Nathan Edmondson

Founder of Eco Defense Group

Nathan Edmondson is a native of Augusta, Georgia, currently residing in Park City, Utah. He graduated from Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts in 2010 with degrees in art and art history.

After completing his post-secondary education, Nathan embarked upon a long and varied career, including stints as a writer, consultant, and most recently, a conservationist. Notably, he conceived and wrote the creator-owned comic series Who is Jake Ellis? published by Image Comics. He has also made substantial contributions to The Punisher, Iron Man, and Black Widow franchises for Marvel Comics. At one point, National Public Radio listed Nathan’s work among their ‘Top 6 Comics to Draw You In.’ His work has been included in top ten lists compiled by CNN and USA Today, as well.

Simultaneously, Nathan cultivated a successful screenwriting career, having developed and penned several pilots for well-known production companies, as well as having one of his more celebrated comics, The Activity, optioned by Paramount Pictures in 2015.

Currently, Nathan Edmondson continues to contribute to various creative projects, but devotes the majority of his time to Eco Defense Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting African wildlife which he founded in 2017. Eco Defense Group is unique among nonprofits, in that it was created at the behest of multiple government officials in order to formulate a strategic program to solve conservation requirements that were, at the time, not being addressed. In that vein, the organization was granted a diplomatic note, elevating its status and greatly expanding its ability to protect wildlife. As the founder of the group, Nathan Edmondson initially funded the organization out of pocket, and still remains its top donor to this day. Eco Defense Group maintains operations in five countries by request, working in collaboration with very select partners on the ground.

Where did the idea for Eco Defense Group come from?

Eco Defense Group was born out of an introduction between unique skill sets and unique needs. We found that we are in a position to broker game-changing capabilities into a crisis that otherwise had not been a global priority. That realization led to the development of an institution to provide that service. The existing wildlife protectors did not anticipate a regional conflict evolving into a war that would precipitate an ecological crisis. As a result, we invented a consultative model to help protect both rangers and the wildlife that the rangers protect. In short, the idea for the organization came from listening to the problem and devising an effective way to counteract it.

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

My typical day starts at 4. I work in three or four time zones. Depending on where I am in the world, I will have to manage my kids and their needs and movements. Otherwise, I’m migrating between airport lounge cafés and my home office, continually shifting roles between various companies, projects, and staff. I’ve tried to make a concerted effort to restrict my interaction with technology at key points in the day and make the times that I am engaged with phones or computers more efficient. This is an attempt to capture the valuable time between work in order to achieve some kind of balance in my life because the alternative has, in the past, proven to be very costly.

How do you bring ideas to life?

At the outset, an idea is nearly valueless as the idea is going to be evolved in the application of effort. So, any initial idea is going to be very limited in merit. Transforming an idea into a genuine means to solve a problem is a matter of taking the idea and applying action.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One trend we are seeing in conservation is the evolution of the prevailing thinking to focus on intelligence and deterrence and the allocation of resources to anticipate problems rather than react to them. In security, more people are becoming aware that they live in global surveillance capitalism, and that they have to navigate the world while considering all of the volatility present. Volatility exists both digitally and physically. A great deal of the conveniences that we’ve taken for granted also provide great liabilities. We can only mitigate the impact those liabilities have on our lives through increased awareness and participation, as well as through personal vigilance.

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

I’ve never been the smartest guy in the room and I act accordingly. Speaking for myself, my productivity is well-served by drawing from the hard-earned wisdom of others.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to invest earlier and to understand that time is capital.

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

What I know to be true is that not everything is going to be okay.

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

I would recommend that everyone read J.R.R. Tolkien and Michael Crichton. I believe that everyone should be entertained and embody the greatest stories our culture has to offer. We should all be captivated by the greatest stories and inspired by the greatest thinking.

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

A few strategies that have helped me to grow in business are being under constant pressure, the need to succeed, and having excellent advisors to navigate problems and crises. There is always action that has to be taken. Nothing moves on its own, and you never want to make the same mistake twice.

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

I had to learn that no matter what you’re doing, you’re always telling a story. You have to constantly craft a narrative as you grow to understand your individual customers and donors better.

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

Legal Zoom for Real estate and UV-sanitized fitness centers in airports.

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

I gifted a nice bottle of whiskey to a new and crucial business partner. Everything is about investing in relationships.

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

Our teams are using Asana to great effect. The best tool we have, though, is the phone. Business always needs context.

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

I would recommend The End of the World is Just the Beginning by Peter Zeihan. It helps to give the reader a sense of context for everything at play in the larger world, and it compels a level of humility.

What is your favorite quote?

“There is too much certainty in the world.” — Michael Crichton.

Key Learnings:

  • Productivity is well-served by learning from the wisdom of others.
  • Taking the right lessons from mistakes greatly aids in not repeating those mistakes.
  • The ability to anticipate security problems rather than react to them is pivotal in negotiating a complex, dangerous, and volatile world.