I’d toyed with all sorts of businesses and in 2005 found myself working with a nanotechnology research group. On a flight to Boston for a conference, I was sitting next to this guy who was pretty close to retirement age. We had the same laptop and our Wall Street Journals. I was going to be that dude in 30 years. The plane landed, and I went to the conference and resigned. I gave away everything I owned that I couldn’t ride with and took off on a bike trip across Europe, then a dive trip to Australia. I was underwater swimming with bull sharks when I had the idea for a travel company, and I spent two months sitting under a banana tree working out the logistics. I launched Zozi.com in early 2008. We partner with local outfitters to offer remarkable close-to-home experiences—abalone diving paired with a seafood feast, cycling and wine tasting, hang-gliding to a beach picnic. We now have offerings in 19 cities in two countries and are growing rapidly. I feel like we’re having a positive impact on people’s lives, which is very satisfying.
HOW YOU CAN DO IT: Your path depends on your objective. Aspiring adventure-travel guides (salaries start at $25,000) require specialized training in fields like natural history or anthropology, but you can land positions in sales, marketing, and other areas without any background in the industry. Get informed and search for jobs through the Adventure Travel Trade Association (adventuretravel.biz) and the International Ecotourism Society (ecotourism.org).