The S.B. Questionnaire: Michael Baker

Talking Helpfulness and Humility with the CEO of Our Boys & Girls Club

Santa Barbara Westside Boy's and Girls Club new Executive Director Michael Baker (May 11, 2015)

Michael Baker is one of the most passionate people I’ve met, and his enthusiasm is definitely contagious.

Since taking over seven months ago as CEO of the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, he’s completely reenergized the critical community organization with ideas, commitment, and leadership. His commitment to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens is genuinely inspiring. And in person, his humility disarms you. He told me a story over lunch about meeting his wife in college and immediately knowing she was the love of his life. Such clarity and honesty is enviable.

On October 10, he’s hosting “An Evening of Laughter and Inspiration,” a fundraiser that will honor Angel Martinez, who is president and CEO of Deckers and a proud Boys & Girls Club alumnus. There will be live comedic entertainment and, according to Michael, “You will laugh, you will cry, and you will walk away feeling great about supporting such a great cause.”

Michael answers the Proust Questionnaire.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Who is having more fun than me? Answer: nobody. Another one is: Are you kidding me?

What is your current state of mind?

Feeling very good about the future. I am an eternal optimist. I believe things happen for a reason. I am thrilled to be working for the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County and I know our best days are ahead of us.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I honestly don’t have one.

What do you like most about your job?

The great people who I work with. I can honestly say I love Mondays. I get to work with a Board of Directors and staff that are dedicated to helping change the future one child at a time. How great is that?

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being anywhere with my wife and three kids and hearing them all laugh together. It doesn’t get any better than that for me. Unless of course they are laughing at me.

What is your greatest fear?

Something happening to my wife or kids. A very close second is that someone I really respect becomes a Yankees fan.

Who do you most admire?

I admire my wife. She always gives me the best advice. I don’t always listen or even follow it, but in the end she is almost always right.

What is the quality you most like in people?

Resilience. I admire anyone that has had a tough path in life, through no fault of their own, and still succeeded.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

Selfishness.

What do you most value in friends?

I value friends that genuinely like to help people because it is part of their DNA.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I think most people would say I am “passionate” about my work.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I could sing really well.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Did you look at my picture? It is pretty obvious.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Convincing the prettiest woman I have ever seen to marry me.

Where would you most like to live?

I have to say right here in Santa Barbara. These past eight months have been tough without my family here yet. This community has been so kind to me and genuine. Best move I ever made was coming here.

What is your most treasured possession?

I guess two awards I got from my previous Boys and Girls Club job in Anaheim. They named an outreach program I created after me. The other one is I was made an honorary citizen of Disneyland by the Disneyland Resort. Both very humbling.

What makes you laugh the most?

What makes me laugh are people who don’t take themselves too seriously. The “who” makes me laugh the most is the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Boys and Girls Club, Carolyn Brown. One of the funniest people I have ever met in my life.

What is your motto?

Make a difference today!

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Robert Kennedy

On what occasion do you lie?

I like to run long distances. I lie to myself all the time: “just one more mile.”

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