029: Stephen Barnes- Getting back to basics at Sierra Deisgns

August 31, 2017

Show Notes

Sierra Designs exec Stephen Barnes tells us how he got exposed to the outdoor industry and his experience as a product leader and independent sales rep.

First Exposure to the Outdoors

As a very little kid, I was born in Philadelphia and my parents had a weekend place that we went to but as a young kid I moved to New Hampshire grew up at the base of Mount Washington. Or I should say spent my formative years because I haven't quite grown up yet. Hiking all over the White Mountains and all over New England and doing canoe trips on the rivers in Maine and canoe trips on the coast of Maine and stuff like that. Funny story I think I was probably about 11 and my brother have a younger brother who's 10 or so we always kind of laugh that my mom dropped us off at a trailhead and said see at home in three days type stuff. We were always outside just playing in the dirt, hiking or getting to the top of local peaks. It's a good place to do it

Things we talked about


Stonewear Designs


Osprey Packs


The North Face

The Mountain Lab

Packing it out

Poler Stuff

Advice, tips

Getting into the Biz

It's one of those got to start at the bottom industries. Start in a retail shop or start in a warehouse or start on a call center or something like that and just start to learn the industry and what makes people drive what drives people. Then get outside yourself and see what drives you to figure out where you want to end up. There's so many opportunities from product design, development, sales, marketing, there's all sorts of different components to each of those. Where do you want to be, what do you want to do? I think the only way to do that is just like in life, go experience it and figure out what you're good at and what what really drives you. Get exposed to all of it. It seems like there's more opportunity now because there are more brands and bigger brands whereas when we started you had to almost start at a retail. These days you can jump in in a call center or a warehouse still get great exposure to brands and products and exposed to the whole cycle of the biz. By being exposed to all those different things that will kind of formulate what turns your crank and then you gravitate towards that and grow your career.

Growing your career

Go shadow some of the folks that are in jobs that you want. We definitely see that around here. We're part of a much bigger group, we have eleven brands in our building. Something that I've been impressed with seeing here is there is opportunity to advance within the building but you have to put the effort in. We've got dealer services folks who come and they just sit down with us and talk to Casey and I about product because they're really interested in it and eventually they want to potentially become a product manager of some sort or a developer and they just want to immerse themselves in information. The best way to do that is to go sit sit down and talk to the folks who have the jobs you want and be a shadow.

Other Outdoor Activities

I'm mostly into and two-wheeled mechanized transit whether it be a mountain bike or a motorcycle and still do a lot of mountain biking and a lot of adventure touring. And skiing of course.

Favorite Books

I used to read a lot of the big mountaineering books, you know the Ed Webster's and Chris Bonnington and all those classic stories. I find nowadays mostly what I read is

Zane Gray and some older stuff, it's just pure escapism these days.

Connect with Stephen

any bathroom wall or post office wall page seven.




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