I know a lot of people who have sailed around the world. Not to be ho-hum about it, but it’s the nature of being in the yacht charter business and knowing so many captains and crews. None of them, however, has entertained me as wittingly as my old (not in years, but duration) business colleague, Larry Jacobson. He was not a “usual suspect” for a circumnavigation, at least for me. I met him on “the other side” of my business… the incentive travel industry.
Since the early 80s, Ocean Getaways has offered incentive programs on charter yachts, and back then, before we had established a long track record of extraordinary programs, it took a leap of faith for a company to choose to send their award winners on a charter yacht flotilla. Early in our business, we booked some stateside business with incentive company heavyweights like E.F.MacDonald who later became Carlson Marketing and S&H Motivation that got its start with green stamps. But it was Larry’s company, World Class Incentives, that was the first to embark on a Caribbean yacht cruise program with us.
His company took that leap of faith that allowed us to show the industry that we could deliver a program that surpasses people’s expectations. They operated on trust, instinct, and took a risk so I guess it should not have surprised me when, years later, Larry, always passionate about sailing, tossed off the suit, untied the docklines and pointed his bow toward the South Pacific. At the time, I’m sure he would not have told me it would be a six-year voyage.
He’s back, and he’s written a captivating book … “The Boy Behind the Gate.” You can sail with him and his partner, Ken, as they are being chased by Komodo Dragons, sailing through Pirate Alley, suffering continued mechanical breakdowns, and enduring huge storms with 30-foot walls of water. For me, though, the heart of the book is Larry’s emotional vulnerability – his willingness to share from his heart about his loves, his friends, his weaknesses, and his frustrations.
Recently, I’ve enjoyed a few lively conversations with Larry. They are always punctuated with laughter, candor, irreverence, uncensored opinion, and should he wear a tie or not? I voted “no tie”. But he got me thinking – what does it really take, besides money, to transform yourself from a weekend sailor to a circumnavigator? What does it take to cast off your livelihood, your profession, your home, your roots, and your comforts and throw yourself into the adventure and uncertainty?
Whatever that is, he still has it. He did not return to the lap of retirement or the helm of an established business It’s no surprise that Larry is continuing to re-invent himself, first as an author and now as a motivational speaker where he is marrying his marketing and sales background with the life lessons he learned at sea. His “10 Keys to Living an Unstoppable Life” is truly inspirational. For me, his sailing and sales/marketing backgrounds make him a perfect speaker for a corporate yacht incentive program or an on-the-water team building event. He’d love it – no tie and no shoes!