EP53 | The Path to Personal Growth Through Adventure with Rebecca Donaghe, Global Adventurer and Film Producer

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Episode Description

Rebecca Donaghe is an experienced film producer whose credits include noted feature works such as Finding Forrester, Where God Left His Shoes, and She Gets What She Wants.

Her current passion lies in combining her love of adventure with her professional talent as a film producer by leading “special-ops style” expedition production crews to produce award-winning, ethically-minded advertisements within the outdoor space.

Possessing an M.B.A. from Yale, Rebecca is the consummate professional always seeking out new paths to personal and professional growth. That is why she has become focused on pursuing a wide range of adventures around the world that include navigation rally racing, sailing the open ocean, surfing, rock climbing, and even riding through Morocco and Mongolia aboard “monkey bikes.”

In this episode, Jimmy is joined by XOVERLAND’s new podcast co-host, Leah Heffelfinger, for a conversation with Rebecca about how adventure can provide far more than thrills. Rebecca explains how, for her, adventure is sought out as a path to learn about herself that leads to intense and often immediate personal growth.

Rebecca’s philosophy of adventure and how it affects her life is incredibly detailed and well-thought-through. Whether you are new to the world of life outside of your comfort-zone or have been at it for years, this unique conversation is sure to provide you with some useful ideas and enhance your perspective when it comes to finding your next adventure.

Join Rebecca, Leah, and Jimmy as the three have fun exploring just how an adventurous approach to life can lead you to a place of fulfillment and a lifestyle that aligns with your deepest values.

Detailed Episode Summary

Part 1 (1:30-11:59) Welcome and Intro to Our Special Guest, Rebecca Donaghe, and a Big Welcome to Our New Co-Host, Leah Heffelfinger! Rebecca describes her background as a film producer, noting her work on films like Finding Forester, her Education at Yale’s School of Drama and School of Business (where she received her M.B.A.), and her transition into producing films in Hollywood. Next, Rebecca explains why she ultimately got involved in producing commercials and her evolution into outdoor adventure-themed advertising content.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

XOVERLAND Network Masterclass Build Series

Part 2 (12:00-23:05) Personal Growth Through Adventure: Rebecca begins to explain her philosophy of using adventure to learn about herself and grow as a person, sharing some of her first stories involving surfing, where she first learned the value of “letting go” to survive and evolve. She also shares stories of her first rock climbing experiences and the value of learning to “think in inches.”

Part 3 (23:05-27:36) Driving Solo–3,000 miles and 16 Days–from L.A. to Texas in a 1993 Mitsubishi 4-Wheel Drive Delica Starwagon: Rebecca shares the story of her first major solo overland journey in a 1993 Mitsubishi 4-Wheel Drive Delica Starwagon in which she drove a 3,000-mile backroads journey from L.A. to Texas.

Part 4 (27:37-33:57) The Value of Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone and Rebecca’s Experience in the Rallye Aicha Des Gazelles Du Maroc in Morocco: Rebecca recounts the story of her first navigation rally in the deserts of Morocco and why she chose to participate in that adventure. In the discussion that ensues, she seeks to explain what it looks like to get outside of your comfort zone and why this can be a valuable experience.

Part 5 (33:58-42:06) Learning to Take Measured Risks While Adventuring: Rebecca explains what it looks like to take measured risks while exploring the possibilities of different types of adventures, examining why she chooses the challenges she does that help her grow the most. The crew discusses the differences between endurance-focused races vs. speed races and how an endurance event can serve well as a metaphor for life.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

XOVERLAND Podcast Episode: Why I Went to Morocco featuring Rachelle Croft (@rachelle_croft)
Dakar Rally

Part 6 (42:08-49:43) “Monkey Bikes” in Morocco and Mongolia: A part of Rebecca’s philosophy of adventure is to use unusual machines for her journeys. This is why she went on two different adventures with friends aboard “Monkey Bikes” (50cc street legal dirtbikes) in Morocco and Mongolia (in that order). Rebecca gets into the details of why she choose these bikes for traveling and what was gained from that experience.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Training (@jimmy_lewis_offroad)
Emily Miller (emily_offroad)

Part 7 (49:44-58:08) Thoughts on Adventure Travel and Staying Safe as a Woman Traveling Abroad: Rebecca shares her philosophy on adventure travel and how she maximizes the cultural value of her experiences while staying safe as a female traveler. Rebecca examines what you’re projecting as a traveler and how this impacts people’s responses to you as well as the value of learning to ask for help when you need it. The discussion then returns to Rebecca’s overall philosophy of adventure, especially as it pertains to working with others.

Part 8 (58:09-1:04:31) Should You Still Go on Your Adventure if No One Else Is? Rebecca talks about planning her adventures and the concept of “self-leadership,” diving into what she does if no one else in her circle wishes to join her. The reasons why she will “go anyway” are helpful to anyone facing the same problem.

Part 9 (1:04:32-1:10:00) How Do You Find an Adventure Partner? Rebecca refines her thinking about how she finds her adventure partners, getting into the subject of defining clear goals and boundaries and the need for alignment in these areas. Leah explores undertaking adventures with family members.

Part 10 (1:10:00-1:12:19) Rebecca Donaghe’s Experiences in the Rebelle Rally and Her Decision to Drive in this Year’s Rally: Leah and Rebecca discuss their experiences in the Rebelle Rally, and Rebecca shares why she would like to shift roles this year from navigation to driving in the rally.

Part 11 (1:12:20-End) Where to Find Training for Rally and Off-Road/4WD Driving? If you’re interested in learning to rally and drive effectively and safely off-road, where do you get professional training to do that? Rebecca is all about learning from the best to be prepared for the adventures she undertakes, and here she shares where she gets her training for rally racing and off-road driving, noting how the responsible approach to driving she has been trained in has influenced her approach to creating commercials with companies like G.M.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

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