We had the good fortune of connecting with Forest Melton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Forest, what matters most to you?
The most important principle to me is presence. From a person who is constantly overanalyzing their every action and potential action as well as comparing myself to all of the most successful humans that have ever existed, I frequently find myself mentally anxious. In these moments, I am driven by fear of failure and fear of judgement. Once I can get present, I feel as though I am making the most authentic and centered decisions that I can. I feel I am being true to myself instead of acting out of fear. For these reason and more, I value the ability to be present higher than any other principle. When I am present, all of the worries of past mistakes and anxieties of future mistakes have less power. Even decisions that don’t turn out the way I have envisioned hurt less when I am making them from that centered place. When I am connecting with present people, I feel they are more connected. I feel that they hear me and get me. Time with them in this space is worth more than gold. This is where life is meant to be lived.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What I am most excited about is the opportunity to bring people together for a common cause. I am most excited to put a little bit of good back in the world. A world that seems to be continuing to grow more and more divided every day. I am proud that I can support those who are doing good in the world. Highlighting other people’s good works gives me something positive to focus on and work towards as we experience suffering or success in our own lives. Having an outlet and a mission makes the hard times sufferable and the easy times easier. It draws in good company, and makes life worth living.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of the most fun places to eat (& drink) in Phoenix is Postino. The food is tasty and the drinks are superb. The branding and marketing are perfect, and the staff is wonderful (there must be something in the water).

Anyone visiting Phoenix would HAVE to start with brunch at Postino. You must order a board of bruschetta and bottle of win if it’s your first time. Next on the list is Taco Guild. Taco Guild is a very fun and modern restaurant / bar with an incredible ambiance. This spot has been featured on the travel channel numerous times. They have wonderful drinks, an enormous tequila collection, and the establishment is a renovated church from the 19th century. Incredible! After you leave Taco Guild, be sure to hit up the Little Woody. The Little Woody, is a wonderful modern speakeasy in the heart of Phoenix. It is also a Barcade. One can fill many hours there playing skee ball, fooseball, and darts all while listening to a great DJ and being served by some of the most talented mixologists in the city. Finish the night with a breakfast burrito at one of the many Losbeto’s on your way home.

On your Phoenix journey, you’re going to want to start one day with a hike up Camelback Mountain. The hike can get moderately challenging, but the view is well worth it. Be careful, as it can get busy. If that hike is too difficult for your liking, Mormon Trail at South Mountain is also a favorite and has its own compelling view of the city. Follow that hike with coffee from the most adorable and tasty little coffee shop called Azukar, which is near South Mountain. Trust me, you will not forget this place with its large paintings of Frida Kahlo and authentic Mexican themed coffees. This place is a hidden gem.

Ride the light rail to downtown Phoenix, and do a little bar hopping. On your tour, you must hit Little Rituals, which is on the 4th floor of the Marriott. The drinks here are incredible and specific to Phoenix. It is quite the treat. Next stop is going to be Bitter & Twisted which has more specialty drinks than any place I’ve been to. Both of these places do get full, so you may have to make a reservation for either one. After you’ve had a few drinks, you must dine at Hanny’s, which is where I celebrate my birthday almost every year. It is trendy. It is modern. It is is tasty. Order my personal favorite, a prosciutto arugula pizza and have a side car. You will not regret it. Before you leave, you must stand in the elevator-less elevator staff and cross the bar to take a stroll down the mysterious spiral staircase. You will be reward with a very chucky-esque version of the lord’s supper. After that hit up Valley Bar to catch some live music. There are drinks. There are fun people. There are games. A cousin of Little Woody, it too has a modern speakeasy vibe. Finish the night at Cornish Pasty to have a traditional pasty. You can go upstairs for a pool vibe or downstairs for the ultimate lounge experience. This bar restaurant has at least 3 different vibes all cohabitating the same space. And the pasties are to die for! My favorite is the the chicken tikka masala! Yum!

Start one day in Phoenix by biking along the canal from OHSO Brewery in Arcadia to Olive and Ivy in Scottsdale or vice versa. OHSO distills their own liquor and brews their own beer. They’ve got everything you need in life. Their patio is vibrant and fun. Olive and Ivy is going to be a little more fancy in comparison. Wonderful patio and mimosas live here!

One can not visit Phoenix without visiting Ben’s Bells downtown. It is an absolute must. Ben’s Bells is an amazing local non-profit who’s mission is kindness. Hop in there, and let your creativity flow as you paint a few kindness coins, no artistic talent required. It is a one of a kind experience and will stick with you for days to come. While you’re down there, swing by Welcome Diner for a fun drink and a bite of food on a roomy patio.

When it comes to rooftop bars, no one does it quite like the Clarendon Hotel or the Renaissance Hotel. The Renaissance is going to be more downtown Phoenix, while Clarendon will be more uptown Phoenix. Both offer exquisite views, and you will want to miss the Phoenix sunset from the best seat in the house. Renaissance not only has the rooftop bar, but the most authentic basement speakeasy in town, Melinda’s Alley. You can only find this place by looking for the red bulb’d door in the middle of the alley. This place offers a true traditional speak easy experience.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Man oh man, who hasn’t helped me get to where I’ve gotten to. This shoutout is going to be dedicated to one of my biggest inspirations, my mentor from graduate school, Dr. Christopher Ray. This dude never ceases to amaze me. He is super smart, super present, super successful, and super down to earth. He sets goals and he crushes them every time. I don’t even know how he does it. His success and drive have a Halo effect of inspiring me as he continues to do what he does. I was a student of his in 2010, and had the opportunity to do some work as a graduate assistant in his biomechanics postural control research lab. He kept giving me opportunity after opportunity, and I kept taking on bigger and bigger projects. That was really great times, and that mentality has stayed with me as I’ve progressed through life and taken on new and different challenges. Thank you Dr. Ray! Keep climbing! I’m right behind ya!

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