When I was 22 or 23-years-old I lived and worked in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Jackson is one of the outdoor meccas here in the US.
Like many other college graduates, I applied for and obtained a job at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort mainly so I could afford a season’s pass. I ended up at their ski school. It remains to this day one of the most physically demanding jobs of my life. Hiking up the mountain over and over again for a kid that can’t come down or lost their ski is hard work.
I had another job in Jackson that also paid me next to nothing as the intern for the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. I really liked my manager and we clicked right off the bat. She was a great mentor. I ended up liking and respecting the entire staff that worked very hard to keep the environmental values they held dear in check. When I get involved in a project I become very passionate about it, there’s no half-way with me. I in turn too became passionate about the issues they were defending. I recall a staff meeting that I attended after I had been working very hard on the Alliance’s annual art auction fundraiser. I had poured a lot of energy into that project and although I recently graduated from college the Executive Director (who I liked) said in a very candid remark, “We need to start building relationships with colleges and recruiting interns from those instead of getting all these randoms.” The staff immediately jumped to my defense and called him out for his comment in front of me and I shrugged it off as if I didn’t care…of course I was in fact hurt by it. But I began to pay more attention and was fueled to do an even better job to show the ED just what these “random” interns could accomplish. I ended up being rehired for another term as their now not so random “outreach intern” and in truth this was the beginning of my marketing career (although I wouldn’t realize it until many years later).
Meanwhile I had also been paying attention to what was going on in ski school. Ski school was a fascinating working organization. I was at the bottom of ladder and likely wasn’t going to move up. I was completely broke around this time in my life and managed off of very litte income which doesn’t bode well for buying new gear. Gear is expensive! I did what I could back then and what I could afford was a pair of early 90s hot pink ski boots. The ski school had a boot warming room and after every day the instructors would go to their locker room, take off their boots and put them on the warmers. The senior staff had all the nicest equipment and the equipment models would quickly decline and get older the more junior you went with staff. Every morning I would arrive at ski school and my old neon pink ski boots would have been thrown out in the hallway off the warmers…a blatant warning from the more senior staff to take my gear and my job seriously.
If I sound like I’m complaining I suppose I am but the truth is those were some of the best experiences in my life and taught me a lot of valuable lessons. I have way more good experiences than complaints but the bad things always teach you some of the best lessons. You’re too busy enjoying the good things to reflect on what you can learn from them.
I’ve always liked to write. Before blogs and other content management systems I would write and save articles on my old Toshiba laptop that weighs about 50 pounds. I started writing this particular post because I wanted to post an old article that I had written about my work observations in ski school and with the environmental alliance called, “Politics at Play.” I couldn’t find it. I think when people think of the business world they tend to think that the business of play (outdoors, tourism etc.) is immune to business politics but the truth is that my observations included a lot of the same type of stuff that I would encounter in corporate america later in my career and what that finally has meant to me is that business is business no matter what shape it takes.
It would have been really interesting to read and to see how the 35-year-old version of myself would have thought of the 23-year-olds first observation of the working world. I likely didn’t understand much about business back then and probably took a lot more personal. If I end up finding it I’ll go ahead and post but in the meantime I hope this post gives you a little more insight into who I am and perhaps why I’m focusing this little marketing operation on outdoor, fitness and health industries.
Take care and have fun,