Powerful Struggle

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Adam Slutsky ’85 wasn’t many miles into his first Tough Mudder event when he thought, “This is nuts, but amazing.”

Plunging into the 12-mile Lake Tahoe course filled with obstacles and mud pits was fun, if not exhilarating, and he had trained for months.

So, Tough Mudder’s president kept running and climbing and sliding until he reached the finish line. Another herculean feat in the life of Slutsky.

He married Cornell classmate Wendy, whom he met his third day on campus. He’s also the father of three daughters, including one who is a Big Red freshman.

At ILR, he learned the negotiation skills that serve him well in the business world. “You are always trying to find consensus among teams of people.”

Professor Nick Salvatore inspired him. “I got a C+ in his class, but I still loved the class and loved him. He was so passionate.”

After earning an MBA from Columbia University, Slutsky cofounded Moviefone, one of the first interactive advertising vehicles that provided show times and sold tickets through phone numbers and the web.

Moviefone went public in 1994 and sold in 1999 to AOL for hundreds of millions. Next, Slutsky became CEO of Mimeo.com, an online printer and distributor of business documents.

By 2013, he was getting interested in wellness, and Tough Mudder fit his business litmus test. It was a product that would improve people’s lives and the business model made sense.

More than 2.5 million people have participated in Tough Mudder events. More than 60 events are held yearly in the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Australia and China.

“Tough Mudder exists because of the world’s embrace of communications technology. People live via impersonal communication, but Tough Mudder creates a shared struggle. It helps build community. That energy is so powerful it lives on long after the event.”