From February 7 to May 9, 2017, Braam Malherbe lived without land, on little sleep, with immense purpose in mind and two oars in hand. The unprecedented transatlantic events that transpired over that time now stand as a hopeful turning point in the history of this Earth and its inhabitants.
What happens next is the big question. To start drawing closer to its big answer, we’ve asked some smaller questions of our soon-to-be Convention speaker himself, Braam Malherbe. Read the interview below:
Q: What is your history with ASEA, and how did the DOT Row sponsorship come about?
A: My history with ASEA began when my friend Jörg Höche (ASEA Regional VP of Western Europe) invited me to speak at an ASEA event in Frankfurt, Germany. I arrived prepared to speak from personal experience on the ability of ordinary people to do extraordinary things when driven by a higher purpose—and I met a company whose philosophy matched the message exceptionally.
I was so impressed with company leadership and associates in attendance for their dedication to empowering people to reach their fullest potential through helping others that I had no reservations approaching them to be a Platinum Sponsor for my world-first South-Atlantic row. The feeling must have been mutual, because they were more than happy to put their name and resources into the unprecedented journey.
Q: On a large scale, your core message is about respecting life, which—in turn—drives a responsible stewardship for life-sustaining resources. How do you think a scientific understanding of life, down to the microbiological level, helps further that cause?
A: “Life” as we know it has evolved by embracing change. If it did not, there would be no evolution (or progression of biodiversity). We, as Homo sapiens (the “wise” or “thinking” ape) are indeed obligated to be the custodians and protectors of a finite resource. This is indeed vital to the protection of the microcosm of all life—the bacteria, algae, protozoa… the microorganisms that sustain us. Protect and respect them, and we all survive.
Q: The purpose of the DOT Row was, of course, to promote the launch of a very important mobile app. Can you tell us about the “DOT – Do 1 Thing” app and what your vision is for it?
DOT stands for “Do One Thing.” If we all just do one thing, collectively, we reshape our planet’s destiny. Indeed, this is the exact philosophy of ASEA! You cannot succeed unless you help others to succeed!
Q: What would you say the app’s practical application is for the everyday person? And what should we expect in the re-launch?
A: The re-launch of the app is all about increasing and improving one of the app’s fundamental strengths: interactivity. When people receive feedback and recognition for their achievements, they feel a sense of belonging and respect. The DOT app is following the same model of ASEA leadership: Recognize those who go the extra mile!
Q: We know your Cape2Rio DOT Row was a huge challenge which had never been undertaken before. Why was that important for launching the “DOT – Do 1 Thing” mobile app?
A: When an individual needs to get the world’s attention, running a marathon won’t do it. Only doing something that has never been done before—and is deemed impossible—will make the world stand up and take notice. Since I’m addressing a worldwide issue, I needed to create an opportunity to invite all people to be part of the solution towards a sustainable future.
Q: Can you give us an idea of the scope this expedition from before you ever left shore to the more public ocean crossing?
A: Any expedition (even the expedition of one’s life journey) will be filled with obstacles. If your vision or dream is big enough, no obstacle will stop you. Losing two rowing partners weeks before this mammoth undertaking represents just a few of my obstacles in the long run-up. I could have said, “Oh, well, this is not to be.” Instead, I said, “I will go on my own if I can’t find a new rowing partner inside of five days.”
Q: How were you able to find a partner (and on short notice) to take on such a dangerous commitment?
A: Wayne Robertson is a boat-builder by profession and a longtime friend who assisted me in getting the boat ready for the expedition. I believe in faith and good intention. I called him a few days before departure (having already decided to go alone). Jokingly, I asked if he was keen to join me. He said “Yes.” Fortune favors the brave.
Q: How do you view the ocean after your recent encounter?
A: The highlight of my day was when I could leave the tiny boat and dive into the cleanest, deepest, bluest, and biggest swimming pool on earth. The humility was overwhelming. I experienced a deep connection with my purpose and with the planet when there were 12 meters breaking waves high above us. The fear and greatness of nature reminded me constantly of how much I have to be grateful for.
Every second breath we take comes from marine plant life found in the ocean. We need to protect it at all costs. All too often, we see the ocean as this vast flat place, yet it is our very lifeblood. If we destroy the oceans, we destroy ourselves. All life is made of interconnected molecular structures; when we break these intricate balances, we break our interconnectivity and, ultimately, ourselves.
Q: On the bad days, how did you fight through the doubt and discouragement?
A: On tough days, I would dig deep into my mind and remind myself of my purpose: to be the greatest asset I can be to the earth. Often, I felt guided in my epic task.
If I had to name just one life lesson from this journey it would be this: There is no failure except to not try again. In your ASEA business, you will have many setbacks, but if your vision is big enough, you will look back on the so-called obstacles and see them as invaluable life lessons.