Seattle – A Maritime City

Seattle is one of my favorite cities and this is probably because when I think of it maritime culture and history immediately come to mind. Pike Street Fish Market, Lake Union, The Center for Wooden Boats, the Washington State Ferries and even Starbucks, are just a few of the places, organizations and activities that help create Seattle’s maritime brand.

There have been several interesting articles in the Seattle Post Intelligencer this week about local maritime institutions and initiatives.

The Post Intelligencer reports that since opening in 1998, the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center has not come near its attendance projections despite occupying prime real estate on the waterfront. This has caused significant operating deficits to accumulate and left millions in unpaid and ultimately forgiven rent. (Odyssey asks port to keep it afloat: Unprofitable Maritime Discovery Center wants $3.2 million)  Fortunately the Port of Seattle recognizes the benefits of the Discovery Center and its potential to educate locals and visitors about the important role maritime industries play in the city and region. The Port has put forward a plan to be a benefactor with a few strings attached. (Maritime museum to get $3.2 million).

Much more positive news comes from cross town. (Groundbreaking set for today at  Seattle’s newest lakefront park). Thanks to some significant local philanthropic support the $30 million Lake Union Park project is being launched today. (Invitation). Lake Union Park will be a vibrant green space that celebrates Seattle’s rich maritime heritage.

Check out the very cool 3D animated rendering of the Lake Union Park project on the Seattle Parks Foundation website provided courtesy of City Investors LLC. (click here)

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"What the Law of the Sea Teaches Us About the Regulation of the Information Ocean"

This morning I came across an interesting post on, a blog by Professor Michael Froomkin of the University of Miami School of Law. What the Law of the Sea Teaches Us About the Regulation of the Information Ocean which was the title of an address that he delivered at a recent conference.

I am always intrigued about the rich metaphorical power of the sea. On the Sea-Fever Consulting website I wrote:

We believe that the sea is a strong and effective metaphor for business. Both present an ever changing environment and those that don’t adjust can find themselves far off course or worse. Successfully sailing across the sea requires teamwork, also a characteristic of high performing organizations.

On Professor Froomkin wrote:

The root causes of these two dangers have much in common: just as the Internet is one of the most exciting and even defining technological developments of our time, so too the sailing ship was a crowning technological achievement of its day. A tall ship is a highly complex machine that requires enormous organization and technical expertise to run properly. In broad terms the same is true of a complex network. Both depend on an extensive external infrastructure, be they boatwrights and ship’s chandlers or fab labs and electrical and telephone networks. (A critical difference, however, is that the tall ship required a well-drilled team to work properly. In a good network the work tends to be more distributed and in a really good network it may be more fault-tolerant as well.)

Not sure if the Professor is a sailor but it sounds like he understands tall ships.

If you are interested in technology and how its rapid and continuous advancement can overtake our ability to manage or regulate it, you will probably find this interesting too.

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NY Times – Study of Solo Sailor Stress and How Humans Cope

Today’s NY Times published an interesting article by Chris Museler entitled A Very Lonely Journey Across the Globe – Researchers Study Solo Sailing to Find How Humans Cope with Stress.

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth (UK) department of sports and exercise science are studying the effects of stress on the five single handed sailors still in the Velux 5 Oceans Race. The conditions under which they sail and the duration of the experience creates a unique opportunity to study how human’s cope with stress. The organizer of the study, Michael Tipton, states:

“We’re trying to identify some of the common characteristics of people who consistently think clearly and perform under extreme conditions. We simulate helicopter escapes in pools but we don’t know how much longer they’d hold their breath if the real consequence would be drowning. With these sailors, that’s a real consequence every minute.”

In case there is any question about the constant danger and incredible stress under which these sailors work, watch the following 3 videos. The first is raw footage of the final hours and minutes that racer Alex Thomson has aboard the Hugo Boss vessel before abandoning it to join Mike Golding on the Ecovervessel. In it he explains what happended and the potential consequences if he doesn’t get off in time.

The second video is Thomson detailing how the rescue will be undertaken and it captures him jumping into the life raft leaving the camera rolling on his vessel.

The third video is a slicker production with music that uses some of the same footage but presents a wider perspective.

In an unfair twist of fate, hours after Thomson joins Golding on the Ecover boat, she dismasts and both sailor end up out of the race.

“Above all, these sailors are rational, calculating individuals,” Tipton said. “Their inventiveness and tough mindedness is what gets them through safely.”

Deep water sailing, solo or as a member of a crew, can be exhilarating, challenging and character building. What was written in the Times article and represented in the above 3 videos is the extreme. However, the power of the going to sea under sail in developing leaders is that there is real risk and self-challenge integral to the experience.

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Independence Maritime Museum and Politics in the News

The Philadelphia Inquirer published another story today about the political intrigue surrounding the Independence Seaport Museum and a Pennsylvania State Senator. “Fumo severs connection to museum”.

Yesterday’s Cape Cod Times also published an article about the troubles facing former Independence Seaport Museum Executive Director John S. Carter. “Defense in suit asks for money”

What is going on with maritime museums and politics lately? Hopefully the Independence Seaport Museum and the North Carloina Maritime Museum can both convert this media coverage into something positive for their respective institution. 

“Any press is good press.” Not so sure in this case.

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North Carolina Maritime Museum, Politics AND Tall Ships

Following up on my earlier post North Carolina Maritime Museum Experiencing Choppy Seas, Squall Lines, a blog of the John Locke Foundation of North Carolina, posted more information including links to several older articles. Tall Ships and Maritime Museums.  

NY Times – Companies Pressed to Define Green Policies

There is an interesting article in today’s NY Times written by Claudio Deutsch which discusses how investors have become much more focused on how companies’ environmental policies affect their bottomlines.

Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups is quoted:

“This has nothing to do with social investing. These investors are owners who want the companies to stop being laggards when it comes to minimizing risk and taking advantage of opportunities.”

Tracey C. Rembert, the coordinator of corporate governance and engagement for the Service Employees International Union, is quoted about her organization’s interest in Well Fargo:

“We want them to rethink their business, and set themselves up to take strategic advantage of climate change.”

“Climate change will involve regulatory risks, reputational risks and physical risks to the companies in any bank’s portfolio,” she said. “We need to know that Wells Fargo is ahead of the curve in addressing it.”

Granted the “investors” quoted in the article come from the public and nonprofit sectors where concern for global warming and other social issues are much more  prevalent. They have also been focused on and speaking out about these issues for quite a while.  Continue reading NY Times – Companies Pressed to Define Green Policies

Some Good News from North Carolina

Grand NellieYesterday I received an email from my friend Captain Ellen Troeltzsch of the Schooner Grand Nellie with the picture below . If you were around the tall ship fleet on the Atlantic Coast or Great Lakes in the early part of the decade you might recognize this vessel by the unique crew she kept. Her “Skipper” was actually a Dalmatian that epitomized the term “sea-dog.” Guaranteed he traveled more miles under sail than any other dog around. Unfortunately, Skipper passed away last year and will be sorely missed.

The good news out of Oriental, NC is that Captain’s Ellen and Jeff have welcomed aboard a new “sea-dog” named Hoosier. (Something to do with the fact that he was born in Indiana and there is a question about who his daddy might be.) 


Congratulations to the Troeltzschs and let’s get that beautiful schooner back to sea and changing more young lives (including Hoosier’s)!

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North Carolina Maritime Museum Experiencing Choppy Seas

North Carolina Maritime MuseumAn article from today’s The Daily News of Jacksonville, NC reports that the North Carolina Maritime Museum is experiencing some rough seas as a result of hosting last summer’s America’s Sail event.

For the past few years I have been following this event pretty closely as executive director of the American Sail Training Association (ASTA), the organizer of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE, an annual series of Tall Ships races and attendant maritime festivals across North America. Founded in the early 1970’s, in part to bring the 1976 Bicentennial Tall Ships event to North America, ASTA owns the registered trademark “Tall Ships” and therefore is sensitive to events that could potentially damage its brand. Continue reading North Carolina Maritime Museum Experiencing Choppy Seas

Transcendent Leadership

Michael Useem, Wharton professor and author of The Go Point (see review) participated in the recent World Economic Forum and reported about the experience over on The Huffington Post yesterday. The World Economic Forum: A Call to Exercise Global Leadership, Not Just Self Interest. Useem wrote:

…the event also served to define and reinforce a shared culture among participants. Central to that culture is an emphasis on transcendent leadership — the idea that standing above all other values is the ideal of a joint commitment to bettering the planet.

Business leaders, the British prime minister (Tony Blair) suggested, must therefore move beyond “corporate social responsibility” to embrace a “strategic engagement with the moral imperatives of the era.”

Powerful and ambitious words are what we should expect from our leaders; however, several recognized that they will ring hollow if not converted into action.

E. Neville Isdell, CEO of Coca-Cola and co-chair of the Forum, warned that the outside world sometimes viewed Davos as “the epicenter of ego” — and that the calling was now for all participants to make it, instead, “the epicenter of commitment.” James J. Schiro, CEO of Zurich Financial Services and another co-chair of the Forum, followed with a call to action. “I’ve been coming here for 15 years, and what’s evident is the rise of a focus on leadership and change.” Consequently, “I would ask everybody, when you return home, to exercise your leadership.”

Leadership is about making possible what was once perceived impossible. Transcendent leadership presents a vision of optimism, hope and a better world for all.  Does transcendent leadership represent what would be Collins’ Level 6? 

Only time will tell whether or not these world leaders who meet in Davos can set aside their provincial mindsets and make a collective difference in solving some of the world’s most difficult challenges.

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Experience is Everything

In case you missed it, this is a new Old Spice ad. It’s not a surprise that I liked it because the tag line declares “experience is everything” which pretty much captures the theme of several of my earlier posts. Also, in the background is a painting of the longest tall ship I’ve ever seen and, like my dad, I use Old Spice too. (Well, I actually use Old Spice Red Zone deodorant, not the aftershave). Finally,  there is the sad but funny coincidence that my sidebar photo is remarkably similar to what we see in the video.

In any case, I find this to be a funny ad and pretty clever. Listen and watch closely as Bruce Campbell, a cult B movie actor, talks about “it.”

If you have a little time to waste and you want to have some fun,check out

AdWeek: Barbara Lippert’s Critique: Old Spice Still Gets It

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