The S.B. Questionnaire: Shelby Sim

Talking Ambition, Height, and Foibles with Head of Visit Santa Ynez Valley

Shelby Sim (Oct. 06, 2015)
Paul Wellman

Shelby Sim’s whimsical selfies are omnipresent on social media. He likes to call them “USsies” because the photos are not just about him. As the executive director of Visit Santa Ynez Valley, he uses them as a way to promote his members and the varied businesses of the valley. Shelby’s genuinely amiable without any smarminess, and a great conversationalist.

He grew up in Goleta and owned a restaurant in Isla Vista at 21. His career has been quite a zig zag since, joining the Navy for six years, working for Fidelity National Financial,, and Select Staffing. He also served as and director of business development for Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, revitalizing the chamber after the recession by bringing on more than 200 members.

He then joined Bacara as a sales manager before being “poached” by the Visit Santa Ynez Valley, where he is finally in the job that he was born to do. Since he started last August, occupancy in valley hotels is up 11 percent.

Happily married with three children, Shelby’s enthusiasm and contentment with life is contagious.

The Santa Ynez Valley’s most happy fella answers the Proust questionnaire.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Homer Simpson, James Bond, Jack Kerouac, Fletch.

What is your current state of mind?

Excited, proud, content but hungry.

What do you like most about your job?

Working with and meeting authentic and passionate people. Promoting and inspiring others to visit the Santa Ynez Valley.

What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is that I have bitten off more than I can chew. I keep pushing myself to do bigger things and take on bigger challenges. Sometimes I wonder, mostly at night, when tired, “What have I got myself into? I can’t do that!”

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Scoring my wife Amy and the family we have created. This year it’s been successfully changing my lifestyle, losing a bunch of weight, and living healthier.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Having a happy and healthy family. Completing my morning run and hanging out with my cats in our backyard while drinking green tea and soaking in the sun.

Who do you most admire?

People who are older but in better shape than me. Great orators. For being able to hold and inspire an audience. Writers. For being able to convey thoughts in written words and create whole worlds. Volunteers. People who give their time for others or causes.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Oh geez, too many. Mostly food related. Dinners out with my family. An expensive steak cooked at home for lunch during the week. Grocery shopping. Hotel rooms.

What is the quality you most like in people?

Compassion. Enthusiasm. Courage.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

People that don’t practice what they preach. Or worse, that don’t see that they are the problem.

What do you value most value in friends?

Respect and trust.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Thinking positive.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?


Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to sing or play an instrument. Or fly. I would like to be able to fly.

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

I would be taller.

Where would you most like to live?

Great question. A tropical paradise, a midtown big city apartment, and a home in the mountains by a river.

What is your most treasured possession?

My health and family.

What makes you laugh the most?

The foibles of everyday life. Friends, strangers, a glass of wine.

What is your motto?

Everything is going to be okay,and most likely amazing.

On what occasion do you lie?

To myself when I say I can eat just one chip or fry or cookie.


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