Andrew Hughes

Founder of Seek Beyond The Summit

From Poulsbo, Washington, Andrew pursued the path that checked all the boxes that aligned with the socially acceptable narrative of success- from what he studied, his career, and his relationships.

When failure found Andrew and the world he had constructed began to the crumble, he discovered that the foundations of life were built upon other people’s dreams and not his own. Faced with a choice to embrace the uncomfortable and unknown, the mountains answered Andrew’s questions of his own dreams.

He embraced the journey of redefining his relationship with discomfort, which altered his perspective of achievement, and unified the fragmented aspects of himself. Now, he stands whole compelled to lead, inspire and motivate others to redefine success, embrace the uncomfortable and enjoy the journey with eyes wide open.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

Seek Beyond The Summit” came from after years of embarking on expeditions around the world, climbing some of the highest peaks, and adventuring into places many rarely go, I realized I was squandering the true value of these experiences by not finding a means to better share them. The greatest gifts are often those we share -and I have always had such gratitude for the opportunity to do what I have done -so creating a space for others to share in my expeditions and delve into the experiential knowledge delivered through what I am doing gave birth to my own ever-evolving site. My aim is to curate a space of ideas, inspiration, discourse, positivity, advocacy, and a place where the seeds of future dreams may be found.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Working for yourself and being an entrepreneur does not mean an absence of a schedule it amplifies the importance of one to maximize productivity. Beginning the day with thoughtfulness and some form of meditation frames the first part of my morning. Training for climbing the world’s highest mountains each week demands the hours of a full-time job and since these sessions are required to fast they embody my mornings often. Calls over meetings and emails are preferred as they are often more time-efficient and will be scheduled if needed in the late morning / early afternoon leaving time during and following to work on any deliverables I have for myself, for those I am working with, or which I have set for projects I am in the midst of working on. Evenings are reserved to reconnect with friends and loved ones, reading to decompress and get away from the screen which is often before me all day and again-conclude the day with a practice of gratitude. Sleep is crucial and I am a firm believer 8 hours in the long run is essential on average and neglecting this will draw from productivity and your full potential. Then repeat.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Patience, perseverance, and positivity. At times we expect our ideas to spring into the final and full manifestation from which they formed in our mind, but like all things once within the world, a great idea is not guaranteed to instantly become all you hoped and imagined it would. Perseverance when your idea faulters, stumbles or needs to be uprooted and replanted elsewhere all will fortify it when it finally does take hold and blossom into its’ fullness your gratitude will be all the greater. And throughout a positive perspective will always carry an idea further than one of defeatism and negativity –positive attracts positive so give your idea the best potential possible through a positive mindset. Not all ideas will come to life as we hoped, but aspire to give life to as many ideas you can for you never know which will be the one that reshapes you and your life.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Automation throughout our lives is both disrupting and discomforting in many ways, but it has benefits that are exciting to consider. The ability to increase safety across industries and individual lives, while also producing efficiencies with positive environmental and climate impacts will truly be an ally in the aims for caring for both labor forces and our planet. Automation processes are less wasteful which means the stream of commerce and sourcing has a diminished demand upon it easing humanity’s demand on an already strained planet. We also are entering an often-unacknowledged future where the boomer generation will be retiring and the generations to follow are far fewer to fill the work force deficit and demands on a per body basis which is where automation can enter to maximize productivity and a shrinking labor force. Of course, automation initially must help those displaced with retraining, but its’ positive potential is undeniable.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

List-making. It is a means of clearing the swirling items I need to address from my mind, placing them before me, where I can prioritize and best plan how to most efficiently take them on. Often it can be crippling feeling like there are so many things to get done when beginning a new project, campaign, or just another day –putting the demands down in a list removes the damming impediments of getting started and allows productivity to better flow.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Do not let the fear of not fitting in and an aspiration to always make others happy form the choices you make and paths you take personally and professionally. Amidst the success and failures, it will be the striving and struggles that define you in this life more than your successes -and from that path will arise the best self you were born to be. Dive into the discomfort of being different and you will discover parts of yourself buried in the depths of fear and self-doubt. And amidst it, all hold onto positivity for positive attracts positive.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Self-care requires discomfort and pain. In a world ever more looking at making things easier, more efficient, and absent of pain points, our relationship with being uncomfortable has shifted to the ultimate goal of avoiding discomfort entirely. Stripping away are known comforts, even if temporarily, and pushing ourselves into painful areas be they emotional, mental, physical or spiritual is more important now than ever before for us to develop and discover who we are and how we are connected and this world. Self-care is at times less about the “spa feeling” and more about the struggle.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Bet on yourself and be willing to invest in your ideas and potential. We are often afraid to take risks and fall short of our goals, but that is because we have a negative association with failure and loss in our society when in fact the struggle is where we can determine the viability and strength of our ideas and ventures. Investing in your business and yourself always provides value opportunities and the momentary struggles are a chance to gain strength and learn. Dive into discomfort and dare to go after your dreams.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Be perpetually in a position mentally and emotionally to pivot and pounce. This has guided me and the growth of my business and periphery entrepreneurial projects. Growth is never linear and the belief that the growth of a business will be blinds one to necessary alterations and evolutions of one’s business venture. The ability to flow with and pursue new opportunities that spring from the original seed of a business idea has for me led to a multi-branch business from which a diversified and interesting number of projects have been born. As many writers have come to know, it is in the editing that the final piece comes ready to be published and in truth, the process of editing never ends. For my businesses, it is about the process of endlessly editing them to ensure their best viability.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

After law school, my professional path led me into politics where I eventually chose to run for a US Congressional seat having never held office before. I poured myself into the campaign emotionally, mentally, temporally, and financially. After tens of thousands of doors knocked and calls made and hundreds of thousands raised, my campaign came up just short of the final two candidates for the general election. I was 29 and it was the largest bet I had ever made on myself and like that what I had envisioned and worked towards was done in a day. My belief that nothing is ever wasted immediately went to work and from this experience, I learned a great deal about what I wanted professionally and how I would adjust my course to be an advocate for the issues I cared most deeply about. With time the attempt itself, in fact, became a key opening countless other opportunities I would never have been presented at my age because I was willing to go all-in on myself and find a better sense of myself through my failure.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Mountain Massage + Physical Therapy. At all major mountains, especially the Seven Summits, there are established base camps with often times hundreds or weary and worn-down bodies from the approach or rotations on the mountain. Self-care is crucial to success on any major expedition but physical and massage therapy is absent at every mountain I have climbed. Teaming up with current companies, one could become an add on service, one many would surely take at a premium cost. For the adventurous entrepreneur you could facilitate a business and foster your sense of exploration at the same time –my favorite kind of balanced business idea. It will also be your first customer.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

On a whim, while browsing a bookstore, I spent around $100 on the complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes. At times, reconnecting with the joys of our childhood reminds us of lessons and realities lost along the way in life. I’ve also found the use of graphic novels and comics such as Calvin and Hobbes are a valuable way of conveying and packaging meaning and messaging and is a reminder that in life and business looking for different ways to present your ideas and ventures can be a valuable exercise. Also as the social scientist Draper believed, Calvin and Hobbes“suggest that meaningful time use is a key attribute of a life well lived” and this is something at all ages -and no matter the form of the messenger -is a message well received and that we do well to be reminded of.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Training Peaks, Accountability, and coordination come together through this website and app for my continual training to ascend the world’s highest mountains and to take on new adventures whenever and wherever they may present themselves. It permits a continual means for my coach to tailor my weekly training based on daily uploading of my training metrics and is compatible with a wide range of biometric measuring tools. When training can mean the difference between success and failure, life and death, the right tools to get you where you need to be and home safely are essential.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety. Written decades ago, its simplicity and accessibility to big ideas that challenge many of the social norms and societal narratives we grasp to have enduring value as an opportunity to engage in introspection and self-examination. As Watts would hopefully agree, the ideas running through these pages are not meant to be grasped, but to run over the reader sharing their meaning and providing the painful pleasure of growth and personal development through questioning what we know and believe.

What is your favorite quote?

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” -Ernest Hemingway

Key Learnings:

  • Bet on yourself and be willing to invest in your ideas and potential.
  • Dive into discomfort and into being different and you will discover empowering parts of yourself buried in the depths of your fears and self-doubt that will drive you to go after your dreams.
  • Amidst the success and failures, it will be the striving and struggles that define you in this life more than your successes -and from that path will arise the best self you were born to be.
  • Growth is never linear and the belief that the growth of a business will be blinds one to necessary alterations and evolutions of one’s business ventures and cripples the many courses availing themselves to you to reach success.
  • Do not let the fear of not fitting in and an aspiration to always make others happy form the choices you make and paths you take personally and professionally.