“I hate to admit this, but it really happened out of a little bit of anger.”
The good doctor explains that he was frustrated by what he saw happening to his beloved fishing grounds in the Florida Keys and Southeast Florida. “I would go out fishing and come back in with my kayak loaded with garbage and debris that I had picked up floating around,” he explains.
So he launched a digital presence meant to bring light to conservation efforts in the area, which soon morphed into a print publication.
“The digital publication grew; we were in over 100 countries. And people were screaming for a printed version of the book,” Dr. Ballarini explains. “Everyone was asking us to print it. Ultimately, after a barrage of emails, and then I started getting phone calls, we decided to give the people what they wanted.
“And we had a big enough following, so we knew the launch wouldn’t be a shot in the dark; we were already popular and people liked it,” he continues.
Not having any publishing experience was “a lot like a walk in a rose garden except that the garden was all thorns,” he laughs. The first issue was a learning experience for this man of medicine and his team.
“We learned quickly, because we were very motivated, and we’re all hands-on. But it was a very arduous process to get to the point where we are now,” he admits.
“We spent about eight months planning to go to print,” he continues. “We had to change the format of the magazine and bring in professional designers. We just did it out of wanting to give our audience what they wanted. And I’m glad we did because it’s actually working.”
It’s working so well, in fact, that there’s a second publication on fresh water fly fishing in the works, expected to launch late next year. At the heart of it all – through the trials and errors and the sleepless nights trying to wrap his head around the publishing industry – he keeps his passion front and center.
He explains, “we are very conservation-focused and if you page through our issues, you’ll see the Everglades Foundation and you’ll read the articles that are very concerned about our environment. And I would just ask people to support our cause and take the environment seriously, because we only have one planet and if we destroy it, it might not come back.”
From saving people at the hospital to saving the environment in his new calling, Dr. Ballarini is a prime example of pursuing a life of passion. We wish him tons of success with Tail!