Plant your own garden to reconnect with the earth, and also grow your own food. It’s good for the environment, gets your hands dirty and gives you something to tend to. I spent my summers on my grandfather’s farm, and to this day the smell of a farm brings me tremendous relaxation and joy. There’s something about growing your own food that is joyous, as well as delicious. I used COVID as a way to get back to my roots at the farm, building my own planters and planting a range of fruit and vegetables this summer. We enjoyed a harvest of zucchini, squash, berries, tomatoes and fresh herbs this year, and we continue to enjoy delicious tomatoes and fresh herbs as winter approaches. Every time I use our own produce, I get a sense of satisfaction.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard Campbell.
Richard Campbell believes he has the greatest job on earth as the founder of 10Adventures — an adventure travel platform, allowing community members to plan their own trip or book a tour in over 50 countries. Outside of work, he’s a lifelong traveler and outdoor enthusiast. These days, you can often find him trying ever more adventurous recipes, reading and hiking with his wife and three young boys in the Rocky Mountains.
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 story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
I’ve always been passionate about fitness and wellness, particularly when it comes to the outdoors space. I’m an avid hiker and spend much of my weekends exploring some of the amazing mountains and urban hiking trails we have available here in Calgary. I’ve also spent the last 20+ years exploring the world through adventure, and have spent extended amounts of time in the Andes, Himalayas, Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees, Rockies, Sierras and Coast Mountains. It seemed a natural fit to build a company that encourages people to get outdoors and explore the best hiking, mountain biking, cycling and skiing adventures right within their own backyard.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
My first job out of university, I had the choice to join a big German bank or join a startup that didn’t even have a website yet. I ultimately decided to join the startup, as it seemed more interesting. Over my time there, I got to manage the development of every new product. At one point, I recall feeling bad that I kept getting, what I felt, were the best projects in the company. I was sharing this with my colleagues in the pub after work, and suggested I go to the CEO and mention that somebody else should get a shot. They all looked at me funny, and one said “Richard, you have the worst job here. Nobody wants to do what you do”.
Since then I’ve realized that I love the challenge of building something new, going from nothing to something. I had long assumed that everybody enjoys this part of creating a business, but in truth, most people don’t like this type of task, and prefer more structured jobs with less ambiguity and risk of failure. This is why I founded my own startup, to be able to create something that is important and meaningful, and serve an important need in the adventure travel community.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I once found myself working in Argentina, where the national language is Spanish. And while I speak French, I was just starting to learn Spanish. Many Spanish words are very similar to French words, so I was able to speak decent Spanish quite quickly. One word I used often was “excite” (excited). I would say “excitado” quite a lot, and I noticed some of my colleagues would look at me weird when I would say “I’m really excitado about the new website” or “I’m really excitado about lunch today”. Finally one of the only English speakers said “Richard, do you know excitado means sexually aroused?”.
What did I learn? Don’t guess too often, and pay attention to how other people react.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
Most people interested in fitness and wellness are just regular people, just like me. We see fitness and wellness often modeled after perfect athletes, however for most of us, life isn’t that easy. After a lifetime of adventure travel, I know how much the outdoors benefits both physical and mental health, and I want to make it easy for others to enjoy the outdoors. So I founded 10Adventures to help regular people plan their own adventure holiday, or find a tour with a great local operator.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The best part of being a part of a team are undoubtedly the teammates. I’ve been lucky to have been surrounded by incredible people throughout my career. I like to ask questions, so I’ve learned as much from my colleagues as I have from my formal education. Too often we think only experts have the answers, and while they often do have the answers, it’s really nice to ask the person sitting beside you, and learn from somebody and build a relationship at the same time.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
1. Daily stress. We have too much to do, and there are too many things we need to do. It’s overwhelming, and honestly for many of us, we can’t do everything we want. Ironically, we are often too stressed to even start to destress.
2. No structure. There are 100’s of things we need to do, and it’s hard to know what to do next, and at times we end up doing nothing because we don’t know what’s next. I’ve started doing daily plans, where I focus on a few things I really want to accomplish. This has been incredible for reducing stress, getting important work done and also adding more important non-work things into my life. The only impact is my email inbox is only touched 2–3 times a week. I now do a daily plan of what I want to accomplish, and have a HIIT workout, lunch with my family and mediation built into my schedule each day. I’m accomplishing more, feeling more energized and less stressed. I’m moving from daily schedules to monthly goals and a yearly plan, as this allows my wife and I to identify what is important to both of us and make sure we can accomplish what we want to.
3. Not being prepared. Leading on from point #1 and #2, it’s a lot easier to be healthy if you’re prepared. This is where having structure comes in handy. If you start to have longer term plans, you can identify what you need to do well in advance. This prevents you from creating excuses of “I don’t have that ingredient” or “I need new hiking boots”. Knowing what you want to do, prioritizing the most important items and preparing means it’s a heck of a lot easier to actually do it.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
1. Explore the great outdoors by spending weekends hiking, cycling or skiing. It helps to stimulate the mind and the body. It’s easy to get into a routine where your weekends seem to go by and you accomplish nothing. Start planning incredible weekend day trips to explore the outdoors. Often the reason you aren’t already doing this is because your social group doesn’t want to do these activities. If this is the case, find a local outdoors clubs, almost all of them have programs to bring on new members. You’ll meet a lot of interesting people and make new friends while doing something you love. Spending time outdoors helps not only the physical body, with sustained fat-burning activity, but also has shown to benefit mental health, reduce stress and increase overall happiness.
2. Use regular walks to talk through problems or just have time on your own. Walking is its own form of meditation. In my case, I have solved innumerable problems while out on a hike. It truly is a eureka moment, when out of nowhere you realize how to solve a problem. Walking also allows the ability to have difficult conversations. If you have social anxiety, or need to have a difficult conversation, being outside takes the stress off of an indoor conversation, where you may be sitting across from each other, already in a confrontational environment. As a new meditator, I notice quite a few similarities between walking and meditating. When walking, I often find myself counting steps, completely zoned out from anything, just happy with the exercise, sweat and enjoying the beauty all around.
3. Plant your own garden to reconnect with the earth, and also grow your own food. It’s good for the environment, gets your hands dirty and gives you something to tend to. I spent my summers on my grandfather’s farm, and to this day the smell of a farm brings me tremendous relaxation and joy. There’s something about growing your own food that is joyous, as well as delicious. I used COVID as a way to get back to my roots at the farm, building my own planters and planting a range of fruit and vegetables this summer. We enjoyed a harvest of zucchini, squash, berries, tomatoes and fresh herbs this year, and we continue to enjoy delicious tomatoes and fresh herbs as winter approaches. Every time I use our own produce, I get a sense of satisfaction.
4. Make winter a great time to be outdoors, and enjoy the stunning tranquility. Let’s face it, winter can suck, especially if you don’t have the right gear. But with the right gear, winter is incredible. Living in Calgary, Canada, the locals embrace the winter season with skiing, skating and snowshoeing to fully enjoy the place where they live. As another added bonus, 95 per cent of people stay indoors during the winter season, so if you’re properly prepared to brave the cold, you can enjoy wonderful experiences in places that are normally packed — all to yourself.
5. Try a new hobby each season. A lifetime of adventure comes from constantly challenging oneself, so why not take up tennis in the summer or perhaps snowboarding in the winter? “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” as Yeats said. And it’s true, adding new hobbies creates new passions, and a more interesting life.
Get out of your comfort zone and push your boundaries, be open to new ideas, start saying yes instead of always saying no to new things. Even if its just about getting better at your favourite hobby.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
There are plenty of added benefits to daily exercise, but the number one reason I seek daily exercise is to de-stress. A good HIIT workout can take stress and anxiety from a 10/10 to a 1/10 in 20 minutes. It also helps with problem solving. A long walk is my number one way to solve problems. I often find the solution comes when I’m not even thinking of the problem. And finally, daily exercise helps build relationships. I have social anxiety, so I find it hard to have a one-on-one conversation. Being in nature, or out on a walk, I can have a six or seven hour conversations with no anxiety. This allows me to build relationships with friends in a way that works for me.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
I especially enjoy being outdoors, so:
1. A walk, any walk, anywhere. Just get outside and move.
2. A bike ride, anywhere. But ideally on a car-free road.
3. HIIT bike workouts on a trainer in the off-season.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
The book, How Will You Measure Your Life, by Clay Christensen changed my life. It’s about understanding what’s important to you and ensuring that you are living a life that is meeting your goals. In my case, my family was most important, but I was working at a job that kept me out of the house from 7.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and I wasn’t seeing my boys grow up. This book forced me to identify what was important and then make changes to live a life that was right for me. I encourage you to think about reaching age 65 and reflect on the trajectory you are on now. Will you be happy with how you spent your time, and who you spent your time with? If not, then now is the time to make that change.
You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂
If I could find a way to convince everyone to take a week long hiking trip — the world would be a better place. A week on a hiking holiday will change a person’s life. It encourage them to get away from their phones, social media and day-to-day pressures, and just enjoy being outside and on a different rhythm. I think they’d easily reconnect with nature and the outdoors, which is a real human condition. Almost everybody that completes a hiking or trekking tour once — often does them for the rest of their lives. They find they lose weight, gain new friends, explore the world and find so much joy.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”- Mark Twain. This is relevant to what I’m trying to achieve everyday and with 10Adventures. Life is about exploration. Don’t be afraid to live the life that works for you, even if it’s not the conventional life we are told about on TV and social media.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
To be honest, the most interesting people are those who are living their dreams, and many of those people are just regular people. I recall talking with a 78-year-old former postie who spent a month cycling around the back roads of northern BC. I want to be that guy when I’m 78!
I am really inspired by business leaders like Yves Chouinard and Rose Marcario at Patagonia (and before). They have taken a great consumer company into difficult territory by advocating for the planet, and they have earned my loyalty as a customer. Patagonia also had Kris Tompkins, who was and is instrumental in conserving large parts of Chile and Argentina.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!