Larry Jacobson, The Speaker Show

Episode 220

Larry Jacobson, Award-winning author, circumnavigator, adventurer and inspiring speaker

Episode 220

Larry Jacobson, Award-winning author, circumnavigator, adventurer and inspiring speaker

Larry Jacobson – From CEO to Sailor

In this episode of #TheSpeakerShow, Maria Franzoni interviews Larry Jacobson. Larry is an award-winning author, speaker, adventurer and coach. He has 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, customer happiness, advancing from salesman to CEO. He has become one of the most in-demand coaches for top CEO’s and entrepreneurs. After six years and over 50,000 miles under the keel, he has also earned the titles of expert sailor and circumnavigator.

What does it take to survive a brutal storm in a small sailboat? Could you muster the perseverance to stay at the helm for 36 hours? How much are you willing to risk to make your dreams come true? Could you stay focused on one goal for six years?

You’re about to discover how the disciplines used to sail a boat around the world are the same ones needed in your business, career, and your personal life. Larry has swum with both real and business sharks, and yes, even poisonous sea snakes. He has also survived storms in business and at sea. He has achieved unstoppable performance in both his personal and professional life and shares with you how to adopt the mindset to achieve greatness in your life.

In this fascinating episode, we discuss a range of his views on issues including:

  • Unstoppable Performance
  • Leadership
  • Redefining Retirement
  • Traits to succeed in business (and sailing)

Episode audio & transcript

Connect with Speakers Associates

Maria Franzoni

00:00:17 – 00:01:11

Welcome back to The Speaker Show with me your host Maria Franzoni. In today’s show, we’ll be talking about unstoppable performance and how to adapt your mindset to achieve greatness in your life. This podcast is brought to you by Speakers Associates, the global Speaker Bureau for the world’s most successful organisations, providing keynote speakers for events, conferences and summits. What does it take to survive a brutal storm in a small sailboat? Could you muster perseverance to stay at the helm for 36 hours? How much are you willing to risk to make your dreams come true? Could you stay focused on one goal? For six years? After six years and over 50,000 miles under the keel, my guest has earned the titles of expert sailor and Circum Navigator. He also has 30 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer happiness. Advancing from salesman to CEO.

Maria Franzoni

00:01:11 – 00:01:26

You’re about to discover how the disciplines used to sail a boat around the world are the same as those needed in your business career and personal life. Please welcome my guest, Larry Jacobson. How lovely it is to see you. How are you today?

Larry Jacobson

00:01:26 – 00:01:28

Excellent. Doing very well.

Maria Franzoni

00:01:28 – 00:01:41

Fantastic, Larry. You always look great whenever I see you. So listen, I want to dive straight into your story because it’s an incredible story. Why is it such a big challenge? Would you say to sail a boat around the world?

Larry Jacobson

00:01:41 – 00:02:40

Okay. Well, first of all, to prove that only about 60 people a year actually complete circumnavigation. And so, uh, you know, I mean, hundreds climbing Mount Everest. So it’s, uh it is a big challenge. And a lot of it is, I would say weather is a big challenge. Breakdowns both physical on the boat. Um uh, engines, autopilot, whatever. Mental breakdowns like this is really, really difficult. I don’t know if I can go on, um, expense, Uh, and time You have to put all of those things together with with knowledge, Um, and with with not enough knowledge, because nobody leaves the dock knowing everything they need to know to sail around the world. So you just go anyway, so that’s kind of a big challenge as well.

Maria Franzoni

00:02:40 – 00:02:57

Wow. You know, I had no idea it was only 60 people a year. I had never crossed my mind. Um wow, that’s amazing. And Also, I can imagine that the preparation must be huge as well as it is to climb Everest. But it must be really quite intense preparation.

Larry Jacobson

00:02:57 – 00:03:19

It is, I think, Well, I think that I was preparing my whole life, you know? I mean, I wanted to to sail around the world ever since I was 13 years old when I first stepped foot in a little tiny sailboat and, uh, you know, that’s that’s just the ultimate sailing journey. Um, yeah, it’s quite a challenge.

Maria Franzoni

00:03:19 – 00:03:33

Wow. So in the introduction, and also when you speak, you tell us that there are similar traits required to succeed in business and sell around the world. Can you share with me what some of those traits are?

Larry Jacobson

00:03:33 – 00:04:31

Tenacity? Tenacity is a big one, and I’ve discovered that tenacity is best learned from practise, and I don’t think anybody is born having a tonne of patience and tenacity. So, um, patients. And that’s something that we used to be one of my strong suits. But when you’re waiting three weeks for parts sitting in an Anchorage in Indonesia, just about to drag onto the rocks and you have no engine, you learn to be patient. Um, leadership. I learned a lot about leadership, and I speak a lot about that, um, leadership being a leader is different than being a boss. Uh, leadership is getting people to buy into your way of thinking and your project or whatever it is you’re doing, rather than telling them what we’re going to do.

Larry Jacobson

00:04:31 – 00:04:46

So, like with my partner, uh, can we had, you know, I had to be the leader, but we both needed to be doing basically, uh, leadership activities to keep the boat moving.

Maria Franzoni

00:04:46 – 00:05:13

I can see all those parallels being really important. I’m not very patient, by the way. But yes, you can see that. Yeah. Yeah, but yes, I can see that So I can see that that would work very well. Brilliant. And and so I imagine that audiences, business audiences appreciate when you share your stories about sailing and they recognise actually recognise. That’s something that we have in business too. They recognise the parallels.

Larry Jacobson

00:05:13 – 00:05:26

Absolutely. I like to say that my my traits and my my theories of, you know about these things are boardroom and ocean tested.

Maria Franzoni

00:05:26 – 00:05:30

You actually got both your business. So But also

Larry Jacobson

00:05:30 – 00:05:35

I was going to say one more thing, which I would say that, um, learning how to deal with fear.

Maria Franzoni

00:05:35 – 00:05:53

That’s what’s gonna I was gonna ask you that because I’m petrified of water. Personally, I’m not a great swimmer. Obviously, you’re a great swimmer. Otherwise you wouldn’t surely go out on a boat. But your your first Ted talk was actually called Passion trumps fear. I mean, does it really? Can you Can you really manage your fears? Because you’re passionate about something.

Larry Jacobson

00:05:53 – 00:05:55

You don’t have any choice.

Maria Franzoni

00:05:55 – 00:05:56

Okay,

Larry Jacobson

00:05:56 – 00:06:51

so you either become brave or you turn around out there. I mean, it’s just there is, because we were I would say that I was afraid. Let’s see, only on days that ended in a Y. Uh huh. I was afraid for six years, literally every day for six years, because you don’t know what I mean. Whether it be weather, a breakdown, um, crew issues, uh, not knowing the language where we’re going to anchor tonight where? Gee, I don’t know. It’s the right place. We don’t speak the language. Uh, there’s a lot to be afraid of, and there’s 1000 ways to die out there, so I learned that you can’t just wish the fear away, and you can’t. This is my theories of fear. Other people have other theories of fear.

Larry Jacobson

00:06:51 – 00:07:24

But I believe that in order to manage those fears you have to embrace, you have to recognise that you’re afraid. Then you have to embrace it. And you have to actually just say, Well, I yes, I am afraid. And you learn to live with that. And you realise that fear actually helps you. In some ways, it keeps you sharp. It keeps you focused. And, you know, it’s kind of nature’s way of making you focus on the task at hand. And, um so that’s what I learned to do. I just learned to say, Well, I’m afraid. Okay. So what? Keep going?

Maria Franzoni

00:07:24 – 00:07:50

Yeah. Wow. And I can see that that that parallel in business again. And certainly when there’s so much uncertainty. So there’s uncertainty out. When you’re in the ocean, you don’t know what the weather is going to be. You don’t know what the conditions are gonna be. You don’t know where you know when you when you land. As you said, will you be understood? And it’s the same in business, and we’ve been navigating through so much uncertainty recently. So the parallel is incredibly strong. A lot of fear for leaders at the moment. And for people generally.

Larry Jacobson

00:07:50 – 00:08:03

Yeah, well, and the unknown is certainly fearful. It’s also exciting. Not like the unknown. With Covid. That’s not exciting. No, that’s just scary.

Maria Franzoni

00:08:03 – 00:08:23

Yeah, we’re not excited about that at all. Let’s not. Let’s not mention that again, Right? Let’s leave. That will park that would stay in the beautiful Blue Ocean instead. Oh, my goodness. So you’ve also as well as speaking and sailing and having been a successful businessman, you write as well Tell me about some of the books you’ve written.

Larry Jacobson

00:08:23 – 00:08:28

Yes, sure. You know, it’s funny. I happen to have them here.

Maria Franzoni

00:08:28 – 00:08:33

You do? We can’t see them on the podcast. You’re gonna have to tell us what they’re called,

Larry Jacobson

00:08:33 – 00:09:23

right? Just hold it up. No. Well, the first one is the boy behind the gate, and that’s the story of my six year sailing journey around the world. And it’s, uh, it’s rather I think, inspiring and motivating. I get at least an email a month or every used to be like emails every week and that people are saying, Well, thanks, Larry, because of your book. I have now dot, dot dot and I’ve heard I’ve gotten a divorce. I’ve gotten married, I’ve gone sailing. I’ve changed my career and just giving people the strength to know that. Hey, he did it. I can do it, too, because when I left, I didn’t have any role models. I didn’t have any models to look at to say, Well, how do you just leave being an executive to go be a sailing bum?

Larry Jacobson

00:09:23 – 00:09:38

You know that that loss of identity is a big aspect, a big change, big transition. So anyway, that’s what that book is. And then I wrote another one, Um, then I wrote a Children’s book of this.

Maria Franzoni

00:09:38 – 00:09:40

This was lovely last year.

Larry Jacobson

00:09:40 – 00:10:37

Is this Children’s story of two guys, two boys shale? It will sail around the world. It’s called Let’s Go and it’s for middle school, like about 8 to 12 year olds, and it’s really fun. That was fun to write and then back to back to business is navigating entrepreneurship, 11 proven keys to success, and in in all of these books there are lessons for the Children’s book, especially. I wanted to focus on friendship and trust and taking care of each other. And, um, you know, honesty and also the fear factor and trying to teach kids good traits as they’re growing up. Um, and there’s lessons in the entrepreneurship book and in the other book, again learned from being etc and something as simple as pulling into an Anchorage.

Larry Jacobson

00:10:37 – 00:11:20

And you realise that all the other boats are anchored over on that side of the Anchorage and you think you want to anchor here, you better stop and think, Why are the boats anchored over there? Mm. Well, you look around and you look at the wind and the shore and where you are in position to it, and you realise well, this is a fine place to be anchored. I don’t know what’s the matter with them. And then if you carry that thought further, you say. But wait a minute. What could the wind b. Maybe they know something. I don’t know. You turn on the weather forecast and you realise the winds about to change, and that’s why they’re over there. So it’s digging deep and investigating, and, you know, it’s all. Whether it’s business or sailing, it’s the same.

Maria Franzoni

00:11:20 – 00:11:35

Fantastic. And tell me a little bit because you touched on the fact that you, you know, you gave up a successful business career to go sailing. I mean, that must have taken some courage in itself to do that. That was Was there any fear related to that, or were you certain with that decision?

Larry Jacobson

00:11:35 – 00:11:49

Mm. I was certain of the decision, and it was scary. Yeah. I mean, I left everything. I you know, I left my career, um, that I spent 20 years building. I was in the events planning business. So, um,

Maria Franzoni

00:11:49 – 00:11:53

so you understand what’s been going on for all of us business this year? Yeah, I

Larry Jacobson

00:11:53 – 00:12:43

understand. That is, I’ve hired a lot of speakers in my life. Yes, and most of our business with the international and I had travelled all around the world. Um, you know, I left my income and went from pretty good to zero in a day. Um, you know, my security. And when I say that I like to that’s like having a car in the driveway or the local grocery knowing your name. You know that security. Um and I left my home. I left my partner, Um, and I left, uh, my identity. You know who I was. I mean, going from an executive CEO of a company, and then all of a sudden, I’m out. It was a challenge. Um, it really was. I mean, there was going to CEO, and now I’m singing. You know, uh, Margaritaville.

Maria Franzoni

00:12:43 – 00:12:48

I think Margaritaville sounds quite nice. Actually, Margaritas helped

Larry Jacobson

00:12:48 – 00:12:50

with the transition. I would say that.

Maria Franzoni

00:12:50 – 00:13:03

Fantastic. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. So when you’re invited to speak by clients, um, to events at conferences or internally, what are your one of the topics that they ask you to talk about?

Larry Jacobson

00:13:03 – 00:14:05

Um, one of the most popular is kind of like what I did with my first Ted. Talk about passion, living with passion and, uh, you know, unshackling your yourself from, you know, from, uh, what other people are telling you to do, living on your on your own terms. Leadership is a big one, of course, and I do workshops on leadership. I love talking about leadership. I love explaining how being a leader is not telling. It’s more like selling. Um, you know, selling your point of view. Um, and, uh, now the big subject is growing fast. Is transition into retirement Oh, and redefining what retirement really is? Um, in the United States, there are 10,000 new retirees every single day there will be for about the next 10 years or so,

Larry Jacobson

00:14:05 – 00:14:56

and that’s a that’s a lot of people retiring who are going from. I mean, if you’re president of a company and then all of a sudden you’re retiring, it’s pretty hard to go from that from being president to attending Euros is in one day. So there’s a transition process, and I do a lot of coaching with clients, um, and a lot with executives and executives in the C suite, because my opinion is that the higher you were in your career, the harder you fall in transition. And so it’s finding the encore someone’s encore. What are they doing next? What are they going to be doing after they retire? And what does retirement look like for them? Retirement, as we think of it, is old. Our parents may be retired, but they weren’t going to live all that long.

Larry Jacobson

00:14:56 – 00:15:07

Our generation is living. My generation is living 10 to 20 years longer than my parents, and and you are going to live 10 years longer than that

Maria Franzoni

00:15:07 – 00:15:13

become I’m older than you think is the cement.

Larry Jacobson

00:15:13 – 00:15:30

So it is a challenge. What? What? Um, I mean, if someone retires at 65 they’ve got 20 more years of life, what are you gonna do for 20 years? You know how much satisfaction, purpose and fulfilment can you get out of golf?

Maria Franzoni

00:15:30 – 00:15:55

You know, I think you’re going to be really busy with that topic. Because not only have you got many people retiring in the US, we’ve got lots of people retiring because it’s sort of. In fact, the older generation makes up a bigger part, a bigger proportion of our population here now than it ever did. Um, and, uh, I can’t see myself retiring at 65 or so. I’m going to keep going until until people get rid of me, I think because

Larry Jacobson

00:15:55 – 00:16:02

it’s a matter of of redefining retirement, that’s the name of my speeches. I say I call a redefined retirement. What’s your encore?

Maria Franzoni

00:16:02 – 00:16:03

Yeah, I like that.

Larry Jacobson

00:16:03 – 00:16:20

Yeah, It’s interesting for a lot of people. A lot of people haven’t thought about it. And usually people don’t think about it until they retire. And then they go. I’m just going to see how it goes. And for a year, they kind of see how it goes. And then then they look for a coach.

Maria Franzoni

00:16:20 – 00:16:29

Okay, Brilliant. Brilliant. We made a note of that. So leadership, retirement, um, you would also passion. Fantastic. Wonderful.

Larry Jacobson

00:16:29 – 00:16:45

Also, entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial traits that in entrepreneurship I’d like to talk about, uh, the the the bumpy road. What to expect? Because, you know, there’s a lot smoother.

Maria Franzoni

00:16:45 – 00:16:48

It’s not smooth sailing. Absolutely. And we keep coming back saying that

Larry Jacobson

00:16:48 – 00:16:54

it’s really it is. They’re so similar. The traits that are that are needed.

Maria Franzoni

00:16:54 – 00:17:09

Yeah, so So you’re focused totally for a long time about, you know, with that dream of sailing around the world when you accomplished it, how did that feel? And what are you going to do now to match that achievement

Larry Jacobson

00:17:09 – 00:17:11

was going well, you

Maria Franzoni

00:17:11 – 00:17:17

know? I mean, what do you do next after you’ve done that? So tell me, first of all, how you felt when you accomplished it, and then what’s next?

Larry Jacobson

00:17:17 – 00:18:27

Yeah. When when I completed the circumnavigation. Uh, it was I It’s hard to describe the feeling it was fulfilment. It was satisfaction. It was relief. Um, it was that feeling of achievement that, you know, you like standing on the on the gold medal platform and the Olympics or something that you did it. And the culmination of 33 years of building up for this, um and and then realising that we had made it because most people don’t most people don’t make it around the world. Um, it was quite self satisfying. That was good. It wasn’t what I was really looking for, which was self actualisation, you know? Wasn’t as high as I you know, I really wanted and what I found. Well, for years after my return, I felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

Larry Jacobson

00:18:27 – 00:19:12

I mean, because so much had changed so much in me had changed about my outlook of things, the way I view material possessions. Um, you know, I mean, I found the happiest people in the world are the ones that don’t have much. Yeah. So, um, the challenge and I was very aware of this, um, of this challenge for me is what’s next and I went in circles for years until a friend of mine who was the CEO called me up one day and he said, Can I talk to you? Can you give me some advice? And I said, Sure, So I went into his office and I said, So what do you need help with in your business? He goes, Oh, I don’t need help with the business. I know how to run that.

Larry Jacobson

00:19:12 – 00:20:02

I want to know how you retired. How did you go from CEO to sailor? Because I don’t know what to do when I retire, and that’s when I thought, Well, I can help you with that So I took a year off and I reversed. I studied and I reverse engineered all that I went through in that process, and that’s when I came up with my course. My video course sail into retirement, and that’s the big thing that I’ve created is, and it takes someone from, uh, gee, I don’t know what to do with my life all the way through to Here’s my plan, um, and that’s and that I created that in a year, and then I started that CEO told another CEO until another. Before I knew it, I was coaching C Suite executives into retirement. So yeah, that that

Larry Jacobson

00:20:02 – 00:20:34

is the one thing that I have found is replacing the journey because it gives me that self actualisation feeling that I’m doing, that I’m part of something larger than myself that I’m giving back that I’m helping other people untie their dock lines and for them to move on to the next portion of their life. That gives me great satisfaction now. So it’s not like, you know, like climbing a mountain. Now we’ll do it or something else. It is more internal and more more mental, and it’s quite nice. I’m enjoying it.

Maria Franzoni

00:20:34 – 00:20:53

I love that. I love that. I love the fact that you found that self actualisation and it comes back to what you did. The fact that you took that risk, you took that fear. You went off. You gave it all up. You went sailing. And now you’re helping other people to to make that transition. Isn’t it amazing? How it all comes around is great. I love it. It is,

Larry Jacobson

00:20:53 – 00:21:03

But I had to search for that. I mean, for years of wondering What am I doing? You know, I thought, Well, that could be an astronaut. I guess that could That could beat it, you know? But

Maria Franzoni

00:21:03 – 00:21:19

I think yes. Now, you know, William Shatner has done that now, hasn’t he? So So So tell me, Larry. What what takeaways would you like to leave our audience with? What are the big takeaways? Uh huh.

Larry Jacobson

00:21:19 – 00:22:18

Um, big takeaways are about managing fear that you cannot just plough through, You know? I mean, you can’t A lot of people say just, you know, plough through your fears, make them go away. They don’t go away. You can’t. You know you can’t tell a soldier on the field. Don’t be afraid. Just run into that machine gun nest. You know, it doesn’t. You are afraid. You have to learn to deal with your fears, and you learn to deal with it by by recognising when you’re afraid, and then embracing that fear. And that takes the power out of the fear. Um, I would say on leadership, just the biggest one that leadership is not telling it really is selling. Um, and the biggest one I think that I probably learned is that the only the only score card, in my opinion

Larry Jacobson

00:22:18 – 00:22:24

that counts. At the end is how much love you had in your life and how much love you gave.

Maria Franzoni

00:22:24 – 00:22:36

Oh, wow. What a wonderful What a wonderful sentiment to leave us on, how much love you had in your life and how much love you gave Larry. That’s lovely. You’re a bit of a romantic. I like that. Thank you so much.

Larry Jacobson

00:22:36 – 00:22:38

That’s wonderful.

Maria Franzoni

00:22:38 – 00:22:44

Listen, I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself is the time has sped past. Um, and

Larry Jacobson

00:22:44 – 00:22:48

I’ve got another half an hour if you want to go.

Maria Franzoni

00:22:48 – 00:23:16

Well, listen, I’m going to thank our listeners for listening in to the speaker’s show. And if they enjoyed this episode, if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating on apple podcasts, and you can keep up with the future episodes at I can’t even speak now future episodes on the Speakers Associates website and do get in touch with them in time to book Larry for your next event because he might be off sailing somewhere. So you get in there before he goes off sailing somewhere else. Larry. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Larry Jacobson

00:23:16 – 00:23:18

Thank you, Maria. I look forward to seeing you again.

Live interview

Maria Franzoni

WITH OUR PODCAST HOST

Maria Franzoni

Maria Franzoni is an established and recognised speaking industry expert and one of the most experienced speaker bookers in Europe.

As well as working with speakers, Maria also hosts live shows and podcasts. She currently hosts The Speaker Show podcast for Speakers Associates.

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