2013: The Best Year Yet

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Brandon Nelson Florida

Wow… I don’t even know where to begin. The past year has been so crazy that I haven’t even had the chance to create a single post. As I sit here looking back at everything I have accomplished over the past year, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been too distracted to continue sharing my experiences along the way. In this post, I’m going to try and quickly summarize everything that has happened in 2013 into a few quick paragraphs. Here we go.

Spring

Brandon Nelson Red Bull Thre3style
I brought in the new year back in Athens with some big events lined up for the spring. The first one was an event called Red Bull Thre3syleU that would soon be rolled out nationally. Overall, it was one of my favorite activations since I was able to work so closely with the venue and having a great partner to work with during the event.

Brandon Nelson Ultra Music Festival Miami

The next big moment was our road trip down to Ultra Music Festival in Miami which was one of the most amazing productions I have been too. Red Bull was rolling out their new line of product (Red Bull Editions) so we had a huge market blitz during that entire week. I closed up spring with my second Red Bull Chariot Race and it ended being the most successful activation to date. Although this would be my last big moment in Athens, I knew that I was leaving it in good hands with one of my close friends taking over my position.

Summer

Brandon Nelson Venice Beach California On June 17 I sold everything that I owned, packed my few most important positions up into a single suitcase and bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles. I found a nice quaint apartment in Beverly Hills and became an official resident of California. After riding my skateboard to work for three weeks, I finally decided to buy a car once I realized that I couldn’t take my friend who was visiting anywhere. I managed to find an amazing deal on my dream car (Range Rover) and bought it that very morning.

Brandon Nelson Venice Beach California Sunset

I know what you are thinking… very stereotypical. However, I quickly realized that I didn’t fit into that lifestyle or community and after a few months packed up my bags and moved to Venice… but kept the Rover :) I found the most important thing is to be surrounded by good people and things that you love. I was quickly picking up a new love for surfing so this was the first major stepping stone to getting close to the water.

Brandon Nelson New York City

The rest of my summer was full of exciting projects at work and traveling to conferences throughout the U.S. My first stop was in Orlando, Florida where I was able to see some of my friends from my old market. The next stop was in New York where I was able to catch up with one of my good friends who helped to emerge myself into the culture while I was there. We went checked out shows in Manhattan, went to a block party in Brooklyn, and then headed out for meetings in Long Island. After my final day of presentations we took a surprise trip down to the beach for some surfing (which just so happened to be on my birthday).

Fall

Brandon Nelson - Red Bull Records Tour Bus
After a few weeks of moving around and getting projects wrapped up at work, I was set to go on tour back in the south for a couple of weeks. I was very excited to attend the upcoming shows but had no idea what was in store for the trip. I arrived on day 1 to a bus full of artists that were eager to start partying and playing shows (mostly partying though).

Brandon Nelson Five Knives

I helped organize the logistics and production of the shows while I was on the road but mostly enjoyed spending time with the film crew from Red Bull Media House that was along for the ride shooting a trailer for the upcoming year. As much as I loved waking up in the morning eating gas station pizza and being pressured into taking shots of fireball at 10am, I could not wait to get back to my own bed in sunny California.

Winter

Brandon Nelson - Hollywood Perspective
The past few weeks have been probably the most exciting and interesting for me. I began to start surfing a lot more and becoming a lot closer with some of the people at the office. I ended up leaving my place in Venice to get a place closer to work in West Hollywood and have found to actually really enjoy living here a lot. The community is full of motivated / ambitious people that are all out to make big things happen. It’s a good atmosphere to be around and California officially feels like home.

Brandon Nelson Sam Janjua Ryan Hill Snowbaording North Carolina

I took off the last two weeks of December to visit friends and family back east and had a great time catching up with my closest of friends. It’s amazing that no matter how far away, your true friends will always be there for you. Over the past few days I’ve realized the importance of good friendships and how these people are crucial in your life. It’s these people that have made me realize my purpose and hopefully through here I will be able to start fulfilling that purpose once again.

Back to the West Coast

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Hollywood California

I somehow managed to take/exempt all of my finals early and was able to head out to California for a couple of weeks before classes ended. For some reason I always like to take early morning flights and there is always a perfect sunrise waiting for me on the other side of the terminal. I was staying with one of my friends who goes to USC who also works at the label. Luckily it was close to my work so I was only a quick skateboard / train ride away.

Airport

Hollywood is one of those places that words can’t describe. You always see it portrayed in movies but never think it actually exists. Its a strange feeling to walk up a flight of stairs every morning and skateboard down Hollywood Blvd. on your way to work. Rolling over the stars of famous people and seeing iconic locations that you didn’t even think were real. After a while though it sort of just becomes real. You don’t even think about the fake snow blowing throughout the mall with million dollar christmas lights… it just starts to seem normal.

Brandon Nelson - Anna Mcnally

Before you know it, you are wearing all black and trying to pick out which scarf matches your shoes (that picture is a joke by the way… or is it?). You begin to find yourself adapting to a lifestyle that is totally different than you have ever known. You get used to the fact money doesn’t mean anything because everything is too expensive to even think about. Your rational becomes obscure and you find yourself doing things that don’t make any sense. Trying to re-adapt to your old lifestyle gets incredibly more difficult and you become frustrated when you can’t get goat cheese on your burger at the local sports bar.

The Sunshine State

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St. Pete Beach

I always dreamed of having a house on the beach, but didn’t even realize that I already did. I set off to Florida where I could meet up with cannaloupe and spend the holidays in the warm weather. It’s nice to be able to take a break from the cold and spend a few days in the sun, wearing shorts and cruising down the beach… in the middle of December. Growing up I would spend a lot of my days in Tampa so it still sort of feels like a home to me. I never imagined that one day I would be part time living there, yet alone have an entire new family to spend the holidays with.

Ybor City

Ybor City has to be one of the coolest places I have ever been. Its full of interesting culture, food, nightlife, and a bunch of strange people. Its like a hybrid of Athens and Austin. My favorite spot though has to be the Skatepark of Tampa. This place is the home of some of the best/worst moments I have ever experienced. Its where I first really got into skateboarding, which ended up completely changing my life. Its pretty crazy to think that the same place I used to love going as a kid, has once again become my favorite place to go now.

Clearwater Florida

With life always going at a million miles per hour, its great to spend some time to relax and think about absolutely nothing. ┬áIts easy to get lost in all of the commotion going on in the world, but every now and then you need to step back and really think about what truly makes you happy. A moment as simple as watching the sunset can be more beautiful than anything money can buy. If you can truly appreciate these moments and find the euphoria in them, you are in luck… they happen every day.

Tie the knot in Texas

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch one of the greatest people I have ever met get married. The guy who took me under his wing out in California and gave helped shape me to be where I am today. Being a formal local and with his wife still currently residing, the wedding was set to go down in the beautiful city of Austin, Texas. I had only been to Austin once back in 07 for my first national skateboarding contest, but wasn’t able to see much of the city. I was excited to finally go back and spend a couple of days exploring the live music capital of the world.

I was fortunate to have the one and only cannaloupe in Athens that week and join me for the adventure. We heard that it was going to be cold but I never would have imagined that it would be freezing when we got there! It was literally in the low 40′s the entire time which caused both of us to get a minor cold. Fortunately the weather ended up turning out pretty nice the next day and we were able to enjoy the ceremony outside in the sun.

When I heard that not only were some former SBM’s going to be there, but that we were all going to be sitting at the same table, I knew that it was going to be dangerous. Once the open bar light came on, it was all downhill from there. The following day we were able to explore some of downtown Austin and eat some of the most incredible food I have ever seen. The city reminded me of a bigger version of Athens with all of the live music, bars, and good restaurants. Definitely planning to make a trip back soon.

Once we arrived back in Atlanta, we decided to make a quick trip up to the mountains in North Carolina before heading back home. After a quick stop in the small town of Dillsboro, we headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway to check it out. It was a little disappointing at first because the clouds were so thick you couldn’t hardly see any of the mountains. Once we got to highest peak, we took a quick trail up to the top of the freezing cold mountain to stumble upon the first snow of the season! Even though it was baby flakes, it was still a pretty cool way to end one of the best weekends ever.

Off to New York

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The most valuable thing I have learned over the years has got to be time management. Being a student alone is a full time job in itself. When I first got into college I couldn’t believe how people worked and went to school at the same time. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option for me. I had tuition, books, rent, and food to pay for and if I wanted to go to school, I had to pay for them myself. So when the opportunity came up for me to stay on Red Bull Records, there was no way I was ever going to turn it down. The only concern was that I am a full time student and work for Red Bull at the same time. How could I manage to throw on another job on top everything?

So I put together some goals and objectives, created a time management schedule, and was off to New York to show them I could make it happen. It gets a little tricky when you have to take an exam on Tuesday, fly out to NY on Wednesday, then come back then take another exam on Thursday. There comes a point in your life where you have to prioritize what is important and while studying a few extra hours for an exam would have been great, you have to grab opportunity at any chance you get.

I knew that my meeting would only be a couple of hours so I was able to meet up with an old friend for lunch and then a few drinks afterwards. We took the train into Manhattan and ate at a place called Tortaria off of Broadway. After the meeting I was forced to have a driver take me back to the airport so that I wouldn’t hit traffic and miss my flight. So I got him to pick up my friend on the way so we could hang out at the Terminal Bar before my flight. After a few Blue Moons and eight years of catching up, it didn’t realize my flight was in 10 minutes. So I ran to security only to find out we were in the wrong terminal. The running continued until I was rejected by security and told that I had missed my flight. I was a little concerned because I knew that I had an exam in the morning that I couldn’t miss. So I ended up coming to the conclusion that I was just going to stay and hang out in NY for the rest of the week and right when I was about to leave the attendant says, “You’re in luck, your flight was delayed.”

Back in Athens

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So after a pretty crazy adventure over the past few months, I’m finally back in Athens to finish up my degree and continue working as the Student Brand Manager for this beautiful place. Before I even get a chance to unpack I’m already planning events, meeting with people, and trying to put everything that I had been working on into action.

Our fist home Football game just kicked off and it was a moment that I had been looking forward to for quite a while. The energy that flows through Athens during these days is unlike anything in the world. Its not even necessarily about the sport itself, but its getting together with all of your friends and connecting with people who all share the same commonality. If you ever get a chance to go to a Georgia Football game, I highly recommend doing it.

Aside from all of the hecticness that I’m involved in through work. I’m fortunate to be part of a small group of students called Team 14h30. We are a group in the Terry College of Business lead by the most brilliant person I have ever met, Dill Driscoll. The goal is to bring ideas to life and envision “What’s Next” while at the same time training us to make an impact in society. Our first project was called the Game Ball Relay where we carried the opening game ball from Atlanta to Athens to reinvigorate the “Bulldog Nation” while at the same time raising money to support the Shepard Center in Atlanta.

The same day I was setting up one of the most incredible events I have ever seen in my life. I found out about these guys that threw epic alternative drinking and drug parties that were always packed full of energy. I knew this was the exact thing that we needed to be part of so I made it my goal to make sure I was part of the next one. After a couple of weeks meeting with the guys, we had finally decided to partner up on the event and bring it to life. The vision was to have a to-scale Spanish Galleon Ship as the stage for the DJ with the people as the ocean. Crazy, I know.

Through some serious creativity, dedication, and pure man power, it was time to let the party begin. I can’t even explain how much energy was flowing through the place initially, then once 2,400 cans of Red Bull was given to them, it just went out of control. Nearly 5,000 people showed up to dance, to the point where there physically wasn’t enough space to hold any more people. This was with no marketing or advertising, purely through word of mouth. Video coming soon…

Awolnation in Canada

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For the next stop on the list, I was going out to our artist AWOLNATION’s show in Ontario, Canada. So I flew in from New York and had a couple of days to hang out before the actual show would take place. Toronto is a really cool place that reminds me a lot of the European culture. It rained for the majority of the time but was still nice since most of the city is indoors. The actual event I was attending was about 2 hours north so I rented a car and drove out to a wake boarding and music festival called Wakestock.

It was cool to hang out with all of the guys and see how stoked everyone was to see them play. The rain set things back a bit but there was still a huge turnout. It was interesting to see how they all communicated with each other while on stage. You would think it would be strictly instruments and sound communication, but there were a few times where they had to point out a hot chick in the crowd for everyone in the band to check out. I was also able to snap a photo of their Double Platinum/Gold Plaque for them to use on their Facebook and Instagram.

I decided to check out a few things around town while I had some down time. One of the coolest things in Toronto is the CN tower. You never really can appreciate how beautiful the city is without seeing from above. Interestingly enough, I actually saw a friend of mine that I went to school with going up it as well. By far best view I have ever seen from an actual standing building.

After a quick Upper Canadian Lager and taking the elevator what seemed like several hundred floors back down, I was able to walk right across the street and check out the Toronto Blue Jays play the New York Yankees (how ironic). I was very impressed with Rogers stadium and how there is a hotel built into it where you can watch the game from your room. Definitely putting one of those on my bucket list. After watching a few innings of the Yankees destroying the Blue Jays, I decided to head back to the hotel early so I could catch up on some sleep and rest up for the next day.

Woke up early and had my last Canadian bagel from Tim Hortons and headed back to the airport for my final departure to the big city of Atlanta. It had been a while since I had been back in the south so I was a little nervous coming back. Life had been such an adventure and I wasn’t ready to have obligations and mad schedules again. Even though I was a little scared in the beginning, I knew it would be what I make of it.

Presenting: Dallas, Boston, & New York

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After a successful Red Bull Records presentation in Atlanta and Los Angeles, I was now booked to fly out to each business unit further integrate into the brand. Its pretty amazing to have the opportunity to travel all around the country meeting great people and doing what you love. It is interesting to see and experience how the culture differs in each part of the country and how each of them view and interact with the brand.

First stop, Dallas. Texas is more than just a hot city in the middle of the desert. It actually has some pretty cool stuff going on. Meet up with the Mountain South crew and headed over to a place called “The Mason Bar” for some food, drinks, and fun (aka Play & Destroy). The next morning we went over to the Dallas HQ office for some Role Training Presentations. I was starting to get the hang of my slides by now, so I was able to articulate things much better.

Boston was a much more interesting story because my flight ended up getting messed up, canceling my entire week long itinerary. After a few hours of phone calls I finally got things restored and was off to the Bean. Since the hotel I was going to be staying at was sold out, I figured I would get a hotel near the airport and just taxi over in the morning. Little did I know that all 157 hotels in Boston were sold out and I had to get another taxi to a hotel 30 miles outside of town. After some rugged travel issues, I finally made it to the conference which was held in the most amazing building I have ever been in, “The Museum of Contemporary Art.” After a tour of the complex and another perfect presentation, I was back at the airport and on my way to the big apple.

New York is one of the most interesting places on the planet. So many different cultures all combined into one city. We were staying at a really cool place called the King & Grove over in Brooklyn. Meet up with the Red Bull team that night and took a tour of some of the local spots around the area. The next day I was up bright and early for some more presentations. They were hosting the conference in this really cool “urban style” building that looked almost like a movie set. Somehow they managed to park a mini inside of it to give it that extra touch.

That night we went out for some dinner at a local place that had a full sized pig that was roasted and brought out on the table still in its original form. Afterwards we headed over to Manhattan to catch the release of Nitro Circus 3D. We then headed back to Brooklyn where we all went to this local bar that had “to go” margaritas that we could inconspicuously walk through the streets while drinking. After hanging out for hours down on the water by the Brooklyn Bridge, I finally headed back to the hotel so I could get some sleep before moving on to the next city.

The City of Angeles

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As reality starts to set in that the dream I have been living out in California will soon be coming to an end, I can’t help but to image what the future will have in store once I leave. Los Angeles has given me an entirely new perspective on life and as much as I would love to stay, I know there are more important things that need to be done first. Life is so full of adventures its easy to find yourself distracted from the reality we live in.

Having one of my best friends share the adventure with me was one of the greatest things I could have asked for. I couldn’t have imagined how things would have been if he was there to discover all of the trouble for us to get into. Whether it was partying in the nicest clubs in Hollywood or hanging out at Venice Beach, It definitely wouldn’t have been the same without him.

If you were to ask me to define the most impactful event I have ever experienced in my life, it would be without a doubt Design For Humanity. A collaboration of Music, Art, and Culture, this was by far the most incredible event I have ever been a part of. I immediately knew this was a perfect opportunity for Red Bull to be involved with because it defines what the brand is all about. After a few phone calls with Billabong and the Red Bull team, I was able to make it go from a Monster supported event, to Red Bull exclusive.

Words can’t describe the impact this event had to everyone that attended. It took place in Paramount Studios with all of the stages and infrastructure integrated with the sets they normally use to film movies in. I was fortunate to get VIP passes to the back area where they had chipotle burritos and pretty much anything you wanted to drink, all for free. At one point I was just hanging out waiting for a drink and when I looked to my left there was this familiar looking guy standing next to me… Shawn White.

After listening to three of my favorite bands (The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Walk The Moon) they had a Billabong Girl’s Fashion Show on the same stage as the headlining act. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces throughout the night and hang out with everyone outside of work. By far the most incredible experience yet.

The next day when I got to the office I found out that I was going to be heading out to the desert for a video shoot for one of our Artists. It was cool to be able to get a full behind the scenes view of everything that goes into one of these projects. It was also great to hang out with the band and get to know the guys on a more personal level. It really gave me a much greater appreciation for those guys and the passion they have for what they do. It was also amazing to see how much of an impact we are having on making their dreams a reality.

The Great Golden Gate

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Cruised up to the bay area to check out the beautiful San Francisco. I didn’t really know what to expect since it was my first time going to the city. As soon as we drove across the bay bridge into the downtown district, I suddenly had fallen in love. We arrived pretty late and crashed at a friends place who lived in a nice apartment in the heart of the city. It was difficult to get much sleep since there was only a couple hours until sunrise and I had so much anticipation to check out the area.

Our first stop was a local coffee shop down the street from our place. After a quick bagel and cup of joe, we meet up with the roommates and ventured down to fisherman’s wharf. There were some pretty cool shops lined up down the pier with an abundant smell of sourdough bread being baked on every corner. We then cruised up to a tower that overlooked the entire city to snag a couple of shots from above. The bay area has one of the most interesting climates I have ever experienced. One second we would be freezing cold, the next minute we would be sweating.

After checking out the city from above, we cruised over to the Golden Gate Bridge in hopes of snapping some great photos of the iconic location. As we arrived, we could barely make out the bright red bridge underneath the mountains of fog that covered it. Once again, freezing temperatures drove us back into the car and off to a coffee shop to regain our energy for the rest of the day.

The following morning I took a solo mission around town to see what I could discover. I stumbled around china town for a little while and I was probably the only non-chinese person in the entire district. It felt as if I was in an entirely different part of the world. After that I cruised on over to union square where I checked out some of the local shops and tested out some San Francisco chocolate.

Since my roommates family was from the area, they invited us to eat dinner at their home. Little did I know I was about to eat an incredible 5 course fully Italian meal. Everything about San Francisco was pretty amazing. All of the people were interesting and unique in their own way. The city seemed to follow the same pattern as well. I’ve been to some pretty cool place, but I must admit this had probably been one of my favorite.

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