Richard Bowles is the founder of Adventure Alchemy, and five-time world record-breaking Australian adventurer. He’s also a multi-disciplined educator, executive advisor and top 20 rated APAC speaker. His risky adventure experiences and unique research have enabled him to accelerate his clients’ performance and organisational progress. His work features in international media including CNN and Sky News and the Today Show.
His extraordinary story starts from modest beginnings; he failed school, worked in construction, retail, drove a truck, made cold calls all before competitively growing a successful sales leadership career. From there he co-pioneered a global sponsorship consultancy and established a national annual convention which saw over a thousand delegates attend from all around the world.
Bowles has dedicated his life to exploring how success can arise from within chaos. His miraculous accomplishments, which include surviving volcano eruptions, crocodile-infested rivers and missile fire, have given him a unique perspective on how businesses can succeed even when the odds are stacked against them. Whilst it’s unlikely that your business is facing the threat of molten lava or ferocious animals, Bowles’ expertise helps companies thrive in the face of adversity.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Richard Bowles: I’m Richard Bowles, I go by many titles, but a simple label would be that ‘I strive to help others lean into the challenges of the modern world.’ If its credentials your after than I guess I’m an Award-Winning Presenter, 5X World-Record-Adventurer, Country Ambassador for Tourism, Documentary Producer and Media Presenter. On that last note, I’ve been coined a ‘Walter Mitty experience’ by CNN and ‘a fascinating educator’ by the Financial Review.
What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you at your company since you started working there?
Richard Bowles: The work that we do means I have an array of interesting experiences, my offical bio explains what world-record-setting adventure experiments we undertake. They are unorthodox research projects designed to inspire and fuel curiosity, backed by neuroscience and psychology. To that end it’s sitting down with our team of psychological experts post adventure that is always the most interesting and intimidating experience. It’s a vulnerable exercise that enables us to understand how change, challenges and crisis work in real time. That unpacking of some astonishing situations and unbelievable circumstances is a far more terrifying experience than when I have every faced many times my own mortality.
No one can achieve success without some help. Who helped you become successful? Can you share a story about that person?
Richard Bowles: Success takes countless people, one person would be hard to quantify. It’s a collaboration of many that brings me to this exact place. I continually add those that I feel would be an asset to my success moving forward, sometimes they don’t even know that they are an integral part of my team, they just mentally hold weight for me.
Can you tell our readers how your company is different in your industry? Give us examples to illustrate those differences.
When it comes to results, our approach is very different, as navigating this chaotic new world requires shifting in thinking and perspectives on business and leadership. We undertake adventure research projects with leadership performance in mind. Leaders acquire the capabilities for change, resilience, adaptability and high performance; with an extraordinary narrative and strategies backed by psychology, delivered within award-winning presentations and education. This enables them to go further, faster in an unpredictable world.
We collaborate with organisations that dare their leaders to see the world from a brand new angle; curious about uncertainty, inspired by constant change and assured in complexity—Leaders resolute in the chaos of modern business. Because then, the future is full of possibilities.
In our explorations, nothing is off-limits and we bring that curiosity to our clients designing presentations to give them the fuel to go on their journey confidently and thrive. When challenge creates momentum, change causes possibilities, chaos equals potential, and complexity becomes progress they succeed even when the odds are stacked against them. The world has changed, we enable them to thrive in it.
Adapt or die is a necessity when navigating challenging times. Tell us how your industry is changing since the pandemic started.
Richard Bowles: The pandemic has been a greatest adventure yet, we saw it as an opportunity to take on the experience and learn lessons and strategies from it, so we could help our clients move through it quickly and confidently. Our biggest change was shifting our delivery from 10% digital to 100%, we had a full calendar of events when the pandemic started, many canceled as they struggled to know what was next, but we immediately designed a platform that went on to now be our biggest form of delivery. We still prefer educating in person, but know we have the ability to educate more people in many more countries in a single day.
Many readers wonder what are the biggest challenges you had to overcome in 2021 to remain successful?
Richard Bowles: The biggest challenge for us was acquiring new business, and developing confidence in our client base. It just meant that we had to work harder and faster for the same return. We also had lined up many international adventure research projects that had to be put on hold. This meant we had to explore other ideas that were not only in Australia, but within what ever radius the government put on us, at one stage this was 5km. This meant we had to be super creative and we found some interesting experiences close to home; this also gave us the opportunity to work with and help the local community.
How did you overcome these obstacles? What helped you the most during these difficult times?
Richard Bowles: We had to work significantly harder though the pandemic, fortunately for us our area of expertise is in the area of adaptability, overcoming challenges and resiliency, which was sought after, so we lean in harder on those topics. We gave a lot of our content away for free, we thought the would be the right thing to do as far as helping those that were not large corporate or association, but realised also that if you give you will get back. This helped us retain clients and gain new ones as the pandemic unfolded.
Share some lessons you learned while adapting your business practices during the past couple of years.
Richard Bowles: Our biggest lesson was getting up to speed with the digital delivery of our work. We new we could not simply educate like we had been. We also knew that who ever was on the other side of that computer screen had a lot going on with work, home schooling etc, so gaining and keeping their attention was going to be a challenge. We had to work out ways to keep people engaged. We developed a system that put the viewer in control of the content ‘live’ it came with numerous headaches as it meant we had to have many slides and new deliveries depending on where the audience decided to take the education.
What advice did you wish you had received before the pandemic that you’d like to share now with aspiring entrepreneurs?
Richard Bowles: Embrace wants next now. We knew digital was the future but we focused heavily on in person education. As much as we still believe that this is always far more engaging and develops leaders performance better, we stumbled when the world changed, or in terms of digital delivery all ready had.
All great companies are spearheaded by great leaders, but tell us how your team supported your decisions? Is there a particular example that stands out the most?
Richard Bowles: I have a small team, they have a tremendous amount of input into how we do things, we evolve together. We support each others decisions as there are some areas that I have no experience in, I trust each person to make the right decisions for the greater good of everybody and what we stand for.
What do you plan on tackling during 2022? Share your goals and battles you expect to face.
Richard Bowles: We want to experience, learn and takeaway new insights and strategies in new areas. We have focused so long on change, challenge and crisis, which we know will never go away., but now we want to develop expertise in the areas of future thinking as this is one of the top skills required in this new era of business. The challenge will be that it will disrupt what we do currently.. We will also need to find new adventures that helps us understand and develop expertise in that topic. We currently have to deliver a lot of what we are already good at, so finding the time to acquire the depth of knowledge required on this new area will take significant time and energy at a potential cost to what we already do.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, I do have one more question for you. When was the last time you did something for the first time and what was it?
Richard Bowles: I’m always doing something for the first time, often the last time too! I’ve just back from a local project that had me working with the dead. A client of ours wanted us to help their leaders with the topics of compassion and empathy, we thought we would find it within those that work with the descended and their families. It was a far more eye opening experience than I could have ever imaged, full of doing things for the first time multi-times a day, over the course of a week. Pick up body from the hospital morgue, check. Wash body at funeral home, check. Embalm body, check. Beautify body with make up, check, dress body…… and so on until burial or cremation, check!
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Richard Bowles for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Richard Bowles or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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