Little did Justine Curtis know when she made her journey to India she would discover the reward of selflessly giving to others. Now her business Inspired Adventures helps others discover that joy and since 2004 has helped raise $19.7 million for charities working all over the world.
In 2001 you took a sabbatical trip to India, how did that adventure change your perspective on your life?
The real question would be how didn’t it change my life? My sabbatical trip to India was life changing in so many ways. For the first time, I experienced how utterly rewarding it was to give my time for free. Whilst in India, I taught English to new arrivals in Tibet, ranging from a young girl who was orphaned to a 70 year old High Lama. It made me realise the importance of giving without receiving and it was a completely sobering experience. India is the most enriching place I’ve ever travelled to. I’ve been fortunate to travel back there many times since my first trip and I can honestly never get enough of it. The diversity of culture, language, race and the assault of the senses wherever you go is just amazing. I’ve never felt so alive and in the moment as I do when I’m in India.
Apart from the inspiration to start your company Inspired Adventures, what were some of your highlights from your Mount Kilimanjaro trek?
There were quite a few highlights, but I suppose the pure elation and pride I felt as I summited the highest freestanding mountain in the world would top the list. Knowing that my mind and my body had the ability to carry me through five different ecosystems and across trying and harsh landscapes was just surreal. It was also my first experience of doing a guided trek and the selflessness of the guides; their commitment to getting us to the summit was amazing. Of course, another highlight was getting down, jumping in to a taxi and grabbing a beer at the nearest pub. I also remember looking in the mirror and seeing this dirty cavewoman staring back at me! The journey to the summit of Kilimanjaro was extremely tough, but worth it in every way.
In your opinion, what is it about active adventures that appeals and inspires so many people?
I think adventures that involve a challenge are so appealing because they allow people to really push themselves in ways they never thought possible. Active adventures have the potential to bring out the inner strength people have within them but often don’t know is there. It’s quite inspiring and humbling to watch your body and mind transform into this enormous force of power and might. And, of course, active adventures are loads of fun and a great way to break the everyday routine!
How does your business Inspired Adventures help people tap into this?
Our adventures are all about challenging yourself whilst also raising vital funds for worthwhile causes. Participants not only find the courage and strength to complete challenging adventures for themselves (in foreign countries nonetheless!), but they also learn the importance of working hard to support those who need it most.
How does Inspired Adventures work with charities to raise much needed funds?
On average, each of our adventures raise $80,000 for our charity partners. We are able to do this by engaging individuals to come together as a team and take on a physical challenge around the world and across Australia. I have a team of amazing Fundraising Coordinators who work one-on-one with each person taking on the challenge in order to help them reach and exceed their fundraising target. Charities really appreciate the way Inspired Adventures supports individuals to help their cause, often turning them into lifelong advocates for the charity.
Why do you think Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy has become such a big thing in recent years?
I believe the world is finally waking up to the fact that, without sounding cliché, we are all in this together. The suffering of one human means no more or no less than the suffering of another, no matter their race, religion or gender, and we should strive to lend a helping hand whenever and wherever possible.
What lessons have you learnt from your own personal adventures that you have been able to apply to running a successful business?
The most important lesson I’ve learnt is never give up. Ever. Remember to take things one step at a time. Running a business comes with the good and the not so good times, but you need to stay focused and believe in yourself and what you’re doing. A vital lesson I’ve learnt is that everything is impermanent and nothing should be taken for granted. The world is always changing and your business will constantly change too, so be prepared for that. No matter what, just remember to keep moving forward. Stay connected to your amazing team and always practice being a caring and mindful leader.
What is one of your biggest highlights so far in this Inspired Adventures journey?
It might sound a bit corny but honestly, every week there’s a new highlight. Every time a team of incredible people return from an adventure, we hear amazing stories about how it’s changed their life in ways they can’t even describe. In this way, it makes the highlights of this Inspired Adventures journey limitless.
Do you have a personal bucket list of adventures? If so, what is currently at the top of the list?
There are too many to mention! Visiting Madagascar, dog sleighing and witnessing the Northern Lights are definitely up there.
What is your advice to our readers who are teetering on the cusp of their first big active adventure?
I’d say take a leap of faith and jump. You are more capable and stronger than you give yourself credit for. Step off the edge and dive in with confidence and conviction. Travelling opens your eyes to the beauty of this world and the people in it. A big adventure won’t be easy, but what you will experience and how you will change physically and mentally makes it all worthwhile.
Thank you Justine.
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