My family and I came to San Diego for a visit–and found that we never wanted to leave.

My wife, Margie, and I moved to San Diego in the summer of 1976. Having just been promoted to full professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I was on sabbatical, and Margie had just finished her doctorate in communications. Our son, Scott, was 11 years old, and our daughter, Debbie, was 9. We had planned to stay in San Diego for just a year. But after a few months, Margie said, “Why are we going back to Massachusetts? It’s beautiful here. Summer in Massachusetts is two weeks of bad skating.”

It’s true—San Diego has the best weather in the country. And as visitors, we loved all the fun attractions like the San Diego Zoo, one of the best zoos in the world; the Wild Animal Park (now Safari Park); SeaWorld; Balboa Park with its world-class museums; and the famous beaches. But it was also clear to us that this area was a fabulous place to raise our family, with unlimited activities—surfing, boating, bicycling, hiking, golf, the mountains, the deserts. What more could we possibly ask for?

There was one problem: How could we stay when we didn’t have jobs? Then I got an opportunity to do some sessions for the Young Presidents’ Organization, an international network of business executives who all became presidents or CEOs before the age of 45. My sessions on leadership were so well received that members of the San Diego chapter of YPO asked me what I was going to be doing at the end of my sabbatical. I told them we were going back to UMass. They said, “No, you aren’t. When you’re hot, you’re hot. You need to start your own business.”

Margie and I said, “We can’t even balance our checkbook. How are we going to start our own business?”

They promised they would help.

This is a great example of what’s still amazing about San Diego’s business community—they are there for one another.

And so we stayed. San Diego YPO members reached out to us and became our advisors and encouragers. They helped us set up what would become The Ken Blanchard Companies, a global organization headquartered here with offices in Toronto and London and partnerships in more than 40 nations. It wouldn’t have happened without the support of San Diego’s wonderful business community.

Over the years we have hosted countless visitors and have seen many friends and colleagues move to the area. Now our grandchildren are growing up here. San Diego is a unique and extraordinary city—one where, when you come, you feel welcome to stay and contribute.

Ken Blanchard - Cofounder, The Ken Blanchard Companies

—Ken Blanchard Cofounder, The Ken Blanchard Companies
Coauthor, The New One Minute Manager® and Leading at a Higher Level


Whether you’re looking to exercise your body or your mind, you’ll never run out of things to do in San Diego.

It’s no secret that San Diego is blessed with incredible natural beauty. Its 70 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline allow easy access for swimming, surfing, sailing, hiking, jogging and lots of other outdoor activities. And its near perfect climate gives both residents and visitors plenty of time to get outdoors and enjoy life. From dawn to dusk, virtually every day in San Diego, you can surf the waters near the Scripps Pier, play golf at the famed Torrey Pines Golf Course or play tennis at one of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar‘s pro-style tennis courts.

But what’s less well-known about San Diego is just how diverse its cultural offerings are. The San Diego Symphony presents a concert series that ranges from Schubert and Gershwin to Diana Ross and Tito Puente. Theatergoers have an array of choices, including the nationally praised Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse, where shows like John Leguizamo’s Diary of a Madman, Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays and Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots have all premiered.

And for visitors, there’s an abundance of hotel choices, ranging from the boutique chic of Hotel Palomar and downtown grandeur of THE US GRANT to the the serenity of Rancho La Puerta and the Lodge at Torrey Pines or the stunning views from Manchester Grand Hyatt, created by renowned developer “Papa Doug” Manchester.

There’s something for everyone in San Diego—day and night.

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Whether it’s a doubleheader at Petco Park or a day trip to wine country, San Diego can make anyone an explorer.

It doesn’t matter what you’re in the mood for: San Diego is filled with adventures that are easy to get to, and yet take you far away from the stresses of daily life. You could rent a bike or a surfboard—or both—and enjoy the sand and surf at Mission Beach. Or you could spend the day in Balboa Park, ambling from museum to museum, enjoying the incredible diversity of animal life at the zoo, or walking through the tranquil beauty of its many gardens. Petco Park offers not only one of the best baseball-watching experiences in the country, but also awesome views of San Diego Bay and downtown. And many visitors to San Diego don’t realize that there’s gorgeous wine country just south across the border in Valle de Guadalupe or an easy drive north to Temecula and Ramona Valley.

San Diego has all that—or you can lie on a sandy beach and swim in the Pacific. Whatever the adventure, the choice is yours.

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A dynamo and diverse culinary scene paired with a booming craft beer community make San Diego a great place to eat and drink.

Let’s be honest: San Diego restaurants have been underrated for years. But the critics are coming around, and rightfully so—this is a town with a vibrant and dynamic food culture. As the Wall Street Journal recently put it, after years in the shadow of more famous food cities, San Diego is “finally on the culinary map.”

Leading the way is Addison at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, where Relais & Château Grand Chef William Bradley presents an artisanally inspired menu with dishes such as coffee-roasted duck with koshihikari  rice and candied peanuts, or muscles in green curry with coriander and coconut. And for the oenophiles, the wine list is a feast for the palate: It includes more than 3,500 bottles.

But there are many other great casual choices too, like Galaxy Taco—the fried fish or grilled avocado tacos are a must—or the neighborhood vibe of the Smoking Goat bistro. And whatever food you eat, wash it down with one of San Diego’s famous locally brewed craft beers. When it comes to suds, San Diego shouldn’t be overlooked.

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A culture of entrepreneurship, creativity and collaboration fosters innovation in San Diego.

When it comes to fostering innovation, San Diego brings together all the necessary elements. It has outstanding universities like the University of California, San Diego, and San Diego State University with traditions of teaching entrepreneurship. Those universities graduate thousands of young people every year, most of whom want to stay in San Diego because of its quality of life and employment opportunities; many go on to launch startups. Other new businesses are the work of veterans of San Diego’s biggest companies, like Qualcomm and ViaSat, or veterans of the military, which has more than 100,000 military personnel stationed in the San Diego area, who help start defense-oriented companies like General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. And the city has a thriving scientific community based around a cluster of world-leading research institutions and supported by civic-minded philanthropists. When you throw in the beautiful natural environment and weather, it’s easy to understand why creative minds want to live and work in San Diego.

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San Diego’s collaborative scientific community is pioneering breakthroughs in diseases ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

While San Diego may be the best know for its balmy climate and beautiful beaches, it has emerged as one of the world’s leading centers of science.

The early years of science in San Diego saw the creation of nonprofits like the Scripps Research Institute and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, which would shape San Diego’s science community in enduring ways. The influence of federal research dollars leveraged with the organizations’ nonprofit status has infused San Diego’s science community of collaboration and cooperation.

Those qualities still remain, and along with San Diego’s climate, lifestyle and quality of life, continue to attract talented researchers and creative entrepreneurs from all over the world. Their work is helping fuel greater understanding and more effective treatment of diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes, Alzheimer’s and autism.

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Benefiting from easy access to South America and Asia, San Diego is one of the world’s most attractive cities for international business.

Building on the advantages of its location—the border with Mexico just miles away, and 70 miles of coastline—San Diego has always been an internationally minded city, and that’s even more true today. The border region with Mexico, known as CaliBaja, is a thriving source of economic activity between the two countries, with goods moving fluidly across the border. The San Diego International Airport and the Port of San Diego also provide ample access to Asia markets. All told, trade volumes in the region amount to about $150 billion—and as both Latin America and Asia become larger U.S. economic priorities, that number is growing. Looking east, direct flights to Europe take off from San Diego, you can go anywhere.

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