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Britt Kasco: “Here Is How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”

Hover over middle ground: Don’t add to someone’s stress. It is harmful to minimize someone else’s fear or discomfort by downplaying the situation; opt to listen and provide hopeful information. It is also harmful to spread sensationalist news stories designed to inflame fear; if you are inclined to spread awareness, opt to share facts-based articles that […]

Hover over middle ground: Don’t add to someone’s stress. It is harmful to minimize someone else’s fear or discomfort by downplaying the situation; opt to listen and provide hopeful information. It is also harmful to spread sensationalist news stories designed to inflame fear; if you are inclined to spread awareness, opt to share facts-based articles that stay away from politicizing this event. It is best if we all do our best to educate ourselves on the situation, practice safety protocol, and hover in the middle.


As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Britt Kasco.

Britt Kasco is the Founder and CEO of Origin Travels — a travel company that places off the beaten path adventures in arms-reach of womxn.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Assoon as I learned to walk, I wandered, and got lost regularly (my poor parents). You could say that I’ve always had an innate pull to see more. I chose International Relations in university to learn about life beyond my four walls and borders, which propelled me into a 4-month backpacking trip through South East Asia. On this trip I fell in love with dining in the homes of locals, tasting new flavours, adjusting my eyes to colours and concepts I had never seen before. Just as memorable, however, were the hard times: hyper-budgeting, unsafe situations, hard hikes, limited connection to home. Everyday it felt like I was thrown outside my comfort zone and made to adapt; natural forces compelled me to push my body harder than I thought it could go, trust in the guidance of strangers, and find my way in a new city without wifi. Once I returned home, I realized that I felt more confident in the decisions I was making, I felt more sure of myself, sure of others. I felt alive. I fell in love with exploring the world, and exploring the woman I could be in it.

I sought out a career in travel and landed at G Adventures — the world’s largest, small-group adventure tourism company. I worked my way horizontally through the business and gained familiarity with ground operations, customer service, crisis management, buying and contracting tours, and designing itineraries. During this time, I recognized that the mainstream market lacked products that were female-focused; and any boutique sized female-focused companies focused on luxury, yoga, detox, and instagrammable experiences (and were all very expensive). Why weren’t there any travel companies for real women, with real budgets, who just want real experiences? After some thinking, I quit my job and decided to build it myself. This is when Origin Travels was born!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Within the first three weeks of quitting my job to start my company, my grandmother fell ill with cancer and I became her primary caregiver as she was in and out of the hospital for the last eight months of her life; since I didn’t have the capacity for a part-time job, I began to draw from my line of credit to fund the business which lasted through the first year. Fast forward to the first months of Y2, and the reality of debt, slow growth and impostor syndrome started to kick in. I opened up to my mother about my doubts, to which she suggested I enroll in a real-estate program as a back-up (the program was one year self-taught, but would be changing to a two-year college program by the end of the month). It was a very tempting offer, but I couldn’t help thinking that taking the opportunity would mean abandoning all the hard work I had put into OT. I had until the application deadline — April 30th — to make my decision. When discussing my options over lunch with my mentor, she raised that she had a friend who just sold a company in the travel industry she could connect me with, and maybe give me guidance during this uncertain time. I took it as an omen (couldn’t decide if it was a bad, or good one) that the lunch date was also set for April 30th; regardless, I knew I would walk away from this meeting with a gut feeling I could follow.

The meeting was great; she brought along her son and former business partner, Jason, and both told the tale of building a travel business over thirty years. I explained the potential I saw for my business and was more transparent about my struggles than I thought I could be with two people I had just met.. Long story short, I arrived home and was met with an email from Jason suggesting that he saw potential in the company, and wanted to be involved. Needless to say, I completely forgot about the real-estate application that night. It might have been my real first experience with serendipity.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

When I think about creating a fantastic work culture, I default to an interview I heard featuring Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia. He has been praised in the business world for his unconventional management approach — including flexibility in working/vacation hours, (3) on-site child care centres. He cites that the key to running a sustainable “un-company” is building your company from Day One with employees who work well under these conditions. I regularly keep this in mind as I am in the early stages of growing my team, in addition to hiring people who can passionately mobilize behind my company mission.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson gives a sobering reflection on the expectation humans place on themselves to be extraordinary.

All day, everyday, we are flooded with the truly extraordinary. The best of the best. The worst of the worst. The greatest physical feats. The funniest jokes. The most upsetting news. The scariest threats. Nonstop… This flood of extreme information has conditioned us to believe that exceptionalism is the new normal. And because we are all average most of the time, the deluge of exceptional information drives us to feel pretty damn insecure and desperate. Because clearly we are somehow not good enough. So more and more we feel the need to compensate with entitlement and addiction. We cope the only way we know how: either through self-aggrandizing or through other-aggrandizing.

As an entrepreneur, I am in a constant state of trying to prove the worth of myself and my company within a hyper-competitive space that praises rapid growth. There is a lot of work that goes into business, but the stress comes most from the wild expectations we put on ourselves. In a slow-growth reality, it’s easy to feel inadequate and insufficient. This analysis really helped me to step back and recalibrate healthy goals, and come to terms that I don’t have to be the “best” to be successful. It helped me to understand that if I truly wanted to build a business for life, it needed to suit my “normal” life, and therefore grow at a pace that was comfortable and sustainable.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

It’s human nature to assume the grass is always greener. This is especially true as an entrepreneur where the majority of life is keeping head above water; a reality that makes me salivate at the prospect of returning to a more dependable, corporate existence. I level myself by referring back to all of the times I’ve seen the fruits of my labor: when a traveler can cross over a rocky stream more assuredly than the first time, when she enjoys a new flavor, finally stands upon a surf-board, or summits that mountain when she thought her body would give out on her. In times of pressure, I remind myself that I am achieving my goal of making off the beaten path places accessible for women who want to explore them. This is why I think it’s so important to be passionate about your life’s mission: It makes the hard times easier to weather.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

As a self-diagnosed extrovert, I always felt that I got my energy from the people around me. My calendar has always been filled to the brim with side hustle shifts, networking events and extra-curricular ranging from puppy school to Judaism 101. I didn’t realize how much I was demanding of my mind and body until I felt a sense of release triggered by COVID-imposed isolation. The physical twitch in my fingers alerting me to be cautious of time softened, my regularly wild dreams calmed in intensity, sitting still became more achievable. I was able to return to my work with a sense of time and focus I had lost for a while. And while I don’t think I could do this isolation thing permanently (I still am an extrovert, after all), it has alerted me to the need for balance, and be aware of that as I transition back into a life that is engaged with the outside world.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

1 . As yourself: Who am I and what do I want?

Speaking as a person who has chosen a life path of uncertainty, this one is really important. Having an idea of who you are (or want to be in this world) can really be your light at the end of the tunnel when facing uncertainty brought upon by external forces, like politics and the economy. I believe whole-heartedly in “going with your gut” when navigating hard circumstances; when you find a sense of self, it makes trusting that instinct a little easier. Now is the perfect time to sit and reflect on how your life has been going up to this point. What do you want to continue after this reset? What do you want to change? Have you been living for yourself, or someone else’s aspirations? How can you live a life that you love?

2 . Opt for a morning stroll, rather than scroll.

I got into the habit of checking my social media feeds as soon as I woke up in the mornings. I saw it as a way to ease my way into the day. In reality, I was waking up to sensory overload; exposing my eyes to colours and brightness levels they weren’t ready for, images of things I wanted but didn’t have and success I hadn’t achieved. In essence, this ritual encouraged me to start my day deficient, strained and behind (I always scrolled longer than intended) — you could call it a rude awakening. Opt for fresh air, if it’s available to you, or making a nice balanced breakfast, instead.

3 . Connect virtually with ghosts from the past

Virtually connecting with friends, families, and others in the same boat is a given; a reminder that you have a life network of people who support you can be the best medicine. But also try using this time to connect with those people who you’ve always meant to “grab a drink with” but always put off due to a busy schedule. It’s micro commitments like these that can build up and stress us out subconsciously in our outside lives. Use this time to clear a bit of that and get some good conversation in!

4 . Get out of your head and into your body

“Meditation” has become synonymous with sitting cross legged and clearing your mind; this is not something I have found gels with me. When I want to feel mindful and in the present, I find moving to music is great. Either follow a fun work out online, or blast some music and just DANCE. Our bodies are made to move (more than just our fingers, like we are used to). It will feel good to use your limbs, and take you out of your head for a bit! Do what you need to do to re-centre yourself.

5 . Start cooking up those tasty items on the back burner:

If you are like me, and COVID has impacted your ability to work IN the business, you may be finding yourself with a bit of extra time to work ON the business. This goes for hobbies, too. Write a list of all of the initiatives you’ve always wanted to try, but didn’t have time for. There are so many generous souls on the internet sharing free content right now. Take advantage, and dream a little! But by all means, if your body is calling you to sit on the couch and watch movies all day, listen, you probably need it!

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Energy Exchange: Extend a hand in helping others who might need it, such as resume-proofing if you have a knack for editing, meal-prepping if you love nutrition. These are little gestures that can help someone feel a little more confident in the steps they are taking during uncertain times. Origin Travels offers a Trade Your Time for Travel exchange where you can earn travel credits towards a future trip, just by writing for us about your most memorable travel experiences.

Support small businesses: Small businesses are usually hanging on by a thread on a good day. In times like these, do your best to support small businesses by liking and sharing their posts. It’s simple, free, and gives hope that we will have a future after all of this is done!

Listen, and give space: I have the habit of trying to make a person feel better about their situation by immediately relating my own life to what they are going through. But instead, take time to listen and give them space to feel their feelings. Just because we are all impacted, it doesn’t mean we are all impacted the same way. Stay engaged and offer words of encouragement, rather than direction at this time (unless they ask for direction, and you can help!).

Don’t talk about how chubby you are getting: Your joke might be light-hearted, but the reality is that millions of people have a complicated relationship with food. Eating disorders are real, and being cooped up with not much else to do but munch can be a real burden with folks struggling with eating disorders. Please know that by shaming yourself, you are also shaming others who feel this strain more deeply.

Hover over middle ground: Don’t add to someone’s stress. It is harmful to minimize someone else’s fear or discomfort by downplaying the situation; opt to listen and provide hopeful information. It is also harmful to spread sensationalist news stories designed to inflame fear; if you are inclined to spread awareness, opt to share facts-based articles that stay away from politicizing this event. It is best if we all do our best to educate ourselves on the situation, practice safety protocol, and hover in the middle.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

I personally find organized sports/classes/hobbies to be helpful. Finding something that makes you feel peaceful, and committing to a class series or team that requires you to show up on a weekly basis helps to ensure that you prioritize time to make you feel good. These good vibrations have the power to last with you through the week.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I am going to return to the quote, “the grass is always greener” because it speaks to the natural human condition of wanting what we don’t have. Referring to this quote helps me to understand my feelings as natural, and put into perspective that we all have our problems and triumphs. The more opportunities we take to try new things, the more we learn about the life we want best for ourselves. Keep taking risks. Keep exploring.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Travel is one of the most incredible redistributors of wealth globally — generating jobs, funding for conservation efforts, infrastructure development, and cross cultural exchange. But this impact is delicate as travel can also lead to the exploitation of communities, overtourism, and widespread pollution. I would continue to contribute to the movement of sustainable and ethical travel practices; keep our tourism dollars in the pockets of local businesses, refraining from animal tourism, limiting waste etc. Being a good, mindful traveller has some of the farthest reaching positive impacts to communities around the world. With tourism ever-increasing, these practices are more vital than ever!

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Instagram: @origintravels

Facebook: /origintravelstrips

Website: www.origin-travels.com

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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