Wild Ideas Worth Living

Written by Taylor Kalsey

Sometimes, life can be dull. On more than one Thursday afternoon, I’ve found myself staring out of my office’s window solemnly. With humpday behind me, I thought I could simply breeze through the rest of my week, but here I am at 2:54pm counting down the minutes until my next 10-minute break. It’s in these moments that I start to daydream about the Santa Barbara mountains that are only a few miles beyond my desk chair. I think of all the climbing, hiking, and trail running that I have yet to do – and I get excited for the weekend. But it’s only Thursday. I won’t be able to live out my adventures quite yet, but that’s where Wild Ideas Worth Living comes in.

While I’m working, nobody can fuel my outdoorsy fantasies quite like Wild Ideas’ host Shelby Stanger. Each week she interviews adventurous people from a staggering variety of disciplines, including rock climbers, surfers, and long-distance runners. These sports have little connection on the surface, but Shelby expertly finds practical and universal lessons from her guests’ dramatically varying life experiences. In this way, the show is meant to generally inspire you rather than recruit you into any one sport or to follow the exact path of her guests. After all, you probably won’t be able to climb a 3,000-foot wall without ropes, but you probably have an adventure that’s been cooking up in your head for a while. The show’s overriding philosophy is empowerment; Shelby just wants to inspire you to follow your own Wild Idea, because that’s exactly what she did.

In 2009, Shelby quit her reliable marketing job to start her own marketing consulting company, be a freelance writer, and to spend more time outdoors. For the next 7 years, she traveled around the world and interviewed adventurous folks for magazines like Outside. This all led her to her next wild idea, to transfer her experience interviewing for print magazines into a podcast. Shelby enrolled in an entrepreneurial class, hired a producer, and committed to recording 50 episodes before quitting. 2 years and 96 episodes later, Wild Ideas Worth Living is thriving; within the last year, the podcast has been picked up by REI and has been downloaded well over one millions times.

 But popularity isn’t Shelby’s only metric of success. She loves to hear about her listeners living out their wild ideas. When I asked her about her favorites, Shelby had plenty to share: “One woman wrote to say a show inspired her to move from middle America to Alaska for a new career in the outdoors. Tons of guests have taken up thru-hiking and long distance running. A few college girls wrote to say they are hiking 100 miles over the break. A bunch of listeners have taken up surfing, a few even in their 50s. One guy got sober. A lot of people say they are just nicer to themselves.” I even wrote in to share my adventure, running 15 miles while listening to her interview with ultramarathon champion Scott Jurek.

Each interview feels natural and off the cuff, but Shelby says that her process is, “more than pushing record and asking some questions.” All interviewers research their guests, but Shelby goes above and beyond by preparing her mind before every interview. To stay fully present in her conversations, Shelby combines a pre-interview run, meditation, and cold-brew coffee. When her guests are in person, she even treats them to a surf session and a bowl of guacamole. It’s this unique comfortability with her guests that allows her to soak in their wisdom and pass it on effortlessly to the listener. So if you’re looking for a little inspiration to go on your next adventure, give Shelby Stanger and Wild Ideas Worth Living a try!

Chasing Pods is a Podchaser blog series dedicated to letting our readers know about podcasts they may not have heard of or provide a sneak peek into the making of their favorite podcast. We talk to podcast creators about their journey into podcasting, the creation of their shows, the ups and downs of the work, and what they’re looking forward to for their podcast

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