Discover Outdoors: founder Kirk Reynolds combines his passion for adventure and people

Kirk Reynolds has an interesting pair of titles for a New York City resident: Business owner and wilderness guide.

Even after moving to the city, he couldn’t shake his upbringing in rural Missouri: long bike rides and hikes with his parents as a child. Although, Kirk explained, “being outdoors required more effort,” it didn’t stop him from planning weeks ahead, arranging early mornings, car rides, and coordinating friends’ schedules.

His formalized adventures eventually turned into a website called Discover Outdoors. Orchestrating a Saturday morning hike grew into a business that exposes urban dwellers to activities surprisingly right outside their city limits.

Here’s what the CEO and guide of Discover Outdoors shared for this Member Spotlight feature:

Being outdoors is only half my passion. Taking people on unforgettable adventures and experiencing the transformation that happens within them are the best parts about my job. It’s those stories that inspire me to keep pushing.

As a business owner and a wilderness guide, my mindset is always on how I can give to others. The first lesson I train our guides when leading Mount Kilimanjaro climbs is it’s not their summit. We’re there to support, inspire and encourage our members to reach their peak. If our guides reach the summit, it’s not until the entire group has made it to the top first. That mantra led us to the realization that we have been missing a large part of our community.

There are 1.1 million students in New York City and nearly all of them have never experienced the outdoors. We felt a responsibility to provide what could be a life-changing experience to as many students as possible. Hence, our 501c3 nonprofit Discover Outdoors Foundation and Outdoor Rise were born.

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The worst part of owning a business is promoting myself. I’m generally a private person with a preference for humility, but growing a business has pushed me to be a spokesperson for my company. As it turns out, being pushed outside my comfort zone was good for me. As climbers know, sometimes the worst place on the cliff to be is a safe, comfortable ledge. It’s not until we scare ourselves that we really begin to climb higher.

Nothing hits the reset button better than a good run. Every day comes with challenges that can be exhausting or seemingly impossible, but without fail, a sweat-drenched run puts these problems into perspective. My wife and I are avid runners, and I love my office at WeWork because I can take advantage of a midday run over the Brooklyn Bridge.

In the end, starting a business and climbing a mountain hold the same apprehensions to leaping. I think the thing that stops us from making big decisions like launching a business (or climbing a mountain) is the pressure we put on ourselves to have it all figured out before going for it. Most of the time we just need to take the first step. No matter how small or insignificant it feels, taking that first step will create momentum and confidence.

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Photographs by Lauren Kallen

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