Beyond Adventure Speaker Series: Speaking to the Core

Timmy Being Timmy: Patagonia ambassador Timmy O’Neill shares his secrets of success. Photo: Leigh Cushing

The Beyond Adventure Speaker Series aims to answer one of Colorado residents’ most vexing questions: How do I earn a living riding my bike/summiting mountains/[insert your adventure obsession here]? The new speaker series is the brainchild of Boulder residents Will Butler and Asa Firestone, two Millennial generation entrepreneurs who employ the make-money-by-doing- what-you-love philosophy in their own careers.

Held monthly at Patagonia on Pearl Street, Beyond Adventure consists of mingling and a 45-minute discussion led by Butler, who interviews outdoor adventure luminaries like Timmy O’Neill and Tommy Caldwell. “There is no better metaphor for life than climbing mountains,” says Butler. “We bring in adventure athletes to discuss how they make money doing what they love, as well as tech, media and design folks who have a background in the adventure space.”

Butler, co-founder of Unreasonable Adventures, a startup in Boulder, says the idea for a speaker series fusing adventure and entrepreneurship was brewing in the back of his mind for a while. The idea crystalized last summer while bouldering at Mount Evans with Firestone after the passing of their good friend and local climber Gil Weiss. Inspired by Gil’s spirit for adventure, the two imagined presentations beyond the typical slide shows that athletes give after an expedition or competition. “Our idea is that the same type of mentality it takes to put together an expedition—securing funding, failing, going back, failing, going back, succeeding—will resonate with people, especially entrepreneurial types, whether or not they strive to become an athlete or to begin work on the next great tech startup, film, gear, company, non-profit or anything else for that matter,” says Butler. “Kind of a TED-meets-adventure talk.”

It turns out they were onto something. After a debut presentation last fall at Shine featuring Dominic Gill— a Brit living in California who launched a film career from a self-made documentary about his tandem bike ride from Alaska to South America—Patagonia offered to host the talks. Close to 200 people now show up the first Monday of each month to participate in the Beyond Adventure conversation.

Butler and Firestone aren’t resting on their laurels. They’re in discussions with Patagonia to present at a larger venue in Boulder, looking to expand the series to Denver and building a website and soliciting sponsors to edit video footage from the first five presentations. Ironically, Butler and Firestone have yet to monetize their efforts. The talks are free and the speakers participate for free. Butler and Firestone agree that it’s a labor of love, and that the benefits go beyond money. “BASS is the first regular event that gets the adventure community and the entrepreneurial community together,” Firestone says. “At the mixer after the talks, we’ll hear people organizing expeditions, starting companies or just getting together and celebrating life.”

Find dates and information on the speaker series on Facebook:

—Jayme Moye

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