While I love entrepreneurship - going out and creating something that the world needs - I always hated the idea of formal "business".
It seemed so formal, stodgy, routine and not the least bit fun. So, when I started IMPOSSIBLE, I knew from the get-go that I wanted to to be an adventure.
To do that, I did a few things.
- We set up a remote work friendly environment - all team members can work from anywhere in the world.
- We find good adventures to go on and make them a part of the business.
- We find ways to give back both locally and around the world to give others the opportunity to do something impossible for them as well.
So that's what we did from the get-go.
Since day one of IMPOSSIBLE, helping people push their limits and live a story worth writing about has been one of the core goals at the company. As part of that initiative, recently, I ran seven ultra-marathons on seven continents to build seven schools with Pencils of Promise. It was the most physically difficult thing I've ever done, but I finished the races and collectively we raised nearly $200,000 raised.
But it's not something we do apart from the business. Like everything we do, we worked it into the fabric of IMPOSSIBLE.
We tracked donations for the project on our 777 site, we collect and share the story of all of our non-profits we work with on IMPOSSIBLE.org , and I share the stories on the blog. along with photos and videos of each race.
But the adventure isn't just "for fun". Sure it adds to life, but very, very often this adventure is the inspiration for new business projects and helps propel them forward.
For example, when I hurt myself on race one of 777, 26 miles into a 40 mile race in Patagonia - I finished the race, but found out that I busted my peroneal tendon and had to rehab for six months. Instead of whining about it, I realised there were a lot of things about injury prevention and rehab that I could use a lot of help with and we ended up building a mobility coaching app called Move Well. that helps people get stronger, recover from injuries and have less pain in their day-to-day life.
When I experimented with the paleo diet, it turned into an ecosystem of projects including a nutrition guide, a meal plan service and several paleo apps as well.
This isn't' to say that every experience will lead directly to a business situation, but when you engage your curiosity and embrace the call to adventure, you often find yourself in places you would have never expected, seeing things through a lens you hadn't used before.
Not only that, but encouraging adventure is good for both the morale and growth of our team. Traveling and adventuring around the world has forced me to hire more people to step into areas I would normally focus on. It forces me to be more focused with our work and improves our communication as we have to work hard to coordinate over multiple continents spanning all of the time zones.
It also shows my team that I'm committed to travel and theirs as well, and helps everyone work on communicating clearer, be more effective and know that work isn't their whole life.
On top of that, it allows us the ability to connect and collaborate with other entrepreneurs in ways that might not always be available if I was just running another typical business. After I had finished all seven races, we had raised about $156,000 for 777 - an incredible amount of money, but still almost $20,000 short of our goal.
However, earlier that year, after reading his book "Living with a SEAL", I had connected with Jesse Itzler of the Atlanta Hawks and the Fitlanthropy group We Do Hard Stuff - where every month they do a fitness workout to raise money for charity. We synced up over ultra-marathons, cold water therapy, and doing hard things. After realising we were so aligned on the fitness, mindset and adventure aspects of life, we decided to collaborate and in June. They dedicated the month to Pencils of Promise, and helping build the seventh school with us. That month, we raised over $36,000 to build our last school and help us surpass our total goal.
Just because you run a business, doesn't mean you have to make it boring. Push yourself, and your team to their limits. Have an adventure.
You might end up doing something you always thought was impossible.