1- Hello Jonathan, Can you please introduce yourself?
Where do I begin? I always find this an interesting question because I’ve moved around plenty and have never been in one place for too long. I’m a southerner, born in Georgia, having lived in Virginia and Florida for brief periods as well. Both of my parents were in the military, so for as long as I could – I ignored the service. We didn’t come from much, so money was never the value; it was the little things like sitting around a table talking and laughing, doing things together, taking road trips and visiting parks that made my childhood.
It also directed me to my current interest in mental health. I went to school to study psychology and criminology (shoutout to FAU) where I would follow this interest into a part-time career, eventually joining the Army National Guard as Behavioral Health Specialist; with the other half, working as facilitator including clinical hours to become a licensed therapist in the state of Alaska.
The other time I had to myself? Trying to create something that matters – a brand, a calling, a way to bring people together in nature to connect and feel good about themselves; because at the end of the day, that is what truly matters. With help from a friend, I managed to combine my love for mental health, the outdoors (hiking, traveling, etc.) and took a simple concept that was already created and developed the brand that you see today.
My goal is for people to get energized about being outdoor, not mowing the lawn or cutting down trees, but truly embracing nature, taking in all that it has to offer.
2- What are your focus areas and why?
Health, obviously, is one of the biggest things today that we as humans are dealing with. We sit too much, walk too little, and eat more food than we can put out with energy. We are so unique and more powerful than our current versions allow us to be because of the lifestyle we have constructed. We are victims of our own time.
Overall health, physical and mental – they’re all interrelated. No one says you have to be one of these travel nomads (quit your job! Travel the globe! Take awesome photos!) or an entertainer, athlete, or celebrity where travel is as customary as using the restroom. There’s a term going around called “Weekend Warrior” – I didn’t coin this and initially when I heard it, I thought of the National Guard because that’s what they call soldiers who aren’t active duty. However, this has become known to be applied to those who also have to work throughout the week and raise a family. Be the weekend warrior, if anything. Use this time to stretch your legs. Walk far longer than you think you can; go take that hike, or hit the road and take a mini vacation for a night or two – get active and push yourself. Remind yourself that you are not a victim to the 9 to 5, maybe gym for an hour, relax when I can cycle. Take over your life.
Ironically, if you do it in little increments like this, you’ll start to see significant changes in your daily routine. Additionally, you’ll reap the benefits of increased self-esteem, you’ll feel better, your brain will love the challenge and your body will thank you. Overall, you’ll escape negative thoughts, common colds, and the best chance of reducing depression and other mental illnesses. // In our pursuit of overall health, we also donate a portion of our sales to planting three trees.
This is a common cause of many outdoor apparel companies that believe in the restoration of the ground we walk on. What sets us apart is our mental health aspect, but what keeps us apart is this focus area. Like others, we too believe in protecting our grounds, national parks, and planting to help preserve wildlife, oxygen, among others. The little things that we are doing today, helps ensure that our grandchildren can continue to succeed and correct our failures.
3- How do you describe “UCAN Outdoor” in a few words?
Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico (UCAN) as they meet at Four Corners Monument. UCAN Outdoor embraces new advenutures and the power of human connection, bringing people together in nature, just as the logo suggests.
4- Where do you think it’s making an impact?
It’s making an impact economically, as we continue to donate a portion of our sales to planting trees; because of its origin and logo, we have a huge market in Arizona and then Alaska (current location). However, its largest impact is in the health/active lifestyle industry. The outdoor apparel market is a huge niche! There are many awesome companies that have been around far longer than we have and that are killing it.
I hope that we can match or even double their successes as far as reaching out to many people and being recognized as local/global brands. Being that it’s a huge niche, we are focusing on the aspect of mental health and fitness – which is directly related to traveling, hiking, climbing, etc.
For every person that thinks that they can’t get out and explore, or are unable to, or don’t know how… the message is clear: Join us! UCAN too seek new adventures!
5- Tell us about the causes you are supporting?
We support mental health wellness. The results are astounding when comparing what an active person looks and feels like versus a non-active person. I mean, many people today preach go to the gym! Lift some weight! Which I truly believe is a great resource for losing fat and being fit, however, it isn’t that easy for everyone – especially if you are coming right off the couch.
How to get your self-esteem up before even tackling the pressures of a gym? Take a walk; take a hike; go on a day trip outside and take pictures – laugh, sweat, and feel good about yourself. Almost automatically, your self-esteem will increase and by default (because we are excellently designed) you’ll adapt and need a new challenge; but it starts here.
Get outdoors! We also support the planting of trees and preserving nature. We have recently just partnered with One Tree Planted, a huge resource and a wealth of knowledge for anyone seeking to join incredible projects around the globe.
6- Do you think your mindset has anything to do with your success?
Absolutely. 100% times 10. And then 10 more. Your mindset is everything to success. The truth is, no one is going to get up out of bed and do the ground work for you. If you’re lucky, you have a mentor – someone to show you the ropes. If not, like me, you’ll have to rely on your self and constantly battle yourself too.
Negative thoughts will creep in: “I don’t know what to do, I have no training, I can’t put myself out there, I don’t have the time” – which all become true if you let it. I work a full-time job, am still in school (full time), married, actively makes it to the gym (or “some” pushups at work), and manage to squeeze in time for my business ventures, because I want it that bad. Am I where I want to be right now? No. Do I feel like a success? Absolutely not. Then how can I be successful? How can my mindset be so positive? That’s it; that’s the key.
I simply believe that I will take any success that I have accomplished so far and will be much more successful three years, five years, ten years down the road. If I fail today, there’s a big white board in my room where I write down thoughts/ideas/workouts (my wife will tell you) – I’ll go back to the board and try something else. You have to have that winning mindset that no matter what, you can succeed. Because of this, I do. I will. This is just the beginning.
7- If you could turn the time, what would you love to change in regards
to your career?
I would start sooner honestly, but when you’re in your early twenties and at college, you aren’t really thinking of owning your own business and going to work. Yeah, you’re thinking of what it can bring you, but you aren’t planning the groundwork If I had the mindset I had now, the one that is not taking no for an answer, is not afraid to jump into something that I have had no experience or training, then I would be more farther along today than I am right now.
However, everything happens for a reason, and it happened rightly so that I am not only able to make this happen now, that I have the right mindset. At 20, somebody could have handed me a company, and I would have wasted it purely.
8- What is the “one-word” advice you will give to our readers when it comes to succeeding at working while travelling?
Uncomfortable. That’s not a mantra you can say to yourself, I know, but what it means is worth more than gold. It drives your mindset. The thing that fails us today? Is comfort. We are comfortable in how our lives are and are unwilling to take that risk because what it might bring: failure, shame. So what!? Be afraid to fail. Fix it. And fail again until you succeed.
You have to start chasing the uncomfortable and doing things that you once thought was out of your reach. We are all born capable, so why is it that someone else can do it and you can’t? (I’m not speaking of playing the piano or being a star athlete, obviously, there are advantages there) but with business? Travel? Doing what you love? Creating and making things? We all have the ability to chase those dreams and make them a reality.
The difference is the people that completely go out into the uncomfortable, doesn’t take no for an answer, and obtains their reality. Make your reality yours and brave the uncomfortable.
9- What are you most excited about at the moment?
Today. I have the opportunity to not only expand this business but reach many, hopefully creating a spark in someone. There is no greater day than today, and if you can tackle that in your minds than you will get what you want; you will be successful. It’s the little things. Also, we are going out for a road trip and hike to take some pictures – not a bad afternoon.
10- The last word or final thoughts?
I appreciate the interview and for those who might have read this. I wouldn’t be where I am today without a little bit of curiosity, perserverance, and a willingness to embrace the umcomfortable. I am not where I want to be yet, but I promise you I am on my way. I’m hoping to bring others along with me, so I hope to hear from or see one of you out there with me. Thanks again for the chat, do something uncomforable today. Later.
Cherihane El is a Financial analyst at PSPC. Graduated from Telfer School of Management, Finance/Accounting with interest to Entrepreneurship and New Media.