Unreasonable At Sea

Lesson #1: Time with Intention

 Lesson #1 from Our Series: 13 Countries, 13 Lessons at Sea

As we departed from San Diego back on January 7th, amidst the excitement and energy surrounding what was to come, Taylor and I both set about settling into our life on the ship, in the wonderful 5th deck cabin we now call home.

One of the very first challenges we encountered, and have still been struggling with for the entire journey, has been time management.

Time passes very differently when you’re living on a ship. There are no weeks or weekends here, just A days and B days, which allow for alternating schedules day to day.  Meal times are constant, and everyone is present all the time (since we’re all stuck on a ship together), yet it is often impossible to find people.

Working conditions can be difficult; because as a team we don’t have any “off” time, and the second we step out of our room both Taylor and I are usually bombarded with logistics and operations questions.

In addition, with connectivity ranging from “I can’t believe we can skype in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!” to hours spent on a single email or transaction, time required for any task has been incredibly unpredictable.


Given these challenges and new perspectives of time as it passes on the ship, Taylor and I have learned a HUGE lesson for how to value time for ourselves and for each other:

LESSON #1: Time Valued comes with intention

>>  Learn how to ASK FOR TIME

In our opinion, time is the most valuable resource everyone has, and when you live in a completely blended work/life environment, you have to evaluate time commitments on a totally different level.

For example, we learned early on that waking up and diving right into an intense work/team conversation in our room was not the best way to start our day. Instead, we learned to put on different “hats” for different times. Sometimes we’re wearing a work hat, other times we’re wearing a friend hat, and yet other times a roommate hat. And for each one, we need to clearly communicate what hat we want to wear, and what we need from others to share time effectively.

Over the course of this voyage, by setting time with intention and putting on different hats, we’re learning how to easily switch between a teammate cranking out gyshido time, an operations resource for our community, and a friend offering a shoulder to cry on.


So our takeaway lesson #1 sailing from San Diego  (& our brief stop in Ensenada) was:


Wear different hats,

(Clearly communicate what kind of time you are in,

And ASK for time, 

And the kind of time you need from those around you.)


Thanks for reading through, more lessons learned coming soon!

From our “office” on the high seas,

Taylor Rowe & Shira B

Categories: ALL Entries, Life Lessons, Social Entrepreneurship, Unreasonable At Sea | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

13 Countries, 13 Lessons at Sea (A New Project)

13 countries. 109 days. 1 ship. 10 ventures. 20 mentors.
1 belief that entrepreneurship will change the world.
Working from the MV Explorer, Unreasonable at Sea

Working from the MV Explorer, Unreasonable at Sea

As we’ve sailed across the globe on the team for Unreasonable at Sea, my roommate Taylor and I wonder whether our greatest lessons have been about the world outside or about ourselves.

Working, living, and travelling together has challenged us in more ways than we could ever have anticipated, and now that the finish line is in sight, we think it’s time to start reflecting on the biggest lessons learned from the voyage, particularly those at the intersection of self, team, and community.

So we’re about to embark on a new writing project. 13 posts, 13 lessons, one for each country visited along the way.

Feel free to follow our journey, share your own insights, and help us learn as much as we can from this incredible adventure.

From our “office” on the high seas,

Taylor Rowe & Shira B

Categories: ALL Entries, Life Lessons, Social Entrepreneurship, Unreasonable At Sea | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Journey of One Day

A day can mean quite a lot. Especially when you happen to spend your days traveling around the world, on a ship.


In life with Unreasonable at Sea, the days can be complicated, emotionally, mentally and physically draining, and more often than not, overwhelmingly inspiring.


The work that we do is challenging, mostly because of the environment and circumstances under which we work:

Imagine working with your coworkers every single day, without even a full 24 hours of break time.

And living with them.

Not just as housemates, but as roommates.

In tiny compartment rooms,

On a ship,

As you travel to 13 countries,

Creating events and programming around the world.


Perhaps one of the most challenging roles I have ever had with regard to a working environment, Unreasonable at Sea has also become a gateway to understanding, and an opening for some of the most incredible experiences in my life.


I’m not sure that an “average day at sea” even exists, but perhaps today is a good example:

The day began with a rocky start, with some complex logistical and systematic challenges, including new travelers, new visa issues, and new event details to send out.

It dipped significantly into an intense, emotional conversation with some of my teammates about current team dynamics and disturbing upcoming changes, and left me feeling drained and distraught just in time for lunch.

Lunch on the ship was shared with friends Matt & Shawna from the Unreasonable at Sea Media Team, filled with hilarious stories of in-country travel (And for anyone who knows Pedro Delgado Ortiz, you know how hilarious and crazy the story must be!), and followed by a quiet ride into town in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Next a nice stroll around the city center, ending at a beautiful hotel, that included coffee and most importantly, free Wi-Fi.

After a wonderful lobby-work session (aka gyshido time), with classical music playing in the background and a powerful rooftop poolside discussion with my teammate/roommate/amazing friend, Taylor Rowe, I finally felt clarity about the earlier team issues.

As evening approached, an adventure through streets filled with lights and celebrations for the new year led me to the very best part of my day, one of the most inspiring dinners I have had yet, shared with Khalida Brohi.


Khalida is one of the bravest people I have ever met, responding to the death of her friend and her background growing up in the beautiful yet restrictive environment of a tribal area in Pakistan with conviction to speak out against honor killings, violence, and injustice and to use her venture, Sughar to create tangible change that reaches over one million women.


Our rather happenchance dinner included delicious Vietnamese food combined with a shared space for ideas, thoughts, and reflections, with topics including spirituality, religion, traditions, entrepreneurship, funny stories, painful stories, and intense and determined hope for the future.


Each new day at sea is a challenge; each new day is an adventure.


One of my wise and wonderful teammates and mentors, Laura Anne Edwards, said the following back when we were walking around Kyoto, Japan:

“I promised myself I would never have another ‘gray’ day. Days could be good or bad, have ups and downs, but I wouldn’t waste any more time on days that I won’t remember. No matter what, it has to be memorable.”


Days working for Unreasonable at Sea have perhaps more ups and downs than I have ever experienced. But I find Laura’s words could not be more true of this journey; the days we spend on this voyage are some of the most beautiful, terrifying, and memorable that I have ever seen.


How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives


– Annie Dillard

Categories: ALL Entries, Unreasonable At Sea | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NOTES BY SHIRABEE: Unreasonable at Sea!

Categories: ALL Entries, Notes By ShiraBee, Unreasonable At Sea | Leave a comment

From Constraints to Creativity

My role in designing structures for Unreasonable at Sea


As the oh-so official scheduling & logistics guru on board the MV Explorer (also known as the Associate Director for Unreasonable at Sea) my days are centered around one overwhelming challenge:


(1) TAKE: 20+ radical, forward thinking, unreasonable entrepreneurs


(2) DESIGN:  structures, schedules & programming


—>   THAT RESULT IN = one epic, creative environment for rapid ideation





The first way I usually describe my role in this process is with an example:



Main Objective [MO]:  Get our incredible, out-of-the-box thinking, rule-breaking, unreasonable entrepreneurs, & our entire team (40+ people representing 12+ different countries) to successfully gain entry to all 14 port stops along our voyage.


Action Items:

  • Ensure completion of all necessary forms & processes for customs & immigration
  • Convince last-minute planners to set their travel plans in advance (as much as possible)
  • Ensure each traveler obtains all necessary visas & permits to enter 12 different countries around the world (with different regulations and requirements based on citizenship, region, and feelings of the person who happens to be at customs that day)


While I would consider our work on this challenge to be exceptionally successful both at the front end of our voyage and as we continue to encounter new surprises & regulations along the way, it is clear even in description that I am using the typical method of addressing operational challenges:


(1) Visualize the objectives

(2) Develop a strategy

(3) Turn plans into action


And while this method has worked relatively well previously, in traveling around the world with a community of design-thinking, unreasonable people, I am learning to evaluate this strategy in a radically new way.  On the ops team for U@Sea (which consists of myself + the incredible Chief of Staff, Taylor Rowe) we are pushed to go beyond the method mentioned of addressing challenges, and to leap out into the environment of experimentation design that exists on this unique voyage.


Because when you work for a creative entrepreneurial community, it isn’t simply about getting the logistical and scheduling tasks completed; the real challenge is how to take the logistical aspects of the voyage, and turn them into opportunities for increased creativity.


How do you set up daily schedules and logistical tasks in a way that will actually ENHANCE the creative atmosphere rather than stifling it?


Turns out, logistics and structures are not so opposite to creativity after all. As I have learned in our daily workshops on board, one of the core principles to design thinking is as follows:


Constraints inspire creativity.



So the new [MO] for our U@Sea Ops team is to:

Take a constraint, of which there are many as we logistically navigate across the globe, and turn it into a design challenge; a communal experiment for how to operate most effectively and creatively on a world-traveling ship.


As our 10 teams of entrepreneurs rapidly prototype various elements of their projects and solve challenges daily, our U@Sea team is learning to work with the same principles to address the challenges of running the program.



As George Kembel (our co-founder of U@Sea, founder of Stanford’s d.school of innovation, and someone for whom my admiration seems to build daily,) stated in our very first team meeting in San Diego:


When you begin to frame each project, each encounter as a learning experience, everything changes.


Working in a logistical, operations-heavy job at Unreasonable at Sea, I am reminded daily that no matter what role we play in our community or in life, we are all challenged to push ourselves to experiment and learn in every way possible, and to take on the opportunity to design our experience. 

Categories: ALL Entries, Uncategorized, Unreasonable At Sea | 1 Comment

Designing a Message: User > Need > Insight

In the very first content workshop for Unreasonable at Sea, we heard from Inc Magazine’s most creative person in education, George Kembel about how to truly design your message, and get back to the core purpose of  your company’.

George described a three-part process:

1. USER:

The target of your business activity that must be reframed as a PERSON, not a demographic. They must be addressed as human being through emotional connection and empathy.

“The end user isn’t always the person we tend to call end user, it’s the person who is absolutely delighted that your product exists.” – GEORGE KEMBEL

Lesson 1: Think about the user in terms of a human being facing a challenge, a person with fears, hopes, and a lack of options at their immediate disposal.

2. NEED:

 Too often we believe we are discussing the need, when in fact we are talking about the solution. For example, when a girl wants to pick an apple from a tree, we would say that she NEEDs a ladder. But the ladder is actually the solution. The NEED is for the apple because she is hungry. Or for height in order to reach food.


It is only in the last stage of the process that we finally gain insight to a solution. And even this solution should be what George calls an “agnostic solution.” Because once you realize that the need is separate from the single solution you’ve developed, when things don’t work out, when you need to pivot or completely revamp your entire product, you still have the same core basis for existence and the flexibility to go back to the drawing board to choose a new solution.

While these of course are extremely valuable lessons in business, perhaps most impressive is how much this thought process can change the way we live our lives in all spheres.

If we dig deep enough to understand  (1) that we are human beings, imperfect and in need and (2) what the need actually is, we can continue to develop solutions, test their resilience, and revert back to the drawing board in a process of continual growth. Solutions need no longer be permanent, but rather a process of rapid ideation.

As Herbert Otto famously states,

Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.

As long as your core WHY, your personhood and your need are clarified, the rest becomes a creative pathway  leading you to continuous personal growth.

Until Next Time,


A now sea-fairing ShiraBee

Categories: ALL Entries, Social Entrepreneurship, Unreasonable At Sea | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.