Episode 114: Professional Skier Lynsey Dyer on Celebratory Creativity


"I do think that we in this industry, as small as we are, we are mighty."


We're joined by pro skier, artist, producer, founder, and woman of many other titles Lynsey Dyer! Lynsey talks about the state of being a pro skier in this world, moving past beauty standards, using your creative talent the right way, and her time on a reality TV show.


Follow Lynsey:

@lynseydyer

lynseydyer.com

Unicorn Picnic


Follow us: @wheeliecreative


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Episode Transcript


Lisa: Hey, welcome to Outside By Design. Today on our intro, you have both of us. It's me, Lisa…


Iris: and me, Iris. Hello.


Lisa: It's us, from WHEELIE. And an intro of us, I own WHEELIE, which is a creative agency for people who thrive outside.


Iris: And I'm Iris. I work at a creative agency called WHEELIE, I'm on the creative team. I do tons of social media, copywriting, all sorts of things, including this podcast.


Lisa: It's true. So if you would like to be a guest on the podcast or if you'd like to nominate someone to be a guest on the podcast, you can email, hello@wheeliecreative.com and Iris will get ahold of you.


Iris: Sure will. So Lisa. This is a podcast. Who do we have on the podcast today?


Lisa: I am really excited about this episode because today on the podcast, we have someone who's all over the ski industry. This person is well known and has like a million technical titles. Let's just try to list some: professional skier.


Iris: Organization founder.


Lisa: Filmmaker.


Iris: Artist.


Lisa: Yes. Super creative soul.


Iris: Producer.


Lisa: Yeah.


Iris: Podcaster.


Lisa: Podcast host. Yes, if you haven't guessed it... That's right. We have Lynsey Dyer on the podcast today. Always fun to talk to Lynsey. She always has so much going on and works so hard to be a good role model to kids and girls and women. And she's just an all around good human being.


Iris: Absolutely. And Lynsey joins us to talk about being in the ski industry- being a long-time athlete in the ski industry, she talks about her need to create things, how she creates from a celebratory standpoint. She talked about her time on a reality TV show, and her and Lisa talk about sexism in the outdoor industry.


Lisa: Which is still there. Spoiler alert. In case you thought it was gone.


Iris: [laughs] Spoiler alert, it exists. There's so much stuff in this episode. I can't cover it all. So you'll just have to listen to Lynsey and learn more about her.


Lisa: Thanks, Lynsey!





Lisa: Lynsey, thank you so much for being on our podcast today.


Lynsey: This is a treat. I'm excited.


Lisa: The first question we ask every single guest is to describe where they are and what they're looking at.


Lynsey: I love that question. The first time I ever heard your podcast, I was like, “Ooh, so good.” I have my own podcast, too. So I know a good question when I hear one.


Okay. So. I am sitting in my office. It is snowing. It's beautifully snowing outside. There's... I look out on a sage brush and an old fence and... beyond that, some sheds and some broken down vehicles.


Lisa: Nice. Classic Jackson Hole.


Lynsey: Yeah. I'm super grateful. I mean, the fact that I have a space to call home in an area that's so fancy, I feel like I am doing okay.


Lisa: Totally. Yeah. And you've been repping Jackson for a long time. I always hear Jackson and I associated with you actually. So, I think they're, they're lucky to have you. Yeah.


Lynsey: Oh, that’s an honor. I guess that's kind of how I feel in the mountains, is, if you do live in these mountains, you have a responsibility to be their caretakers and be their stewards. And, you know, to be... to be given that, just through words from you saying that, I really appreciate it. And it kind of gives me more confidence to go out and, you know, ask some harder questions or ask us to pick up our poop or, you know, like the stuff nobody talks about.


Lisa: Totally- speaking of hard questions, you are in the right spot, because the theme of our podcast this season is that creativity is born from conflict plus curiosity.


Lynsey: I love that.


Lisa: And so you can't really have like, there's no need for creative solutions if there's no conflict. And so all creativity is born from some form of conflict, which can be really good, as long as you get curious about it. So I'm really excited to talk to you about the lens of creativity, because not only are you a skier, but you're a film director and producer of Pretty Faces, you've done TED talks, reality TV, She Jumps, you founded a nonprofit, like you're always creating all the time. So I'm not even sure where to dig in. I guess the first thing I'd like to ask is kind of, what comes up for you when you think about different ways that creativity was born from a need for you?


Lynsey: That's a beautiful question. Never been asked that. You know, I can't say, in this context... I love this topic, but I can't say I create out of need at all. I definitely create out of like the magic and the wonder and the fringes of the “what's possible” space. And I think that's why I like to spend so much time in that place.


And so in terms of creativity, it's not a good motivator for me, need isn't a good motivator for me.


Lisa: It's more for like, through the lens of like…


Lynsey: I have to create. And I have... I'm so grateful for the privileges that I have to create. And there is a little bit of like, if I don't keep creating... you know, I always got to keep creating. Right? And I know I've gotten in trouble with that before. Or like, “Oh, I’ve got to go bigger than last year...” and last year I hit a 70 footer. You know, like, uh-oh. So.


Lisa: I think, I think you saw a need for role models for girls - or maybe not, like, how did SheJumps come to be, and Pretty Faces, which was an all-female film. I remember watching that and being blown away.


Lynsey: Yeah. I can see how, you know, the culture tells us to work from a problem, work from a need, and then find the solution to that. In my case, I just saw the magic that I was seeing in my own life, not reflected in the media I was seeing. So the best parts about skiing, I wasn't seeing that in the ski movies, I was just seeing these like stunts. To me, it was like sitting on the chairlift and like giggling with your friends when you had too much candy on the chairlift and singing and being obnoxious and… and like going really, really fast and feeling the first senses of freedom, as a kid, which sticks with you through adulthood. And then learning how to fly.


Anyways. So, I felt like that stuff wasn't being reflected. And I wanted to... I felt a responsibility to create that, after 10 years of thinking it was going to be made and then it wasn't.


Lisa: So you just made it.


Lynsey: For me, and I can't speak for my co-founders, it was a celebration of friendship, you know. And like, my friend, Vanessa, I watched her do this gainer. We were trying to do gainers off a cliff into a lake. And she was such a phenomenal athlete and rider and she went for it, you know, this like probably 20 foot cliff. We're both like, terrified. Like, I can dive off cliffs, but to do a running back flip off a cliff where... there's a lot of consequences. And the fact that she went for it, I was like, “yeah, if she can do it, so can I.” You know, like I was so grateful to her for that friendship of like inspiring me. And that's where, you know, it took a while to get to, but where SheJumps, you know, “she jumps, so will I.” So again, these creation stories, they're not out of a need, they're like out of a celebration.


Lisa: That's an awesome lens for that. And I think there's so much power in characters where people can see themselves and I think, I think Pretty Faces really, really did that.


Lynsey: Well, yeah, it's funny because the outcomes are great. But in jumping into that stuff, you know, it sounds all great, you get the conflict and the sad stories and, you know, the people that you think you're trying to help and they’re where your sadness comes from, if that makes any sense. So it's not like all rainbows and butterflies over here.


Lisa: Mhmm. Okay question. We had talked on the phone yesterday and you kind of mentioned this idea of... as a pro skier working with photographers and brands, which I think our audience will love because a lot of our audience consists of creatives in the outdoor industry or brand managers working at a company.


And kind of this idea... I'd love to hear from your perspective about the power struggle that exists between photographers and videos and copyright on like, who owns your image and kind of what, what that's like in your words.


Lynsey: Yeah. Yeah. So it's definitely changed a lot, you know, in the last 10 years, for sure. Originally it was… you're hoping to be somehow introduced - or really, it's about your sponsors, putting you into these traditional film avenues, like TGR or MSP. So they have to pay for your segment and that's upwards of $150,000 for like Warren Miller. So it's a pretty big deal, to have that kind of support.


And if you don't have that support, there's other ways. But in terms of working with… so, you know, if you're not shooting for one of those big companies and you know, you're working on your two minute segment, then you're working with still photographers and, you know, maybe on behalf of getting something published or a media campaign or, you know, this photographer works under this brand and they... Jackson, for example, there's a handful of photographers that have agreements with the mountain. And so you can work with them. And some of them are just really beautiful, big names that... you've seen their names, if you look at ski magazines, for decades. And it's great to work with those people.


At the same time, as the athlete, you're not getting paid like a model. You're there to... I mean, for me, it was like to create the most beauty you could, right? Like what a treat, in terms of creation. And then with someone else... and often I could see that there wasn't a whole lot of collaboration. It was like, “I'm going to hit this,” and you're, you're kind of pushing it and you just expect that the photographer you're working with is going to get the best angle.


Oftentimes I was finding that I was actually - I know this maybe sounds... it might be taken the wrong way - but I was getting better shots sometimes than the photographer. And I threatened a lot of photographers, you know, shooting my teammates or with my GoPro.


And there's maybe... it's like a creative battle between creatives. Like, you know, you're working with these artists and you're an artist. And, I don't mean to be long-winded, but it's kind of pushed me toward, one, you know, I can provide my sponsors imagery as a bonus, without a lot of red tape, working through the photographers that are all, you know, trying to make a living. And I totally respect that. But it can be another barrier of entry to working with the brand, especially in these times when it's hard to work together because you could be putting each other in danger in terms of COVID.


So I’m kind of rambling, I recognize, but this is a pretty big, you know, like... videographers is like a whole nother, like, picture of how that works and what a positive relationship looks like. But.


Lisa: Yeah, it's... it's an interesting, almost broken system. We had Re Wickstrom on the podcast and she spoke a lot about it from her experience of, you know, if brands are paying athletes versus photographers and it's all this like symbiotic thing where, you know, everyone's trying to make a living. And copyright, where like, owning images is so important to photographers and brands and athletes. And so it's just this strange pull for the same goal, kind of. In different ways though. Like you're going to use a photo differently.


Lynsey: Yeah. Well, I see it all, you know, all of us are here because we love the outdoors. All of us are trying to make a living and make our families proud that are like, “what are you doing?”


Because a lot of us, you know, no matter what side of this industry you're on, you took a risk in following this passion side versus, you know, nine-to-fiver, banker, all that, you know. And nothing against banking, either. ‘Cause.


Lisa: I feel you.


Lynsey: Yeah, we all love the outdoors. We're trying to make it work. It makes perfect sense. Have you ever felt - and I have so many questions for you as a creative, you know, on the other side of this too - but have you ever felt like... have you ever heard anyone in the branding side say “we've got so much money this year. The industry did great. We can take care of you this year.” It always feels like we're on the edge of the industry dying forever. And we're all so lucky to be here. And would you do this for free, basically. You know what I mean? And they're all friends of course, because there's this bro-brah sense. So, yeah. Just curious if you ever had the opposite happen?


Lisa: You know, we are positively seeing brands put more together for like social media ambassador teams and like really allocating budget to humans in that way. But then it also, as you're such a professional athlete and going huge and really pushing human potential, which I so love, you know, and now all that budget is being split against ambassadors and Instagram models. And I mean, it's so it's so interesting that that's the state of the industry at the moment. And it's always changing. But it's been a really interesting observation is that these budgets are showing up for social media specifically.


Lynsey: And are you seeing those budgets that used to go to professional athletes being halved into the influencer/Instagram model category? Is that what you're saying?


Lisa: Absolutely. And then, well, and then we have like 10 Barrel who's, you know, a brewery that's now making ski films. So we have the anomalies in there, but yeah, I mean, mostly…


Lynsey: It's not an anomaly. I have to tell you. Okay. So. I've turned down probably like 10 beer sponsorships. So what it tells me is the beer industry has so much money. [laughs] And the trouble is, I had to say no, because it just doesn't... I don't drink, and it's not for any reason. It just doesn't make me feel good. And so I can't represent it. And I've given up so much money that like Coors and, what’s another one... some of my influencer friends got 30 grand for these posts to represent this big beer company once. I won't say their name. So that was tough to walk away from.


But anyways, side note.


Lisa: Yeah.


Lynsey: It seems like beer companies are where the industry can collaborate, but I don't like supporting, you know, stuff that isn't good for you.


Lisa: Right. Right. Yeah. And so it's almost like social media has become as important as what used to be the three minute video part.


Lynsey: Yeah, for sure. And, you know, to answer your question about my thoughts on it going to Instagram models, yeah, it just sounds like... it's really interesting, you know. We can blame the algorithms, but the algorithms follow typical human nature. Right? So, so it's been a tough one, you know, to wrap my head around in terms of having a stance.


Lisa: Right. And kind of, it's more about how you look versus the skills that you've developed.


Lynsey: Yeah, for me, that's always kind of been a mission is to show girls that you can make something of yourself beyond what you look like. Because since we're out of the womb we're being called cute. And so we learn very quickly and it's reflected back to us in every sense of the word and media that we are only as valuable as we look. And so, I've been like fighting this, kind of given, it's like gravity, in terms of the filmmaking and SheJumps and… I feel like it's definitely become… I can't say a losing battle, but it’s more like “reality’s here. Hello.” The world wants to see pretty faces ahead of stomping big airs,

Lisa: Mhmm. Which, I mean, I guess more people can put on makeup and put on a coat and like appear…


Lynsey: And some of them are. Right? They really are. And that's fine. You know, why shouldn't everyone get to feel like a rockstar and like a model. And now they can do that and shoot themselves. And they are, and then they're owning their image. I can't hate that. At the same time, you know, I would love for us all to get to move past beauty standards and like go live. You know, like, make sure you know what it's like to fly. And make sure, you know, you can tick off the box that you felt like you were doing what you were meant to do at some point in this life. And you know, stuff like that.


Lisa: You know, just important stuff like that.


Lynsey: Yeah. I mean, it's not our fault. We've been conditioned. And media - especially these days when we all have to be away from people even more, we're forced onto these screens. And so that conditioning continues.


But I do think that we in this industry, as small as we are, we are mighty. We like, we have educations. We were raised with clean water and clean air. You know, we can turn that tide if we're willing to. And that's kind of where I'm battling myself is like, are you willing to ruffle some feathers and fight the ever pleasing, you know, what we were taught again, to be like seen and not heard and just appreciative all the time versus calling some things out and being the leaders to change things.


Lisa: Where are you landing with that?


Lynsey: I mean, across the board, whatever that means to any of the creators listening, right? Like, where's the thing that you're fired up on? For me, right now it's wildlife and collisions with wildlife. And the fact that no one talks about the fact that we see creatures, carcasses every day. And no one talks about it. In these beautiful mountain towns where everyone loves to come and visit and, you know, it's paradise. And those wildlife are part of the reason it's paradise. And I just want to see them protected, as we do our neighbors. So that's what I'm fired up on, but you might have a different thing, you know. I feel like right now I'm definitely fired up about inclusivity and how do we share all the benefits we receive from the outdoors with those that didn't grow up with a dad or an uncle or a mom or boyfriend that took you outside and showed you how to feel comfortable in the outdoors and then get all the benefits.


I think everybody has their thing that fires them up. And being that we're creatives, we do have an opportunity to use that creative talent to say something that matters. And I feel like that's what you guys are doing with this podcast.


Lisa: Yeah, it's fun. We definitely have learned so much about, you know, like social media marketing managers that hate social media and just kind of like all these things that we have to do, because that's what the industry dictates. And it's like, well, if we don't do it, someone's going to do it. So. How can we do that in a way that rings true for hopefully ourselves and to others? But yeah, it's so interesting being a creative and, you know, having to work within, I guess, capitalism. You know, it’s a big one. For me, I'm like, is it possible to be a capitalist and an environmentalist? Can those things co-exist? And that's like the thing I'm obsessed with right now.


Lynsey: I think about that all the time.


Lisa: Yeah.


Lynsey: [laughs] It's like the only people that get to vouch for environmentalism are the ones that already made their money so that they, you know, are dependent in some way on, you know, what is happening to our environment. Oh gosh, it's such a good one.


Lisa: It's a big one.


Lynsey: And I'm with you on, there's a sense of freedom when you don't have those strings attached, you know, that pleasing that, “this has got to be on our target” and, you know, “don't piss off anyone.” It's a really tough space to be.


Lisa: Yeah.


Lynsey: And at the same time, at least you can pay your bills. [laughs]


Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. And I think you're so brave, right? Like, I hide behind my company WHEELIE. It's not lisaslagle.com. It's wheeliecreative.


Lynsey: That’s so smart.


Lisa: Right. And so like, I have so much like awe and respect for you because you're so brave. Like, you're a personal brand, but at the end of the day, you're a human person.


Lynsey: Yeah. People have said that before, and I just don't really see... I don't see the separation. I never have. When people are like, “you're such a brand.” Yeah. I still don't really...


Lisa: Yeah, because you... like, in marketing, we define brand as what someone says about your company when you're not in the room to explain it.


Lynsey: Oh, that's awesome.


Lisa: You know, and that applies to like human personal brands, like athletes and also like solopreneurs, you know. And so, yeah, I just have mad respect for like, when you make a decision for your career. I don't know if your audience separates, like the reality TV thing. I don't know if your audience separates you from your career decisions or they want to put you in a box a certain way. I imagine you encounter some of that.


Lynsey: Oh yeah. I have… I have pissed off my audience or I guess like sent them away so many times. I lost, I can't believe this is actually true. I lost like 5,000, maybe 10,000 followers since I said that Black lives matter. Like that, I cared. Like, I didn't think it was something I needed to say because it was so intrinsic in who I am and like how I was raised. And then to hear that I needed to say that and then doing that, and then seeing how many intelligent, you know, skiers (‘cause that's my following) were really upset about that. And they were not people of color. They were like, my neighbors. So anyways, I learned a lot this year. You probably did too. I guess that's a bit off topic, but in terms of like pissing off my audience. So yeah.


Oh man. I was so hated for saying yes to this reality TV. That was, that was rough also.


Lisa: How did that go for you?


Lynsey: Oh, I loved it. It was so fun because it was so funny, right? Like, to see this world that was so different than I was used to for a season. I had just made the film. It was three years of hard, hard work, and it was like, I just want to relax and just do something different. And it was so fun. And I got to leave, actually, a lot for the filming to go on GoPro trips or whatever. So I was still doing my job and I got that written into my contract, which was, thank goodness, because... that's a whole, like, podcast. If you want to hear that.


Originally I was brought on to be the pro skier and was told I was going to be helping people overcome their fears in the mountains, which is like, literally my dream. And to do it on a large scale for people that don't ski on a network like Bravo, you know, it was like, “Whoa, I can really maybe say something that matters to a decent size audience.” And it was so funny, just watching it as a producer from the inside, how they're scripting things and how they're trying to get you to say things that fit their story and in the end, yeah. I remember asking, like, please don't just make me like the blonde bimbo in your story. And they're like, “Oh, we would never do that.” And then totally, you know, they need you to play a certain character. The teaser was really horrid. So bad. And that's what the industry judged me on. If you actually go back and watch, I thought it was pretty entertaining. And a lot of people who actually watched it were like, that was cool, and you represented, so. Yeah, I mean, if you have nothing to do, go check it out. It's on like all these different channels still.


Lisa: What's it called?


Lynsey: It's called Apres Ski. It was set in Whistler, it was six weeks. I mean, who wouldn't go and live for free in Whistler in basically a mansion, walking distance of the village. And you're not there- you don't have to perform for the first time in your life. You just, all you have to do is have a good time. Oh my gosh. So fun.


Lisa: Yeah.


Lynsey: But, I mean, no joke. It was... they were creating drama. And so I got to meet some characters that I would've never met in real life, you know, like, because this world is so isolating. Like, I lived with a fabulous gay guy who was awesome and this beautiful, amazing party girl. And that's just to start, you know, African-American friends that I got to teach how to ski that I would have never met. So that's also another long story.


Lisa: And so like, people kind of hated on you for that, or like you received criticism because people only watched the trailer?


Lynsey: Oh my God. Powder Magazine was like, “you're the Snookie of the blah, blah, blah”, like judgment flies in our world, right? Like, they hadn't seen anything. And “Lynsey Dyer, what did you do?” [laughs]


Lisa: So how do you, like, how do you shrug that off?


Lynsey: I knew through the whole thing that I was true to my mission and they didn't get anything that they wanted in terms of like, making me into a character. And I represented the mountains as truly best as I could. And that's... I can walk away knowing that regardless of how it was received and that's, for me, what makes it like…. I do have to really ask myself with everything, like, are you doing this for the right reasons? And I could ask that a million times and be like, yup. A hundred percent. So I'm fine with it.


It hurts. It hurts to be hated. It's not as bad as hatting yourself. That's the stuff that you can't let go of.


Lisa: Right. Right. So you just try to represent the mountains in the best way that you can.


Lynsey: Absolutely. I mean, you can say Bravo is not a stage, but it's absolutely a stage. And again, we have a responsibility to represent where we came from as best we can and lead with that. And I felt like I might have a chance there to show women outside of like fighting inside with fake boobs and more like, “Hey, you can do this outside. Let's go check it out.”


Lisa: That's cool.


Lynsey: I mean, what a treat, right? What a crazy life experience.


Lisa: Yeah. I mean, you're very multifaceted. You've, you've done so many things with your career that are, yes, based on skiing, but also just so creative under this whole umbrella of skiing, I think.


Lynsey: Thanks for saying that. I appreciate it.


Lisa: That's pretty remarkable. What are you growing into now?


Lynsey: I'm still, you know, I still have these dream projects that I know I have to complete before I'm gone. So, those are the things I'm constantly thinking about and thank goodness. Right? Those are the things that, you know, you're curious about, like you said, and so they kind of pull you through the now that is... can be so confusing right now.


Lisa: Like film projects?


Lynsey: One's a photography project, another, I guess it could be film. and yeah. One scares me a lot, you know. [laughs] It's right on the edge of like - and I guess that's what makes these things good, but, um, it's also, yeah - just like right on the edge of like, can I, can I do that safely?


Lisa: Cool. Oh man. I can't wait.


Lynsey: Yeah, I don't mean to build up any more pressure than I have on myself right now. But, um, yeah, I hope I hope you're right.


Lisa: Cool. Oh man. How fun.


Lynsey: Right?


Lisa: Yeah. Well, where can people follow you? What's the best, best place people can follow you online and get a hold of you if they want?


Lynsey: Thanks for asking that. My art - which I guess to me, I'm like, Oh, that's a brand - Unicorn Picnic is my brand. And so I would love to communicate there. I just love that your audience is a bunch of creatives and we're in these mountain spaces and I just feel like we probably have a lot to share. So if you want to get out for a ski tour or I don't know, anything outside, a walk, um, I'm stoked to chat with other creatives in my space.


Lisa: Sweet. Is there anything that I didn't ask you that you want to share with our audience?


Lynsey: I mean, it's kind of a heavier one, but I did have a question for you.


Lisa: Okay.


Lynsey: I am wondering, again, as a female in this space that is working to get opportunity. Have you ever encountered sexism and like, what is your story?


Lisa: Oh, all the time. Every day. Yeah, every single day, pretty much. Like, even I got pulled over on my snowmobile this weekend, by a ranger, and it was so sexist. He goes, “who’s sled are you borrowing?”


Lynsey: No.


Lisa: Yeah. And I was like, um, this is my sled. You know, like, but that's not even in the workplace.


I think a really interesting one, so a lot of times people speak about how women are paid 70 cents to the dollar. And as a female founded company, I'm constantly talking to brands about their budgets. And I think, you know, I do think in the beginning of my career, people did pay my company less because it was a woman negotiating.


Lynsey: So you don’t think your skills in negotiating were any less, you think it was just a bias?


Lisa: I think, well, I think I grew into negotiating in a much stronger way, but yeah. I think that... I see it all the time because now my negotiation skills are quite strong, where people very