Archive for February, 2009




Our economy is not well. This just might be a good thing.

In certain schools of Oriental Medicine sickness is viewed as a gift.  Why?  Because often it takes ‘getting sick’ before we pay attention to circumstances and actions that cause an existing state of bad health.  We stop.  We alter our situation and adopt new behaviors.  We get ‘better’.  Maybe even better than ever.

When the television show Survivor was first a national phenomenon, I was flown to NYC to be the ‘resident guest adventure expert’ on the CBS Morning Show.  Interviewing those early ‘survivors’ I discovered something fascinating.  Win or lose, they all said the same thing:  facing adversity in the wilderness had changed them. Each in their own way felt altered for good.  They felt healthier.  Renewed.  More alive than before.  Better than ever. 

Any prediction regarding the duration of our time on ‘the island’ of our present economic reality is pure invention. Two things, however, are absolute fact:  1) In the short run, as individuals and organizations  – we must take the opportunity to learn new skills in order to outwit, outplay, and outlast the competition.  2) In the long run, as a people  – we must then adapt these new skills for the survival of our society over time as we head toward the evolutionary goal of living on this planet sustainably, compassionately and…better than ever.




When I began instructing Wilderness Survival courses in the American Southwest at local community colleges, the core message was The Ten Essentials.  Thirty years later, even in this world where change flashes before our eyes at the speed of a hummingbird’s wings, the essentials remain the same.

I’d like to share an expanded version of the Ten Essentials not just to remind you of the basics that should be in your pack on every backcountry outing, but to provide a metaphor for the essentials we’d best remember as we head into the economic wilderness waiting just out our door.  In ascending order – Letterman style – here are this guide/anthropologists Ten Essentials as we clamber from the economic wreckage, shake ourselves off and head out into the terra incognita of our brave new world.

10. Whistle – signal location, attract assistance

In times of trouble, our greatest resource is relationships.  It is essential to let others know your situation in order to draw help, find support and gain allies. Be it an individual energizing his social network or a business, it means resisting the urge to skimp on outreach marketing.  Survival almost always comes down to people helping people.

smoke19. Pocket knife – use a tool to make other tools

Tools are also the skills we have gained over the years.  It is useful to make an inventory of our current strengths and explore how they can best serve us in the current situation.  Gaining new skills is the best way to succeed in a changing environment.

8. Waterproof matches – light a fire

You will likely find little warmth in the current climate, so you will have to maintain the capacity to make your own.  A fire draws people together. Warmth is the primary sign of life.  Do whatever it takes to ensure you are exuding some at all times.

7. First Aid kit – stay healthy

Initial cuts and bruises can lead to severe health challenges if not addressed immediately.  Take care of yourself.  Pay attention to health and fitness for yourself and those around.  In an adverse environment where resources are few, health is truly your greatest wealth.

6. Flashlight/headlamp – brighten the night

Some decisions will need to be made in the blackest hours.  A leader needs to be able to illuminate lives and light the path for those around him.  Anticipate the darkness.  Cultivate the natural light within and don’t be afraid … just let it shine.

5 Extra clothes – be prepared for changing conditions

Exposed to the elements you are vulnerable to shifts in climate.  While it is important to travel light, be prepared for inevitable alterations of landscape and conditions.  Have the foresight to anticipate likely changes and plan accordingly.


4. Extra Food – sustain energy over time

Energy is the secret to maintaining resilience, outlasting the storms, navigating rough terrain, making good decisions. Typically there are few readily accessible sources of energy and nourishment in a wild environment, so best to have some extra reserves on hand.  Don’t panic. S.T.O.P.  (Sit down. Think. Observe. Plan.) Conservation of resources – both physical and psychological – is the key to longevity in tough situations.

scout3. Map – know where you are… and where you are going

Study the landscape until you have figured out your exact location.  Research can provide invaluable information about both your situation and the territory ahead.  Learn how others have found their way past similar chasms and cul-de-sacs.  Following the trails left by earlier explorers can lead to success.


2. Compass  – discover your location, choose your destination, walk a straight line

Valuable as it is, a map is not the territory, it is only a description of another’s experience. Nor can it tell you where you are or where you need to go.  More essential is your compass: your vision and values.

Your values show you true north and allow you to determine your location and direction of travel. Your vision allows you to keep on your bearing.  (Just try donning a blindfold and walking any distance in a straight line.) Vision and values provide the internal compass that will allow you to maintain a consistent course over the roughest terrain.  


1. Water remember what constitutes your life

We are comprised of approximately 75% water.  We emerged from the stuff and even today its presence is the ‘most essential essential’ in our lives.  It is who we are.  Because we are made of it, we literally cannot leave home without it.

What is essential to you?  Of what are you made?   The stories are legion: the climber, the shipwreck, the plane crash survivor makes it back to safety only by grabbing fast to what he holds most dear. For whom do you live?  What is your purpose? Cling firmly to this and you have in your grasp the key that will sustain you and those around you in the face of the most extreme adversity.

Whenever I travel the more remote regions of the world in Autumn, I enjoy watching the locals as they toss their newly threshed wheat into the air.  It is a method as timeless as it is efficient.  The breeze carries away the empty chaff.  The ripe grains fall before them to be milled into the nutritious bread that will bring them successfully through the long winter.

It is called winnowing.







This plunge into primordial wilderness is a winnowing process for humanity.  At the far side, where you and I emerge again into the light, we will discover that the chaff has flown, leaving only that which truly sustains us.  Like the survivors on television who were initially interested only in the fabulous prizes, much to our astonishment we will find ourselves altered for good. Knowing at last  what is essential shall feel lighter, healthier and renewed. More alive than before. 

            Maybe even… better than ever. 

    What shall you choose: the woes of crisis or …  this ‘winnow of opportunity’?







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Will Speak for… Free

Will Speak for… Free

Global Culture Change – My Commitment




I an hereby willing to speak anywhere in the world…. For free.

There is no catch. This is not a hook of some kind.


Let me explain:

We are not in an economic recession. We are not entering a depression.

This is a turning point, the make-or-break moment for humankind. Everything has shifted.  Nothing will ever be the same.

Welcome to the End of an Era… and the Beginning of Something Brand New.

Every generation wants to be able to say:  “This is it.  I have been born into the pivotal moment in human history”.  In our case, however, mounting evidence suggests this is absolutely, undeniably true.


As a student of anthropology I have learned that ‘civilizations’ are not geographically scattered random incidents of society, but interconnected, successive stages in the development of human culture. They are cultural positions along the path of humanity’s progress and evolution. 

We now face the kind of critical juncture that humans have not known since the dawn of the Neolithic revolution, when homo sapiens left hunting and gathering behind to become ‘civilized’.  Now, however, is the moment that we discover that ‘civilized’ does not simply mean cultivating plants and creating infrastructures that permit limitless population growth and the endless acquisition of goods. Our current crisis teaches one huge lesson:

Limitless physical growth on a finite planet is impossible.

What is possible – and essential  – is a re-commitment to the one thing capable of infinite growth: the expansion of human curiosity, understanding and compassion.  Why?  Because we are in the midst of unprecedented social political and economic change.  When an environment changes radically, success is granted only to groups of individuals wise enough and willing to  radically change their behavior along with it.




Recently, some unfortunate personal events have created a fortunate financial situation that allows me, at least for the time being,  to use my speaking skills as a way to give back. I’ve achieved success beyond my wildest dreams in this life. I’ve made it to the top of the heap, been treated like royalty, flown many times around the world and paid unspeakable amounts of money for an hour-long speech. My needs have been exceeded a thousand-fold. Now I want to use whatever celebrity and credibility I have to help bring about the change you and I know this world desperately needs.

So… for non-profits and associations (and, in some cases, even corporations) my fee is now whatever the group can afford. (Of course a full 25% of any honorarium still goes to my bureau colleagues for bureau-generated events) Limitations?  Only calendar, health and family considerations.

The point is? In this massive reboot of human awareness ‘business as usual’ no longer works. It is ‘business unusual’ that is demanded of us. Together we open new ways of considering our life, our work and our connections to life.




From this point onward all of my work will address various aspects of co-creating a Global Culture Change. Which of my topics is exactly right for your audience?

The New Adventure of Change Stirring tales and inspiring visuals create an uplifting presentation providing succinct steps to guarantee personal organizational and success in no matter the outward circumstances. Read more about this new, updated version of my most requested 
keynote at: http://jeffsalz1.wordpress.com or see clips from the talk at: http://www.wayofadventure.com/video/adofchange.html

Leading From the Inside Out This entirely new presentation takes participants on an exciting multi-media journey around the world to discover ‘timeless certainties for uncertain times’. Ancient wisdom provides fresh perspectives for tomorrow’s leaders. See short clips from the talk and download the program description pdf at: http://www.wayofadventure.com/video/LFTIO.html

The Adventure of CSR –  Combine a career spent working with top leadership at the world’s most successful organizations with a lifetime of adventurous exploration and the result is an inspiring hour of magic.  Combining breath-taking visuals and inspiring tales this talk answer the question: How do we create high-functioning, sustainable organizations in the midst of a global economic change? To download a printable pdf go to:  http://www.wayofadventure.com/keynotes/JeffSalz-CSR.pdf

 I chose to speak because I believed I could make a living…

rant   Many years later, I continue to speak because

                                                  I believe I can make a difference.

 An adventure is only adversity rightly considered.   Welcome to the adventure of a lifetime.




Jeff Salz, Ph.D is an anthropologist, author and adventurer who speaks on Global Culture Change, Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility.  Learn more about Jeff’s adventures and Discovery Network specials at www.wayofadventure.com or contact him directly at: jsalz@wayofadventure.com



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