May 12, 2020
On August 22, 2018 I wrote a long-winded message on Facebook to all my friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances about wanting to save the world. Specifically, how to spend more of my free time becoming an eco-warrior. I'll share it with you, albeit rambling is a nice word to describe it. This will help set the stage for present day as, I promise, there's a point to this.
"I had been struggling to figure out how to help save the world in my every day, and it was eating away at my soul. Dramatic? Yes. But this is how I had been feeling for about a year. Seeing graphic imagery of animals suffering, global warming, extinction everywhere I turned, I was paralyzed with a feeling of hopelessness.
I was running through every possible scenario on how to become some epic, world-saving eco warrior. I even got to the point where I thought about taking a totally different direction professionally—going back to school to become a marine biologist, saving the world one fish at a time. I was spending so much time thinking about some crazy, drastic change, when what I really had to do was simple and right in front of me.
It’s not about your degree or your location or what everyone else around you is doing. It’s about your drive, motivation and mindset. Shifting from a negative outlook to one of optimism. Instead of sitting idly by, trying as hard as you can to get involved, however you can. Instead of wishing you had a different set of skills, leveraging the ones you do have to spark change. It wasn’t until a moment of extreme inward looking that I realized I had it all wrong. I realized it all comes down to a series of choices—how I want to spend my time, who I want to spend my time with and what matters to me at the end of the day.
So, what started off as a simple two-week trial with a non-profit doing amazing things to save oceans, turned into a new way of spending my free time. Applying the principles that I learn and deploy every day in strategy, digital and venture to help better the world, at least for me, is what it’s all about right now.
I also came to the realization that I was not alone in craving world betterment—that so many of the amazing people around me were searching for answers themselves and ways to get involved. This was actually somewhat invigorating—an opportunity for us to ban together to do some epic shit.
We live in a crazy world. Things are messed up on every single level imaginable—socially, economically, politically, you name it. It needs people like me, you ... us. We have to leverage our skill sets—our superpowers—no matter what they are, to do good. Doesn’t matter the field, doesn’t matter the focus. If we spend even a fraction of our free time doing something to help, it goes exceptionally far. And if we all do it, well then our chances of preserving this world is that much more likely. If we turn hopelessness into hope, fear into courage, complacency into action, we have all the control in what comes next.
What are your exceptional superpowers? How are you using them to contribute to the greater good, or a cause, vertical, area of focus that matters to you? I would love to hear what your passions are and how you are working towards a goal in the space of giving back!"
It's now May 11, 2020 and I'm psyched to share that this two-week trial period has turned into my passion project, my second full-time job and how I occupy a lot of my free time. At Beneath the Waves, we focus on ocean conservation, specifically investing in science to advance threatened species conservation and marine protected areas. The team, led by long-time colleague, partner, but most importantly, dear friend—Dr. Austin Gallagher—has given me the chance to support their efforts in restoring the oceans by 2050 as Strategy Director. We're a group of entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, creatives, strategists and innovators that all share a common love of the ocean and want to use our precious time to protect what we have been so graciously given. My job in all of this is to help amplify this important message using the skill sets I have and letting people know they all have something to offer in this race to keep our oceans thriving.
There are a few big learnings for me in all of the years deeply contemplating this topic of contribution:
That time is now. We have so much to offer as human beings and there's so much we have to do to get to that 2050 milestone. This pandemic is a wakeup call to remind us that it's our duty to serve mother nature—for she has given us everything, and now, it's our time to give back. Not to mention, we have a lot more free time on our hands.
To contribute to the ocean conservation cause—or any cause for that matter—does not mean abandoning your career paths, moving to the edge of the earth or giving up everything you've worked towards. It means dedicating a fraction of your free time to something bigger than yourself. Something that needs your skills beyond what you may know. And, embracing something you are passionate about that is outside your 9-5 routine.
Sometimes, it's the easiest ideas, concepts or efforts that make a world of difference. You don't have to dedicate every ounce of your free time to this. You don't have to come up with some revolutionary idea to make an impact. All you have to do is put SOME effort in, and what we get out—if we are all in it together—is more of a game changer than doing nothing at all.
I promised there was a point to this ...
We are on a mission to inspire people like me—who didn't necessarily dedicate our life's work to science, research, activism, conservation, in-field marine biology—to get involved in ocean conservation. But not just donating money and doing a few clean up projects here and there. It's deeper than that. We're creating an opportunity for you to leverage your skill sets, strengths, interests and abilities—all in a way that works for you, in your life, on your time—to protect our oceans. A place to engage in dialogue that is relevant, in a way that makes you feel good about your contributions. To highlight the truth of those three points above, making it your reality.
I look forward to sharing what myself and the exceptional Beneath the Waves team are working towards in the coming weeks. I have loved partnering alongside some of the brightest thinkers in the marine space and am honored to be a part of this innovative team of experts. I sincerely hope that you will reach out to get involved—helping us get one step closer to a better tomorrow.
From one ocean lover to the next, we're in this together and now's our time to shine.