Icons Of Impact: Two Globetrotting Entrepreneurs Whose Travel Films Inspire Impact - http://travelporn.info | luxury travel sitesApril 23, 2018 9:47 pm
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Traveling with purpose offers us a powerful window not just into our world but ourselves.
When you combine that with inspiring storytelling and gorgeous content, it’s hard to stay home.
That’s the secret sauce behind Somewhere Devine.
Wife and husband founders Hailey & Brad Devine are helping digitally-native millennials hop off their iPhones and into a world of adventure travel. All of its still highly Gramable – but the real purpose is to cultivate an ethos of service and human connection.
Hailey and Brad spent a week in NYC with Forbes Impact exploring what it means to align our capital and our businesses with our values.
Brendan: This has been so fun – thanks for coming into town for our Forbes Impact dinner. What was your impression?
Hailey: My first impression was completely different than expected. Coming to New York, I expected it to be more business and super formal but it was very casual, intentional, and I loved how everyone was about making an impact in a genuine way. It was so inspiring.
Brad: For us it was a room of about 15 strangers and as we went through the introductions we realized all these accomplishments and titles each person holds. It’s a power team but then you learn these people have big hearts. I loved hearing Nathalie who said, we can talk all these nice things but let’s do something about it. That was something super refreshing to see.
Brendan: Exactly, its not just people resting on their laurels. We’re all inspired by you two and the incredible content you put into the world. Tell us about Somewhere Devine and how impact enters into the equation for you?
Hailey: Brad and I started filming together for corporate retreats and events about eight years ago. It was before we got married, so we were actually business partners first.
Brendan: First?? We’ll come back to that … [chuckling]
Hailey: Through filming, we had the opportunity to travel globally and participate in some really cool service projects with these companies. We started our blog Somewhere Devine to bring readers along for the ride. We started Somewhere Devine Expeditions because there was a push from our online community to join us and to make a difference together. And so, in 2015 we opened up our very first Somewhere Devine Expedition and we sold out in about 24 hours.
Brendan: Let me pause you there for a second. Was it a little scary suddenly opening up to your fans, to say “come with us” – bridging the online world to the real life?
Hailey: Yes! We were super hesitant at first – it was 35 complete strangers coming from around the world to Fiji! The outcome surprised us for the good. We had an incredible group. This year we’re hosting our fifth service expedition and have made lifelong friends through these trips.
Hailey: Truly, sincerely.
Brad: It’s super interesting because from the social standpoint of being online its vicarious living. We wanted to eliminate that and say, “Come join us.” The initial reason was people loved the travel and adventure aspect but what we had under our sleeves was the service aspect. The best way to get to know a country isn’t just to enter and do tourist stuff, but to see eye level with people of the community. We went to Peru for one trip and took our group to a village that sat higher in elevation than Machu Picchu where I had contact with the village chief. I asked him what he needed and told me that the education opportunity was everything. So we brought both monetary donations and he put us to good work. We’ve returned to the village since to help build on work we did in the past.
Hailey: It’s so important for us to continue that relationship and to always be looking for the future of the next project to be done in that community so that we can come back.
Brad: We’re learning as we go too what kind of service to provide because some can actually be a negative. What we really want to achieve is service projects that provide self-sustainability. That’s something really cool with our upcoming trip to Zambia.
Brendan: Tell me about this trip to Zambia?
Hailey: So we’re hosting our 2018 Somewhere Devine Expedition in Zambia. The main focus is educating young women and females in this small village. We want to help them escape human trafficking by learning basic computer skills to be able to get a job and not have to go into that.
Brad: Our groups are typically 75% female between the ages of 18 and 30. Most come from more first world countries where we were privileged to learn basic computer skills. The things we take for granted – like knowing how to type, open up a web page, create an email or social media – we’ll help give them those tools to learn how to start a blog or a business online.
Brendan: How was the journey to start your company and what was tough about it?
Brad: It has been crazy, but in a good way! We had the vision from the very beginning but getting there alone was the struggle. Our hands were full with so many other projects like our blog, Youtube channel, traveling six months out of the year and just life itself raising our two daughters. Partnering with Lindsay Hadley, the owner of Hadley Impact, has been a huge step forward for us. She’s well connected with so many “for good” organizations, and its reassuring to know that the companies we now partner with on our expeditions are transparent and trustworthy.
Brendan: What’s been most surprising about the journey, or what do people think about what you do that’s actually not true? In the online world things often take on this incredibly beauty but in real life they’re messier and there’s struggle and a lot of hard work.
Hailey: I think what people don’t see is all of the hard work that goes into everything we create. Also from the outside, it can look like we have our life all put together but we definitely don’t. We just choose to share the highlights our life on social media, and the highlights of these expeditions too. There’s always some type of bump on these expeditions, but I think that’s whats makes it so fun and bonds our group closer together too.
Brad: Usually on these trips, the majority is service and then we have an excursion part where we see some of the sights. We stay at hotels so people can have a reset – but we like to put people in a vulnerable environment so they can detach from their own world and for a second enter the lives of these people. There’s no other way to do it than just diving in the deep end. That’s the cool experience of going on these trips and what we love.
Brendan: Sometimes building businesses with impact has trade-offs people feel they must make. As you design trips, has there been moments where you felt like you like the wow factor needs to supersede the impact factor?
Hailey: It’s a great question. Our first expedition to Fiji it felt like we roughed it a little too hard, staying the entire trip on a remote island with villagers. The next year we tilted it a little too luxurious in Thailand and felt like our group didn’t bond as closely as we did in Fiji. So Peru this year was the year we found the sweet spot. And we were so happy because we did 3/4 of the trip service but then we stayed in a nice hotel to reboot and see one of the wonders of the world, ending the trip on a really high note. We start the trip with service so that it really binds the people together then end with something fun.
Brendan: Tell me about what it’s like to work with your love, your business partner, your friend? I mean do you get tired of each other?
Hailey: Surprisingly not!
Brad: Well I’ll let her answer … [laughing]
Hailey: I don’t get sick of him but he gets sick of me! It’s been a definite learning curve. The first year of marriage was the hardest. When we got married we were thrown in the fire because we were literally spending 24 hours of the day together, working so closely on projects we were so passionate about and putting our hearts and souls into it. So having that other person correct you caused a lot of conflict because our work is something we’re both so passionate about. As our marriage has gone on it’s gotten a lot sweeter. Like I feel like every year that we’ve been married we’ve found this rhythm and now we’re almost six years into being married and I think this is our sweetest year yet. We’re still learning but we’re we’ve really figured out that rhythm.
Brad: We’re finding it. I think one of the hardest things as an artist, which is what we really are – our heart and passion and faith is what drives the service but behind all of we do videos and create content – I think one of the hardest things for an artist is delegation because you have it envisioned. Thankfully Hailey is like a rare mystical unicorn because she loves to edit and not many people do, and I love to shoot, and we both storyboard together. We’ve learn to support and celebrate each others strengths, and I think we’ve finally found a rhythm!
Brendan: Last question, who do you consider to be an icon of impact for you?
Brad: I really admire Elon Musk, he’s just disrupting the normal ways of life. And it’s funny, you could look at him as if its someone with a lot of money doing whatever he wants but I can only imagine how much criticism he gets. I think its inspiring to listen to the inner voice and do what you think is right. The second one is my mother. I find myself very blessed and privileged to call her my mother. She’s probably the most loving person I know in my life. She would take anyone and bring them into the house and you’d find kiss marks all over their face and a warm meal for them. And zero discrimination. With the times right now of so many things like hatred and racism and separation, I was educated, but I wasn’t exposed to any of that. Thankfully from the lens of my parents and no matter your skin color, you got to know the person for who they are, and when it comes to helping others you take the shirt off your back. I look up to my mom and dad for that. They are where I bring a lot of my energy towards giving back.
Hailey: So my icon – you’re probably going to laugh – is Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers. Nothing he did was for fame. He simply wanted to make an impact in raising good people, by teaching them good morals, how to love each other, and that’s where big social impact starts. They start within ourselves and within the people who are within our own reach. The second person is my dad. He, sorry – let me get my composure – he is a son of two immigrants who came to the U.S. from Norway and made the American dream. He is such an incredible example to me, because he has lived his entire life serving his community in tremendous ways, simply out of the goodness of his heart. A lot of people don’t know it, but he’s built pretty much all of the trails and bridges on the mountain side within our community. He’s out there everyday blasting rocks, moving trees and making it a safe place for everyone to enjoy. He’s out there rain or shine, summer or winter. His passion for service is so inspiring. For my entire childhood, he was a volunteer wild land firefighter. I remember him coming home after a few days of hard work with his face all covered in soot. Now every time I smell wild land smoke, it’s so nostalgic to me. I think it will always remind me of my Dad and his selfless service, and I love him for that.
Brendan: Thank you for sharing that and for the incredible content you both create.