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What UL Backpacking Can Teach Us About Business


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  • #3760417
    Brendan Yeager
    BPL Member

    @byeager

    Locale: New England

    Companion forum thread to: What UL Backpacking Can Teach Us About Business

    I wrote an article on LinkedIn that talks about how lessons learned from UL backpacking can be translated to the business world. I encourage anyone else who splits their time between the boardroom and the mountains to give it a read…

    #3760471
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    I am not sure that I agree.  Businesses are based upon return on investment and payback periods.  That and the need to have quantifiable metrics for performance.  Not sure if that translates well to Backpacking.  What was the ROI on the Rim to Rim in tangible metrics?  Just looking for parity here.  My 2 cents.

    #3760494
    Ryan Jordan
    Admin

    @ryan

    Locale: Central Rockies

    This was a fun read. I can relate to many principles you touch on, especially if you are able to remove yourself from the corporate ideals of business (financial). I love the idea of a cheap stove in an expensive pack as a business analogy.

    I’ve learned to simplify my life and business to be sustainable over the long term, at the expense of giving up the “growth mindset” (more more more) that tends to plague people in both their personal and professional lives. That is a direct outcome of what ultralight backpacking and long-distance hiking have ingrained in my being.

    #3760736
    Brendan Yeager
    BPL Member

    @byeager

    Locale: New England

    Hi Jon – I think we are referring to metrics differently. You seem to be viewing metrics only as the “bottom line”, whereas I am looking at them as any number that you track and manage to improve performance. Here are some specific metrics from my Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim hike:

    • Base weight = 11.2 pounds
    • Total mileage = 56.3
    • Total elevation = 11,000 ft

    Other metrics that I look at include miles per hour, miles per day and time to break camp. I have even calculated calories per ounce for foods on some longer trips (spoiler alert, Olive Oil is about as calorie dense a food as you will find). Granted, I am a bit of a nerd, but I think a lot of the people on here track similar metrics (particularly around weight) and use those measurements to improve.

    #3760743
    Brendan Yeager
    BPL Member

    @byeager

    Locale: New England

    Ryan – glad you enjoyed it!

    I hear you on the downside of a “growth mindset” – that is where we often see the dark side of capitalism. I used to have more of a growth mindset as it related to backpacking, feeling the need to up the miles every time I headed out on the trail. I still like to do big miles, but beating my previous best is less important.

    #3760750
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>You discuss how UL backpacking is like a business.  Does a business care about how light a pack is? Does a business care about how high an elevation is?  A business cares about profitability, market share, being identified as a market leader, as having a significant impact on consumers.  How does UL Backpacking relate to this?  So you hiked with an 11.2 base weight, how does that compare to the completion?  You had an elevational gain of 11,000 feet, at what rate? How does that compare to FKT?  The same could be said about 56.3 mile, it what timeframe?  I have heard of people doing Ray Lakes Loop in about 24 hours, how does this compare?  I have had my feet firmly grounded in  new Product Development for 30 plus years and find it hard to relate  UL Backpacking to Business.  My 2 cents.</p>

    #3760754
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    find it hard to relate UL Backpacking to Business
    Indeed.
    One has the aim of making money; the other is a relaxation away from making money. Like Jon, I can’t see any relation between the two.

    Cheers

    #3760758
    Brendan Yeager
    BPL Member

    @byeager

    Locale: New England

    Memory Foam was developed by NASA – but was later used to make mattresses (originally by Tempur-Pedic). Sleeping is about as different from blasting off in a rocket as anything could be. Nonetheless, the lessons learned from one were directly applicable to the other.

    I never suggested that business was like backpacking (if it was, I would do a lot more OT), but rather that lessons learned backpacking can be applied to business.

    Jon – great point on still more metrics that are directly applicable. That particular trip was too long past for me to remember all of those details, but they were certainly all on my mind at the time. I don’t work in product development, but I can see parallels between tweaking a new product to improve performance and modifying my gear to the same end.

    #3760762
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    I was expecting an analogy between ruthlessly trimming pack weight and the slashing of employee compensation packages or some such…”Lean” and “agile”  are buzzwords I hear in both circles…

    Getting people to do more with less….or was more for less? Whatever. I know there’s a UL business mantra for the times in there somewhere.

     

    #3760764
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Ah, but there is a crucial difference.
    Even the SUL enthusiasts on BPL take care to ensure their survival.
    Some very large slash and fire companies don’t worry about employee survival.
    You may nominate which ones come to mind.

    Cheers

    #3760769
    baja bob
    BPL Member

    @bajabob

    Locale: West

    There are those people that  have to crush miles like crushing the competition. In too much of a hurry to stop to pull their water bottle from the side pocket.  If you can’t do it on the fly while you have dinner cooking in your crotch pot, what’s the point.  I’m perplexed by these ultralight hikers that are in such a hurry. They have the lightest lighterpack.com and they maximize miles.  Oxymoron?

    #3760933
    Rob Lee
    BPL Member

    @ouzel-701

    Locale: Southern High Plains

    Gosh, so quick to dismiss Brendan’s premise that the skills and strategies of backpacking could have parallel utility in the business world. His section headings sure look like topics that can apply to many human endeavors. I’m thinking metaphor or some such figure of speech.

    #3760945
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>In the business world, having an MBA provides you with a broad overview of a business across all spectrums: development, finance, operations, legal, etc.  the goal is to look at the overall function and to optimize profit as it is a business and dollars are the bottom line.  A better example is on the people management side in particular personal development plans.  If you want to improve as an employee, what are the key skills that you need to develop,  what are the skills that you are good at and finally, what are the skills that you need to stop.  So UL teaching us about business?  Not likely. UL teaching how to improve our professional skills/experiences/growth?  A much better fit.  IMO, this has nothing to do with business.  My 2 cents.</p>

    #3760947
    Erik G
    BPL Member

    @fox212

    Locale: Central Coast

    I have learned from this discussion so far, that I’d much rather work for Brendan or Ryan than Jon or Roger. :)

    “It’s all about the bottom line” is absolutely no fun to work for, and a little myopic as the sole justification for the existence of a business. Sure it has to generate profit to remain in existence, but is that the end or the means? Some, maybe even a lot of business owners, do it for a lot more than just the bottom line.

    It’s as much about the journey as the destination – much like…backpacking!

    #3760952
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    Sorry,  you haven’t had to deal with shareholders and investors.  Look at you IRA/401 k.  It has nothing to do with the journey but the bottom line.  The OP talked about business and not feel goods.  My 2 cents.

    #3760953
    Rob Lee
    BPL Member

    @ouzel-701

    Locale: Southern High Plains

    Roger that Erik G. :)

    #3760962
    Erik G
    BPL Member

    @fox212

    Locale: Central Coast

    Yeah, I have, but I can’t say I’ve enjoyed it! I’m sure I don’t have to point out that many, many businesses don’t have shareholders or investors.

    In my experience, businesses that focus on the happiness and empowerment of their employees generally end up with a better bottom line. I know, it sounds crazy. Feel free to sign me up for Team Pollyanna. :)

    A backpacker/small business owner who doesn’t see overlap between UL backpacking and business is kinda funny.

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