How Amani Duncan’s Outward Bound experience ‘changed her’
Outward Bound alumna, Amani Duncan, got more than she expected when she accepted a position as the head of brand and marketing at Martin Guitar in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
There were lots of firsts when Amani started this new job at a new company, including an experience that she had never heard of: Outward Bound. Chris Martin, founder of Martin Guitar and alumnus of Outward Bound, offered all of his employees the opportunity for an Outward Bound experience with the Philadelphia Outward Bound School. Amani thought it sounded exciting but was nervous of the unknown. Nevertheless, she has always been open to new experiences so she signed up. What’s a week in the woods with colleagues, she thought.
But leaving her phone behind was the first challenge that pushed Amani out of her comfort zone. While she admits that giving up her phone was the right decision, as it allowed her to be fully present on her expedition, it wasn’t easy, given the huge role it plays in her job and her life.
Ultimately, her Outward Bound expedition was life changing, Amani says.
“The instructors break you down to your lowest common denominator and then they build you back up,” says Amani. Her “crew” was comprised of her colleagues, but ones that she did not know. She now describes them as “lifelong buddies, solely for what you experience together on course.”
“I learned so much about myself, I was changed,” Amani says. “One of the key things I learned, I don’t have to be out front to be a leader. As leaders, we think we have to be the first to speak or our presence has to be in the forefront. Through the exercises and tasks on course, I learned the power of not having to be in the forefront. It showed me the many faces of and ways that leadership can show up. That was a key takeaway for me.”
And her rise to the top as an inspiring female leader
And Amani is leading. She is now the CEO of BBH USA, a strategic creative agency with offices in New York and Los Angeles, and she joined the Outward Bound USA Board of Directors in the fall of 2021.
“I firmly believe that you have to be a part of the change that you seek. I believe that in today’s world, Outward Bound and its principles are needed. If I can be a small part of amplifying and spreading the good work of Outward Bound, that is service well invested for me.”
For those considering a course, Amani emphasizes the importance of prioritizing yourself. “It is time you invest in yourself because you are worth it. The learning you will walk away with will put you in position to unlock unlimited opportunities for yourself.”
As a professed “unofficial Outward Bound ambassador,” she’s as official as they come. Outward Bound alumni are part of our forever crew, after all.