Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Bubble Gum Interview- Jeff Brown AKA “The Bawldguy”




What’s a Bubble Gum Interview?

Bubble Gum Interviews were born on in 2007 and for trillions of reason (namely that I got busy), they were discontinued. They’re silly interviews where I send questions to real estate bloggers so you can get to know them better and find obscure things over which you can connect with them. Comments are encouraged and everyone’s been a good sport about being interviewed, so to kick the series back into high gear, take a look at this interview done in 2007 below.

Jeff Brown, I’m not sorry to drudge this back up:

Just when you thought you knew your favorite bloggers, along comes the Bubble Gum Interviews. We ask the really tough questions about things like food preferences, high school stories and favorite hair products. Today’s Bubble Gum victim is none other than my friend Jeff Brown– master international investment secret spy agent. Jeff and I (and my husband) have gotten to know each other well over the past few months, and although I’m not Jeff’s boss or anything (that’s what his wife is for), let’s just say I get to call every now and then and use my “serious business voice.” I do like Jeff a lot- enough to use this picture of him in our car (taken while he was pimpin’ his pimp hat and pimp shades, talking, and pretending not to get mad while I photograph him in action). So, Jeff- tell us about yourself!

Name three Halloween costumes you wore in your childhood.

The first costume I remember was the one Mom made for me, after weeks of begging — Superman. I put it on the minute I got home from school. (1st grade) Dad couldn’t stop laughing, as I tried to keep dinner off my costume.

The next year I was the devil, which I thought was insanely rebellious, as I was the preacher’s kid. I learned later the name of that costume should’ve been called ‘cliché’.

Though I was getting older, at 12 you go for the candy. I dressed as my all-time sports hero, Sandy Koufax. I was irritated at every house we visited, because the dumb moms kept asking me who I was. Come on, who didn’t know who Sandy was?! Geez

Can a bald guy have a hairline fracture? 🙂

You need to ask my first wife that question. Once she stopped laughing and rolling her eyes you’d find out nobody bumps their head more than I used to. I must have cracked my skull 50 times against the corner of the stove hood when our kids were still pretty young. I mean hard, as in, “Daddy, your head is bleeding…again.”

Know how Deborah on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ sometimes calls Ray an idiot? She wasn’t the first, my kids’ mom was. 🙂 She said it best just after I’d cut myself for the umpteenth time on the damn stove hood.

Disclaimer: We’re still very close friends. She and her husband enjoyed Thanksgiving with my wife and I at our place last year. 🙂

What made you switch from selling homes to the investment property?

First, it didn’t help, being a teenager with a real estate license. Being second generation was a big edge, but a bit of a hindrance too. The boss’s kid always gets a little grief, know what I mean, Verne?

What made me crazy was my absolutely inability to deal with wives who would love a house, then not make an offer because the paint was all wrong. (not to mention their weak-kneed husbands) 🙂 It should’ve been a no-brainer for me, but I just couldn’t hang. Back then (‘69-76) $50 bought you pizza for six people for an entire weekend, AND enough paint to redo every room in the house. But noooooo, can’t do that, hafta keep looking.

My very wise wife told me I had to find another way to make money, cuz I was gonna end up on the 11 o’clock news if I didn’t. That was her way of giving me the nod to move to the investment side, a big risk at the time.

Who would win a wrestling match between a medium sized black bear and Hulk Hogan?

Hulk Hogan by default — are you kiddin’ me? The bear would take one look at the Hulk, turn tail, and haul buns. 🙂

Do you have any musical talent?

In 1965, my freshman year, I made the parade band for Norwalk High. (L. A.) We marched in several parades, including the ‘Long Beach All-Western’, in which we were judged fifth best marching band in the 11 western states. I played trombone — it was nearly as long as I was tall.

My real musical talent though, (musical?) is dancing. Yep, the BawldGuy gets it done. There are some rules though. I have to be at least half way done with my second Glenlivet. At that point I think I can dance. (Note: When you look up ‘lightweight’ drinker in the dictionary, you’ll see my picture.) After three drinks I think I’m dazzling. On the very rare occasion in which I have a fourth drink, I’m convinced you’re one lucky wench to even be on the dance floor with me. 🙂 All of which, by the way, still leaves me as the poor bald guy looking like the snook he is, dancing with a woman who’s dang near a pro. Fortunately, everyone with a lick of discernment looks at her.

How has fatherhood changed your life?

Enormously, and in ways I’m still discovering now. My daughter is a (3.5 GPA) college student, getting her degree next year in child development. Her big brother has his degree in international business, (also 3.5 start to finish) and is orders of magnitude smarter than his dad, as is his sister. I was in the room when each was born, cutting the cord on one.

I promised myself each would be taught how to be totally self-sufficient and think for themselves. They’ve turned out better than I’ll ever have the right to claim any credit for. This is especially true, as their mother was put on this earth to be a mom.

When they were babies, and looked at me the way babies do, the realization hit — I CANNOT fail.

Fatherhood forced me to be focused and purposeful in everything I did, because they either were watching, or would eventually find out. I learned being a Dad meant your job was defined as stepping up to the plate whenever and wherever it was required.

If you take fatherhood seriously, it’s impossible not to be changed — in some ways, profoundly. Kids have a way of keeping you honest, unafraid to tell the emperor he has no clothes.

So there you have it. Jeff now holds the record for “most happy faces used in a Bubble Gum Interview,” sometimes dresses up as Superman+Satan+Sandy, theorizes that baldness causes vulnerability to skull fractures, mustered a serious face as he used the words “Hulk” and “buns” in the same sentence, and is a band nerd who can dance like Travolta when he’s lit (I think the pimp hat helps). Now that you really know Jeff, what do you think?

originally posted on, published in full here as we will be bringing you new Bubble Gum Interviews soon!

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Continue Reading


  1. Matthew Hardy

    August 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Is that a mushroom cap on your head?

  2. BawldGuy

    August 30, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    I know where you live, bro. 🙂

  3. Matthew Hardy

    August 30, 2009 at 10:39 pm



    (coulda sworn Portobello…)

  4. ines

    August 30, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I soooo miss your interviews Lani and jeff is the total BOMB!!! now I can’t wait to give him a mojito and have him dance 🙂 (San Diego maybe?)

  5. Russell Shaw

    August 30, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    I really admire a man who can wear a dork hat AND dance too. 🙂

  6. Matthew Hardy

    August 30, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    > give him a mojito and have him dance

    Bet he has something special he wears with the hat.

  7. BawldGuy

    August 30, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    It’s amazing how spot on these comments are. 🙂 Ines has great judgment.

    Russ drills right to the truth of the matter. 🙂

    I look forward to seeing many of you in San Diego this coming November. Wouldn’t turn ur back on me though.

  8. MIssy Caulk

    August 31, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I miss those bubblegum interviews, they were fun and you got to see the humor in the interviewee.

  9. Erion Shehaj

    August 31, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Man, I’ve missed these — And you bring them back in style with Jeff Brown??

    Hey Jeff, Rocky called … 🙂

  10. Ian Greenleigh

    August 31, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    If the smiley face bore such a striking resemblance to ME, I would use it just as often. Alas, there are no smileys for long haired, unshaven and under-dressed me. 🙂

  11. BawldGuy

    August 31, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Erion — That’s so wrong on so many levels — but hilarious just the same. 🙂

  12. Linsey Planeta

    September 11, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Wow! If I didn’t like Jeff (which I actually did), I’d love him now. The part about Fatherhood – yeah I’m sold. Good guy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?



Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.



Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?


At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

How a simple period in your text message might be misinterpreted: Tips to improve your virtual communication

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) Text, email, and IM messages may be received differently depending on your communication style and who you’re communicating with. Here’s some ways to be more mindful.



Black woman smiling in communication talking on phone and laptop in front of her.

Life is full of decisions, learning, hopefully some adventure, and “growth opportunities” through our careers and work. One that some of us may have never considered is how our text, email or IM communication comes across to the receiver – thus providing us a growth opportunity to take a look at our own personal communication styles.

It may have never occurred to us that others would take it a different way. After all, we know ourselves, we can hear our voices in our heads. We know when we are joking, being sarcastic, or simply making a statement. The way we communicate is built upon how we were raised, what our English teachers stressed, and even what we’ve been taught through our generational lens.

NPR put out an article recently, “Are Your Texts Passive-Aggressive? The Answer May Lie in Your Punctuation”. This article discussed what to consider in regards to your punctuation in text.

“But in text messaging — at least for younger adults — periods do more than just end a sentence: They also can set a tone.” Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author of the book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, told NPR’s All Things Considered last year that when it comes to text messaging,”the period has lost its original purpose. Rather than needing a symbol to indicate the end of a sentence, you can simply hit send on your message.”

While it may seem silly that the receiver would think you are mad at them because you used a period, here are some things to consider in our virtual communication now that we are all much more digital:

  • There are no facial expressions in a text except for emojis (which, even then, could be left up to misinterpretation)
  • There’s no sound of voice or inflection to indicate tone
  • We are emailing, texting, and sending instant messages at an alarming rate now that we are not having as many in-person interactions with our colleagues

Gen Z (b. 1995 – 2015), who are the most recent generation to enter the workplace, grew up with much quicker forms of communication with their earlier access to tech. They’ve had a different speed of stimulation via YouTube videos, games, and apps. They may have never experienced the internet speed via a dial-up modem so they are used to instantaneous results.

They also have quickly adapted and evolved through their use of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok. The last two platforms are designed for pretty brief attention spans, which indicates our adaptation to fast communication.

Generational shaming is out and uncomfortable but necessary conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are in (which includes ageism). You can’t just chalk it up as “those kids” don’t understand you, or that they need to learn and “pay their dues”.

So if you are of an older generation and even a manager, here are some considerations that you can take regarding your virtual communications:

1. Consider having yourself and your team take a DiSC assessment.

“The DiSC® model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others — within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships.

DiSC profiles help you and your team:

  • Increase your self-knowledge: How you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members

This quiz is designed to help you identify your main communication style. It helps you to be more conscious of how your style may come across to others. Does it builds relationships, or create silent conflicts? It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but you can adapt your style to best fit your team.

2. Always ask your direct reports about their preferred method of communication (call, text, email, IM, meeting).

Retain this information and do your best to meet them where they are. It would also be helpful to share your preferred method with them and ask them to do their best to meet you where you are.

3. Consider putting composed emails in your drafts if you are fired up, frustrated, or down right angry with your team.

You may feel like you are being direct. But since tone will be lost virtually, your message may not come across the way you mean it, and it may be de-motivating to the receiver. Let it sit in drafts and come back to it a little bit later. Does your draft say all you need to say, or could it be edited to be a little less harsh? Would this be better as a meeting (whether video or phone) over a written communication? Now the receiver has a chance to see you and have a conversation rather than feeling put on blast.

And finally, be curious.

Check out Lindsey Pollak’s books or podcast on the best ways to work with a variety of generations in your organization. Lindsey is a Multigenerational Work Expert and she does a great job explaining her research to drive multigenerational workplace success. She gives ideas on what all employees, managers, and even corporations should consider as we experience so many generations and communication styles in the workplace at the same time.

You may laugh that your children or employees think you are mad at them when you use a period in a text. But there’s a lot more behind it to consider. It may take adaptation on all sides as communication styles and the “future of work” continue to evolve.

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!