One of the newer residents of Arcadia, and one of the most enthusiastic, has traveled a long road to find himself among the citrus trees and bike paths that help define this iconic neighborhood.
“I was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, and never imagined that I’d end up in such paradise,” said 43-year-old transplant A.J. Maestas. “It’s just incredible, and so are all my neighbors.”
Maestas and his wife, Lacey, first discovered Arcadia while visiting a friend and soon after that began exploring it on bikes. He says they instantly knew it was where they wanted to live. No doubt, Maestas’ appreciation for the neighborhood has to do with everywhere else he has resided. He left Alaska to attend the University of Washington and battled the constant rain. From there, it was onto chilly New York City and, ultimately, the snowstorms of Chicago.
Maestas earned his MBA from ASU but left the Valley upon graduation to start Navigate, a sports business consulting firm headquartered in Chicago. Today, the company is an industry leader serving every major sports league, network and numerous teams and brands. Though Navigate remains headquartered in the Windy City, Maestas oversees operations from a regional office in Phoenix. The tradeoff is frequent domestic and international travel.
“Growing up, my dad wasn’t around much, and I witnessed how hard my mom worked to raise us all. I guess I adopted my work ethic from her,” Maestas said.
He put himself through college, where he met Lacey, and worked landscaping jobs in the summers and delivered pizzas during the school year to pay for the tuition that was not covered by a scholarship. “Work comes naturally for me, and I quickly learned I couldn’t work for others.”
Maestas has many business accolades, including being in Sports Business Journal’s prestigious “Forty Under 40” in 2015. Navigate has been named one of the “101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in the U.S.” for the last five years and is lauded as a “Top 10 Place to Work in Sports” by Forbes Magazine.
“Incredibly, we have been a part of some of the most transformative chapters in sports over the past decade,” Maestas said. Citing examples like NFL team relocations, NHL expansion, the launch of the XFL, and NCAA realignment, he is quick to point out that it’s the people – his clients and his employees – that he enjoys most. “I just love the people I work with and don’t plan ever to retire.”
Asked who has most influenced him
along the way, Maestas names a dozen people, including his 3rd-grade teacher who used visualization and meditation in the classroom, and his wife of 20 years. “Lacey has had an amplifying effect on me,” he said.
Other factors that have molded Maestas are the many self-improvement books that he devours and an inner circle of friends he describes as being committed to growth and contributions. “I’m pretty sure my life’s mission is to give to others, I just haven’t figured out exactly who and how.”
Maestas most certainly is pointed in the right direction as he already serves on several youth-related boards, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Phoenix, Big Brothers & Big Sisters and After School Matters.
“My life has already exceeded my wildest dreams, and living in Arcadia is just the icing on the cake.”