March 01, 2015

Why we exist

In a fascinating TED Talk with over 21 million views, Simon Sinek used examples such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Wright Brothers, and Apple Computers to make the case that "people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." So, for the sake of transparency, a quality that I esteem greatly, and the hope that we might find some people who share our vision, I thought it would be good to clarify precisely why Trailvoyant exists.

"The Golden Circle" is the term Simon used to describe both the way that our brains work as well as the way effective communication happens. The diagram to the right illustrates the concept with 3 concentric circles labeled Why, How, and What from in the inside out. He explained that while most communication tends to go from the outside in (i.e. "We have an awesome new product that we were able to achieve with a breakthrough technological advancement!"), our brains make decisions at the Why level, which is often what we describe as a gut feeling. Therefore, if we want to communicate effectively Sinek says, we should start with the Why and move outward from there, rather than vise versa. With that in mind, I shall begin with the Why.


The big vision behind Trailvoyant is to see every single person on our planet cherishing and respecting our wilderness spaces. We believe that we are but stewards of this Earth for the brief time that we are here and that we have a responsibility to pass this blue marble on to future generations in as good a condition as possible. Trailvoyant exists as a means to that end.

The aforementioned "blue marble"


Moving outward from the center of the Golden Circle, it makes sense to explain in a general sense how we plan to achieve that vision.

We believe that people tend to care more about things to which they have a personal and emotional attachment. For example, if you've ever helped someone prepare for a yard sale, you might have noticed how much more difficult they found it to part with something that you could easily identify as junk. That happens because time is precious and physical objects that are associated with happy moments in our lives can help remind us of them, so we end up cherishing those things that reunite us with our fond memories.

Therefore, we believe that we can cultivate a culture that cherishes and respects the natural world around us by creating positive connections between people and places. We aim to do that by facilitating Amazing Wilderness Experiences. Simply put, we aim to inspire AWE in everything we do.


Finally, we must address the outermost circle by explaining what it is we are doing at this moment that we hope will inspire AWE, with the end goal of encouraging a profound respect for our wilderness spaces.

Our inaugural tool for facilitating amazing wilderness experiences will be through a web based hike planning tool that will allow people to find the perfect hike for them by either browsing a catalog of curated hikes or by plotting their very own unique hike on the network of hiking trails that criss-crosses the globe.

Beyond just finding great routes, we believe that a significant part of the hiking experience lies in reaching incredible destinations. That is why Trailvoyant will be focused on hikes that help people reach truly spectacular places that exist just a couple of miles up the trail.

Now nature lovers might understandably object to our method on the basis that more getting more people out into the wilderness will not be good for the wilderness. After all, there are frequent stories about foolish, careless, or downright selfish people defacing natural treasures and there are few people that are more hurt, disappointed, and even angered by such behavior than me. But we believe that the good will outweigh the bad.

It is often said that the best way to deter graffiti artists from tagging a neighborhood is to make sure there isn't any graffiti in the neighborhood to begin with. That's because it's easier for people to justify their bad behavior if they see evidence that it is tolerated. While more people on the trails may mean more bad behavior like littering, we believe that we can inspire even more people to cherish the wilderness so there are more people ready and willing to clean up such evidence.

We'll be launching later this Spring and while we may not have the perfect answer to the "What" question right off the bat, we hope you'll consider supporting us because of why we're doing it.

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