Kyle Maynard became the first man to crawl on his own to the 19,340-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. To maximize the impact of his effort, he cocreated Mission Kilimanjaro with his friend Dan Adams as a way to spread the message that no obstacle is too great to be conquered. Mission Kilimanjaro also helped Maynard win his second ESPY Award in 2012 for Male Disabled Athlete of the Year.
Photography: Courtesy of Kyle Maynard
Explorer and filmmaker Sam Cossman rappels Marum crater on the volcanic island of Ambrym, located along the Ring of Fire in the Vanuatu Archipelago. Phantom drones fitted with GoPro cameras captured Cossmanâ€™s daring quest to stand triumphantly at the edge of the lava lake inside one of the worldâ€™s most active volcanoes.
Photography: Courtesy of Sam Cossman
The Miami Heat Wheels are on fire. The cityâ€™s only wheelchair basketball team, including pictured point guard Jeremie Thomas, is featured in the upcoming documentary The Rebound by Shaina Koren Cinematography. Filmmakers Shaina Allen and Michael Esposito share their journey to make The Rebound with Emmy Award-winning producers Nick Nanton and JW Dicks of The Celebrity Branding Agency.
Photography: Chad Andreo
THE OCEAN CLEANUP
Led by 21-year-old Dutch inventor and environmentalist Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanupâ€™s multidisciplinary team of engineers, oceanographers, and ecologists is dedicated to preserving the worldâ€™s oceans by safeguarding them against the ravages of pollution. The Ocean Cleanup has developed a unique passive removal system that harnesses the power of the ocean itself to lead a wave of recovery.
Photography: Courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup
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KYLE MAYNARD His Ultimate Jedi Mind Trick
“I decided that maybe my life purpose is to be a painter and I just started painting recently.” – Kyle Maynard Words: Paige Zeigler
Kyle Maynard became the first man to crawl on his own to the 19,340-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. To maximize the impact of his effort, he co-created Mission Kilimanjaro with his friend Dan Adams as a way to spread the message that no obstacle is too great to be conquered. Mission Kilimanjaro also helped Maynard win his second ESPY Award in 2012 for Male Disabled Athlete of the Year. Born with arms that end at his elbows and legs at his knees (a condition known as congential amputation), Maynard credits his parents, Scott and Anita, with what he characterizes as a very normal upbringing. “It’s hard for people to get a grasp on this to the extent that they did it, but when my mom and dad raised me it was like they just didn’t treat me any different. It was just a normal kind of experience. I’ve got three younger sisters and they kind of treated us all the same way, and I think that made all the difference in the world because it was never about the disability. So we never thought about it that much. “There were moments when I would get frustrated or upset, and kind of blame things in my mind on the disability. And that’s the easy out. But there are many moments when I am just in that full engagement and don’t think about it. Lately, I’ve been calling it the ultimate
Jedi mind trick because they didn’t treat me as disabled, so I never saw myself that way. Since I didn’t see myself that way, then other people didn’t see me that way. And it kind of had that cascade effect.” Maynard names his father – who served in the Army, and is a former football player and wrestler – as one of his big heroes growing up, which helped fuel his pursuit of athletics. In 2005, Maynard was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and also released his book “No Excuses,” which became a New York Times bestseller. These days, Maynard travels around the world as a professional speaker, and is in pursuit of becoming a jiu-jitsu world champion. He trains in Brazilian jiu-jitsu up to five hours a day near his home in San Diego, California. His earliest mixed martial arts fight against an abled-body opponent was featured in the ESPN documentary A Fighting Chance. “I do love jiu-jitsu. I’m obsessed. I’m having the best time of my life. It’s impossible to have any semblance of a normal dating life or friendships or anything because I’m training at the gym five hours a day, but I’m having so much fun. Everyday I question, ‘Why the heck are you doing this?’ And then I get there, and I’m having a blast. “So I’m just following my bliss.” Photography: Courtesy of Kyle Maynard
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PARIS BENOIT LAPRAY It was on a walk in the French Alps when Benoit Lapray conceived “The Quest for the Absolute.” He is still expanding his artistic photography collection imagining superheroes alone with their thoughts in nature.
Photography: Courtesty of Benoit Lapray
Photography: Didrik Johnck
MICHAEL BROWN High Stakes, High Impact
“My ability at a high altitude is probably genetic. I just feel good above 15,000 feet when others are suffering.” – Michael Brown Words: Justin Saint Jean
Though filmmaker Michael Brown has won three Emmy awards, summited Mount Everest five times, and founded the Outside Adventure Film School, he recognizes a specific moment of inaction as one of his greatest catalysts: “I was offered a chance to go see an amazing sport event or go hang out by the pool. I chose the pool and regretted it ever since.” He cites this incident as the source of his fear of missing out – what he refers to as “FOMO” – a guiding
principle that has propelled him to great success. “It drove me to always say yes. For Everest, it was a somewhat infamous Everest climber telling me that he didn’t think I could.” Obviously he could, however, as he proved several times over. Along the way, Brown also found time to contribute to countless memorable film projects shot on all seven continents. As director and cinematographer, Brown seamlessly blends scenes of breathtaking
adventuring with an underlying theme of social consciousness. For instance, “3 Peaks 3 Weeks” tells the story of 10 women raising charitable funds to combat important socioeconomic issues in Africa by climbing three of the continent’s highest mountains within three weeks. In “High Ground,” he partners with producer Don Hahn (Disney’s “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast”) to document the ascent of Mount Lobuche in Nepal by a team
Photography: Ace Kvale
including blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer and several American veterans returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a common theme, Brown’s next project continues his exploration of the near-spiritual union between adventure and adventurer: “We are currently making a film about two blind men who solo-kayaked the Grand Canyon. It would just be a stunt, except that it has a deep back story and brings together an amazing journey.” While Brown recognizes the importance of the stories his documentaries tell, he stops short
of glorifying the considerable risks necessitated along the way. “I don’t really think of my climbs so much as accomplishments. They were selfish at best, narcissistic at worst.” Though his work as president of Serac Adventure Films has taken Brown from caves over a quartermile below ground all the way up the treacherous north face of Eiger, he now finds himself journeying much closer to home. “My boys are two-and-a-half and three months old,” Brown notes in the April interview. “Every day they change dramatically, and they are also surprisingly different from each other.
I am still enjoying the creative process and making films, but now I don’t work nights and weekends. They are for my family.” In the near future, Brown plans on revisiting each of the seven continents, albeit this time with his wife and children. Mountain climbing, however, might not be at the top of their itinerary. “I don’t want to encourage my boys to do risky activities, though I know they will, but I want them to learn from people all over the world. Even though there is war and hatred, we are all in this together.”
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DOSE OF AMAZING FRANCE SACHA GOLDBERGER What if Batman and Robin had been born in the 16th century? So asked French photographer Sacha Goldberger, a lifelong comic book fan who has reimagined the duo, and many other timeless superheroes and villains, in the style of Flemish paintings for his “Super Flemish” collection. Using light and shadow as a metaphor for the icons’ nobility and fragility, Goldberger’s portraits cast the characters in roles we’ve never seen them before: as Renaissance figures sitting for portraits.
Photography: Sacha Goldberger
“You have a voice and stories can literally change the world. No matter your medium, let your heart’s voice speak and just hustle to bring that story to life.” – Michael Esposito of The Rebound
Shaina Allen of The Rebound in action. Photography: Michael Esposito
THE REBOUND Filmmakers Shaina Allen and Michael Esposito of Shaina Koren Cinematography share their journey to make The Rebound, a documentary about the players of the Miami Heat Wheels, the city’s only wheelchair basketball program. Words: Paige Zeigler
After growing up in different small towns on the east coast and both attending James Madison University in Virginia, Shaina Allen and Michael Esposito ultimately met during a study abroad program in the Philippines after graduation. A shared interest in travel and making a positive impact first brought them together. Though both had surface-level exposure to video production and photography in high school, Allen went on to specialize in digital video and cinema in college with a minor in film studies and cultural anthropology, while Mike followed the business track and pursued a degree in marketing with a specialization in digital media and web. “We matched our skillsets to form Shaina Koren Cinematography,” says Esposito. “It was a desire to do something different, greater than ourselves, and significant to the world around us that really drove us to pursue the path we’re currently on.” But it was their Siberian Husky Keiko that helped create the connection that led to their current documentary. Keiko’s best canine friend at the local park they visited every day in Miami was the dog of Parnes Cartwright, coach of Miami’s only wheelchair basketball program. “We would talk to Coach Parnes nearly every day, becoming very close,” Esposito explains. “It was when Parnes started talking about fundraising ideas for his team that we suggested that Shaina go out and capture some footage to try and put a short video together for the team.” The seed for what would become The Rebound documentary was planted in that first practice. An interview followed with a player who had just received a full scholarship to play wheelchair basketball at University of Texas at Arlington. “While watching the footage, we had the first ‘aha’ moment when we realized that this story is deeper than what meets the eye,” Esposito remembers. “We made an intentional decision to have Shaina return and film again. And again, until it was apparent that there was a really important story there and someone needed to tell it. We were in the perfect position. Well, almost. We still had full-time jobs and were still somewhat fresh out of school.”
As young, independent creatives and entrepreneurs, Esposito recalls not being taken seriously when it came to The Rebound. “It was a year into filming when we realized that people were writing us off as just another charity case, another video project. No real support from anyone. But we knew people would care if they only knew the story. “Looking to our subjects for inspiration, at what they’ve learned to embrace and overcome, we embraced the doubt and isolation and used them as fuel to our fire. We became experts at telling our story so people would understand, so they would connect and care. So we kept telling it, stepping up our game wherever we could. We created a more professional image around this project. Put out great content, started conversations.” That strategy helped them raise $17,500 in a successful Indiegogo campaign, and eventually led to their collaboration with Emmy Award-winning producers Nick Nanton and JW Dicks of The Celebrity Branding Agency to bring the documentary to fruition. “Perspective is everything when it comes to dealing with that struggle,” says Esposito. “It’s important to surround yourself with people who support you and your journey. Remembering your initial ‘why’ is what will see you through the hard times. Whatever sparked that initial passion in you, inspired you to chase the dream.” As Allen and Esposito complete their final cut of The Rebound this year and determine which film festivals they’ll submit to, they’ll also continue to build the video production business of Shaina Koren Cinematography and launch resources to help other up-and-coming storytellers. Adept storytellers themselves, I asked what wisdom they would most want to share with our readers. They replied: “The modern world is often a noisy, discouraging place for dreamers, creatives, and change makers. If you have a dream, an idea that pushes the boundaries, let your passion carry you to it and through it. Challenges will come and go. Use them to fuel your mission. Take the failures as learning experiences, and just that.”
CONNECT Photography: Chad Andreo
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SLOVAKIA ECOCAPSULE Have you ever contemplated an off-grid experience? Powered exclusively by wind and solar energy, the fully portable 86-square-foot Ecocapsule is equipped to sustain a lifestyle of low-consumption luxury. Nice Architects’ efficient design includes a kitchenette, a flushable toilet, and a heated shower, all streaming from a built-in rainwater collection and filtration system that also provides clean drinking water. Initially intended as a “frontier dwelling,” the thermal-insulated Ecocapsule has evolved into an appealing abode for survivalists and urbanists alike.
Photography: Tomas Manina & Juraj Fifik
The Odyssey of Sam Cossman Words: Paige Zeigler I expect Sam Cossman to look and talk like Indiana Jones. Cossman’s daring descent to stand triumphantly at the edge of a lava lake inside one of the world’s most active volcanoes has now captivated millions of people around the globe. Phantom drones fitted with GoPro cameras captured Cossman’s thrilling and perilous adventure; then while flying back from Vanuatu to San Francisco, Cossman edited the fiery footage into a short but compelling film. With its upload to YouTube, he introduced himself, and his life as an adventurer, to the world. When we meet on Skype, I’m wildly surprised to find him accessible. He’s warm. Humble. More Tony Stark with the voice of Tom Hanks. And I secretly wonder if maybe Cossman is the real Iron Man when, wearing a custom-built heat suit, he stands at the edge of Marum crater and raises both arms high in the
air, amid a Bellagio-like fountain of lava. Over deafening molten rock splashes, Cossman conducts a private symphony with the heartbeat of the Earth. A gifted storyteller both in conversation and in his mesmerizing videos that have now gone viral, I’m struck by how he reminds me of one of the favorite men in my own life. It doesn’t feel like an interview; it feels like I’m talking to an old friend. That familiarity, that guy-next-door appeal, is in sharp juxtaposition to his life as an adventurer exploring the world as most will never see it. Cossman’s imagination and curiosity were cultivated in a childhood spent outdoors with his twin sister, building forts and tree houses on the wooded five acres of his family’s home in suburban Atlanta. The creek behind their house served as the backdrop for his first Tom Sawyer-like adventure at
age seven. “The creek would flood and go from a babbling brook to a pretty raging river,” Cossman remembers. With his sister’s help, he built a homemade raft, and together they floated as far as they could down the river behind their house “and set sail for parts unknown.” Paddling with brooms, they were several counties down before realizing they should probably find a telephone to call home. “That was definitely an eye-opening, groundbreaking moment for me to push back past the little parameters of our yard. To peer around the corner. To push past the horizon. To get up on my tippy toes and see a little bit further than I might somehow otherwise see. And that really was a high for me and something that I wanted to incorporate into my life as an adult.”
Photography: Conor Toumarkine
“We’re all creative. We’re all following our hearts to accomplish something in the world that is an expression of ourselves in its truest from...” – Sam Cossman
Photography: Conor Toumarkine
Cossman’s greatest self-discoveries have taken place beyond the boundaries of his comfort zone, and he has worked tirelessly to cultivate a life that fuels his curiosity and captures his intrigue for the unknown. “I think, as a kid you have this wild imagination and this sense of awe. It’s certainly no surprise that over time, as adults, we’re stripped of that. And I think those qualities are lovely, but they don’t necessarily serve as much of a purpose in your adult life, when logic and reason replace those more ethereal concepts.” But embracing his life all-in as an adventurer is uncharted territory for Cossman. He studied business at the University of Georgia “mostly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.” After graduation, when his friends were putting on their ties and pursuing professional moves, Cossman recalls sitting on the couch thinking about how he could further develop himself, and he decided to travel for over a year. Completely self-made, Cossman not only paid his own way through college, but also “worked double shifts, triple shifts” to make money for his world travels. He has now traveled to all seven continents. “It was a very defining moment for me… just from an existential perspective, to realize how other people in the world live and what else is out there, and you don’t just have to be one of the conformed choices that are put in front of you after you’re finishing college,” says Cossman. Returning from his travels, he had another breakthrough moment in the form of a job opportunity, working for a medical device company, that moved him from Georgia to California. “It was a flexible job, and it gave me a lot of free time. I’d have these quarter-life crises every few months where I’d say, ‘What am I doing with my life? I feel like I should be doing something else. I’m not tapping into my potential.’ So all the while, I have these passions for adventure and exploration.” About every four months, to mitigate those crises, Cossman would save up the money to go on a trip that would reinvigorate him. He would come back to work momentarily recharged, but then encounter the same feelings again four months later. He attributes these mini sabbaticals to honing his anticipation for the epic journeys ahead. Knowing one day he wanted to take a long motorcycle trip, he bought a motorcycle and became an avid motorcyclist. Knowing one day he’d like to circumnavigate the globe on a boat, he took sailing lessons and fell in love with the art of sailing. Knowing he wanted to learn how to fly, he spent years saving money to become a pilot,
and finally accomplished that goal. He took the same slow and methodical approach with climbing (he has climbed to Everest Base Camp, and summited Mount Lobuche, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Mount Rainier). He took up photography and videography, certain that they would someday be valuable skill sets for his future adventures. After eight years of honing his skills and seeking adventure, it dawned on Cossman that he still wasn’t living the life he wanted. “The breaking moment was when I was down in Haiti again. I was just reminded how quickly things can be taken from us, and of… the fragility of life, and I was inspired by the people who lost so much,” he recalls. With a new desire to live his own life in a way that was noble and honored his passions, Cossman independently funded his startup Qwake as “the Kickstarter for new adventures,” with a mission to revolutionize how new experiences come to life. “Qwake” was a name he chose by combining the words “earthquake,” the event in Haiti that helped him break through, and “awake,” to symbolize an awakening for people to live life to the fullest. “I started trying to be that change that I wanted to see in the world by facilitating unique experiences for people out there who just didn’t know how to find them,” says Cossman. In retrospect, he recalls how the company was difficult to scale. “I think I was approaching it at the wrong angle of trying to take all these people on all these journeys physically,” Cossman says thoughtfully. “In hindsight, what probably would have had a greater effect and – what I’m learning now – may have a greater effect, is sharing your journeys with them and maybe doing it in a way that reaches a larger audience. And that is through media. “People don’t necessarily have to go themselves if they don’t want to. That doesn’t mean they’re not inspired to experience it in some form. And just like embarking on this new journey, to be able to do these things and share them affects a much larger audience and hopefully creates a greater change as a result.” Committed to redefining the art of exploration by leveraging technology and innovation as a force for good, a multidisciplinary team – including videographer Conor Toumarkine, drone pilot Simon Jardine, climber and photographer Brad Ambrose, and chief scientist Jeff Marlow – joined Cossman on the ground during his expedition to generate a first-of-its-kind 3-D model of a volcanic lava lake.
“I was super excited about bringing technology into the volcano,” he explains. “I felt it was a really cool and subtle way of sharing exactly what it felt like being inside a certain place without necessarily taking my attention off the thing itself.” Kenu, a startup company with a line of well-engineered products for outdoor (and urban) enthusiasts, supported his journey by providing mobile photography related gadgets, including a protective case for his iPhone so it could survive the journey with him. Cossman, today an ambassador for the company, recognizes the significant impact Kenu had in providing sponsorship for his journey. “The company itself and its founder, Ken Minn, have an impactful ethos. They’re building a brand around pushing the boundaries of traditional thinking, and I think they really related
to what I was trying to do, in terms of taking people out of their box and stepping into the world that is lesser known.” His life of adventure isn’t without danger. Cossman compares the descent inside a volcano to a reverse Everest climb. “It’s equally extreme and challenging descending instead of ascending, and the return trip is coming back out rather than going back down.” And there have been moments for Cossman when things could have taken a turn for the worst. On his second descent at night, with about 600 feet above him and 600 feet below, his motorized descender that had just been serviced was found to have a leak and completely ran out of fuel. Cossman remembers all of the ambient light from the lava illuminating the whole tunnel with a bright orange glow. “I thought, ‘I will sit here on this
vertical wall for a while, send my teammate up to get more fuel and a couple of parts to fix it.’ And right around that time, it started raining. That rain quickly turned into a flash flood, which would send rocks barreling down the cliff. There was a moment where I just had a waterfall of multiple boulders coming down at me from 600 feet above. Quite a lot of pressure, and it’s all essentially acid rain. “There was a moment of… ’This could be the end,’ but I definitely realized the severity of the situation. It very much could have gone the wrong way, and certainly I had a moment of, ‘I cannot believe I got myself in this situation. What am I doing here? I should not- no human should be standing in this place.’ I think that momentary lapse of shifting of my attention was quickly cut back to, ‘What do I need to do next to take that next step, and resolve this
Photography: Conor Toumarkine
problem, and get myself out of here?’ “I still have a long life to live. I’m so young,” says Cossman, 33. “Obviously, I don’t want to die. but I would say I do have an unusual relationship with the concept of death. I’m not scared of it, per se. I’m not driving myself towards it. I don’t have a death wish by any stretch. I love life. But I do realize that it does come with the territory, and I’m comfortable with the risk that’s calculated for me.” Momentarily back in San Francisco, Cossman is focused on planning his next four adventures this year, each with different elements. His mission is to document extraordinary things,
phenomena, or places that are lesser known and do it in unique ways, incorporating technology as a way to extract more knowledge and share it more effectively. “We’re all creative. We’re all following our hearts to accomplish something in the world that is an expression of ourselves in its truest form, and it’s so easy to get derailed. I think so long as you honor your commitment to your passion and your sense of creativity, you will find success. And it may not be in the exact form that you expect it to be in, but it will arrive.” In his lifetime, Cossman aspires
to create a documentary about one of his adventures, but quickly goes on to note, “I would say that a cornerstone of exploratory success for me would be to go into outer space. I’ve set my sights on that, and I’ve made it my goal to go into space by the time I’m 40.” For Cossman, this is the pinnacle of exploration. “It really is one of the last true frontiers.”
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Photography: Courtesy of Daan Roosegaarde
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NETHERLANDS DAAN ROOSEGAARDE If Daan Roosegaarde has his way, one day streets and paths will be illuminated by innovative glowin-the-dark technologies instead of traditional lighting. He has even incorporated his technology to create glow-in-the- dark plant life and stones.
Photography: Courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup
THE OCEAN CLEANUP Taking Out the Great Pacific Garbage Words: Justin Saint Jean Despite seeming like something straight out of a dystopian nightmare, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a colloquial term for the vast concentrations of marine debris in areas of the North Pacific Ocean – is unfortunately very real. With approximately 8 million additional tons of plastic per year joining the 5.25 trillion pieces already circulating in the world’s oceans, the sheer scale of the devastation is staggering. However, these figures do nothing to deter Boyan Slat, a 21-year-old Dutch inventor and environmentalist who sees a clear solution to the problem. Slat’s nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup is devoted to eradicating the plastic waste that is crowding oceans, devastating marine species, and infiltrating the food chain with toxic chemicals. Rather than spending time and resources to manually chase down the junk, much of which has disintegrated into infinitesimally small pieces invisible to the naked eye, Slat’s passive method for plastic collection utilizes the ocean currents themselves. His design relies on the tendency for trash to accumulate in areas where currents converge, known as gyres. With a network of floating barriers placed strategically around the gyres, the buoyant plastic is forced to the center, where a conveyer belt
and pump system collects it for pickup, and sea life passes below unfettered. The cleanup system’s design started modestly as a high school science project motivated by Slat’s summer diving trip to Greece in 2011, where he recalled seeing more plastic bags than fish. But it subsequently won the then-teenager “Best Technical Design” honors from Delft University of Technology and earned him a speaking slot at TEDxDelft the following year. Slat’s TEDx Talk, “How Oceans Can Clean Themselves,” went viral and led to an influx of support for The Ocean Cleanup’s vision. Last year, after a team of 100 volunteer scientists and engineers concluded the passive system was likely feasible and cost-effective, The Ocean Cleanup raised over $2 million with the support of over 38,000 funders from 160 countries in just 100 days, making it the most successful nonprofit crowdfunding effort in history, according to Seeds, the platform that facilitated the campaign. With these resources, The Ocean Cleanup initiated large-scale operational pilots to bring it one step closer its vision of removing half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the next ten years.
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“Behind any success there needs to be desire and enjoyment.” – Sasha Digiulian
Photography: Keith Ladzinski
Photography: Chris Noble
SASHA DIGIULIAN On Top of the World Words: Emily Rudolph & Molly Corso
Free climber Sasha DiGiulian possesses an extraordinary skill for making the impossible look effortless. Known best for scaling several of the world’s most challenging ascents, she appears so collected in photographs of her climbs, it’s easy to forget she’s gripping the rock face with only her fingertips while dangling 1,000 feet above the ground. Holding the world title for PanAmerican champion since 2004, the young athlete says it is not the feat of specifically-graded climbs that draws her attention, but “the experiences
associated with these feats.” Attributing her success primarily to a fierce passion and love for the sport, DiGiulian explains it all started with a flicker of inspiration. “I was always involved in different sports: ballet, figure skating, soccer, swim team, tennis. Then, my brother had a birthday party at a local climbing gym, and I fell in love with the sport. I didn’t even know it was a sport at the time; I just knew I wanted to return and go climbing again.” DiGiulian acted on that desire and quickly acquired a membership to
the gym where she was able to begin perfecting her craft. “We practiced each Saturday morning,” she recalls. “One Saturday, I walked in on a youth regional championship taking place. I was eight [years old]. I also had steadily begun climbing outside at the New River Gorge in West Virginia and the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.” A critical tipping point for the budding competitor, DiGiulian remembers this moment as a clear affirmation of the path ahead. Flash forward 15 years, and DiGiulian, now age 22, continues to
Photography: Keith Ladzinski climb even higher. Even though her climbing accolades have helped earn her professional ambassador roles for such iconic brands as Red Bull, Adidas, and GoPro, she continues to pursue her studies in nonfiction writing and business full-time as a third-year student at Columbia University. “The element that has been a driving force in my climbing career is that climbing is what I am most passionate about. Behind any success there needs to be desire and enjoyment. Then also the community, the opportunities, and the training,” DiGiulian shares. “Climbing is a mind-body sport. When I am climbing my best, I am solely focused on
what my next move is. I am not thinking about anything else but the rock in front of me. My movement and my thoughts converge. I am existing in the present.” In 2011, DiGiulian won the award for Female Overall World Champion at the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Championships, and to this day, she is the youngest woman ever to complete a climb rated 5.14d on the Yosemite Decimal System, which assesses the danger or difficulty of a given climb. Today at the height of her profession, DiGiulian is focused on challenging herself to continue reaching higher. She views competitions where she “falls short” of her own expectations
as opportunities “that really highlight how I can improve and move forward.” Looking to the future, DiGiulian shares, “I want to push my limits in climbing and to define my own career. I love to travel, to explore, and to embark on challenges. I also want to inspire other women to set their own standards,” DiGiulian concludes. “I would like to inspire as many people as possible to live their passion.”
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Singing Without Sound “The hardest part about singing without sounds is trusting yourself and the other musicians. When I lost my hearing, I lost faith in myself. I felt that the one talent I had was taken away from me. After the mourning process, I realized I have several gifts. One is near-perfect pitch, which I had never trusted before. I didn’t realize how rare it was. – Mandy Harvey Words: Paige Zeigler Photography: Katie Emrich
As a child with eustachian tube deformations, Mandy Harvey endured ear infections and several surgeries growing up, but she still sang in the church choir from the age of four and later went on to perform in several different choirs simultaneously throughout high school. Harvey was an eighteen-year-old freshman in the Music Education program at Colorado State University when she became profoundly deaf. “I never really had a concrete reason for having the hearing loss, but it was getting worse with time. Just at a slow progression. When I hit 18, it sped up. I’ve been told I have a neurological issue with cranial nerve eight, the cochlear nerve – it doesn’t fire information in – and that, coupled with scar tissue build-up from years of infections led to losing 30 decibels in just over a month in October of 2006. By January of 2007, I was legally deaf. And a few months later in March, it bottomed out. “I remember waking up that next morning and thinking that I had fallen down a well. I couldn’t move, and there was no possible light in the future.” She was forced to drop music classes and told she was no longer a music major. “All I tried to do the rest of the semester was make sure I breathed. Time moved past me and I just sat there and watched it pass me by,” Harvey remembers. She left the university and went home, but quickly grew unhappy
with the idea of just letting the world pass her by. “I started to try to find myself again.” And she has found herself again in a spectacular way. In a performance I attended last year, Harvey began with a pitch-perfect cover of “Smile,” a song she used to sing to herself when she was upset, as a reminder that that one day she would be smiling again. She dazzled the audience with her jazz songs and then performed new compositions on the spot with a handful of non-musical special guests. In awe of her sound and her talent, I ask how she does it. “I learned music theory, which is a huge reason I can find and understand what I am singing. I use a visual tuner to make sure I am singing middle C correctly, then take a piece of music and find the starting note. Once I have that note, I can learn a song by reading the sheet music. When I am singing a concert, I have all the music pre-selected and charted to fit keys I sing best in. Never any surprises. “Writing a song is a new process for me. I just tend to think of a tune in my head and I sing it aloud. I will use a recorder to capture it and have someone else write it out for me, so I can see what it sounded like. “I also used to play guitar before losing my hearing, so I understand that kind of music. I prefer a uke these days. I start out with a chord, and just mess around with chords within that key
until I write a progression that works in my head. “Writing music and performing is terrifying. It’s one thing to sing a song you haven’t heard before, but it’s another to perform one that no one has heard before.” Harvey is also connected with a handful of inspiring organizations like No Barriers, a non-profit that helps people with and without disabilities accomplish their dreams past what they believe to be their barrier. A community with nothing but possibilities. Her No Barriers pledge in 2015 is to teach American Sign Language to her husband Travis, so they can have full conversations without sound. So far, he has learned a new word every day and a some small phrases. Harvey is excited about how it is growing their relationship. “I have come a long way, but I still have days when I cry because I long to listen to a new song that came out on the radio. Or to hear my husband’s voice. But I get to see things other people do not. I pay attention to things others do not notice, and I experience music in a different way.”
Photography: Katie Emrich
MELANIE PERKINS CEO & Co-Founder of Canva
Words: Rosalind Fournier & Paige Zeigler Photography: Christopher Morris
S y d n e y, Au st ra l i a- b a s e d entrepreneur Melanie Perkins has a singular philosophy about tackling obstacles in life and in business: “Every challenge fits into two baskets: things I can change and things I can’t,” Perkins explains. “I believe almost everything fits into the first basket.” As co-founder and CEO of Canva, she’s set out to change the world of design through a free webbased tool aimed to make “design simple for everyone.” “The Canva journey began back in 2007, while I was still studying at the University of Western Australia,” Perkins explains. She saw many students grow frustrated while teaching them how to use programs like InDesign and Photoshop. “I realized that in the future, design would be completely different. I knew that it was going to be online, collaborative, and simple.” That was the impetus behind Perkins’ first company, Fusion Yearbooks, which she co-founded with Cliff Obrecht. Created to help schools produce professional-looking yearbooks, Fusion – launched when
Perkins was only 19 – is now the largest school yearbook publisher in Australia and has expanded into France and New Zealand. The success of Fusion fueled Perkins and Obrecht to project its core idea onto a larger stage. “We believed our technology was much more powerful than the yearbook market alone and wanted to pursue the bigger vision,” says Perkins. The pair joined forces with Cameron Adams, who had worked at Google on the now-discontinued Wave product, and Canva was born. Canva makes graphic design easy by providing stock photographs, graphic elements, and illustrations that users can access with a simple drag-and-drop design tool. Aiming for simplicity, Canva was designed for people to open the app and to see only opportunities, not obstacles. Though the concepts for Fusion Yearbooks and Canva seemed to flow at lightning speed, Perkins admits that securing investors, pulling together teams, and actually building the products have been daunting. “Every stage has been incredibly challenging
but an incredible adventure,” she says. “When I have a goal, I see the mountains that I need to conquer and the problems I need to solve to build a product that people will love.” And Canva is now loved by millions. “We now have over two million users who’ve created more than 16 million designs,” Perkins says. “More than one design a second is now created on Canva.” Since the interview, the number of designs created has risen to over 20 million, as tracked by a ticker on Canva’s website, which further fuels Perkins excitement for the company’s future. “We have achieved only 1 percent so far of where we think we can take Canva,” she explains, calling her job “ridiculously fun.” “I love coming to work each day and figuring out how we can achieve the big vision we have,” Perkins says. Even though she sees the realization of Canva’s opportunity as being in its infancy, it’s clear Canva is already helping millions realize their design dreams more easily by making anyone a designer on demand.
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Winging it With Eric James
FROM MAGIC TO MAVERICK Words: Rosalind Fournier & Paige Zeigler Photography: Courtesy of Eric James
By his own admission, Eric James is going to space by accident. A milestone along his wild entrepreneurial path includes introducing himself to Sir Richard Branson and being hand-picked to join Virgin Galactic’s mission to space. “I was kind of an accidental entrepreneur,” James admits. A decade ago, James was just a young man about to fail out of high school in Boulder, Colorado. Already then a gifted filmmaker, James creatively earned back the credit hours required for graduation by teaching videography lessons to other students. Following graduation, he completed the two-year certificate program at Colorado Film School. But after exploring the industry on trips to New York and Los Angeles, he decided against pursuing a film career. Back in Boulder, even Blockbuster Video found him unhirable. Suffering from high anxiety, he could barely make small talk during the interview. Dejected, he turned to one of the few things that soothed him: performing magic tricks. Armed with a deck of cards, a computer, and his video camera, James started posting his videos online (in a pre-YouTube era) to see if anyone could figure out the tricks. “And something crazy happened,” he recalls.“People started asking if they could buy them.” After collecting payment through PayPal, a new service at the time, James would burn the instructional video of his trick performance to DVD, label the disc with the trick’s name in Sharpie marker, and ship it to his customers. “Maybe a week into it, I get a call from Murphy’s Magic Supplies, which is the biggest magic distributor, saying, ‘We want to order a thousand of this, a thousand of that…’ And I was on the other end of the phone: ‘Uh, I’m just a kid in my bedroom. I don’t know how to do that, and I don’t have any money, and I’m just burning these DVDs on my computer.’ And they said, “Oh, okay. Would it help if we overnighted your check? Like, $10,000?’” James still remembers receiving his first-ever FedEx overnight envelope the next day, with the check from Murphy’s enclosed. It was the catalyst for his first company, Expert Magic, under which he produced several bestselling magic DVDs and also worked with David Blaine
on new magic for some of his specials. Expert Magic set the precedent for an array of other ventures. James’ large-scale photo-printing business, PosterBrain, was one of the first in the industry to offer same-day production on orders without a rush charge to customers. A speedometer app he developed was later used by a driver who broke the Bonneville Speedway world record. James even co-founded a successful line of dance-instruction videos, despite having no dance experience. In the wake of Expert Magic’s success, James’ first priority sent him straight to the Boulder airport, so he could manifest his childhood dream of obtaining his pilot’s license. He traces his passion for flight back to his childhood, flying in his step-grandfather’s glider. “I loved the freeness of flying, the excitement, the challenge, and the technical aspect of it,” he remembers. Indirectly, his love affair with aviation led him to believe in the principle that “proximity is power.” “So if there’s something that you’re into or you need, you’ve got to get close to it – physically close to it,” he explains. One day, long after he’d fulfilled his dream of getting his pilot’s license, he decided he needed to move to a new office… at the airport. “I went to the office and said, ‘I’m an entrepreneur. I don’t have an airplane, but I would love to work in a hangar.’ And they looked at me like I was totally crazy.” He persisted and eventually found a set of furnished offices that housed a now-defunct private jet operation. With a view of a fighter jet and a helicopter, James calls his office “the coolest place I’ve ever seen.” But his new digs have given him more than a nice view. They’ve given him the omnipotent proximity to like-minded people in aviation and those with the wealth to pursue it. Being surrounded by fellow entrepreneurs and affluent aviators fueled the development of the hedge fund James launched to generate money to support an even loftier goal: creating seasteads. “Seasteads,” he explains, “are floating modular cities, so you can try out new forms of government, new currencies, new whatever you want to try… They are forced to be completely self-sustaining
just because of the nature of being out on the ocean. We already have the technology to be totally sustainable, but we don’t use it all at once because we don’t have to. You can prove all of these technologies on a test ground, and then roll them back into society as a whole to get to this sustainable place we need to be.” To create the mental bandwidth required to launch his hedge fund, James discovered he had to stop from “drowning in to-do list items, most of which I didn’t even find exciting anymore.” What he learned about traditional time management philosophies is that they didn’t work, and people never stuck with them. The result: he built DaVinci, an app based on artificial intelligence, for managing time in a whole new way – to free people from overwhelm and keep them connected to their dreams. Based on artificial intelligence, the
app “gets smarter and smarter about how to manage life” by utilizing time tools designed to reverse a to-do list and destroy stress. By downloading “your dreams, goals, objectives, and even synthetic demands into DaVinci’s external brain,” mental bandwidth is freed to keep you connected to what you want most in life. In collaboration with Delivering Happiness, a company whose mission is to inspire more happiness in the world, James published a piece on their website introducing DaVinci to the world. With an epic catalog of successful businesses already under his belt, James continues to fly high. James set his sights on meeting Sir Richard Branson, adventurer and founder of the Virgin Group, and not only did he meet his goal, but he also convinced Branson to select him as a photographer for the first Virgin Galactic mission to space. “My goal is to
go to space and then open a gallery at the Spaceport that’ll take you through this whole story of Earth as utopia.” He elaborates, “It comes down to this question that I’ve started asking, which is, ‘What if we’re in heaven right now?’ And if we were scouring through space as humanity trying to find our utopia and we came upon Earth, this glowing blue orb, we’d be like, ‘Jackpot! We nailed it!’ It’s beautiful, there’s all this diversity – dolphins and waterfalls, deserts, it’s hot and it’s cold – and there’s everything. It might be the only thing that’s this beautiful.” With the power of proximity, there’s no doubt James’ trip to space will manifest a new genesis of ideas that will help to empower humanity to dream more thoughtfully with new skies as the limit. “Part of me doesn’t believe that this is my real life,” James says. “But it is. And you can have this too.”
“I was kind of an accidental entrepreneur.” – Eric James
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HONEY ON TAP: FLOW HIVE
A Beekeeper’s Dream
“Flow was inspired so many people could get into beekeeping for the first time.” – Stuart Anderson Words: Nathanael Rubin Photography: Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar (Courtesy of Flow)
With their hearts set on saving the world’s bees, Australian beekeepers Cedar Anderson and his father Stuart have completely revolutionized the process of harvesting honey. They estimate that their new invention, the Flow Hive, cuts a whopping 90% of labor out of harvesting. “The traditional method of extracting honey from Langstroth
frames is hard, hot, sweaty work that requires a decent sized space, a centrifuge [for spinning out the honey], and a means of filtering out the bits of wax and dead bees,” says Cedar. “Bees always die in the process, the hive is completely disrupted causing a huge amount of stress on the bees, and you are pretty much guaranteed to be stung multiple times over the weekend it takes
you to perform the process.” Flow Hive reduces that entire process to the turn of a lever, leaving the bees virtually undisturbed. “Many years ago,” Cedar recalls, “I went down to one of my beehives that I knew was a pretty wild hive. When I opened the lid, my suspicions were confirmed. The bees weren’t happy about being disturbed. The bees
Sydney became grumpier and started to sting me through my bee suit. I put the hive back together, squashing bees as the lid went on, and ended up running away across the field [while] thinking, ‘There has to be a better way!’ So, my dad and I set to work on a decade-long task of inventing the beekeeper’s dream.” Cedar gave up his job as a paragliding instructor to join his father in creating a contraption that would simplify the process once and for all. And they succeeded. The patented Flow Hive design works by parting the frames vertically within the hive, splitting each cell
apart and forming zigzag channels for the honey to flow freely down into a jar through a tube. The wax remains in the hive, so the bees don’t need to completely rebuild the comb, which also means less work for the bees, who can then focus on producing more honey. It’s a pretty sweet deal. Flow Hive is the product of the most successful crowdfunding campaign in Indiegogo’s history. Six months into its campaign today, Flow Hive has garnered $12 million, having had an original goal of $70,000. People from all over the world have ordered systems and donated in support of the Andersons’
brilliant innovation and their cause: the appreciation of bees and what they contribute to our ecosystem as pollinators for all kinds of crops. Without bees, the produce section would be barren. “[Flow Hive has] gone far beyond our wildest hopes,” Stuart says. “It’s also really exciting that Flow has inspired so many people to get into beekeeping for the first time.” He adds, “What’s been most exciting for me has been seeing how much love there is out there for bees. That’s really what Flow is all about.”
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RUGANZU BRUNO Eco Art and the Power of Play
Words: Lorelei Loveridge Photography: Mark Kassi
After more than a decade of forging his identity as an artist – first mastering what he calls the “art of survival” as a youth hawking paintings of Ugandan gorillas to tourists before he was orphaned at the age of 18, and then as a university art student on scholarship – the world has come to love eco-artist Ruganzu Bruno for something else: building playgrounds out of recyclables with children as his co-conspirators. Quite literally renewing communities
that never knew such love, he constructs jungle gyms out of pop bottles to dazzle the developing world. Having lived a roller coaster of a life – on the move with three older sisters and a mother who taught him how to “hustle” to get to the end of a good day – today Bruno is a parent, teacher, and lifelong learner who yearns to put ideas into action. He lectures part-time at Kyambogo University in Kampala, while finishing a master’s degree in vocational
pedagogy in Norway. The aim is to develop a method to scale the work he does, so people everywhere can build a playground out of materials that would otherwise be wasted. Bruno’s depth of vision has won him such international accolades as TED’s “City 2.0” award for urban innovation. It is, no doubt, because he invokes the visions of communities drowning in deprivation and waste, craving something better. “Eco art is not just
about me, but about the togetherness of everybody,” Bruno explains. “Looking at the environmental problems that we were facing in my country, I figured out a way to carry a message and use this platform to share ideas.” The visceral pain of those living in slums and the inequity of poverty has driven Bruno to want to help the future leaders of Uganda – and children everywhere – to “touch and smell many things,” so that in seemingly hopeless situations people can develop a relationship with the broken environments they live in and grow the capacity to take care of these places. “Nature has given us its test,” Bruno says.
“It’s impatient... the law of physics... every action has a reaction. Whatever we do, it’s going to ‘rupture’ back. It’s not safe for our next generation. It’s selfish of us.” But he has figured out how to spark the imagination of the poor with little but their needs, dreams, and desires... and the paltry resources at their fingertips: plastic bottles and bags, tires, and old car parts. “Art is already there,” Bruno realizes. The environment is the canvas, and the tools for creation are ever present; all that is needed is engagement. “When the art is... where the people are, it stands in the community,” he explains, “And that is beautiful.”
So, Bruno gathers the children and asks them, without direction, to draw their ideal playground. Then he evokes ideas through a dialogue and idea-sharing process that he calls “ours” – a collaborative effort. Once he has enough material to establish a concept, Bruno announces, “We’re gonna build it together, and it’s gonna be big.” Social media has helped the world see what a profound contribution Bruno brings to the world. His motley eco-playgrounds are a source of pride to communities that once had very little. And Bruno’s future is bright with collaborators reaching out from across the globe, ready to help.
“Eco art is not just about me, but about the togetherness of everybody.” – Ruganzu Bruno
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CHANGEPRENEUR Grace Clapham
“I am someone who’s constantly looking at change and changing.” – Grace Clapham Words: Molly Corso & Paige Zeigler Photography: Courtesy of Grace Clapham
Growing up in Singapore with an Indonesian-Dutch mother and an Australian father, Grace Clapham describes herself as a “third culture kid.” She remembers a palpable “disconnect between Eastern and Western societies, and this lack of understanding that affected the way we interact and integrate with one another.” When her father died in 2011, Clapham says the frustration of this disconnect hit her even more and she remembers “looking for something other than a traditional educational path of an MBA, or a path of taking a yoga retreat or going on a sabbatical” to help her find her way. “Life events are really things that you can’t predict. I was running my own business and then my father passed away... I realized I wanted to seek more meaningful work,” says Clapham. “As I started to reconfigure and redesign my life, I started thinking about how I, as a third culture kid, could make the change within myself and in the community, and in the region and the cities, and for individuals, as well.” With communities, collaboration, impact, and change as the four pillars of her work, Clapham launched The Change School as a means to offer programs that help people specifically address life’s difficulties “at times of change and transformation... whether that change is a new career path, the launch of a sabbatical, a relocation, or the loss of a loved one.”
“I am someone who’s constantly looking at change and changing,” Clapham says, adding that her “changepreneur” title came out of the necessity to explain her mission to others without forcing herself to fit into traditional “names or boxes.” Although currently based in Singapore, Clapham embraces her identity as a global citizen and is energized by how the The Change School programs are simultaneously “Asia-based but globally relevant.” “Our message doesn’t only resonate in an Asian context,” Clapham explains. “It resonates in a global context, and we’re about global citizens.” She sees the future of learning and the future of work intersecting at a point when people welcome “lifelong growth in themselves and [in] the work that they do.” Though Clapham has had a distinct impact on countless individuals, her work has also not gone unnoticed in the public sphere. In 2014, Clapham won the “Inspirational Leadership” award at the global Talent Unleashed Awards judged by Sir Richard Branson. Clapham acknowledges the recognition by Branson as “a huge moment,” but believes that the best is still to come: “I just hope... to contribute to humanity in some shape or form. What we hope,’ she adds, ‘is that we’re the school you never graduate from,” noting that learning and growing is a lifelong endeavor.
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MENTORS IN ACTION
RYAN VAN DUZER
ESPY Award-winning athlete, mixed Epic mountaineer and Emmy Award- TV host for Travel & Discovery martial artist, and bestselling author winning adventure filmmaker channels, filmmaker, and pro cyclist
All- American skier, expert mountaineer, and pro adventure racer
Olympic gymnast & gold medalist
Award-winning singer and musician who is deaf
VP of Creative at IMG Live and former Mountaineer who helped lead the first Filmmaker; producer and director of NCAA “Athlete of the Year” blind man to summit Mount Everest “Finding Joe”
THE HIGHER PURPOSE PROJECT A New Generation of Leaders Answers the Call to Adventure
Photography: Shaina Koren Cinematography Words: Emily Rudolph
ANSWERING THE CALL
At a time when there is seemingly unlimited access to people and content, it is increasingly difficult to identify opportunities that offer lasting value. In an effort to navigate this oversaturation, The Higher Purpose Project curates changemakers and industry leaders from around the globe who are committed to elevating their impact in the world, and invites people of all walks of life to connect with them in unique, stimulating environments.
Fostering a conscious realization of author Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey,” The Higher Purpose Project offers bi-annual intimate, fourday summit experiences comprised of outdoor adventures, interactive workshops, and personal introductions to hand-selected mentors. “With the Higher Purpose Project, we wanted to create this adventurous, fun experience for people to really connect with outliers, stay in perspective, and meet [their] goals,” says co-founder Dan Adams. “We wanted
to create a gritty, genuine, authentic experience, not focused on any aspect of life coaching, but [that] cultivates unique insights from all different types of people.” The platform has gained international attention for its grounded approach to both experiential learning and leadership development, uniting its members with world-class influencers ranging from Olympic gold medalwinning gymnast Kerri Strug to Emmy award-winning filmmaker Michael Brown.
“QUOTE BY WILL GO HERE” - HIGHER PURPOSE PROJECT
Photography: Courtesy of Higher Purpose Project
Kerri Strug, Victoria Gigante, and Dan Adams
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD
After four years working in finance, co-founder Dan Adams became inspired by a documentary featuring Kyle Maynard, the two-time ESPY award winner for “Male Athlete with a Disability,” who was born with arms that end at his elbows and legs at his knees (a condition known as congenital amputation). After connecting with Maynard at an event, Adams soon teamed up with him to co-create and co-lead Mission Kilimanjaro, an initiative epitomized by Maynard’s successful bear climb to the 19,341 foot summit of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. “For me,” Adams shares, “[Mission] Kilimanjaro was that opportunity to prove not only to myself, but to those I loved, that if you hold to your beliefs, you can confront fears and limitations. You have the ability to build a vision and see that through. I think it’s all an adventure. And taking leaps to do those things is hard,” he adds. “You have to believe in this vision that hasn’t come to fruition yet, and you have to constantly show up.” This wasn’t the first time Adams attempted to prove this notion. Prior to Mission Kilimanjaro, Adams had set out to realize the goal of becoming a successful NCAA athlete. During his time as an undersized middle linebacker for the College of The Holy Cross football team, Adams, at 5’9”, led the NCAA in unassisted tackles in 2005 and set the current NCAA record for most unassisted tackles in a single game (21).
“He possesses that mindset,” Maynard explains. “He’s a talented athlete – but he’s not the most talented athlete in the world – yet he broke a Division I college football record for tackles. It’s crazy. So he gets on that level, too, about the mindset stuff in a [unique] way.” Maynard continues, “Without Dan, I don’t know if [climbing Kilimanjaro] would have been possible. When we came together, our whole idea was just to spread that message: that you actively create the life that you want to live. Sometimes you feel like you’re smashed against the rocks. Sometimes you feel like you’re ready to give in and quit. But [then you get] to that deep core place – that deep, visceral spot where you’re like, ‘I’m going to make this work no matter what; I’m going to create the life that I want to live because I said so.’ “That’s what we wanted to get across to people, and I think in some respects we accomplished it, and in the grand scheme of things I wouldn’t say we failed, but I think we’ve realized that you have to connect the dots a different way for people to really apply something to their own lives.”
SEIZING THE SWORD
With this in mind after Mission Kilimanjaro, Adams knew the time had come to lay the foundation for his experiential platform. He began to gather the amazing people he’d met along his journey into a single space, sensing the power of their collective impact. He recruited friends like
Maynard who had done some “really cool things,” including entrepreneur and future Virgin Galactic space photographer Eric James, All-American skier and mountaineer Karen Lundgren, and film director Pat Soloman, whose award-winning documentary “Finding Joe” features a cast including Deepak Chopra, Rashida Jones, and Tony Hawk. “Initially, [Higher Purpose Project] was kind of like a hang-out in certain aspects,” says Adams. “I knew the power of having a strong network and wanted to remove the barriers in connecting people. I believe that you genuinely grow through living – through your direct life experiences.” Then, an unexpected catalyst to the organization’s evolution came about in 2014 when Victoria Gigante attended her first summit. Aside from being an avid traveler and yoga therapist, Gigante holds a double masters in Psychology and Psychological Counseling from Columbia University and is a former Navy lieutenant. With a strong background in developing mentorship programs, including six years as director of the Academic Center for Excellence for the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Gigante returned from her first summit feeling that The Higher Purpose Project could deliver a much greater impact. “When you work in one industry for a while, it’s easy to lose perspective about how you provide value,” Gigante notes. “This is especially true in the military and other large organizations where it is easy to get lost in the routine,
failing to see a bigger picture beyond the daily responsibilities. My goal with getting involved with The Higher Purpose Project was to find a way to help more people feel empowered about their personal lives and how they provide value to their local community.” Having defeated tremendous odds in her own lifetime, Gigante offered great insight into rebuilding the summit framework. “The thing that I love about Victoria,” Adams says, “is that she has tons of valuable life experiences, and I think that is a hallmark for a great teacher. [She also] overcame a rare heart condition to go into the military and become a distinguished collegiate distance runner. It’s amazing to see all the obstacles she has overcome to get to this stage of her life.”
Collaborating for the first time, Gigante and Adams joined efforts to optimize The Higher Purpose Project’s approach. “The Boston summit [in 2014],” Gigante explains, “was our test run to see if we could combine our strengths and provide more value to more people. We were very fortunate to complement each other’s strengths and improve the organization as a whole.” Dialing in on the Higher Purpose Project’s core values, Gigante and Adams laid the bricks, designing a program that incorporates magnificent landscape settings, intense outdoor challenges, interactive leadership workshops, and small-group dining with distinguished influencers of exploration and discovery. Following the success in Boston,
Adams and Gigante officially relaunched The Higher Purpose Project as co-founders. Today, the summits have evolved into training grounds that not only break down physical and mental limitations, but also empower and rejuvenate by way of creative expression. The summits include gourmet organic meals, morning yoga and meditation, and outdoor team-building exercises like ropes course challenges, rock climbing, and watersports – all conducted in an engaging environment “that doesn’t allow for podiums, canned speeches, and PowerPoint presentations,” as Adams likes to put it.
RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR
Gearing up for the next summit, Adams and Gigante continue to lead by example, actively pushing themselves to elevate and expand, welcoming new obstacles in the form of unfamiliar adventure. “We see amazing things in the world, and we think it’s magic,” Adams shares. “It’s just being willing to be a person that asks questions – a person that explores.” Since 2013, The Higher Purpose Project has directed ten transformative summits in beautiful locations around the U.S. “A lot of times these things people really gravitate towards, or have this romantic idea towards, are hard work.” Adams adds. “It’s brutal, and it’s not that sweet. The key, I think, is just having that curiosity, the courage to ask questions. Be a little uncomfortable sometimes, and just seek those adventures… Because once you see the truth, it’s not all magic anymore.”
Kyle Maynard with Dan Adams
“The key... is just having that curiosity, the courage to ask questions. Be a little uncomfortable sometimes, and just seek those adventures...” – Dan Adams
Photography: Shaina Koren Cinematography
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING... ERIC JAMES “The Higher Purpose Project (HPP) is alchemy. The type of transformations that have happened for me and those around me at HPP are truly beyond what one could ever describe without witnessing it firsthand. The HPP team creates an environment I have never experienced anywhere else. I always leave having truly fallen in love with life more each time I attend. If you are a human being, then I can not recommend HPP highly enough. Just do it, and you’ll quickly see what I’m talking about.”
SHAINA KOREN “I had literally no idea what to expect going into HPP, and to be honest, I was nervous to attend. During the weekend, fears were tested and my dreams were expressed to a loving authentic community full of dreamers, changemakers, and positive influencers. HPP gave me the tools, support, and confidence I needed to continue on this crazy filmmaking journey and I would recommend it to anyone looking for more connection, purpose, and support on their journey through this beautiful life.”
MIKE ESPOSITO “It’s like entering a world where everything and everyone comes together to empower you to be the best version of yourself. Dan and Victoria curate the perfect environment that allows you to learn, but also to contribute toward the growth of a collective of tomorrow’s changemakers. I came in with goals and determination, and through the experience, gained clarity on who I could be and the tools I can harness to amplify my impact on the world around me – not to mention a network of forever friends to share this journey with.”
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A MAGAZINE FOR INSPIRED CREATIVE LIVING.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Paige Zeigler creativ.com/paige
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ana Bustamante creativ.com/ana
COMMUNITY MANAGER Emily Rudolph creativ.com/emily
SENIOR EDITOR Jessica Cyrell creativ.com/jessica
CREATIV CO-FOUNDERS Blake Brinker & Brad Thomas PUBLISHING ADVISOR Alex Cyrell COPY ADVISORS Chase Hall Susan Michelson COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Courtesy of Kyle Maynard COVER DESIGN magfirst
LEGAL STUFF Content published in CREATIV Magazine may have been licensed by independent contributors in which case the respective copyrights are the property of the respective owners. No content of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the express permission of the respective copyright holders and/or the publisher. Opinions expressed in CREATIV Magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine, its editors, its management, or its advertisers.
Published on Nov 16, 2015
Published on Nov 16, 2015
NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES. If this issue doesn’t inspire...we don’t know what will. It’s what’s inside (this issue) that counts:+ Cover star...