Alright I’m amped guys - on today’s show I have Cody Townsend, who is truly one of the outdoor and adventure world's most ambitious and accomplished personalities. The quintessential adventurepreneur, Cody not only resides atop the list of pro skier royalty for his mind-bending descents and unprecedented ski mountaineering projects, but also owns an outdoor company and thinks like a true innovator.
And before I go into Cody’s long list of achievements, I want to remind you that there has never been an easier time to follow in similar footsteps, or better yet carve your own path to success. Cody too started from scratch (we all do), with nothing but a burning desire to make something of himself. Don’t forget that comrades. I think it’s sometimes easy for us to sit and listen to stories like Cody’s and say “Oh he’s a special case, or I could never do that because of xyz reason.” If that narrative is bouncing around in your head, I urge you to pay special attention to how hard Cody works and listen to the 'Where there’s a will there’s a way’ theme that runs through this episode and has gotten him to where he is.
Alright with that important public service announcement out of the way, Cody is perhaps most famous for his 2014 award winning ski line in the Tordrillo Mountains of Alaska, where he shoots down a nearly impossibly narrow couloir and pops out the other side carrying speeds in the 70mph range. Video of the line got recognition from headline media such as The Today Show and countless other publications and was aptly named “The Crack,” - Cody later took home three wins at the Powder Awards in 2014 for the feat.
A couple of years before his infamous descent went viral, Cody cofounded a company called Arcade Belts, which has since gone on to become a ubiquitous brand across the outdoor industry.
His most recent endeavor, aptly named the “The Fifty Project” is perhaps his most crowning achievement to date. It’s a YouTube web series documenting his journey to ski mountaineer the “50 Classic Ski Descents of North America”. You may remember my conversation with Penn Newhard from a couple of episodes back, who is one of the authors of that book, which is starting to build a cult classic following, in no small part due to Cody’s web series.
On top of his various pursuits, Cody’s just a really cool and thoughtful guy - and easily one the most motivated and dedicated athletes out there. He invited me into his home where we had a long chat about a cornucopia of topics, all of which I think you’ll find compelling - I know I sure did.
This episode is part one of a two part series. Honestly, Cody’s stories and insights were so interesting and useful that I think we both lost track of time, and the conversation went almost 2 and half hours. So be sure to check out Part 2 if you like what you hear here. In Part 1 we chat about a good old fashioned digital detox, surfing, the story behind the Crack, and both the glory days and future of free skiing, and in Part 2 we not only get into tons of practical and detailed advice on building your passion project, but also dive into Cody’s dark period and how he reinvented himself, the genesis of the 50 project, the lessons he learned building Arcade Belts into a killer brand, and much more.
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Part 1 - Value of a good digital detox, Dealing with Fear, the culture of surfing, the glory days and future of free skiing
Part 2 - Tons of practical, detailed advice on building the project you’ve always wanted, Death in the industry, Reinventing yourself after a big success, the transition from ski porn to backcountry ski mountaineering, genesis of the 50 project, the business of skiing (treating it like a job) , why it’s easier than ever to build a successful project, how to work with and create a value proposition for sponsors and brands, becoming an entrepreneur - the story of Arcade Belts, key to building a successful project or business: talk to people figure it out, the counterintuitive philosophy on seed money for your business.
Video of “The Crack” (winner of 3 awards at 2014 Powder Awards)
Elyse (wife) social media
Rich Roll - fellow podcaster
Cal Newport (Digital detox)
Shane McConkey (skier, innovator)
Trent Dilfer— Cody’s dad was his coach in high school, top 5 draft pick in NFL
Scot Schmidt (OG extreme skier)
CR Johnson — Cody and CR were on a race team together when they were younger
Travis Rice (“The Crack Controversy)
Pen, Art and Chris (authors of 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America book)