From Indie Breakfast Club on April 10, 2008
Welcome, John. Let’s dive right in. What was it like growing up? How did you end up in NYC? Born and raised in Phoenix, AZ where the temperature hits 115 degrees in the summer. Back then all I did was play sports which is probably the root of my competitive nature. After high school I did two years of college in San Diego but basically lived on the beach and played two-man beach volleyball. I woke up one day and realized I could do this for the rest of my life or get out now. My older sister was modeling for Ford at the time and because of her encouragement I moved to NYC to finish school and as you can see, never left. I can only exist here.
After you arrived here, how did you find your toehold in the city? What have you been up to since? Arrived here in 1988. Finished at college at Columbia in 91-92 and leveraged personal connections that made it possible to open MercBar in 1993. I was friends with Andre Balazs who at the time was parking his cars in the space (his office for Mercer was next door) which is how I came to know about the location. I was naïve and simply thought, “open a bar.” As it turns out the timing was right, the design has tested time and it was the one thing that kept me from having to get a real job and with that came Canteen, Lure, Lever House, Chinatown Brasserie, CITY and now EBOOST.
How do you define success, John? For me it is about having the luxury of doing what you really WANT to do. Having that privilege is something money cannot buy. I am always anxious for tomorrow.
So, how do you get there? Do you have any cardinal rules to operate by? When you love what you do, you work harder and longer and that is the one sure way of getting ahead of the next person who thinks they can just get lucky.
What kind of work do you enjoy doing the most these days? Maybe it sounds cliché but I enjoy all of it rolled together. When I get to a point that I don’t like something I will do what it takes to eliminate it from my routine. If I had to pick one, EBOOST is the newest baby and there are huge challenges to overcome that drive me pretty hard right now.
Any big plans for this year? Turn every bottle of water orange.
Where’s this all going? What’s the end-game for John McDonald? I don’t plan ahead far enough to have an end-game. Maybe that’s a weakness to fix.
Thanks, John… I have a feeling that’s a strength, not a weakness. Good luck with EBOOST and your other ventures.