Monthly Archives: February 2009

Making Friends on the Trail

Last week I had an interview with Earth 911.  It is an outstanding website, and I am not just saying that because they are doing a feature on Atayne next week.  I was a frequent visitor to their site beforehand.  During the interview I was asked the question, “What is the most unexpected thing that has happened to you while launching and growing Atayne?”

The answer was quite simple-the number of new friends I have made along the way.  Starting a company is an emotional roller coaster.  You experience the highest highs and the lowest lows.  One thing that can really drive some of the highs is the people you meet.  I never could have imagined some of the great friendships I would develop during this journey.

Friend of Atayne - Paige

Friend of Atayne - Paige

Yesterday I got an email from one of my great new Atayne friends, Paige.  She had reached out to tell me about an encounter she had at her most recent race, Louisville’s Lovin’ the Hills 50k.  From the words of Paige, because she tells it so well…

“I met this guy, Alan J., after finishing Louisville’s Lovin’ the Hills 50k last weekend, on Valentines Day.  I just thought it was so cool.  I was sitting at a picnic table in the warming tent stuffing my face with spaghetti after finishing the race, and in walks this guy with a massive mustache…with rubber bands on the end of each tip to keep it from flying in his face while running.  He popped a squat on a chair near me and, with his back to me, congratulated me on my finish, and then continued to tell me about his new Atayne top.  I had on the long sleeve top, but still had my Nathan vest on over it, so you couldn’t see the logo all that well.  He said he was so excited when he found out about the company, and told his wife that he wanted Atayne shirts for his birthday (or maybe it was Christmas?).  So she went on the website to buy him a couple, and just fell in love with it…he said she spends time on the site everyday because she thinks it’s so cool.  I’m just listening to him go on about it, smiling.  He said he wanted to get a picture of himself in the shirt on the trail so he could submit it for the Atayne 360 newsletter, but he thought he got it too dirty this time, ‘so I’ll do it at the next race!’  I was just tickled!”

I can’t read Paige’s story enough.  A while back I wrote about the milestones I live for and this is absolutely one of them.  It is hard to express the feeling of two strangers coming together in conversation over Atayne.  Despite what has otherwise been a rough few days (mom having surgery), this simple story has me flying high.  It is easy to keep the flame going when you have friends like Paige and Alan J.

Although I must say one thing to Alan, there is no such thing as an Atayne top that is too dirty!!!  That is what we make them for my friend, so get back out there, get dirty, and send us a picture.

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Architecture of Participation

I recently watched Clay Shirky’s keynote address at the 2008 Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.  His brief lecture was very insightful and well worth the 17 minutes invested to watch it online (see end of post).  His main argument is that we are entering a new media landscape, one that is defined by participation and not consumption.  He states that when it comes to media, people like to consume, produce, and share and this is not just a passing fad.  He believes it is analogous to the same cultural shift that occurred during the industrial revolution.  Shirky shares that, nevertheless, he often had a hard time explaining this to “traditional” media folks.  The reason, he believed, is because he never had a compelling anecdote – until recently.  Here is a story that he shares at the end of his address.

A friend of Shirky’s was sitting with his four year old daughter watching a DVD.  In the middle of the movie, she jumped up off the couch and ran behind their big-screen TV.  Maybe she was looking to see if Dora (the Explorer) is really back there, the dad wondered.  But that wasn’t what she was doing.  She started rooting around in the cables.  Her dad said, “Whatcha doing?”  She stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, “Looking for the mouse.”

Shirky concludes the story with this simple yet powerful statement, “Here’s what four year olds know.  A screen that ships without a mouse, ships broken.”  Translation: younger generations demand interaction with their media.

In my opinion this demand for interactivity extends will beyond media; I believe it defines the future of our economy.

As more and more online tools create the platform for this participatory environment, people are going to demand that they are involved not just in the consumption of products and services, but also with creating and sharing them.  In the future, successful companies will not only be run by the management team, they will be run in part by the team of people who use the products and services.

When I started Atayne, I had the vision that the company would be run in large part by the people who love our brand and products the most.  The way I see it, we are not a company.  We are a community.  A community of individuals who demand more from the companies we do business with.  A community of individuals who believe we can positively change the world by doing what we love.

I hope you all will join us in this social experiment to redesign how companies operate.  If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.

Will Run for Reading

A little over a week ago, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Devon Crosby-Helms.  If you follow ultra-running, you may have come across her.  If you have not, she is an up and comer in the sport.

The point of this post is not to talk about her running talent, of which she has plenty.  It is to talk about her character.  Devon and I spoke about Atayne sponsoring her to support her running goals.  During the conversation we spoke a lot about personal values.  At Camp Atayne, we think values are the strongest thing we have, and once we compromise those, we really have nothing.  It is important for us that when we get involved with athletes (or any partners in this journey, for that matter), they share similar values.  By the end of my conversation with Devon, I had no questions about our shared values.

A couple days after our conversation, Devon and a couple of her ultra-running friends embarked on a journey to run to all 27 libraries in the Seattle Public Library System.  This run would take them nearly 70 miles through the city of Seattle.  The point of their journey was simply to raise awareness for the system’s new Library Passport program.

For details on their run, check out Devon’s blog or the write up in the Seattle PI .

I wanted to share this story because I think it is another great example of using the power of an active lifestyle to inspire positive change.  I have written in the past about running for trash (Part I, II, and III) , now I write about running for reading.  I would encourage everyone to find a way to use his or her passion of running, cycling, hiking, yoga, or whatever it may be to create positive change.  Just make sure you share your adventures with us!

P.S. With the 60+ miles they covered, we have a new record for the longest consecutive run in an Atayne top.  The most total miles likely still goes to our good friend Tommy Neeson.