I sometimes have to truly pinch myself because I originally had written in my Life List, “Have lunch with Branson,” and now that’s turned into probably 50 lunches. Who knew? Over the years, we’ve developed a deeper bond from our shared belief that business can be the greatest lever to make a difference in the world and not taking ourselves too seriously.
Not taking ourselves too seriously was on full display as he went along with doing our Q&A in a mermaid tail that Sophia from our team beautifully set up. Yes, we went full “mermen” here…
The outfits were for the “Under the Sea” theme party celebrating an incredible project spearheaded by Maverick #61 Mike Cline and Aydika James.
It was actually an incredible “full circle” experience this year because last year Maverick members and invited guests on Necker were tasked with how to take an old WWII Navy ship and turn it into a self-sustainable impact project. Not an easy task, but we did it!
I believe the right people are in the room at the right time, and this was especially true last year. We had a last-minute cancellation, and Mike and Aydika were flexible enough to join us. As soon as Lauren Keil from Unite BVI started presenting this idea, I was so excited to see those two writing furiously. They have previous experience building Burning Man art cars, and this fit in perfectly with this project.
We took the YO-44 —one of the last five ships that survived Pearl Harbor from being scrapped for metal— and transformed her into a thriving artificial reef and adventure dive site. The project was designed to help rehabilitate heavily over-fished marine populations in ways that boost income for local dive operators and the BVI economy. And it’s a breathtaking art sculpture used as an artificial reef, providing marine science research as well as swim and marine stewardship programs for local BVI kids.
It was amazing to be able to have started a project last year during our week and have so many of the first donors who raised funds for this incredible project right on the spot. Mavericks Jeff Siegel, Mike Geary, John Ratliff, John Carter, Matt Curry, Tom Shieh, Steve Little, Melinda Wittstock, Jim Spano, Garrett Gunderson and Sasha Ablitt were some of the founding donors. And Mike and Aydika truly dropped everything to ensure this project became a reality. The degree of coordination and partnerships to make this happen was truly incredible. There’s a big lesson here because only an epic project like this can garner this type of support.
The ship was supposed to sink well before our week on Necker, but Mother Nature had other plans. So a few days into our trip, we braved stormy rain and wind to see the ship off. Richard joined us for this amazing three-hour-plus celebration, and as the clouds cleared, our anticipation grew. We weren’t sure how long it would take to sink the ship or if the giant Kraken sculpture would even remain upright.
At the end, when the ship finally sunk, it went down sideways, but the divers below were able to guide it safely to the bottom upright. Phew! Here’s an incredible short film documenting the build and sink.
It fit with my intention for the week. The very first day at sunrise, I wrote this in my journal after meditating.
In case you cannot read it –
Trust the Universe has even more in store for you than you can imagine…Trust the divine timing…Trust your crazy ideas…Trust your wings will grow when you leap…Trust your nature…Trust you’ve been encoded with a Cosmic Alarm Clock…Trust the co-conspirators catalyzing your conscious evolution…Trust the perfect unfolding of your understanding…Trust your divine connection
Typically, I don’t read entries from my journal, but that’s how I started off our Growth sessions and conversation in the Temple house that first morning. I read this entry because I trusted who was in the room, the conversations we’d have, and how the experience would shape attendees in profound ways.
That always happens.
Typically, you come in with one intention, but you always leave with a breakthrough in some other way that you’d never expected. It was actually pretty amazing the type of conversations we had that really centered around conscious evolution and working with “invisible” aspects that show up in the material world later on. This would not have been the crux of the conversation several years ago.
I tested my own level of comfort with having a shamanic ceremony right in the Great House on the night before the full moon. I’ve realized it’s time to actually step fully into this other part of myself too and fully align and integrate that into what we’re doing to “catalyze the catalysts” and light 1,000 suns! I wasn’t sure if it would be too “weird” or not, but we had a good number of the attendees actually take part and many more who were interested in some of the shamanic work. I’ve been meditating and doing yoga regularly now for three-plus years, and it really has started paying dividends because I was in a deep meditation for about an hour and a half during this ceremony. We’ve changed the dollar sign symbol to a tree to reflect this evolutionary direction for Maverick around “growing yourself and growing your business” and not simply profits.
I see our retreats and experiences together as something that can be absolutely transformative on a deeper level.
We are pretty selective with our guests and speakers on Necker because it’s more about the conversation— but I was so excited to invite Leslie Blodgett. She’s the former CEO of Bare Minerals who recently sold the company to Shiseido for nearly $1.8B.
Everyone loved her. Leslie doesn’t normally speak at conferences, so this was a real special treat to hear from her. She came in when the company was pretty small, and part of her message to us was to never change being authentic to your brand and yourself as you grow and not to listen to the “professionals” necessarily. For instance, as she’s in the beauty industry, she railed against the “fakeness” of perfect models and instead used real women who actually loved the product.
Leslie told us people love to connect to real people. She never had any media training and actually resisted it even when they started making more and more TV appearances, infomercials, and QVC work. The ethos was a girlfriend talking to another girlfriend. And that’s the way she ran the whole company, asking, “What would you do for your friends?” For instance, one time they had a defective brush that shed hairs all over women as they put on their make-up. Instead of waiting for customers to be upset about it and return them, they preemptively sent all the buyers a new brush.
Leslie also bucked convention because she wouldn’t hire celebrity spokespeople. The whole beauty industry was “fake,” and she was going the opposite direction. She wanted that authentic zealot to be her brand advocate. And Bare Minerals was able to build an incredible group of girlfriends before we had the technology to easily do it and help spur word-of-mouth. In fact, she was so committed to the community that five minutes before the IPO, Leslie told them the news before anyone else. Once the video of Leslie’s presentation is ready, we’ll have it for you in the Maverick Members learning library.
Ocean Conservation and New Business Ideas
Our week on Necker raised $251,033.34 for Virgin Unite, putting our total at over $2.2 million throughout our partnership together.
But it’s not just about a donation. It’s about putting our brainpower and resources together to make a difference. This year we were provided another challenge to take on….
The Ocean Is Everybody’s Business – Ocean Unite
The ocean is also probably the biggest business in the world. It is the world’s seventh largest economy with a GDP equivalent to US$2.5 trillion (about 5% of global GDP). Its key assets have an overall value of more than US$24 trillion.
Life on Earth depends on a healthy, vibrant ocean. Without it, we won’t have a livable planet. It is an essential life system. Habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, overfishing, pollution, climate change, and acidification are together pushing the ocean system to a point of collapse. Yet despite this doom and gloom scenario, we live in a time with unprecedented opportunities for reversing this trajectory of decline and restoring ocean health. Because it’s not too late to solve this crisis. The ocean is amazingly resilient and could recover, but it needs each and every one of us to play a part.
Companies, business leaders, and consumers can play a huge and positive role as force multipliers for positive change to benefit the ocean. Committing to implementing a business model that is both environmentally and socially responsible, will have multiple positive effects for the planet, its people, and the global economy. The private sector is a strong and compelling voice to governments on the need to ensure protection, and it has major reach in terms of brand and consumers.
Our task: to convince the world, especially the business community, that reviving the ocean is mission critical and to get on with making this happen. Just as business leaders helped drive ambitious climate action, now we need business leadership more than ever to reverse the ocean decline and put it on a pathway to recovery.
With that set-up, our task was to create an actual for-profit Evolved Enterprise that would help companies be more profitable, tell a better story, and be more conscious of being in alignment with ocean conservation.
We broke off into teams, and everybody presented to Richard, me, and the team at Virgin Unite as judges. There were some great ideas, and the winner was a business model for an agency to come in and help provide a trust seal and consulting work to companies, helping them reduce and remove plastic from their supply chain. We have allocated startup funds from our donation to support and provide resources for a team of young entrepreneurs to drive and run this new venture. You’ll hear more about this #Blue project as it continues to develop and take shape. I’m also excited to say the other teams that didn’t win are moving ahead with two or three other projects as well, so we are getting more and more seeds planted for this important work! You can find out more at Ocean Unite’s new site – The Ocean is Everybody’s Business.
New Worlds Opening
I had another transformation this week as well. About seven or eight years ago we did a trip to Iceland and dove the Silfra Ravine, which is in between the two tectonic plates of America and Europe. I had gotten certified a week before that dive and truly jumped into the deep end because it required a dry suit, since the water was freezing cold! I wasn’t very comfortable diving and even had a bit of claustrophobia under the water in my hooded dry suit. So I wasn’t sure if I’d dive the new Art Reef or not. Plus, I had issues before with clearing my ears and equalizing.
As we dove down, I started feeling like I wouldn’t be able to do it because at 12–15 feet or so, I wasn’t equalizing. My instructor was super patient, and we just hovered and then swam around for a bit until I realized I was at the bottom of the wreck. Amazing! I was totally comfortable down there, and again I credit my meditation practice for this. It was totally in awe and had deep feelings of joy and wonder playing in and around the Kraken. It seemed so much bigger down there than on land when I had previously toured it before it sank. I can’t wait for others to enjoy this dive and see the ripple of the impact created. Being able to face this truly opened up the world under the sea for me again. It seems totally appropriate with our theme and focus during this week.
Team Necker Finally Wins
We typically end our week on Necker with the annual Patron XO invitational Beach Volleyball match of Team Necker vs. Team Maverick. We are three-time champions, and George from Team Necker had been recruiting all year to make a better showing. The game gets pretty out of hand quickly as we have a shot each time the other team gets seven points. So if you’re losing, those shots add up quickly, as they did for me.
Richard was quite pleased with Team Necker finally claiming the title on their home court, as you can see. Here’s a great pic of the celebration following their victory. Next year, I’m already planning who is coming based on volleyball skills. And as a former “professional” (technically) volleyball player, I’m going to have to enlist a few big guns.
And speaking of next year, we have dates for Necker set. This will be our 10th anniversary of supporting Virgin Unite, so we’re planning some epic surprises. If you want in, I’d expect this to fill very quickly. The dates are March 22–29, 2018.