2013-06-27

New Series: Ask The Creator!

From today on we will regularly blog about a broad range of crowdsourcing based projects that we think are worth supporting. We hope you like the projects as much as we do! Do you have any suggestions what we should ask the creators? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and email!

We recently met with the “Family Adventure Guy” Charles Scott, who left the corporate world to become a writer and family adventurer. He takes his young children on crazy endurance challenges around the world linked to charitable causes and writes about the experiences for National Geographic, CNBC, the Huffington Post, and others. He is the author of Rising Son: A Father and Son’s Bike Adventure Across Japan. He was chosen by Red Tricycle as one of “New York City’s Coolest Dads” (he IS really cool) and the United Nations named his family “Climate Heroes” for their work to protect the environment (we think that is pretty cool, too).

He also recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a book and lecture series about his latest adventure: cycling 1,700 miles along the Lewis & Clark Trail with his 12-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

We talked with him about his project, what he thinks about crowdfunding, and why the heck he is doing crazy things like this in general.

CAPITAL C: In a recent Huffington Post article, you wrote, “We are living in a time when artists no longer need approval from a gatekeeper in order to share their vision with the world.” Weren’t you one of those gatekeepers?

Charles: (laughs) Yes, although I was evaluating entrepreneurs rather than artists. I was a deal maker in the venture capital group at Intel Corporation. Companies made pitches to receive an investment from Intel, and we turned down most of them. I learned from that experience that being rejected by a venture capitalist doesn’t mean your idea won’t be a success. Being rejected by a VC may just mean that you don’t fit into their particular investment profile. This experience gave me the confidence to create “Family Adventure Guy” and put it out there to the world. Some people won’t be interested, but others may be inspired to come up with their own family adventures. And I want kids in particular to recognize that they are capable of doing a whole lot more than most adults think.

CAPITAL C: Speaking of kids, you sure do ask a lot of your own. You cycled the length of Japan – 2,500 miles in 67 days – with your son when he was only 8 years old?! You cycled the circumference of Iceland over 46 days with your son at age 10 and your daughter, who was only 4 years old. You also rode bicycles with them across Germany, Switzerland, France and England. And this summer, you expect them to cycle 1,700 miles across the western U.S. You know that there’s a big mountain chain in the way called the Rockies that your kids will need to ride over, right? You said that kids can do a lot more than most adults think, but are you sure this isn’t too much to ask?

Charles: I love this question. The only time my 8-year-old son expressed self-doubt when we were cycling across Japan came when a stranger told him that a trip like that was too hard for a kid. My son turned to me and asked, “Daddy, is this too hard for me?” I suggested that he keep pedaling until we reached the end of Japan, then send that guy a post card saying, “I guess you were wrong!” I don’t know if my children and I can cycle over the Rocky Mountains — we’ve never done it before. But we’re going to try, and if we make it, I hope kids who hear about us will think, “If a 6-year-old girl can pedal over the Rocky Mountains, I must be able to do some amazing things too!”

CAPITAL C: You’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish your next book, Daunted Courage: The Perils of Cycling the Lewis & Clark Trail with Kids. Why didn’t you just approach one of the big publishing houses? You have National Geographic publishing your trip essays on their Intelligent Travel blog. The New York Times will run a story on you, and you already have a following from your previous adventures. I’m sure you could get a book deal with a major publisher.

Charles: Maybe. I haven’t tried, because I think the reality of the traditional publishing world is that most authors have to do the majority of PR for their book themselves anyway. I would prefer to own my work and reach out directly to people who are interested in what I’m doing. That’s what’s so great about the Crowd revolution. I don’t need to spend a bunch of energy convincing a gatekeeper in a publishing house whether I’m worthy of being added to their list of books. I’ll let the Crowd decide. By the way, my kids and I are also going to give a series of talks at schools and science museums about our experience on the Lewis & Clark Trail. And I’ve arranged for a film crew to capture our attempt to cycle over the Rockies. I’m going to make a short documentary about that experience. My goal is to encourage people to unshackle themselves from sedentary living, too much stress, self-imposed limits, and anything else that gets in the way of pursuing a healthy, meaningful life. And I hope the Crowd will help me do that.