The modern world is a complicated place. With nothing more than a webcam, LinkedIn profile and a social channel or two, anyone can be an expert.
When you’re looking to contract a service, you want the best. With the thousands of influencers, thought leaders and transformational digital strategists all touting their services, this should be a straightforward proposition. It is not.
In spite of the mountains of self-promotion that clog the airways these days, actually finding someone who can do what they say can be a tricky proposition. When the skill you need is specialized or the market nuanced, it gets even harder.
The difficulty finding quality content services is part of the reason I compiled this living resume. It provides context on my background and skillset as a brand storyteller.
My professional experience has been interesting, exciting and high level… it has taken place on an international scale. Because my resume and skillset do not fit cleanly into any HR boxes, I figured it was reasonable to explain what I’ve done and what I can do.
Here it is…
A Brand Storyteller for The Outdoors
My skillset is unique. It is a strange combination of academic (I was awarded a graduate fellowship to one of the best marine science schools in the country), writer, fisherman and business guy.
How is this unique? Consider:
- Most academics can’t fish.
- Most fishermen don’t write.
- Most writers don’t understand business… or fishing.
As it relates to the ability to engage with and connect to audiences, this skillset is important. The foundation of effective writing has little to do with grammar, spelling or syntax. These things help, of course (especially if your intended audience lies outside of Arkansas), but in and of themselves they really don’t make much difference.
The basis of good writing lies in understanding. Understanding the subject, the audience, and the way that the two relate to one another.
Good writing requires the ability to distill concepts and to discern what is important. It also requires the capacity to relate things in terms that are meaningful to the people who are reading it.
Sounds straight forward enough, right? Maybe not. Here’s a couple limiting factors:
- Writers don’t generally understand fishing.
- Those who understand fishing don’t often convey written language persuasively (but they sure can put together a string of curse words when talking!)
- Academics can distill concepts, but when relating them they tend to alienate their audience (especially when the audience enjoy fishing, hunting, boating or outdoor travel).
If you are looking for powerful content that engages, informs and connects with those who enjoy fishing, you are looking for a pretty unique skillset. Someone who understands fishing, writing, and the market for what you are selling.
A Translation of Experience into Action
I’ve been hopelessly passionate about fishing since before I can remember. Fishing and the ocean railroaded my educational plans and career aspirations since before I began formulating them.
I decided to study marine science/ policy in college because I figured marine biologists likely fish more than accountants. Turns out, I was right.
The Billfish Foundation
I started my career as a science and policy specialist for The Billfish Foundation. I was incredibly fortunate to not only work closely with some of the best and brightest in conservation (chiefly Ellen Peel, TBF’s longtime president, and the late Dr. Russell Nelson, TBF’s Chief Scientist and one of the world’s preeminent marine scientists), but to get to travel widely and fish with some of the best to ever do it.
At The Billfish Foundation I traveled to Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, Aruba, Australia, London, the Canary Islands and across the United States. A position that started with data analysis turned into writing, speaking, and giving presentations about sportfishing’s value to conservation around the world.
I got to fish in billfish tournaments, help conduct a 7-country tour of tagging and conservation workshops across Central America, give presentations to a series of fishing clubs across the east coast of Australia (from Sydney to Melbourne to Cairns), and much, much more.
Managing a Marlin Fishing Lodge in Panama
During these travels, I met and became friends with a group of Canadians who owned a mothership-based marlin fishing lodge in the Pearl Islands. One thing led to another and my now wife Alex and I moved to Panama to manage the operation.
If you are going to leave a dream job, choosing a place where you regularly catch 80-pound roosterfish and giant black marlin is a pretty good transition. As General Manager and Director of Fishing I not only had the coolest job title ever, but was in charge of an operation that included a crew of 21 (including two engineers, two chefs and a staff cook, three hospitality workers, four deckhands and fishing crews consisting of a captain and mate per boat), an office in Panama City and a fleet that consisted of four sportfishers, a 163-foot mothership and a panga.
The clientele came largely from Canada, the United States and Europe. The experience we provided combined the incredible fishing and remote beauty of Panama’s Pacific Coast with fine dining and top shelf wine and adult beverage offerings. We split our year between Isla del Rey in the Pearl Islands (located 60 miles offshore of the Panama Canal) and Coiba Island near the Costa Rican border.
This job was awesome. It was a lesson in management, problem solving, staffing, budgeting, logistics, customer service and, of course, big game fishing. From there we moved back to the states. After a stint working as the southeast regional manager for Pelagic Gear, I teamed up with my friend Dale Wills, publisher of InTheBite Magazine.
For about four years I was the Editor-in-Chief of what grew to become one of the best magazines in the business. Here I not only wrote articles for each issue and quite a bit of web content, but led editorial planning, strategy and assignment to contributors. I also edited nearly every article that appeared in the magazine.
My time at InTheBite was great. It included fishing, travel (to such places as the Galapagos, Hawaii, bluefin tuna fishing in southern California, Costa Rica, Panama and more), and writing. I left InTheBite to commit to my own business full time.
Fish Travel Eat
I started FishTravelEat.com and went full time into my consulting practice. In 2013 I opened an LLC that had operated largely in the background. Working with a variety of clients, my consulting work led to all manner of interesting things: helping deliver a yacht from Florida to Costa Rica, helping an American client sell a rainforest resort in Belize, helping a Canadian client outfit a custom-built power catamaran for marlin fishing in Mexico, and providing copy writing and editorial services for a variety of business interests.
My first client was the MONGO Offshore Challenge a summer long, offshore fishing tournament that spans the gulf coast. I began serving as director of marketing after the tournament’s inaugural year. Working with a small team of great people, in it’s second year the MONGO broke the Gulf coast record for tournament participation.
As the business grew, I was soon providing content services for The Billfish Foundation and the great people at Kusler Yachts, contributing for GearJunkie.com and Marlin Magazine and working with Bass Pro Shops, Pure Fishing, Simrad/Navico and other leading companies in the outdoor space. Things were rolling and it was wonderful.
Sometimes You Just Have to Say Yes
About this time, I got an invitation that changed the direction of things. It started with a phone call I recieved at the Captain’s Meeting of the 2021 Billfish Pachanga tournament in Port Aransas, Texas. It was an invitation to come to Missouri for an interview.
There are times in life when you just have to say yes, and this was one such time. My family and I moved to Missouri to accept a position in executive management for Bass Pro Shops.
As Director of Conservation and Brand Communications, I learned an awful lot. The experience was akin to getting an MBA with specialties in free market economics and conservation from the Johnny Morris School of Business.
The position provided the occasion to write for a variety of audiences– from brand stories, to technical product pieces, conservation profiles and consumer education. I worked closely with leadership teams and members of the C-suite, along with conservation, marketing, product and merchandising, digital strategists and e-commerce personnel. It was a really great experience working with the most influential team in the history of outdoor retail.
To this point my career has been a wild ride. I am incredibly blessed to be able to support myself and family doing things that I love.
I’ve fished on four continents, placed in some of the world’s most exciting billfish tournaments, done work in 18 countries, have more than 150 publishing credits (here’s a few of my favorites) across print and digital media and served on leadership teams at Bass Pro Shops and sat in advisory panel meetings for the National Marine Fisheries Service. I understand fishing from a variety of perspectives—conservation, commercial fishing interests, sportfishing, the product landscape, the fishing media universe, apparel, tournament fishing and fishing tourism.
I’ve been fortunate enough to catch marlin and sailfish with three of the most prolific billfish captains in history (Brad Phillipps, Ron Hamlin and Chris Sheeder). Caught sailfish, blue marlin, yellowfin and bluefin tuna in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, caught swordfish day and night—on rod and reel and with handline.
I bring all of this experience and perspective to bear when creating and delivering professional services. I pride myself on the ability to consistently deliver meaningful, emotionally resonant content that engages, entertains and informs.
I’d like to think my combination of experience and skillset makes me the best brand storyteller in the outdoors. This may sound like self-promotion. In reality, I’ve written this article in the hopes of avoiding the need to engage in such things. I’m not one to clamor, post and holler about how “transformative” and “influencer-like” I am.
I believe that substance trumps bullshit. I believe that business success relates directly to the ability to do what you say you are going to do. If you make your living in the fishing, boating or outdoor space, I can help.