The Blueprint Series is a rolling release of profiles on individuals from any walk of life, pioneers of what they do best. From athletes to artists, fashionistas to entrepreneurs, this series will give you a personal insight into the minds of masters at the apex of their respective professions.
There are young dads, cool dads, then there’s Mike Semanoff. A true jack of all trades, Mike has earned our title as the World’s Coolest Dad. You couldn’t make up his life if you tried, and we feel like that’s his goal; to do what you love, even if you’re told you can’t, and to keep life fresh, even if that means you die living.
A dedicated American military machine that cut his luck with reconnaissance missions for the 82nd Airborne Division, Mike has since progressed to a humble family man, but his burn for adventure was by no means extinguished. Mike turned his skills to evolving into an all-around action man. He’s now a professional tandem skydive instructor & demonstration team captain, advanced tandem paragliding instructor, SCUBA diver, climber and fitness professional. All the while he’s managed to transform his love for the outdoors into his livelihood, as Mike is also the Vice President of Utah-based PR & marketing company, CMPR Outdoors.
Throughout this hectic lifestyle of his, Mike integrates his passion for outdoors with his employment, but also his family, bringing his sons along for as many adventures as possible, just as his Dad did for him. Somewhere among all this, the man found time to sit down with us and share a little retrospective wisdom mixed with inspiring words on balancing commitments, passions and working towards his 2000th skydive.
What words do you live by?
Life is an adventurous river and all I do is go with the flow.
If you weren’t doing this, what would be your ultimate alternate career?
If I could support a family of five, I would be a personal adventure guide, or perhaps a Hollywood stuntman.
If you could be any age for a week, what age would that be?
26 or 27. I was in great shape, didn’t have any kids, and had the world by the balls.
What are your three most treasured possessions?
I don’t place a tonne of value on my possessions because they come and go. I try to place more value in my friends and family, but, if I have to choose three, they would be; my 2000 Ford F250 Superduty with 35 inch tires and truck bed liner for paint, Parajet V3 paramotor with Ozone Roadster 2 and my Desert Tech SRS A1 with US Optics scope and Thunder Beast suppressors.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Making it through 20 years of skydiving, paragliding, rock climbing and the military without any broken bones. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough?
What’s your biggest ‘take away’ from your military service?Is there a particular lesson or life mantra that still influences you?
Teamwork is the key to success. Nobody is any more important than anyone else when it comes to the success of any given task. It’s been hard to find the same level of trust and commitment from people in the civilian world. Unless you have served in a tight military unit it’s hard to understand the bond that develops between people who’s lives literally depend on each other. Failing a teammate is worse than death.
You’ve dabbled in a variety of professions and endeavours, is this a case of trying for find your groove or purposefully mixing it up to avoid routine in life?
I get board of routine and I’m not afraid to try new things. When an interesting opportunity comes up I look at all of my options and then go with the best flow. I have to be in a constant state of learning and growing as a person. Personal growth and quality of life outweighs the money most of the time.
Which of these experiences gives you the most satisfaction and why?
I’ve been enjoying my current gig as a publicist. I have a great relationship with most of the industry writers and I’ve been able to create a lot of win-win situations for my clients and my friends in the media. The other super rewarding thing I have been doing is taking people with physical disabilities skydiving or paragliding. The jumps are always more challenging and the people that I take are so excited to be able to experience what I sometimes take for granted. It may sound funny but I’ve literally been in tears while in freefall or paragliding thought the air because the experience was so overwhelmingly awesome.
It looks as if you’ve done hundreds of skydives over the years, is there a particular jump that was the most memorable?
Yeah I’m coming up on 2000 jumps, but having three kids has slowed me down a little at the drop zone. My most memorable jump was out of a B17 Bomber for an Air Force promo piece I did last week. [Jumping into] Dodger Stadium was pretty bad ass though, and taking Leanne Rimes out for a tandem jump was pretty fun. Oh, I can’t forget jumping with my dad out of a Russian helicopter with the Cambodian Special Forces.
Finding time between commitments to keep in shape, even after your years of hard training, must be tough. Do you have a go-to workout that maximizes your time?
Superset push and pull exercises on upper body days, and the same for leg day. Super fast and effective. I usually manage an hour every morning before the kids get up for school. My wife is an IFBB pro fitness competitor so she keeps me inline.
To space out your hectic lifestyle, do you have a favourite place you like to go to disconnect? (or a particular sport/adventure that helps you best channel your thoughts)
Hands down it’s paragliding. When I’m 12,000 ft. up in a thermal I have to stay focused and connected in the moment. No phone, emails, or people to talk to. I just connect to my glider and feel the dynamics of the air.
What is the most important lesson you want to pass onto your sons?
Treat everyone with equal respect and don’t take yourself too seriously. Its the people and experiences in your life that hold the real lasting value. Not the endless pursuit of money.
You’ve introduced your sons to paragliding, how’s that going so far? Do they realise that they’re already doing more awesome things with their lives than most people?
My eldest boy has to be bribed to fly with me now. I don’t really push him to do it if he doesn’t want to. He keeps telling me he can’t wait to skydive so I tell him learning to paraglide will make him a better skydiver. Now he is warming up to the idea of flying solo. My youngest can’t get enough airtime. Just the hint of the possibility of getting in the air and he is ready to go.
Follow along with Mike’s adventures via his Instagram @mike_semanoff