Jim Walker

My day job is founder of Teton Inspiration, which is named after the county I currently call home.

Earlier in my career, I founded a company called Rocky Paths Consulting, which was built on a seven-step process I created to help organizations and their employees learn how to connect to achieve their goals or overcome their challenges.

A few years back, I decided to move from the Midwest to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and to bring my model with me. I’d been here on vacation numerous times and was intrigued by the area. It’s located in the richest county in the U.S. and there’s a book called the Billionaire Wilderness, by Justin Farrell, that really captures the experience (check out this New York Times article by the same author for a quick overview of how the county is navigating the realities of COVID-19). I wanted to see if I could make a go of it in a place where no one knew me and I had no credibility and no one to vouch for me.

As I connected with people, working through the lens of the consultant world and trying to share my model, people tended to say some version of, “Jim, I don’t really care about your program. What I’d really like to know is where you like to fish.”

I began to see what people were really looking for—regardless of their income or their role—was authenticity.

I decided to put my consulting business aside, get a “real” job and just live my model out in an organic and personal way. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing this, I just did it.

I got an entry level job at a vacation rental company, and was just myself—authentic, vulnerable and transparent—while I lived my model. Within six months I went from taking out the garbage to being the CEO. I was very graced to have this opportunity, and it’s taught me a lot. Especially that so many of the barriers people experience in life—on the job or in their personal lives—have to do with not trusting each other.

I’m using what I’ve learned during these past months to go back into consulting, but in a way that takes a very different approach based on what I’ve learned.

I used to think of myself as a coach or a consultant; now I focus first on being authentic and creating trust and then challenging people. I’ve created a process that helps people deliver their service or product in such a way that everyone feels valued and authentic, no matter what role they play.

As we move into the “new normal” of the COVID environment, the greatest challenge will be that there is no normal. There will be new opportunities and new expectations on the part of employees and customers and we’ll only be able to navigate them with authenticity, transparency and trust.

It might seem like the COVID era isn’t the time to worry about things like this—after all, when you need a paycheck, is it time to worry about being your “authentic” self? But I’d say it’s actually the best time to get refocused and figure out what your job means to you and what you expect out of it.

Is it just a paycheck? There’s nothing wrong with that—but then don’t expect your boss or your job to provide fulfillment, you have to figure that out on your own.

My most memorable caffeine is the one I shared with Vicky Franchino!

My current caffeine of choice is cowboy coffee made with a dark roast.

My favorite place for caffeine is Nora’s Fish Creek Inn.

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Sitting Bull.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: the value of connection, spiritual, emotional and individual.