Ok, so that took a weeeee bit longer than I thought it would! Thanks for your patience! I’m back from some epic adventures with good friends and family and ready to share my experience from this exercise (if you want to hear about the adventures of my 50-mile GORUCK Star Course and our family trip to Colorado, take a look on the Facebook Group).

Exercise

This time the challenge was to get a group of 10 people that I know, and talk with them in turn about my problem I’m solving, the solution, and get at least 3 pieces of advice from each. Then I would ask for any referrals for other people who could help me on this journey and anything else to add that I may have forgotten to bring up. After each person, I would implement their advice to improve the project. Here goes!

Deliverables

Old problem

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!).

The lack of casual adventure in the lives of men leads them to feel that adventure is too hard, too expensive, and unattainable.

Men in their 30s lack true male camaraderie in their lives and that leads them to feel isolated and trapped.

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.

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.

Old solutions

#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 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 training that’s focused on leading adventure retreats). Equip those leaders with a toolkit to lead their adventure retreats.

#5: Lead yearly epic adventures that will 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 planning. Provide time for personal reflection at the event to process it after the activities.

List of advice

Ok, I got a TON of advice, some people gave me a whole pile, some I only got one or two things from. But overall it averaged out to more than three per person. Here it goes in order of the conversations that I had:

From Benji Grosek:

  1. Make sure you’re encouraging guys to do adventures that are in line with their core values!
  2. Set it up as a monthly challenge with different advancement trees (like classes in role-playing games). Ie. the Urban Adventurer, the Adventurer with Kids
  3. Have an Adventurer Hall of Fame where you highlight and celebrate the After Action Reports of the men when they finish an adventure. Make it a template for a awesome website that they can share on social media!

From Dan McPherson:

  1. Have some quality virtual assistants provide ghostwriting for the After Action Reports in the Adventurer Hall of Fame. Offer this professional writing as a reward once per quarter for members to share their best adventure story as an article.
  2. Combine the podcast, courses, and challenges into an e-learning platform with rewards for completing things and taking action! Have a rewards system and leaderboard. One challenge within this, for example, could be teaching how to build an online course and do a revenue share with guys that do this.
  3. Figure out how the finances and tiers of engagement will work for the three categories of your audience:
    1. Casual Lurkers
    2. Toe Dippers
    3. All in and want to lead!
  4. The top performer on the leaderboard each month gets the next month free, or the next course tier up
  5. Have numbered classes and offer the content in cohorts (Class 001, etc.)

From Tuan Nguyen:

  1. Distill down further how you make men feel when they engage with you.
  2. People engage when they’re in crisis. What’s the crisis you’re engaging with?
  3. For “nerds” adventure may make them feel less nerdy, and less like themselves! Be aware of things like this.

From Nick Elkins:

  1. What’s the audience’s real motivation? Cool trips? How to get their wife on board with them adventuring all the time?
  2. Be clear on who this is NOT for! It’s not for guys who want to live off the grid as a hermit.
  3. Come up with adventure challenges that aren’t dependant on climate, geography, or regional culture
  4. Have affiliate deals with other adventure and gear companies
  5. Retreats should be the core, premium offering
  6. Build this as if you don’t need the money
  7. Build your email list!
  8. Make a DIY adventure kit (online)
    1. What to look for in a destination
    2. Activities to do
    3. Equipment list (with affiliate links)
    4. Playlist to listen to on the way, or during the adventure
    5. Movie to watch that relates to the adventure
    6. With kids, make a treasure map!
  9. Do volunteer days for charities as challenges

From Dave (met on an airplane):

  1. Make it available and known!
  2. Work with local businesses to promote it. Guys in his age group (retired) hang out at diners to talk about their adventures!
  3. Sharing stories is a big part of a close-knit group like his Air Force unit was. Make this a place to share great stories!

From Anne Yatch:

  1. What’s keeping guys from just doing this on their own?
  2. Make a clear visual representation of how all this is laid out
  3. Get people interested with a quick assessment of how adventurous their life is. For example:
    • How many weekend activities with your kids have you done that wasn’t planned by your wife?
    • When was the last time you did something new just for yourself?
  4. Have a Board of Epic Adventurers that you can talk to monthly. Guys like Larry Yatch, Eric Davis, Jeff Bonaldi, Jason McCarthy, Josh Spodek, John Eldredge, Sam and Blaine Eldredge, Bear Grylls, Dan Grec, Adam Savage, etc.
    1. For these people, what would attract them to be your advisory board? Would it be the opportunity to be a featured mentor at your retreats?

From Brad Ritter:

  1. I struggle most with the casual adventures and could use good examples of those. I do epic adventures once or twice a year, but find it hard to incorporate the casual.
  2. Approach Larry Hagner to do this as an offshoot from the Dad Edge brand
  3. Accountability would be a key part of this. How will guys be held accountable for taking action?
  4. We could partner up on retreats! I’d love to help with that!

From Sam Eldredge:

  1. If you make this an app, it makes it easy but kind of against the spirit of helping men connect with their hearts
  2. Crawl, walk, THEN run!
  3. What’s the minimum viable product?
  4. The community aspect needs to be attractive!
  5. Interface with other communities like GORUCK and the Tough Mudder

From Larry Hagner:

  1. Do a desired end state exercise on it! (I did! Here it is:
    I want to create an environment where the participants feel unstoppable joy to share stories of the epic adventures they’re taking because they have embraced adventure every day, enabling them to create the time on their calendar and the resources they need to support epic adventures.

    And to avoid an environment where they feel stagnant, empty, and dead so they do not keep struggling with addictions and other ways to medicate their heart pain because their heart is dying ensuring they don’t have any adventures in their life.)

  2. Let’s work together on this in some capacity!
  3. Mark Divine asked about adventure in our podcast interview, so this is important to men right now

From Ralph Moller:

  1. How do you motivate men to do something they “don’t have time for?” Similar to our spiritual growth, this is crucially important but we don’t make time for it.
  2. We as men tend to lose sight of the whole picture. We measure success in 1 or 2 areas, but not on how we’re becoming more whole and holy!
  3. Remind men that there’s more to us than what we do for a living
  4. Focus on the experience! Men need to experience adventure and camaraderie.

New problem

The lack of adventure in the lives of men 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!).

New solution

An e-learning platform where men are broken into small groups to adventure together, and rewarded for taking action on podcast challenges, and doing other adventure challenges as laid out by the Board of Adventurers.

The Board of Adventurers that includes Epic people such as Eric Davis, Larry Yatch, Mark Divine (all Navy SEALs), Bear Grylls, the Ransomed Heart Team, Adam Savage, Josh Spodek, Jeff Bonaldi, etc. This Board will provide mentorship (directly or indirectly) for the participants, and provide content for sets of adventure challenges (think Boy Scout merit badges).

These challenges will consist of a number of casual, crucial, and epic adventures building confidence in a specific skill set and are intended to be done in groups (the groups will be numbered classes, ie. Class 001, etc.). At the completion of the set of adventures, men will be rewarded with a unique patch. Members of the community will have discounts to affiliate adventure and gear companies (most of which will be associated with the Board of Adventurers).

Upon completion of a certain number of challenges, men will achieve a new ranking in the community, making them eligible for another unique patch. Leaders in the community will also be given opportunities for leadership training.

List of referrals/contacts

For this, I’m going to list categories here instead of actual people. 🙂

From Dan McPherson:

E-learning course guy

Podcast production company

Virtual assistants

From Brad Ritter:

Editor

From Sam Eldredge:

App developer guy

From Ralph Moller:

Some epic men from our church!

 

Reflections

Thanks for sticking with me this far, this one is a bit long!

Before this exercise, I was feeling energized and excited and I wanted to share what I’m up to with people I care about to get their take on it. Those feelings changed a bit the longer it took to get to the end of the 10 talks. That excitement is still there, but it’s tempered a bit with reality now. There are other solutions that people are already doing that work to solve the problem I’m tackling. Is my solution any better? Is it still worth doing and pursuing?

The conversations were fun and exciting! Everyone genuinely wanted to help and support what I’m doing. I got even better advice than I expected and learned a lot from the conversations. My understanding of the problem has improved, and so has the solution.

In going through this exercise and refining the solution, I’ve started to feel a bit like a modern Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement. I was reading a copy of the Handbook for Boys from 1948 that I’ve had on my shelf for years and came across how Baden-Powell started the Scouts. He saw a similar need to what I’m seeing now, and to fill that he wrote a Reconnaissance and Scouting which originally was meant to train military scouts. After the Boer War, he saw that this could be used to give boys more meaning in life. He used his book as the basis of a trial scouting camp for boys on Brownsea Island in 1907. Further reading the Handbook, I found the huge number of contributors to its makeup. The editor wrote a few parts, but most of the content came from the experts that he found in each subject that was deemed important for Scouts to learn. It looks like in many ways, I’m following in Baden-Powell’s steps as well as those men who put together the Scouting handbooks over the years. If I even come close to their impact on the world, I will have done worthwhile work indeed.