**This is NOT an excerpt out of a personal project**
What is and what isn't an ad?
While scrolling through Facebook and Instagram I am bombarded with an increasingly overwhelming amount of #hashtags and @handles of companies, pages, or “influencers” that don't really exist beyond the screens we're looking at.
“If we want authenticity we have to initiate it.” Travis Rice, 2011. Or “Bong Hits with Travis” as my college roommates and I called it. Unfortunately it seems that it is becoming more and more true every day.
Check that banger shot you just grammed. “What the heck!? It only has 26 likes!? But it’s prime browsing time on Sunday night, that’s at least a 16ft cliff, and you can see the base logo clear as day! It should have triple this many likes. Shit, don’t want to look like an amateur, better delete it real quick and regram it another time.” We have all done this. If you say you haven’t, you probably don't have an Instagram account. Everyone with 1500 followers on Instagram is a self branded “pro skier” or “travel grammar” or “lifestyle blogger”, my personal favorite. Why? Get a few gear hook ups? Sweet, the boys are gonna be super jealous you're brand ambassador for @sickhatsbrahheadwear and you got 3 new beanies. Fo Free! Just remember to use #beaniebrahs when you upload those shots from earlier.
What happens when we get bored of it? Remember when Myspace died? That perfectly crafted flash base profile, the right song that took months to find, all those damned bulletins. They all just disappeared. One day everyone just stopped caring about what was happening on Myspace. Who the heck is Tila Tequila anyways?
What do I do when my followers delete the app? Do I move on too?
There's just something that feels so good about seeing that orange box pop up with a 53 next to a white heart. We are in an era when we worship Gary Vaynerchuk and increase his view count as his ego is evermore inflated. We’re just perpetuating the never ending cycle of self obsessed promotion. Social media is the mainstream media. We see ads and sponsored content all day long. Sometimes we realize it, sometimes we don't. So how does one stand out? Why do we even want to stand out in the first place?
I'm not saying everyone needs to go throw their phone in the toilet or delete all your apps.
Just ask your self "why am I using #gopro?" the next time you post up that self taken action shot.
***This is a small excerpt out of a personal project that I am working on. Any and all feedback is appreciated.***
“Retail Help Wanted” read the ad in the back of the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “Sales associate needed for part time & weekend sales within TGR office in Wilson.” I snapped a photo of the ad with my Iphone while eating pizza and drinking a beer at Wildlife Pizza & Brewery in Victor, Id on an August 2015 evening.
The first thing thing the next morning, I sent an email inquiring about the position along with a copy of my resume and link to my social media profiles, hoping to show that I not only fit the part, but maybe they’d want to send me to ski in AK too. A few hours later I received an email back from Carol asking if I’d come in on Wednesday for an interview. “F.YEAH I’LL COME IN FOR AN INTERVIEW” I screamed to myself, but replied with the more elegant “Wednesday will work great! Can’t wait!”
Granted, I didn’t necessarily need this job. Habitat was paying me enough to get by on, and I was never feeling “bored.” This was a bit more personal. A chance to work at Teton Gravity Research. You’d be hard pressed to name anyone more iconic in the ski industry that has remained so core.
I hopped on the old Yamaha and headed toward the Teton pass nervous and anxious as ever. Looking down at the watch on my handlebar I noticed there was 45 minutes before our interview, and it only took about 12 to get to the TGR office from where I was standing. I got off the bike at the top of the pass and walked a few circles trying to calm down.
The Suunto on the handlebars said I was about 10 minutes early as I was pulling into the parking lot. “Perfect” I thought to myself as I started taking my helmet off. I walked through the door and two nice ladies welcomed and greeted me. “Hi, I’m here for an interview with Carol” I responded. The one closest to me stood up and introduced herself as Carol, as she walked me to the main office. We sat down and talked for about 15 minutes. She asked all the basic questions, where I was from, how long I have been skiing, my favorite TGR movie. She thanked me for coming in and said that she would be in touch. I thanked her again and told her I appreciated the opportunity as I walked out the door.
If there was ever a time I needed to stress eat, this was it. I made my way over to JHMR and took a tram ride to the top. There I grabbed myself a waffle and walked the short distance to Corbett’s Couloir to eat it and watch the tram go by a few times as I reflected on the interview, and just how stoked I was to be living where I was living.
The next day I got a call from Carol offering me the job and asking if I could start that Saturday. Trying to contain myself as much as possible I told her “YES” and thanked her about a million times.
For the first 2 months I didn’t know how much I was getting paid, just that I’d have a check for $150 every other week and all the TGR logo wear a kid could want. Working at TGR was a dream come true. My Saturdays were spent by waking up, driving over the pass, grabbing a D.O.G burrito or eating at Nora’s Fish Creek, walking across the street and opening up shop. That’s when the fun would start. Tourists, athletes, and brand enthusiasts would pour in from across the world. My only job was to make sure they were stoked from the second they walked in until the second they got in their car. I’d play them a preview of the latest movie in the private theater, show them the “executive office”, or on really lucky days show them the moose that lived out back by the mini ramp. I’d talk them into buying a shirt or hat, and sometimes a movie, then send back out with a pocket full of TGR die cuts.
I really was the “Living The Dream”.
The second summer I brought my girlfriends dog, Dobby, into the office a few times. (Yeah, you read that right, I lived in house and had a girlfriend in the Tetons). Most of the time she would just lay behind the desk by my feet and play with her stuffed puppy. When a guest would come in she would get excited and go running around the counter to greet them. They usually got a kick out of it.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, when one of the founders, sorry Steve, swung by to pick up his camper for a weekend getaway. I don’t know what happened, or what went through her mind but she turned into an absolute lunatic. Every time he’d walk into the door she would bark and go running up to him. It was slow so he asked me to help him align his truck to the trailer while he was backing up. Dobby was out there with us and was running circles around his vehicle while he was backing up and attempting to jump in, what can I say, she loves car rides. I put her in my car for the rest of the day and we had a long talk about boundaries on our way back to Driggs.
Working for TGR was absolutely incredible. When I was forced to leave the valley due to my knee injury there was a position waiting for me when I came back. They had my back when I broke my back. If I ever wanted tickets to a premiere, they had them for me. The best analogy I could use is that it was like a chubby kid working for Willy Wonka. I loved every second of it.
A marketing position became available around spring. If ever I have been within sight of my dream, this was it. I wrote a 2 page cover letter, attached my resume, CC’d my manager, and sent off my application to the hiring email listed. Crickets. Not even crickets. No reply at all. Over the next few weeks I accepted the fact that I had not been considered and did the best I could to move on.
I worked for TGR for another 2 months until I was asked to change my hours at Targhee and work Saturday's. I reluctantly told Carol & Torie that I couldn’t work at TGR for the remainder of the summer, but if there was still a position for me in the winter, I’d be back. “Yes, definitely” they responded and asked me to keep in touch and they would do the same.
A lot of life happened in that period short time and we were not living in the Tetons that winter.
This is a small excerpt out of a personal project that I am working on. Any and all feedback is appreciated.
“Welcome to the ski industry, you’ll never leave.”
That is what I was told by a coworker when I first started working at Boyne Country Sports in Novi, Mi. It was August of 2010, I was 18 and fresh outta high school. 7 Years later and those words couldn’t be more true.
I started working at a shop to pay bills while attending community college. I wasn't getting paid much, but it was a way to get gear cheap, and sometimes free, but more importantly, a way to get a season pass.
The very first pair of skis I sold, K2 Apache Recons, were to an older man that skied up north on the weekends, a few times every winter. For some reason I never forgot that. It was only my second week when my boss, Jason, called me on my phone after class. He asked me if I would be interested in a “very hands on” boot fitting clinic. “This isn’t something everybody gets to do”, he said, “but I think you would be good at it.”
The next night I arrived to the shop around 5 and our Nordica & Soze rep, and a hell of a good bootfitter, John, was there to show us detailed boot fitting instruction along with the latest and greatest in footbed molding. About six hours later we had gone through fitting, canting, footbed molding, bumping, and liner manipulation. The basics to proper boot fitting.
Never in my life could I have imagined how many boots I was about to fit. We had a children's ski lease program and would do thousands, literally thousands of ski packages a year. Between September and Christmas it was almost guaranteed that an individual would do about 15 ski packages on any given Saturday. As soon as you’d finish with Jimmy, Tommy and Sarah would be on the bench ready to go. From 9am-7pm. Nonstop. This will make you good at fitting boots real quick..or teach you that it’s ok to stick a kid in a boot 3 times too big and send her out the door until next year.
That first year I won a Burton sales contest, came in third place from Volkl, and won a pair of limited edition K2/PBR Brewskis. I sold the skis the day I got them to a coworker for $250 so that I could buy a Capita snowboard. That decision still haunts me today.
You really don’t realize how little skiing you will be doing while working at a ski shop and going to school full time. I honestly don’t remember having a full commitment free, day off during that entire 5 year time...without asking for it two weeks in advance.
Winter turned to Spring, skis were replaced with golf clubs, and I was laid off for the summer. I survived the off season by starting my own boat cleaning service and living with mom & dad. I was hired on at PacSun in the mall, but only lasted one shift before I “no called/no showed” but that’s a story for another time. Excited is an understatement to describe how I felt when I get the call towards the end of July asking if I’d come back to the shop for the winter.
****To Be Continued?***