Ben Lecomte is an ultra-endurance swimmer and the first person to complete a cross-Atlantic ocean swim without a kickboard.  He has also swum through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to raise awareness for sustainability and the impact of plastic pollution.  He was named one of the World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Swimmers in 2019 by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He swam over 3,500 miles from Massachusetts to Quiberon, France. The journey took him 73 days, swimming upwards of 10 hours a day, and fighting off sharks and battling 20 foot swells.
  • Swimming 3,500 miles across the Atlantic was about mind over matter. Swimming hours upon hours a day with limited stimuli, your mind has to be even stronger than your body.
  • As a coping mechanism, he had to learn to disassociate his mind from his body so while his physical body was suffering, his mind could be in an entirely different world.
  • He swam across the Atlantic in honor of his father and to raise awareness for cancer. His father’s passing was the kick in the butt he needed to pursue his dreams and not live life with any regrets.
  • Swimming the Pacific (until he had to abort the trip) was actually easier than his Atlantic crossing 20 years earlier since the older you get, the more you learn to control the mind and mentally deal with the obstacles along the way.
  • He swam 400 miles through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the highest concentration of human made discarded plastic in the world. It was like looking at the sky at night during a snowstorm. You are surrounded by millions of little particles of plastic.
  • He cut open fish in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and found pieces of plastic.
  • “You cannot really know your limit until you challenge your limit.”
  • “Excellence is like beauty… it’s in the eyes of the beholder.”

Mark Tercek is the CEO of The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental organization. He is a former Managing Director and Partner at Goldman Sachs and is the author of the bestselling book Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • We all have an inner environmentalist inside of us.
  • His executive coach taught him some valuable lessons early on including how to listen better and how to not sweat out the details.
  • In the nonprofit world, he had to learn how to understand employees’ psychic income and use that as motivation to drive behavior.
  • Saving nature isn’t just the morally right thing to do, it’s also the smartest investment we can make.
  • Learn how he pivoted his 4,000 employee organization from pure land conservation toward embracing climate change as a top priority.
  • “Excellence is matching ambition with a good dose of reality.”
  • We all have a tendency to overestimate risks in our lives. The returns are greater than perceived and the risks less that perceived.  More of us should just go for it.

Jay Faison is the Founder and Chairman of SnapAV, a high growth technology company that designs and distributes audio-video products. SnapAV has been on the Inc 500 List for several years and was acquired by General Atlantic in 2013 for around $200 million.  He is also the Founder and CEO of ClearPath Foundation, whose mission is to accelerate conservative clean energy solutions.  Jay has received many accolades including the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southeast region award and Politico’s Top 50 visionaries transforming American politics.

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • How his ADHD is a contributing factor to his entrepreneurial nature.
  • The biggest challenge in scaling the company was himself.
  • Intellectual humility is a key to growing as a leader.
  • Find a niche that others aren’t in so at least if you’re swinging for the fences, there aren’t any other batters to worry about.
  • Why he decided to give away the vast sum of his wealth while still in his 40’s.
  • How his pattern recognition allows him to see around corners where others can’t.
  • “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably not going to get there.”

 

When you’re running a small audio/video business and being overcharged and underserved by your suppliers, what do you do?  If you’re like most people, you get angry and frustrated and complain.  But not if you’re Jay Faison.  Because if you’ve got the mind of an entrepreneur like Jay, you see that broken supply chain not as a problem but as an opportunity.  And you seize upon it.  And that is how SnapAV was born.

Why didn’t anyone else see this obvious disintermediation play to create the Amazon of the audio video industry?  Jay has a unique gift of pattern recognition.  Some people who are incredibly bright can see several moves ahead on the chess board. Jay admittedly isn’t one of them.  But Jay is able to see multiple games being played at once and can choose which one has the best odds of success.  When you’re an entrepreneur trying to disrupt an industry, that intuition can help dramatically improve the odds of success.

There’s another gift Jay possesses that few entrepreneurs have. It’s intellectual humility. When you’re intellectually humble, you can recognize your blinds spots.  And when you can see your blind spots, you know how to ask for help.  In Jay’s case, he understood that the biggest hurdle in scaling his company was himself.  Like many entrepreneurs, he was great at doing but not at leading.  He had to learn how to let go and transition from being a tactical entrepreneur to being a strategic leader.  His vision, his leadership and his grit would allow him to build and eventually sell one of the fastest growing companies in the country.

For most entrepreneurs, selling the majority ownership in your business for $200 million is an accomplishment of a lifetime.  It’s a good excuse to kick back, relax and live the good life.  Buy a few vacation homes, a couple limited production sports cars and of course a private jet for good measure. You can simply rest on your laurels and not ever have to take on the monumental challenge and stress of starting something again.  But not if you’re Jay Faison.

Jay knew that the right thing to do is to give away most of his newly acquired wealth while he’s still in the prime of his life.  Of course, the easiest thing to do would be to write checks to a bunch of non-profits.  But never one to take the easy path, he contributed $165 million into a foundation called ClearPath.  It’s mission – simply convince conservatives of the importance of clean energy.  In other words, he chose to essentially launch another startup whose goals were far more daunting that those of his for-profit venture.

It hasn’t been easy.  The environment has become a very polarizing issue and while capital has provided him access to key people in Washington, convincing them to create and adopt environmentally friendly legislation has been a grind.  He’s well aware that success won’t happen overnight.  But he continues to chop away at it with the guiding philosophy that “we don’t inherit the Earth from our parents but rather, we borrow it from our children”.  It’s hard work but it’s well worth it.  Because according to Jay, when you’re trying to change the world, there’s simply a satisfaction you can’t get anywhere else.