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Setting sail: an introduction to the people, inspirations, and conversations aboard Summit at Sea's largest voyage yet.

Since its founding in 2008, the community of Summit has grown into a 10,000-person menagerie of entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, scientists, and overall genuinely positive-minded individuals. One of its members is Surface Media CEO Marc Lotenherg, who has been embarking on the annual adventures of the Summit Series for the past six years. Though he claims the Summit trips are "indescribable," here he attempts to recall his latest excursion: Summit at Sea, a three-day voyage this past November that cruised into the Atlantic Ocean. Roughly 2,joo passengers were on board. On the following pages, a select handful of guests share memories from the trip.

Some people have described Summit as "TED meets Burning Man." That's a good starting point, but it hardly covers all the bases.

What began as a modest gathering of 19 people eight years ago has grown into an organization that thousands of international members consider a family. Each year, it hosts new chapters of its Summit Series program. These invitation-only trips, which have ranged from 150 to 2,$00 people in size, have taken place in a range of surreal settings. The results are immersive, multi-layered experiences that call upon an eclectic group of people--both contrasting and complementary--that includes artists, designers, dancers, executives, and outdoorsmen.

Far from being simply a networking platform, Summit is a venue for conversations that are deep and visceral. As strange as it sounds, it's as if the attendees are all on the same wavelength. One minute, we're talking about business strategy; the next, Holotropic Breathwork (a kind of mindful breathing). A conversation about sustainable agriculture can seamlessly morph into one on Transcendental Meditation.

Summit hosts as many as 15 weekend trips to Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah, throughout the year, but there's only one Summit at Sea excursion. We were at sea for three days--three absolutely saturated days. Morning people could start their day early with yoga or dance. Those rising a little later could wake up to a figure painting session with Alexa Meade and then join a live videoconference with Edward Snowden. The weekend, like any trip in the Summit Series, is entirely self-tailored.

At Summit at Sea, I was super into the talks, and was able to entirely shape my experience that weekend around workshops, roundtable discussions, and one-on-ones with thought leaders. I took a class on innovation and technology in the media landscape. Another breakout taught me how to kill an idea: In the creative process and in decision-making, you can't pick the best of the worst. Sometimes, the superlative option may be none of the options.

What I like most about the Summit events is the authenticity. Even though each day is packed with programming--and the orchestration of the whole trip is an art itself--the interactions and connections don't feel calculated. Year after year, the time I spend with this community continues to leave a lasting impact on me. I'm hooked.

Bryan Blue


"Watching JR and Sol Guy's films made me believe in my own ideas, and also challenged me to think smart about more innovative ways to get people involved in my work."

Esther Perel

Relationship Expert & Therapist

"In the midst of a the glam, there was a real attention paid to the serious issues. Those were the moments that often went unnoticed--moments where social change was taking place."


Hindu Priest & Entrepreneur

"My biggest learning experience from Summit at Sea came out of a talk by author Cal Fussman. He spoke on communication and conversation. When asking a question--any question to anyone--you must aim for the heart, and not the head, he emphasized."

Bob Pittman

Founder, iHeartMedia

"I learned many things on the trip, including--much to the detriment of my health and diet--how to operate the self-serve ice cream machine."

Peter Oasis

Founder, LiveNDirect

"One night, I retired to my cabin, where a spell of drowsiness fell upon me. Within minutes, I was asleep. When my cabinmate returned, hours later, he saw that I was sleeping, sans blanket, and noticing that I was cold, covered me up, This seems like a such a small gesture, but it is anything but. Rather, it is a gesture of humanity, care, and thoughtfulness--it's a gesture of giants."

Blake Mycoskie

Founder, Toms Shoes

"My wife and I learned so much when we talked with Esther Perel. She's got this magical way of making challenging topics like relationships and intimacy really accessible. It changes how you look at yourself and the world around you."

Jane Chen

Cofounder and CEO of Embrace Innovations and Little Lotus

"Bert and John Jacobs, the cofounders of Life is Good, taught me the power of positive perspective and how just a few words can change someone's life."

Gary Knell

President & CEO, National Geographic Society

"Exploration is something we'll always need more of--it's critical to our understanding oft his planet we call home. It will provide insights and answers to our most pressing problem."

Saul Williams Poet & Performer

"I found the cross-section of activists, thinkers, and artists simply incredible. There seemed to be a lot of doers present, which is inspiring for any armchair revolutionary."


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Author:Lotenberg, Marc
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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