Forget posh country club gatherings and handshakes over a round of golf. The new generation of business is taking deal making to a wilder side - to ski runs, mountain-biking trails and zip-lines over tree tops. Rudy DeFelice, head of new market opportunities at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, located just outside Yosemite, says outdoor adventure activities are replacing golf and country clubs as the venue of choice for young deal makers and business leaders.
DeFelice, an investor in a number of Silicon Valley tech companies, has researched this trend and says there are plenty of reasons why business owners should take business to the outdoors.
Show your authentic self.
Pairing personal lives with business is the new way of doing business. Gone are the days when you were expected to check who you are at the door and put on a business persona at the office. Business now is being made more personal.
“This generation of business leaders want who they are and what they do to be the same thing,” says DeFelice. Bringing outdoor recreation activities, something that previously would have been done outside work life, into the workplace arena is simply another way of making business a more authentic experience.
Differentiate your business.
Whether you take a new client on a hike, a raft or a dog sledding, there’s no doubt the experience will stand out and will differentiate you from other companies they’re speaking with. “Everyone can go to a restaurant or a golf club,” says DeFelice. Another restaurant meal isn’t going to stand out in someone’s mind as much as going white water rafting, for example.
Create a connection.
The bond that’s created over a shared activity is much deeper than anything you would get if you were having a chat in a boardroom or over a drink in a restaurant. DeFelice says participating in an outdoor adventure activity is a shortcut to a deeper connection.
"If you have a client who’s into mountain biking and I’m into mountain biking, we have this shared value. We’re part of this tribe,” he says. “If I bring him or her to a restaurant, which I would have done a generation ago, it doesn’t say anything about me or about him or her.”
Outdoor adventure activities have a way of allowing us to learn something about each other that’s just not possible in other settings.
What type of activity should you try?
When choosing an activity to engage in with a client, co-worker or group of employees, DeFelice advises following three guidelines:
1. Make it authentic.
“Don’t do something because you think it’s going to be effective, but do something that’s meaningful to you and that you really enjoy doing,” he says.
2. Make it accessible.
If you’re taking a group of people on an adventure, find an activity that can appeal to a variety of individuals’ levels and abilities so as not to risk excluding anyone from participating.
3. Make it challenging.
Challenges, DeFelice says, help to further cement the bond that develops through participation in outdoor adventure activities. “It’s that whole ‘If we get through the trenches together, there’s a bond created that lasts a lifetime,'" says DeFelice.