“It’s intangible,” says Richard Good about the product of his job. “We’re creating memories.” Richard is the General Manager of Classic Party Rentals, which offers event management for any occasion large or small. He believes that “for people, celebrations are essential things in life.”
I’ve known this ever cheerful man for 15 years because he has been instrumental in making the Santa Barbara International Film Festival such a success by providing not only equipment but guidance. On this particular evening, as we sip cocktails overlooking the Santa Barbara skyline, he points out that in all these years, he and I have never slowed down enough to have a social conversation. “I’m not good at pausing,” he shares with me. “There’s a push in me that keeps me creating and doing things.” He describes himself as “a better staff member than a guest.”
Richard never imagined that he would be an event planner. When he got drafted to be on the fundraising committee of the Santa Barbara Waldorf School, where his daughter was a 2nd grader back in 1996, he helped put together their “Medieval Mayfair.” This experience led to him working for the Oscars Governor’s Ball — and eventually to doing some special events for one of the founders of Microsoft. The latter kept him busy for a few years, continuously commuting from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles to produce lavish parties there. Richard had found his calling. “It brought out all the passions in me,” he tells me about this early experience with event planning.
In 1999, he needed to take a regular gig for a while to spend more time with his daughter and applied for a job with Regal Rents, which eventually merged with Classic Party Rentals in 2004. He proudly states that it took eight interviews for him to get the job. At first they thought he wouldn’t be interested in handling clients who had small jobs of only two tables and 20 chairs. After 25 years in the business, he admits that the joy of a wedding still brings him to tears. “It’s easy for me to get lost in it, for it doesn’t feel like work,” he says. And what are the challenges? “One of the tricks is getting people to do what they ultimately want to do instead of what will please their friends or family,” he explains. He tries not to be tied to one predetermined outcome, but rather to strive for what will ultimately make the customer the happiest.
Richard has been on the board of Visit Santa Barbara for many years and has been on their executive committee several times. “I’ve been welcomed by Santa Barbara, and I want to contribute,” he says.
I notice a praying bead bracelet on his wrist that he touches a few times during our conversation. “I’ve been conscious this year about making mistakes,” he explains. “It’s a reminder to love myself and not worry so much.”
Richard Good answers the Proust Questionnaire.
Where would you most like to live?
Back in the 1980s, I was living in Miami Beach, and I met a beautiful woman who was on vacation. She told me that one day I was going to live in Santa Barbara. Stacie and I were later married, and our daughter was born before I was asked by a good friend to drive a car across the country to Santa Barbara. I can still remember my first descent over San Marcos Pass from Santa Ynez and dropping down into Santa Barbara; that’s when I remembered her prediction. The rest is kind of history. I have traveled to many places, and sometimes within only hours I find myself longing to be back. I am grateful for every day that I am fortunate enough to call Santa Barbara home.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My incredible, brave and beautiful daughter, Jessica, and the second chance she has given me to be a part of raising my 8-year-old granddaughter, Liliana. My 2-year-old grandson, Giovanni, should be on this list, too. There is no greater achievement or honor I have been given than the role I have had as a father and parent to a future generation.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I am not sure this counts, but the Wizard of Oz. I often describe what I do for a living as not one wizard, but a team of them working behind the scenes to create the most magical experience or celebration for people. When the magic happens, the most amazing memories are created.
What is your greatest fear?
Besides blood, a subconscious fear that kind of haunts me is that I don’t like to make mistakes. The drawback is that perfectionism can easily turn into a handicap and make some stuff take way too long to get done.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would find a greater work/life balance. I have been a workaholic since my first job in the mail room. I would really like to actually make time to practice and learn how to play the guitar.
What do you like most about your job?
The incredible people that I interact with and the chance they give me to hopefully contribute something positive — my team members, our clients, our vendors, and our community.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Aside from seeing my family happy and healthy … Playing at the pool the day before the first day of Coachella. The excitement is indescribable.
Who do you most admire?
Mothers everywhere who wake up every morning and do whatever they can to make a positive difference in their children’s life. Dads are cool, too, but quite frankly we have it easy.
What is your greatest extravagance?
This decade it most certainly is my annual pilgrimage to Coachella. There have been years where I could have gone on safari in Africa for the same cost. If anyone has a great place they want to rent to a mature responsible professional at a reasonable price for next year (must include access to a pool), please contact me.
What is your current state of mind?
Grateful. I hope no matter what lies ahead that I can remain able minded to seek joy and celebrate life.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Showing up with a positive mental attitude. That’s more than half the battle.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Meanness and ungraciousness often equals a seven-letter word that begins with “a.” Note to self: Don’t treat anyone poorly, particularly those people who are only trying to help and/or earn a living. I wish we all could rise above the crap and treat everyone with respect and gratitude. It may be my own utopian fantasy, but some days I can’t help ask myself, “Where is the love?”
What do you most value in friends?
Flexibility and kindness. I also truly value those friendships where whether it is two days, two months, or two years since your last visit, it only takes a few moments to completely connect again.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Some people say I talk too much, but I hope it is my ability to stay calm and remain positive.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Some days it is the “f” word (along with many of the prefixes and suffixes that go along with it), but I know it rarely evokes a positive message. “Circle back to you” is the one my staff and family are working on with me now. “Namaste” would be my hope for the future.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I have always wanted to play guitar. I tried in elementary school, but my music teacher insisted I had to play violin and cello first. Finally, a few years ago, I bought a guitar and took some lessons. See next question.
What is your most treasured possession?
Professionally, it is my iPhone. Personally it is my health and the headphones to my iPhone. I really try to remind myself that everything else is just a gift I get to borrow while I am in this physical form.
What makes you laugh the most?
Great conversations with friends or family, reflecting on our own hilarious relationships and life experiences past, present, and future. Recently, I must admit that Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, and Samantha Bee are also helping me cope.
What is your motto?
Professionally, it is, “If it were easy, there would be one on every corner like a gas station.” Personally, it is, “Seek joy and celebrate life.”
On what occasion do you lie?
Having dedicated most of my life to working, I have on way too many occasions (with the best of intentions) said to my family I would be home for dinner and barely made it home to tuck my daughter (and now my granddaughter) into bed.