5: Chris Waters - The Architect. Constructed Adventures (Connections)
Updated: Feb 26
This is our first episode in our Connections series.
Hopefully you baton twirlers are picking up on my baton innuendos by now!
I never would have met Chris if it weren't for baton twirling. He marched in band with me in college, and we have been friends ever since. Chris has an amazing story, and he's living the dream. From a desk job to an internet celebrity to a business owner, sit back and listen to Chris Waters' amazing story about his company Constructed Adventures.
Baton Twirling Project: First tell everyone how you know me, how we met, because it was 13 years ago.
Chris: So long ago. I know you because we were both in band, both marched Pride of Arizona. I was in the drum line and you were a twirler. The drum line and twirlers always got along. There was always that bond between drummers and twirlers at University of Arizona.
Baton Twirling Project: Tell me about your business, how it got started, what made you think of it, where the inspiration came from; I want to hear everything.
Chris: I have a business called Constructed Adventures. I go by the monicker the Architect which started as a joke, and now it’s kinda stuck. It started as a gift for somebody through Reddit on the internet. They happened to live really close. I built this really elaborate scavenger hunt, but in reality it’s more like a Treasure Hunt. It sent this guy and his girlfriend through this elaborate date throughout Scottsdale, Arizona as a Christmas present, and it blew up on the internet and I started a business out of it. Now I travel around the country and sometimes to other countries doing marriage proposals and surprise parties and taking big moments and making them bigger.
Baton Twirling Project: What has been your favorite adventure so far?
Chris: I love proposals. If I could just do marriage proposals, I probably would. I like helping other people get married just because it’s such a high stakes event. If you’re a little bit early to a surprise party or a dinner reservation, that’s okay, but you can’t be early or late to a sunset marriage proposal at the top of a mountain. The fourth proposal I did was in Nashville. It was such and elaborate scheme, we had so many conference calls with the guy whose proposing, and all of the girls friends were in on it. It ended up being this whole elaborate scheme where I had to rely upon a lot of people to all keep a secret and all play a role and all play their part, and they were perfect.
Baton Twirling Project: This was that thing you see on Facebook when everyone is like, "Awwwww that’s so cute!"
Chris: Yeah that’s the goal - to create those. I try to put together a video that makes people jealous. It’s fun telling these stories and having the girl look at the guys and say, “Now I want this.” I also do consultations. I consult for a lot of proposals and surprises because there’s just so many lessons learned. I’m able to poke holes in a lot of great ideas, and not necessarily tear them apart, but make sure we patch of the holes that they didn’t know existed. Easy thing is that somebody wanted to do a hike where they had 'Will You Marry Me?' in rose petals, and the first question is “What if it’s windy?”
It’s those types of things where we can try to work them out. Questions like do you want to be with this person on the hike? Because you’re going to be blacked out panicked for the 5 minutes leading up to this. Do you want to have them come to you? How are you going to coordinate this? Do you need help?
I’ve had people start through these process were they want to propose to someone and I’ve even turned them away because they’ve only been dating for 6 months. Then there’s other times when the question is really, “Does this person want this kind of day? Or would it be better if it was something kinda personal and simple and intimate?” Because often times the people that hire me are often the dreamers and the ones that want this, and the person they are proposing to might not. There is a lot of conversation about making sure that it’s perfect because this doesn’t always have to be the way. A lot of people don’t want those things. They’d much rather have something simple.
Baton Twirling Project: Especially as a entrepreneur, some people stay away from doing things like this because - What if the rose petals blow away? Has anything every happened to you that you thought, “Oh no!” and how did you handle it?
Chris: I always go back to Adventure #17 which actually, weirdly enough, the adventure I did right before I did this full time. I had to rebuild this adventure as it was going, and I was rewriting things and it was horrible. It’s also one of the reasons why you pay me so much money because I make sure that it’s successful. It went really well. There was a lot of panicked phone calls. A lot of opening up wax sealed envelopes, rewriting new things and wax sealing something in a car and stamping it in a parking lot outside.
Now I’m a lot better where I’m a lot more careful. I build out a lot more contingencies since I do it full time. We have a conversation, and I scout it one weekend. Then I go to work full-time Monday through Friday. In the evenings I build it and do everything. I’m able to build on a lot more contingencies in case there’s something that does go wrong.
Baton Twirling Project: Do you have anyone helping you?
Chris: Yeah I hire people every time I go. On my website you can go in and fill out a Google Doc, and if I’m in your area, I send an email saying, “Hey! You want get paid and be an agent and counter point to this adventure?” If any people are in town they say, “Yes absolutely. I wanna play a role. I wanna do something.” I pay people throughout the day, but otherwise it’s just me.
Baton Twirling Project: What do you look for in someone that you’re hiring? If somebody were listening and they were like, “I want to do this.” What would you say are the top 5 things that you look for?
Chris: It’s really nice when they are open on the internet and available so I know who this stranger is that I’m gonna reach out to cause they’re a linchpin in this operation, and if they don’t show up then I have to improvise very quickly. I always Google people and look and make sure they are normal human beings. The Google Doc is pretty thorough. Anybody can do it. You do have to step outside your comfort zone a little bit. If you are petrified of people, or this type of thing, then it might not be for you. But for the most part it’s kind of a rush playing this role.
Baton Twirling Project: What advice would you give to somebody who is thinking of either leaving their full time job, because I know that you did that, or if they were currently just starting their business, what advice would you give an entrepreneur?
Chris: This has changed so much. Today is actually the 1 year anniversary of my final day at work, so you caught that at the right time. I just did a big social media post about it. I used to say you should absolutely start a side hustle, and you should absolutely work to make it your full time job, and I recently had a conversation with someone that made me change my views about that. She is a Nurse Practitioner and she loves what she does and she’s really good at it. And she said, “I don’t really have any interest in doing a side thing. I love what I do. I make a lot of money. It’s great. I love this.” So I said, “That is a really good point. It is not for everyone.” I like encouraging people to do spectacular things for others and I like encouraging people to take the entrepreneurial step that’s right for them.
Baton Twirling Project: That’s such great advice. Tell everyone a little about what you did before and the difference between then and now.
Chris: There was a brief time I moved back to Arizona, to Scottsdale. I was working full-time. There was a brief time when I was single and I was working, and I was living in this great apartment. I didn’t have this side business. It was an extremely relaxing time in my life.
The moment I started this business there has never been that time. When you have your own business, there’s always something you can be doing. It’s weird how normal things become. You work a 9-5 and you’re used to M-F and weekends. Now it’s just like, “Alright, well I woke up, and I went scouting and I came home and had to update this, and I have this guy who wants to do this proposal.” I have to stop and I surround myself with other entrepreneuralistic people, and we have to constantly remind ourselves that this is awesome! This is so great! Even when it gets difficult, it’s still fantastic.
Homecoming at UofA
Baton Twirling Project: What’s your go to business book?
Chris: I am a artist masquerading as a business man, and I surrounded myself with a lot of business savvy people who really, really helped out. I joined a lot of business and Facebook groups where I can go on and say, “Hey there’s somebody who wants to intern with me. How do I hire and intern without breaking some labor law?” And somebody was like, “DM me I got ya.”
I think one of the best books you could ever read would be, How to Win Friends and Influence People by DL Carnegie. It’s super handy whether or not you’re trying to become an entrepreneur or be a business person or just trying to handle yourself in the office or your relationships.
Baton Twirling Project: I love that book. It’s a really really good book. I’d say that it’s in my top 5.
Chris: I always end up listening to a lot of entrepreneurial podcasts just because I’m constantly traveling, and I might be driving, and I can’t read, so I just listen. Usually when I sit down I’m either working or I’m playing video games because I’m a giant child.
It’s really interesting because when I was a kid everyone was like, "Video games are bad; you shouldn’t play video games," but it really helped shape me, and who I am. All these adventures that I build are structured like video games where people have to learn and they have to adapt and figure stuff out. That’s exactly how these things are built, where there’s a learning curve, and it’s a giant game that you’re being put in. I think it’s really great and healthy just like anything else as long as you're not overdoing it.
Baton Twirling Project: Tell us a little bit about your website. Where can people find you?
Chris: It’s called Constructed Adventures. If you just Google "Constructed Adventures" you’ll get the gambit. Websites constructedadventures.com. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all some form of @constructed_adventures or @constructed_adv. If you go on the website it’s got it all there. That’s really it.
On the website I do have two blogs. One details past adventures. The other one is detailing out some of my methods. Those are the big ones. I’m most active on Instagram. You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everything’s through that website. I’m extremely open with communication.
Baton Twirling Project: When did you start drumming and how has being a drummer helped you in your life? Or in this career specifically?
Chris: That’s a great story actually. I started drumming when I was 13 but I played drum set. Which, for anybody who doesn’t know, playing drum set and being on the drum line might as well be two completely different instruments. The way you hold the sticks, it’s just so different.
When I moved to Arizona, I had to learn one stick trick visual from a drum set teacher, and I did that, and it basically got me on the drum line my senior year. I learned how to play the traditional grip for drum line between junior and senior year. I ended up becoming the center snare, learned as best as I could and got really good.
And then, fun fact, I am the reason the University of Arizona drum line has a three day try out period, because it used to be one single try out, and then half day of group tryouts, and they just cut things down. I was going to tryout of snare, got there, realized there were 20 people trying out for 8 spots, realized I had no chance of making snare because I just wasn’t that good. Nobody was trying out for quads and I thought, “I could learn quads.” And so I said, “Hey I wanna be on this line anyway I can.” I went tried out for quads and the warm up packet, which was to try out book, was super easy. Everything was basic movements. I had the grip down already. Awesome. I made quads. I could read snare music easily. That wasn’t a problem. It was my technique; it was my strength. I struggled my way through my freshmen year and then got better and better and ended up becoming a steady piece and it was great. But it was a crazy way where I essentially snuck my way into a collegiate drum line and just stuck around. Because by the end of freshmen year I was fine and sophomore year was great and then by then it was fine.
It did shape my career because you, and anybody, well know, if you’re gonna be a twirler, you're committing your life to it because you’re probably doing competitions and maybe pageants as well. It defined my entire college career, and it definitely shaped who I am.
Chris and his twin brother
Baton Twirling Project: Anything new on the horizon?
Chris: I’m doing my annual birthday, it’s called the Grand Hunt. This ones going to be the 3rd annual Grand Hunt. It’s a giant treasure hunt extravaganza fundraiser to raise money for my favorite non-profit. The whole purpose of it is to find me on my birthday. It’s going to be all around Ocean Beach, which is a neighborhood with one street with a million bars, women’s clothing stores and boutique coffee shops. You show up, you form teams, and you get clues, and you go around and you drink and you have a good time and you try to find me on my birthday.
S: What non-profit do you support?
C: It’s called Outdoor Outreach. http://www.outdooroutreach.org. They take under privileged kids, a lot of broken home kids, orphaned kids, refugee kids in San Diego and they take them surfing and snowboarding and rock climbing and mountain biking. They help nurture them into successful adults using the transformative powers of outdoors. That’s the official thing. They basically help under privileged kids, and they use surfing and snowboarding and free diving and stuff like that as the gateway to joining this great club and school. It’s a wonderful organization.
Baton Twirling Project: Thank you for coming on and talking to us and all the twirlers. Just seeing all the different connections they can make through baton twirling. I can’t wait to see your business grow. I’ve been following it since you put out the first one. I’ll be cheering you along all the way.