Ocean Rower, Author & Sustainability Advocate
Her feats have been described by Sir Richard Branson as “Heroic, epic, inspiring, historic.” Best known as the first (and so far only) woman to row solo across the world’s “Big Three” oceans - the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian - Rosalind Savage inspires audiences to think again about what is possible, and encourages them to step up fully into the potential of their highest selves. Read More >
Why I'm rowing across the Pacific
An Ocean's Rower Perspective
Taking on a big challenge - be it organizational change, project implementation, a complex negotiation, or an ocean - can be daunting. Motivation, courage and resilience are essential, but don’t always show up on demand, especially when external factors throw the best laid plans into disarray. When Roz was making her maiden voyage as an ocean rower, across the Atlantic, she experienced a steep learning curve as she faced storms, setbacks, equipment failures, loss of communication, and her inner demons of self-doubt and self-criticism. In this inspiring presentation, she shares the very practical tips she discovered on how to strengthen mindset and find motivation in even the most challenging of circumstances, ultimately enabling her to row solo across 3,000 miles of hostile ocean.
Drawing on materials from a course she taught at Yale on Courage in Theory and Practice, Roz shows why the world needs courage now more than ever, as we face an increasingly uncertain future. She offers practical techniques for overcoming fear to serve our highest purpose. Her central premise is that courage is not the absence of fear - in fact, there are times when fear is a perfectly rational response to circumstances - but when our motivation is great enough, we are able to move past our fear to courageously do what is right. Courage is having the right mix of moral energy and calm decision-making that supports bold yet wise action. Roz often felt fear on the ocean - facing waves so huge they often capsized her boat, simultaneously losing the use of both her watermakers, risking missing landfall on a tiny island in the vast Pacific - all while knowing that the nearest vessel could be several days away. She was able to overcome her fears by reconnecting to her greater purposes - her environmental mission, and the desire to live her life as fully as possible. This presentation will inspire audiences to step up into their highest potential as forces for good in the world.
VUCA is a military acronym, meaning situations that are Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex, and Ambiguous - much like many business environments. How can we thrive in such uncertain times? By learning to lead ourselves with strength, courage and calmness, no matter what is going on around us. Roz presents an alternative VUCA - Vision and Values, Ultimate Flexibility, Courage, and Awareness - to help business leaders keep themselves and their organisations on an even keel throughout the storms of change.
As individuals and organisations, even as families, communities, and countries, we hold an underlying story about who we are. Consciously or subconsciously, for better or worse, we make true in our external world whatever we beliefs we hold in our internal world. Sometimes these narratives only become apparent when we produce a surprising - even shocking - result. As an individual, this surprise might look like a self-sabotaging action. As a company, it may look like a PR fiasco. As a country, it may look like a shock election result. The good news is that, once we become aware of these narratives, we can change them in order to craft the outcomes that we want. In her mid-thirties, Roz went through a major personal transformation, from an unhappy management consultant to a world class ocean rower and environmental campaigner. She shares how she changed her operational narrative in order to create a life of achievement, meaning and purpose, and invites us all to reconsider the reality that we are creating for ourselves - and to take control of it.
Creating a sustainable future for humanity has been a driving force in Roz’s ocean rowing career. While on the ocean, she used her blogs and other social media to raise awareness of the most pressing threats facing the future wellbeing of people and planet. She advocates a “deep ecology” approach, likening these environmental threats to a many-headed sea monster; we can keep cutting off the heads representing plastic pollution, deforestation, ocean acidification, and so on, but the monster will simply grow new ones. What we need to do is get to the heart of the monster - the disconnect between humans and nature. Once we acknowledge that we are part of the wider web of life, the pathway to sustainability becomes clear. Roz draws on her firsthand experiences of the awesome power and beauty of nature, coupled with her perception that our planet is surprisingly small. She also reminds us that, just like the 5 million oarstrokes it took her to cross three oceans, one oar stroke may not get us very far, but millions of tiny actions add up to huge transformation, so every action really does count.
"Roz recently spoke to Gannett employees about ways to face stormy seas on the path to transforming our business. Her lessons in grit and perseverance will help anyone navigating today’s rapidly evolving business landscape."
"Roz was energetic, passionate, engaging and real. Her connection with both our employees and our clients, and the dialogue it sparked both within the room and beyond was tremendous. Everyone left with a little optimistic spring in their step, inspired to make changes and live their lives a little differently. It was an amazing experience to share her world for that hour."
"Women were still talking about you after the conference ended. What a tremendous inspiration you were, and are, to all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
"I’ve been in the radio business over 30 years and have produced countless interviews, but yours was one of the most beautiful. And memorable."
"Our time together was very special for us. You are a natural presenter and so quick on your feet. You adapt to the audience and your delivery is so natural. You make it appear effortless which is the mark of a true professional. I was taking presentation notes the entire time you were with the WPO chapter."
"Last night you provided and elegant and graceful performance that charmed us all. You are a fantastic ambassador for the rowing world and for those of us who care so passionately about the ocean and the environment."
"A captive audience of 400 adolescent boys is a very hard sell, but Roz connected in a way that most public speakers only aspire to. Of course the story itself (and the video footage) was riveting, and her solo crossing was an extraordinary achievement, but it was Roz’ warmth, humor, accessibility and authenticity that captured our hearts. When Roz drove away in her little yellow truck, she left behind an energized and inspired community."
"When I booked Ocean Rower Roz Savage to speak as part of the University Lectures 2012-13 season, I assumed our audience would see some of her amazing photos and hear of her incredible adventures of fortitude, endurance, and strength, and that’s exactly what we heard—that and a whole lot more. What we learned from Roz was to question the status quo of our lives; to examine our lives and have the faith and courage to step outside our comfort zone and redefine our priorities. An ardent environmentalist, Roz encouraged the audience, but especially our students, to use their power to change the world for the better, replacing conspicuous consumption with conservation. She challenged our students to search for their dream and to realize they all have a bigger purpose than to simply get stuck in the career path that is expected of them.
Our audiences are composed of both campus community and the greater Syracuse community. Roz’s message spoke to everyone. She captivated the audience, held us spellbound, and left us with an enduring and heartfelt message. Then, the next morning, she did the same thing with several hundred middle school students. Roz is an amazing speaker but she would claim she is just an ordinary woman. However, if that’s true, she is an ordinary woman who took it upon herself to do extraordinary things. She has many fans in Syracuse who are now waiting to see what she will do next. Inviting Roz Savage to be part of the University Lectures schedule was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I recommend her highly."