I am proud to say that our philosophy hasn't changed, but our skills have evolved. The team that founded Earth Treks were all climbers and educators. We knew that the qualities that made an expedition successful — passion, vision, partnership and perseverance — were the same qualities that would make a business successful. Developing the skills needed to deliver an ever more complex set of products was the real challenge. To paraphrase Steve Jobs and a dozen others, it took us 20 years to become an overnight success.
Last year, your business made headlines in a way no owner wants to see. How did you steer your way through that in a way that was responsive to the victim and assured your customers while keeping your staff together and the reputation of your business intact?
Two of our climbing coaches were arrested for sexual abuse of a minor. While a 1,000-page book couldn't capture the whole of that tragic story, the short version is that in good times and bad, you have to stay true to your core values. We opened ourselves up to our community, held emotional town hall meetings, and worked in partnership with the police. So many people came to our aid, reminding us of what a wonderful community we live in. While so many of us were affected by this tragedy, and our work is never-ending, we are stronger because we lived up to our core values.
You counsel people to act on instinct, to trust their gut. What's the downside of doing that? How have you embraced that?
The key word in your question is "act." People know what is right and wrong, but they often fail to act. Climbing teaches us that you have to act if you want to reach the peak.
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