“If everyone dared to fully express their natural gifts, we could all create more impact from a joyful place,” states Seth Streeter boldly, and I listen. This very tall man has a striking presence, but it primarily comes from his confident and inspirational ways of speaking. During our early morning breakfast, he’s full of ideas and energy. I’m impressed.
Seth is the CEO of Mission Wealth, a Social Venture Partner, and the founding leader of the successful Fast Pitch SB venture-pitch program. But more recently, and perhaps most importantly, he’s the founder of the Sustainable Future Organization, which aims to unify and empower communities to improve the health of our planet. With a dynamic technology platform, meaningful content, and a passionate team, their mission is to motivate leaders and citizens to take simple actions that collectively strengthen the community and create a sustainable future for all.
“My real passion has always been the environment,” explains Seth, whose idea to start the organization — originally called SustainSB — came when the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016 “I understood we could complain, or we could roll up our sleeves and take action,” he says. “My nature is to take action.”
In 2017, Streeter brought together a group of 100 Santa Barbara County environmentalists and community leaders throughout the year to brainstorm a better way to organize environmental efforts. After the mudslides, they rebranded as Sustainable Future to reach beyond Santa Barbara and to also include community resiliency, health, and wellness.
Sustainable Future creates custom campaigns focused on improving the community through measurable actions. Campaigns include water conservation, reducing food waste, going plastic free, and environmentally friendly forms of transportation, among many others. The campaigns use mobile apps to track success, such as measuring gallons of water conserved — something that Streeter calls “gamification of sustainability.”
Streeter has the support of both the City and the County of Santa Barbara, and he actively recruits businesses, nonprofits, schools, and faith-based organizations to be a part of the movement. “If you want to go fast, go alone,” says Seth, quoting an African proverb. “If you want to go far go together.”
Seth was born in San Antonio, Texas, but raised in Fort Collins, Colorado. A problem solver by nature — and a member of the Future Problem Solvers of America in high school — Seth came to UCSB in 1988, seeking warmer weather and a career in advertising. He graduated in 1992 with a degree in communications and sociology.
During college, he participated in student government and also sold mattresses. He convinced the Sheraton Hotel to give him their year-old mattresses for free, and then he’d resell them. He was also the student liaison at the Career Counseling Center, where he was told to think about getting trained by John Hancock Financial Services.
He got a Masters in financial planning from the College for Financial Planning, and launched his own company, Mission Wealth, in 2000, which has grown to 16 offices and 40 employees.
In 2014, he created Fast Pitch SB, a venture-pitch model for the nonprofit sector — or, as Seth describes it, “Shark Tank meets American Idol for the nonprofit world.” They helped 40 nonprofits in the two years it took place. Organizations gave their pitches, got cash prizes, and heard advice from the panel of judges. “I saw the power of community building,” says Seth.
Seth also runs retreats for 35 CEOs for four days, where he hopes to ignite their “3.0 vision” and focus on their third phase of life: legacy creation. “I help busy executives,” he explains. “I give them permission to create a 3.0 vision a plan. Life coaching blended with advising.”
He lives in Santa Barbara with his two children and remains active with various fitness activities, including the Ironman Triathlon. When I point out how busy he must be, Seth responds, “I have a growth mindset. I seek unfamiliar situations in order to grow. We have so much capability we’re not tapping into.”
Seth Streeter answers the Proust Questionnaire.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Overcoming a challenging divorce and personal health setbacks to be a hands-on father to my kids since they were eight months and two years old. Even though this was while I was growing my company, and navigating the financial crisis, I was always there for them and never once had a nanny or local family help. The relationship I have with each of them now is my greatest reward in life!
I am also proud of bringing Fast Pitch SB to the Santa Barbara community. And I am excited for www.SustainableFuture.org to be another huge community building impact-maker.
What is your greatest fear?
Public speaking. Ironically, it is also one of my greatest gifts. Many years ago I had a panic attack right before giving a big talk. Ever since this time, I have to overcome my nerves when I go on stage. As someone who is into personal growth, I knew I had to face this fear straight on. So after my panic attack, I thought of the scariest thing that came to my mind when it came to public speaking, and it was giving a TED talk.I wrote in my journal that one day I would do this to prove I could face my fears. Amazingly, the opportunity presented itself to me many years later in 2016, and thankfully, I pulled it off!
What do you like most about your job?
Having the opportunity to meet with fascinating people and learn their life story, including their innermost dreams and challenges. And then helping them realize what before may have seemed impossible.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Waking up without a rush. Enjoying a delicious breakfast with my family and friends at the beach. Relaxing on the sand and soaking up the sun while engaging in playful yet stimulating conversations. Listening to a podcast and reading a book to learn something new. Taking a nap. Waking up and joining my friends in an ocean swim. Coming back to the sand and enjoying a yummy, fresh baked chocolate-chip cookie and a sunset. Going home with my lovely soulmate to watch the Denver Nuggets NBA team win their first championship. Yep, that would be an epic day!
Who do you most admire?
I love big dreamers, who push through perceived limits to expand the collective perspective of what is possible. Leonardo da Vinci, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and the Free Solo rock climber Alex Honnold all fall in this category.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I love my Tesla X and my steam shower. I am also so lucky to get to travel all over the world. I enjoy experiencing and learning about different places and cultures and I have a thirst for adventure.
What is your current state of mind?
Grateful! I am soaking up the last few years of having my teenage daughter and son at home before they launch off to college. It is rewarding to see my company Mission Wealth growing, and seeing the career opportunities it creates for our dedicated team.
Seeing my nonprofit Sustainable Future expand and drive more impact into the community. Leading retreats with executives and their spouses to help them find more meaning and balance in their lives is so uplifting. My state of mind is to keep showing up as fully as I can in this life of mine!
What is the quality you most like in people?
How unique everyone is! Everyone beats to a different drum and it is what makes life so interesting. I like people who are willing to be fully authentic.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Apathy. We all have gifts to be deployed and when we don’t fully express them, we and society at large both lose.
What do you most value in friends?
Vulnerability, kindness, and a passion to leave a mark on the world.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Sorry, I have to give you three: curious, positive, and fully engaged. I am committed to making every day count. I hope my actions and interactions reflect this.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Being able to sleep on airplanes would be nice. Hmm, playing guitar with a dreamy singing voice would come in handy.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be less critical of myself and others.
Where would you most like to live?
Santa Barbara, 50 percent of the time, and then various places around the world for two to eight week stretches, so I can really get a feel for the people, culture, and community.
What is your most treasured possession?
My children, not that I possess them, but they are my treasure.
What makes you laugh the most?
I love to laugh at myself and not take things too seriously. This is a learned skill that I am getting better at every day. Also, animals crack me up. Our cat Shanti is always up to something.
What is your motto?
I have 3 main ones:
One: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Two:“The more you give, the more you get.”
Three:“Assume optimism, unless there is absolute evidence to the contrary.”