[quote style=”boxed”]I would have started 15 years earlier. Well, I didn’t have the idea 15 years earlier, but I did have it 3 years earlier so I should have run with it then.[/quote]
Steve Silberberg is the owner and founder of Fatpacking, weight loss backpacking adventure vacations. He graduated from M.I.T. in 1984 with both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Steve was also a software contractor for over 20 years serving dozens of clients including DuPont, Polaroid, Tektronix, Acadian Asset Management, Talbots and Data I/O. Steve was President of an Internet Lost and Found site called ELFsearch.com that went out of business when the USA declared war on Iraq and the TSA decided that their priority for Lost & Found was low.
Steve’s other careers include College Professor, Writer, Aerobics Instructor, Museum Curator, Expert Witness, Stand-Up Comedian, Electronic Publisher, and Filmmaker. Steve’s has the largest collection of Air Sickness Bags in the Continental United States. His Air Sickness Bag Museum has garnered international press and national TV and radio coverage.
Steve hates people but likes to talk about himself in the 3rd person like an annoying, self-important putz.
What are you working on right now?
The same thing I always work on — and hate doing most – trying to build awareness of my Fatpacking business.
Where did the idea for Fatpacking come from?
Backpacking is one of my life passions. When I had a desk job, I’d return from my hiking vacations stress-free, refreshed and with a much better disposition. But the unanticipated result was that I weighed less and my clothes fit better. I figured that backpacking could help anyone alter their body composition, so I decided to start Fatpacking.
How do you make money?
We take people on backpacking adventure vacations to get fit and lose weight. All of our profits come from fees we charge clients to go on their trips.
What does your typical day look like?
I wake up at first light and put hot water on for coffee. I take a few minutes to sip my hot beverage while watching the sunrise. Then I take the food bags out of the tree or bear box and make breakfast for the group.
After breakfast, I pack my backpack, break down my tent and help others do the same. I go over the day’s hike with the group and then we hit the trail. We hike under big skies, under towering snow-capped mountains, in verdant wilderness valleys or in red-rock deserts.
Some days there may be canoeing and on others there are swimming opportunities. I see towering trees, colorful birds, wild animals and charismatic megafauna.
We take breaks to see stunning vistas and when we get to camp, we end up setting up our tents for the next night. I cook dinner, often start a campfire and sometimes stargaze before retiring for the night.
When I’m not on the trail, my day is spent on the computer like any other office worker.
How do you bring ideas to life?
What’s one trend that really excites you?
A paperless society. If you’ve ever hiked through a clearcut, you’ll understand why using forests to make paper is so offensive.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I had a job loading mattresses into trucks. While I think manual labor can be noble, there was nothing noble about this job. Everything about it was awful, including the $3/hour pay. The only thing I learned is that I never want to load mattresses onto trucks again.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have started 15 years earlier. Well, I didn’t have the idea 15 years earlier, but I did have it 3 years earlier so I should have run with it then.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Every single day I answer HARO queries. I would recommend everyone do this every day too. I’ve come to the conclusion that you can figure out just about anything your business needs to do, but marketing and creating awareness is near impossible. If you’re not making sales, nothing else you do matters.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I used to list trips on the website, I would post the number of people signed up for the trips. I stopped doing this. It turns out that nobody ever wants to be the first one to sign up and they will leave the site rather than tell you that they have an interest if they see that nobody has signed up yet.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Swiss-Army cards: Greeting cards that you can configure yourself, much like Mad Libs. Comes with a small pad of sticky notes so that the card can be reused.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would eliminate the “Sports Fan Mentality” from politics. Sports fans support their team no matter what they do or who is a member of their team. They also despise the other team no matter what they do or who their team members might be.
That’s fine for sports, but when we speak of politics that have real ramifications for actual people, it’s a horrible, venal characteristic. If I had the power to, I’d eliminate it.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I like leaving “unique” eBay feedback:
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
A) Backpacker.com Forums. Great community and hiking information.
B) HARO. Sorry to repeat myself, but HARO is GREAT, especially if you’re a media whore like me.
C) On-Line banking. I could specify a particular site/tool but I use this generically since I have several different types of accounts that integrate well together and even can aggregate things like Frequent Flyer points.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Happy Endings by Jim Norton. Besides being hilarious and offensive, the palpable bitterness will make you feel good about your own pathetic life.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I don’t like to give anyone the power – particularly celebrities, web or otherwise — to interrupt my day at their convenience, even if it is only 140 characters at a time (which usually directs you to some nutrition-free, time-consuming, self-aggrandizing missive)
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Now that I’ve dissed Twitter, the last time I laughed out loud was at a Tweet posted by a friend of mine on an account we share.
Who is your hero?
What business practice should be eliminated?
Faxing. I despise the Fax. It’s a huge hassle with no confirmation of receipt, no way to search documents and it requires an inbound phone line dedicated to it (or a subscription service for a virtual one). There are zero advantages to faxing, yet it remains ubiquitous. Is it 1985 already?
What makes you so manly, Steve?
I can bench press over 300 pounds (barely)
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.