Cliff Hodges

Imagine a world where everybody felt like a global stakeholder.

Picture a wild landscape that everyone loved and cared for because they had experienced its true awesomeness for themselves.

What would it feel like if you could be “out there” with the ability to start a fire by friction, climb a mountain with minimal help, or build a shelter where other people only saw trees and grass?

Each person who listens to my guest for this episode – the fascinating and funny Cliff Hodges – gets us one step closer to a deep reconnection with nature. Everyone who surfs, rock climbs, backpacks, mountain bikes, or does survival camp via Cliff's Adventure Out programs becomes more self-sufficient and more willing to partner with humans and non-humans alike.

This Cliff fella is ambitious, collaborative, respectful, and simply my kind of dude. And you'll especially dig him and his mission if you've lost that loving feeling for wild spaces (you know, the one we're all born with that's often culturally unlearned or environmentally distant).

We call it “survival.” But for thousands of years, it was just called living. It was called waking up and facing another day. And now we have this image of survival as a struggle – going out into this alien environment … and so I remind people it isn't a struggle. Survival is living in a different way and context … Moving back to a simplified, basic, and instinctual version of human life. The more disconnected we get, the easier it is for us to destroy what sustains us. – Cliff Hodges

From a curious Santa Cruz, CA youth to an MIT-trained electrical engineer and back to a problem-solving Santa Cruz nature enthusiast, he can inhabit many mindsets and places that other people can't.

It's shocking to me when people say they aren't an environmentalist. Then I say, ‘Well, are you suicidal?” If you don't care about the planet you live on, where are you looking to end up? Right now, this is it. – Cliff Hodges

You may want to listen to this episode multiple times to feel the full weight of some of the biggest challenges of our lifetime. But it all starts when you press that play button … so here we go!

You're about to Learn …

  • The benefits of “moving at the pace of nature.”
  • How to reconnect with your primal, animal heritage.
  • The four pillars of survival (and which one is unique to humans).
  • Why most Americans don't experience – or even understand – the natural wonder outside their home.
  • How a kid gets to teach adults primitive skills at summer camp.
  • Why respect and sacrifice drive Cliff to craft and hunt with his own bow and arrows.
  • Which of the thirty ways to create fire by friction is Cliff's favorite.
  • Why people don't respect the natural world until they become a stakeholder.
  • Different versions of crazy and when they are saner than mainstream thinking.
  • Why MIT gives out more degrees in problem solving than anything else.
  • How Cliff gets clients to return with their family and friends.



Resources and Items Mentioned in This Episode:


  • [07:24] Cliff's seeds of awesomeness
  • [12:21] Why loving nature is available to anyone and for everyone
  • [14:05] Cliff's educational history and why he moved back to Santa Cruz after MIT
  • [18:15] How and why to reconnect to nature
  • [21:36] Small and large transformations from Cliff's Adventure Out excursions
  • [25:38] Helping people get comfortable being uncomfortable outdoors
  • [29:12] How to start a fire with friction
  • [32:14] Who inspires Cliff and why
  • [34:46] Thoughts on how and why to make primitive bows and arrows
  • [38:16] What simple living means to Cliff
  • [39:52] Some serious crazy-talk
  • [41:52] The Adventure Out Guide Training and Affiliate Program

Extra Gratitude and Special Mentions

I have mad gratitude to “iztheliz” for leaving this seriously groovy iTunes review of the show:

“Smart and Simple Matters is incredibly insightful, inspiring content. I love Joel’s questions and the guests he curates. I have been addicted to these podcasts for the past month or so and they have really inspired a major shift in my life.”

Keep those iTunes reviews comin', folks! And for even more support, become my patron on Patreon.

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