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the ladder

Matt Mosteller, 51, is senior vice-president of marketing and resort experience at Calgary-based Resorts of the Canadian Rockies Inc., a company that operates the Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberley, Nakiska, Mont Sainte-Anne and Stoneham ski resorts.

I was an extremely fat kid. I ate a lot of junk food. Then I had the help of a ski instructor who lifted my spirits and showed me the freedom that you could have by sliding down a hill. My first job was working at Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood, Ore. I was 13 or 14 years old and my neighbour got me a job there.

My parents understood the importance of passion … and the power of it. I convinced them it was okay – there would be some adults there I'd have a friendship with. In the end I was on my own, but it was pretty exciting to be hitchhiking to work in the morning with mountains and log trucks. I did menial work, cleaning bathrooms, which taught me a lot of respect for everybody's role. Then they gave me more some more responsibility: to take care of the St. Bernards.

I work in business with an English degree. I think any of the liberal-arts degrees are actually the best ways to go. It's not just because I am horrible at math. I think having creativity is super important. Creativity drives innovation; inspiration and creativity drive change. You get that from being able to daydream, and being able to reflect. You get that from being asked tough questions like "What do you think?"

People should take time off after university. They should travel. I think they should explore what they want to do inside. If you have the right mentors, then you will have a world of education. If you do something you love, then you will be okay.

I moved from ski instructor to management by leveraging relationships in a positive way. Sometimes I was offered other tasks, but I always asked, "Hey, is there another project I can do?" I did things I had no experience doing: I drove a cat [snow grooming machine], got into the maintenance side, got into the food and beverage, marketing and events sides. Propose ideas. If you don't ask – you know how the saying goes – you'll never know.

Social media has become of huge importance for me. Powder Matt [which Mr. Mosteller writes] became one of the top blogs in skiing. How do you become a social media star? You gut it out for 10 years and no one reads your stuff and the 11th year, the freight train arrives with people. For me, writing goes back to my purpose. It's a lot more clear now; it's to get to people outside. I see myself in a hybrid role, including chief storyteller. The story is the essence.

Two pieces define a brand: the story and the review. So, what does the guest say about your place, and how powerful is your story? You have to share your story constantly. If your story is rich and worthy, people will share it. The [career] ladder never ends.

Here's the deal: You are done the minute you stop learning and challenging yourself. I take on something new every three months. Teaching [at Mount Royal University] is my new challenge. I'm doing outdoor updates for Global TV. The on-air piece is new for me. … It's now, it's live.

I have anxieties. You have to hang with people that are a lot younger with you at certain times. If I hang with people my age, they consume media differently from people who are 25. So [I have] a TV project with 25-year-olds. When I spend time with them in the wilderness, I learn about how they consume media, how they respond to it. They shared with me the power of social media. It's an important way, and a missed opportunity for a lot of Corporate Canada still … to communicate with the next couple of generations come. And it is the only way they take in information.

My pitch? Nature humbles you. The outdoors puts you in very uncomfortable situations if you let it. I think we need more of that as humans. I try to do everything possible in the outdoors. It's my absolute passion.

As told to Calgary-based freelance writer Janice Paskey. This interview has been edited and condensed.

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