The advice

So, this was an AWESOME exercise! The challenge was to talk to five people (at least) about the five problem/solution pairs and get advice to improve them. Each person had their own unique perspective on the problem, its actual root cause, or a better way to solve it. Some were really enthusiastic in helping come up with better solution ideas, and some were just good cheerleaders. It was really fun talking with them about these ideas and honing them better through the process! The deliverables for this exercise follow!

Here are the problem/solution pairs again for anyone who didn’t read them the first time:

  1. The lack of adventure in the lives of men in their late 20s to early 30s who are married, have children, and are employed professionally leads them to feel stagnant, empty, and stuck in life (I’ve been there before and know this well!).
    1. Solution: Tell my story of a life full of adventure, the stories of other men like me, and inspire men to come along with us through a video and audio podcast series.
  2. The lack of casual adventure in the lives of men leads them to feel that adventure is too hard, too expensive, and unattainable.
    1. Solution: provide a short, video-based course with challenges to get guys into some casual adventures (is this cheating if I’ve already done it?)
  3. Men in their 30s lack true male camaraderie in their lives and that leads them to feel isolated and trapped.
    1. Solution: create a template for creating local groups for men to get out into adventure together (similar to GORUCK Ruck Clubs)
  4. Men in their 20s and 30s lack crucial adventures that connect them to the growth of their character, and so they feel like they’re not sure if they really are a man yet and feel uninitiated.
    1. Solution: quarterly, multi-day retreats with men into the wilderness. Equip leaders to lead their own retreats so I don’t get burnt out!
  5. Men lack epic adventures in their lives and so they feel disconnected from their emotions and like they don’t have stories worth sharing or lives worth telling about.
    1. Solution: yearly, epic adventures together with small groups of men. Think overlanding in the Australian Outback, bushwhacking through the jungles of Brazil, etc.

Deliverables

For this exercise, I was asked to deliver a few things: the list of advice I received on the project, an improved version of the projects based on that advice, my reflections on the experience, votes from each person on which idea they liked most, and my choice of which project I’ll work on.

List of advice

Kenyon Zitzka

Feedback on Problem #1: What’s the root cause here? It could be a mix of societal programming, TV, ads, friends, etc. We also get this idea from our society that in this stage of life we need to “settle down.”

Feedback on Problem #2: To adopt a 24/7 adventure mindset we need to build intuition and curiosity into our lives. We need to look at problems as an adventure!

Feedback on Problem #3: How do you get someone to look at friendship as an adventure? Gamify it! He also focused on how I need to make sure that guys in an office environment will want to do this and can incorporate it into their lives.

Feedback on Problem #4: This is valuable, but even more so would be a process for doing it on their own as well. Teach them how to come up with their own solutions (this is a common theme in the people I talked to).

Feedback on Problem #5: This is like GORUCK Selection, but focused on an adventure (mwahahaha). Also, give tools for how to create this for yourself! Make you as the coach useless to them in the future.

Favorite problem/solution: tie between #4 and #5

Armando Cruz

Feedback on Problem #1: What drives men to actually take the call to adventure? Guys don’t have anything invested in this solution. The barrier to entry is really really low. Consistency allows for the opportunity to take action here. A lower percentage of people will take action because of the low investment. Get them engaged to go listen to the episodes over and over!

Feedback on Problem #2: Give a teaser about when we’re getting into the actual adventures at the beginning of the course so guys know what’s coming. Pre-frame it in the first two modules as a foundation. Keep the message the most important, don’t worry about the backdrop for your filming. If you need to re-shoot, do it.

Feedback on Problem #3: Merit badges! Combine merit badges into adventures with deliverables. Use the Boy Scout merit badge books as inspiration (I REALLY like this!).

Feedback on Problem #4: At the beginning, you absolutely need to lead these, but then choose select men to train as Anthem of the Adventurer Leaders who can then lead their own event. Give them a toolkit after they’re trained.

Feedback on Problem #5: Do guys need to have done the prior steps for this one? How do we prove that the group has a common background of experience necessary to take on an epic adventure (GREAT POINT)? Will there be minimum requirements? Fitness? Health? First aid training? Recommended by an Anthem of the Adventurer Leader?

Favorite problem/solution: #5. Most doable though is #4.

For those who are keeping score at home, that’s two votes for #5, and 1.5 for #4. 😀

Larry Yatch

Just a quick note here on my talk with Larry. We were between meetings and only had about 10 minutes to talk, so we just got through the first problem. But he had SUCH good feedback (as always) that I included it here. We’re working on a longer time to talk this week.

Feedback on Problem #1: You can inspire guys all day long, but they’ll only be entertained! Then they’ll feel bad afterward because they’re not actually DOING anything! You have the “what” for this, but are missing the “why,” “how,” and “who.”

See why I love being around this guy?? 😀

Nick Hamm

So Nick and I talked while we were both driving, so I’ll fully admit I didn’t take great notes. But his feedback was very similar to Armando’s in that leadership development is key to this whole effort. He really liked the “ruck club” idea as well.

Favorite problem/solution: #4

Jon Schirm

Feedback on Problem #1: The balance between adventuring alone and leaving my family behind is a miss on this problem (interesting how he went to the assumption that adventure has to mean leaving your family behind!). We need adventures with family too. Change the messaging on the solution to “share and engage” rather than “tell.”

Feedback on Problem #2: The lack of understanding of what casual adventure IS needs to be part of the problem statement.

Feedback on Problem #3: Men in general struggle with this, not just in their 30s. All generations have this, and we’ve lost this connection through the years. We need other men around us not to compare ourselves with, but to lift each other up. On the solution for this one, focus on creating an ENVIRONMENT, not a template (LOVE THIS).

Feedback on Problem #4: Improve the definition of this one a bit. He also mentioned the Engage, Empower, Execute model of empowering leaders.

Feedback on Problem #5: Most people have a memory of adventures, but they’ve lost track of them. It’s not about you! It’s about the teams you’re on! This also has the danger of coming off like a drug. We can get addicted to the high of adventure and keep chasing it. Need to make sure that epic adventures are framed properly, and have an emphasis on the lead-up activities and preparation for the adventure (as well as space to process it afterward). We need to connect to our emotions in these experiences!

Favorite problem/solution: #4

Matt Tennessen

I ambushed Matt a bit on this one because I was excited to share what I’m working on with him… He was a great cheerleader for the whole effort and thought they looked great!

Favorite problem/solution: #4

Improved projects

#1: Seasonal podcast, with more video content and directed challenges with rewards for taking action. Make the content more directed at taking action, rather than just entertainment!

#2: Video course on casual adventures. Build the foundation of why casual adventures are important in the first couple modules, and also let students know when they’ll get ideas for adventures (in the third module) so they know what’s coming. With this one, be focused on the message instead of the shooting location!

#3: Using the Boy Scout merit badge books as inspiration, combine them in new ways for monthly call outs in adventure groups. Give out ruck patches for completing the requirements for the call out. Create an environment where men will lift each other up while adventuring together and leading their own groups across the country.

#4: Lead quarterly adventure retreats for men. Select men who attend the retreats to invite into leadership training (either offered by Plan Sight or my own training that’s focused on leading adventure retreats). Equip those leaders with a toolkit to lead their own adventure retreats.

#5: Lead yearly epic adventures that will really test a small group of men. Define specific physical, mental, and/or emotional requirements to participate. Prove that they have enough background of experience to do it. If not, offer a training program to get them ready. Celebrate and promote the training process and the planning. Provide time for personal reflection at the event to process it after the activities.

Reflections

I felt really excited to do this exercise and see how I could improve the projects I came up with! I was really energized even more as I went through it because everyone enjoyed helping me! The conversations were really fun and I got even better advice than I expected. I learned a lot from everyone I talked to.

I feel like I understand the problems I want to tackle even better now and the quality of my solutions has definitely improved. I think the people I talked to genuinely want me to keep them updated as things develop, so make sure you follow along too!

Vote tally

Ok, so the final tally of the votes… ::drumroll:: Five votes for #4, and two for #5 (since both Armando and Kenyon liked both).

So, what am I picking to work on?

Going forward, it looks pretty clear that I should explore this quarterly retreat idea and leadership development further! I think I’m going to combine solutions 1-4 together so we can have a clear pathway from learning the importance of adventure, getting into casual adventures regularly, and finding space for more crucial adventures quarterly. I’ve talked to a few guys at church about doing a Wild at Heart Basic in the fall, so that might be a great place to start. Practicing the idea of running a retreat without developing my own content seems like a great way to go! Stay tuned!