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My Trip to Summit Series:

1,000 CEO’s and Founders of many of the top new companies, non-profits, causes, and more gathered on the Cruise Ship Century this past weekend. We went on a three day 20 hour/day burn the candles from both ends combination of work, play, and learning, and play.

The kick off event was Richard Branson interviewed by Chris Sacca from Google. Q/A, followed by the opening party, followed by musical acts and DJ’s until 5am. I was a little worried that my voice would give out talking over the music, and over the general roar of the crowd all day. It held up all night.

I have one of those shared rooms with no window. James, the founder of Surf Rider Foundation was my room-mate and was a great fit for me. At 7am I was lucky to wake up and go to the bathroom, thinking it must be the middle of the night. I am very lucky I looked at the watch and realized it was breakfast time- coffee time too, as the short sleep period was not enough for my liver to do its job completely.

I met a ton of people in my first day. The summit is broken into segments for the focus of both the presenters and the attendees. Entrepreneurship, Revelry, Innovation, Altruism, Arts, and Personal Growth are the categories that everyone fits and, and many fit in multiple categories. Learning, Sharing, connecting, and enjoying each other was the name of the game. Events started around 9am and lasted until 8pm, and then entertainment started around then and lasted until 5am.

I attended presentations on relationship building, business specific skills, technology, team building, and more. My time meeting people was crazy to say the least. I did two hours of speed networking, which was an assembly line of 2 minute introductions and shaking hands. Then there was the other 20 hours of speed networking each day meeting people of so many walks of life in so many different situations. The most common theme was high tech start ups from Silicone Valley or New York City, followed by non-profit founders with their causes. There were a few manufacturers, but not many. Many of the top executives of the biggest brands were there, such as Google, Facebook, Paypal, Johnson and Johnson, and many of the top venture capital people in the world. It was a humbling experience meeting people who do more business in one minute than JK does in one year. However, there was as much or more intrigue over Jackson Kayak as there were some of the biggest companies in high tech from many there.

We sailed to the Bahamas and anchored off of “imagination island” where we spend the day yesterday. There were presentations under beach umbrellas, etc. on the island, with everyone in their swim suits and barefoot. I attended Tim Ferris’ presentation on “the 4 Hour Body” first and learned some good stuff in the Q/A in particular. We presented together at the Summit last year, but this year we had separate presentations. My presentation this year was on “Life Without Compromise”. It had a variety of attendees from all different walks of life. Dr. Scott Parazynski a 5 time NASA Space Shuttle astronaut was front and center and looks like he is ready for a new mission in space to me!

When I returned from the island to the ship on the “tender” Brad Ludden (head of 1st Descents) and two others were on the deck of the Cruise ship waving me to join them up there. I took the elevator up and eventually found them thinking they were just waiting for me, but apparently they had been contemplating jumping off the ship for about an hour. They asked me if I wanted to jump. I looked over the edge and “wow” what a perfect jumping place! High, easy to get over the railing and a little place to stand, and beautiful blue waters below. We were anchored as there were at least 100-200 more people left to gather on the island at that time. The “tender” boat (like a ferry boat) was running and just below and slightly off to the side of where I was standing and still tied up to the cruise ship. While I could see any feasible way to get back on the cruise ship, getting onto the Tender was as easy as getting somebody to throw a life line down and then we could climb up the rope. The entire thought process and calculation was about 7 seconds, I dropped my shorts, wearing my Birthday present from Emily underneath (“the worlds ugliest Speedo” as she describes it herself) and climbed over the railing. Two others, Tyler and a cool kid from New York that I can’t remember his name (sorry!) and Brad Ludden. Brad was there, but didn’t climb over the edge. ( probably showing his superior intelligence :))

3, 2, 1, jump and three of us launched out and did the drop. Not sure how high it was as it is hard to say on a huge boat over a huge ocean of water. Nothing of normal size to get your bearings and judge the height. It was high enough to be super fun and an a good landing was more than just recommended, it was critical if you wanted to keep having fun on the boat. Landing in the water you realize just how big the ship is and how climbing up on the big boat isn’t happening. The second thing I recognized is how many uniformed people were scurrying around on radios and pointing and congregating on the tender. Hmmm, OK, so I don’t think they liked that stunt very well. Too late to consider that possibility. The officers (security guard staffing company) told us to stay put, next to the boat, but not too close and wait. They threw over a ladder and I climbed up first and quickly. While they were watching the other guys climb up I quickly made my way dripping wet through the security line and back onto the boat. Not sure how I made it past the guard. He asked me for my name and room number and I told him and he looked me up and saw that I had already been through this line. I think he assumed the other security guys sent me there, so waived me through. I went straight up to the top deck to get my shorts and shoes and me Brad there and we headed for the poolside bar and got a beer. I figured I might as well have a beer and enjoy my “free time” while it lasts. I wasn’t sure exactly how the rest of my trip might change based on the reaction of the security people. The others weren’t as fortunate as they were detained for some time upon loading onto the Tender and lead onto the boat in their custody. About three hours later I finally answered a page “Paging Passenger Eric Jackson- please come to the 5th floor reception” We were individually put in the head of security’s office with a team of people watching (small room, 7-8 people) where they let each of us know we were violating maritime law, and endangering ourselves and told us all of the ways we could have been killed (like getting sucked into the “thrusters” etc. etc..) I could see that if 1,000 people all wanted to jump and were to do it all day long while anchored, it would really get old fast, and eventually somebody would be hurt. Noting that, and feeling his pain, I apologized immediately and let him know I won’t do it again. That was what he was mainly looking for, I think. He did say that they would report it to the police and we may or may not get detained when we returned to Miami. I haven’t looked up maritime law to see if jumping off of boats is illegal or not, but it is not important anyhow. I got to jump off of a really big one and it was fun. I get to do big jumps often enough in my travels and I doubt I’ll be on a cruise again any time soon. This was my first cruise ship and the first one I jumped off of, probably my last.

I went from being the “kayak guy” to the “jumper guy” in a hurry among the participants of the Summit Series. This was no stunt, and I surely hope nobody thinks of it that way. Ask anyone who knows me, if there is a good jump, I like to jump it. I don’t need an audience to be motivated. The free fall is the draw and fun of it, the landing and swimming afterwards is the icing on the cake. Had my son, Dane been there, he would have been begging me to do the jump from the first time he saw the balcony over the water. I looked over it many times, but each time we were moving along in the open ocean and them needing to swing around to pick somebody up would have been a little much to ask no matter how you slice it (unless you booked the entire ship yourself and were the person to do it. :))

The band Roots played that night for the second night in a row and it was another great performance.

I am in the Miami airport, heading back to TN after the weekend and will be loading up the RV tomorrow AM and heading to NOC in NC for the beginning of the Fun Tour for Kristine, KC, and I. Dane and Emily already did the TVille Triple Crown this weekend. I hope it went well! I haven’t heard yet.

See you soon!