Dec. 17, 2022

146 Dave Ford: From Media Executive to Media Entrepreneur

My next guest is Dave Ford. He is the Founder of the Ocean Plastics Leadership Network.


In 2021 the OPLN launched the Global Treaty Dialogues, a global virtual summit series engineered to build capacity and understanding around a Global Plastics Treaty. Participants include one hundred forty organizations from 34 countries across the vast plastic stakeholder spectrum.


We talked about:

(05:14) Why getting fired as a media executive was the best thing that happened to him

(12:14) How ayahuasca helped him find healing with his pains with past relationship and job

(26:07) How wildlife expedition helped him fall in love with nature

(47:33) Why plastic corporations want to solve the plastic crisis

(49:32) What are the best metrics to measure corporate efforts to solve environmental challenges

(55:06) How is he able to put different stakeholders of the plastic crisis in the same room

(58:44) How he found his niche? What is the core offer of the OPLN?

(63:30) What is his success metric of the OPLN?

(69:09) What's his advice to the younger Dave who is at the crossroads of quitting corporate and starting his first business


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[00:00:00] CK: My next guest is de Ford is a former media executive is a fellow seeker is an accidental environmentalist. He's the founder of the ocean plastics leadership network with 108 organizations strong.

Welcome to the show, Dave, thanks so much for being

[00:00:16] Dave Ford: here. Thanks so much for having me really glad to be here.

[00:00:20] CK: Before we dive into the big problem that impacts us all ocean plastics, bring us back to the origin story. If you don't mind, you're a media executive making six figures working in New York, right?

[00:00:35] Dave Ford: Yeah. Yeah. I was in New York city.

[00:00:36] CK: Okay, good.

So what started you on this journey in the first place? Sure.

[00:00:41] Dave Ford: Yeah, so CK, I was working in New York city. I worked for this startup that had like a three year hockey stick where it just absolutely exploded. And I was ended up being one of the top sales guys in the [00:01:00] company, in, in New York.

So, you know, I lived in the west village. I was entertaining clients at like the top restaurants in New York city for years. That was like such a huge piece of my job. And. Yeah. After three years of meteoric rise, it all of a sudden, uh, wasn't rising so much. And I, yeah, it just sort of really, I think in the, in the midst of all of that really, uh, found myself quite an unhappy in my work.

Space and just kind of what I was doing every day. And, um, I had always wanted to get into travel and, you know, kind of going back a little bit further when I was 28 to 30, I, uh, quit my job and I traveled around the world for two years. Then I went to Antarctica. I went to the Amazon jungle. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

I did all this stuff that I just never dreamed I would have done. I grew up in Baltimore [00:02:00] and. Yeah. So essentially this really serendipitous thing happened when I was like 35, where I got a call from this Hungarian tour guide that I met in Antarctica. And he asked me to go into business with him. And, you know, at first I was just like, thought it was crazy, but like more and more, I thought about it, the more and more I am excited me.

And really that, that just completely random out of the blue phone call totally changed the, uh, the direction of my life.

[00:02:33] CK: Okay. So you're 35. You, weren't not happy doing your work. And this guy called you Hungary and tour guy called you and say, Hey, let's go into business. And you said yes. And just quit everything and jump right into the world of entrepreneurship.

[00:02:50] Dave Ford: Yeah, no, it didn't, it didn't quite happen like that. So it, um, yeah, so I. The guy's named Aakash Kiva. Covich [00:03:00] amazing guy. He's been to every country in the world. And I was with him on a two week tour to Antarctica that I just like randomly got on and found out how to get to Antarctica when I was like backpacking when I was 28.

And. You know, on that trip when you go to Antarctica, at least when I did. And I think this holds true, you get a lot of, you get a lot of like 75 plus it's, it's a type of trip that a lot of people do. Like I think it's cause it's very expensive and it's, uh, yeah, it's kind of one of those last bucket bucket list checks to do.

And for whatever reason, I think on that, on that trip that I was on, I would say. Under the under 50 audience, w I mean, I was probably like three people under 50, and I was like 28. So I ended up hanging out with the crew the entire time. I also, somehow didn't get seasick because when you cross the Drake passage, it's like the roughest seas in the entire world.

And I would say 90% of the people on that ship were like violently ill. And for some reason I wasn't. So I hung out with the crew who [00:04:00] also wasn't seasick. And I got to know everybody really well. And one of which was the, the onboard ornithologists, this guy by the name of and we stayed in touch and he does, he had been doing trips all over the world and he reached out to me and he just said, I'm looking for a partner in the U S uh, to help me, you know, bring more us business, you know, us clients into, into my, into my business.

And that really is what, like, again, that, that asked that kind of wild zoom meeting with him back then, Zoom didn't even really work very well. Uh, it might've been Skype. Um, but at first I was just like, just didn't think it was practical or possible. And the more and more I thought about it, the more and more, it just seemed to light something up inside of me.

And I didn't exactly know what I was getting into, you know, and, you know, we ended up partnering and raising some money to start with. That initiative, uh, where it was kind of like a collaborative [00:05:00] between, you know, his company and sort of what I wanted to do, but it wasn't easy by any means, you know? And actually, like I was try like planning to do all of this.

Um, and I, you know, my attention was definitely like kind of moving towards this. I ended up getting fired from that job, which was like one of the absolute best things that ever happened to me because I wasn't planning on just like quitting and just jumping into the deep end immediately. I was gonna like, try to figure out how to take it slowly.

And it didn't, uh, it didn't quite happen as I planned, but it sort of shot me out of a cannon. And I was in the deep end and I had no choice, but to like figure it out on the fly. And we started an expedition company at the time, uh, those called soul Buffalo. And, you know, it was all at the time when we first, when we first started, it was all about, you know, taking people to do the same types of experiences that I.

That I went through when I traveled the world that like really like opened me up to this whole new world. I had no idea, [00:06:00] uh, and like connection with the environment and certainly like a, in its initial impetus, like a certain spiritual, spiritual component, like, and that was what motivated me at the time and what was lighting me up.

And, um, we just went for it and that is the, I would, I would, you know, those moments I would like, that would be like the moment where we got into what I would call the, the rollercoaster and it started to move and all kinds of twists and turns after that.

[00:06:29] CK: Okay. So, so I'm going to pause for a moment. We're going to soul Buffalo, um, spiritual component expedition, you know, all of that in a moment, but put a pin on that, come in and come back to this.

So you were thinking about partnering on with this tour guide, basically being the lead gen mechanism for his tour company, right. You guys partner on do some kind of a thing there. Um, and then you got. Right from your previous media company, most people will say, all right, let me put a brick on [00:07:00] everything.

Let me just do the predictable, right. Go back to the media sales or whatever it is that I was doing. And whereas you double down on your niche and startup that you had no previous experience in doing. Can you zoom into that moment a bit? Will you marry at the time?

[00:07:17] Dave Ford: I was not luckily. So, uh, I was, you know, I was actually, I was my, my wife now wife and I, we were probably dating for like six months at the time, but no, no, no, no kid yet we weren't married


[00:07:29] CK: so.

Okay, great. So, so zoom into that moment. Tell us about the, the tension between the two, you know, the fork in the road. So to say.

[00:07:40] Dave Ford: Yeah. I mean, just a little backstory on the actual firing. Like I was one of the first people that got hired in the company and, you know, when you're in a startup and I think it was the 25th hire at the time they started bringing in a significant amount of revenue for the company, you know, your status sort of raises.

And like in, I think in the inflection point of any business, [00:08:00] there becomes a point where process and procedure, you know, sort of, you know, there's a, there's a, there's the point where the sort of top sales. In a company, um, sort of like rise it up. And then it gets to a point where process and procedure comes in and really takes over.

And, uh, the, the guy, there was this, there was a different manager that was hired to manage the New York office. And he came from Google and he was very processed system oriented and I was not, and it just didn't mesh at all. The vibes were that felt either way. Um, but. At the time. I mean, looking back at it, I can see it.

Like, I wasn't the type of sales person that they needed at that point in the business where for the first three years, I, you know, where, where it was just going to the moon. I was, um, and yeah, I mean, I haven't seen, I haven't seen him since that, since that day, but I would, I I'd love to shake his hand and thank him for, uh, for making what was, what was the decision I wouldn't have made.

I mean, who [00:09:00] knows, you know, at what point I could have maybe jumped off or would have decided, but it definitely accelerated something. So like when people get fired, you know, I always, I'm always a big fan and really almost, almost like, hold that as like a merit badge, you know, seven years later, it was really painful at the time though.

I mean, it was really, really painful. And immediately I did have all these offers to get back into media, you know, immediately make six figures and I saved up a little bit, not enough per se, but I'd save it up a little bit to kind of give this thing away. And my wife, my fiance at the time, but like, she was very sweet.

She was very supportive. I mean, we were able to raise some money from friends and family to, uh, to, to really allow that, to allow me to jump in full time as well. So it was like a definitely convergence, um, of star alignment that, that allowed that all to take place. And, um, yeah, it was, it was really exciting.

Yeah. But I had no idea what I was doing. I've never [00:10:00] worked in travel or I've experienced the, the output of travel, but like the heavy logistics component was wild and it turned out like what we actually, the deep end we jumped into that. I jumped into it. Wasn't the deep end that I thought it was. Yeah.

It was the company that in his expertise while I knew what a huge piece of his business was, which was actually wildlife photography. And I don't have any photography experience. We know a lot of amazing wildlife trips. I can, I don't know if now's a good time to tell you about the first trip I took after we bought the company to come Chaka in the Russian far east.

I do

[00:10:39] CK: want to hear, I do want to hear about it. If you don't mind, it's again, put another pin on it, but I, the reason why I'm wanting to go into the grappling part of it is, is this, um, a lot of people want to explore their multidimensional aspect of it is some people feel called to do something. They'll have this big ideas.

I've been thinking about it and sitting on for a long time, but [00:11:00] yet, um, because of this primal. Instinct for survival and so forth. Very, I would say a small percentage of people who take that leap, right. Hence why I wanted to go into those moments when you're grappling, how you're thinking about the risk and reward.

Um, and then really this, this yearning to create something of your own. So is there anything else that you wanted to share that maybe a mental model, maybe a tool, maybe a book, maybe some of the spiritual journeys you'd taken on and really help you say, Nope, this is the path I'm going to take on.

Even though on the outside, it seemed very risky.

[00:11:42] Dave Ford: I'd say CK, that for me, I went through such a transformative experience when I traveled for those two years that I developed. Parts of myself that is deeming know existed. Like the fact that I like to mountain climb [00:12:00] and hike and yeah, I went into the Amazon jungle and I met this incredible Shumon and I had this, this very spiritual plant medicine experience.

Um, this was when I was, you know, this was when I was 28, like 14 years ago with, um, weight,

[00:12:16] CK: more of that, because we talk a lot about plant medicine. I want SCA things like that. So you can do that. You

[00:12:22] Dave Ford: can come back. You got it. All right. Yeah. So I was in, I was in Bolivia and I'd heard about Iowasca and it was really, you know, it was 14 years ago.

So a lot of people weren't, didn't it wasn't in the zeitgeists it wasn't something people knew a lot about. And I was, yeah. You know, someone, someone told me about, uh, about, uh, uh, healer, a Shama that I should seek out and this little small town in Bolivia called Bruna Baca, I was in LA Paz. It was just sort of a chance happens, you know, I was happened to be going there.

So I went and I found this guy who, um, just incredible healer and, um, yeah, it took [00:13:00] me, took me out into the jungle. It was some with some friends, uh, that I was traveling with at the time. And that experience absolutely completely, you know, I would say, uh, like on a real, on a real level, like helped, yeah.

Helped me kind of heal up some holes that I had that I had in my life and really like, uh, and really opened me up to, to this, you know, to the idea of spirituality in a different, uh, in a different way. So I was able through that experience to just to, you know, totally, you know, access, I think just like a different, a different part of myself in a different understanding about, about my.


[00:13:40] CK: Uh, I'll I'll do a quick share. Maybe you can go a little bit more nuanced if you don't mind. Sure. So before my first journey with plant medicine, I was very much trained as an academic scientist and an engineer. You know, if I can't measure it, it doesn't exist. Very materialist, reductionist, kind of a guy, right.

And [00:14:00] anything beyond scientific data, I just didn't understand, or I dismissed altogether. Then I had this very mystical experience, uh, in, and I'm like, oh my God, you know, the open, my eyes is this whole new world I wanna be around. And the way I think about it today is, um, is this whether there's scientific data about it in my subjective experience, right?

If it happens and then real the subjective experience, and then I can use it to try on different perspectives of looking at it. The reality that we have to. Um, and my point of sharing all of that is it opens up my, my, my mind to this multi-dimensional Allity aspect of reality. So I'm curious to know from your perspective, um, how many from, you know, being 28, uh, not really understanding spirituality, like what was your biggest insight going through [00:15:00] this experience in Bolivia?

[00:15:03] Dave Ford: Well, for me, I feel like we're kind of like taking such a, such a non-linear non-linear journey through my, through my life story. But for me, the real catalytic moment of that initial trip, you know, where I essentially just flew to Argentina and decided I was traveling through, uh, that I was going to travel for like a prolonged period of time was a relationship that ended very painfully.

Um, and. You know, like, like drama, like dramatically and there, I don't want to really get into the details, but it was, uh, you know, just, it was extremely painful and have a relationship, I would say. And then also, you know, at the time I was working in radio of all things and radio was just taking a, that was right when satellite was coming on board and the iPod and all of a sudden like radio, this like behemoths industry was just getting shattered.

So it was a very painful [00:16:00] place to work at well at that time. So it was an interesting little cycle. Cause the same thing happened again in some degree when I, when I was 35, right? Like these like circular patterns that happened. And I had an Australian friend that had traveled the world that just told me that I should just go, you know, and I, and I just did, I just did, I was able to, I was able to take, uh, take a loan out of a house that I owned it at the time to get enough cash to.

Take off. And, uh, and I did, and, and like I said on that journey, it really opened me up. But even after all these incredible experiences and all these hikes and going to Antarctica or whatever, I was still just carrying a lot around a lot. Mm, like significant amount of pain that we're primarily because of the relationship and that previous work experience, but like, you know, probably a lot deeper than that too.

Probably a lot of stuff, you know, further back, but that maybe that was maybe like first on, you know, sort of first, first out that that needed to be addressed and was there yeah, yeah, it was absolutely the first layer. [00:17:00] And when I went into that experience in the, in the oblivion, Amazon, that was my clear intention was really like to heal up, you know, this, this pain that I was carrying around and I should have just been, you know, on all you all accounts, just like having the time of my life.

So, um, and when I, when I did that experience, it was, you know, and connected with that, with that specific medicine. Um, I really feel like I, you know, the analogy I use when I tell the story is like, I was, I was. Carrying around a syndrome. I was dragging around a cinder block with like a chain tied around my waist.

And after one night of doing that, all of a sudden, you know, the, the, what I got, what I, what I got from the medicine, you know, and through, through certain visions that I had when I was deep in that state, was that with respect to the job, you know, it was very clear. Like you don't work there anymore.

[00:18:00] You're your child around in south America. Like totally like getting your mind blown. Like you can, you can let that job go. And then with respect to the woman that I was with at the time, it was really clear too. It was like, you did everything that you could, you know, at that time to help this person, you know?

And so, you know, you were. Solid and strong for her in that time. And you can just, you can let, you can let her go off to whatever she needs to do and you can do whatever you need to do. And it was just like that. It was, it was, it was gone. Those two elements, you know, that cinderblock was cut, which certainly allowed me to enjoy the rest of my trip in a, in a deeper way.

But like it also, yeah, it just really, really connected me with nature. I think in a deeper way, like all the hiking and everything that I had experienced, it just connected me with the earth in a, in a deeper way. Um, I ended up doing a few more experiences when I was down there in south America and LaPaz, and I was able to connect other [00:19:00] people, um, to this, to this healer that I had found.

And they also had similar experience. So it was just like really rewarding and fulfilling. And, um, yeah, I would say like, it was forever change the trajectory of my life. And, um, and certainly like when you start to think about like what I wanted to recreate when I started the travel company, this initial travel company that turned into so much more was just this, this vehicle to help.

People grow through these travel experiences like I had gone through. I mean, so I think that was like what my initial inspiration and where I initially I found so much meaning and initially where I was, why I was ready to take such a huge risk because I had just felt such a pronounced, uh, effect, positive, powerful effect on my being through that decision to go traveling around the world.

[00:19:59] CK: [00:20:00] I love that. There's so many things that can go into, uh, when you say being, can you just clarify what that means for you? I know it's a very loaded question, but take it however you wanted to take it.

[00:20:17] Dave Ford: I would say, yeah, just, just like on a, on a deeper level, you know, like the full consciousness, subconscious, every, you know, just like who I am, you know, and, uh, What I'm here to do in the world. I feel like, like I just got clarity, like through, through that, through that trip, you know, on some level like who I am and what I'm here to do.

[00:20:39] CK: Yeah. Uh, I so appreciate you sharing your story because the way I think about this, you know, the way you describe your two year expedition, right. And traveling to Antarctica, the Amazon, the, you know, Chile tracking, you know, mountain climbing, a lot of the world. Um, I have friends who lived that lifestyle today, right after they have retired.

And they're just going from [00:21:00] peak experience to peak experience. So like, oh, that sounds awesome. Right. And then a huge part of the Iowasca experiences, the internal peak experience. Because we get to excavate self excavate to the depth of who we really are, right from first layer, the second layer to get just, you just keep going deeper and deeper and really on the quest of defining who we are as spiritual beings, living a human life.

Yeah. So I love the combination of the inside out approach and the outside in approach that you took. Right. Doing an Iowasca. Why are you doing the, uh, activity, the, the expedition, right. So knowing having done that for yourself and also for others, you recommend that you do both at the same time.

[00:21:47] Dave Ford: Yeah. You know, I think it's a very, it's a very personal decision. And I think it's the kind of thing that individuals should do a significant amount of research on. And I think that, you know, I got lucky. Personal recommendation [00:22:00] from somebody that I didn't know very well and I trusted, trusted the universe and it worked out, but I really think like a great deal of homework needs to be done before you decide to, you know, to make sure you understand exactly what you're getting into with that specific, uh, with that specific medicine.

Cause it's, it's definitely not for everybody. There's definitely, um, you know, there's definitely lots of contraindications in certain situations, um, that just need to be taken in advance. But, but yes, if after doing that research, it's something that calls you. Um, I absolutely believe that is really, really powerful.

Um, and that coupling it with experience was, was certainly how, how happened for me and worked out really well. Hmm.

[00:22:42] CK: Hmm. Okay. So, so you had your personal series of peak experiences from expedition to, you know, I wants the journeys series of, um, uh, Well, um, before we go into the companies [00:23:00] that you want to highlight, maybe a few expedition peak experiences, cause you had mentioned in an article and the Amazon and she laid that just sounds awesome already.

So is there anything that you wanted to highlight, maybe bring us into the movies of your mind?

[00:23:15] Dave Ford: Sure. Uh, well, in that, in that trip from 28 to 30, um, yeah, you know, I wasn't that this active nature guy at all, I mean, so the, I really learned to Trek on that hike and to get into hiking. And I eventually got into like very basic mountaineering and, but I was in Patagonian, Chilay at this park called Torres Del pine.

It, which is all the way down at the tip of south America is beautiful. And I. Went with when tracking with these Israeli soldiers that I had met. And, uh, these guys were like in really, really good shape and moving at a really fast clip. They were like, they were like in good shape, but they were also like smoking cigarettes the whole time.

And they of like run around this, run around in [00:24:00] circles, smart smoking cigarettes. And anyway, we ended up trying to do a four day track in three days. And, um, I, at some point in time, I mean, these are like 25 miles a day with like 40 pounds on your back at some, at some point in time, we thought we got lost.

I was way over exerted. I told, I mean, I thought at some point they were going to have to like call for a helicopter to get me out of there. Like my, my legs locked up and like my, my, my quads locked like crazy cramps. And then when I would get those like stretched out, then my calves would lock. I was just like hobbling around.

It was like, it was so painful. And these two guys. At some point just started screaming at me that they were not going to leave me behind and that Israelis don't leave, leave anyone behind. And you were like, they were like in the military, like right out of the military, they were not messing around. And somehow I collapsed into camp at the end of that night.

They like totally took care of me. It was, it [00:25:00] was, I mean, looking back at it as an amazing story, it was hilarious. Um, but yeah, I definitely bit off, more than I can chew, but it was interesting because as painful as that was, and it took me like a week to recover in like a hostel, I was hooked after that.

Like all of a sudden, I mean, Hey. I was like

yeah, like that didn't happen. And again, no way. And then, um, and then second. Yeah. Secondly, it's just like, there's some deep connection that happened even through that pain, you know, that, that, uh, that really sparks something inside of me. So I love the outdoors. I live in the mountains in, uh, upstate in the Catskills, really close to the Catskills and upstate New York.

And we, we got a five-year-old. We try to hike as much as we can, but it definitely just opened up a completely new dimension. So that was cool. Um, and then, yeah, another. Bolivia was really like one of my, I wasn't even planning to go [00:26:00] there. And it was probably one of the most significant places that I've ever been.

And I went on this wildlife in the same area where I did that Iowasca journey. I went on this wildlife expedition and ruined the Bacchae as was little, little town, like right where the mountains meet, right. Where like the, the, the handies meat, meat, the meat, the river, and, you know, like a 27 hour bus downhill.

That's like terrifying. And you're glad you stayed on the roads the whole time when you're done. And, uh, we. You take these little canoe boats out into this like swampy sort of pompous area where there's like pink river dos dolphins and these amazing, like the, the wildlife is just insane. Like the cap of bearers and you're swimming in the same water where there's all these Cayman around and parrots in two cans.

And I mean, just like you felt like you're in the garden of Eden or that's what the garden of Eden should look like and swimming with pink river dolphins. And I think that was like where I first got like connected to this, like, you know, on the, on a deeper level of the wildlife [00:27:00] conservation piece, that became a big part of my work.

Um, when we first, when we first started soul Buffalo and, um, Yeah, that was, that was pretty amazing. And then Antarctica was, I mean, I've been a few times now, you, you, it is, it is like, you feel like you're on another planet, you know, and, and, you know, you go with people that have been there a lot. It becomes pretty, you start to see pictures of what, what the terrain used to look like.

You really come face to face with what's happening with climate change and the melting world. And, uh, it's, it's something that should be seen. You know, I feel like the glaciers in Greenland, you know, are the same, you know, and it's something that absolutely needs to be seen and needs to be experienced.

And it's beautiful and there's penguins and seals and whales, and it's, it's, it's a different and, and just an unbelievable landscapes. But, you know, it's melting fast and it's, it's important to, to take that in firsthand, [00:28:00] you know, and, and be down there with experts, you know, to learn about it. Cause it's, it's affecting, it's affecting everything.

It's affecting everything everywhere. And, uh, you know, if the modeling's right, it's going to get more dire as, as, uh, as time goes on here.

[00:28:14] CK: Um, thanks for sharing this. Um, and taking you guys through that, the movies of your mind, um, I get a glimpse of why you love nature, right? This is because you experience beautiful sceneries from place to place with the proper guide, with the great stories of Israeli soldiers, yelling at you, losing your life.

I got a glimpse of that. Almost sounds like a movie.

[00:28:45] Dave Ford: It felt like a movie for sure. That experience. I just carried with me through, you know, I wouldn't always will carry with me as just like, Hey, it's with big risk that I took. I mean, it wasn't conventional, I don't think at the time, definitely not for 28 year old [00:29:00] Americans, you definitely have lots of people from all over the world to do this as a Rite of passage, you definitely have like gap year folks in the U S that'll do it right after college travel for a year.

But it's definitely not like I would say hardwired into our DNA, like the Australians or the New Zealand, you know, people from New Zealand or, or the Irish or the English too. They're just like travel, you know, as a, as a Rite of passage. And for me, it was a Rite of passage. It was definitely like, I would say, just move me into a different phase of my life, but also like just a, such a deeper understanding of the world and just meeting people from all over the world that had a very, very different perspective of what was going on than we do up here.

And okay. Experience is, is catalytic and just understanding. So for me, that was, uh, that was really, really pivotal and empowering.

[00:29:51] CK: Okay. So fast forward. So now that you're a 30 and the fast forward to 35, you're starting this adventure expedition company [00:30:00] with this Hungarian tour guide, and then you wanted to bring something similar to others, right?

You want to bring also, if I hear you correctly, bring a spiritual components to it as well, right?

[00:30:12] Dave Ford: Yeah. I mean, when I first started out, yeah. I mean, it wasn't, we weren't going to be running journeys to the Amazon to do Iowa. That was not in the plans that wasn't, we were looking at doing some like meditation retreats in India.

And like there, that was like a certain type of product line that we wanted to offer. His core business was wildlife and wildlife photography specifically. So he is his name. All over the world doing these crazy, crazy wildlife trips and, and yeah, that's, that's what I, I was getting into and coming to the realization like how difficult it was going to be to kind of infuse what I wanted to do with his core clientele.

What did you want to do? I think I wanted it to, I think w wanted it to align with my, with [00:31:00] my interests more, right. Because I just not a photographer. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'd love, you know, been, been on a million wildlife trips and taking very bad pictures when I've been there, but it wasn't there, wasn't the kind of thing that, uh, I had ever gotten into, or it was like a core interest for me and the company that we essentially raised money to, to, to build was in his expertise was very much in, uh, in, in wa in wildlife.

Now it was also in conservation and that's where that's the bridge that took us to where we are today. Um, Is that conservation bridge. So it was, but he was brilliant guy. And he, you know, we, you know, essentially went from this, this idea that we were, we were going to take out consumers on, on trips, like individuals like you or me, let's go on a vacation to working with big corporations and infusing them directly into the challenges of the world.

You know, like taking, taking senior leaders to Antarctica or, or taking senior leaders in immersing them in human wildlife conflict issues. [00:32:00] Uh, and that didn't happen right away. That was that the trip to the Russian far east that I mentioned earlier, that where I, uh, is now a good time to bring that up, to bring that up.

Yes. It's so

[00:32:10] CK: far back circle back, please.

[00:32:11] Dave Ford: Thank you. So yeah, come Chaka is on the other side of Alaska. It is insane. It is like, it is, uh, Bears volcanoes rain, reindeer, herders. Like it is, it is really, I've never been anywhere like that before. And we went, and this is, and this was like a trip that we had that we, that we inherited as a part of the business agreement that we went.

And it was the first trip I went on and. It was a mess. I mean, it was amazing, but it was the, the first leg of it was like going to see black bears and you're walking around with guys with guns and then the photographer clientele that was there, had these, like, to these, these lenses that are like a yard long and you get to place where the bears are and there's like 10 people in your group that are just taking rapid fire pictures, like machine [00:33:00] gun style, like pictures of these bears.

Right. So my wife and I, and she's had like our point shoot or point and shoot camera at the time we were like, okay. Um, and then there was this hilarious couple from Australia that was in their, probably their eighties that were just. Screaming at each other the entire time. So it was like these, like, there's like a couple from Australia.

And then is there like five Brazilians that were on the trip? And then it was like just a random guy from here, random girl from there. It was just this like ragtag crew of people that didn't know each other. That they're all just going to take pictures, but then you have this Australian couple that were screaming.

I mean, screaming, not, not like the entire time. Yeah. Everywhere. We were just like, what is happening here? So then we went, but, but I mean, the landscape was incredible. So then we went hiking and yeah. And we went into the volcanoes and it was, you know, which was the landscape. Scenery was amazing. They were like taking helicopters to, to this remote place where we got to see these Rangers.

Wow. These reindeer herders, the [00:34:00] indigenous people there, you know, first nations people, uh, of, of the Russian far east that were, have been hurting reindeers and circles. And just like, you know, hundreds of reindeers, I mean, and you're there when they are like castrating the reindeer to like make sure the, the strongest reindeer breed and they're killing reindeer from meat.

Like you're watching all this. It was why such beautiful landscape. And we had this moment with this guy who was one of the reindeer herders, who was probably like in his fifties. And he had this little flip phone that he was taking pictures, I guess, of tourists that were coming through there. I don't know how many tourists came through the year, but not many.

And he and we were sitting with him and in my, my, my wife and I, it was this really beautiful moment where he liked pick this flip-flop phone up. And he was showing us pictures of other tourists that have sat down. And he was like taking a picture of us. And it was like this really like, amazing connection.

And then. Just as that was [00:35:00] happening, the 80 year old Australian woman started taking pictures, like, I mean, she was like, she was probably three yards from us, like right in our face with her giant camera started taking machine gun pictures of us sitting here with this guy and just like totally ruined the moment.

Totally. Like it was like, again, You know, and I remember being in the tent with my wife that night, my now wife that night. And I was just like, I don't know if this model is gonna work. And, uh, and it was like, it was after being on that trip that, that we realized that, you know, we have to, we have to really like, take a look at what exactly we have here and figure out how to maximize it.

And I had all this corporate experience and we, we started working with some of the biggest corporations in the world. Um, and we, we, you know, the, the, and, and it, it really, I would say we took, uh, we took it to about the, uh, the bottom of the ninth inning. And, uh, [00:36:00] we didn't have, um, didn't have a lot of money, uh, left from that initial investment.

And like, literally, like if it would have been a month later at this time, I had a, at a, at a two month old baby and. We closed the, uh, deal to take a C-suite group from like one of the biggest energy companies in the world to Antarctica, um, 30, 40 of their leaders. And that is what really like started what we, what we, the next phase was like the next big pivot of us working with senior leaders and taking, and doing like experiential deep dives and challenges that the world, you know, the world and like totally shift the trajectory.

And we just never, would've seen that in a million years. I mean, it was just like, that was the rollercoaster analogy. I let you know, it was like, we wouldn't have been in the deep end. We would have never discovered it,

[00:36:51] CK: you know? Yeah. So let me ask you this question, because the way you describe is. It's common in terms of, Hey, I took a [00:37:00] big risk.

My, my, my espouse was supportive at the time. And then we, you know, did a hail Mary hallelujah type play and then it worked out right. And you show him at the end, sort of, um, you know, the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. But in that moment, right, when you said about a month later, it wouldn't have worked that had, you would have to have to close everything down.

He had the two month old baby at the time, Mary already, how did you keep going? What, what kept you going in spite of all the challenges and difficulties and, and then, uh, as a startup, people will say that lack of positive feedback loop, so to speak

[00:37:43] Dave Ford: well. So this, this big, this big. This big deal was in the pipeline.

Right. And it was also, there was also a secondary trip that this company book with us, I wish we had like NDA from four years ago. I wish I could say who it was, but a big fortune, 50 energy, energy [00:38:00] company that, and not one of the big oil and oil and gas conglomerates anyway, but they, uh, They, so we had like the Zimbabwe trip also booked and things were like lining up and it was like a random introduction how we got in there.

It was like a friend of a friend introduced us to it, but like to a C-suite sort of education and leadership component. And it was like, the timing was right. The budgets were right. There was something that was like on their list to do. It was like they wanted to do in a quick time period. It was like all these components and this, and it was sitting there like as you know, in the pipeline, for lack of a better way to put it.

And it was going to make or break, you know, this relationship with this company. And we, I remember calling a friend of mine, a really dear friend that I've known for forever. And I just said, I don't know what's going to happen with this deal. I don't have any idea, but whatever it happened, whatever happens, we're going to keep going.

Like we're going to make this work and [00:39:00] whether it happens or whether it doesn't happen, it does, it doesn't happen. This trip to Antarctica and the shift is in Baba, I'm gonna F you know, we're going to figure out a way to make this thing

[00:39:08] CK: work. Right. So the resolve, like, yeah,

[00:39:12] Dave Ford: yeah, yeah. It was just a resolved, you know, and I had a two month old baby and, and, um, wait, worked and ended up working out.

So I didn't have to go to plan B. I don't know what plan B would have been, but, um, it worked, you know, and we, in, in that model before we pivoted, we were, I pivoted again, we did for a while before,

[00:39:33] CK: if you're talking about the pivoting, what was it about the result though? Was it your faith in the mission, your faith in yourself and the faith in the universe?

Like what was the source of the reasons.

[00:39:49] Dave Ford: At the time I was reading Ryan holiday's the obstacle is a way like over and over and over again. I don't know if you know that book. It's all about stoicism. Um, so Ryan [00:40:00] holiday actually tried to try to book him personally to go on that trip with us, but I, like, I just kept reading the obstacle is the way, and just really was just trying to shift my first personal philosophy to like, okay, something bad happens.

Like that's actually a good thing. Just like when I got fired, right. Total obstacle is the way like that was at the time, incredibly painful, but it turned out to be this like catalytic force in my life. So I. I was just working off of that. I was working off of that philosophy and like really getting into stoicism and really like understanding, you know, the nuances of that.

And just trying to look at whatever life was throwing at me as a, as, you know, uh, fuel for growth or like a good thing, you know? And one of them, one of the, I think one of the interesting things I remember from that book is like Thomas Edison in his lab burned down in like the twenties or late teens or whatever.

And he remembered, and he, they tell a story about how he like gathered his whole family and like took them to see this like multi [00:41:00] multifaceted chemical lab on fire, because it was all these different color than he was just like, Not phased at all. Like we're going to come back stronger for this. Like whatever's happening here is going to propel us forward.

And it did, you know, and it was just like so many stories out there about that. So I would say that like, learning deeply about stoicism has helped my entrepreneurial journey six significantly. And that's where I was. Right then in like, in that December of it was 2017, maybe. Yeah.

[00:41:33] CK: Hmm. Would you call yourself a practitioner of stoicism?

Like, is that sort of the core of your operating system?

[00:41:41] Dave Ford: I wouldn't say it's definitely mental model that I go back to significantly and it's like in the toolbox for sure.

[00:41:51] CK: So now you are taking, um, executives from energy companies to, to share with them, [00:42:00] um, take on different, um, uh, expeditions in, in, in, in a beautiful environment.

Can you share with us a little bit, um, environmental issues, climate change issues. It's such a big thing that impacts us all, but it's so. Remote, so to speak. We don't see it every day, therefore, um, when it's out of sight, out of mind. So I'm curious to know how do you have, how do you inspire them to care about something that's me, not necessarily being there every day.

[00:42:33] Dave Ford: Life. I think the experience directly is really, is really fundamental in really important. And, you know, we're, we're, we're working on a thesis right now. That's with my current work, I guess w w we'll get there. So we'll put another flag and that flag in the ground around this, but around environmental intelligence and about how there's components, uh, like experiential being like a, like a big piece of it is like how you can connect on an emotional level with any of [00:43:00] these big environmental challenges.

Right? So like walking on a beach, covered with plastic in, uh, in the developing country or seeing rivers, you know, totally, you know, covered deeply in plastic or, um, or being in and out in Antarctica and understanding, you know, that this giant, you know, hillside that you're seeing used to be a glacier, you know, hundreds of feet high.

Um, and then secondly, uh, the second piece that we think is really important is a positional. Intelligence. So understanding oppositional forces, getting environmentalist and environmental and activist organizations to understand industry and government and vice versa, like on a really deep level, and to understand all sides of the, of the equation to really like deeply integrate and understand it.

And the last piece is just to educate on facts. So when you're in Antarctica and you're teaching about climate change, it's going to retain it. You're going to retain it. And, you know, in a deeper way, you know, and there a, or, and understanding the basic facts inside of an [00:44:00] organization are really important, right?

Like is facts are always changing. There's a half-life to facts. We used to think when we were kids, they used to think dinosaurs were green and slow and red, these, and now that we know they're like multicolored and a lot of they came, a lot of them came from birds and it was like totally different ball game than what we were taught.

The facts have changed. Um, there's all kinds of theories, you know, going back into history that are being challenged right now. Like, I don't know if you're familiar with Graham Hancock's work. A little bit. Yeah, well, that's, that's it that's a lab rabbit hole, but you know, he has it, but he's putting a theory forth that the world got hit by a comment.

And in 9,600 BC, the caused all like the great flood methods, fascinating, but it would totally rewrite the history books. Right? So what we've known as facts, you know, are, are always changing. And that happens specifically with the, in the, with the environment and, you know, every day, like right now we're teaching their 11 million metric, tons of plastic, like a garbage truck and a half worth of plastic at getting into the, uh, getting [00:45:00] into the ocean every, every minute.

But we know that's that number's wrong because the numbers predate COVID, you know, they pre-date, you know, all these, all this, all these masks that are definitely in, in the, in the system, The struggles for the waste management sector that's happened as a result of COVID, but we're still teaching 11 million metric metric tons.

Cause that's the best data we have. So again, like this idea of environmental intelligence, like is going in and experiencing directly what's happening, understanding the opposing viewpoints and then just rooting into the facts and scaling them across your organization. Right. And across value chains and across, you know, every all of us.

[00:45:39] CK: Yeah. So follow up question, and that is this. And I liked that we sort of started those conversations with levels of consciousness. And even if you, even if that theorem is incorrect, it's basically what is the system? What's our incentive extrinsic incentive that compel us to do [00:46:00] certain things, right. So when you're in, let's say energy company and corporations and whatnot, they're incentives is, um, that's what I'm looking for.

Basically it RI right. You know, a company performance and that's their incentive. So, and, and, and this may be a little bit projection, cause I'm not a, you know, energy executive. So I don't know how, how they actually think, um, the way I think about it. Like here's, here's, here's resources from nature and let's tax it.

And then, so then we can derive benefits from, you know, corporation and so-and-so on this and this maybe is totally simplified version of it, but I'm curious to know how do you even get them to care about something that may not be necessarily their performance metrics? Does that make kind of make sense?

[00:46:52] Dave Ford: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think that, um, like

[00:46:56] CK: why do they even care to I'll use myself [00:47:00] as an example, I intellectually am curious about issues about. But let's say, even if you gifted me, you know, let's go to the plastic gyres and let's go to, you know, uh, wasteland where hundreds of people are picking up the trash.

If you give to me that tour to me, I don't know if I wanted to see that firsthand. Right. So I'm curious to know how do you even, you know, get someone who is really have a cushy job, really comfortable to even want to do


[00:47:33] Dave Ford: Sure. You know, it's a. From a corporate perspective, it's an existential risk management threat to the business and what there's some trends that are happening right now, you know, specifically with plastics and climate.

And otherwise that are really interesting, that are like movements that are happening. That in the next 10 years, I think are going to put a lot more pressure on business. One of those is it's called the ecocide movement. So essentially it's elevating, [00:48:00] elevating the movement is to elevate environmental crimes to the level of war crimes.

So for example, there was this meme going around. I don't know if you've ever, I feel like everybody saw it at like last, last week or a week ago where the ocean was on fire and the Gulf of Mexico. Did you see, did that show up in your Twitter feed? It's like, it was, it was, it was basically a fireball in the middle of the ocean.

Um, and it went, the means went crazy and it was some sort of pipeline explosion. They put it out, but think about the BP oil spill, right? Yeah. That would be elevated to like an international war crime status, as opposed to at which, which is, is puts a lot, a lot of onus on corporations to make sure that they're not, uh, they're that they're doing the right thing environmentally.

There's another movement called the first rights of nature movement where just like a corporate a corporation has the ability to Sue a corporation. Can Sue another corporation that 14, or I think it's actually, I think it's 18 countries right now that recognize first rights of nature where indigenous populations can Sue [00:49:00] corporations and governments on behalf of rivers or forest.

The thing about the Amazon jungle suing the Brazilian government. Now it's not that in that it's not legal in Brazil right now, but in, in New Zealand, it is. And there's a, the minority people. There are, uh, the Mallory people, sorry, the Maori people there are suing the, uh, Or I have a lawsuit that's going out on behalf of a river, right?

So this existential threat on risk management and the other piece is the financial community is putting pressure through, uh, what's called ESG scores or environmental, social governments, governance scores with companies. So, uh, and basically there's, there are certain funds that are just ESG scores, a lot of pressure from the financial, uh, for financial world, for companies to do the right thing as well.

And all this is just ramping up and ramping up and ramping up. You also see situations where like activist investors just took three board seats, [00:50:00] uh, over on Exxon of the 20 board seats. You know, there was an, there was basically a very small hedge fund called engine one that got a shareholder resolution in place and all the pension funds that invest in Exxon basically.

You know, voted to bring three of these board seats to, you know, environmental activists. This is all going to accelerate significantly. So while it might be tough to get, you know, you, you know, to get somebody like you, who is, who is eco-conscious and, and wants to see the right thing happen to be like, I want to go spend, you know, two weeks seeing the plastics crisis, you know, which makes sense.

The, the executives at these companies like me. Like they absolutely like, because they need, especially if, if their product is, is floating around in the ocean or in our own these rivers, because it's an existential risk management threat, that's only going to get more important and more and more pronounced as time goes on.

So yeah, that's, uh, that's where it gets, you know, and, and, you know, I [00:51:00] should say too, like the way, so we, we did these trips for years and I was in India with the same company actually. And after, uh, after what an expedition we did in Southern India, that was about tigers and elephants fighting with people.

I did a one day waste tour in Delhi and I. So all this landfill called the Gaza, poor landfills with these university professors and I, and it was this giant mountain inside of town. And it, for me, I'd never seen anything like this before. That was half on fire that was smoking. And the other half was like hundreds of people picking trash out of, uh, out of this landfill.

And meanwhile, it's like, there's. Wa, uh, uh, market, their cows are walking in front and every like, like right next to the landfill and it just whole blown blew my mind. And it was right when the plastic zeitgeists was like really starting to snowball. And it was like in that moment, then my partners and I brought the idea back to my partners and I, and we were just like, [00:52:00] we gotta, we gotta do something here.

Like, and we basically chartered a ship that was going from Antarctica to the Arctic because we had all these Antarctica connections and we ran the first ever ocean. We call it the ocean plastic leadership summit, where we got 165. Environmental groups, the companies, we had like six CEOs of some of the biggest plastic companies in the world.

We had Coca-Cola and Dow chemical and Greenpeace, and the American chemistry, all these, like all these forces that, that don't, don't normally talk stuck on a boat together for days. Uh, for four days in the middle of the Atlantic gyre, which is the garbage patch, which is the garbage patch, which is where there were the microplastics and the plastics spin in circles.

There's five of them in the world. And we had executives 500 miles off the coast of Bermuda, two miles, deep, snorkeling, snorkeling, and pulling handfuls of waste out. And we had a big consumer packaged goods company find one of their toothbrushes out there, you know, [00:53:00] that they were able to take back home.

And I mean, it was a powerful, powerful experience. And it really feeds into that. What I talked about this idea of experiencing and understanding, you know, the opposition of viewpoints and booting into facts. We had education, we ran, we ran labs on the ship that turned into real initiatives. It just could not have gone better.

This, this expedition and it totally. So then all of a sudden it launched us into. Or the ocean plastic leadership network, which we're doing today, right? We've we ended up sunsetting soul Buffalo, um, to, to focus on the ocean plastic leadership network, where we're now a hundred, as you mentioned in the 80 or 110 organizations dedicated to capacity building through experience and through, through getting, getting groups to understand each other.

So it's just been this, this, another, another big drop in the rollercoaster. And, uh, we're just like, got our hands up in the air. Now. It's been, it's been pretty wild. Congratulations.

[00:53:54] CK: That's awesome. And I know that you also been teacher on a scientific American, right. With [00:54:00] the work that you do in terms of thought leadership.

Um, so very, still very early in many more things to come your way. I'm sure. Um, I want to zoom in on the human behavior component just a bit more if you don't mind. Sure. The second thing that you had talked about, basically bringing people from all sides, right? The activists, the corporations coming together to talk.

I love that idea intellectually, however, right. If I am a big energy company that sort of being painted as a, like a, you know, being demonized for causing all this, and there may be some portion of it to be real. I don't necessarily want to interface with someone that demonizes me as an example, or the other way around, if I'm an activist, I don't necessarily want to, you know, talk to someone who, who, who thinks of me as, um, uh, as a, as a, you know, anarchist or [00:55:00] something like that.

Right. So I'm using these very emotionally charged words, perhaps intentionally or perhaps down intentionally, but I'm curious to know how were you able to bring people together who don't necessarily love seeing each other. Is that an example. So

[00:55:13] Dave Ford: how did you do that? Well, I feel like in this specific issue of the ocean plastics issue, I mean, th the same end goal is there, whether you're a corporation that makes plastic or uses plastic, or whether you're an environmental NGOs and that's, we want to get plastic out of the environment like that is that we want clean oceans.

Like there's an agreement on end point now solutions about how we're going to get there. That's where it's like an absolute war zone. That's where it's there. It's like walking through a field of landmines. Right? So like, I've always talked about how, like, Eric organization, because we've built the trust of these polar opposite type organizations where like walking on a tight rope.

Um, and it is, I think, you know, the fact that we all want the same [00:56:00] thing at the end of the day, that it makes it easier. And there is something to be said for learning from, from each other. I mean, the, the environmental organizations, a lot of the, you know, the break free from plastic organizations there.

Putting significant pressure on these organizations to change their ways and activating consumers who buy these products to raise awareness. So, you know, there's, there's naturally like, uh, uh, I feel like an important opportunity for co like to come together and have these really tough, tough discussions, see where you're at, where they're aligned and where they're not.

And we found a lot of times there's more lines and there's, there's a lot surprising alignment. And there's also fault lines in places where battles need to be, you know, hard line, hard, hard lines in the sand, you know, in some cases obvious like plastic companies want to continue producing plastic and they want to figure out how to fix the waste management infrastructure to handle an increased load of plastics coming into the environment as [00:57:00] populations are projected to grow significantly in the next 20 years where, uh, organizations that are.

You know, in the break free from plastic movement or a lot of the NGOs want to shut off plastic at the tap, you know, and use alternative materials and like rethink the way our systems work. So that we're like taking, uh, you know, taking a bottle back about shampoo bottle back and refilling it, you know, rather than just buying them another bottle and another bottle and another bottle and hoping it, it gets recycled.

I mean, it's, I can go really deep about how complicated it all is, but there's, there's different. Um, there's different solutions that are sometimes in conflict, but the end goal is the same, you know, it's like, how, how can we do this? And it really feels like even as chaotic and complex as this issue is that is, is one that, that can be solved.

Um, and it's going to take a significant amount of work and a significant amount of really education and capacity building across every human being on the, on the planet.

[00:57:56] CK: So, so you can solve this problem in two ways, [00:58:00] uh, obviously more than two ways, but then the overly simplistic sense is, is help an optimize different paths to agreement, right?

The multiple parties coming together and, you know, find that most optimum path to do that. So I'm curious to know if there's a solution there. There's also obviously a solution that you're focusing on that is more on the education side of things. Right. So, uh, my understanding, right, correct me if I'm wrong, actually.

Anyway, why don't you articulate it now? What is the current, uh, iteration of what you're. Well,

[00:58:35] Dave Ford: yeah, the current iteration company. Yeah. It's really, it's really around building, right. It's about it. So it's, it's it's and it's through experience and through positional understanding and then through education on the basic facts.

So we have, we have software that we work with big companies where we can put thousands of employees through like 1 0 1. So I'm like, what is climate change? What it is. Ocean plastics, what is [00:59:00] deforestation? What is your coral reefs? The ESG, you know, financial mechanisms, the w what, what is that? And why does that apply to business?

What is, what is eco side, right. Like how you can, and you can take these and they can scale from the C-suite to forklift drivers on the, on the, on the factory floor. So. These companies understand what it is, uh, people that work for these companies understand why it's important for their businesses, you know, and, and that they depend on for their families.

There's also like feedback loops where people from the field can, can come up with great ideas and communicate them back to, uh, to leaders in their sustainability departments. You know, if there's anything that I would say is like encouraging frustrating and encouraging in the same level, a lot of these really big companies that are massive only have two or three people working for them and it's sustainability, right?

And these people are expected to, to, you know, address all of these issues, whether it's packaging, whether it's food waste, whether it's climate and carbon, [01:00:00] and there, the teams are small and it's frustrating. You know that that is the current state, but we're starting to see a lot of growth in those departments.

You know, I just want a company with a big fashion company of 20 people working in sustainability. And I was like, wow, that is incredible. Like you don't, you don't hear that where you, you know, some of the retail companies we work with have three. And, you know, as the environmental challenges of this world are established more in this sort of risk management, like existential risk management piece, um, we're going to see those, those teams grow in a big, big way.

And those we've already in the last, in the last 10 years. CSO, you know, the chief sustainability office officer, I feel like for awhile was there for a reason. It was a checkbox and we're starting to see the CSO. The CEO is lean on the CSO significantly because so much of the business performance are, are really intersecting with what's happening [01:01:00] in the environment and their impact on the environment.

[01:01:03] CK: Yeah. Awesome. So, so if I'm hearing you right, uh, um, corporations have more and more, um, resources allocated to address this existential problem. And, and then now they're hiring more, um, professionals, executives to help looking at this, and then you are the media slash education company, and that's going to help them essentially scale.

The awareness, the education aspect of all of this, the how, and also how that impacts their business. Is that an accurate recap or will you just

[01:01:37] Dave Ford: exactly. Yep, exactly. Um, so, and, and helping them learn and be a resource resource for them to be learning. Now, one of the crazy things has happened in the last six months, we were asked by our partners at the world wildlife fund to run a global convening.

On the global plastics treaty. So just like the Paris agreement there's movement right now, I'm on [01:02:00] governments to have a global plastics treaty, which would address there. So figuring out exactly what this is a hundred, uh, as of today, uh, July 12th, a hundred countries have come out in favor of this. There, the official decision is, is supposed to have a next February, but we're doing these global convenings online while we're in COVID times where we brought together 140 organizations, activists to industry to learn from each other, uh, about this plastic streety, which is kind of wild and kind of like you get to go back from like the com shotgun trip.

Like there's this thing started from, and from us now to be, you know, running a global education company and being asked by like major NGO partners to facilitate dialogues around global treaties and talking to ambassadors and talking to, you know, you know, really senior government officials. Just kind of like w well, I think we all kind of like, look at ourselves in the mirror and we're just kind of like, whoa, you know, this is, um, [01:03:00] we would never, in a million years thought that this is what we were going to do.

And when, you know, when Ocho, Ocho, Shiva, COVID, she called me in, uh, in 2015 and at what, at a partner, for as wildlife photography company.

[01:03:14] CK: So, so in, in all of this, this is a very complex issue, obviously, and with a lot of different players, a lot of different stakeholders involved, and the timescale is, is vast, right.

You know, from probably like multi decades to multi multi-generations. So how do you track for you as a, as a media slash education company, helping educate sort of the, all of the stakeholders tours, this multi-generational path, um, how do you even track the progress that you've made.

[01:03:46] Dave Ford: Well, I mean, I think, you know, as we, as we continue to grow our courseware, I mean, it's, it's courses delivered.

Right. And it's, uh, you know, when we, I think w w we, we hold true that we'll, we'll, there'll be, [01:04:00] you know, in a short order here. And, uh, we'll be delivering like hundreds and thousands and millions of courses, you know, over, over, you know, year after year. And that is that's, that's, you know, a stat that we can track.

And then I feel like that, you know, how does it ripple out into the world? I mean, I think one of the amazing things is that we work with some of the top NGOs in the world, right? We work that, that are tracking this specifically, the world wildlife on being one on the counter side, you know, Greenpeace being another, you know, that there is the ocean Conservancy, the Ellen MacArthur foundation, lots of these amazing organizations that are, um, world economic forum that are really deep in the weeds that are really having incredible data.

And it's up for us to take that data. Yeah. That they're building and then, and then educate everyone about it. Right? That's like, it's really like a synthesis, you know, and then also looking at, looking at industry data as well, you know, and make sure you know, that, that, that data is presented side by side, you know, in a neutral way where people can comment on it.[01:05:00]

Um, so, you know, I think that. With all these issues. They're so tricky. They're so complex. They're, they're so challenging, but you know, it's, it's just like drum beat is so super important. If we can keep that drum beat that drum beat up, whether it be to, for a global track, you know, for a meaningful global plastics treaty to, to come to life through the governments or, you know, everything that needs to accelerate with climate change, et cetera.

Like, it's just like, how can we be out there and just be this drumbeat to make sure that everybody knows about it, because it's just the, the they're so complex. I think people glaze over a lot of people that aren't, like you said, material material, you know, if you live in where I live in, in the Catskills in New York, like the oceans are a long way away and here in the U S.

You know, while if you walk the beaches of my, of a Miami, you're going to have to see plastic washing up, you know, or if you're your own Pacific coaches and in certain places, plastic will be washing up. It's nothing compared to Southeast Asia. It's very much feels like their problem on the other side of the world, but [01:06:00] it's, it's all of our problems.

I mean the whole world is interconnected. Right. So, you know, I feel like, um, you know, raising awareness fast is, is, is so, so critical, you know, and it's not just, it's not just, and it's, and it's, you know, raising all these narratives that sometimes compete, you know, to make sure that people would understand, like, and have the full spectrum of understanding, you know, from all these different viewpoints.

[01:06:23] CK: Is there any technology that you come across that, um, essentially tie the economic, um, incentives to their environmental or the moral ones? You know, incentive together, ala, maybe like a crypto mechanism or NFT of some sort. I mean, I'm just making stuff up. Right? Anything of that sort, that's essentially tying everything together.

[01:06:48] Dave Ford: I mean, I wouldn't say it's as, uh, you know, As advances as it, as it should be or will be. But I mean, I think ESG, the best thing we have right now is an ESG [01:07:00] score because it measures environment and measures social, you know, which would be, you know, diversity and inclusion metrics and you know, how, how companies treat their people and then, and then govern and then governance, like how the actual, uh, company governs, right?

Like what their, what their CEO pay ratio is, you know, to the, you know, from the, from the top to the bottom kind of vibe, like, and those scores, the most important about those scores is that they're there, the billions of dollars are being directed, you know, based on those scores. So it's, that's, that's the best thing.

I, I think that we have going for us with relation to business and, uh, and the environment and, and social issues and everything right now. But, you know, I know there's a lot of, that's it, if you hear of anything, let me know, because.

[01:07:49] CK: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I mean, um, I'm always interested in how complex issues can be synthesized into something that's simplistic.

Um, [01:08:00] but that can hide the complexity. You can still, you know, there's a singular score or metrics that we can, we can look at it and then, and help move the needle along the way. Because even if for those listeners who is in, you know, perhaps as passionate about those as Dave or any of the stakeholders there, everyone's on the same space boat space trip, this is something that, uh, that impacts all of us.

So I think this is something that I would like to see, uh, more effort and more, more innovation and more, um, you know, uh, the kind of things that, that you're working on Dave. So really, really thank you for sharing your perspective with all of us, anything that you think I should be asking about it? Yeah.

[01:08:44] Dave Ford: Not spaceship earth, man. I feel like that's a that's that's right in the heart. That, that you're you're exactly right. I mean, we only have, we only have one, we only have one planet and uh, the only way we're going to figure this out is together. So yeah, I'm just really, really honored to be [01:09:00] invited. I feel, uh, I love, I love the, I love everything I know about noble warrior.

So thank you for inviting me, inviting me on your spaceship.

[01:09:09] CK: Yeah, absolutely. Well, actually one last thing I want to ask you had said when you first get that call, when you were 35 from this Hungary and tour guy, you have no idea what would have been, you know, years later, working with ambassadors from different countries and really help brokering really, uh, the, the, the different, um, the different players.

So then they come to the table and talk about this. I'm bringing that bridge builder from players. Shapes and sizes and who may not like each other so much. So, so knowing why, you know, now, what would you say to the younger Dave who's grappling with? Should I, should I, I don't know if this is something I want to do.

I don't know if, um, this is even a realm of, you know, exploration I'm wanting to jump [01:10:00] into, what would you say to the younger Dave listening?

[01:10:03] Dave Ford: I would say that trust believe and just like, and just, and just realize that, you know, that what you're doing is exactly what you're supposed to be doing, you know, in the spirit of saving a significant, significant amount of stress I've experienced on that roller coaster.

Right. I mean, because that's that you that's it, I mean, going back to like the stoicism piece, it's like every bump in the road is what, like, they're so important, you know, they're so, uh, Yeah, they're so foundational, you know, and I wouldn't change anything, anything that that's happened or any of the hard times, you know, because each we've learned so much from, from each of them and we've discovered these opportunities to like really make a difference through that.

Like, you know, my, my partner, uh, is United G he run an education company for 20 years. You know, he was our first investor went back when we started, we started the travel company and he is, you know, we didn't know that there was this, [01:11:00] this education void in the middle of all this until we got there, you know, we weren't swimming around in the deep end, you know, like figuratively and metaphorically.

Like we were like, when we were snorkeling in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, like if we weren't doing that, we would have never figured out that like, Companies need to educate their people about these issues. And it's not only, it's not that they it's not that they need to it's that they have to, because, you know, it's, it's a serious, serious risks management issue.

And. If we weren't flapping around, out in the ocean for a lot of this and like figuring, you know, and like turning and making really key strategic decisions every step of the way and pivoting six times, or maybe what four times or however many pivots has been, um, we would have never found really what are like unique proposition is.

And our unique, our unique contribution is what I should say, right? Like there are this unique, you know, way that we can contribute. So, you know, now as we're growing and, [01:12:00] and, and really, you know, understanding what it is we do, um, and what, and what we can provide and how we can be useful. It's incredibly, incredibly meaningful work.

I mean, it just feels, feels like I'm just so blessed and grateful that I'm able to do this work every day and they wouldn't do this and work with the people that I do. And it's not just me. And we have an amazing, amazing team that is just like kicking ass every day. And, uh, Yeah. I mean, I would say, I would say to anybody right now, kind of going back to our initial intention or out the talk about risk-taking is like, you know, sometimes you just need to jump in and, and you need to is you, you need to go, if you have a certain thing, that's moving you inside of you, you just need to go for it.

And, and, you know, lots of bumps in the road, but you know, the obstacle is the way.

[01:12:50] CK: Hmm. Well, that's that Dave, thanks so much for being here on Nobel warrior and the founder of ocean plastics, leadership network, check out their work. It's, [01:13:00] um, it's really worthwhile. And like we were talking about earlier, this is the only spaceship that we have.

So, so thank you for doing such important work and thank you for sharing your journey, multifactorial motif, fractionalized journey that you've taken on. That was really beautiful. Thank you.

[01:13:17] Dave Ford: I will. Thank you CK. I appreciate it. My friend, really, really excited to study you to come on and be grateful. Thank you.

Dave FordProfile Photo

Dave Ford

"Dave Ford is the Founder of the Ocean Plastics Leadership Network.

His introduction to the plastics crisis took place on an impromptu one-day waste tour in Delhi, India. He toured the Ghazipur landfill, a mountain of waste on the outskirts of town. The giant mound was smoking from fires deep underneath, and hundreds of people were wading through the trash, reclaiming plastic. The impact and understanding that this profound experience garnered catalyzed his passion for taking executives to experience the plastic crisis firsthand.

Eighteen months later, the Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit set sail and immersed 165 corporate and NGO leaders into the heart of the Atlantic Garbage Patch (500 miles off the coast of Bermuda). CEOs and activists had difficult conversations and gathered plastic in the middle of the ocean. The 100+ organization activist-to-industry Ocean Plastics Leadership Network (OPLN) was born on this mission.

In 2021 the OPLN launched the Global Treaty Dialogues, a global virtual summit series engineered to build capacity and understanding around a Global Plastics Treaty. Participants include one hundred forty organizations from 34 countries across the vast plastic stakeholder spectrum.

Dave has Baltimore roots, living with his wife and four-year-old daughter in the Hudson Valley, New York."