Portland adventurer Colin O'Brady became a local legend last December after becoming the first person in history to traverse Antarctica alone, without the aid of mechanical propulsion or resupplies.
The Herculean accomplishment—in which the 33-year-old traveled nearly 1,000 miles across the icy, crevassed expanse in just 54 days—captured the fascination of people around the world.
The feat of athleticism is impressive by itself. But a new profile by Outside Magazine shines a light on what is arguably the true catalyst of O'Brady's launch to fame: successful marketing.
"The feat or record still matters," Outside reporter Tim Neville wrote of O'Brady, "but it's the backstory that people crave."
With the help of his manager and wife, Jenna Besaw, O'Brady, who was badly burned in an accident in Thailand in 2008, launched a campaign focused on his story of overcoming the odds.
The marketing helped O'Brady secure funding needed for the expensive trek and has scored him dozens of motivational speaking gigs.
"If you're thinking about this as storytelling," Besaw told Outside, "then obviously Colin has his incredible comeback."
O'Brady didn't just know how to tell his story. He knew where to tell it.
In 2016, O'Brady sent the first-ever Snapchat from the top of Mount Everest. It got 22 million views and became one of the app's most popular posts of the year. During his trek across the Antarctic, O'Brady published a photo to Instagram every day. He now rakes in tens of thousands of dollars in speaking fees for keynote addresses and is working on a memoir.
"His message," Neville writes, "we all have a reservoir of untapped potential within us, and only our own minds can prevent us from accessing it."
Read the full Outside profile on O'Brady here.