From architect to granola-maker to Lyft driver, Dan has filled some unusual roles. He developed a healthy granola, San Franola, when he encountered health challenges a few years ago. We wanted to get the scoop — or at least a spoonful.
1. Where did your inspiration for creating San Franola originate?
Tides Inn by the Sea, an inn I stayed at while finishing my thesis, served a breakfast cereal in the mid 70s that I liked. It took me several years to finish my thesis, and it was a game of mine to recreate the taste. I'm an architect, and as a designer of environmental experience, all senses came into play as part of the creative process.
2. What caused you to make the change from architect to granola chef?
Around the year 2000, life had happened: I had type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, and was classified as obese. My doctor wanted to put me on various medications. I decided to examine my life and see if I could alter these outcomes with lifestyle changes.
I remember walking down the grocery aisle, and seeing the same food names I had always eaten since I was in school, but noticed that these foods now contained a lot of sugar and little nutritional value. I needed a healthy snack that I could eat that wouldn’t cause me to gain weight.
3. What did the process look like in developing the “perfect” granola recipe?
I restructured the granola recipe by adjusting the ratios of protein to fiber to sugar, until a proportionate amount would satisfy my hunger, but still provide nutrient value. I designed different taste profiles for variety, and within a year I no longer tested for type 2 diabetes, I had lost 50+ lbs., and the other negative markers had also gone away.
4. How did you combine your experience as an architect with the creation of San Franola?
All design involves inputting external environmental cues and memories, and then intuitively assembling these information fragments into the new unique idea. At that time, I was trying to recreate memories back where I taught in Ohio, from my summer holidays. All the recipes I have designed since that time have come from personal experiences from family and childhood. It is the same with a house I design for a client, but I try to recreate their experiences.
5. How did you hear about Lyft and what made you decide to become a driver?
I thought it was a great way to disrupt the transportation gridlock cities face. With enough rideshare cars, the system would act like an efficient horizontal elevator grid. I share my ride with others going my way — cutting down on traffic, saving gas, reducing the carbon footprint, connecting community, and I could pick up a bit of cash in the process.
What do you do when you’re not in Driver Mode? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for sharing!