38 Degrees North & The Midlife Mentors was founded by James Davis in 2012 with the goal of establishing the notion of a premium fitness and coaching retreat. He intended to combine excellent training with excellent cuisine, luxurious surroundings, and attitude counseling, not just to create a memorable experience, but also to provide customers with tools for lasting transformation.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between the World’s Leaders and James Davis.
Describe 38 Degree North’s offerings that address the needs of your customers.
With 38 Degrees North, we’re easing our way back into the retreat experience, adapting to the uncertainty of travel regulations. We believe there’s a desire from clients for a smaller, more immersive and intimate experience, so we’re focusing on small group retreats (max 10 people) where we can spend quality time with clients and get more in depth with workshops and coaching sessions.
With The Midlife Mentors, we’ve been blown away by the results our clients are getting. Most clients come to us expressing a physical need – to lose weight, to feel more energised But by the end of the process, they all recognise that they’ve experienced a massive mental and emotional shift to a far more positive place, and that life has its shine back.
To us, the movement side is, of course, important, but building a long-term healthy relationship with food, creating a life in balance, shifting habits to ones that support our goals, altering limiting beliefs so our identity is geared for success-this is what we do well and what keeps our customers coming back and new ones finding us all the time.
We’ve won a lot of awards for our work and the model is now more common than the old basic accommodation, starvation rations and sweat that was the standard back when we started!
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in this industry through your expertise in the industry?
I think I had an advantage coming into the wellness retreat space when it was still in its infancy and coming in with a client’s perspective-what would I want to experience? Rather than, say, a personal trainer or yogi, they reverse engineer a retreat around what they know.
Because I had a psychology background, I knew that the mindset was just as important as the workouts for long-term success.We always say 80% psychology, 20% mechanics, and it’s true.
As we’ve evolved and grown, we’ve harnessed technology to deliver an in-depth immersive experience to our programme and coaching clients via our app. It means they have us literally in their pockets, on demand, and we know from feedback how powerful that is.
What are the challenges you and your team at 38 Degree North come across in your day-to-day operations?
Right now, a major challenge is the ever changing travel restrictions for our retreat business. There is still a lot of uncertainty, which translates into a lack of confidence in the travel sector.
On the corporate work side, it’s not so much a challenge but companies are having to adapt to a hybrid working model, and that brings challenges like how do you instil culture? Build team spirit? How to gauge morale? These are all things we’re helping companies adapt to.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
I’m constantly thankful for my schooling. I had amazing teachers and mentors who instilled confidence in me; I lost it for a while when I was younger, but I’m glad to say it resurfaced!
I’m grateful I’ve travelled widely–especially now that we’re in a somewhat restricted world–and experienced so many places, cultures, and people.
I read really widely, but I always go back to Osho and Alan Watts. Life is short; learn to dance and be playful.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drive 38 Degree North.
We always strive to be the best version of ourselves. I’m fortunate working with Claire that we support each other on this and encourage each other’s growth. We’re also not afraid to point out where we could do better and then act on it.
One thing we struggle with is working too much, and we see this so often in our clients too, so we’re big on boundary setting to help everyone involved. Life has to maintain a balance, and it’s so important to get it right.
It’s very easy to swing to an extreme, and that might get you short term results, but you’ll always swing back. Awareness is key. Once you have that, you can act on what you know and start making changes.
We’re always looking to improve everything we do, to reach more people, because we truly believe, everyone has the right to be healthy and happy.
Where do you envision yourself being in the long run, and what are your future goals for 38 Degree North?
We’re about to launch a programme specifically for midlife men. It’s a group that’s really overlooked but that generally has poor mental health that they tend to hide. We want to empower midlife men to step up, be open, and start living their best lives, to be wonderful fathers, partners, friends.
We’re also working on a book, and longer term for us, it’s about getting the information out there and letting people know that they’re not alone, that a lot of people are feeling what they’re feeling, and that it is possible to change and embrace life with joy.
At some point we’d love to spend time in the US, perhaps speaking or running workshops.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Be in it for the long haul and be in it for the passion. If it doesn’t light you up, don’t bother, you’ll burn out. I see so many people today focused on making a quick buck at any cost. The inauthenticity is staggering. Find what you love, be patient, be consistent and do the right thing by people and the rewards will follow.
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