Following closely behind questions about living in a van are questions about how I transitioned my life from engineering in global-sized corporations to working for myself as a writer, marketer, and digital nomad. Explaining that would take a book. I’ve created the How I got where I am today series instead.
The first article was all about my mentors and people that have played a significant role in shaping me into the person I am today.
I’ll be continuing these articles in no particular order or with any rhyme or reason. So, don’t read too much into that part.
Today, I’m going to walk you through brands that have supported me and highlight some experiences they’ve provided in order to continue growing within this industry.
I started Version 1.0 of this site back in 2011 under the title Dudes With Tents. (Sadly, the link to my YouTube Channel still bares that name.) It was supposed to be a collaboration of stories shared by me and two of my best friends. Naturally, I started signing up for newsletters and contests and promotions from all the well known brands as well as following them all over on every social media channel possible.
By nothing more than what can be explained as blind luck, I won a monthly gear lottery through Arc’Teryx‘s email newsletter. This got me direct contact with someone that actually works there, as opposed to a general info address on the website. I used this opportunity to take action and discuss a brand partnership. They agreed.
Along with numerous mentions and content produced on social media, it also generated a 3-part series on their Ascent Outerwear line.
They helped promote my content as much as I helped promote their brand. They gave me credibility and confidence in what I was doing and my ability to produce high quality content (that has only gotten better over the years).
Very shortly after Arc’Teryx and I agreed to work together, I saw an open invitation to join Evolv‘s Grassroots climbing team. It was posted on their Facebook and Twitter (if not more places I missed) and anyone could have applied.
I filled out the general application. Created a climbing resume. Told them my climbing goals, how much climbing has affected my life, and how I intended to support their brand.
I’ve never had an official relationship with any of Teton Sports‘ ambassador programs, but they have supported me continuously since 2012. It started with a completely random email from them offering me a free tent, their Outfitter XXL.
We then stayed in touch during their weekly #HikerChat on Twitter every Friday at noon (eastern time zone). This eventually led to an in-person meeting a year or two later at the Winter Outdoor Retail trade show.
Since then we’ve shared many burritos, hot-shot basketball competitions, NDAs, and a few snowball fights. I’ve also been known to park my van in their parking lot and steal some WiFi (and sleep).
They’ve already done so much for me so I always feel sheepish to ask for more gear if it’s truly essential, but they’re always happy to help me out. I sleep on their ComfortLite sleeping pad every night, and I swear it’s more comfortable than most mattresses.
In addition to all of this, I now get to write for them in a freelance capacity as well. That money helps the wheels on the van go ’round and ’round.
This is the big one. The brand that has single-handedly validated and contributed to my transition almost as much as all the others combined. What started out as an invitation to join their 4th group of #OmniTen in the Fall of 2013 turned into three sponsored trips, starring in a 1-hour online documentary about our trip to Jordan, and more gear than will ever fit in my van. None of it would have ever happened if I didn’t take action and start writing so many years ago.
The relationships and friendships I’ve made with the people at Columbia still continue to this day, even after they’ve moved on. I cannot express enough gratitude to Scott, Daniel, Tori, Elizabeth, Yiorgos, Adam, and the rest of the crew that made that program so successful. If anyone reading this manages an Ambassador/Influencer program, ask me about #OmniTEN, and I’ll tell you how your program should be executed.
#OmniTEN is currently lying dormant while they focus on their Director’s of Toughness, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Columbia, it’s to not ever, under any circumstances, get complacent and think something is “over” or couldn’t possibly happen again.
If you noticed, none of these things would have been possible if I hadn’t taken action. So many people just expect things to happen for them. Most people call those people “Millennials.” My age and mentality fit that demographic, but I certainly don’t sit back and wait for things. If you want something, go out and get it. You might be surprised what happens and how far you can go.
**Disclaimer: There’s a few affiliate links in here that, if you end up buying the associated products, I earn a tiny commission of that sale. An equally small amount of money also gets donated to the Nature Conservancy, but the price is all the same to you.