Gingers can inspire too you know. Or 5 lessons from ‘How we built our careers around our passions’.

5 Things Adele Learned from Last Night’s Esc Wednesday:  ‘How we built our careers around our passions

Last night deep underground in London’s Adam Street Club, Ben Keene and Dave Cornthwaite, told us their stories.

One of them rented a Fijian island. The other skateboarded from one coast of Australia to another. As you do.

I doubt I was alone in feeling extremely boring in comparison to last night’s awesomely special guest speakers.

[Scroll to the bottom to see details for how to enter the ‘Escape List’ Adam Street free evening membership life-changing competition!]

Escape the City, Escape Wednesdays from Step One on Vimeo.

So who are these characters?

Ben founded Tribewanted (Fiji and Sierra Leone) – their mission is to build sustainable communities in amazing places that benefit locals and visiting members; inspiring positive change within and far beyond the village. Ben’s website and his Esc Hero profile.

Dave is a world record-breaking adventurer, author, and motivational speaker. He is four journeys into his £1,000,000 Expedition1000 project: 25 x 1000+ mile journeys, each using a different form of non-motorised transport Dave’s website and his Esc Hero profile.

This is what I learnt:

1. You can’t just stumble upon your passion.

Dave talked about how we all have passions. Often, it’s just difficult to figure out what they are. Remaining in the same environment doesn’t bring you different results – you need exposure to the world in order to figure out your place in it. When Dave was 25, he had a house, girlfriend, cat, steady job – but he could help but feel like there was more to life. He had no idea what he was passionate about, but it was travel that changed him.

2. Comfort kills ambition like nothing else.

Dave had studied Maths, gone to university, and was comfortable in his mortgage and with a steady pay cheque – but he soon realised that he had never asked himself what he wanted out of life, what made him happy. Being happy and being comfortable are not the same thing.

3. These things don’t happen overnight.

We all need money to live. Developing your passion and turning it into sustainable revenue is a process that can take years, not months. Dave had been skateboarding for 18 months, from one end to Australia to the other, but had no idea what to do the day after he finished.

Ben: “You can have cool ideas but not know where they’re going… [taking the leap] is the only way you find out. Just by following something and sticking with it… opportunities arise.”

4. Being brave doesn’t protect you from disaster.

Ben had a crazy story about his first three months with Tribewanted – in summary, there was a fire, cyclone, scam accusation, and coup. However, he and the business made it through – and now the episode is a story that he tells at events like last night’s…

I was marvelling at how he just talked about ‘raising finance’ and renting an island’ as if it was as easy as anything else. Then I realised, a lot of things ARE very easy – they’re practical things and can be broken down into steps that need to be taken. It’s emotional fear that gets in our way or makes us think that things are harder than they actually are.

5. Belonging is a human need.

Ben talked about how Tribewanted created a different ‘scene’ in Fiji, one where evenings were spent sitting around the fire, sharing stories and playing guitar and drinking kava. All tourists who came, he said, fell in love with romanticism of belonging to community.

Community – feel like you really belong somewhere and playing your little part. Can live sustainably because you can see it. Idea of belonging was really strong. Different from scene of western definition of Fiji. Real Fiji.

Massive thank you to Ben and Dave for last night’s talk. The Esc team were gutted to have missed it. Looking forward to plenty more in 2012. And thanks to Adele for a great review. Keep an eye on our Events page for 2012’s calendar of events.

How to enter our Escape List competition.

noun – esc·ape list  [esc-ape listfree-dom; Fr. le-escape]

Definition: Product of soul-searching and reflection on personal goals. Separate from ‘bucket list’ concept through the fact that the core objective is to complete tasks on list now, not just before you kick the bucket. An Escape List should be a minimum of ten dreams long, there is no maximum. Thought of each item on list should make list creator smile. Completion of full list should be sufficient to fundamentally shift perspective / make corporate escape a reality.

Each item on list should fall within following categories:

1. Financial: not an amount to earn, but an amount to save to afford item in question. E.g. Ben worked hard and saved enough money to visit a Tribe in Fiji.

2. Physical: opportunity to develop/ continue health and fitness driven by an end goal involving physical challenge. E.g. Dave trained for days in order to skateboard across Australia.

3. Psychological: little to no impact on physical health or financial stability, a psychological item simply offers the list creator a chance to vacate his/her comfort zone. E.g. Seb stayed awake for 72 Hours, just to see if he could.

The rules of the game

UPDATED RULES!! You don’t win by completing your list (although that is the ultimate objective) – post your Escape List below by Friday 9th December and Ben and Dave will decide on the 5 best ones…

  1. Post your Escape List in the comments below.
  2. Publicly commit to completing the list.
  3. Ask for and receive help from the Esc tribe where relevant.
  4. Return when list is completed to glory and applause – proof would be nice.
  5. Dave & Ben will choose 5 lists to win a year’s free evening membership at Adam Street Club.

A fun way to round off the competition would be to write a guest blog post for Escape the City summarising your experiences in taking on this challenge.

Thanks and good luck! Any questions ping @benkeene, @davecorn or @escthecity on Twitter. Or come leave a message on Facebook. Or comment below.

  • Team Esc

    Come on then? Who is going to be the brave first poster? I’ve got my Escape List brewing (Esc Rob) and Mikey’s is coming too!

    • Claudette Dudley

      1. Become a millionaire doing a job I love
      2. To complete a trek through the Amazon
      3. To skydive again (This time not holding on to instructors leg whilst jumping out scared, bit dangerous)
      4. To convert my 1st Skydiving video to DVD and show all my friends for a laugh, maybe even upload on YouTube (How bad was it mmm lol)
      5. To watch a magical sunset from an Hot Air Balloon
      6. To get 1000 followers on Twitter CLAUD250 – hint hint!!
      7. To be a cowboy and ride a horse on an American ranch
      8. Take a Photography Course
      9. To complete something scary at least every two weeks
      10. Write my own Travel/Adventure Blog
      11. Take part in a Flashmob
      12. Take a helicopter ride in an amazing country
      13. To climb Snowdon
      14. To fundraise and publicise Warehouse Project charity in Sri Lanka just visited, more details to follow
      15. Travel to Australia and work with crocodiles
      16. To take part and break a crazy world record – Suggestions accepted
      17. To get in shape and complete a marathon
      18. Complete a message in a bottle on an exotic island
      19. To be brave enough to get on stage and take part in a amateur comedy night
      20. To keep my room tidy – Flatmates requested this one lol
      21. To keep adding to this list….

  • http://www.tobiasmews.com Tobias Mews

    1. Compete in and write about 50 of the world’s toughest destination endurance races (8 big races so far completed, inc the MDS, Transalpine Run, DW, etc).
    2. Inspire young people to take up running in order to achieve motivation, self-belief, confidence, focus and a healthy lifestyle. This will hopefully be achieved through the creation of a charity.
    3. Become the UK’s leading multisport ultra-endurance athlete.
    4. Successfully create a lifestyle and a career that provides enough money that I don’t have to worry about having enough, but revolves around social entrepreneurship, sport, writing and filmmaking.
    5. Save enough to buy a second home in the Alps so I can ski in the winter and then in the summer mountain bike, cycle and trail run.

    • Tatiana Martinez

      1) Skydiving
      2) Learn how to DJ
      3) Walk the Great Wall of China
      4) Eat junk food all day and not feel guilty
      5) Make love in the toilets of an airplane
      6) Drive an Amercian Muscle
      7) Do Route 66 on a Harley Davison
      8) Take a trip to Antarctica
      9) Camel ride in the Sahara
      10) Camp out in the Desert
      11) Experience the carnival in Rio
      12) Spend Christmas on the beach sipping cocktails
      13) Get drunk in Las Vegas and not remember what happened the day after

  • Khiloni Shah

    1. To live somewhere where I can view a starry sky each night.
    2. Pay off the mortgage on my flat.
    3. To be a guest star voice on Spongebob Squarepants
    4. To visit Azerbeijan for Eurovision 2012. Anyone’s welcome to join me!
    5. To be successful AND happy in my next career.
    6. To get my pilot’s license
    7. To make it to the gym
    8. To be fluent in Spanish
    9. To NOT buy an ipad
    10. To open up a school in Kenya for impoverished kids.
    11. To drive from Cairo to Capetown listening to cheesy music.

  • Esther Bielawski

    1. Hold a clothes swap event to raise money for Women for Women International – just £289 can put a woman from a war-torn country through a programme that will change her life!
    2. Start doing volunteer work with Dress for Success – a non-profit organisation that provides suits, confidence boosts and career advice to low-income women in 75 countries worldwide.
    3. Set up my own personal styling company that helps individuals, entrepreneurs and professionals understand how to use clothing as a form of expression of who they really are and thus a powerful form of communication.
    4. Become a recognised voice in the entrepreneur and professional community on how to dress for who you are and convey the messages you want others to receive.
    5. Do a year-long clothing challenge that raises money for Women for Women International, goal is to put a minimum of 100 women through their programme.
    6. Write a style book that helps people to dress they way they want to but with a focus on how to do this in a budget and environmentally friendly way!
    7. Launch my own clothing range using fabrics printed from the beautiful paintings that my lovely fiance produces.
    8. Grow my company so that it becomes my full-time career.
    9. Grow my company so that it can employ other people and supports new designers of ethical fashion.
    10. Become a recognised spokesperson for how fashion can actually have a very positive impact – it is not going to go away, people will always want to buy, buy, buy – so let’s use it as an educational tool as well.
    11. Launch a programme that links food and fashion to help people to be more mindful of what they eat and be healthy – look good, feel good and feel good, look good, right? Obviously the ‘eat less, move more’ mentality of the current age isn’t working – so something new is worth a try!
    12. Lie down and have a short rest and then start on another bunch of projects – I’m going to live until I am very, very old!

  • http://www.ownthesnow.com Andy

    1. Train to be a ski instructor
    2. Create website to connect freelance ski instructors
    3. Generate enough income to quit the world of accounting
    4. Contibute to a social enterprise through pro-bono work
    5. Run the London Marathon in 2013 once I’m back from my instructor training to maintain fitness
    6. Travel to Southern Hemisphere to suss out the ski industry there
    7. Establish brand as the goto location of seasonnaires and instructors
    8. Remove Jack Wills from the Ski scene
    9. Move into a resort
    10. Run a cheap hostel for seasonnaires and student travellers

    • Claire Jenkins

      1. Physiological: . To conquer my impatience with my co workers when working out in India…and to not say…is that an Indian 2 hours or an English 2 hours?
      2. Physiological: To be brave enough to eat more street food in India of the meat variety..and experience getting very poorly
      3. Physiological: Take Ed Stafford, walking the amazon, and John wood, http://www.roomtoread.org and the machine gun preacher for camp fire stories
      4. Financial: save 10k to build my own treehouse in my dads back garden
      5. Financial: save 10k to build 5 libraries with http://www.roomtoread.org
      6. Physical: complete the 4 remaining summits of the 7 summits
      7. Physical financial physiological: give up Xmas dinner to raise money for charity
      8. Physiological: promise myself to keep my eyes and my heart opens…never accept second best because I’m tired of looking for the first..
      9. Financial: save enough money for a 3 month back packing trip in central America to ensure that my city life doesn’t let my lights go out and risk number 8
      10. Physical: take that back flip class that I have always wanted to do at the circus space in London…but can never leave work by 530 to start the class
      11. Physiological: have the confidence to not tone down my personality at work as requested by my boss….Claire….the big boss doesn’t want to hear about all of your adventures…it intimidates people…. Learn to be happy with what I have done, achieved and battled through and denounce Corp bobbins!!


  • Will Holmes

    1. Finish my degree
    2. Set up my own business, which allows me the freedom to explore and have adventures, but is rewarding at the same time.
    3. Run more marathons
    4. Complete the three peaks challenge by as many ways as possible already on 2, planning to kayak it next summer, but what after that any ideas??
    5. Encourage more people to live life adventurously.
    6. Spend more time in Scotland exploring.
    7. On that note walk the Culin Ridge on Skye
    8. Own the as much of the UK on 1:50,000 OS Maps as possible.
    9. Complete some kind of expedition or adventure in New Zealand and Canada.
    10. Help on a charity project in Africa.
    11. Donate at least 15% of what I earn to Charity
    12. Save up to buy some woodland.
    13. Set up a twitter account.
    14. Learn to ski
    15. Save up enough money to be able to set up a trust to support adventure and exploration particularly for young people.
    16. Do some public speaking.
    17. Enjoy life!

  • http://www.meetup.com/barcelona-dance-experiments Barbara

    1 Dance
    2 Have created a dance community via meetup, want to grow it and see other people enjoying it, also using other social media
    3 Perform dance, ENJOY IT AND getting paid for it
    4 Create events with a dance performance and getting paid for it
    5 Travel the world and experiment different dance styles from Indian to African..
    6 Organize dance and yoga workshops at rural/out of the city locations, collaborations welcome
    7 Be more confident, ´behave as you have been doing this for years´,confidence and persistence are the KEYS
    8 Learn a new skill which I can enjoy and also use to freelance anywhere, like Thai massage
    9 Help and collaborate with other people struggling to escape cages
    10 Being happy about what I do
    11 Please contact me to exchange ideas and get going ! supportive comments welcome!!

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/ElusiveLand Anne Dagen

      1 – Get fit enough to skydive again and jump from a Skyvan
      2 – Finish and publish my book
      3 – Acquire the e-marketing skills to publicise my book
      4 – Visit the Dry Valleys of Antarctica
      5 – Finish making albums from my backlog of non-digital photos
      6 – Publish the approach I use for mentoring people
      7 – Travel in Nunavut
      8 – See an active volcano
      9 – Learn to scuba dive
      10 – Find out whether small boat sailing makes me seasick – and if it doesn’t, learn to do it
      11 – Get together a team to develop and market the killer phone app that’s been in my mind for 6 months
      12 – Visit the Orkneys, Shetlands and Faroes
      13 – See Correyvreckan

  • Leon Clowes

    1. learn to play the piano again
    2. travel america and meet other people who were brought up by their grandparents
    3. raise lots of cash for really good causes
    4. start an investigation into why charities are run by the middle class when then should better represent the socially excluded
    5. persuade Burt Bacharach to let me study his work
    6. get fit and live well
    7. be the best i can be

  • Stacey Gledhill

    I know I am a little late on this one but…

    1. Get myself onto Twitter
    2. Buy a railcard before turning 26 in March
    3. Become a member of the Royal Geographical Society and regularly go to talks to keep myself inspired and connected
    4. Spend less time working for someone else and more time developing and learning about my own passions – painting, travelling, learning, reading everything I can.
    5. Complete some independant solo travel through Spain, France and Italy (I am yet to have done any travel without friends and it still scares me a bit!)
    6. Develop a blog for something that I am passionate about. Something small, focussed and managable, just to have something to regularly write about and commit too, and to know what it is like to have a blog.
    7. Finish reading three books I have purchased and am yet to read – Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford, Tribes by Seth Godin, Common Wealth by Jeffrey Sachs.
    8. Start connecting more regularly with like-minded people who want to create/be part of something bigger than themselves

  • Team Esc

    Hi guys – thanks so much for your entries. The judges are just casting their final votes and we’ll be in touch shortly to announce the 5 winners.

    No reason why you can’t still draft up your own Escape List still. If you can help anyone on the list with theirs – advice, help, inspiration, introductions – please leave them a comment!



  • Lavinia Kortlang


    I think i have missed the deadline but thought I would post my list anyway.
    1) See the Aurora Bourealis
    2) Trek the Annapurna Trail in Nepal.
    3) Trek in the Sahara Desert.
    4) Do something challenging to raise more money for charity.
    5) Go to Sierra Leone to be part of Tribewanted out there.
    6) Go back to Belize to check if the school i built many moons ago is still standing and whilst there dive the Blue Hole.
    7) Go to the Amazon jungle.
    8) Get myself out of debt.
    9) Start a sport properly – thinking of fencing or a martial art.
    10) Help my friends and family to be happy.
    12) Save more money and stop wasting so much of it on things like booze. Tell myself Retail therapy is not always the best therapy!

  • Team Esc

    OK guys…

    Sorry for the delay in getting the results to you… Thank you for some awesome entries here. Hope you’re all well on the way to making them a reality.

    The judges have cast their deciding votes and they have agreed on the 5 winners:

    Anne Dagen
    Estha Bielawski
    Will Holmes
    Stacey Gledhill
    Claudette Dudley

    Thanks to everyone for entering. Watch this space for future opportunities to get involved with Adam Street evening memberships. We’ll be in touch separately to let you know how to claim your free memberships.



    • http://www.youtube.com/user/ElusiveLand Anne Dagen

      Thanks you, that’s a great Christmas present. I’m looking forward to using the club and meeting people there.

  • Jessica

    1. Find my passion in life!!
    2. Once I have found it go after it with everything I’ve got – make a difference!
    3. Find an opportunity within an NGO/business where I can develop my entrepreneurial skills whilst having a positive impact on others
    4. Trust and love myself and never give up hope
    5. Complete a marathon
    6. Choose to be happy and make the most of my life!!
    7. Be grateful and appreciate all the wonderful people in my life
    8. Be more decisive
    9. Don’t stop learning, trying and exploring!!!
    10. Keep reading checking this site for opportunities!! :)

    • J

      Dont’ give up..! The decision to be happy is only that.. a decision.. Finding your passion is the hard bit.. particularly if your an ENFP personality type like I am (and maybe you too based on some of your comments..

      Hope this email finds you.. Stay positive and good luck!