Uncornered Market is a community, a movement of respectful travelers who live at the intersection of deeper travel experiences and caring for our planet and its people. A movement that knows travel as a force for good. A movement of travelers whose decisions are at the same time for their own benefit and for the good of others. A movement that is not zero-sum.
We are a community of travelers who live by the motto: “Driven by Curiosity, Guided by Respect.”
A movement that outlasts the need to reach a destination. A movement that continues as we leave impressions on others, as they have left on us.
A movement that knows we’ve succeeded only when we accept that our ability to affect positive change through the way we travel NEVER ends. A movement that knows its impact will outlive our last journey, this website and each of us.
It’s what we stand for. Together.
We hope you'll join us.
1. Backstory: Our Purpose
2. The Four Principles
3. Uncornered Market Business Manifesto
Backstory: Our Purpose
“Come. See for yourself. There’s a different story to be told here.”
Just before we set off many years ago on our around-the-world trip, Audrey was working at a news organization in Prague, Czech Republic. Her colleagues were from countries throughout the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, news from these locations was often negative, suggesting that these places were somehow “bad” or implicitly dangerous.
But her colleagues from those countries insisted: “You must see for yourself.”
So we did. We spent five months traveling through the Caucasus and Central Asia. An over-arching theme of our journey — and our lives — began to take shape: to share stories of people and places that usually don’t have a platform to make their voices heard, with the aim of humanizing faraway places that people might otherwise never hear about or actively disregard.
Why? Because stories connect people like no other mechanism. This connection helps dispel stereotypes and fears, and slowly replaces them with curiosity. It shifts the prevailing narrative, displacing the “one story” with the actual story of many — the story of humanity.
We continued to travel in this vein, throughout Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, South America, and the Middle East and Africa. The more we traveled and shared stories, like an impromptu feast at a market in the Republic of Georgia to being welcomed like family in Iran to sharing a meal with a young Bangladeshi woman who wants to be the next Prime Minister, the more people asked: “How did you get those experiences? How do you connect with people in a meaningful way?”
Our experience, we found, was a function of how much we opened ourselves up to others, pushing the boundaries of what was comfortable. As we traveled with respect and an eye to the lives of local people and the challenges of local economies and the environment, doors opened up to us that enriched our interactions and the experiences of the people with whom we interacted. This enabled us to tell richer stories, which in turn allowed us to give back to the places we traveled to by helping others understand them in a different light.
This approach, in turn, helps us all to better understand and continually grow into our place in the world.
The Four Principles
1. Follow Your Curiosity
Curiosity can take you to unusual destinations, places others might not think to go. These unusual destinations can also be in your home town or country; they don't necessarily have to be across the world. The more curious we are, the more we'll find them everywhere.
The goal: to see firsthand and form your own conclusions rather than adopting someone else’s story. Traveling to destinations that are misunderstood or avoided brings a personal face, a human face, to places we might otherwise disregard.
If we hadn’t followed our curiosity, we wouldn’t know that countries are not always as we see on the news, nor would we understand the full extent of our capabilities.
The best way to understand the world: walk the streets, eat local food, talk with its people. Fear, particularly of other people and places, gets in the way of seeing for ourselves and writing our own narrative.
2. Travel with Respect
The world is a special place; it requires a sense of engagement and stewardship that honors that reality.
With this in mind, we advocate for three levels of respect: respect for people and their cultures, respect for the environment and respect for the local socioeconomic realities that influence them both. But all of this begins with humanity, with people — the most under-represented facet of travel and tourism.
When we travel respectfully, people and communities sense this presence. They open up, and experiences — often unexpected and positive — can unfold. This is what we mean when we speak of the two-way impact of travel. We can positively impact our own experience, and the places we visit depending on how we choose to visit them, the decisions we make, and how we interact.
In this way, travel is one of the greatest platforms not only for personal growth, but also for positive global change and understanding.
3. Live Deliberately
As in travel, as in life. The big magic trick of travel: take the lessons we’ve learned on the road and plow them back into the way we live life. Just as we might follow our curiosity to see the world, we can apply that same sense into a lifetime of creating experiences back home. The beauty of this is that it fuels the fire for even greater exploration of the world. We know this because we’ve lived it.
It doesn’t stop with one journey of a lifetime. Rather it continues with a lifetime of journeys.
Whether you call it as we do — “regret avoidance” or “deliberate living” — it’s about making choices in your travels and in your life that align with your values. Whether those are spending decisions or choices of time allocation, travel continually re-affirms possibility and potential and the idea that everything is in fact connected.
4. Engage in Two-Way Storytelling
Stories are the way we share our discoveries. They are especially powerful because they can motivate others to do similarly — to move from prevailing media narratives that may or may not be accurate to ones that are informed by firsthand experience.
In the earliest days of our travel in places like Laos and Cambodia it occurred to us that we not only had the opportunity to tell a different story about the places we were visiting, but we also had the chance to share with local people a different story — perhaps a more accurate one — about where we were from. We refer to this as two-way storytelling, a recognition that each of us has a story to tell about ourselves and one another.
We all have the ability to change the way we perceive our world and ourselves through story. Travel, particularly a certain kind of engaged travel, provides opportunity to exercise this ability.
Manifesto: The Business of Changing the World…for Good
- We are all in the EXPERIENCE business.
- The core to any great experience is CONNECTION.
- Sometimes our best STORIES are the ones we haven't yet told.
- Your business must create value. But it also has the power to create MEANING.
- INNOVATION requires a move from the comfort zone to the uncharted.
- The path to truly UNDERSTANDING the customer requires care and empathy.
- RESPECT is as the root of sustainability.
- It's not just what you do, but more importantly how and WHY.
- This is all a HUMAN exercise.