We had the good fortune of connecting with Jon & Missy Baatz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jon & Missy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
From a high end Information Technology job to the Appalachian Trail and owning my own fresh roasted coffee company. Risks have played a part of shaping my life and who I have become.
Overall in life it seems like most of us are taught to mitigate risk, to stay with what we know, what we are comfortable with. So many people live life well within their comfort zones. For most of my life, I at least somewhat believed in that theory also. I worked as a Network Engineer in the I.T. field; an industry I did enjoy but left little time for my passions. My wife Missy worked in the medical field as a nurse then later a Nurse Practitioner. If you have a loved one in the medical field, you understand how draining it can be.
Missy and I were considered by friends, family, and co-workers as aggressive weekend warriors. We spend every free moment, weekend, vacation, and day off in the wilderness. We love spending time together hiking, backpacking, and camping. It is what we are passionate about.
Well, we finally decided to take a risk in life. Allow ourselves to bet on us, to risk what we at the time thought was normal, working for retirement and then enjoying life. As my wife and I started to consider the life altering adventure of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail, the thought put into our heads that life without risk, without taking a leap of faith, was not something we wanted to continue. We needed to allow some risks into our lives, risks that would allow our passions and happiness to play a bigger part of our lives and careers.
We started peeling back the layers and looking at our lives with new eyes. In this process of allowing more risk into our lives we started noticing unforeseen benefits. One of the greater benefits was that we felt happier and more content overall. That seems a little odd since we were accepting more risk and constantly engaging with the edge of our comfort zones. The more changes we made, the better we felt.
In February of 2019 we started that journey and began our Appalachian Trail hike, a hike of over 2000 miles.
Taking this first big risk was one of the best things we have ever done. Yes we were nervous, but some nerves can be a good thing. We all need to allow ourselves to find that childlike wonder in life again. Find our passions and make them a priority. The process of allowing more risk into our lives did just that for us.
This allowed us to discover a certain amount of exploration in life; a certain amount of risk can be quite beneficial. It opened our eyes to what was possible in life. There really are very few limitations in life and your happiness, if you allow yourself to take more risks. What amount of risk is up to you. You can start small and choose what is best for you, however, make sure to allow some risks. I have a feeling you will benefit from it and expand from there.
In Missy and my lives, that meant taking one of our biggest risks ever. We stepped away from career paths we were decades into, and backpacked across the country on the Appalachian Trail. Taking this risk has changed our lives forever in the best of ways. We now bet on ourselves and put our passions and happiness first in life. Taking measured risks to allow our passions to lead our lives.
While hiking a long distance trail you have a lot of free time to think. We quickly understood this was the start of something big. This first big risk allowed us to take other risks in life and see where the path would take us.
After our hike was done, we decided to sell our house and move into a camper van we built ourselves to travel full-time. We decided to find seasonal jobs on the road as we traveled most of North America. A risk that led us to working on projects that we truly love.
This change in life allowed us to quit our jobs in the corporate world and work on things we are passionate about. For Missy, that is with her company, the Crystal Convergence, working with crystals and crystal healing. For myself, that is my passion for the coffee world. I went from being a coffee snob to owning a fresh roast mail order coffee business, 803 Outpost Coffee. Changing our lives from being worker bees and making money for a corporation, to working on things we are passionate about, is truly life changing.
I know this might sound crazy, but take a minute to truly read and analyze what I am about to say. So many of us trade our time for work and really for the paycheck to buy so many things that we don’t truly need. We work jobs we are not passionate about and even worse, jobs that we don’t even like. So much of that is buying material things to be happy. We all get so caught up in buying shit we don’t need and it has the opposite effect. These material things end up weighing us down, not freeing us. Why do we do this? In so many cases, it is to impress others that we do not even care about or even like, or to fill some type of hole in our lives. It doesn’t work. We are creating a cycle that makes us work even more to repeat that process.
Taking risks in our lives and careers has allowed us to be our most sincere and happiest selves while living in the moment. We sold everything we own that does not either bring us happiness or fulfill a need in life. We no longer buy anything that does not meet the same requirements. We both own small businesses that are built off our passions in life and we love it.
I guess what I am saying is, try to think about how risks may affect you in life and work. You may find out that RISK is not really a four letter word.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Two important things have been with me since the beginning of my work history. Those are great work ethic and a true empathy and caring for others. Growing up in the Midwest working on farms has a way to teach you amazing work ethic. The farm work and chores have to get done, and if you can’t do it they will find someone who can. You work long and hard hours even as a child. In doing so you build the most amazing relationships with these farmers and their families. Because in truth you become part of their family.
At a young age I took those two things with me when I started in the business world. In the beginning that was a sales career. I sold everything from car audio and electronics, home entertainment systems, computers at the once great Gateway Computer company, and into the insurance world selling home and auto insurance. In all of my sales jobs two things were constant, my work ethic allowed me to out preform my coworkers, and how much I cared about others came through to my clients.
This continued into my jobs in the I.T. field. Here my empathy for others and how much I cared about the end uses came through in a field where is not always seen in. I rose to the top.
It is amazing how these two things can help you succeed in so many roles. Starting my own small business, a fresh roasted mail order coffee company was no different. At 803 Outpost Coffee my hard work allowed us to find the best green coffee to import and a truly talented coffee roaster. We always put our clients first, and making sure they understand how much we care about them has allowed this small business to grow early in its development.
There is just no substitute for caring for others. I believe in Karma in this world. I try to be the best person I can and help others, I believe that will come back to me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As someone who lives a nomadic lifestyle for most of the year, we do not have a lot of information for this question. We are traveling to bring our products to new parts of the country. We love meeting with locals and finding out about the best spots to visit in their areas. It is important to take in a little culture from every corner of our amazing country. Also for us to find some of the best hiking.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It is hard to give credit to just a few people. Strong, meaningful relationships have been a big part of my life. I have surrounded myself with people I care about and can benefit from over the years. I hope they feel the same way about me. We have so many supportive friends in our lives and old coworkers that have gone out of their way to help in any way possible. They all need a personal thank you. Like I mentioned in the article, we started looking at our lives differently and groups like The Minimalists, the Charleston SC group especially helped so much in this. There were books along the way that helped us get here such as Marie Kondo the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, Tim Ferriss The 4 Work week, and Cheryl Strayed Wild.