Maps are for Tourists, not Adventurers!

Winter 2023

For Avoidance of Doubt We Love Maps!

When we set off to build Oxygen Conservation, we wanted to create a business that had a positive impact on everything – including the people who chose to join the adventure. Whilst I’ve always believed that maps are for tourists and not for founders or start-ups who are trying to create something new, unique, and special, we all need some help along the way. We’ve borrowed some ideas and concepts from leading thinkers and as we’ve Scaled Conservation and the team, we’re starting to share a trilogy of text with our new starters to help them better understand the fundamental principles around which we’ve built Oxygen Conservation.

Therefore, in many ways, our journey is a remarkable narrative crafted from the pages of three influential books: “Let Your People Go Surfing,” “OverSubscribed,” and “Innovation Stack.” These texts have formed the bedrock of their business philosophies, and in this article, we will delve deeper into the wisdom they offer.

1. Let Your People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard: A Culture of Freedom

At the heart of Oxygen Conservation’s success is a distinctive approach to organisational culture, inspired by Yvon Chouinard’s “Let Your People Go Surfing.” Yvon Chouinard, the visionary founder of Patagonia, redefined work-life balance by advocating for freedom and passion. He believed in letting employees pursue their interests and embrace the great outdoors. For Oxygen Conservation, this philosophy isn’t just a management strategy; it’s a way of life. We understand that happy and fulfilled employees are more motivated, creative, and dedicated to their work.

By encouraging the team to follow their passions, enjoy life, and work together, we have nurtured a workforce that’s not just productive but also a team that is incredibly passionate about our mission.

Chouinard’s concept of “letting people go surfing” is more than a metaphor; it’s about granting people the freedom to be themselves and fostering an environment where work isn’t a burden but a fulfilling endeavour. Oxygen Conservation’s employees are actively encouraged to pursue their interests, whether that means actual surfing, wild swimming, climbing hiking, or engaging in any other activity that recharges their spirits. This approach, rooted in Chouinard’s wisdom, has created a work culture where team members are driven by their personal passions and inspired to make a meaningful impact on the world, Scaling Conservation for people and wildlife.

2. OverSubscribed by Daniel Priestley: The Power of Exclusivity

The next chapter in Oxygen Conservation’s success story is borrowed from Daniel Priestley’s “OverSubscribed.” Priestley’s book delves into the art of creating overwhelming demand for products or services by positioning them as exclusive and highly sought-after. We have applied this principle to the natural capital products and services, and it’s at the core of our positioning strategy.

By positioning the environment as a premium value proposition, we have masterfully created a sense of exclusivity and urgency among their professional partners. We understand that people are drawn to products or services that are in high demand and are perceived as exclusive. We have capitalised on this psychology by (sadly) accurately framing our commitment to conserving the environment as a limited and coveted offering.

When people engage with Oxygen Conservation, they aren’t merely buying a product or service; they are becoming part of an exclusive community that values the preservation of our planet. This exclusivity inspires loyalty, and the urgency to be a part of this mission is a driving force that has led to a devoted following and resulted in us becoming oversubscribed for potential partners.

The “OverSubscribed” strategy isn’t just about marketing; it’s about authentically building a brand that people are proud to associate with. By adopting this principle, we hope that we have raised the bar for the environment sector and also demonstrated how sustainability can be a premium product but still accessible to those who are committed to making a difference.

3. Innovation Stack by Jim McKelvey: The Power of Stacking

Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square, introduced a novel perspective on innovation in “Innovation Stack.” He posits that successful companies create their unique stack of innovations, a combination of original ideas and existing solutions. We have embraced this philosophy by innovating in a stack-like manner, creating a comprehensive approach to address Oxygen Conservation’s challenges.

The environment sector, like any other, is a complex ecosystem with so many challenges. We realized that a one-size-fits-all solution wouldn’t suffice. Instead, we adopted McKelvey’s concept of building an innovation stack by combining existing land acquisition, environmental, ecological and economic techniques and technologies to create a multifaceted approach to conservation and natural capital growth.

Our innovation stack is a robust foundation upon which we’ve built a sustainable business model. The result is a dynamic and adaptable system that can respond to the ever-changing landscape of environmental challenges. By adopting this approach, we have not only stayed ahead of the curve but have also set the benchmark for innovation in the industry.

The innovation stack we’ve implemented doesn’t just keep us ahead of the curve; it has allowed us to redefine conservation. We understand that innovation isn’t about reinventing the wheel; it’s about skilfully combining existing solutions and adapting them to specific challenges.

The Oxygen Conservation Approach in Action:

The Oxygen Conservation’s approach can be summarised as a fusion of the principles from “Let Your People Go Surfing,” “OverSubscribed,” and “Innovation Stack.” We value the freedom and creativity of our incredible team, position the environment and sustainability as a premium offering, and continually innovate by stacking tools and techniques to help us Scale Conservation.

This approach has not only shaped our business but also defined our business culture. Our team are not just cogs in the machine; they are individuals encouraged to thrive and follow their passions. This autonomy and fulfilment extend to their work, where creativity, dedication, and incredible hard work flourish.

The environment and sustainability aren’t just buzzwords for Oxygen Conservation; it’s a way of life. Our positioning as an exclusive and highly sought-after brand has cultivated a loyal following, making the positive impact on the environment a prestigious endeavour. This exclusivity isn’t artificial; it’s the result of an unwavering commitment to a cause.


Our approach has yielded impressive results allowing us to deploy almost £100m in under two years acquiring around 30,000 acres across 11 Estates in 8 counties and 3 countries.

Our team is not only motivated by our mission to Scale Conservation but also deeply aligned with it. The exclusive positioning of sustainability has both resulted in us being oversubscribed for investment and purchase of natural capital products as well as driven a sense of urgency to join the cause.

In a world where businesses often prioritise profit over purpose, Oxygen Conservation stands as a testament to the fact that impact and sustainability can go hand in hand. By weaving the insights from “Let Your People Go Surfing,” “OverSubscribed,” and “Innovation Stack” into our company DNA, we have emerged as a thriving, sustainable, and innovative company.

Opening at the Close

The trilogy of books has not only informed Oxygen Conservation’s strategy but has become an integral part of our company culture. We are more than just a successful business; we are a living embodiment of the principles they’ve imbibed from these books. This trilogy has not only shaped our approach to business but also paved the path to success in the business world while making a substantial positive impact on the planet and helping grow the embryonic natural capital economy.

In the end, our journey is a testament to the transformative power of literature and its ability to shape not just the way we think but the way we act. It’s a story that proves that with the right knowledge, inspiration, and determination, businesses can thrive while contributing to a sustainable and healthier world.

Perhaps adventures don’t need maps, but they certainly need books!


Rich Stockdale
Managing Director