The Podium – Q&A

Doug Lipp is the former Head of Training at Disney’s corporate headquarters. He formed in 1995, traveling around the world speaking about creating a values-based corporate culture of service and leadership excellence. After over 4 million miles in the air, he is focusing more on taking road trips to work with his wife, Pam.


OV: Tell us your story. How did you end up with a van?

Pam and I have always been campers, so being outdoors (Outside!) is natural. We’ve had a 2008 Sprinter-based B+ RV for a long time and love it … yet, we longed for something more nimble and easier to drive. In recent years we have combined work with trips in the RV and this intensified our need to find a smaller vehicle that still offered the comfort of the RV. Our search led us to Outside Van and the very last 144” wheelbase 2018 Sprinter in 4WD! We jumped at the opportunity to get a van that is identical to our 2008 in layout, plus has the snow and off-road abilities offered by 4WD.


OV: You have quite the extensive background formerly working at Disney and as a public speaker. How has your van facilitated in helping your business thrive?

Quite simply, by getting me out of the air! I am determined to spend less time in crowded airports and planes and travel in a whole new way. Certainly, my trips overseas probably won’t enable me to drive my Outside Van (smile), but for my domestic and Canadian clients, I’m again looking forward to travel instead of dreading it. I have control over so much more, I experience treasures I’ve only flown over, and Pam and I can take our cats!

OV: You strive to help businesses and individuals grow through leadership, teamwork and innovation. What correlation have you found between the structured corporate environment and the unorganized life that comes with traveling in a van?

I’ve found an interesting combination of structure and flexibility in each lifestyle; corporate life demands attention to details, rules, hierarchy and remaining creative. Van life is also full of both. Maintenance of equipment and paying attention to road conditions is a must. Yet, having the flexibility to be creative (with routes and schedules) and the ability to “roll with the punches” can’t be overstated. In short, Corporate Life and Van Life demand we exercise both the logical and creative sides of our brains.

I’ve worked for three multi-national companies and have founded and developed two — including my current company. Discipline and structure are the lifeblood of sustaining a small business, but I like to weave in what i like to call planned spontaneity … and that’s where the van comes in. We don’t worry about where we will overnight, or what we will eat. We make sure we have the basics, water, toiletries, cat food, coffee…the rest we let just happen.

In short, Corporate Life and Van Life demand we exercise both the logical and creative sides of our brains.

OV: Can you describe a typical day when you’re on a trip in your van? Is there a typical day?

Every day is a combination of typical and atypical activity.

Typical (routine) involves:

  • Basic equipment maintenance (can’t forget to check air pressure in tires and oil levels!!!).
  • Food, water and cat box care for our cats.
  • Perhaps double checking drive times to meet deadlines for jobs.

Atypical (“stumbleupons”) include:

  • Remaining open to adventure. Why stick to Interstates when local roads can be so much more revealing?
  • Overnight accommodations. We love finding that “perfect” spot after a long day of exploring, be it at on BLM land, a friend’s driveway, a Walmart or Elk’s Lodge! Certainly, availability of a good shower and laundry facilities might influence our decision.


OV: What’s the most memorable experience or trip you’ve had so far? 

On our three-week journey to the Van Fest in McCall we had numerous memorable experiences. After doing a job in Salt Lake City, we headed to Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands National Park. While in Canyonlands NP, we pulled a permit to venture down the Shafer Trail Road situated near the north entrance Ranger Station (Island in the Sky). Little did we know what awaited us! Numerous hairpin switchbacks hugged the sheer wall leading down to the canyon floor. In addition to ten-degree increase in temperature, our blood pressure was equally elevated once we descended to the bottom of what Pam and I affectionately called The Wall. To be sure, putting our Sprinter in 4WD and first gear of Low Range brought us a good dose of comfort. Once on the canyon floor, we added to the excitement by crawling over an additional five miles of the spectacular and challenging White Rim Trail. The next morning (around 4:00 a.m.) we avoided exiting the canyon via The Wall, opting for the decidedly tamer Potash Road. Enjoying the sunrise slowly paint the walls of the canyon a brilliant orange only added to flavor of our coffee that morning!

Surviving The Wall called for a stop at one of the least visited National Parks in the country; The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, in southwest Colorado.

In short, our van has already opened vistas we never imagined!

OV: What is the #1 favorite thing about your custom van and how does it improve your daily life?

The bed is more comfortable than our home bed and certainly more so than any hotel! The customized extreme weather curtain (with screens) at the head and foot of our bed provides a safe area for our cats while we set up camp … and, provides me great nap spot! and for safe travels with our pets. Certainly, we love the mechanical & design components as well:

  • The huge fridge,
  • The extra alternator for charging our AGM battery bank,
  • The storage! The shelves and extra Max Track provide more plenty of storage options.