Dave Cornthwaite - SayYesMore, adventures and dryrobe.
Last year our paths crossed with Dave Cornthwaite adventurer, author, motivational speaker and founder of SayYesMore. After receiving some great images of Dave in his dryrobe we wanted to get to know more about him and his adventures:
Have you always been interested in the adventure lifestyle or did you make a life change?
I had a totally addictive Playstation habit in my early twenties. Woke up in the morning on my 25th birthday and I looked at my cat who was asking me for breakfast, and just realised that she was going to have a much better day than I was. Then I thought “that’s ridiculous” and realised there was no way I can just carry on going into work doing something that I’m not very good at, or that I don’t really enjoy, for the rest of my life — it just didn’t really make sense. So ever since then I’ve had a mission to make my life better than my cat’s. I started doing new things, which starts with saying yes more often, and eventually I found myself a skateboard.
Two weeks after stepping onto that I quit my job and decided that I was going to try and get the world distance record on a skateboard. I went from John o’Groats to Land’s End and then crossed Australia — almost 4,000 miles — and after that I got a book deal and I’ve never really looked back! It's amazing what one, big, crucial decision can do to change the direction of your life forever.
For someone who hasn't come across it before, what is SayYesMore?
For 10 years SayYesMore was a personal motto to make sure I didn’t just waste away. Every time we do something new we grow and develop and learn new skills, or even learn that we don’t need or want to do that thing again. I want to get to the last day of my life and know that I reached my potential because I couldn’t have spent my time better. So ‘Say Yes More’ is kind of about making the most of life, making it count, not letting opportunities pass us by — and not just living for decades just doing work because it pays — but getting out there and working out how we can be the best possible versions of ourselves.
In 2015 I had a project to try to turn my Facebook audience into real friends — so turning social media into a proper social connection. So I invited people camping. I told them to meet me under the clock at Liverpool Street station, and I said “we’ll go camping and you’ll be back in time for the next morning. You might be a bit smelly but you’ll have had a good night under the stars and have met some new friends”. 19 people turned up for that first camp-out and then the next week 25 people and then on and on. We had hundreds throughout the summer, and that community of people we called the YesTribe. They were the type of people that if you went to them and said, “Hey, I’m sick of my job, I want to quit and cycle around the world or set up a charity”— just something that’s a little out of the box— they’d say “that’s awesome! I’ll help you”. Suddenly things just started to happen because people were supported by folk with a positive mind-set.
We had a festival called Yestival at the end of summer in 2015 — to just celebrate this growing community — and that went down a storm. 200 people came so it was just a little festival but in the following year those 200 people collectively went out and raised three quarters of a million pounds for charity and travelled over 100,000 miles under their own steam. Each one of them sent out their own ripples and formed their own communities — now we’ve got over 3,000 people in the YesTribe and it’s growing fast. In October we had our second Yestival with 400 people. I think everybody wants to feel that they can enjoy life — that they wake up on a Monday morning and are actually excited to get out of bed — and, in all of these adventures, spend time with good people and spend more time outside. It’s amazing what can happen.
Yestival (pic by Jon Chater)
What draws you to adventure, particularly the most recent journey across Japan?
There's a wonderful quote which reads, "You will either experience the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret. The choice is yours." For me, this defines any aspect of our lives where there's an element of growth or hard work required to get somewhere, and I see a long-distance endurance adventure as the best teacher of all the basic disciplines needed to forge a really varied, successful life.
I adore that combination of 'bloody hell, this is grim, get me out of here' with 'I would take this moment, this toughness, over another minute in an office doing something just for money." I find challenges really fun, especially the tough bits, and there's nothing like carrying everything you need to survive, waking up in a tent or hammock every morning, feeling fit enough to keep on going no matter what, and living a story worth telling. I know what it's like on the other side; to be lazy and stuck and pasty and all of the examples that you see during a typical London commute (!) and adventure totally unlocked that for me.
I have a project called Expedition1000 which is more of a life than career project. The idea is to do twenty-five different non-motorised journeys of at least 1000 miles in distance, each one using a different form of transport. So far I've covered over 20,000 miles across twelve journeys, including skateboarding across Australia, paddle boarding the Mississippi, swimming the lower Missouri and most recently, taking a kick scooter named Swifty around Japan. I don't plan, train or spend a lot of money, just get to the start line with the basic gear and start moving. Everything else turns our ok if you go into it with a positive attitude, and generally living adventurously with an 'I want to do this and it doesn't matter who says it's stupid or impossible' attitude gets me up in the morning.
What would you say to someone who wants to make a change?
What the hell are you waiting for? If it's really something you want to do nothing will get in the way, and if you want some support drop into www.sayyesmore.com and join the YesTribe group on Facebook, then come along to some events. When you're surrounded by positive, supportive people, endless magic begins to happen. You have NO idea what you're capable of, and you'll never know unless you try. So get moving!
And finally what does dryrobe do for you, what do you use it for?
Well, I live on a boat and Winter is pretty chilly, so I'm sitting here right now in my Dryrobe. I'm also working out whether I can feasibly pack it for an upcoming adventure I'm leading in Iceland, but primarily my Dryrobe gets used every day. I leave my boat to go to the shower rather than drain my water tank every day, so Dryrobe is both protection from the elements and a really effective towel. I run an adventure and positivity festival called Yestival each October and wore it every morning as I wandered around in the freezing cold, checking in on everyone and everything, and if I had a tenner for everyone who said 'that looks AMAZING, it's so cool and warm!' I would be much richer than your average festival organiser! Haha! Sure, it comes to the beach with me now and then for surf and kite surf changing, but it's the first thing I reach for when I go outside. It's a down jacket-killer!
Dave in his dryrobe taken by Reece Pickering