It’s coming to the end of another cycle at Choose a Challenge and what a year it’s been. As CEO of Choose a Challenge USA, I want to take this time and thank each and every one of you in helping spread our mission, and attitude to life, across the USA. We have always held true to the simple but powerful mantra that there is more to life. In reimagining the way we interact with philanthropic endeavour while at the same time pursuing the planets best accessible adventure travel opportunities we believe we prove that anyone is capable of reaching these heights. Part of celebrating success is embracing failure and we just missed out on our aim to raise $1,000,000 for our 5 non profit partners between Sept ‘17 - Sept ‘18. However with almost 200 climbers taking on the adventure of a lifetime, 97% of whom would have recommended the experience to a friend and who cumulatively raised somewhere in the region of $800,000 for charity there is undoubtedly a lot to be proud of. Similarly by watching any one of the awesome videos produced by our 2018 trekkers it’s impossible to forget that our challenges are about much more than just raising money.

Whether you trekked with us, worked with us, are about to travel with us, came to an information evening, applied to lead or just browsed our website and subscribed to our newsletter in order to follow our journey, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for giving us the privilege of helping you to achieve your personal goals while enriching the lives of others, sometimes in ways you may not even appreciate. Your trust in the Choose a Challenge team, brand and model allows us to deliver a product and a level of service that continues to exceed expectations while maintaining our affordable, ethical and safe standards. Your input and feedback, be it negative or positive, drives our innovation, progress and commitment to gold standard customer and partner support. As a uniquely focused travel operator, our success is dependent on your success, and each of the team here will always remain invested in your journey. The ability to form this type of connection with our teams, our leaders and our partners allows us to foster a level of pride in our job that is immeasurable. It’s important to remember that we have all been there before and know exactly how it feels every step of the way.

Mostly however, I want to thank our incredible student leadership team who work so tirelessly in training to accept the role of campus leader, welcoming our teams, supporting them through their fundraising experience and ultimately offering that safe and supportive personalised peer care on the challenges themselves.

As we continue to grow as a business, doubling in size in the last 12 months alone and expanding to over 30 campuses in the Northeast, it is this individual care which we hope will remain a constant. This care represents our brand, Choose a Challenge, and our expertise and ambition to improve is laser focused on your needs & wants. Our success is based on your satisfaction and our ability to adapt to your constant changing needs and to the changing landscape of charitable giving and travel.

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We look forward to taking almost 400 of you away in 2019 including over 50 of you for your second or third Choose a Challenge events. This year we’ve set our sights on hitting the $2,000,000 dollar mark and have spread our wings to yet further territories, with our first teams from Ohio and Ontario beginning to flourish. I believe this is wholly in our sights and there isn’t a team I’d look forward to celebrating our goals with more. Choose a Challenges success is based on loyalty, community, customer service, commitment, and family. I feel honoured to be a part of this family and journey. We look forward to building for the next generation in partnership with incredible individuals like yourself.

I’ll end with an extract from the undisputed king of the annual update, Jeff Bezos;

A close friend recently decided to learn to do a perfect free-standing handstand. No leaning against a wall. Not for just a few seconds. Instagram good. She decided to start her journey by taking a handstand workshop at her yoga studio. She then practiced for a while but wasn't getting the results she wanted. So, she hired a handstand coach. Yes, I know what you're thinking, but evidently this is an actual thing that exists. In the very first lesson, the coach gave her some wonderful advice. "Most people," he said, "think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you're just going to end up quitting." Unrealistic beliefs on scope – often hidden and undiscussed – kill high standards. To achieve high standards yourself or as part of a team, you need to form and proactively communicate realistic beliefs about how hard something is going to be – something this coach understood well.

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Simon Varley

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CEO
Choose a Challenge USA