Jan Janura outdoors

Interview With the ‘Outdoor Entrepreneur’ Jan Janura

in Opinion

Jan Janura’s entrepreneurial career started humbly in a garage in Burbank, California with $800. What would later grow into a multi-million dollar company stemmed from Jan’s decision to shake up his career path in 1977. What he needed was the inspiration; he found it through a call he made to his respected friend Carol Anderson. It turns out Carol was in need of some career advice and the synchronicity of that call inspired a life-changing professional and personal partnership.

Although he had no previous experience in the industry, Jan felt confident that he could build a platform for Carol’s design talents, and he was right. Together, they launched a wildly successful clothing brand and saw their professional relationship blossom into marriage 16 years later.

Around 2002, they set out to start Carol Anderson By Invitation (CAbi) when the direct sales industry was still in its infancy. In less than ten years, Jan helped grow CAbi into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. 25 years after Jan and Carol entered the clothing business, CAbi became the largest women’s fashion retailer not limited to brick and mortar. CAbi’s success also had a global impact on women entrepreneurs. In fact, when Jan and Carol sold CAbi and retired from their executive roles in 2012, there were over 3,000 women who had built successful careers with the brand.

As a stalwart believer in the power of friendship, mentorship, and the outdoors, Jan Janura combined his passion for business and flyfishing by founding The Wild Adventure in 1982. Through Jan’s love for the outdoors and his devotion to forming deeper friendships, Wild Adventure grew beyond his personal trips and conversations that he once held with his lifelong friends.

Now, Jan regularly hosts groups of men at his Smiling Moose Ranch in Montana for the one-week excursion. While leading open discussions about life’s big questions, he facilitates the group’s ‘inner walk’ through nature–and themselves.

CAbi and The Wild Adventure are just two of Jan Janura’s ventures. He believes that everyone is capable of any triumph if they pursue their passions, and follow their calling.

How is starting a business similar to fishing?

You can be true to yourself in everything you do–in business, at home, or the outdoors. What that looks like on the day-to-day may be different, but the intention and drive are the same.

For me, it’s about energy. You can’t be a lazy businessman or fisherman. Entrepreneurs pursue their ideas with inner confidence and proactivity that most people don’t have. And believe it or not, fishing is the same. You don’t get inside your head asking what will happen on the other side. Pursuing what you love–your calling–is something many people don’t have. It’s that spirit inside that makes a businessman and fisherman the same.

How has your love of reading led to exploring deeper meaning, and friendships?

No one just develops a need to explore deeper meaning in life out of nowhere; everyone has it. Some are pursuing it already, while some are not tapping into it. Most of what I’ve learned or risked has come from a place that always existed. It’s part of the reason I entered the seminary–both to expand my relationship with God and learn how to think more critically.

There have been books that clicked with me and helped me along that path. One of those books is Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, which I have all the men who take the Wild Adventure trip read. It is actually one of the reasons I started Wild Adventure because the core theme of the book is to get outside, take risks, get rid of your false ideas of how to be a man (because it isn’t being macho), and remember that you are a reflection of God. Every time you go against who you really are, you’re not being authentic, and you’re wasting your potential.

Another book that changed my life was Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled. It taught me how to love in a more open and spiritual way. I think both my wife and I have benefitted from that.

What is your approach to motivating people, both your employees and the men in Wild Adventure?

I can’t control someone else. All I can do is set an example. I believe that every employee, man or woman, who really tries can do something great. If I continue to work towards gaining my own greater wisdom and peace, and people see that I’m succeeding, I hope that witnessing that will motivate them to do the same.

What is your favorite quote?

I have a few favorites but what comes to mind right now is, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, because what the world needs are men who have come alive.” by John Eldredge from Wild at Heart Revised & Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul.

What is the ‘inner walk’?

When people physically walk, they’re trying to get somewhere. The same is true in an inner walk, except in most cases, you don’t use your feet. Both kinds of walks can take you on a grand adventure. Ultimately, an inner walk is a pause to listen. For me, being outdoors gives me that pause. With it, I can assess whether my intentions are true and if my journey is leading me down a righteous path. Because if it isn’t, my feet may take me places, but not on the road I should be on.

What is the one word people would use to describe you?

I can’t speak for other people. I can say that at the end of every day I always hope that I’ve learned something, and would describe myself as life’s student.

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