Welcome to the Outdoor Biz Episode 393 with Todd Lawson. Todd Lawson believes in passion, diversity, and the search for freedom outside. He’s an avid world traveler, husband, brother, father, son, writer, photographer, creator, storyteller, mountain athlete, humanitarian, adventure-seeker, and lover of life and all its wonderful ways. Todd is the publisher, producer, and photo editor at Mountain Life Media, the Founder and CEO of RISE Outdoor Innovation Inc., and Co-Founder of the Rise and Sean Foundation. His first book, Inside the Belly of an Elephant, launches October 03, 2023. He lives in Whistler, British Columbia.
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Wow, that’s a good banger to start with. I guess for me, it was probably when I did my first travel, and I got my first taste of a real culture shock.
I flew from Darwin, Australia to East Timor, and that was back when it wasn’t its own country as part of Indonesia. And then that just kind of hit me hard, and it was just like so awesome and so amazingly invigorating all at the same time and a bit scary. And it was just like, I was like, you know, 21 years old and, but that planted the seed of travel, which has been with me for the rest of, you know, for the rest of my life so far.
The freedom really comes from my brother, cuz he was such a, he wasn’t your typical traveler. Like he was the kind of guy that would get in the rickshaw and tell the driver to sit down, and he was gonna take the rickshaw for a while, and then he would take the dude out for lunch. So he was that kind of guy, and he was just, he really like, as cliche as it sounds, he really did live like full on. He lived each moment like it was his last almost, and he was just like one of those full-on guys. So that came over into me.
That is another labor of love. Um, so one day, I was. On an annual paddle trip, a bunch of us, 20 plus, maybe 30 of us that year, uh, on a paddle trip down the Thompson River here. So we carry all our camping gear and have a great old time. And you know how it goes, you’re camping with your spouse, got the chores to do, and it was my chore to take down camp that day. So I had to deflate the mattresses, you kneel on it, and then you lay on it, and you fold it up, and then you roll it again, and you do that, and then you find the stuff sack.
If you can find the stuff sack and put it in there, then take the tent down. It was kind of raining, and I was a little bit hungover to be honest. And you know, you’re kind of swallowed in all these like mountains of fabric trying to stuff things in StuffSack. And I was like; there’s gotta be another way.
This idea was in my mind to create a better mouse trap. And this idea wouldn’t go away, so I started to act on it. I’m trying to bring the world the first rapid inflatable and inflatable outdoor sleep system with an integrated mattress. So everything is just taking away the hassle of setting up and taking down a tent. Because it takes approximately 18 to 30 minutes, depending on how well you even know your gear. To get the tent out, blow up the mattress, and get everything ready. Yeah. And I hope to, you know, it’s based on avalanche airbag technology.
Oh, interesting. So I’m gonna trademark the term ‘push-button-pitch‘. So you push a button, and it’s gonna inflate in a few seconds, minute, I dunno. So I’m deep in the prototyping stage right now, bootstrapping my own brand, trying to build the brand, just trying to build some community.
It’s been pretty cool to see what we’ve grown. We’ve been able to do this in the media landscape in Canada mainly. And, you know, in print, we’ve got a really successful formula in the sense that we have a regional model where we concentrate our entire distribution, editorial, stories, and photography into a hundred-kilometer region zone or radius. And it’s free. It’s been pretty cool to see what we’ve been able to do in the media landscape in Canada, mainly. We’ve grown, and we’ve prospered, and we’ve thrived, and we’ve gone through the ups and the downs and all that stuff.
But Our mountain lifers, as we call ’em, the people that pick up mountain life every time, we’re very lucky to have a 99% pickup rate. So because the magazine is free, we recycle any mags, and we just hold back 1% for marketing and mailouts and stuff like that. So, the demand is there, and it’s always been there, and the demand has been there for 20 years.
The thing that was the biggest pain in the ass about this trip was the logistics. We had to ship our bikes from Vancouver to Dublin we actually shipped them on the plane, and that was pretty cool. It was expensive, but they were like right there when we arrived kind of thing. So then when we came back, our end point on this journey was Portugal and Lisbon. So, again, we had to go through that same nightmare. It’s more expensive to ship things from Ireland to North America, so that was a more expensive bet. But they are almost in a container ship, and they’ll be here in hopefully sometime in July. They take a long time. But as, yeah, so as for the next trip, we’re like, well, we’re never doing that again. The nice thing about being in North America is that you can point your wheels south and pretty much go as far as you want.
My motto in life is, go for it. So I would just say, look for an internship somewhere that you can be exposed to something every single day. The beautiful thing about photography and digital photography now is that you can shoot as much as you want. There’s no like paying for film and developing like it was back in our day; it was like 20 bucks a roll or whatever. So you spend a lot of time editing behind the computer. I would just say find someone you want to mentor you and just like ask questions. Ask questions, ask as many questions as you can, and just act, just do. Just go out there and do it.
It’s my 20 20 20 routine in the morning. So I’ll do 20 minutes of body weight exercises. Twenty minutes of yoga and 20 minutes of meditation. And then I also do 20 minutes of reading, so that happens before I even check my smartphone. I try to do that, it’s not every day, but that’s what I try. Like you said, that kind of keeps me focused, gets me ready and keeps me in shape, and keeps everything going.
My favorite book of all time is called Jupiter’s Travels. That’s a book written by Ted Simon. He wasn’t the first to ride his motorcycle around the world, but he was probably the first to write a really good, serious book on it. And that was a big motivation. In my life and, to continue on with these, these big motorcycle epics cuz he went around the world.
I have two. One of them is like a Stanley one-click mug. So you just click the button and drink hot, cold beverages. It’s just like that thing has been with me for so many places.
And the second one is a duct-tape-wrapped Bic lighter. If I’m going away on a trip with six guys, six people, or ten people or whatever, I’ll buy 10 Bic lighters. And I’ll pop ’em all in a bunch of duct tape. So that if you ever need duct tape, you can have it. And you also have the lighter, which also helps you not lose your lighter so much. Cause it’s kinda got that grip on it,