JEFF BONALDI

As the CEO and Founder of The Explorer’s Passage,  we offer some of the most dynamic and environmentally-conscious adventure travel experiences on the planet. My journey to creating this company aligned with a huge personal transformation. 

 

Ten years ago, I was working in the banking industry as a portfolio manager where I managed money for some of the largest institutional asset owners on the planet. But despite having a great manager, incredible team, and huge professional gains at the time, something was missing. 

I had a deep desire to experience more purpose and fulfillment from my working life. So I made a change. I worked nights and weekends for over five years to build my own company, which married my love of adventure and a desire to do work that would positively impact the world. 

Leaning into my true passions gave me a new life. Traveling across continents, sharing the world's rich history with others, and working alongside incredible names in conservation and environmentalism, such as Robert Swan, OBE and Dr. Jane Gooddall, I had finally found a true sense of fulfillment in my work.

This is a taste of my journey:

A Passion for History and Exploration

When I was young, I dreamed of one day becoming an explorer. I was enthralled with the history, mystery and lore of ancient cities like Atlantis and Machu Picchu. I often imagined myself exploring deep into the caves of far off lands looking for lost treasures.

 

As a teenager, during visits to some of America’s oldest universities, I found myself enamored by the European-influenced architecture, and by legends like Albert Einstein, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson who walked those grounds decades before me. Inspired to learn more, I dug deep into the history behind these universities, and soon began leading my own elaborate tours for friends and family, impressing and inspiring them with my enthusiasm and encyclopedic knowledge.

 

Rising and Crashing on Wall Street

After college, I spent a few years as an entrepreneur, hoping to launch my own business - one I felt a duty to create, as it followed in the footsteps of my late father’s work. But things didn't work out as planned, and the company ultimately failed. I headed to Wall Street instead in search of a stable income and consistent challenges, and ended up working there for 15 years. My invaluable experiences as a money manager and sales executive taught me about the importance of strong leadership, risk management, and teamwork. 

 

I was directly responsible for the investment oversight of 50 institutional client portfolios totaling $90 billion in assets for Citi’s Agency Securities Lending business. I represented Citigroup on the Tri-Party Repo Infrastructure Reform, created at the request of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to address weaknesses visible due to the credit crisis in 2008. I was already very intrapreneurial, taking the lead on creating new product offerings, implementing state-of-the-art technology platforms, and revamping our approach to sales and marketing. I felt called to express this entrepreneurial side of me more fully.

 

However, by 2010, I was going through extraordinary challenges in my personal and professional life. My marriage was falling apart, and inside I felt empty at my banking job. I started to feel I’d exhausted all the challenges available to me in the corporate world, and I wanted more from my everyday working life. I had an exceptional amount of difficulty getting through each day, and knew I needed to make a big change. 

 

A Turning Point and Transformation

In 2012, I went on my first ever hike. Everything changed for me that day. The feeling of being immersed in nature, the camaraderie within the group of hikers, and the confidence I felt in reaching my first summit - all of this left a profound impact on me. I got home and knew I needed to incorporate more of this feeling into my life. I started climbing all over the United States, then across the world. 

 

Adventure made me feel alive and it gave me hope for a different future. If adventure was having such a profound effect on my life, then maybe I could utilize it to help others as well. I decided to start The Explorer’s Passage, working nights and weekends on my new company. During the day, I was still a banker. 

 

In 2018 I had successfully built the company enough to work at it full time. I made the transition from one career to another, incorporating everything I’d learned and my passion for adventure, history and sharing this with others. 

Experiencing Fulfillment and Giving Back 

Today, I run one of the most dynamic adventure travel companies on the planet. We have taken individuals from over 50 countries to all seven continents and the Arctic. I am fully engaged in my work, I love what I do, and I have a deep sense of purpose in my life. 

 

I have climbed, canoed and galloped across the globe, following my passion for adventure. It’s a long way since my college campus touring days—and yet, my mission remains singular: to create the most immersive and transformative adventure experiences in the industry. I plan to continue to launch new expeditions geared to addressing the major social, political, and environmental risks that our world currently faces, using what I have built to help give back to our planet. 

 

I want to share my story and lessons I’ve learned so that you too can make this transition towards a life with deep fulfillment and purpose. Everyone has a right to do what they love in this world. If I can do it, so can you! 

Jeff Bonaldi

Business Consulting

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