"Wisdom you get from experience" – Surfwise movie trailer

I love movies about the people whose lives are changed by their relationship with the sea. If this trailer is any indication, Surfwise should be an interesting flick. Opening April 9th.

surfwise_200803131657Like many American outsider-adventurers, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz set out to realize a utopian dream. Abandoning a successful medical practice, he sought self-fulfillment by taking up the nomadic life of a surfer. But unlike other American searchers like Thoreau or Kerouac, Paskowitz took his wife and nine children along for the ride, all eleven of them living in a 24 foot camper. Together, they lived a life that would be unfathomable to most, but enviable to anyone who ever relinquished their dreams to a straight job. The Paskowitz Family proved that America may be running out of frontiers, but it hasn’t run out of frontiersman.

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World Economic Forum Youth

The 2008 World Economic Forum is currently underway in Davos, Switzerland. In case you aren’t familiar, it’s sort of a convention for world leaders and activist celebrities. It might just be me, but this year there seems to be way less media hype here in the States.

In any case, many, if not all, of the sessions are posted on a special Davos YouTube channel and the one that particularly caught my interest was Future Shifts: The Voice of the Next Generation.  On this panel were 6 kids from Sri Lanka, USA, South Africa, Scotland, China and Argentina. They represented a larger group of 60 youth from 43 countries that were brought together by the British Council for a pre-Forum week in Guildford, UK. You can see what these amazing young people are up to over at their website: The Road to Davos 2008.

I’m sure that this one won’t make the nightly news or front pages but it probably should. These kids are smart and articulate and when we are all old, they’ll be responsible for taking care of us. So I’m doing my small part to promote their good work and thoughts. Please watch and pass it on.

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In Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2008

I originally wrote the below post for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2007. Thought I’d repost it again today in honor and celebration of one of America’s greatest leaders.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and in recognition of the holiday last night I reread his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963). I am sure that I must have read it previously in a highschool or college civics course but I more recently became re-acquainted with it when I participated in Aspen Institute’s Executive Seminar last May. If you have not read it or need a refresher like me, you can find online and downloadable versions here.

I believe that King’s letter is an amazing work for many reasons with one of the most important being that it effectively frames the difficult conversation. This is no small feat. Sitting in a jail cell presents a limited range of options for leadership but King quickly responds to the opportunity created by the Alabama clergymen’s public statement (April 12, 1963) directed at him regarding the nonviolent demonstrations taking place in their community. It is a very powerful piece of writing and worth the time it takes to read closely.

When I think of Martin Luther King Jr., I immediately think of the words vision, mission and values. To me King clearly demonstrates the power and importance in connecting these three concepts in order to accomplish what he set out to do. As a leader, King takes advantage of opportunities to communicate his vision, mission and values to wide audiences. His letter from a Birmingham jail may have been written to the Alabama clergymen, but his intended audience was anyone who was concerned about racial injustice in Alabama and across the nation.

To me the jumping off point for all of this in the need to identify the core values that will guide the creation of a vision and the setting of a mission for an organization or cause. In establishing Sea-Fever LLC, and a new nonprofit organization to be called Sea-Changes Foundation, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what core values are important to me. (Sea-Fever LLC’s Core Values.) I will be writing more about Core Values in the future. Please check back in and feel free to join in the conversation.

Finally, it had been a while since I watched Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech (August 28, 1963). Like reading Letter from a Birmingham Jail, I believe it is worth taking the time to watch this video.

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“Lessons I Have Learned” – Dame Ellen MacArthur (via BBC Sport)

The BBC Sport website has launched a new feature called “Lessons I Have Learned” which profiles “British sportsmen and women notorious for taking their sport, preparation and strategy to incredible levels. Each of them has looked back on their career and identified the 10 key lessons their life in sport has taught them.”

Yesterday, the series profiled around the world sailing legend Dame Ellen MacArthur.

BBC  Lessons I have learned_ellen_macarthur

Here are her lessons but make sure you visit the BBC website for her powerful stories about each.

  1. Never give up.
  2. Be as fully prepared as possible.
  3. Take strength from the team around you.
  4. It’s good to be frightened it keeps you on your toes.
  5. Don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal, stay focused.
  6. Never underestimate the power of the sea.
  7. Stay true to yourself and never lose sight of your values.
  8. Never forget those who have help you along the way.
  9. Always try to have fun.
  10. Always do your best.

Ellen’s accomplishments in her young life speak for themselves; she is truly a modern day hero and role model for young women. Her lessons are valuable to all of us: young and old, in sport and in business, with family, friends and colleagues.

Make sure you check out her beautiful website www.ellenmacarthur.com too.

(There is a video on the BBC website but I found it to be pretty poor quality and not worth the time or effort to download and watch.)

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Litter@sea: A tragedy in the making (Blog Action Day!)

Several weeks ago we were on a family holiday in Southwold, Suffolk, UK, one of the most magical places in the world. If you have never been there, you must go.

Southwold is a quaint, picturesque, seaside town on the East Coast of the England right at the border of Norfolk and Suffolk. The high street has all of the types of shops that you’d expect in a place like this: butchers, bakers, green grocers, art galleries and book stores. No big box stores need apply. There are some great restaurants and pubs including the Lord Nelson which was voted one of the top 10 in England recently by The Good Pub Guide.

Southwold rainbow

One of the beautiful things about Southwold is the magnificent beach that runs the length of the town from the famous Southwold Pier to the entrance to the harbour. To our family, the water always seems a little too cold and too rough for swimming; however, it is a wonderful place to spend the day reading a book in the sun while your children dig in the sand and build castles.

Here’s a picture of the Southwold Beach with my wife Jenny and daughter Joy right in the middle waving to my son Luke and me to come down and join them for fun in the sun and sand. Not too much competition for finding a spot to lay down a blanket on that brisk late summer day!

Mummy and Joy alone on the Southwold beach

That evening a ferocious storm roared into town turning the surf from blue to mocha in the process and I took these photos the following morning.

Mocha Sea Southwold 3

Mocha Sea Southwold 5

Mocha Sea with windsurfer Southwold

The wicked sea also will remind us that we have not taken care of her.  According to the  UN Atlas of the Oceans:

It has been estimated that there are over 17,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on every square kilometre of the world’s oceans. Solid waste, or litter, is dominated by plastics, but also includes glass, metals, and complex objects combining multiple substances, ranging from domestic and industrial appliances to ships. Of the total of some 8 million tonnes of solid waste entering the sea every day, about 5 million tonnes are thrown, or lost, from ships. The remainder comes from urban centres, and from remote centres of high affluence such as tourist centres. East Africa and the South Pacific have put solid wastes as second among their priority problems, second only to domestic sewage.

Well, sometimes the wicked sea will give us back some of our mess and it isn’t pretty. Here are some pictures of Southwold Beach after the storm. Needless to say,  there wasn’t much fun in the sun that day.

Sea litter - After the storm - Southwold

Sea litter - After the storm - Southwold 2

Sea litter - After the storm - Southwold 3

Sea litter - After the storm - Southwold 4

Ben Macintyre wrote a very powerful essay titled “Britannia’s cruel treatment of the waves” which speaks to the challenge of protecting the marine environment. Of course, this is not Great Britain’s problem alone. After all, we must not forget that the ocean connects us and we all share the burden and responsibility to keep it clean and healthy for our’s and generations to come.  Sea Change

Richard Girling, North Norfolk UK writer, has recently published a book entitled Sea Change: Britain’s Coastal Catastrophe. Here is a link to an interesting essay that he wrote for the June 10, 2007 issue of The Sunday Times,  If you go down to the sea today…

Nowhere in the UK is more than 72 miles from the sea. Every aspect of our lives – our diet, climate, politics, art, suspicion of foreigners – even the blood in our veins – is conditioned by it. As a people, we are not so much by the sea as of it. Transmuted through the deep-fat fryer, it taints the air in every city and town. It is our favourite day out, our pride and national identifier. We can’t know when our oldest ancestor first launched himself on a log. By some time between 1890BC and 1700BC, however, Bronze Age Britons were advanced in the art of building proper, internally braced planked boats with caulked seams and keels. We lagged behind the Egyptians, who had the technology at least 700 years earlier, but few nations on Earth have left a more powerful wake. When Julius Caesar arrived, he found an energetic maritime nation ploughing a well-furrowed sea and with a well-established tradition of shipbuilding.

The sea has been and probably always be man’s greatest natural resource. We really need to work harder at protecting it for ourselves and future generations. A day at the beach should be fun and safe every day; even after a ferocious storm.

Ex-head of maritime museum may be heading up river for a long time

jailbird Today (Oct. 13, 2007) John Shiffman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the federal prosecutor in the Independence Seaport Museum / John S. Carter case wants to send the ex-head of the museum up the river for a long time.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Pease said that after the FBI raided his Philadelphia home, tipping him to the investigation, Carter unsuccessfully tried to swindle $1 million worth of life insurance from the museum. And, Pease said, after Carter pleaded guilty, he obstructed justice by lying to a probation officer and the IRS about his assets, including a time-share in Mexico, a 1934 Buick, and property in Maine and Nova Scotia.

“This defendant is without any moral compass whatsoever,” the prosecutor said. “John Carter is an offender who has yet to come to grips with the serious nature of his crimes. He is in a class by himself.”

Carter, who ran the nonprofit museum for 17 years, lived rent-free in its Society Hill townhouse while also being paid about $350,000 annually.

Here’s some sad but fascinating reading. (federal indictment)

Sentencing is scheduled for October 22nd.

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Hard to Believe But Impossible to Forget

It was hard to believe what was unfolding six years ago this morning. In our modern media saturated world, it was presented to us in real time and then repeated over and over again like a horrific groundhog day. But as difficult as these images are, they are impossible to forget which is probably good because the events of those hours effectively defy words.

The New York maritime community responded to these attacks in heroic fashion which probably surprises no one who reads Sea-Fever. Here is a US Maritime Administration video entitled “Honoring the Living Heroes of the United States Merchant Marine.”

There is a small website called HarborHeroes.org that commemorates the maritime professionals, vessels and companies who responded that fateful day. On it there is a powerful piece by Andrew Greeley from the Chicago Suns Times of September 6, 2002 entitled Media ignored calm amid the 9/11 chaos. This short essay does a remarkable job in capturing the essence of leadership that exists in every individual and society’s ability to face an adaptive challenge of monumental proportions.

If you enjoyed this post and think other might too, please vote for it at gCaptain’s Discoverer maritime news website.

Crossposted at Sea-Fever blog and the Center for Leader Development blog.

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