Hi folks! I’m Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth, with a new guest, who has brought me to the great outdoors! Jana Paremoud, founder and senior guide of Adventure Untamed, LLC, is guiding people on various levels of adventure and fostering connections as they do it! Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Thanks for bringing me out here to the trail, Jana. It’s beautiful! Why don’t you talk about the challenges you’re addressing through your startup, Adventure Untamed.
Jana: Isn’t the fresh air amazing, Spiffy! People are feeling increasingly disconnected and isolated, especially as a result of the pandemic. Adventure Untamed helps people of all fitness and experience levels connect with nature and other people, and engage their sense of curiosity. A number of participants have told us that connecting with nature and engaging with others, in some cases for the first time since the pandemic began, helped their mental wellness. It helped them cope with loss and isolation. Getting back to basics by engaging with our natural surroundings, being mindful, and being curious bring joy and hope to people's lives. We have trips that span the spectrum of abilities and experiences, so someone can join as a first-time hiker or an experienced mountaineer.
Spiffy: It sounds like something I could even do! What actually motivated you to launch your own adventure company?
Jana: At the time COVID-19 hit, I had been a guide with a different NYC-based outdoor adventure company for almost three years. When the opportunity presented itself in 2019, I made a complete career change and came to work for the company full time, running the Northeast part of the business. Then, COVID-19 hit. I got laid off. The company permanently shut down operations. It felt like a monumental loss. I was hoping that someone or something would come along and provide a solution for the company to continue. But then I realized, if I wanted for our work to continue, the answer was not waiting for something to happen—the answer was to make it happen, even if it meant starting a travel company in the middle of a pandemic. It was worth the try!
Spiffy: Can you tell me how you’re working to make the world a more equitable place?
Jana: Whenever there is an opportunity to do so, we partner with local non-profits, like The Felix Organization—an NYC organization that works with foster youth, and Young Women Who Crush—a rock climbing and leadership-development program for young women and gender-expansive youths. We do trips at cost for these organizations. Some of the kids that come out have never been on a hike before, and our guides always make sure to relay the message that they belong in the outdoor spaces. Many of our clients are women. As a woman guide and outdoor business owner, I make sure to share my experiences and correct misconceptions. Women do belong in outdoor spaces and are just as capable of guiding, climbing mountains, or owning businesses.
Spiffy: I understand you were on a panel about outdoor careers for women. What was your message to the participants?
Jana: Yes, Spiffy, in the spring, I participated in the Women in Outdoor Careers Virtual Panel at Bergen Community College. I hope that the women who participated in the event recognize that they can pursue their passions and interests, regardless of whether or not something is a career path that women 'traditionally' pursued. I also hope they found it helpful to hear experiences about the challenging aspects of being a woman in a male-dominated field.
Spiffy: Is there a time that you experienced failure, Jana? What did you learn from that experience?
Jana: I wouldn't say it was just one experience, but rather a lesson I had to learn over and over again. Working in the travel industry during the pandemic, there has been a lot of unpredictability and uncertainty. We weren't growing as rapidly as I was hoping. Getting the word out about the new company proved more challenging than I expected. Sometimes, it felt like I was standing in place or moving backward. I learned that you have to take things as they come. Every time there is a failure you can feel the disappointment, but you can't let it paralyze you. I think what separates people that are successful is their ability to experience failure over and over again and still press forward.
Adventure Untamed winter summit on the MacIntyre Range in the Adirondacks. (Photo credit: Alexis Krauss, Adventure Untamed guide)
Spiffy: I imagine you learn a lot in the outdoors. What is something unexpected you’ve learned recently?
Jana: Here is a lesson from nature, Spiffy: when you are running through a snowstorm, don't push against it, lean into it, become one with it, become the storm.
Spiffy: Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Jana: There will always be challenges. We don't ever come to a point in life where everything is effortless and easy. There are always going to be unexpected twists and turns, and things you could have never seen coming. Adapt, adapt, adapt. Don't take any of these things as a sign that it wasn't "meant to be." Work through them, reason through them, and keep pushing forward!
Spiffy: Nature is an amazing teacher and this is an amazing lesson. Thanks for sharing it with us, and thanks for inspiring us to stay connected and seek out adventure! It’s been an honor, Jana.
Jana Paremoud, founder and senior guide of Adventure Untamed, LLC, loves a good challenge! Her thirst for exploration has taken her around the globe, from the islands of Indonesia on a search for Komodo dragons to the summit of the Matterhorn. Her latest adventure is sharing her passion for exploring the wild through Adventure Untamed, and she loves taking people on new trails and snow-covered peaks! Jana shares her home with a rescue dog, Roscoe, and a rescue pigeon, Peach. (Nominated by The Farm Soho. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 18, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.