As part of Travel + Leisure's new technology and innovations vertical, The Grid, we're rolling out a video series all about the ideas, products, and people shaping the future of travel. Next up: entrepreneur Philip James on how adventure travel is like running a business.

By Melanie Lieberman
August 04, 2016

Entrepreneur Philip James—CEO and founder of the wine commerce site Penrose Hill—is no stranger to uncertainty, risk, or adventure. He climbed Mount Everest in 2003, and has taken an unreal motorcycle trip across Europe and Mongolia. He also started his own company (which has a partnership with Time Inc).

According to James, going on an epic expedition requires some of the same skills and personality quirks as launching a new business.

“You know where you are, the origin point, right at the beginning.” James explained, “and you know where you’re trying to go—[be it to the] top of a mountain or to build a successful business.”

With your goal in your mind, you can only imagine the road there in fairly broad terms—beautiful landmarks and unusual pit stops—but there may be no clear trail to follow. Even if there is, you will encounter unexpected obstacles and roadblocks along the way.

James said that, like embarking on a great excursion, you “fill up with gasoline [and] have enough food and water to make it to the next village or city.” But you have to accept that you can’t anticipate where every rest stop may appear, nor every barrier and setback.

“You can’t plan around a corner or see over the horizon,” James continued. “There will always be twists and turns.”

More than anything, an entrepreneur has to be OK with uncertainty—just like travelers have to be flexible and open-minded.

But James notes that uncertainty is not the same thing as risk, which is cumulative. “You can undertake things that are uncertain, [while] you work incredibly hard to minimize the exposure to [risk],” James concluded.

For travelers, specifically, that means taking precautions (contact the embassy, give your kids the hotel’s business card) securing your belongings, and being intrepid. After all, some of our most gutsy trips can be the most memorable adventures of our lifetime.

Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.