Occupation: Creator of Outdoor Minded Mag
Home: Soon-be-to Colorado
1. It sounds like you lead a busy life – co-founder and editor-in-chief of Outdoor Minded Mag, organizer the 50 Mile Walk for Tomorrow’s World Changers, The Cigarette Mile, the list goes on…
What else can I add to that?
I have always had an unbreakable and sometimes a bit of an overwhelming tendency to dabble in many things. I’m a project addict in every area of my life from adventuring to business.
I’ve started writing a regular column for OMM called A Runner’s Journal which is part travelogue, part recalling life lessons, part memoir as I go from non-runner to runner.
I’m also starting a video series on my blog The Mad To Live in which I give my own 15 minute TED Talk-inspired speeches. One of my bucket list goals is to one day speak at a TEDx event, and this is my way of training and practicing for it.
2.What made you choose to pursue a life in adventure as opposed to going the traditional route?
I’m not sure if it was a choice, but rather just who I am, though believe me, sometimes I wish it was more of a choice! Don’t get me wrong, a life based on adventure has helped me to grow as an individual, understand the world as a whole, and figure out just who I am at my root. But with adventure comes life lessons, and those aren’t always so easy to. It’s what had me say goodbye to my best friends in the US to begin a new life in Beijing, China for a year. It’s what’s led to many Friday and Saturday nights spent in to work on parts of my various business endeavors, something I love but still a trade-off.
However, for me there is just no other way. I get complacent very easily, so variety and experimenting keeps me feeling alive.
3. You read 52 books every year – impressive- how do you find the time and why do you read so much?
I have to be honest with you, the month of May I totally slipped up so now I’m in overdrive! I’m currently reading Writing Down The Bones, a book on exploring the craft of writing, The $100 Startup which is a book of case studies of successful entrepreneurs and how they did it, rereading Eat Prey Love because what can I say it’s a great book, and Permission Marketing by one of my favorite writers, marketers and entrepreneurs Seth Godin.
4.What is your favourite book?
Hmmm… very tough question. I suppose its The Alchemist. I read it for the first time when I was 20 years old and it had a huge impact on me. I loved it so much I reread it in Spanish when I was living in Argentina. The lessons in that book about trusting in yourself and the universe are ones I’ve kept in check all along as I’ve been navigating my way through the craziness that life can be.
5.You have composed a bucket list and it is awesome. How long did it take you to finalize it?
My bucket list has, and always will be, a work in progress. But if I had to pick 1 starting point, there was this night back in 11th grade that I couldn’t sleep. I had a big chemistry test the next day and I was nervous. FInally, out of frustration, I decided I would make a list of exactly 100 goals for myself. And I did. I guess that was my first official bucket list. I also think I got a B on that test so it was a good night!
-How do you go about writing a bucket list?
The first thing I did was I broke my life down into a few categories:
1.) Entrepreneurship & Passion Projects 2.) Fitness & Health 3.) Micro & Macro Advenures 4.) World Travel 5.) Contribute to the World 6.) Passionately Curious Endeavors
Some of these belong on all of our bucket lists, such as fitness & health and contributing to the world, while others are more unique to me and my values. I think its important to think about your life in terms of these various categories, and work at keeping each of them in constant progress in order to achieve the most balance.
After I had the categories, I just kept adding to each one. Still to this day I hear of the pursuits of others and think to myself, “I must do this too!” and it goes on my bucket list.
-I especially love some of the adventure section:
- SUP (Stand Up Paddle) A LONG STRETCH OF A RIVER
- MOTORCYCLE TRIP THROUGH AMERICA
- SEE THE WORLD FROM THE SKY
- 180 DEGREES SOUTH INSPIRED BOAT TRIP
- RAFT THE COLORADO RIVER
- GO SAND-BOARDING IN THE DESERT
-How did you come up with such specific ones?
I told myself to be specific and particular. What, precisely, do I see myself doing when I close my eyes and travel? For one to say, “I want to travel and adventure around the world” is not enough. Sure, it’s a start, but it’s not measurable and there are billions of ways to be a traveler, adventurer, entrepreneur, etc.
What kind of traveler and adventurer am I? I’m an explorer. I love to move. I love to see new things. I love to challenge myself physically and mentally. I don’t want to only SUP around oceans and lakes because its beautiful, but rather I want to see how far I can SUP a river, or how fast I can cross a lake.
6. Is money ever a factor in achieving these goals?
Of course it is. Those that say that money doesn’t matter aren’t quite accurate. Money won’t buy your happiness, but it sure as hell will help you buy the tools you need to do what you need to do. A SUP costs $600 at the MINIMUM. A plain ticket to Beijing from the US is $500. I want new rock climbing shoes – that’s $100 minimum, and a crash pad – that’s $150 minimum. Oh, and let’s not forget food and rent and birthday gifts and weddings and transportation. All those things are and have been essential to my happiness and self-growth, and most of them aren’t free.
The most important thing, when it comes to money, unless you have a boatload of it and you can thow handfulls of it out to people in Washington Square Park at your leisure, is that you prioritize and plan. I moved to Beijing fresh out of college without a lot of money. But seeing the world was my biggest priority at the time, and that was that. I chose my priority, which is the first step and sometimes the most difficult. Then, I lined up a few teaching English gigs before I even got there so I knew I’d have a steady stream of income while I got my businesses going.
The trick is to learn how to make money work for you, rather than working for it.
7.Tell us about the Cigarette Mile? What it is, what it aims to achieve etc?
The Cigarette Mile was an experiment to see how many cigarettes 2 people could pick up in 1 hour along a 1 mile stretch of a busy road. Believe it or not, we picked up more than 1,000 butts!!!! It was, to say the least, disgusting.
The lesson and reason behind doing the Cigarette mile are two-fold:
1.) To demonstrate to people that it takes just 1 hour of your time to make a difference. And it doesn’t have to be picking up trash. It could be 1 hour tutoring a student, or 1 hour visiting at a nursing home, or 1 hour at a soup kitchen. I used to think that I was just one little person and didn’t give myself any credit for being able to make a difference. Well, that was bullshit, and was just an excuse. We all, even if its just through one small hour, can make a difference.
2.) To show that throwing cigerette butts from your car is, believe it or not, littering, and is just as gross as smoking is itself. People forget that when they throw that tiny little butt out the window that they’re throwing it on top of 10 others, and that adds up. These are our bike lanes, our beaches, our sidewalks where we push our kids in their strollers. Let’s keep them clean dammit.
8.Also the 50 mile Walk for Tomorrows World Changers?
Originally, I was just going to walk 50 miles (25 day one, 25 day two) along Saint Augustine Beach for the sake of doing it as a micro-adventure. But I’m a big believer in multi-tasking when it comes to trying to find ways to make things less about myself and more about others. So, I thought, why not turn it into an event to raise money and awareness for a cause I believe in? And that’s what I did!
This walk was such a powerful example to me of just how much you can accomplish through the online world. I organized this entire thing through my blog just 4 months after I launched it and all money raised came mainly from my community of readers. My goal was to raise $1,000 in 48 hours, and when I finished the last mile we reached $1,200.
Also, after 50 miles of walking along the beach in the very, very very hot sun, I did not walk for about 3 days. It was the most well-deserved break of relaxation I’ve ever had. I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again, and 50 miles walking solo was a lot lonelier than I thought it would be, but these are the lessons and adventures that I live for.
9.You longboarded from sea to marsh in 2011.
-From where to where?
We started on the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, and moved inland crossing over the intercoastal waterway and then through the flattest lands in America until we reached the Saint Johns River.
-How many miles? When we charted our course, it turns out we only had skated about 31 miles. Originally, we had planned to go much further than the river, but the conditions for skating were far less ideal than we’d imagined. Without any hills, there were no breaks in pushing. And the pavement of the roads were rocky and uneven, making it almost impossible at times to even go 5 feet without another push. My legs were like overcooked spaghetti by the end of it!
-who did you do it with?
I did this with my Kyle FitzPatrick, whose been my partner in crime launching Outdoor Minded Mag, and who is the one responsible for getting me into longboarding as well as the scars on my knees from the times I fell attempting to do tricks!
-describe the experience?
a-maz-ing. I was in the zone – the flow – the moment, whatever you want to call it. We were hot, we were tired, we were sore, but we kept on pushing through the day, the sunset, and the night until we reached the river.
I live for moments like that: when your whole life fades into the background, and your mind is just free in that moment. I think it’s this very feeling that makes me love testing and challenging adventures. It’s in those moments that I think to myself, “So this is what it means to be ALIVE.”
-what training did you do in the run up to it?
Not much! I had to teach myself to push with both legs so as to not get soar using just one for the entire course. Other than that, I run everyday, do my pushups and pullups, eat well – that whole “take care of your body lifestyle” part of training is essential too.
10.Which are the next things you are going to tick off your list?
- I have big plans to SUP across Lake Tahoe. It’s 12 miles at its minimum diameter, and 22 miles at its maximum diameter.
- Volunteering on a regular basis: I’ve been traveling so much lately that it’s been difficult to set this up on a regular basis. This is something I want to make a much bigger part of my life.
- Get all the things needed to make my own Sushi. I LOVE sushi!
- Run a 10K.
11. You want to donate $1million to charities before you are 31?!
(The one million US dollars will come from donating a monthly percentage of her business profits, corporate sponsors, donations from event backers, and a variety of other creative campaigns.)
This is an extremely generous thing to do.
-Why do you want to do it?
Honestly, in some ways I want to do it for selfish reasons. It’s a huge motivator for me to keep working hard, keep trying new things, keep learning, keep seeking success. It’s a huge goal, but I want to think BIG.
Other than that, I feel it is my responsibility and duty to contribute a portion of what I earn to those that need it more than me. I believe in living below your means, and after you do satisfy those means, do what you can to help. One day, I’m not going to be anything but ashes floating around the ocean. What will I leave behind? Certainly not a bank account with a big number to go with my name will be on my gravestone, but rather maybe I’ll be able to play just a small part in helping other people help the world become a better place for generations to come.
-Are there particular charities you want the money to go to any why?
I big supporter of DonorsChoose.org, which is an organization that lets individuals fund classroom projects. For instance, Miss A in the South Bronx might post a campaign to receive computers for her 8th grade students so they can write their essays and practice writing. People like you and I can go online, browse her project, and make a contribution for her needed amount. If her project reaches what she needs, DonorsChoose purchases the computers for her, and now her classroom has what it needs.
This is the foundation that I did my 50 Mile Walk For. It’s the kids of today that need the resources to discover what their talents and skills are. DonorsChoose helps make that happen.
I also want to get move involved with organizations that bring kids into the outdoors!
13.How do you combine/balance work and play?
Ah… a tricky task indeed. My work is my play, and my play is my work. Sometimes this is a blessing, and other times it’s a curse. I can’t go on a micro-adventure just for the sake of the adventure. It’s also an article to write, a video to film, a small part of a bigger picture I’m working on. And I love that too. It’s just how my brain works!
14.What have you done so far adventure/extreme sports wise?
I’ve done some pretty cool things, though it’s only been in about the past two years that I’ve really began diving into it. I want kayaking in Vietnam, trekked the start of the Himalayas, climbed a volcano at sunrise in Indonesia. This coming year I plan on really diving into the adventures of the US, which I’ve never truly explored.
15.Tell me about your Mad Life Challenge preposition for others to live by?
The Mad Life Challanges are meant to be kickstarters for people to gain momentum in the 4 main areas that I write about on my blog: entrepreneurship, travel & adventure, self-growth, and creating change. Each category has 2 Challenges. For instance, entrepreneurship has the 1% Prototype Challenge in which you make a very small and humble version of your big idea and you put it through a few tests to see how people respond to it.
A lot of times, it can be tough figuring out how to get started on the various areas or your life you may want to improve upon. The challenges are a way to take some of the pressure off figuring out how to do that, by just offering a way upfront to get the ball rolling.
16.Where does your income come from?
For a long time, I’ve been a web designer. When I graduated college with a degree in International Business I knew that I couldn’t do the regular 9-5 thing because travel and exploring is such a huge part of my life. Not to mention, everything about entrepreneurship just runs through my veins and there is no other way for me.
So, while I was living in Beijing where the cost of living was low, I was able to buy myself some time and teach myself how to design websites. I’d always been obsessed with the online world anyway, and I love the fact that I get to design the hubs for individuals and companies that are starting businesses that contribute positively to the world.
Nowadays I’m working on more projects, like Outdoor Minded Mag, and doing consulting for travel companies, specifically ones dealing with outdoor travel and sustainable travel, since travel is basically what I know and what I breathe.
17.Can anyone do what you are doing or what makes you stand out?
Absolutely. All you need are a few key ingredients. 1.) Work your ass off 2.) When you start to give yourself shit that you aren’t good enough to stand out, tell yourself to shut up and get back to to it. 3.) Create a place ( a blog for instance ) where you can connect with like-minded people who will become your partners, your inspiration, your evangelists. When you feel like giving up, they’ll remind you that you can’t. 4.) Put your passions to work. The word “work” has been given a bad vibe. Make it FUN by finding ways to monetize what you love to do.
Anybody can create a business based on their passions. Anybody can travel the world. Anybody can do big and crazy things that most people say are impossible or stupid. Anybody can help another person. But it won’t always be easy, and some days you’ll ask yourself what the hell you’re doing and what this is all for. It’ll always be worth it in the end. Don’t give up!
17.Outdoor Minded Magazine is newly up and running and doing great, what are your plans for it?
I have so many plans for OMM! Outdoor Minded is still finding its own voice in the whole online outdoor website realm. Just like all endeavors when they first begin, be it a business or micro-adventure, the first part of it is all about finding the flow and finding out what works.
I’m taking OMM in the direction of being much more about the individual that would spend all their time outside if they could. The ones that when you ask them who they are and what they’re about, the sport they do outside is a big part of what defines them. OMM is a hub for sharing the stories, resources, lessons, and projects of these inspiring and dedicated individuals. So, my upcoming plans for it are ones that are going to harness this.
Next up we’re launching a new series called Outdoor Hours where people share the story behind one of their most memorable hours spent outdoors. We have contributions from professional adventurers like Dave Corn to everyday enthusiasts taking their passion to the next level like creator of Climb On! Sister Jeline Guiles, and the list goes on.
18.Any advice for people who want to follow in your footsteps( aka me!)?
Work hard, think big, and through it all, have make sure you are having FUN. Don’t let self doubt get the best of you because it’s not doing you or all the amazing things you, and only you, can contribute to the world, any good.
And more than ANYTHING – stay true to who you are at your root. Don’t try to be who you are not, and if you feel your gut saying that this isn’t you – don’t do it.
Ask yourself everyday, “Who am I helping today?” They key to a truly successful and content person, is one that that gives from their heart in everything they do.
And lastly, start a blog and use social media. Best thing I ever did. Without it, I wouldn’t have connected with the people that have inspired or found the tools to get me to where I am.
My Personal Blog: The Mad To Live
OMM: Outdoor Minded Mag
Twitter: @LaurRAINS (http://twitter.com/LaurRAINS) @OUTDOOR_MINDED (http://twitter.com/OUTDOOR_MINDED)