My Life | Your Journey | Our Adventure 
Show Them Hospitality
I began my career in hospitality in college when I was hired as one of two Assistant Conference Coordinators at UCSB. When I first read the ad I knew I wanted the job. I mean I really wanted it, but, unfortunately I wasn't the only one who did. There were many qualified applicants, so I knew I needed to do something to help me stand out from the rest. As I thought about it, I remembered a little trick my mother taught me. When the interview was over, I filled out a hand-written thank you card right there and dropped it in the mail on my way to the car. I later learned that, after all the interviews, the hiring manager had only received one thank you note and because of that seemingly small act I was selected for one of the two coveted spots. Those five minutes and forty-two cents helped set the course for the next decade of my life. Upon graduation, what followed was a ten years career in hospitality. I started as an Event Manager at sea side resort in Santa Barbara but was quickly promoted. My tenure culminated as the Director of Events at the renowned Beverly Hilton. I loved everything about event management...right up until I didn’t.
Build the Bridge
I decided to leave the hotel but not the industry. I was recruited as a SME (Subject Matter Expert) by the business development team at the corporate office.  It was my responsibility to advise developers on the operational effectiveness of the software they were planning to design, build and deploy to the hotels. My new schedule had me working traditional business hours so my nights and weekends were my own again.  What would I do with all the free time?  Having always loved photography, I invested in some basic new photography equipment and started my little "side hustle" as a photographer.  I was loving life for two years when suddenly the project I was working on was cancelled.  It was decision time.  Either return to my career in event management or dedicate all my time and energy to making my photography passion and hobby a sustainable business.  I knew that I would be much happier as a photographer and wanted to build a successful business.  Candidly, there is a deceptively wide often times precarious gap that exists between want to and able to. Bridging that gap is the challenge laid before every wide eyed, hopeful entrepreneur.  Although I could have likely built that bridge alone, I decided it would be easier and take less time if I had help.  I relied on people with whom I formed enduring relationships with in my hospitality career to help guide me into this uncharted territory of entrepreneurship.
Won't Give Up
I founded my first company, Don Mamone Photography, in December of 2007. After just six months, on a warm summer day high atop the Dallas skyline I met Emily.  She was a model and photographer so our initial plan was to exchange information and get together to “talk shop,” but the universe had other plans. Instead, we fell in love and were married almost two years to the day from our first meeting. Given the unfortunate timing of the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, the business was slow growing at first and there were truly hard times in those first few years. I made some smart moves and some silly mistakes, and some mistakes that were not so silly. One serious mistake I recall vividly was a calculation error that had us under-paying our estimated taxes and resulted in our company owing the IRS nearly $10,000 by April 15...and it was already mid March. That was a low point. I nearly gave up. It was Emily that reassured me that despite this challenge we would be fine.  She provided more than just the emotional reassurance I needed.  She reviewed our expenses and found ways to "tighten our belts".  She worked tirelessly with me to increase our marketing efforts and create systems to provide exceptional customer service and promote loyalty.  I am thankful for her everyday and she was right (as usual)...we were just fine.
Time Marches On
Eventually, operating two photography businesses no longer made sense so we decided to undergo a complete brand redesign and relaunch. In May of 2012 we founded OUR first company, The Mamones LLC.  In the seven years since its inception, our business has grown steadily every year. We opened a brick & mortar studio and added associate photographers to the team. Amazing wife, successful business...how could life get any better than this?  I'll tell you how...our daughter Francesca Marie (or Frankie for short) joined our little family in October of 2016 and has made every day a little better than the last.  It is hard to believe that she is already just over two years old.  Becoming a father helped me realize more than ever that time marches on with careless abandon.  It does not slow down or stop if you are not quite ready and every moment past is, by definition, gone.  I measure my wealth in time and the most valuable time is that which I spend with my family and this is what guides my decisions and actions.  It has taken considerable effort to create a life that allows Emily and I to run a successful business and parent Frankie together, but it is absolutely worth it.
Live Your Best Life
If you made it this far I want to thank you for reading a little about my life.  As varied as all of our journeys are, two things are certain; life can be hard and change is inevitable.  I am excited to share my experiences from the past 25 years in hospitality and as an entrepreneur.  My desire is to make your hard times easier and periods of change more manageable.  Your first step toward defining what success is for you and living your best life can be accomplished in just a few seconds by submitting your email right here so we can continue this adventure together!
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