MGU 478 | Shattering Stigmas


You must break the walls and step beyond your comfort zone to see the beauty of the world. That’s what it means to explore. Cason Crane is stepping outside his comfort zone and into the uncomfortable journey. As the first gay person to climb the seven summits, Cason delves into scaling heights and shattering stigmas to inspire and push others to explore the world or climb Mt. Everest. He also dives into the genesis of Explorer Cold Brew and the power caffeine brings to his coffee. From caffeine to wilderness survival, Cason blends them well in today’s conversation with a hint of bitter trials and a tinge of sweet success. Let’s be inspired to do things outside our comfort zone and access new parts of our minds and souls by tuning into this episode today.

Listen to the podcast here


Scaling Heights And Shattering Stigmas With Cason Crane

I feel a little bit giddy to start this episode with my guest Cason. We have been chatting for a while, but I still felt like I was trying to contain myself and share some of my excitement once we started the episode with Cason because this is an episode that’s about journeys. I would love to start with the journey of how this whole episode came to be.

I believe you reached out to me, maybe it was 2021. It’s been with your company Explorer Cold Brew in the past few years. I found a little piece of history, which I’m holding up for Cason. I know I’m a little bit behind with YouTube episodes. When this episode comes out, you can see this, but in the meantime, what I have here is a little printed and stapled Explorer guidebook.

I feel like I should save this as memorabilia, but there’s a picture of you in there. This is all I knew of you, Cason, as this guy, hand-drawn. It wasn’t even a photo of you. You and I were emailing back and forth and you sent me the products to try. I tried the small bottles and the bigger bottles and felt a lot of heart behind the brand. Some time went by, and I didn’t forget about it, but time passes and you move on from things. In March 2023, I went to this LGBTQ Ally event at the Natural Products Expo, which is a big trade show. I look across the room and there’s Cason.

Cason, I might have seen your name tag and maybe it said Explorer on your shirt. I don’t even know how I recognized you because I don’t think I’d seen a photo of you, but I felt like I had to go talk to Cason. I went up and said hello in person for the first time, and then ended up learning so much about you that I didn’t know, and felt a lot of awe and excitement.

It began with Cason sharing about this show called Race to Survive: Alaska that he was on. At the time, the show hadn’t aired yet, and now that we are doing this in August of 2023, the show has aired. I have watched all the episodes and I was like, “I have to talk to you more and I want to share your story on the show because a couple of times, you verbally said on the show alluding to going out of your comfort zone and being uncomfortable. For those who are interested in survival shows and race shows, I highly recommend it, and it’s very much about getting uncomfortable. There are so many layers to which I felt like you would be a wonderful addition and thank you for being here to chat.

I’m so glad that you came up and said hi in person back at Expo West. I’m thrilled to be here. The topic of journeys is one that I have been thinking a lot about both with my Race to Survive: Alaska journey concluding with the airing of the finale. My life journey continuing. My journey as a founder. My journey as someone who’s striving to live a happy and fulfilled life in all aspects, whether it’s career, relationship, health, and wellness. I’m excited to dig in and have a wonderful conversation with you.

It’s a journey on so many levels because one that feels very prominent is that when you first sent me Explorer Cold Brew, I did not consider myself an explorer as much as I do this 2023. I was doing my road trips that I started in 2020, and that was my introduction to camping. Over the last few years, I have started to go well beyond car camping to a lot of outdoor experiences through visiting national parks. It became a big passion of mine.

Hiking almost every day and dreaming of climbing Mount Everest, which is something I wanted to wait to share with you now is that I didn’t know this about you until I started watching the show. You announced that you had climbed Mount Everest. Anyone who’s climbed Mount Everest, I’m so taken aback by. I could spend this whole episode asking you about that alone.

I am so pumped to hear that you want to climb Everest. It was a childhood dream for me. It started as a childhood dream and then became one of a dream. We are all children at heart forever, but those childhood dreams that you think are not ever attainable like, “I want to be an astronaut. I would love to go into space one day.”

To me, climbing Everest was like that. It’s so exciting to hear that it sounds like if I’m understanding you correctly, it’s gone from being that inner child dream to maybe you are thinking about actioning that dream at some point in the near to medium term, which would be so exciting because it’s the most incredible experience.

I have to say it wasn’t a consideration. This is a new thing. I felt like it came out of nowhere, and I’m still questioning it. This was very early for me because I was not even a hiker. This is part of my journey with you is my definition of being an explorer, I was drawn to your brand because it was a cold brew. You were so nice. It felt like a great brand. A heartfelt and from-the-ground-up type of brand. I’m always drawn to small businesses like yours but it took on a new meaning and it is still developing at this moment.

When I heard about your story when you first reached out, I didn’t even fully understand why you developed this and why this product line was important to you. I would love to hear it again from you and share it with the readers because sometimes without context or without caring about the context, we don’t even fully absorb it. I would love to reabsorb why you created Explorer and also hear some of these stories sprinkled in about coffee, adventuring, exploring, and how that developed into the brand that you now run.

It’s a great place to start because one of the challenges with our brand like if you were to talk to an actual branding expert, they might say that the Explorer brand is not the perfect brand because of this exact question. What does it mean to be an explorer? That question is the answer. Everyone needs to come up with their answer to that question. What does it mean to be an explorer to you?

It doesn’t necessarily mean climbing Everest. That might be how you and I define it, but it’s by no means the way that I don’t want my brand to be defining it for you. I want you to be defining it for yourself. That can be becoming a better chef, deciding you want to plant a garden in your backyard, or raising kids.

There are so many different ways that you can explore new aspects of your life. You hit the nail on the head talking about pushing yourself outside your comfort zone because that concept is something that I believe is integral to living a fulfilled life no matter whether it’s in the outdoors, in academics, or whatever it might be, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.

There are so many ways you can explore new ways of life. Share on X

To take a step back and answer the question, the genesis of starting my coffee company came at the beginning of the pandemic when I was working as a management consultant at a top consulting firm. It fulfilled me in many ways but I felt an absence of a creative outlet. It didn’t help that I have truly zero actual talents. To be clear, I have skills but I do not have talents.

I cannot sing, dance, act, draw, or paint. I’m an okay writer, but I’m not a poet or anything like that. Many good things come from therapy. In my case, it was starting my business because my therapist said to me at the start of the pandemic, when were all locked in our houses or apartments, in my case, it was a one-bedroom apartment with my then-boyfriend, now husband in Brooklyn.

MGU 478 | Shattering Stigmas

Shattering Stigmas: Many good things come from therapy. In my case, it was starting a business.


My therapist said, “You need to take on a new hobby.” Lacking any talents, I can’t play any musical instruments. I could go on and on listing all of the talents I don’t have. I brainstormed and I thought, “I could flesh out an idea for a business because it’s fun.” Starting a business does require a lot of creativity, but it’s creativity that I believe is accessible to pretty much anyone with a passion, desire, or interest in following it.

It doesn’t require natural talent or ability like maybe singing would, for example. I jumped right in and I used my spare time to flesh out a bunch of different potential ideas. I gravitated mostly towards food and beverage because I feel like we can all do the me search required to decide what we like at least. I complemented my search with market research and analysis, skills I’d learned as a consultant. I found some interesting ideas. Some of them are still interesting. I’d love to develop them at some point.

My fuel throughout this whole project was cold brew coffee. To be completely honest, I had not been a huge coffee drinker before. It’s not like you go to a bar and I have never been one to drink alcohol at home. Not that I don’t drink alcohol at home, but I wasn’t getting into the at-home mixology at the time. For me, the treat to myself was my coffee breaks when I would step out of my home office nook and into the kitchen. That little ritual helped keep me sane. It helped keep me feeling like I was doing something different with my life, and it was also keeping me up all night.

Eventually, after weeks of terrible insomnia brought on by my newly skyrocketing cold brew coffee consumption, my boyfriend, and then-husband Fran begged me. He came up and he begged me to switch to decaf. I went to I typed in decaf cold brew and nothing came up. This was one of those moments. If you are ever searching for something and you search on Amazon or Google and nothing comes up, that is a sign.

That’s the light bulb moment. You should start that or create that. Whatever that is that you are looking for, it shows you in the clearest possible way that there is a gap that should be filled. In this case, the gap I believed was not a decaf cold brew, which was certainly lacking. In general, the idea that caffeine at the time was one-size-fits-all didn’t make sense to me.

MGU 478 | Shattering Stigmas

Shattering Stigmas: Explorer Cold Brew offers a range of cold brew concentrates that give you that delicious, high-quality, organic, fair trade product that tastes delicious and is transparent about the ounces and milligrams of caffeine.


You can get some decaf coffee. Decaf has a terrible reputation. You could order a decaf espresso, but where’s the half-caff? Where’s the extra caff? Where’s my ability to pick and choose? That pivotal moment where I was able to realize, “There’s an opportunity here. It’s a personal pain point for me. I want to solve this for myself and others out there.” That was the genesis of Explorer Cold Brew.

That is such a cool story. To be completely frank, I had completely forgotten that you had all those different levels, and I remember thinking that was so cool to have different levels of caffeine. It makes more sense for me now because I have become more intentional about caffeine each day. I feel like I start my day and I’m like, “I can have as much caffeine as I want. It’s the first thing in the morning.”

Later on the day, if I’m feeling tired, I don’t want as much, but it’s tricky because you either have to have a container that tells you exactly how much caffeine is in something, which a is lot of coffee. If you brew it at home, you have to do the math to try to figure that out, or it’s loaded with caffeine because the brands think that that’s what you want. Thanks for reminding me of what makes you different.

Starbucks deliberately employs that technique. Their beverages are highly caffeinated in part because caffeine is the most widely consumed drug on a daily basis in the United States. We talk about functional ingredients and caffeine is the number one. Ninety-two percent of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis and in any form.

That can be sodas, coffee, tea, or pills. There’s even now chocolate, gummies, or protein shakes with caffeine. There’s a whole range of ways to consume your caffeine now. Interestingly, the FDA does not regulate caffeine in food and beverage products. Anytime you see caffeine content on a label, it’s by choice. In theory, you could drink a beverage and not know if it has caffeine or not.

I’m not complaining. It’s in the food and beverage industry’s best interest to provide that information transparently. I’m not looking for the FDA to institute more regulations necessarily. What I am saying is that it’s pretty surprising that you have a nutritional fact panel on pretty much any beverage you consume, even ones that have zero calories like coffee and water. It has zeros down the whole rectangular nutritional facts panel. It will be zeros everywhere.

It will force you to say how much vitamin B, C, and D is in there even if it’s nothing, but it won’t force you to say how much caffeine is in it. It’s an interesting fact. It’s addictive and widely consumed, and people are reliant on it. It’s our belief that to your point, there are times when you want a little boost in the afternoon, but you don’t want to be up all night.

Brewing your coffee is not the best way or brew your drink, or even go to a coffee shop. The amount of caffeine in an espresso shot at Blue Bottle might be different from an espresso shot at Starbucks. At Explorer, we offer you this range of cold brew concentrates that give you that delicious, high-quality organic, and fair-trade product that tastes delicious and is transparent about how many milligrams of caffeine are in each ounce. If you try our Seeker, which is our half-caff cold brew concentrate, you know exactly how much caffeine is in each ounce. If you are only using 1-ounce, 1.5-ounce, or 2-ounce, you will know exactly how much caffeine is in that beverage.

MGU 478 | Shattering Stigmas

Shattering Stigmas: If you’re ever searching for something and nothing comes up, that is a light bulb moment that there is a gap that should be filled.


This is exactly why I was so drawn to your brand. This is so cool. To your point, there’s a gap in the market even about decaf, which is not something I drink very often. Although the more you are talking about this, I sometimes want to drink coffee. I love the taste. I love the ritual as you mentioned. Why don’t I drink decaf more often? Part of it is it’s hard to find a good decaf. First of all, there are a lot of chemicals in decaffeinated coffees, unless you get it from specific places.

It depends. Yes. That’s a great call out because there are two common misperceptions about decaf. One is that it always has chemicals. That’s not the case. Look for the Swiss Water Process logo or reference on the label. For example, our decaf and our half-caff use Swiss water-processed beans. It uses water to wash out the caffeine, a water process.

It’s going to be a more premium bean. It’s a much more expensive bean for us. Look for the Swiss Water Process. There are no chemicals. It’s related, but the second misconception is that there is a noticeable amount of caffeine even in decaf. I can tell you that our Swiss Water Process decaf is 99.9% caffeine-free.

There are trace amounts, but it is as close to caffeine-free as you can get. If anyone claims to be able to feel the caffeine in one of our decaf products, it is a purely psychosomatic experience. I promise you it’s not the level of caffeine that is in your head. Look for and try and buy Swiss Water Process decaf products. They have a Swiss Water Process website. You can read more if you are interested. We don’t have the Swiss Water Process logo on our label, but we do mention it on the side of the bottle. The Daydreamer, which is our decaf, is Swiss Water Processed.

That’s so cool because a few years ago, I didn’t even know what that meant. I learned about that from one of the food trade shows where you and I met. At the time, there weren’t a lot of companies offering that and I feel like it’s slowly becoming more of a trend and thinking about what coffee means to each person and what time of the day.

The other appeal with yours is the size of the little mini-bottles and I would love to know more about the story about how you bring coffee when you are exploring. I usually have a number of different methods. I’m very particular about coffee. I don’t like to go to a coffee shop unless it’s a special occasion because even coffee shops, I feel like, are hit or miss.

I went somewhere and I’m like, “Your coffee tastes awful.” Maybe it’s my opinion, but I would rather make it at home. When I travel, I have to think about it very differently. I have tried everything from instant coffees, which even from the best coffee brands out there, I still think are gross. I make a lot of cold brew on the go, but I have to bring all this equipment, and it’s messy making your cold brew. Depending on where you are traveling, that can be a pain. You have these cute little bottles of concentrate. How did that develop and what does that mean for you when you are considering your travels and bringing something like that with you?

Even if I were not the Founder of Explore Cold Brew, I would be the biggest customer of our 2-ounce bottles. We do have the 32-ounce growler of cold brew concentrate. That’s our primary. That is what we sell the most of. You get 20 to 25 cups of coffee out of that. You can put it in your fridge and it can last, depending on how many cups you are drinking.

Our 2-ounce bottles were our original products. We didn’t start with the 32-ounce. We started with the 2-ounce because I was drinking mostly ready-to-drink Cobra at the time, so cans or bottles. I wanted to do something that had the convenience and ease of ready-to-drink, but that was the smaller format that I could put in my pocket.

A 2-ounce bottle is quite small and I found this beautiful glass bottle that wasn’t being used. The only other product that uses a very similar 2-ounce bottle is Ethan’s Organic Energy. Ethan’s Organic Energy Shots use a similar 2-ounce glass bottle. It was very cute for me, and it was the perfect size to take the concentration that tasted the best.

It’s the same concentration as a shot of espresso. You have got this double shot of cold brewed espresso in your pocket. You can use it. You can drink it straight up as a shot, and then it’s 200 milligrams of clean coffee and water, clean energy. It’s way better for you than a 5-hour energy with substantially more caffeine than a 5-hour energy has.

What I typically recommend is you add it to ice water, whether you are on the plane, in the car, at work, or even at home, or wherever you are, you add it to a cup of ice water. You can get water from the tap. Use it and put it in your water bottle, and instantly you have delicious premium organic cold brew. I didn’t initially develop it with the travel use case in mind, but it was COVID. I wasn’t traveling at all.

It was one of the most serendipitous aspects of the process of founding the company. As travel returned, I realized that you could take our 2-ounce bottles through TSA with you that you could take it through with no issue. You could take 6 or 12-ounce. I typically travel with 6 to 10 2-ounce bottles in my backpack when I’m flying.

I had an issue one time. One time I was coming back and I had a ton of 2-ounce bottles. I tried to bring 100 2-ounce bottles in a carry-on bag with me. It was like an entire Yeti carry-on. That did not work, but short of it being 100 bottles, you could easily get away with 6 to 10. I’m a cold brew addict. For me, the lower acidity and the smoothness, my stomach can’t handle hot brew coffee. I will drink espresso drinks occasionally, but I can’t have iced coffee, which is hot brew coffee over ice.

When I’m traveling to Europe, for example, there is very little cold brew in Europe, so I rely on bringing my coffee. I love trying other people’s coffee. I’m not somebody who’s going to be like, “I only drink my coffee all the time.” That’s snobbish. Coffee is the most amazing thing in part because there are so many different beans, origins, roast levels, and ways of brewing it.

To me, there’s nothing more fun than going to a new city and trying out the local coffee shops. Despite my love of trying local coffee shops, I still bring 6 to 10 with me at all times because the reality is it’s very convenient, especially on the plane. One other very lucky serendipitous moment was when Delta Air Lines discovered the product as we were emerging from the pandemic. You can now get Explorer Cold Brew on selected domestic flights on Delta Air Lines, which is so exciting. A testament to the fact that it was and is still a unique offering in the cold brew market.

It is true. As much as I can be a coffee snob, I do enjoy occasionally going to a coffee shop when I’m traveling. If I’m anywhere near a place where I can make my own, it’s hard to spend $7 on a gamble because you know how it is. You have to be willing for it to be bad and spend that money, but that’s true. When you find a great place or even get great beans from somewhere, it’s so nice to take it home and make it yourself, and you feel like you can bring that part of the world with you.

I have started doing an Instagram series of cold brew reviews in different places, and sometimes I honestly can’t finish the cold brew. I hear you. Maybe I need to start expensing my cold brews to my Explorer.

It’s research but also, it’s such an interesting way of exposing people and helping people think about it because much like my interest in climbing and mountaineering is growing. I haven’t always liked coffee. I started drinking it maybe in 2015. It is similar to how suddenly I have been hiking every day. Now I’m a coffee lover and I make coffee every day. I have all this gear and I’m constantly buying new gadgets and beans, and talking to people about it. These things can emerge from you.

I would love to pivot into some different immersions for yourself, but as a segue, I want to know how you drink coffee or what methods you use when you are doing some of these big adventures. It doesn’t sound like you were much of a coffee drinker back when you were climbing Everest. What year was that?

That was April and May 2013.

One fun fact and a special fact about you is you are the first openly gay person to climb the Seven Summits. I just happened to have a book here that has a list of the Seven Summits. The book that I’m holding, is called No Summit Out of Sight. It was written by the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits, but he talks about how there are technically eight. Did you climb all 8 or did you climb 7 and leave 1?

I did all eight.

Why isn’t it called the Eight Summits then?

The Seven Summits, the highest mountain on each continent. The discrepancy, 7 verse 8 comes with respect to the continent of Australia versus Oceania. How do you define that continent? For some people and in my personal view, it’s a little bit of a cop-out. They will define it as the island of Australia, which I don’t know why that has become an accepted definition.

About three-quarters of people who have climbed the Seven Summits have only done that seventh summit, Kosciuszko in Australia. They have not done the Carstensz Pyramid, which is the highest mountain in the broader Oceania-Australasia continent, and as most people would define that seventh continent. I don’t know how folks get away with doing Kosciuszko but I did both.

Only a few thousand people have done the Seven Summits, and only a few hundred have done the Seven Summits with Carstensz Pyramid, and in part because it’s an extremely challenging, very technical climb that’s very hard to get to. It’s in the easternmost part of Indonesia. It’s in Western Papua, which is the same island as Papua New Guinea, which is the eastern half of the island. The western half is a province of Indonesia called Western Papua. It is in so many ways different from the rest of Indonesia. There’s long been a separatist movement from that region.

It’s dangerous, extremely remote, and completely undeveloped except for a very more door-esque goldmine at the base of this mountain Carstensz Pyramid. However, you cannot get to the mountain via the mine because it’s like the movie Avatar. It functions like an independent state. With armed security, you can’t get close to the mine.

You have to trek in for seven days each way through some of the densest jungles that I’d ever experienced. That is until I competed in a race to Survive Alaska and I experienced bushwhacking like I had never thought possible, but yes. That’s the seven summits. One last thing on this. I was and am so proud to have been the first openly gay person or the first openly LGBT person to climb the Seven Summits. One question I sometimes get from people is, “How do you know?” It’s a great question because the answer is in theory, I don’t know.

At the time, I googled it, looked at the list of folks, and searched for openly LGBT mountaineers. None of them had done the Seven Summits that I could find. Ultimately. I decided, 18 to 19-year-old me was like, “I’m going to put this out there,” and hopefully somebody says, “No. I was the first openly LGBT person.” I wanted that outcome because as an openly gay teenager, I was desperate to have role models who were interested in the same things as me. Whether it was out the outdoors or running, triathlon, or mountaineering.

As an openly gay teenager, I was desperate to have role models. Share on X

In some ways, I’m the reluctant first openly LGBT person and hopefully, the first of many. I would love to be at a place where there are countless openly LGBT folks who are climbing these mountains or pursuing these other outdoor or athletic challenges. Unfortunately, we are at a point right now where that representation isn’t nice to have, but it’s a need to have because there aren’t enough openly LGBT folks in these domains, in my opinion. The more representation we have, the better and it’s one of the reasons why I competed in Race to Survive: Alaska as the lone representative of the LGBT community.

I wasn’t trying to be the token gay person, but it was important to me that I bring my rainbow flag. My one luxury item was bringing my rainbow flag and a picture of me and my husband. Pictures are very lightweight. The flag was very lightweight as well, so that was convenient. I brought those things with me because I was thinking of fourteen-year-old me who had come out and how much I would have loved to see that represented on television in an adventure survival show no less.

That’s beautiful and something I did notice while watching it. Was Bella your sister? For those who don’t know about this show yet, I feel like Bella might have been wearing something. Was there part of your outfit at one point? I felt like I saw more than a flag, but maybe it’s just my memory.

I wore a rainbow buff pretty much every day of the entire experience. I was wearing a rainbow at all times, and my pack had a small rainbow flag patch on it. I was trying to display it in all sorts of different ways. I also had an Explorer Cold Brew hat that I wore sometimes.

I noticed that too. I’m curious, given that you went into this, I’m sure for many reasons. There’s a story about your mother too, that you and Bella share. There’s a moving story with your mom, which I would love to touch upon. As you and I were talking about back in March of 2023, the natural marketing that happens when you are on a reality show on a big network.

There are lots of big opportunities to get your name out there. There are bigger missions and wanting that representation. There are a number of reasons to do something like this, but let’s go back to your mom. For those that haven’t seen the show or might never see the show, that’s such a beautiful story to share.

My mother is, hands-down, my greatest hero. I was always, in the best way possible, a mama’s boy growing up. It helped that she and I ended up having similar interests. We developed similar interests at the same time. It wasn’t one of those situations where my mother was like, “I’m a super athlete, so I’m going to make my kids all super athletes.”

She had a very successful career first in law and then in finance. It was only when she decided to retire at age 40 that she decided she would start running local 5Ks in New Jersey, where Bella and I grew up with our other brothers and with my parents. At that time, I was maybe 10 or 12 years old. I also started running 5Ks and then she started doing triathlons, and I also started doing triathlons.

We’d do sprint triathlons and then it got longer. It was Olympic distance. That was half the Ironman distance. I did my first Half Ironman triathlon at age 13, or maybe it was 12. Insanely young. I had to get a waiver because I was under eighteen for insurance purposes for them to let me compete. We developed these shared passions together, but she was and continues to be this inspirational figure in part because she is the one who taught us to never let ourselves rest in our comfort zone and that we should always be pushing ourselves. If you feel comfortable, you are doing something wrong.

MGU 478 | Shattering Stigmas

Shattering Stigmas: My mother taught me never to let myself rest in my comfort zone.


If you are comfortable with the Half Ironman distance, then sign up for an Ironman. If you are comfortable with the Ironman distance, then do an ultra-marathon. Do an Ironman on a hilly course if the last one was flat, but constantly challenge yourself to see what else you can achieve and realize that you are able to accomplish much more than you believe possible.

She’s shown this most powerfully in the last several years because she was diagnosed with terminal stage four lung cancer. This came as a complete shock. She was in her early 50s, very healthy, and they only discovered this cancer because she was struggling to train. Her mobility was limited by what she thought at first was a sports injury in her hips.

They couldn’t figure out what it was, and they eventually had scans that showed she had a tumor at the base of her sacrum that was limiting her movement. Not only that, but the tumors were everywhere. When she was diagnosed several years ago, the tumors had already spread to her brain and throughout her body.

With that condition, the median life expectancy for a patient is about three months. My mother at age 53, a lifetime, non-smoker, non-drinker, and super athlete was handed a three-month to-live prognosis. Instead of responding with a very understandable negative reaction, she redoubled her effort to accomplish everything she could on her bucket list and to not let being a patient become the definition of her and her identity.

Even after her diagnosis, she has felt to this day that she identifies as an athlete ahead of identifying as a patient. To prove that to herself and to others, she has accomplished an unbelievable amount in the last several years. Post-diagnosis, she’s done 4 Ironman triathlons and countless marathons, probably 5 ultra-marathons around the world of 100 kilometers or more. She has continued to push herself.

Even now that she’s getting physically weaker, she walks around the neighborhood. Every day, she will not rest unless she walks 2 miles. This is someone who’s physically after several years, it’s taken a major toll on her body. One thing that has become even more impressive is as she’s gotten sicker and weaker, every time I keep thinking that her mindset will shift to becoming more negative, she somehow finds a way to stay positive.

It’s so inspirational. I don’t know any other example of somebody who’s been able to maintain this strong mindset and a will to not just live, but to continue pushing yourself through pain. Whether it’s nausea or physical pain. There are tumors throughout her lungs. Her ability to breathe has been jeopardized.

She’s got dozens of small tumors throughout her brain and yet she doesn’t let that stop her from pushing forward day after day, taking it one day at a time, getting out of bed even when she’s miserable, forcing herself to walk. It’s a thing that if you were to watch a movie of it, you would say, “There’s no way it was like that.”

There’s no way she was able to stay that strong and that positive. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t have a front-row seat to experience it, see it, and learn from it. My sister Bella and I, when were out in Alaska filming this television show, we thought about my mother every single day because as hard as what we were experiencing was, we knew that what she experienced on a daily basis was harder.

We knew, as frustrating as it was, that if she had been given the opportunity to compete on a show. It could be on the compete on a show but compete in a challenge like what we had taken on as part of the show. She would be pushing herself beyond what any of us would think is possible. Knowing that quitting, giving up, or slacking off was never an option. The producers asked us at one point, “Based on X, Y, and Z, based on these things that happened to you based on these conditions, at what point did you think, can I keep going?” I almost didn’t even understand the question because the concept of quitting, it’s not an option.

MGU 478 | Shattering Stigmas

Shattering Stigmas: The concept of quitting is not an option.


I feel moved to tears. My eyes are all watery right now because it’s so beautiful to hear that. It helps give more context, but it’s had a ripple effect directly on me. Since I saw the show, have had the pleasure of having a connection, and being able to talk to you, sometimes I think about you when I’m on my hikes.

The day that you booked yourself on this show was one of the more challenging hikes that I have taken, and I don’t know why. It was hard, and I kept thinking, “Maybe I should turn around. Maybe my body is trying to tell me it’s too much because there’s a big balance.” I’d love to hear more about this for you on the show, but I will first share this story of trying to figure out like, “Is my body signaling that I should stop or is it my brain maybe playing some games on me?

That day, it was so perfect timing. The day that you emailed me. I had finally taken a pause. I didn’t give up on the hike, but I took a pause and I checked my phone as I was eating a snack. That’s when I heard from you and I wrote you an email of how helpful it was to hear from you on a day that I was struggling, and then I was laughing at it. I’m like, “This is not that challenging relative to what I saw you do on the show,” and it’s making me emotional too, because of your mom.

You are making me emotional now.

We will both start crying. Your mom passed you down that gift that you are passing down to other people like me. I don’t even know your mom, but I feel so much gratitude and awe. Now I can think of your mom, too, when I went on another challenging hike. I remember there was a moment when the path that I was on came to a crossroads and I used the app AllTrails. I love completing trails.

I don’t know if you use it but, on that app, it will verify when you have completed a trail, but you have to do the whole thing. I enjoyed that satisfaction, but it was much more challenging than I thought, and when I got to the crossroads, I thought, “I had done enough. I could take this loop and not technically complete the whole trail, or I could go one extra mile and push myself.” I had to stop and think, “Is it my ego that wants to finish the trail?” Is it the lesson that your mom is sharing, “I’m uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean I should stop?”

It’s a sign to keep going. It’s funny you shared that anecdote because it’s so frustratingly similar to something my mother will do and has done for such a long time. In families when we are hanging out, there sometimes is compromise, and my mother will fake compromise. For example, she loves to bike or cycle. We all do triathlons together so cycling is a part of that. Growing up in central New Jersey, it’s not like cycling in New York City, which I find super dangerous and scary. I live in New York City and I wish that I could cycle more in New York City, but I don’t feel safe doing it.

In Central Jersey, there are beautiful roads and farmland you can cycle through. My mother will know that, for example. I’m motivated by cycling to do something. I don’t get the satisfaction of completing, for example, a certain achievement for me. I like to cycle to a brunch spot. If the brunch spot were 20 miles away versus 12 miles away, I wouldn’t care.

I want to go cycle there, enjoy my brunch, and cycle back because it feels like I’m doing something. What she will do is, “Do you want to go on a ride? Do you want to go cycle?” I was like, “Yes. That’d be great. Beautiful Saturday, let’s go do that.” Cycle to brunch, and then we will go and we will be approaching the brunch plan and she will be like, “What if went 1-mile further?”

We go, “Just the top of that hill.” After a few times, you end up doing double the distance, which I would never have said yes to because that’s not how I am wired. For her, she’s always trying to push it a little bit further. If she finishes something and she feels like she could have gone a little bit further, then that’s not a full achievement. Even if it’s getting to the brunch spot and going up, there’s like a hill right out of the brunch spot, a steep hill. Even on the most mild of days, she would insist that we push it at least up to the top of the hill and back.

It’s that extra 10% or more. Sometimes it’s more than 10%, but it’s that extra 10% that makes the difference. That’s the difference between doing a workout and being an Ironman. Being a triathlete versus being an Ironman, it’s that mindset of, “I’m going to push myself a little further.” I would say don’t abandon that mindset.

She has a very extreme view of these things. I’m in the middle, but her view is that discomfort is the best sign that you should keep going. She is notorious for saying the adage that she has passed on to me, but again, she’s the most extreme. “It’s all mental and there’s nothing that you can’t do. If I said to you, ‘Tomorrow, you have to complete an Ironman triathlon,’ you could do it.” Have you done an Ironman yet?

Discomfort is the best sign you should keep going. Share on X

No, and I have no desire at this moment to do one. What I’m learning is that you never know where these desires will come from and it’s so interesting as an exercise case to think about that. Even with Everest, the fact is that it’s a new idea for me. I’m often nervous about telling people because it’s new and it’s like I’m nowhere near what I think is ready right now. If you were like, “I’m buying you a ticket, and you are going out there,” I don’t know if I could do it. I don’t know if that’s part of your point. What does it take to get ready for Everest? I’m not even sure at this moment. I’m such a newbie.

People can convince themselves that the level that they need for something is way higher. I find that with a lot of my friends. I have friends who I love and who are motivated to pursue things that are challenging, which is great. That’s a great baseline, but they will convince themselves that there’s a certain threshold that they need to meet.

For example, I have a friend I’m not going to name. He’s great. He signed up for a Half Ironman and he did it, and it went great. I’m so proud of him and so I said to him, “Amazing. Do you want to do an Ironman?” He said, “Yes,” and then he said, “I can’t yet.” I was like, “Why can’t you?” He says, “I’m not ready yet. I haven’t trained enough.”

I signed up for an Ironman in November 2023. What’s very revealing is the Ironman that I’d proposed when we were having this conversation, he had nine months. You can do anything in nine months. Nine months is plenty of time. It’s an excuse for people to convince themselves they can’t do anything. I like to say that the invention of the Half Ironman is the same as the invention of the half marathon. It’s this brilliant marketing ploy by the Ironman Corporation and by marathon race organizers around the world to convince you that you need to do that as a stepping stone to doing a full Ironman. You don’t. It’s the same level of fitness to do a Half Ironman as an Ironman.

It’s completely mental, but I’m getting sidetracked because I want to share with you the point of Everest. The moral of that story is, “Don’t convince yourself that the level of fitness training accomplishment that you need is higher than it is.” We can talk about that more offline. Here’s what it took for me. When I was first climbing as a teenager, my climbing coach was this amazing woman, and there was some miscommunication and misunderstanding.

I don’t know how or why we had this misunderstanding, but she asked me to remind her. She said, “Remind me, when are you climbing Everest again?” as if I were getting coached by her to climb Everest. I was like, “What are you talking about? I can’t climb Everest.” She’s like, “What are you talking about because you can climb Everest?”

That one conversation changed my life because it was at that moment that I believed for the first time in this childhood dream that I never believed was achievable. It was a little bit inside. At that moment, I did not have a plan to climb Everest, but it planted the seed that I could climb Everest. I could get to the top of Mount Everest. I could do it in a year. If I found a way to go and get a trip organized, I could do this. I could physically have the capability to do it sooner than I even believed possible.

It was a very impactful conversation. That was my moment that it sounds like you have had where you are like, “Don’t shy away from that.” I can tell you from personal experience. I never say anything is easy because the reality is nothing is easy in life. I’m a fit athletic person. Getting myself out of bed, putting my running shoes on, and getting out the door to run, that’s not easy for me. I never say anything is easy. Do not misinterpret what I’m about to say as meaning that. Everest is not easy, but it is doable. If you have the means to get on an Everest expedition, it is doable.

MGU 478 | Shattering Stigmas

Shattering Stigmas: Everest is not easy, but it is doable.


You are the first person I have talked to about my dream that has climbing Everest. It’s such helpful context because I realize that most people, when you talk about something like that, climbing Mount Everest is like one of the greatest human achievements, which isn’t even my drive. I’m still trying to figure out why I want to climb it.

I have an episode on this show years ago where I’m pretty sure I was mocking people for the ego around Everest. I don’t know if you remember this, Cason, but there were all these news stories coming out about how there were lines of people getting to the summit and how dangerous it was. There’s that famous photo of the lineup to Everest at the very top. My former co-host Jason and I did an episode and we were like, “What’s wrong with these people? Risking their lives to take a photo.”

I am rolling my eyes a little bit. For a reason, I will explain in a minute. You were making fun of the people in line.

I’m curious to hear your reason because back then, I had no desire to climb it. It seems silly. The ego is involved and I question that too sometimes. There’s a lot of ego that can come up in these excursions. Even the times where I’m like, I want to complete the AllTrails trail that I’m on. There’s my ego saying I did it. I don’t feel that.

That’s life. Ego motivates. Why do you have a show? Ego is not a bad thing. It’s what motivates us to pursue things. It’s great. It’s a good thing.

Ego is not a bad thing. It's what motivates us to pursue things. Share on X

That’s important too. These are the thoughts that come up while hiking. It’s such a therapeutic experience for me. I was hiking for two and a half hours and I’m like, “This was transformative.” I get to process so much. I started off having all this anxiety about something. By the time I did my trail, I was not even thinking about it anymore, and all these ideas came up. The benefits of being in nature are immense. I’m curious for you, something I kept thinking about, Cason, with watching your show, which is such a cool thing when it’s documented in that way. I don’t know how much you documented climbing the Seven Summits. Several years ago, we didn’t have the same relationship with documentation that we do.

I wish I had documented it more especially as a teenager. I was a teenager and I thought I’d remember everything but in reality, you never remember everything. I did keep a journal, which I have thankfully, but also the technology has gotten so much better. I was using a point-and-shoot digital camera that ran out of battery in the cold of the summit of Everest. I was limited by technology to a degree.

It was like the early iPhone days at that point. We didn’t have the amazing iPhone cameras we have now. We didn’t have cell service all the way up Everest. There was cell service at one point near base camp several years ago, but you had to trek out on the glacier to get one bar of service. I want to go back briefly to include the thought.

Were you talking about the photo of Everest? Is that what you mean?

The photo on Everest? Thank you. Thanks for reminding me.

Do know what I’m referencing? It was probably in 2020, and it’s a famous photo. I feel like he showed up in a documentary I watched later and I was like, “It’s that guy.” Who is that? Do you know his name?

14 Peaks was his documentary.

He’s in a lot of these documentaries about these mountains.

I don’t know him personally. He’s done a great job with self-promotion. I’m trying to not be pitchy. I watched 14 Peaks and didn’t love that. That was Nims. It’s an iconic photo and it does speak to one of the real challenges. It’s not unfair to say it’s a problem that there are times and in certain places, lines up Everest.

There are a couple of things I want to say. 1) Most of the time you are not waiting in line on Everest. 2) The people climbing Everest are reliant on the fixed rope. The rope is anchored into the ice all the way up to the summit. That particular photo that you are referencing, if I remember correctly, comes on the Lhotse face, looking up from Camp 3 up the yellow bed up towards high camp, and I will say that’s a pretty tough spot to pass people.

You are probably going to wait in line for a bit there, but there are even ways you can get around that. For example, the reason that there’s a line is that most people go at the first good weather window. They are desperate to get up to the summit and off the mountain. They will go then. If you would like to wait a few days, a week, or two weeks for a different weather window, whether when it’s going to be less crowded, you can do that. The other alternative is when you are going up for the summit, there are certainly places and I know this from personal experience where you or you and your Sherpa. In my case, I was climbing with an amazing Sherpa named Kami Rita. He and I were climbing buddies.

On my team, each of us had a climbing buddy. Kami Rita was my buddy. We passed people. We unclipped from the fixed line and passed people. Other folks climbing Everest will never unclip from the fixed line for safety reasons. My mindset was, “if I’m not comfortable unclipping from the fixed line ever, then I probably shouldn’t be on the mountain.”

At the same time, I’m not trying to unclip willy-nilly and be reckless, but there are certainly places where even a beginner climber should be fine as long as you are being mindful about where you are placing your feet, your footwork, and climbing with your ice axe and able to self-arrest if you were to slide down the face. That’s what I would say. The lines are not representative of what most of climbing Everest is like.

The other thing is people talk about the commercialization of Everest, but within reason, there’s not often pushback against that point of view. It escapes unchallenged and it’s an extremely elitist perspective where these old-school climbers don’t want anything to change. They grew up climbing in the day when it was just hardcore professional climbers on the mountains. They want it all to themselves and that’s sad to me. I’m not a professional climber and I don’t have the ability or capability to be a professional climber. I have other passions. I love running my coffee business. If I had to choose, “You can climb Everest, but you have to be a professional climber or not,” then I would have never been on that mountain.

I feel so lucky that I had the chance to see what I saw and experience what I did climbing Mount Everest, and I hope you do too because it’s incredible. It’s a childhood dream come true. It was incredibly beautiful. I stood on the summit of Everest and watched the sunrise. Was there ego involved? Yes, but the ego is involved in everything.

We take on challenges because we want to push ourselves out of our comfort zone which is inherently ego-driven, but also it’s one of the great joys in life to believe that you are taking what you believe is possible, what you believe you can accomplish, and proving yourself wrong. Proving to yourself that you can do more than that. I’m glad your view has evolved in the last few years, and I hope you get the chance to climb Everest. It’d be an amazing and transformative experience.

It's one of the great joys in life to prove to yourself that you can do more. Share on X

Thank you. What incredibly powerful words for something like this. It is about doing things that you didn’t think you could do or you didn’t think you were capable of. It comes back to your mother. What’s your mother’s first name by the way?


It’s easy to remember because your sister’s name is Bella.

The Bellas. It’s my grandmother, my mother, and my sister. I’m sure she will not be the last Isabella in the family.

It’s such a beautiful name. I meant it when it brought new meaning to so much of my own experience and that mindset that as you described is very rare and something hard to understand unless you have experienced it. Witnessing this secondhand with you, I can see the impact through your words and what you are realizing about yourself. We don’t have a ton of time left with each other. I could talk to you for hours about these things, but I want to make sure we talk about what you learned about yourself through doing this reality show because it’s on the USA network. I don’t know how many viewers it got.

Streaming on Peacock.

That’s where I watched it. There are a lot of survival shows out there now and there are race shows. I would say this even if Cason were not here with me right now. It’s so worth a watch. It surprised me. I could not wait for the next episode to come out. I acknowledged throughout the entire time I was watching it, how incredibly challenging it seemed. I couldn’t wait to talk to you about this because I felt like, “The things that you had to do to compete in this race,” but then the things you had to do to survive. Truly the word survival played a big role. Now that it’s been several years since you finished doing it. What has that been like for you post a huge experience like that?

I wish I could say it was all positive, but it’s been a mixed bag. I will try and be relatively organized in collecting my thoughts on this. First of all, I agree. I was very pleased. It ended up being an enjoyable show because two months edited down into ten 45-minute episodes can go a lot of different directions. I thought it was both exciting and I was pleased that they were able to capture how real it was. They weren’t manufacturing drama.

To anyone out there who’s reading this, you can know going in that everything you see is real. There’s always going to be editing. They have to edit the show in order to make it a digestible series, but if anything, it doesn’t fully do justice to how dangerous and real it was. That’s terrifying considering the emergencies that you do see on the show because there’s even more behind the scenes.

To get back to what I found to be most profound. You mentioned even when you go on a 2 or 3-hour hike, you can experience this Zen or this ability to think and feel in an almost uninhibited way where it’s like you are accessing new parts of your mind or your soul. It allows you to process more to think about things in a different light. There’s something about nature and physical activity. There are studies that show that walking stimulates the part of your brain that enhances your function. There’s a scientific basis to this. They are finally showing that the data that this isn’t just a gut feeling that we have. It’s back to science.

MGU 478 | Shattering Stigmas

Shattering Stigmas: Walking stimulates the part of your brain that enhances your function.


I had that experience, but time instead of 2 hours, it was 2 months with no access to my phone or any devices. Not even any information from or about the outside world with minimal contact with people, and certainly no contact with friends and loved ones. I’m talking about minimal contact with the people filming us in the wilderness who are there to ask us questions to interview us.

That was the extent of my contact outside of the group of other racers on this show and my sister. Some of the positive benefits I had from that. When you watch the show, there are six race legs where you are racing in an adventure race style. Think like Amazing Race, map, compass, and Alaskan wilderness. In between each race, there was up to a week of survival camp.

Those portions are shown in the show, but they don’t get as much airtime because not as much happens. They had to squeeze a lot into these ten 45-minute episodes. You will often get maybe 5 to 10 minutes of survival camp when in fact, that was 3, 4, 5, or 6 days even of us foraging for food and talking with each other.

To be honest, I spent a lot of time lying in my sleeping bag, looking up at the trees, and looking up at the sky and the clouds. It almost got me into a meditative state. I spent a lot of time in essentially a meditative state. It allowed me to detach from the nonstop stress of being a solo founder of an emerging beverage brand.

I literally couldn’t think about work because there was nothing I could do about it. Even if I realized that I had dropped the ball on something major, I could do nothing. I would have had to leave the show in that case. As the show progressed, I was able to evolve my informal mindfulness sessions to occasionally thinking about work, but only in that exciting big-picture way where you are able to zoom out and think about things on a macro level that can be hard to achieve in the day-to-day. That was one of the most positive aspects of being in the wilderness.

It was also interesting and positive to have the opportunity to take part in a challenge that was captured on video. I wish that every episode was longer so that you could see even more of the adventures and the challenges that we overcame because there are pieces you will never see in the light of day, but at least I got these ten 45-minute episodes that show the relationship between me and my sister develop and strengthen. Not without its challenges, but by the end of the two months become an incredibly strong unit bonded in a way that we will never forget and never lose. To have that captured was such a nice and powerful thing for me to show my mother as well. To show her that we were living her spirit and her mindset even when she was not around

On the flip side, this is more neutral. When you are being recorded 24/7, my sister Bella and I were thoughtful about how were going to be portrayed. To be honest, it was not a given that we would be portrayed positively. When you watch the show, you come off with a net positive impression of me and my sister and an accurate one. It’s not a false impression by any means. There was a world where they could have edited it in a less favorable way, which would have been deceptive, but you are always aware that the editors have a lot of power. It makes you very thoughtful about work. You try and be thoughtful about what you say.

It doesn’t work all the time. At the end of the day, when you are recorded 24/7, there’s only so much you can do. In an interesting way, it forced us to live a life of always taking that extra second to think about what we are going to say out loud. Maybe we should all live that way in our real lives. That’s a positive as well as having that lesson that when you take a second or take a beat before saying something out loud that might be combative, controversial, or inflammatory, you end up not fighting as much.

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On the less positive side, coming back from this experience, I came back on an incredible high. The first thing I mentioned was this amazing and unique opportunity to have this incredible mindfulness, this Zen meditative state, and these reflections. I would write lists in my head of all the things I was grateful for and things that I missed, things that I appreciated, foods that I missed, and TV shows that I wanted to watch.

It wasn’t like, “I wish I were watching this.” It was this brainstorming like, “I’m so grateful for these things.” I came back and was thrust back into the position as a solo founder which was very challenging because I went from one end of the spectrum all the way to the other. My business was in a challenging position to be fully transparent. I needed to do a little bit of saving the business, and that got me in a pretty dark state.

I was the most depressed I have ever been in my life towards the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. I felt like I had gotten a taste of what it was like to live a life with balance where I wasn’t constantly stressed, and then I went from that. If I’d come back in the business had been doing okay, maybe I would have been able to maintain that.

Instead, it was like all hands on deck. I have got to save the business and make hard decisions that would have profound challenging implications for us, and it’s been very hard. I’m an open book. One thing that’s been truly life-changing for me in the last several months has been SSRIs. I started on Prozac in the spring and it has been incredible.

I am so grateful and glad to have that tool in my arsenal in addition to therapy, which I was going to before and continue to go to now. In addition to my support system outside of that, my husband, my siblings, and my friends, I am blown away by the positive impact that that’s had on my life. I’m so grateful that my therapist suggested that we try it because my mother has a lot of amazing qualities and my family is amazing. One of the maybe less positive ones is that her cancer diagnosis aside. With general life medication, she’s one of those people who’s like, “If you are in pain, maybe grit through it rather than taking a painkiller.”

Even now, she’s been prescribed opioids for the severe pain she’s in and she’s determined to not take them. She is very much like a don’t-medicate-if-you-don’t-need-to thing, and I respect that point of view. I’m glad that I took a different path for myself and it’s worked out well for me. Everyone is different, but when I was researching SSRIs before I went on them, I heard millions of people around them and they were very happy. I got a fair number of people who were like, “I had a terrible experience.” This is my personal experience. I’m putting this out there to the world in case there are folks who are reading this. Do your research, but for me at least, I have had minimal to no side effects and it has only been positive.

Thank you for sharing that. It’s like another level of representation, and showing different sides. There are a lot of stigmas out there around medication. I have talked about my experiences with them as well. It’s something that is to be determined between you and a medical professional if you seek one or some other form of support. It’s easy to judge.

It’s like if you don’t believe in something or something doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t believe in it or won’t work for them. I’m glad that you brought that up because there are so many different theories on mental health. One of my big aims is to paint as much of the picture of it as possible from all these different angles so that it’s not seen as this one-size-fits-all approach or right or wrong, good or bad, black and white.

It’s like the spectrum of color that I see with you in so many ways, how you are doing this through your work with your company, and showing the different ways that you can use coffee to the different ways you can approach running a business to going on adventures. It’s so impressive and yet you acknowledge that because you have had all these great successes. They haven’t come with challenges that are hard to overcome. Those stories are an important representation.

I felt guilty at first because I had such a great life. I was like, “How could I be this depressed if my life is this great?” I grew up in the luckiest possible circumstances with essentially every advantage that you could imagine. I had incredible parents and an affluent family who were accepting and embraced me when I came out and embraced me for my full self immediately without question. Amazing siblings who became my friends. The best schooling that one could dream of. I have had every single advantage. It made it so much worse because I was beating myself up even more thinking how terrible a person am I to have had all these advantages to have this great life and to not be happy. That was the worst of it.

Medicine can take so many different forms. Whether it’s going hiking, doing yoga, meditation, breath work, therapy, or finding therapy and talking to your friends or your family. Whether it’s some form of medicine, I never would have thought for myself that medicine would be part of my answer. It’s not the whole answer, but it is for me. I’m glad that I was open-minded to trying that in the end.

MGU 478 | Shattering Stigmas

Shattering Stigmas: Medicine can take so many different forms.


I’m glad too because it’s part of survival and that’s a huge part of your story. Mental health isn’t one of the leading causes of death for certain age ranges. It’s a big issue right now. Just like you, train yourself and bring specific equipment with you when you go on a big adventure, you are gearing up for your survival and medicine can be seen the same way that you are using a tool in order to survive.

You can have multiple tools in the arsenal. It’s a great analogy.

I have learned things about gear over the last few years since I have gotten into camping and hiking. You look at who I was a few months ago and what the tools that I had. I swapped those out for other things as they suited me. Some things like my shoes will wear down and maybe I will get a completely different brand of shoes. Medicine is the same thing. You either don’t need it, switch it, or change your dose.

You said transparency. It sounds like a core value to you. I don’t think those were your exact words, but you mentioned transparency as a founder and brand owner. Your commitment to learning researching and experimenting. That’s coming through in so many ways and so many elements of you. It makes you that much more of an amazing person in my eyes. I’m so grateful that you have spent this time with me. I know you have a dinner coming up with your husband and I want to acknowledge your time, but it’s hard to close off a conversation like this. There is so much to explore.

We will have to continue it another time. I look forward to hearing more updates as you progress on your Everest journey, however long that may be. I’m here if you have any questions. One final thing on Everest because it’s valuable hopefully for you and for others to keep in mind. When someone climbs Everest and substitutes for any challenging thing, Everest is just a placeholder. When somebody has climbed Everest and they come to you and talk to you about it, the vast majority of people will make it sound like the hardest thing ever. Why? It makes their achievement even more impressive.

Keep that in mind because they are sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally convincing you that you can’t do it. I take the opposite approach where I love convincing someone and showing someone that they can do it. I learned early on that when someone has done something that they believe is hard, it’s in their self-interest to convince you of the hardness of the thing they just did.

Don’t let that get to you. Don’t let that deter you from pursuing hard things. My hope would be for others to pass on that message. When you feel like you are about to say something that could convince someone not to do something, change your tune. Instead, frame it as how they could do the same thing you did. How can they sign up for their first Ironman? How can they potentially climb Everest next season or something like that? How can they start their own business? That’s the biggest Everest for me. I can go on and on. We will have to do another one of these.

When someone has done something that they believe is hard, it's in their self-interest to convince you of the hardness of the thing. Don't let that deter you from pursuing hard things. Share on X

It’s so hard. You have done such a beautiful job of talking about hard things. There are so many themes in this episode, but inspiring people. The way that you have talked to me about this is it truly has a massive impact that I don’t even think about yet because I’m still so new in that journey, but it could have gone the opposite way.

As you said, it is a common experience for people who have achieved something to either oversimplify it or make it sound impossible so that they might feel special. I love that you feel like the happy medium. You are not trying to say that something is easy, but it’s still achievable. Finding that middle ground when it comes to anything, as you mentioned, personal endeavors, professional endeavors, all of these adventures, and exploring. When people can listen to someone like you, it makes them more likely to explore whatever that means to them, because it’s not oversimplified and overly complicated. Thank you so much.

I hope so. That’s the goal. Thank you for having me.

Maybe some of this has clarified more of the mission for Explorer Cold Brew, which, speaking of which, we have a discount code for which is Whitney20. Don’t put Whitney100. You will not get 100% off but Whitney20. That will be in two places to make it simple for you to check it out. If you are inspired by this conversation, if you love coffee, if you like to travel, or if you want a convenient way to enjoy a delicious cold brew, check out his Instagram social media. You are doing TikTok as well, I saw.

Yes. I do TikTok as well, but Instagram is probably the best.

I love seeing these short videos and these little bite-sized moments in people’s lives. There are so many great things plus other podcasts you are on. The journey does not end here with him. Thank you so much, Cason. Again, it’s so hard to say goodbye, but we will say goodbye for now.

Thanks. Goodbye for now.


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About Cason Crane

MGU 478 | Shattering StigmasCason Crane is an entrepreneur, adventurer, and activist. He is the first openly LGBT person to climb the Seven Summits – the highest mountain on each continent – including Mt. Everest. He is passionate about combining his love for exploring the world with his desire to make it better. For his activism and advocacy, he’s been awarded LogoTV’s ‘Young Trailblazer’ honor and The Trevor Project’s ‘Youth Innovator Award’. Cason graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in History and certificates in American Studies and Near Eastern Studies. After starting his career as a management consultant in Bain & Company’s New York office, he founded an award-winning coffee business, Explorer Cold Brew (, leading it to reach seven-figures in its first year and becoming the first cold brew on a major US airline. Under Cason’s leadership, Explorer has been featured by Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Saveur, and more, and has been lauded for both its exceptional quality as well as its commitment to impact and sustainability. Cason is also an avid endurance and adventure racer and has competed in dozens of ultramarathons, obstacle course races, and IRONMAN triathlons, in addition to numerous marathons, open-water swims, hikes, climbs, and more. He was a finalist on Season 1 of the USA Network’s Race to Survive: Alaska, now streaming on Peacock. When not off on an adventure, he lives in Brooklyn, NY with his husband Francis and their dog Timmy.


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