Two great takeaways for me personally in this week’s Spartan Up Podcast with Yanik Silver . The first is a simple but brilliant way to understand what it is you truly love to do - ask yourself “what would I do even if I knew it would fail?” The second is to experiment with your life. Try something for 33 days. See how it feels, if it feels good then keep it. With that in mind, I am on day two of a morning journal. Thanks, Yanik. www.Spartan.com/194
I'm fortunate that my gig producing "Spartan Up," meeting our amazing guests then pouring over the interviews in post, gives me a weekly shot of motivation and insight. Here are a few recent examples:
Mindy Hamilton has a high power job, SVP of partnerships at Marvel, but you might be surprised by her simple advice: Don't live in shame, move on! It applies to the big and the small mistakes we make in our personal and our work lives. She also talks about her unique career path, one that could have appeared directionless to an observer, but in fact was like a foraging expedition in which she collected all the skills and experience she would need in her current role. Full interview on apple podcasts at https://apple.co/2GSmZL6 or search YouTube, Google Play, or Spotify.
How do you think about those around you whose skills are not the same as yours? A chain may only be as strong as its weakest link, but according to adventure racing success Ian Adamson a good team is FASTER than its slowest member. In fact a good team is faster than its fastest member. How do you work to bring up the level of the entire team?
I love these photos because they show utterly normal people fully engaged. Trying their best to understand the issues and make decisions.
Call me an optimist, but democracy might still be alive and well. In our small town (just over 300 registered voters) about 70 of them showed up to spend the morning together.
It wasn't because they like each other's company - some do, some don't.
It's because they believe it's important to show up at Town Meeting. It's a roomful of neighbors taking time to go through the issues facing their town. This year the most contentious was the the fire truck. Do we replace the pumper truck - a 1960 truck with a ‘68 milk tank on the back. It would mean a cost of $200,000. That may not seem like much until you realize the cost will be divided between such a small tax base. It's an important decision, and right or wrong it's discussed and decided by a vote. Democracy.
PART 1. Nature has a critical role to play in our lives, we've gotten too far from it as a society. Time in nature brings us balance, calm and even helps us to realize our own purpose. You've probably not heard of Steve Lulek, but he's made a career out of helping people access the power of the outdoors (for 11 years as an instructor in United States Military’s Mountaineering School and now as an adventure guide and educator.) If you have 20 minutes and want to add a little calm and confidence to your day give it a listen and let me know what you think. https://apple.co/2otkN26
PART 2.Taking my own advice I ripped myself away from the desk today for the short 20 minutes it took to walk to meet my son at the bus . I was rewarded with that perfect first taste of spring - snow and ice are breaking loose, the air is crisp, the sun higher in the sky and the birds are starting to call out.
PART 3. Sometimes you need to put the computer down and pick up a pencil. I did yesterday and ROBOTURFLY was born!
How do you tell a story of struggle and triumph? How do you show how truly and astonishingly difficult an endeavor is ... and how do you do that in a way that expresses the power and triumph experienced in overcoming that challenge? We used to depend on the narrative arc of a movie or a book, but we no longer tell or consume stories in a linear fashion. Today each image needs to stand on its own, and at the same time be part of a narrative expressed via multiple channels, sometimes simultaneously.
This weekend I photographed a 60 hour endurance event called the Spartan Agoge. Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend. Ones that I hope show the strength, joy, suffering and transcendent determination the participants experienced.
A little over 3 years ago Spartan Race approached me about creating a podcast. They wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the elements of success and share them as away to further Spartan brand credibility and brand depth, and to build engagement with a broader audience. The show also served as a content and story feeder for the growing portfolio of Spartan media platforms.
We’ve now published over 170 weekly episodes as podcasts and on our YouTube channel, we’re in the top 5% of all podcasts (based on per episode downloads) and have had over 9 million video and downloads.
“Spartan Up!” Is a weekly audio podcast and YouTube show that focuses on the Spartan mindset and how we define and achieve success in all walks of life. Themes include grit, resilience, hard work, frame of reference, motivation, and general fitness. Guests are high achievers and thought leaders in business, sports, adventure, academia and the arts.
To celebrate the three year milestone, and kick of the new year, here’s out special end of year wrap up episode from the Spartan Iceland Ultra World Championship.
The Peak Mountain Bike race has taken a variety of forms since its inception. From the 666 to the "Gnarly Adventure." In 2017 the race became a Leadville Qualifier, and with that it was time to revamp it's image. For 2017 the race received a new name "Peak Woodsplitter" that inspired names for the rest of the Peak series which now contains the Peak Woodsplitter, Peak Snowdevil Winter Ultra/ Snowshoe Race, and the ultimate race the Peak Bloodroot Ultra. Along with the new names we designed a series of "stamp" based logo treatments, social and email campaigns.
The idea was to keep a reference to the Peak history with the classic peak mountain element, while embracing a gritty homegrown feel that the races have as compared to their big brother Spartan Races.
One of the best ways to get attention, engagement, and show off the Green Mountain Trails where the race is held is with a series of videos distributed via social media and email.
With a few friends we've started the EGG Movement, Energizing Gratitude Globally. The idea is simple: appreciate what's around you, small and large. Take that feeling, the tiny endorphin rush you get when something small goes right, and feed it. Cultivate the art of appreciation. Encourage it in yourself and others. Learn more at the EGG Movement website, better yet join the challenge.
In 1992 I moved to a town of about 500 people, nestled in the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains. In the preceding few years I had moved a lot — Boston, New York City, Chicago, Aspen, Rockport, Maine — I thought I’d only be here for a a season. I was always up for the next challenge and that year I decided staying in the same place would be my challenge. 25 years later I’m still here. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. Some thrive, most can’t hack it. The economy is tough, there aren’t enough people to support most businesses, everything’s closed by 8, it’s a 30 minute drive to the grocery store; and yet I stay.
Life in a small town teaches you surprising lessons: tolerance, humility, self reliance, and to be yourself.
This comes as a surprise to most people. Small towns look pretty homogeneous from the outside. And in many ways they are. But when I lived in big culturally diverse cities like New York and Boston, I chose who I surrounded myself with. I spent almost all of my time with people that shared my interests and thought like me.
When I first moved here I used to joke “I only have 7 friends, and I don’t even like any of them.” What did I mean? I meant that in the outside world I wouldn’t have chosen any of those people to hang out with.
In a small town you become friends with the people around you, even if they’re different from you. That opens your eyes. And then there are the people you don’t like. You may not like them, but you nod good morning when they hold the door for you, and you thank them the first time they pull your car out of a ditch, or find your runaway dog, and you come to see their humanity.
You may feel superior, but you’re not. A small town will teach you that.
I remember the time we called the police and they told us there had been a big crash on the highway and the State Troopers wouldn’t be able to come for a few hours. That was a wake up call. But it’s more than that. It’s a culture of doing for yourself and your neighbors, not waiting for the proper authorities.
I’ve written a lot about our town’s experience in Hurricane Irene (www.floodbound.com,) during that storm 10 homes in a town of 500 people were destroyed and the town was completely cut off from the outside world. The height of the storm found neighbors cutting and clearing downed trees to try to save the bridge, and others cooking and setting up hot food to support them. It wasn’t anyone’s job, it was just something that needed to be done. The town had no school, police or hospital but had acting sheriffs, a school on the green, and a medical center in our one room library staffed by doctors, nurses, PAs and even ski patrollers.
The power company said it would be weeks before they reached us, what they didn’t know was that we would reach them. Our residents stepped up and started fixing roads.
It’s a simple concept. If you see something that needs to be done, and you have the ability, you do it.
In bigger towns I had my work self, my home self, my school self, and probably some others. Remember the Seinfeld episode where “worlds collide?” In a small town there is only room for one version of you. There’s no use pretending. It’s freeing. If they like you, they like you. You as you are. They’ve already seen your mistakes.
Will I stay here another 25 years? I don’t know, it might be time for another change. But whatever I decide, this place has made and indelible imprint on me for the better.
**originally published in Medium**