You don’t need to be an expert to develop expertise. On International Women’s Day, listen to hear how Lisa Blair beat the odds and went from sailing novice to record breaker.
Welcome to another episode of Anecdotally Speaking! We were slow to record a new episode this week (our apologies!). Instead, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day by replaying one of our favourite stories about a phenomenal woman and record-breaking solo sailor, Lisa Blair.
Shawn first heard this story in an interview with Lisa on ABC Radio. You can listen to the same ABC Conversations episode here. It makes a case for the saying, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ And in retelling it, Shawn showcases a storytelling technique where you bring the end of a story to the beginning to keep your audience interested.
For your story bank
Tags: ambition, expertise, funding, persistence, resources
This story starts at 01:21
On the 25th of July, a sailing boat carrying one person arrived in Albany, Western Australia, to great celebration. That one person was sailor Lisa Blair, who had just broken the record for the circumnavigation of Antarctica. She did it in 92 days, beating the previous record of 105 days. Lisa is in her 30s.
When Lisa had just finished school, she lived on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. She accepted an opportunity to work as a cook and cleaner on a boat in the Whitsunday Islands.
When she was 25, she accepted an opportunity to sail from Samoa to Hawaii with some friends. It was a three-month trip, but Lisa was single and didn’t have anything tying her down.
During that trip, Lisa fell in love with open-ocean sailing. But she didn’t have much money, so she couldn’t jump into the sport as she may have liked. She went home and worked in a jewellery store, earning $20 an hour.
One day, she heard that a 16-year-old woman had just sailed around the world solo. Lisa thought, ‘If she can do it, so can I! I can raise the money.’
She didn’t know anything about raising money, so she went to her local library and borrowed a book on sports marketing. She read that she had to write a proposal and submit it to businesses, so she did.
Lisa decided she wanted to participate in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, so she needed to raise $80,000. But she didn’t receive any money from any of the businesses she sent her proposal to.
She did manage to convince a local bicycle shop to lend her a bicycle that she rode from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney. Along the way, she held raffles, dinners and various fundraising activities. Over a number of months, she generated just under $40,000.
Lisa called her mother, crying. She felt that she couldn’t raise the $80,000.
Her mother suggested she go to the United Kingdom anyway and do the training she had always planned to complete. And she did.
Every night in the UK, Lisa would go to the pub with friends. One night, one of her peers said, “I love your focus and what you’re trying to do. Would £7,000 be helpful? I’m happy to contribute that amount.”
He introduced her to another person, who gave her more money. Within weeks of her deadline, she was $2,000 short.
She rang the Sunshine Coast Daily and asked them to write a story about what she was trying to do. They wrote a great article, and an American living in China saw it. He had once visited the Sunshine Coast and loved it so much that he was still reading the local paper. He called Lisa and offered her his $2,000 bonus for that month. It was just what she needed.
Lisa participated in the race. It was the beginning of her sailing journey.
About Anecdote International
Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.