We had the good fortune of connecting with Gray Ainsworth and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gray, how do you think about risk?
I think society has taught us to think of risk as something to be avoided. That’s because it is usually accompanied by its siblings fear and danger. So I always thought I was avoiding risk in my career and that is was serving me pretty well. However, when I now look at it, I was taking risks all the time. It didn’t really feel like it at the time but there were moments when I took on a project or acquired a company or pushed into a new business that was very risky and it was those moments where I both learned the most and had the greatest movement in my career. Avoiding risk is a sure way to stay stagnant. Safe, but stagnant. Avoiding risk means standing still and that is not a the way to grow.
What should our readers know about your business?
My business is a streaming content channel called The Adventure Channel which is designed to reconnect people with the outdoors. We have lost our connection with the outdoors as a people and it is, in my opinion, hurting us. Our experiences with nature are more and more virtual (through screens) and less authentic. The Adventure Channel aims to inspire and educate regular, everyday people to get outside more doing activities like hiking, backpacking & camping, kayaking, mountain biking, cycling, climbing and other human powered outdoor activities. Other providers of this type focus on extreme sports which is really cool but most people can’t do them. I won’t be snowboarding down Everest or surfing Nazare anytime soon! But a dedicated, reliable programming outlet that shows people how and inspires people to get back outside is lacking and needed. Especially during these times of pandemic and political unrest, we can find healing, comfort and sometimes important realizations about ourselves when we are in the wild. This is a new venture just getting started. I’ve spent the last 30 years as a media and entertainment executive for large companies like MGM Studios and Deluxe Entertainment Services. That experience gave me confidence and skills essential to be successful in this venture. One theme that drove me during that time that has carried over to my new venture is taking risks. Not unreasonable ones, but calculated ones. I grew to senior executive roles because I was not afraid to take on unfamiliar responsibilities. Actually, more accurately, I WAS afraid, but was also willing and was supported in taking the risks. My family has been supportive of my endeavors as they know how much it means to me. They’ve taken financial adjustments and learned to fail right by my side. It’s a great lesson to give your children to show them how to fail well. That is, it’s okay to fail and much can be learned by that process of failing. Also, preparation is vital. That’s the “calculated” part of a calculated risk. You must do your homework. Talk to people smarter than you. Realize what you don’t know and learn from that.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Early dinner at The Six
OCEAN ADVENTURE DAY
7:00am – Pick up kayak rentals in Ventura Harbor
8:00am – Board Island Packers ferry to the Channel Islands
9:30am – 12:30pm – Kayak around Santa Cruz Island exploring the sea caves 1:00pm – Lunch made from the previous day’s shopping
2:00pm – Hike around the island
4:00pm – Catch ferry back to Ventura
6:00pm – Grab some Bad Ass tacos in Westlake Village on the way back
10:00pm – Crash
TUESDAY VINTAGE LA DAY Breakfast at The Pantry in downtown LA Tour Union Station and Olvera Street Lunch at Philippe Tour Central Market Catch a game at Dodger’s Stadium
WEDNESDAY. BEACH DAY Slow morning Head to Venice Beach, rent bikes and ride the boardwalk and up into Santa Monica and back Grab sandwiches at Bay Cities in Santa Monica Drive up PCH to Nicholas Canyon Beach Dinner at Neptune’s Net
THURSDAY. DISNEYLAND You gotta do it for out of towners
FRIDAY. THE DESERT Head out early to Palm Springs On the way stop at Skull Canyon and go zip lining On to Palm Springs for the night of some R&R Head to Joshua Tree National Park and take a bouldering class Back to LA That would be a great week.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This shoutout goes to my Dad. My current effort is to launch a streaming content service that reconnects people with the outdoors. This idea has long gestated after a life of loving outdoor activities and connecting with nature. It has been a balm for the chaos and stress that life provides in abundance. My father gave me that love. As a child we spent most of our time together outside hiking or playing sports. He took my sister and I skiing, on boats, camping and even a mule ride into the Sierras. All this culminated with a trip he and I took rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. 13 days on the river. That trip changed my life. So I can’t thank my Dad enough for giving me that gift of the love of the outdoors.