Being a Brand Ambassador

For those of you who know me, you are aware that I get excited about things. My friends always laugh and say, ” Really Pat, is this the best?” I say, ” this is absolutely the BEST!” They chuckle and laugh at my enthusiasm for a wide variety of products. Recently, I went camping with a friend and used an instant coffee called Alpine Start out of Boulder, Colorado. Now I am a bit of a coffee snob but cranking up my Jet Boil, I got the water nice and hot and used the packet of Alpine Start which is a convenient instant coffee for the outdoors crowd. I was pleasantly surprised and so was my friend when we sipped the absolutely delicious coffee each morning. When I tell you it is the best, believe me, it is. I can hear my friends, but try some Alpine Start.   info@alpinestartfoods.com

As part of my enthusiastic nature, I usually contact a company and tell them how much I like their product. In some instances, like with Alpine Start, they made me a “brand ambassador.” I am not on the payroll, I just get some courtesies for promoting the product and a nice SWAG box full of goodies. It is their way of saying” thank you” and hoping that I talk it up with my friends. So what makes me a candidate to be a “brand ambassador” for anything? Well, lets go to another example from my friend Niall who is in the bicycle industry. He asks me from time to time to post something on my blog about new lines that he carries. For that courtesy, he makes me a “brand ambassador” and I get more SWAG and some courtesies from his companies that he represents. I don’t do it unless I believe in the product, but Niall says that I cover a wide swath of outdoor people with whom I interact and that makes me, in his eyes, a good brand ambassador. I am not a pro athlete, I am not on the payroll, the companies just see me as an enthusiastic guy who might exert some influence on my friends in the outdoor world to try a particular product.

When I became certified as a ski instructor back in the day, it opened up another similar opportunity to take advantage of “pro deals” which gives me deep discounts on ski equipment and clothing. For this courtesy, these companies rely on us to use the product when skiing and generate some conversations on the chair lifts which may result in a sale of the product to the public. Again, not on the payroll, just promoting the products in exchange for some nice discounts on products which I would normally use anyhow.

Taking this a step further, being a brand ambassador can be applied to recommending a shop with whom I am comfortable. I like Dirty Harry’s Bike Shop in Verona, Pa. and recommend their products and services. Barry and the boys are always nice to me down there when I buy something or get my bike repaired. I appreciate their friendship and great service and recommend them mostly because they are my friends. I am not on the payroll, just promoting them because of their friendly expertise.

Taking this a final step, our marketing department for the company where I am employed recently had a lunch and learn where they said that we all are “brand ambassadors” for the company when we interface with customers, carriers, and suppliers. When you think of it, if you are employed, you are representing your company every day. In exchange for a good job, benefits,culture, and the occasional SWAG, you should promote your company like I do with Armada. We do a great job for our clients like McDonald’s, and they appreciate the hard work and ethic that we have in servicing their supply chain needs.

So again, you don’t have to be a pro athlete to be a brand ambassador. I do it as an employee of my company. I also do it for companies like Alpine Start where I believe in their product. I promote my local bike and ski shop. I also promote product which I believe is superior in the outdoors industry such as Stockli Skis, Lange boots, and Patagonia clothing. Yes I get a pro/bro deal, and it helps my financial bottom line, but I would not do it if I did not believe in the product. You have to be true to yourself, otherwise, you are just a deal monger and your influence and recommendations are nothing short of shallow. So, think about it. You can be a brand ambassador. If you are enthusiastic about a product, email the company and tell them. You never know, they might come back to you and ask about your sphere of influence and make you a “brand ambassador.” I doesn’t cost you anything other than the specified guidelines for promotion and your good word. Thanks for reading.

Ski Camp for Old Guys

As we pulled into Huntsville, and exited the vehicle after a great day of skiing at Snowbasin, we ran into the town drunk who cheerfully slurred and pointed,”  in there- the best cheeseburgers in town.”  I knew he was right because I had been there before but some of our posse had not and we all were treated to the simple fare of cheeseburgers, chips, and beer at the Shooting Star Saloon.  Check out their sign.IMG_0097  Aside from the ceiling filled with dollar bills and the “jackalopes” mounted on the wall( mythical jackrabbits with antlers), the St. Bernard head mounted on the wall that was accidentally shot after rescuing 11 skiers trapped in an avalanche, and the lone pool table, the oldest tavern in Utah survives on simple fare and simple customers.IMG_0096  A great place for us to relive the days exploits at Snowbasin- the site or the 2002 Winter Olympic speed events for skiing.  IMG_0088

The five of us who get together every year are avid skiers.  From left to right we have Mark Hutchinson(our historian and former race coach at Stowe), Eric Durfee( our ring leader and organizer from Lake Tahoe via Vermont), Proctor Reid( ex ski racer from Dartmouth who grew up with Hutch and Eric in Vermont), yours truly, and Bart Smith( our host this year from Park City and ex Cornell racer along with Eric) Our missing member this year was John Ingwersen, another ex Cornell racer.  Traditionally we have gone to Tahoe but seeing that the conditions were bleak for the second year in a row, Bart generously offered to host the group at his place in Park City.  This group is a passionate one.  Much like guys who go on golf trips, fishing trips, or hunting trips.  Comradery is the key component to any outing like this but our group also values time on the hill.  These guys are bell to bell, first chairs and last chairs up the mountain for the day.  It is hard to chronicle the enthusiasm. It really is something to experience.  Skiing is not just something this group does, it is a lifestyle.IMG_0178.JPG  Sitting around the apres’ places having a beer and eating a buffalo burger, you hear some great stories about ski racing in New England, and relationships with some of the big names in the ski world.  Hutch and Eric’s old friend George Tormey was the K-2 ski rep for years as well as a race coach at Stowe.  The K-2 Four ski was made available to Bode Miller originally to race at Sugarloaf in the Junior Nationals.  Bode won by a large margin in most of the events including the speed events using the conventional K-2 Four shaped ski.  It was innovative at the time and Bode wanted to use them.  The only other pair available went to Travis Durfee- Eric’s son who was a top ranked junior racer in New England and eventually made the Far West Team when the family moved to Tahoe.

Sitting around Bart’s table, one can continue to hear great ski racing and ski instruction stories from the past and the single focus of our week long adventure is skiing, skiing, and more skiing.  We wake up and decide which area we will ski for the day, eat breakfast provided by Bart and his wife Joe in absentia( she went to visit her mom),  ski all day hard usually in a fast pace line weaving through unsuspecting skiers on the mountain, having a beer and something to eat, showering, watching March madness and retiring usually at 9:00 at night.  No night life on these trips, skiing is too important and our fearless leader makes sure we are first ones in the parking lot and first on the chairs.  Pretty good for a group of  in shape guys that just turned 60.  Bart is a year older but he is the strongest one of us all.  First time I met Bart was years ago when I saw him launch himself straight into Corbett’s Couloir in Jackson Hole while we were trying to inch our way into the couloir from the side.03jack395.2  I said to Eric,” Who is this guy?”  Eric said, ” you will find out a lot about Bart.  Try to keep him in sight.”  A true strongman and powerful skier.  Age means nothing in this group.  All good skiers.  All strong skiers.  Jokingly Bart said one morning, ” this is like summer camp for old guys.”  The great thing about this annual gathering is that none of us think about anything else but skiing hard, laughing, and reliving old times.  Eat breakfast, ski, have a beer and something to eat afterwards, relax and do it all over again the next day- just like camp!!  Lots of sleep and up with the birds.  Might not be interesting to many people who include other things on ski trips, but for this group, this plan works just fine.

Friendships like this are rare and should be cherished.  When you start to lose friends like I have this past year, these get togethers are even more important.  You never know what will happen in life, but if this group has anything to say about it, the conditioning and the all out enthusiasm will keep us going for a long time.  We don’t think about age.  We think about challenge and keeping it all going.  Hopefully you are fortunate enough to have a group like this.  Work at the friendships and keep outings like this alive.  Thanks for reading.