One Stroke at a Time: How to Overcome the Insurmountable with Hakkōda and the United World Challenge

Learn how Tez Steinberg, founder of the United World Challenge, takes on his 5,000-mile rowing journey one stroke at a time, and what his journey teaches us about the role of data in tackling our world’s toughest challenges.
February 14, 2024
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As we talked about at length in a previous blog, the world is on track to have more plastic in its oceans than fish by 2050. Changing that course is a daunting task, even with key commitments like the 30 by 30 in place to help us direct our efforts. At the level of the individual consumer, it sometimes seems like there’s virtually nothing we can do to address one of our day’s most insurmountable challenges. 

“Often people don’t get involved because they don’t know where to begin, or they tell themselves a story that they don’t have the tools, they don’t have the knowledge, the experience, the team, whatever it is,” says Tez Steinberg, founder of the United World Challenge. “But as I like to say when I’m on the ocean: everything I need is in my boat. And that little idea can be so powerful, because it’s a reminder to look at what we have, and not at what we don’t have. Rather than delay or make an excuse about why we can’t do something right now, it shifts the question to ‘what can I do? What do I have, and what difference can I make right now?’”

As those of you who have been following the first 57 days of Tez’s incredible 5,000-mile rowing journey from Hawaii to Australia already know, Tez means what he says when he talks about reframing the question. As we speak, he’s setting an example, not only of the kind of difference one person can make, but of the even bigger things we can achieve when the whole world comes together to share and leverage its tremendous wealth of data.

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What Tez’s Journey Can Teach Us About Data

Another key to taking on big challenges is to break them down into more manageable parts and stay focused on more immediate goals.

“When I’m alone on the ocean, routine is a big part of my life,” Tez explains. “I row for ten to twelve hours every day, broken up into shifts of two, three, sometimes four or five hours at a time. But always in shifts, and it’s a powerful technique because you break down huge objectives into small steps. I don’t row across a whole ocean at once, I row across it one shift at a time, and one stroke at a time.”

“One stroke at a time” is more than just sound advice for the endurance athletes among us. It’s also an important reminder of one of the most basic principles of data science: no one data point in itself has the power to tell us very much, but as these points begin to amass into larger and larger seas of information, patterns and critical insights begin to emerge. 

Those insights, in turn, are catalysts for meaningful change—whether it’s predicting employee attrition and making time-sensitive interventions, improving patient outcomes by predicting cancer, driving more meaningful customer experiences, or, yes, taking the ocean plastic crisis head-on. 

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Rising to Insurmountable Challenges with Tez and Hakkōda’s Data for Good

Like Tez, Hakkoda believes in the power of data to make our world a better, braver place. We also believe that, together with organizations like the United World Challenge, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Marviva, we have everything in our boat that we need to collect and analyze the data that contains the secret to conserving the health of our oceans.

“Together, we’re not only gathering data, but showing how data can help create a better world,” Tez says when asked about Hakkoda’s Impact Partnership. “No matter what our role is, no matter what we’re doing, we all have a role to play. As I gather data for marine conservation and Hakkoda brings their resources to bear, it’s an example. Not only does it allow us to analyze that data and make better decisions with scientists, but it also shows that none of us have an excuse. We don’t get to stand on the sidelines and say, ‘we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the knowledge, we can’t get involved. We all have a role to play.’”

Looking to make a difference today? Join Hakkoda, Tez, and our other partners in the fight to reduce ocean plastic by making a contribution to the United World Challenge Giving Circle today. You can also continue to follow along in Tez’s 5,000-mile rowing expedition by accessing the GPS Tracker on Hakkoda’s Data for Good page

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