Joe Cianciolo and Dan Thrailkill

Meet Joe and Dan, co-founders of Front Porch Advisers! Together, they co-founded a company that is dedicated to inspiring others to understand, believe in, and accomplish their potential. They do this by assisting companies with their human capital development, community relations, and communication strategies.

Joe Cianciolo by J King Images

Joe—from a small town in Ohio—is a thinker, planner, goal-setter, achiever, family man, leader and an all-around believer in people. He has been a vocal coach, a high school teacher, an accountability mentor, an operations manager and SVP of production services for Click-it LLC and Ursim Consulting, and the chief tribal cultivator for the We Are They non-profit organization. He’s helped create missions, achievable strategy, social media content for branding, and has developed nationwide outreaches and local community-building platforms. Joe is also passionate about travel and has visited 41 countries on 6 continents and 39 states so far on his quest to visit 50 countries and 50 states before age 50. Through these experiences, and with the help of many skilled advisers and leaders, Joe has acquired the skills necessary to equip people with the right tools for success.

Dan Thrailkill by J King Images

Dan was born and raised in South Carolina. He’s a husband, a father, and a communitarian whose professional background includes serving as a PGA golf professional, a business banker, a community relations director, and as co-founder of Front Porch Advisers. Through these roles, he has learned to lead by example and to take action to get things done. On January 13th, 1988, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and believe that no one should be a victim of their disease. Over the years, he has volunteered with Camp Adam FisherCamp Kudzu, and various other diabetes non-profits. It was this same passion for doing good that led him to co-create Front Porch Advisers where he further assists individuals and companies. His other investments include serving locally as secretary on the Board of Directors of IN WDSTK, being on the Board of Trustees of Ebenezer UMC, being a member of the Community Board for Around Woodstock Magazine, and actively participating in Young Professionals of Woodstock. Additionally, he’s CPSI Certified through the NRPA and previously held investment licenses with the State of Georgia.

These two are a strong and dynamic duo in our community, and we’re so pleased to introduce them to you! Theirs is the first interview of its kind on The Faces of Woodstock online publication because the couple responded to our questions together! For your ease, they have consented to have some of their answers stand as joint answers.

 

Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?

A: Dan – We couldn’t find an efficient house that we liked because a lot of the homes that are being built today are quite honestly just shit.  The granite countertops are great, the fixtures are great, but when you move in you pay five-hundred dollars a month on your energy bill.  It makes no sense, so we literally drew our home out on graph paper and then put in a lot of energy-efficient features.  We had a lot of realtor friends over at our house to see the stuff that we did.  We built it!  And that’s where the Front Porch Advisers came from.

Joe – It was that whole aspect where we were trying to build a home that had a front porch where we could go sit, collect, have meetings, and bring business back a hundred years. Front Porch Advisers came from the process that we went through in really building and moving into our home.

The idea started based on the memories of when we were young.  We’d go over to our grandparent’s front porch and talk about life, what direction we were going to go, and it just felt very simple.  They were simpler times, and we got some of our best advice while sitting on our front porch talking to those who we respected that had come before us.  We thought, “This is exactly what we need!  It’s what other people need too, so let’s see what happens.”

Dan – When we bring people to our house to sit on our front porch, our story is an open book.  I mean, you can see right into our house when you sit on our front porch because the windows go straight through and there are no curtains.  Then we say, “This isn’t what YOU want. This is what WE want, but we’ll help you see through to what you want.”

 

Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Woodstock, and what do you love there?

A: Joe – We’re vegan, so that’s the hardest part.  I would say our go-to is not the result of the restaurant, it’s the result of the chef.  Chef Bobby used to be the Head Chef at Freight Kitchen and Tap, then he went to Bacchanalia, then he came back to Freight, and now he’s at Rose & Wren Playhouse in Waleska, GA.

Both – So, there’s Freight.  Rootstock and Vine is fun too.  They have good food.

Dan – I would love to see more of the restaurants in downtown, in general, have more vegan options.  As a family with two kids, the easiest go-to for us in downtown Woodstock is Canyons because they have the “Beyond Burger” and other options that we know we can eat.  Oh, and there’s Partners Pizza.  Partners does a gluten-free crust that is vegan-friendly if you ask for no butter.  Just ask questions.  They’re very friendly.

 

Q: How long have you lived or worked in Woodstock?

A: Joe- I moved here in 2003.  My oldest brother moved to Buckhead, and we are a very tight-knit family—a huge family from Ohio.  My brothers and I were the only ones that left.  For us, moving down here and being together was kind of the only way we were going to do it.

We chose Woodstock mostly because it was Cherokee County and not Fulton County (getting away from Fulton taxes) and because we’re small-town folks!  In 2003 Woodstock was VERY different.  Once my mom passed away, I was going to move to Midtown.  I’m not a Midtown person though.  I’m a small-town guy who was trying to find someone to marry, and I knew I wasn’t finding him in Woodstock!  But then I decided, “No, this is who I am. This is where I live,” and I bought a house in the Woodlands.  I’ve been here ever since…

And then I dragged this one (gestures to Dan) with me!

Dan and Joe at The Masters in 2018

Dan- I grew up in South Carolina.  My mom was an elementary school teacher who retired a few years ago, and my dad, a Methodist minister, also retired the same year as my mom.  I was born in a little town called Winnsboro, South Carolina.  I moved to Columbia when I was in elementary school, Charleston when I was in middle school, and then Georgetown when I was in high school.  So, I grew up mostly in the Midlands and Lowcountry areas of South Carolina.  I played golf growing up and was a golf professional for ten years. In 2009 while I was the Staff Golf Professional at the University of South Carolina’s golf course, the economy collapsed.  I decided that the business that I was in, while I loved it (I loved the game, I loved the people, I loved doing what I did) I didn’t like the hours or working every weekend.  At the time, I was in my mid-twenties, in a quarter-life crisis, and was dating someone at the time here in Atlanta.  I decided, “You know, I’m going to pick up and move to Atlanta.  Number one, because I’ve got someone there already and number two, because whenever the economy rebounds it’s probably going to happen in Atlanta before Columbia, South Carolina.”

I moved to Atlanta in 2009, lived in Edgewood, and started at the very bottom of the food chain at SunTrust Bank in Buckhead.  I made my way up quickly and met Joe in 2011.  As soon as I met Joe and I knew that things were going well with him, I started looking to transfer with SunTrust from Buckhead to somewhere in the Northwest.  In two weeks, way quicker than I thought it was going to happen, the folks up here said, “Hey, we’ve got a place for you in Alpharetta!” so I was like, “Hey, do you want to move in together?” which was not what we had planned to do.  It worked out though!  I moved to Woodstock in 2012, we got married in 2013, and we’ve been here ever since!

 

Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Woodstock? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Woodstock?

A: Joe – Jerry King, DD Lee, and Spencer Nix (he’s an easy one). DD Lee and Spencer Nix were the first two that popped in my head. When we started talking today, Spencer came top-of-mind. Leticia from Alma Coffee too.

Dan – I’ve never had a more honest and open conversation than the first time I talked to Jerry King of J King Images. He’s just an interesting and amazing guy!

 

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?

A: Joe- The next pin on my map is still Machu Picchu in Peru but then, of course, to achieve my goal of 50, 50, 50 (50 countries, 50 states by the time I’m 50) I have yet to go to Antarctica.  I’m so close to having all the continents that it feels right.  Egypt would be a big one and Jordan too.  I’ve been thinking about travel for a long time.

Dan- That’s a loaded question.  I mean, I wouldn’t mind going to Antarctica (looks at Joe cause he knows that’s the last continent Joe needs to visit).  I would like to go to Turkey though.  It would be great to get to Istanbul at some point because I feel like it’s a very interesting place in the world that’s misunderstood in many ways but has so much culture and history and good food.

I also want to go somewhere with our kids so we can introduce them to skiing and other stuff that they’re not going to see here in Georgia on a regular basis.

 

Q: What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?

A: Joe- The movie I’ve seen the most in theaters is Titanic, which everybody laughs at.  Up until I met Dan, I always had this weird connection to that story.  It’s interesting.  I have no idea why.  I guess the drama of the how when you get too big for yourself, the world has a way of leveling you appeals to me.  Then the movie added the romantic aspect to it.

Dan- I’m the exact opposite when it comes to movies. Tombstone is one of my all-time favorite movies.  If I am lucky enough, my goal is to have some sort of Kurt Russel/Sam Elliott mustache. Then there’s The Sting with Robert Redford and Paul Newman or, as a former golf pro, Caddyshack.

 

Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?

A: Dan- Don’t cater to the crowd, cater to the individual.  The best time to read a room is when you walk in, so when you go into any large room you really shouldn’t engage with anyone.  Just kick back and see who is engaging with who and then find out how to engage with those people.

Your goal is to have two people in that room that you connect with after.  Don’t be afraid to go talk to anyone. We’re all just people!

Joe- Don’t lead too hard.  Don’t come in too hot.  Everybody’s in there for a reason and everybody’s just like you.  When you walk in, you have to know what you bring to any table.  Once you dissolve the mystery of that, you can be comfortable being you as opposed to trying to be what they are.

My mom always taught me that nobody’s any better than you and you’re no better than anyone else.  I don’t like walking into a networking room, but I know that when I do, I am no better than anybody else and they’re no better than me.  Sometimes, people come in hot because they’re trying to gain an edge.  I have no edge to gain.

 

Q: What is something on your bucket list?

A: Joe – Riding in a hot air balloon in New Mexico or Turkey.

Dan- Listening to a string quartet playing classical music in a giant cathedral in a place like Austria or Rome or in a European building that is older than our country.

 

Q: What is your favorite music/ 3 bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?

A: Dan- Right now, the Allman Brothers, Tool, Led Zeppelin.

Joe- I don’t have any.  I’m a classically trained singer and I taught voice for fourteen years. I don’t listen to the radio. I was a musical theater geek growing up and now that I’m older I listen to NPR.

 

Q: What current/former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Woodstock?

A: Dan – My immediate answer is Morgan’s Ace Hardware. We shop there and have had several meetings with Mike Morgan, he’s a super guy. That business is a large part of what makes downtown Woodstock look different from Alpharetta because it looks COMPLETELY different and is smack dab in the middle of downtown Woodstock.

Joe – Dan and I used to participate in Preservation Woodstock.  As you ask that question, it’s hard because the buildings are usually considered for nostalgia, but what we kept trying to explain to them is like yes, some of the buildings should be preserved but now we’re creating a NEW history and that new history includes the people. Juanita Hughes IS the history.  I don’t want only her to be either.  I mean, Bonny Keheley is becoming that “next Juanita.”  What they are, what they bring, is nostalgia.  The businesses that will become nostalgic for me are places like Pie Bar and Reformation.  They’re still new, but hopefully, in twenty to thirty years from now, they’ll still be pillars in the community.  Our history and nostalgia will have to be an attitude, not just the buildings.

 

Q: Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? Where would you have lunch?

A: Joe- I don’t know where, but I do know who: my mother.  My mom passed away in 2005.  I’m very much like her.  She was my front porch adviser, and so I was able to achieve a lot faster when she was alive.  There are a lot of things I’d like to remember right now because our conversations were very deep, very heavy, very quick.  She believed in me more than I ever believed in myself, and I’m very confident.  I would say that it’s always her.  It doesn’t matter where.

Dan- Right now, probably Charles Banting who is one of the two guys who developed modern insulin in the 1920s.  He was a Canadian guy.  We would have lunch at the Firefly Café in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. It’s probably one of my favorite vegan restaurants in the world. It’s in the middle of nowhere.  I think it would be interesting to have a conversation with both Banting & Best, the two guys that invented insulin.  They sold the patent to the University of Toronto for $1.00 because they knew that it “belonged to the world.”  It then went onto Eli Lilly and Co.  I’d love to have a conversation with those guys about “If you could do this again, what would you do differently?”

 

Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Woodstock?

A: Honestly, sitting under the tree at Reformation with an entire community of people and having it feel like a family reunion.

 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?

A: Joe – I would like for us to have at least 3 proven cycles of human capital development locally (Cherokee County).  In ten years, it would be great to see one or two more generations of kids coming through and developing leadership skills and then being able to contribute back into this community, which creates a history.

 

Q: What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?

A: Joe- I love live comedy. I don’t know that I’ve ever said that!

Dan – I fell off a stage in front of 120 people, so I’ve got this giant scar.  It used to be a lot bigger.  It was at diabetes camp and I was standing up on stage MC-ing our nightly event for the camp I’ve been going to for thirty years.  They had just built this brand-new stage.  It was great, but they had these lights and they were really bright and right in my face.  I was looking and talking and having a good time.

When I went to walk off the side of the stage (they had temporary steps, so there were no walls on the sides of the steps) I completely missed the stair and stepped between the stair and the stage because I couldn’t see.  When I stepped, I fell.  I thought I had broken my leg because I cracked my leg and then landed on my back.  The medical staff thought I had had a seizure because I’m diabetic and maybe I had low blood sugar when really, I was just an idiot and clumsy, and I fell off the stage.

 

Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?

A: Joe – Local connection, porch time, people.

Dan – Local, southern, comfortable.

 

Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?

A: Joe- My co-star would have to be my mom and she would have to be played by Sally Fields.

Dan – Other than finding someone to play him (Joe), it would probably be someone to play my grandfather, and it would probably be someone like Robert Duvall.

 

Q: If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose?

A: Dan – A handyman.

Joe – That I didn’t have to pay for? I need James from ProBalance Massage. He’s not a traditional massage therapist.  He has his own method that’s amazing.  He’s up in Holley Springs and does muscle repair and stretching.  If I could have him work on me every day, I would.

Joe and Dan in Community

As you can see, this power duo is connected all throughout our wonderful city.  To connect with what they do at Front Porch Advisers, check out their website or follow them on Instagram or Facebook.

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