Miguel Cobian of Cobian Consulting is a leader in marketing and public relations. He grew up in Salem and has made his home in Portland for almost a decade. Miguel is always busy, it seems, and we are lucky he had time to be interviewed. He was recruited by Apple while still in college and he likes to bring “big-brand ideas and philosophies to smaller businesses,” in what he says has been a successful strategy.
ProudTimes: I know you’re in public relations. How would you best like to describe yourself professionally?
Miguel Cobian: I’ve had my own PR and Communications company for three years. I went to school for Marketing but never really got the hang of it until I worked for Apple for five years, there I learned all about branding, communications, aesthetics, visuals, etc. I would say my business style is easy going—yet at times corporate. I’m a Gemini, and I like to bring big-brand ideas and philosophies to small businesses, which has been a successful strategy.
PT: What have been your greatest successes as a person of business in Portland?
MC: Staying in business! It’s not easy being a single-owner small business—especially in this town and especially with more and more small business owners trying to do their own marketing and communications in-house. I think our success story is being able to go to a business and show them what they’re doing, how it could be streamlined, and helping them grow.
PT: Any collaborations which have not been successful?
MC: We don’t name clients that we’ve cancelled or have cancel with us, but we did try working with a local publication that was unsuccessful…
PT: That’s sad to hear.
MC: Yeah, guess we won’t do anymore print or online publication stuff.
PT: How do you combat or deal with any misconceptions the public may have about you? Mainly your age, as a young entrepreneur?
MC: Well some people think I’m older than I look—a lady never tells her age—but I have come to realize that sometimes people go “who’s this kid trying to tell us what to do?” or “why is he here?” I let our strategies and contributions do the talking.
PT: That being said, how have you overcome any misconceptions about working with a young entrepreneur? How long ago did you start the business? Is there anyone in the community who you credit as a mentor?
MC: I think with a lot of millennial business owners, especially those who are LGBTQ, who like to dress well and travel a lot, some people might think that we’re doing this “on the side”, “as a hobby,” we’re “not legitimate” or that we don’t need a job—that’s not accurate. We have to hustle for what we do, go to a lot of events to meet people, etc., and more. One of my early-on mentors, Terry Bean said once, “I only work on and invest on what I know”. So why would I go work at some other job that I’m not passionate about? I like to get people’s message out— and helping their businesses be successful—that’s why I started CobianConsulting.com, here in Portland.
PT: I know you are active with the Human Rights Campaign and are on the Board of Governors for HRC. How did you become involved with them?
MC: Back when I was working with Apple, Terry Bean, the co-founder of HRC asked me “Do you want to work for the President’s re-election campaign?” That’s a question you don’t get to hear very often so I said YES. After Obama won—and I had left Apple—I got involved with planning HRC’s local annual gala. After many successful years I got asked to join the Board of Governors, which represent 33 cities and communities across the United States.
PT: Any guess as to how much time you devote to HRC and how much time you devote to Cobian Consulting?
MC: Oh Lord. I would say currently, 50/50. We have so much work to do in the political sphere— and it’s all volunteer work. We pay our own travel to DC a couple times a year and of course are asked to donate and fundraise. If I devoted more time to my business I guess I’d be richer! But I love the volunteer work we do.
PT: By the time this goes to print, the Mid-term Elections will already have been decided. What part of your experience as a member of the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities informs both your professional and HRC work? What are you most looking forward to with the election? What are you most nervous about?
MC: During these mid-terms, we want the real America to speak out. By this I mean millennials, Muslims, men, women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, the elderly, Christians, atheists, etc. When we speak, we get represented. I hope that Oregon speaks and we re-elect our Democratic Governor Kate Brown. I hope that we win back the House and the Senate and make our President accountable. I hope that we pass the Equality Act and the Dream Act. My fear is that the GOP keeps their hold on both chambers and things continue like they have the past two years. If Knute wins the Oregon race, well my little beach house in Puerto Vallarta will look just a bit nicer.
PT: With so much going on as an entrepreneur and a professional do you ever see yourself running for office in Portland or in the State of Oregon?
MC: Not currently—I’d like to develop Cobian Consulting more.
PT: I just learned the owner of Nike tossed a million dollars to the Knute campaign–despite Nike standing with Kapernick. How do you think, in a liberal, largely Democratic city like Portland, many employed by Nike, this speaks to values that locals hold.
MC: Well one person can’t speak for the community. Phil Knight may be Chairman Emeritus of Nike, but Nike and its employees stand with Kate Brown and most of the Democratic party. Knight has put over $4M into our State race. That’s just crazy to me. What did Knute promise him?!
PT: As we approach the holidays, and the New Year, are there any projects you’re excited about for 2019?
MC: There’s a West Coast Real Estate development company we just quietly launched this year — I’m excited to make them public and start promoting them throughout Oregon and California. They build some stunning homes.
PT: Anything else you’d care to add?
MC: Yes! The Human Rights Campaign will host their annual Summer Gala in the Lewis & Clark Estate Gardens in July 2019. Anyone that wants to get involved and help plan or sponsor this event, can contact me!
Make sure to follow Miguel Cobian on his Instagram, @mcobian, and on Twitter at @cobianconsult his website or email him firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Miguel Cobian’s interview in November 2018 Proud times Digital Magazine Below