sports operation like the San Diego Seals makes it particularly challenging.

    That’s why it takes a talented team to pull off. The Seals, and the National Lacrosse League, are clearly up for the challenge. https://www.nll.com/

    As a digitally focused sports property, the Seals has used strategy and original content to build up a passionate fan base that is growing day by day.

    • 1 hr 6 min

Customer Reviews

Writer_DavidP ,

Great Podcast

The host is amazing. Great content.

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Great show. Amazing content, insightful guest and the host does a great job giving listeners actionable items to apply immediately!

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So, I just left Costco end it felt like a transaction. So, I let the managers know that that’s not cool. And that we need to all practice hospitality. They were accepting of my constructive criticism. Behind The Smoke travels with me wherever I go. Conversely, just left Valley Farm Market and had the opposite experience. Thank you guys.

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