Clark Campbell

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Clark Campbell. I am the President of Gear Aid Inc, in Bellingham Washington.

Our company creates and sells solutions that help you to renew, repair, and extend the life of your outdoor gear. We supply products that clean, fix, restore, and quickly patch the gear used by the people who dive, surf, fish, hunt, ski, climb, paddle, and go camping. We also design and sell simple tools that make these pursuits easier, safer, and more enjoyable.

The people that work here at Gear Aid tend to be tinkerers, DYI fixers, and people who like to seek out fixes to problems. This makes both a bit weird and unique. To my knowledge, no other company in the outdoor industry has adopted ‘failure’ as their central source of design inspiration and focused the entire business on ‘championing renewal’.

What is one habit of yours that helps you be productive?

In my view, our culture places too much emphasis on being productive vs. being effective. To be effective you first have to recognize that productivity is not necessarily the highest or best measure of success.

The people and organizations that are the most successful often do things that appear counter-intuitive or even distracting when viewed from the perspective of productivity. For me, this starts with doing things that allow me to focus clearly and see problems from a new angle.

Slow down, exercise, be willing to laugh at yourself, and encourage others around you to do the same.

Other than that, wake up at the same time and give yourself the space to think before looking at your phone in the morning.

What is your morning routine and how does it help you get the most out of your day?

I didn’t use to be much of a morning person. However, I have come to realize that most successful people start their day early. They just don’t necessarily start ‘working’ as their first order of the day.

The key for me is carving out time to read and/or, exercise before getting into work mode. I am not as consistent with my morning routine as I would like. However, paying for a gym membership and a good espresso maker certainly helps.

In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?

Moving to a smaller town where my office is less than 10 minutes from my home. Big cities offer a lot of cultural amenities and can be great places to start your career. However, living and working in a smaller city has reduced my time stress, and allowed me to be more involved in the community outside of work.

When you feel unfocused, what do you do?

Take a break, make list and prioritize it, do something to re-charge my batteries, then come back and make sure that the list and priorities still apply.

Be willing to let the less important things on the list go undone.
If I have more than 5 items on my list, the 6th, and everything after it usually gets punted.

What is one piece of software or a web service that you get immense value out of? How do you use it?

No one stands out. Google Maps – Keeps me from getting lost. Sonos and Spotify…..keeps me from listening to too much news, and keep my music tastes from becoming stale. Strava…inspires me to keep active by following my more fit friends

What is the one book you recommend most often and why?

#1. Anything that you read for fun. In my view, too much emphasis is placed on business and self-help books. It is more important you keep reading whatever keeps your mind active and exposed to new ideas.

#2 The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell. Not a new book, but still relevant to today.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Be willing to work harder, vs trying to be seen as the smartest or most ambitious.

Start by assuming that you don’t have all the answers. Be curious and willing to put in the time to find the right answer. Hard work and persistence will always deliver better business results than elaborate schemes to take the easiest path. This applies to both people and organizations.

Whether you are working for a company or running your own business, focus on ways to become ‘good’ rather than how to become ‘big’. If you focus on being good, the business will become big faster than you planned. If you focus on the outcome rather than the quality of the service or product, the business result will almost always fall sort of your expectation.

Failure is just data. Don’t take it personally, but learn from it so that you don’t repeat your mistakes.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

Indwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. – Lao Tzu

(Good words to live by, but hard to do. This quote tells me when I am off course, which is more often than I would like to admit)