Navigating Forward: A Q&A with Polar Explorer Tyler Fish

Tyler Fish is an explorer in the most literal sense.

He and his partner in exploration, John Huston, were the first Americans to succeed in an unsupported expedition to the North Pole, meaning they traveled only using their own muscle power — without outside assistance in the form of resupplies, medical aid, or food drops. Their expedition spanned two months and 500 miles, with sleds in tow containing 300 pounds of survival supplies.

Author of the book Forward: The First American Unsupported Expedition to the North Pole, Tyler is also known for his work with Voyageur Outward Bound, serving as an expedition leader, running the organization’s youth-at-risk program, and taking on other leadership roles.

Tyler is one of the four people we’ve selected to participate in an upcoming panel discussion called How Do You Explore? The panel will take place at Mia’s Third Thursday: Exploration with Studio/E event on Thursday, January 17, 2019. In conversation with Tyler will be CEO of CaringBridge, Liwanag Ojala; Chief Creative Officer of Target, Todd Waterbury; and singer, rapper, and writer, Dessa. Everyone is welcome to this free event, and we can promise you the dialogue will be great.

While gearing up for the event, Tyler took the time to answer a few questions:

Why do you explore?

Exploring is very natural to me, so my answer is simple: I love the feeling of engagement and, when possible, sharing it with others.

What makes a challenge, like reaching the North Pole unsupported, worth pursuing?

Reaching the North Pole is only valuable because of everything that comes before it. And if you pay attention, everything that comes after it as well. It serves as an amazing reference point in life.

You have experience working with groups. What makes a team cohesive?

Motivation + skills + communication = trust. And a conscientious sense of humor: no one can be too serious or sensitive, but neither too dismissive nor unpredictable. We have to laugh a bunch.

Water is to survival as exploration is to __________.


What are you reading?

I love to read but don’t read much in the winter. Too much work, coaching, parenting, and getting outside. But if forced, I’d say some Harvard Business Reviews, one on curiosity and the other on mental toughness. But I want some fiction to lose myself in!

Who inspires you?

Those who can simplify in eloquent ways.

What do you never travel without?

Toothbrush. It reminds me to take care of myself and always provides an opportunity to improve a situation.

What is your next exploration?

Crossing Greenland in May of 2019.

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Hear Tyler Fish, Liwanag Ojala, Todd Waterbury, and Dessa’s conversation at Mia’s Third Thursday: Exploration with Studio/E on January 17, 2019.

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