At Outdoor Retailer, I ran into my friend and mentor, Steve Casimiro (former Powder editor and owner of Adventure-Journal.com). It’s only been a year since we were formally introduced and since that time we’ve talked on the phone, exchanged emails and comments on our posts. Steve’s accomplishments, experience and stature in the outdoor industry speak for themselves. But, as we talk, we talk of family, of passions and of our hearts — not so much about gear and adventure.
You see… Steve has been a part of an industry that chews people up and spits them out — all the while putting on a “hard core” facade. Many publications simply ignore it and ride on a phony front of hard core ski bums, hard core freeriders, pure mountaineers and the like. No way, now how would they dare come across as a family man or a weekend warrior or a “touron” (a mix between a tourist and moron, often said of outside visitors who come to ski here in Utah). To them, that would be the death knell or come across as a sellout.
After that brief conversation on the show floor, I’ve been thinking about life, about myself, my family, my passions, my life experiences and what I envision my future to look like. It’s time to set some things straight and come out clean and in the process make a bit of a statement to the heralded industry publications.
Who is Jason Mitchell, the man behind FeedTheHabit.com?
I’m a family man, a religious man, a 9-5 corporate desk jockey… and, I’m passionate about the outdoors. Those can all co-exist, right? To sum it up, I’m a lot like you are or what you will become. I’m like the millions of people who work hard and play hard on this earth. I’m not an industry dirtbag who lives paycheck to paycheck on my best friend’s couch. I’m a corporate stiff who has miraculously been fortunate enough to find balance between family, work, play and passions.
While I say I’ve found that balance, I’ll re-phrase that… I’m FINDING that balance. Just as each of us tries to balance everything we can, at times something has to give. You have to sit back and re-prioritize: good, better and best. While we all can easily choose between good and bad, it’s the decisions between good and best that take time and yield the highest reward in life.
I’m going on 11+ years at the helm of FeedTheHabit.com. It all started my final year of school at Brigham Young University in 1999. I had spent the previous three Winter’s teaching skiing at The Canyons Resort where I made some life-long friends and got some great experience, which landed me my first real gig — a search engine marketing consultant at Utah.com. While I was there, I realized that the outdoor industry was great and all, but it would be a hard place to raise a family and make a good living. It was my 8 months at that job as I finished school that led me to starting this Web site.
In November 1999, I sent an email to one of my closest friends, Kendall Card, saying I had just purchased the domain name and asked his thoughts. He was stoked and so was I. It was my way of saying to the outdoor industry, “I’ll keep a light on, but my future family and my career will take me elsewhere.”
So, FeedTheHabit.com began slowly as a hobby in 1999 while I hopped into the .com frenzy. I first landed as a Product Manager at About.com from Jan 2000 until Nov 2002. From there, I went to a little software startup called WingateWeb.com where I served as the Director of Marketing. That lasted another three years before I briefly jumped ship to manage the eCommerce side of FranklinCovey. After re-building their eCommerce platform, I was easily wooed down to Arizona to work for some great friends of mine as they were growing a small business marketing automation company called Infusionsoft.
After realizing that we weren’t happy living in Arizona, we pushed the reset button and came back to a comfortable spot at WingateWeb.com, which was then quickly acquired by The Active Network. I have now recently jumped ship from Active and am now working at 1800Contacts on a new business that will be launching this Spring (stay tuned on that one). Oh yeah, I’ve also been a co-owner of GEAR.com since 2007.
During that timeline, I went from a single guy living it up to a happily married father of four with the most beautiful family anyone could ever hope for. They are my most important possessions… they are my everything.
So, to sum it all up… I’m hard core. I’m a hard core father, husband, employee and upstanding member of society. I’ve moved past the bro brah scene long ago. Does that make me less expert in the outdoor industry? Perhaps to some. But, to the majority of you all, I think you can relate.
I guess my point in all of this is to let my readers know that A) most outdoor industry publications put on a “hard core” facade that immediately makes them out of touch with reality and that B) my core priorities of faith, family and livelihood will sometimes prevent me from spending as much time on FeedTheHabit.com as I once have or would like to spend. But, as long as I’m comfortably able to intelligently share my thoughts on new products and the outdoor industry I will.
At some point the crossroads of life will make me choose between good, better and best and at that time, make no mistake… I’m a hard core husband and father first and foremost. Everything else (including my passion for the outdoors) takes a backseat from time-to-time. You see… I am a lot like you, but I happen to have also started one of the fist outdoor gear blogs in the industry and it’s pretty darn cool, isn’t it? Thanks for your continued support all these years! Giddy up!
Sincere heartfelt stuff Jason! Having driven in to work with you on more than one morning, I know that you mean every word of it! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Ken! You get it, amigo!
Great post Jason. I haven’t met Steve, but he blogged (what I felt was) a very personal post at the beginning of the new year. I thought it was a good insight into who he was as a person (as is this post). I wish more writers would come out from behind their keyboard more often. It doesn’t matter if you live and breathe death-defying adventure every day, or are strictly a weekend warrior that has to wear a suit and tie and sit in a cube 5 days week- you have to let some of your real life and personality out. It’s the only thing that separates blogs like this from content farms. Well, that and quality writing. haha But honestly, I don’t think quality writing is enough to stand out without personality these days…
Thanks Mark. I appreciate you sharing Steve’s post from earlier this month. That definitely was a great one and will give you insight into what kind of person Steve is. He is truly a great guy.
And, thanks for the support. I hope to let more of my personality shine through my posts. I agree with you that the absence of that gets old. Here’s to a great year!
Great post Jason! You’ve always been an upstanding guy in the industry and great reviewer – precisely because you’ve got more substance than a bro-bra. In person your heart shows through. Great to see you share this with those who only know you digitally!
Hey Diana! I didn’t know you were still keeping tabs on me! I hope all is well in your world. Looks like you’re still in Finland eh?
Thanks for the write up Jason. It’s a good reminder for those of use who wish we were more “hardcore” that there are multiple things in life to find joy from.
LOVE this post, Jason. This is one of the most heartfelt, straight-shooting things I’ve read in quite a while. I didn’t quite realize the industry chewed folks up so quickly, but you know I can sympathize with the whole life/fun/responsibility balance you’re describing here. From where I sit, you’re doing a great job of things … best wishes to keep it rolling for years to come.
Thanks Donald! I appreciate the support and friendship. You and I are on very similar paths, so I know you can appreciate it. Thanks again!
Jason: Thanks for the heartfelt honesty. Everyone of us struggles to blend our desires and passions, to balance responsibility and being adult with pursuing what is essentially childish play, and it’s made all the harder by a cultural attitude that perceives anything less than 24/7 extremeness as weakness. It’s tough to be a grownup when everyone around you acts 13 all the time. The sooner we stop listening to those outside pressures and accept that the richest life is usually multidimensional and giving more than taking, the sooner we find happiness and contentment in a dissonant world.
And thanks, too, for your kind words about me. My experience has been that sharing the personal, the doubts and struggles and foibles, makes for a far stronger connection and impact with the readers (who are friends you just haven’t met yet) than chest thumping machismo.
Stop it! You guys are making me CRY!
Jason – awesome and touching. And yes, i totally relate. Mom of 3 but still at it, having fun, exploring and getting outside each day. And, i still feel hard core! Thanks for the transparency, honesty and heart felt post. Love working with you!
Great stuff to which any mountain-loving family person can relate! Thanks for sharing Jason!
I feel like you brought up the big elephant in the room that we have all avoided but believe in. Father of 2.5 (one on the way) myself and its all about keeping it real. Climbing and skiing is great, but I can’t think of a better feeling then my 4 yr old daughter sneaking up on me and waking me up in the morning.
My son gives me a huge hug everyday before work, he doesn’t know it but I would never trade those hugs for an insane powder day. My kids are awesome. The outdoors is awesome. And yes, the rumors are true, I’m buying a minivan in less than 36 hours.
Made that purchase 2 years ago just before #4 was born — the right tool for the job. Still miss the Durango though.
Nice post jason…will keep coming back.
I think you meant to say, “Amen, bro brah!” 🙂
Great post Jason. I can completely relate as well…on all fronts. It’s been great getting to know you over the past couple of years.
So honest and heartfelt. Definitely strikes a chord. No matter the things I do on bikes, skis etc the most important thing for me is to walk back in the door safe and alive to my loving wife (on the rare occasions that she isn’t with me). You articulated these thoughts better
Thanks Lee. I know you understand. Back to the grind…
I also have a young family of 4, I know it can be alot of work. Teaching the kids all the fun things I like to do gives me a ton of energy and for me it completes the circle of life. I feel sorry for those who miss out on this. Play Hard!