Think with Footprint: Lessons from Another World

Published on November 26, 2019 by Thomas Rowson

Isaac Kenyon is a busy man. As a professional geologist and philanthropic adventurer, he can often be found on the speaking circuit or on radio interviews, often under his moniker of Mr Enthusiasm which is how he is found on social media. 

Tom J and I met Isaac at TEDxChelmsford earlier this year, where all three were speakers on the day’s programme. Isaac was the very last speaker of the day, a difficult time to go but his talk, all about getting time away from screens, was very insightful and interesting. He also spoke about some of the amazing challenges he has completed in recent years, which we were all desperate to learn more about, and so Isaac joined us for our first Think with Footprint session in what felt like a long time.

Think with Footprint

The Think with Footprint series was created because we have an insatiable appetite for learning and teaching. We love having someone come in to impart pearls of wisdom to our team, and the lectures span a broad range of topics; each and every one of them is intended to broaden our minds and stimulate our senses. It’s kind of like having our own TEDxFootprint.

After hearing him talk and getting to know him afterwards as well, I knew that we had to get Isaac in for a Think with Footprint lecture, which he kindly agreed to. The team were excited to have him in the office to speak with us, especially those who had attended TEDx in May and wanted to hear more. He did not disappoint.

Isaac’s Adventures

Isaac has been on some pretty incredible adventures in the last few years, and it’s all thanks to someone asking him – if you knew that you were going to die in five years’ time, what do you want to have done with your life? It’s quite a daunting question that I think would be the root of a lot of reflection for just about everybody, and the things that Isaac has done since are all down to this. We felt tired just hearing about the challenges he had taken on, including swimming the English Channel in a relay team with no wetsuit and summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in 4 days. However, it was Isaac’s most recent expedition that we heard the most about, and for good reason.

Four people in a boat

Having never done anything like it before, over the end of last year he found himself rowing the Atlantic in 40 days as part of a small team of just 4 people. Just getting to the start sounded hard enough, as the team had to raise £80,000 to cover the costs of the trip, as well as getting themselves physically prepared for the trip. During their training, Isaac and his teammate Ben accidentally broke the record for the longest continual use of a rowing machine! 

It’s a very bold thing to take on, and Isaac told us that he ‘said yes to rowing the Atlantic Ocean as it fit my values. It was challenging, it required a heavy amount of learning, it helped others and even people we as a team never met.’ Challenging certainly sounded like the right word. They set themselves an ambitious target for when they wanted to finish, and met it to the very day. The whole way they had little chance for sleep, calluses developing on their hands, and a horizon that stayed consistent for days – and the celebs think it is tough in the jungle!

What we’ve learnt

It was an amazing story to hear, told in an engaging and dynamic manner, but what the team loved the most were the various lessons Isaac had for us for things that we could use in our everyday life. There were setbacks in raising the sponsorship, but they adapted their approach and found a new way. Everything they did, they wanted to do it in a way that had never been done before, as the record-breaking rowing machine gym trip more than shows. What was inspiring was the idea of saying ‘yes’ to something if you wanted to do it, no matter how hard the journey to get there.

Four men holding banner, cheering

Above all, the thing that came out of Isaac’s talk was the value of teamwork. There is no way they would have been able to do that trip without being an exceptional team, especially confined to such a small space together for such a long time. The team were from all different walks of life, and Isaac told us about a trip they had to Scotland where they had an intense ‘getting to know you’ session – they had to know everything about each other, even knowing each other better than they knew themselves. That way they could find their strengths and weaknesses, and know when to provide what type of support.

I’m not sure that you’ll find us racing each other across the ocean any time soon, but this Think with Footprint session did give us a lot to think about and inspired us to find a challenge to take on, and taught us a new angle for teamwork as well. I loved the opportunity to invite Isaac down to talk to the team and we’re really grateful for his time.

As for Isaac’s next adventure? Well, we’ll actually be bringing you news about it in early 2020, so keep your eyes peeled! If this has inspired you, check out our other Think with Footprint speakers and tell us your next adventure in the comments below!

Four men holding flares on a boat cheering