Through his company, Discover Outdoors, Kirk’s goal is to get as many urbanites into the outdoors as possible by making nature accessible. He spent his youth exploring his Midwestern backyard before attending the University of Missouri for both his undergraduate and MBA degrees. Eager to explore new pastures, Kirk moved to New York City with his corporate job twelve years ago. When his hobby of guiding friends on outdoor adventures began to evolve, he leapt with both feet at the chance to make Discover Outdoors a reality. A competitive sports enthusiast and nine-time marathoner, Kirk believes that exposure to the outdoors positively impacts and inspires all of us, individually and as a community. Just three years ago, Kirk launched the Discover Outdoors Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, which makes the Discover Outdoors youth program available to under-funded New York City schools, ensuring that our students reap the rewards of learning in the great outdoors.
What do you do best?
This will sound rehearsed, but I think constantly wanting to improve both my business and myself is my biggest advantage. My wife’s grandfather said, “Be an expert, but never think you are.” Particularly for entrepreneurs and especially when you're operating a business with limited, if any, industry examples to follow, you have to constantly be in a place of questioning, learning and seeking ways to be better. There hasn’t been a moment in 11 years where I could sit back and say, “We’ve done it.” There are celebrations and milestones, but to stay ahead and continue to surprise our clients, we have to keep poking at our own protocols, models, operations, expectations. We have to keep pushing, and I love that. I love that today we may realize we could be doing something even better.
What makes you the best?
I consulted my business partner, who also happens to be my wife, and she says resilience, composure and conviction. There’s nothing programmatic or turnkey about Discover Outdoors – it’s a hands-on, unpredictable business. You have to really believe in what you’re doing and when it’s hard or disappointing, you have to stay calm and see opportunity. No matter what, I believe that this work needs to be done, that my team is the right team to do it, and that I can lead us to doing more, better.
How will you become the best?
I’m at a point where I need to challenge myself with new goals for the business. I need to step out of my comfort zone, trust my team and push myself to explore some of the strategic growth opportunities I’ve been excited to pursue for a while. It’s easy to get distracted by what you know and fall into routine, and it’s tempting to assume you’re the only one who will exceed your own standards. But, that’s dangerous. To become better and take Discover Outdoors to the next level, I have to relinquish that control enough to create what’s next.
What are your aspirations: business & personal?
Business: to get every New Yorker, adult and child, into the outdoors. They don’t have to stay. They don’t have to love it. But, all it takes is a moment of exposure to impact your life, and Discover Outdoors can provide that. I've seen it. From here, we spread the outdoor movement to cities nationwide, inspiring as many people as possible to explore.
Personal: My wife and I are about to have our first child, a son. I want to make him proud and at the same time teach him the value of hard work, respect, curiosity, determination, trust and independence. I aspire to be a man and businessman that set a worthy example for him, and to spend a lot of time in the mud with him.
What fascinates you?
Humans. What people do is amazing, from building cities to making people. What my wife’s body is doing in creating this person is astounding.
“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” -- John Muir
My father for being the ultimate example of living life to its fullest. Richard Branson for being the entrepreneur of entrepreneurs. My wife for making everything in life beautiful.
Stykkisholmur, Iceland, White Mountains, New Hampshire and my backyard. Harriman State Park in New York, Rocky Mountain National Park, Yosemite, Patagonia and the Grand Canyon. The Himalaya, the Serengeti, the Adirondacks. North Carolina, Wisconsin, Colorado. The South Island, Big Island, Island Peak.
Smart design that solves something inspires me, so it may be trite but Tesla and Apple have changed the game because they’re smart and solutions-oriented. Within our industry, Asolo boots and Gregory Packs aren’t led by trend – they’re led by smart, lasting solutions.
It’s as simple as being outdoors. Nothing gets me more revved up about business, family, music, anything really, than being outdoors. I can go into the woods overwhelmed or frustrated and come out clearheaded and ready for anything.