25 February 2016

Why I Love the Outdoor Industry

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in...and out. Picture your happy place. Imagine yourself standing there surrounded by all of your favorite people...

Happy place with my faves.


That's what it feels like to work in the outdoor industry. Well, kind of....

A few months ago, as I was preparing to stand in front of 850 high-school seniors in Pasco, Washington (to impart some sort of career wisdom presumably), I put together a visual diagram of my career. I needed it to help explain my two-part message: 1) follow your passions to find the right career for you; and 2) your career will not be a straight line - if you're lucky you'll find something you love to do about 50% of the time.

Out of college, I had big plans (and was on track) to make $100,000/year within 5 years:

Then I was laid off and ended up in a different industry...

...then I was recruited to yet another industry (right as I was looking to move to Boulder), was laid off again, and found my dream job at The Mountaineers!

You see? Not a straight line. I did end up in the right place though, and these are the three reasons I know for sure:
  1. The Stoke: Outdoor people turn the stoke up to 11. We GET EXCITED. We know what makes us tick, and go after it with endless enthusiasm. Hiking, climbing, skiing, paddling - we do it all. Costumes? Beer? Costumes AND beer? Bring it on sister, because we will work hard, play hard, and get up the next morning for dawn patrol no problem at all. And we're excited to work together to bring 'the stoke' to more people. Whether you're getting out for your first-ever hike or prepping for a trip to climb Denali, we are your cheerleaders and your gear-loaners. I frequently work with outdoor gear partners who provide endless support (and gusto!) for our projects. It's incredibly refreshing find people who are cheering for the same thing.
  2. The Scrappiness: In the outdoor industry, we know how to do a lot with a little. Recreation in Washington State accounts for $22.5 billion in annual consumer spending - a small drop in the hat that doesn't even break the Top-10 list. Nationwide 'recreation' is growing, but by and large you have a lot of small outdoor companies trying to do a lot with a little. We work with what we have to create change and build buy-in for an outdoor lifestyle. We use social media, blogs, events, and word-of-mouth to spread our shared mission: to get more people outside to experience the outdoors and create a love of wild places in order to protect them for generations to come.
  3. The Stewardship: Okay, so maybe stewardship isn’t quite the right word, but I was on a roll with the alliteration and I just can’t stop! What I really mean is conservation and preservation. Whether you're Patagonia, a company whose ethic has always involved a high-level of philanthropy toward conservation, or you're a mom-n-pop gear shop down the street, we're all interested in the same thing: preserving the outdoors so people will continue to recreate. It's good for business and it's good for the planet. We enjoy the privilege of playing in our outdoor sanctuaries because visionaries before us thought to protect them. It's now our duty to make sure our grandkids can play too.
What I learned from eight years and two layoffs and working in in 5 different industries (education, customer service, media, food, professional sports) is that I really, really love working in the outdoor industry. The people are incredible. They’re excited. They share my perspective on life and my view of the world. They are my tribe. I hope you follow your passions to find the same.

Find your tribe.

No comments: