Jonathan Ronzio: The Stunning Similarities Between Adventure and Leadership

How Trainual’s CMO leveraged his background in film, mountaineering, and extreme sport to become a tenacious leader that fosters flexibility and problem-solving skills in the workplace.

By  •   March 5, 2021  •   4 min read

Jonathan is the CMO at Trainual, a public speaker, activist, mentor, business leader, and impressive multi-sport athlete that has continued to make waves in the marketing community by spreading positivity. 

In this episode of the Supermanagers podcast Jonathan Ronzio talks about the importance of challenging yourself both professionally and personally. 

Listen to this episode (or read the transcript below) to learn more about the direct correlation between rigorous adventure and sport.  

1 Who has been your favourite or most memorable boss? 

My favourite is a friend and mentor, Brent Turner. He is currently the VP of Strategy and Solutions at Opus Agency, an experiential marketing agency that executes massive fortune 500 events and activations. I’ve never been somebody that likes to follow the rules and he was the kind of boss that could recognize honest potential. He helped me unlock my passion and let me run with it. 

2 How did he recognize your strengths and help you harness your superpowers? 

He recognized that I wanted to work on different projects and gave me the freedom I needed to explore my own creativity and see what I could do. It was a lot of him trusting me and allowing me to prove myself while playing the role of a strategic guide. 

3 When did you start to lead a team yourself? 

My first team leadership experience was in 2011 when I started building a project called Between the Peaks. Shortly after I did an internship for Old Spice where they sent me to Switzerland to launch a deodorant product and that was when I realized that I could combine video, content, and adventure in a cool way to tell a brand story. 

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4 What is an adventure athlete? 

An adventure athlete is my term for not being able to pick a sport. I’ve been a high-altitude mountaineer for ten years and I’ve climbed some of the biggest mountains in the world. I’ve also done tons of Spartan races, rock and ice climbing, snowboarding, mountaineering, and whatever sport falls into the extreme outdoor adventure category. 

5 How does adventure relate to leadership? 

From a distance, pursuing any project or business venture is going to seem insanely difficult if not impossible. If you start to break down the steps along the way similar to a 20,000-foot mountain that you can’t climb in a single day, it begins to get easier. You start to break It down into the camps that you have to get to, how much food you have to pack, and how far you have to travel. The way you have to move up a mountain is so widely connected to how you can successfully scale a business. 

6 Do you have an experience that you always share with your team to get them through unknown territory? 

This isn’t necessarily an adventure story but think about when you see a line of ants walking on the sidewalk. If you put a pen or pencil in front of the ants, they don’t stop and turn around or get confused. They literally keep walking without hesitation. They just start walking in a different direction and find another way to get to their destination. Something I always try to pitch to the team is not seeing obstacles but seeing new solutions. 

7 You’ve said that “it isn’t hard if you don’t question your sanity along the way”, can you elaborate? 

I think that if you’re too comfortable you’re not pushing hard enough and that’s true with anything in your life. If you’re too comfortable or too complacent you’re not pushing hard enough to prove what you’re capable of to yourself or others. I think the greatest thing we can do in our lifetime as humans is to make the most of our time by seeing how far we can go or how much we can take. 

8 How do you remain positive so you can always perform at your best? 

One of the hacks that I often think about when negativity starts to creep in is to step back and ask myself what the story is and how I can look at it in a different way. I ask myself how I can move forward and think differently about the situation while staying true to myself. I try to bring as much energy and positivity as I can to any conversation I have because I feel like I’m not staying true to myself if I don’t. 

9 Do you have any tips or resources for leaders? 

I think there are two things that will help anyone immensely in becoming a better leader and one of them is public speaking. I think public speaking often cripples a lot of people because they have a fear of speaking up. The second thing I would recommend is to do something outside of your comfort zone. Make sure you’re doing something outside of work a few times a year that challenges you so you can push yourself and develop new habits. When you start to set uncomfortable goals, you’ll begin to see personal results and that will trickle into how you develop professionally as a leader.   

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