Authentic Gay Man Podcast Interview: Larry Jacobson sails around the world in 6 years to find himself
* Originally published on the Authentic Gay Man Podcast Website
My guest, Larry Jacobson, gave up his business, his CEO title, his life partner, and all of his material worth to realize his life-long dream of sailing all the way around the world. He discovered his dream when he was only 13 and finally made his 6 year voyage at 46. In the end, he states that is the most powerful experience that led him to his most authentic self. His wisdom on “Fear” is absolutely worth your time to listen to this episode.
Coach Maddox 0:03
Hello, Larry Jacobson, and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. It’s nice to see you, sir.
Larry Jacobson 0:09
Thank you. Nice to see you too Maddox.
Coach Maddox 0:12
Well, I’m trying to think I always tell the guests how my guests and I know each other. I mean, the audience have I know my guest. And I’m trying to think now how we actually met.
Larry Jacobson 0:27
I think we met foot through the gay coaches. Or, oh, somebody? My marketing guy. Yes. Introduce us, right.
Coach Maddox 0:41
Larry Jacobson 0:42
Tell me about your gay coach’s group and about you. Right.
Coach Maddox 0:44
They reached out to me. That’s right. That’s right. And then we did we were we’ve been in a couple of gay coaches calls together to get a little more acquainted. So this may be our I don’t know, maybe our third time to zoom together.
Larry Jacobson 0:58
Yeah. And I look forward to meeting in person one day. Oh, yeah.
Coach Maddox 1:01
Absolutely are mad perhaps it’ll be at the conference. Are you thinking about going to the conference this year?
Larry Jacobson 1:07
I will. I don’t know what to talk about that later. Since I don’t know anything about it.
Coach Maddox 1:11
Hi, yeah, it may be sold out already. But yes, let’s let’s touch base on that. Okay, so I guess one thing I’d like to know is, what does it mean to you to be an authentic gay man?
Larry Jacobson 1:26
What does it mean to me to be an authentic gay man? Well, just off the top of my head, I would say it means being myself. And, and not faking any of my life. And let, I mean, I don’t It’s not like something I advertised that I’m that I’m gay, but I certainly don’t hide it from anybody. And living true to myself walking my talk. And yeah, I think that’s the basics.
Coach Maddox 2:03
You know, one of the things that sticks out that you said, and I like the way you worded it is not faking any of my life. Yeah. Because we’ve all been around people that were faking, maybe their whole life possibly is
Larry Jacobson 2:16
it I find it so sad and depressing.
Coach Maddox 2:20
And it’s hard to be in their presence. Yeah, it is.
Larry Jacobson 2:23
It’s, I mean, I know somebody who is, I don’t know, I think he’s 45 or 50. And he still doesn’t come out to his friends or family. And, and he lives in California. And I’m like, What’s what’s what’s up with that? What were you hiding from? This is? I mean, maybe I could understand it. If you were, you know, maybe someone was in a place that was less liberal or less progressive. But, wow. In today’s day and age, I don’t I’m not faking anything. I am who I know, if someone doesn’t like it. It’s not my problem.
Coach Maddox 3:04
I am with you. I, you know, I just thought I always say that, you know, I’m gonna just be me. And if somebody has a problem with that, that’s their problem. Not my problem, right? Yeah. So yeah, love your answer. Okay, well, let’s get down to what we’re really here to talk about that. And that is what what has been the biggest challenge in your life that you’ve either gone through or are continuing to go through
Larry Jacobson 3:28
this one I thought about a little bit. The biggest challenge that in my life, I would say was, well, I’m, I’m the first openly gay person to sail around the world. And that there’s a lot in there, which is, well, gee, how did you end up sailing around the world? And, and why and, and then how did you do it as being a gay, openly gay man, and all of that was challenging. So let me start with the the idea of going in the first place, which was, which was born when I was 13 years old, as raised down in Southern California, Long Beach, and I had my first little sailboat, on which I taught myself to sail in a little eight foot Styrofoam, hold boat, and I taught myself to sail at age 13. And then the day after that, I came home and announced to my parents, I was going to sail around the world. And I suppose that a lot of kids do that, you know, or announce something big like that. And, you know, they went Oh, that’s nice, dear. And it’s fine. Yeah. And then I got really just sailing and started in racing. And then I was then I raced for the University of California at Irvine and, and I was just really into sailing, but then life happens, you know, so I wanted to In business and after, you know, after college. And it turns out that 33 years later, after 13, I had the opportunity to sell my company for just enough money to think that I could afford to do this. Turns out that wasn’t true. But at least it gave me the notion that I might be able to try it. And I always wanted to make this dream come true. And so I, after selling the company, bought a boat, and, and left, and I and and I left everything behind, I left my career, and I left my income, and my security and my home and my partner of 20 years. And my identity of who I was as a CEO of a company. And I left and I sailed south to Mexico and then across the Pacific and certainly out if you keep going, you do end up right back where you started.
Coach Maddox 6:01
Wow. And so if I’m doing the math, right, you would have been roughly 46 when you made that trip.
Larry Jacobson 6:07
I was 46 When I left and came back six years later,
Coach Maddox 6:10
took six years to go all the way around the world.
Larry Jacobson 6:13
Yeah. 40,455 nautical miles. Wow. And Latrice.
Coach Maddox 6:20
Larry, did your parents live to see you do that?
Larry Jacobson 6:24
My mother did. My father died when he was young. He died at age 59. And, but my mother was around. And I named my boat after her Julia. And she lived to see the whole circumnavigation and the production of my publishing of my book about about the chair journey, which got a little plug here, which won six literary awards and, and became an Amazon number one. And she was very proud, very happy. She didn’t want me to go. I mean, she was you know what Jewish mother wants to see their son sail away. And there, you know, she, but she was very proud of me when I completed it.
Coach Maddox 7:11
Well, that’s a pretty, pretty risky thing. How big was the boat that you sailed in?
Larry Jacobson 7:16
Was 50 foot 25 tons. For those sailors, it was a cutter rigged sloop. And it was it was a big boat to handle. Especially in the marinas and you know in tight quarters, but when you’re at sea 50 feet is not very big.
Coach Maddox 7:38
No, no, it’s not. I’ve been on some cruise ships when the weather’s the weather got a little rough and 50 foot boat would be very small in that kind of area small
Larry Jacobson 7:47
about the size of two cabins
Coach Maddox 7:50
weather. Wow. Yeah. Well, I would love to know. I’m trying to think how to ask this question as you contemplated making this trip before you ever got in the boat. Got in your sailboat? What was the hardest part about making that decision to do that? I mean, you gave up a lot. You clearly gave up a lot was the partner partner waiting for you when you returned?
Larry Jacobson 8:20
We he was there? Absolutely. We we actually owned our business together. We own the business together, we own our home together. And the Berkeley Hills beautiful home. And when I got back, I mean, and then when I left what he didn’t want to go sailing. I mean, I asked him, he didn’t want to go sailing. And you get seasick and he wanted to become an artist. And so we both decided, alright, this is our time, I’ll go sailing, you become an artist, we’ll see what happens. And when I came home, we were great friends. And but but I didn’t move back into the into the home. And in fact, and now we are absolute best friends. And we’re I would say closer now than we ever have been in our lives. And so that’s that’s actually turned out really, really well. That sounds amazing. But what was the hardest thing to leave I mean, I let leave it at all was it was difficult, leaving everything but I would say leaving the hardest thing is to leave our identity behind. You know who you are as I mean who I built myself over 20 year career to be you know, businessman and CEO, CEO of this company and and you know, I was driving of fast cars and flying business class and all that stuff and and then just everything cut off. And now I’m a sailing bum, drinking margaritas and singing Jimmy Buffett songs. So to go from one identity to the other is a real Challenge. No, I can’t even imagine. Yeah, that’s a lot what I what I coach on as well, you know, for people who are retiring, as a lot of my coaching is leaving that identity. For a new one.
Coach Maddox 10:14
I had a very wise person say to me one time that when you build your identity on things that can be taken away from you, you will always be on shaky ground. It’s like building your, your house on a sound foundation of sand. But when you can build your identity around who you are on the inside, the things that can’t be taken away from you, then you have a foundation that’s on bedrock. And I took that to heart and I thought about that most of my life.
Larry Jacobson 10:46
I love that. Yeah. And I would say that, I mean, I had a good foundation, but the trip itself is what really, I think made me It certainly made me into who I am now. It changed so much of me changed my views of the world in so many ways. And you know about what’s important in life. And those physical things just aren’t they just not valued is diminished. And I found that people in the around the world who, who have the least were the happiest.
Coach Maddox 11:23
I think you’re exactly right. In my I’m not, not terribly traveled. But in the travels that I have done, I’ve seen exactly that the people that had the least were the happiest.
Larry Jacobson 11:34
Yep, that’s right. And so it was it was a challenge to leave. Um, but, you know, there’s, I would say the most difficult, scariest, challenging, exciting day of my life was the day that I sailed out the Golden Gate. And I mean, that was scarier than anything else that we encountered along the way. And there were some really scary things that happened to us along the way. And what,
Coach Maddox 12:08
what do you think, aided you in having the courage to bite off something so big? It’s so profound?
Larry Jacobson 12:20
What gave me the courage,
Coach Maddox 12:22
because I can’t even fathom what you’re talking about passion.
Larry Jacobson 12:28
And in fact, the when I got back, I ended up giving two TED Talks. And the first one was called Passion, Trump’s fear. And the theme of that is that if you’re passionate about that enough about something, it will drive you through any fears that you have. And that’s what drove me is that passionate, I, I really wanted to sail around the world. And there were so many times that it was so challenging that I really wanted to throw in the towel. But my passion kept me going. And I would say that, that. That’s what gave me the courage.
Coach Maddox 13:11
Larry, with your permission, I would very much like to add a link to that TED Talk in in the show notes for this episode, if that would be okay with you. Can we do? Absolutely,
Larry Jacobson 13:20
absolutely. In fact, to make it easy. If it’s on my website, people can watch it on my website. So yeah, you want me to give that to you now or later? No, we’ll
Coach Maddox 13:32
get that later. Yeah, good. So it’s all good. I just think that’s, I would like to see that. And I’m sure that some of the other listeners would like to see that now that you’ve mentioned. So we’ll make sure it’s in there.
Larry Jacobson 13:44
And then the second TED talk I gave was about achieving big things, making big accomplishments and how to do that. And that was called Passion, priorities and perseverance. And I wouldn’t say that I had all three of those things in order in order to go well, you
Coach Maddox 14:04
know, I think the thing about it is, when we overcome fear, it translates out to into other air every area of our life.
Larry Jacobson 14:14
Well, one of the things that, you know, I talk a lot about fear, and it’s kind of become my speciality and speaking, I don’t sure how that happened, but maybe because I faced so many fears. And I teach that you don’t overcome fears. It’s when you’re standing in a boat, a small boat behind the wheel and you’re pounding into 30 foot seas, which are the size of three storey houses. There is no overcoming the fear, you are still afraid. It’s about how to manage that fear. And then I teach that there. It’s really just a two step process. The first step is right Recognizing that you’re afraid. And the second step is embracing it. And then knowing that fear, I say that fear is nature’s way of making us focus on the task at hand. Right? It’s either fight, flight, or freeze. But you can’t freeze. If you’re at the helm of your boat, and you can’t fly. You can’t get get away. So there’s no, there is no choice but to fight. But the fear doesn’t go away. You know,
Coach Maddox 15:31
I think you’re right. If they are and you do it anyway. You have
Larry Jacobson 15:34
to embrace it and just say, Okay, I’m afraid. I know, it’s making me strong. It’s making me focused right now. And you use that fear to your advantage. And it took being scared so many times to learn that. And we finally I finally learned that in the Red Sea, this huge storm that we were caught in, like I said, with 30 foot seas and 60, knot winds. It was just, it was was it? It wasn’t scary. It was terrifying.
Coach Maddox 16:07
Oh, I can’t even imagine.
Larry Jacobson 16:09
Yeah, but you don’t have any choice. What do you do you deal with it? You face it? Absolutely. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 16:18
So is it typical for about that size to take six years to go around the world? Or were you just really enjoying the trip along the way?
Larry Jacobson 16:28
Well, I was, I wasn’t racing to get around the world. But when I left, I only thought that I’d be gone for two or three years, because it can be done in in a couple, two or three years. But ended up stopping in places. We stopped in New Zealand for 10 months. And basically what you’re doing is you’re following the weather. So you go into the South Pacific during the the good season, and then it becomes hurricane season there. So you have to sail either north or south to get out of hurricane season. So you sail south in New Zealand, then back up into the Pacific for another season of of beautiful sailing. And then you’ve got to get back out of the hurricane season. So we went back down to Australia, and stayed there about eight or eight months or so. We also stopped in Thailand for three months in Turkey for about 10 months in Israel for three months, in Barcelona in Barcelona for a month. And, you know, so yeah, we definitely enjoyed our way around the world. And I was with a friend of my dear friend of mine, Ken and I, who was kind of a sailing buddy. And then we became very close on the trip, if you will, if you can read between those lines?
Coach Maddox 17:57
Well, yeah, six years on a boat, you know, whereas Was it just the two of you? Or did you have some crew,
Larry Jacobson 18:05
for the most part, it was just the two of us, which was quite challenging. Because the boat, you’re sailing 24/7, the boat doesn’t you don’t stop, there’s no place to stop. So it’s three hours on three hours off on the watch. So someone’s always on watch. And it’s a big boat to handle for two people. When we crossed the three oceans, the Pacific, the Indian and the Atlantic, we took two more crew with us, people who are friends or people we met along the way who wanted to crew. And that helped with asleep factor. But the most challenging of the passages were the three days, two days, three days, four days, five day passages where we didn’t have other crew, it’s just us, that was quite a challenge. Because you’re looking you’re eating you’re you’re trying to sleep and a three hour off period, you don’t really get three hours because you’ve got to be back on watch. Exactly at the time when the other person goes off. So you’ve got to get up about a half 20 minutes earlier to get you know to get ready and and then your backup on watch. And so it’s about two hours and 15 minutes of sleep if you can fall asleep. And as captain, I found that really difficult to sleep,
Coach Maddox 19:26
I would imagine. Yeah. So you stopped in a gazillion different ports along the way over that six years. And you talk about sailing as an as an openly gay man. So what did you discover when you got into those varying different foreign places and how showing up as that openly gay man? Was that part of the challenge?
Larry Jacobson 19:54
Definitely. And I had decided at the beginning of The trip that that I would that I was not hiding anything wasn’t about to hide anything in the cruising community, you know, with other sailors, when we left and we sailed our first day on the coast of California, then in Mexico, we, we flew the rainbow flag all the way around the world. And except for a couple places, which I’ll mention in a minute, but for, for the most part, we had the flag up. And so when we would come into an anchorage, everybody knew that we were the gay boat. I was the gay guys over on that boat. But our boat kind of became the central of an anchorage and kind of the party boat. And families would send their kids over, because we would show movies in the afternoon, and we would make popcorn for them. And we had a water maker and some other boats didn’t, where we could, you know, we had our own desalinization plant on board, if you will. And they would send their kids over with a five gallon jug saying can we have some water, please? You know, so we became it was very friendly, and nice. There’s a, there’s a section in my book that talks about the one person who we discovered his true colors. And they weren’t that of the rainbow. And it was a rather nasty encounter. And, but that was pretty much it. Everywhere else that we went, where we flew the flag, nobody really cared. Nobody really bothered. In so many places around the world. It’s just not an issue. So we flew it in. I mean, we were there were some places where we didn’t fly it though. And we didn’t let we didn’t hide it. But we didn’t let on. You know, it’s not like we advertise it. So in Indonesia, it can be a challenge. And we didn’t have it up there. Singapore, was in Thailand, we had it up. And in the Maldives, which is very strict, strict Muslim country, we didn’t have it up. And then in the Middle East, so in Oman, Yemen, of the Red Sea, Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, those places we did not fly the rainbow flag. And because they’re just they’re very it’s not a it’s not popular to be gay there, shall we say?
Coach Maddox 22:42
It’s not a safe place. Yeah, you had to play. Why has that had nothing to do with hiding and everything to do with
just just being a sailors, we’re doing another boat safe, without taking care of yourself
Larry Jacobson 22:55
through the way to the top of the Red Sea, went through the Suez Canal, and then returned, you turn right and head to Israel. We put the rainbow flag up. And when we arrived in Israel, within about 15 minutes, this lovely couple came walking down the dock to women. And she points to the rainbow flag. And she goes us to. And we’re just more than welcome to Israel’s very openly gay. Wow. Yeah, it’s really cool.
Coach Maddox 23:27
You know, I think it’s amazing. And all the places that you did fly the flag that you only encountered one situation where it was, you know,
Larry Jacobson 23:38
ugly, and he was American from Texas.
Coach Maddox 23:41
Well, there you go. There you go. There you go. You know, I heard somebody say the other day, I live in Dallas, of course, and I don’t know whether it was a movie we were watching. And the line was, oh, Dallas is not in Texas. Right. And we got a big chuckle out of that. Because you know, in an ocean of, of red. You know, Dallas, Dallas is blue in this middle ocean of red.
Larry Jacobson 24:10
Right? It’s like what people say about Atlanta. The problem with Atlanta is that it’s surrounded by Georgia.
Coach Maddox 24:16
Yes. Exactly. It’s pretty much the same way here. Right. Right. And I’ve lived in Texas my whole life, and only about half of it’s been in Dallas. So I’ve lived in some of those scary areas.
Larry Jacobson 24:30
What have we found it was rather funny that when we when we were in an anchorage and you know, families were sending their kids over to Oh, go hang out on Julia, go hang out on that boat with those guys, you know, because then it gave the parents some time to be on their own. And they knew that we would we were harmless and taking good care of their kids. You know, so that was really neat. Actually. It was very it made us feel good.
Coach Maddox 24:58
That sounds really nice. Eat. Yeah. So what happened with your relationship with Ken once the the trip was over?
Larry Jacobson 25:09
Yeah. So we were we stayed together for five more years, once we got home, and that’s actually pretty long, for most circumnavigator years, most of the other circum navigators that we knew, who were couples ended up divorcing pretty quickly after the return. And so we stayed together for five years, and we split in. Oh, I think it was 2014. So, yeah.
Coach Maddox 25:44
So is it a common thing for people that go on a very, very long journey on a boat like that, to be happy for the relationship to turn into something intimate? Just because, you know, it’s, you’re the only two people in existence pretty much at that point.
Larry Jacobson 26:04
Well, Ken and I were intimate before we left. And, and even while I was with my partner, Bob, and then we all knew each other and everything, and everybody knew what was happening. And it was all fine. Bob, and I had just, you know, we were still together. And we, and that was great. But Ken was like, my weekend, bedroom buddy, shall we say and sailing, buddy? And then and then when we left? And to go sailing? It’s interesting. What happens is that yes, we were intimate. Yes, we were a couple. But I can only remember one time out of six years that we had sex out see one time and and it’s because you are just it’s it’s it that just makes lower priority compared to keeping the boat afloat? Even the boat sailing and all the breakdowns and monitoring the weather and navigation. And and it’s just an incredibly challenging thing to get a boat all the way around the world. Well, yeah,
Coach Maddox 27:22
I mean, you wouldn’t you wouldn’t slip into the back seat on the freeway and have sex. I mean, it makes sense to me. Somebody’s got to be driving the boat, you know? Yeah. Unless you’re going to, you know, do it right there and holding the wheel, which, you know, I’m sure is an option and possible, but
Larry Jacobson 27:41
yeah, but it’s your brain is just not there. Yeah, your mind is just on the on the boat. And that’s becomes your singular focus for the entire time. And I mean, there’s your there’s a daily dose of fear. Can always said that, sailing around the world was 30 days of sheer boredom, followed by 30 minutes of sheer terror. Wow. Yeah. Well, it was, but it was, if you
Coach Maddox 28:15
ever have any questions? Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Larry Jacobson 28:19
No, you go ahead.
Coach Maddox 28:21
I was gonna say were there any points during that six years when you like considered giving it up? Like, just can’t go any further?
Larry Jacobson 28:30
It’s a really good question. And Maddox. There were, it was, it became so frustrate, frustrating and challenging. The mechanical breakdowns on a boat, like on a typical sailboat it’s built for. I mean, the equipment is built for weekend sailing. It’s not built for continuous hard sailing for that long and being out in salt, air, and saltwater, which corrodes everything. And everything on a boat that can break breaks, from wires to engines to electronics. And it’s just a constant challenge. When we got to Singapore, I remember phoning my mother and saying, Mom, I’m, I’m thinking about coming home and selling the boat here in Singapore. And she goes, Oh, no, you don’t. She says, you don’t finish half of the time you finish all of the time. I’ll be here. When you get back. You keep going. And you go all the way around. And I thought, wow, if she’s telling me that because she really wanted me to not go in the first place. I thought, I guess I can do this. And so we kept going and then I mean, there were other times, I think in in Turkey and in Spain when things were breaking and I just, you know, at one point Each of us can and I would would would lose it, we would have like an emotional breakdown. And we had a rule. We could have an emotional breakdown, but not at the same time. Yeah, that makes one of us had to be stable, the other could have a breakdown, whatever can scream and kick in and whatever. But not at the same time. Wow.
Coach Maddox 30:26
And what you shared that your mom said to me, Wow, that just really started me. You know, I lost my mom 20 years ago, and just the way you delivered that just wow. Yeah,
Larry Jacobson 30:39
my mom was my best friend. And she was
Coach Maddox 30:45
say that about mine as well.
Larry Jacobson 30:47
Yeah, that’s really cool. She was such a good positive influence. And she was just in the book, there’s a description of a scene when we want to name the boat Julia. And I didn’t tell anybody only my crew only can do. And Bob knew that. We were that was naming the boat Julia. And that the naming ceremony, we had the it was here in Emeryville. And it was we had his blue canvas over the name, the name was really big, like about like that on the side. And we had this blue canvas over it. And Ken and another crew, Patrick, were were there, they had the strings attached to the bottom of the blue canvas ready to pull it up. And I went through this whole ceremony, which is in the book about asking the wind gods to keep Julius say, No, keep the boat safe and everything, and returned the old name back to the sea. And then I asked the gods to bless the new name, and the new boat, you know, as a new boat, going back out to sea. And so then, and there were about 100 people there at the naming ceremony. And my mother, I’d flown her up from Southern California. And she was the only person sitting in a chair. Everybody else was standing on the dock. And then I had one chair there, and she was sitting in the chair. And I said, Okay, and so you know, so Neptune, please bless this, you know, the name of this new boat, and I now pronounce the name as Julia. And the boys lifted up the canvas and my mother sitting there. And she’s, she’s looking at it. And everybody was like, applauding and everything. And you know, they just love it. And she was just sitting there looking. And all of a sudden, she goes, Hey, that’s my name. And it was just the most beautiful moment that I could ever possibly imagine. And she, you know, she started to cry, and I started to cry. I’m starting to cry now. And
Coach Maddox 33:12
nothing to be sorry for what a beautiful story. It was great. You got me choked up. Wow.
Larry Jacobson 33:18
It was really great. She loved it. Yeah. And it’s interesting, because, you know, I’m a believer in writing down your goals. I believe that when you write down your goals, it does something to your mind that, you know, that pretty much tells your mind this is going to happen. And I had written down in my goals 10 years earlier, on a PCL paper, I still have that the goals were to own a boat, 50 feet or bigger, and sail across the Pacific, and to honor my mother in some way. And so I had the boat, and I named it after her. And it was just yeah, it happened. It happened as I wrote it,
Coach Maddox 34:03
as you wrote it. Well, yeah, that’s that’s a real plug for the Law of Attraction if I ever heard one,
Larry Jacobson 34:09
isn’t that? Well, I think you know, the saying that once you make a decision the world conspires to make it happen. Yes. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 34:19
I believe that with all my heart.
Larry Jacobson 34:21
Coach Maddox 34:23
Well, what was what was maybe the standout place out of all the places that you visited? What was the standout place that really wowed you?
Larry Jacobson 34:36
Um, well, that, I guess, let me let’s get more specific for what? So for example, for beautiful it’s this is French Polynesia, the South Pacific. I mean, that’s just, you know, that the French got all the beautiful islands. They, you know, it’s just can’t be met. cost anywhere, really, for also beautiful scenery, and incredibly friendly people and warm and welcome New Zealand for partying and having a fun time, it’s got to be Sydney, Australia. And Thailand was also very friendly. But the standout place if I had to just pick one, and the biggest surprise was Tel Aviv, Israel. And we went to Israel after we came through the Suez Canal, thinking that well, we were headed to Turkey, because that’s where they’re really good sailing is, and cruising grounds is in Turkey. But we figured, well, we’ll stop in Israel for fuel, get some more food and you know, and, and, of course, I wanted to see the pine forest where, as a kid, I used to bring $1 to temple every Sunday. And they said, they’re planting a forest in Israel, you know, from our local temple in Long Beach, which it turns out, by the way, that I did see, and that we were in a rental car, we were driving along, and I see this sign on the side of the road. And it says pine forest. I mean, Israel is all forests and green. And it’s like the, it’s the Central Valley in California. I mean, it’s, there’s very little desert left. And it’s amazing what they’ve done. And I see this sign it says this forest planted by Campbell, Beth Shalom, Long Beach, California. And I thought, stop the car, stop the car, stop the car. It was so cool. Yeah. So my dollar every Sunday went to that forest. But we went there for a week thinking we save for a week, and we stayed for three months. Wow. It’s just one good time after another. We went to the gay parade in Tel Aviv, where their snipers on the rooftops and you know, for protection and, and everything and you know, security, you want to talk about security. I remember one night, Ken and I went out to a club in Tel Aviv to a dance club. And as you’re going in, they search you. And when they search you, they don’t just you know, tap tap tap that, you know, it’s the real deal. And so they found in Ken’s pocket, they said, Can you take that out for us? It was his chapstick, you know, his lip chapstick. And they said, and they open it up and they turn it in, okay, fine. You can have it back and everything. And then they said, Okay, you can go ahead. And Ken says, No, it’s okay. You can do more if you want.
Coach Maddox 37:46
Larry Jacobson 37:47
Yeah. And it was just, it was just one surprise after another. It was great. And when we arrived at Israel, and we’ve arrived in a place called Ashkelon, and the rockets from Gaza were landing about 10 miles south of us. And helicopters flying overhead and everything. It was just such a contrast of, of feelings there.
Coach Maddox 38:16
Oh, I can’t even imagine.
Larry Jacobson 38:19
Yeah, but it was really great. It’s such a great city. And, and very, as I said, very openly gay. I mean, just amazing.
Coach Maddox 38:29
Did you take a lot of photos all along the way?
Larry Jacobson 38:32
Only 8000. Only 8000. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 38:36
Well, you know, that’s not a lot of photos. When you consider six years. You’re right. Only.
Larry Jacobson 38:43
There’s a on my website on the homepage on Larry jacobson.com. There’s a 30 minute movie that we spliced together of different footages from all over all around the world. And so it’s a fun thing to watch. recommend that.
Coach Maddox 38:59
Well, and how did you figure out that you were the first openly gay person to sail all the way around the world? How did you determine that?
Larry Jacobson 39:08
Good question, because we’ve, I’ve been asked that by a lot of people. And one thing is what the main thing is when we got home, there’s a magazine here in San Francisco area called latitude 38. And it’s the premier sailing magazine of the area, and I’m actually of California. And they did a two page spread on us on what’s called the rainbow circumnavigation. And that’s what I still, you know, said to them? Well, I think that we’re the first openly gay couple or person just sail around the world. And they said, Well, let’s find out. And so they posted this in their magazine, and then they said, comments, please. I know and so would, you know, send us in if you No, have someone else who was gay who sailed around the world. And comments came in from all over all over the country. And people saying, no, they’re not the first gay ones because I knew a guy in Panama, who was sailing alone. And I think that he was gay. But he actually only went as far as Panama. So I guess not, you know, that kind of stuff that someone else would write in saying, well, we knew a couple who were sitting sailing. Well, actually, it was a couple of guys, actually, we don’t know if they were gay or not, you know. And so all these things kept coming in. And then it got that got syndicated to sail magazine, which is really an East Coast publication. And one thing led to another and it just this flood of, of people saying, Hey, I’m going to challenge it, and then they had nothing to back it up. And so I claimed it. And I haven’t hasn’t been challenged since I called Guinness, to, you know, tell them about it and everything. And they said, No, we don’t accept sexuality, preferences for our records. I said, Oh,
Coach Maddox 41:12
I need to get up with the times, don’t they?
Larry Jacobson 41:15
Yeah, actually, yeah. For those people who work at get us listening. Yeah, but it’s possible. I mean, certainly. I mean, a lot of there’s a lot of speculation that you know, Magellan was gay. And of course, everybody knows everybody’s been in the Navy knows that. Once you’re at sea for two weeks. Well, it’s no longer gay.
Coach Maddox 41:38
Yeah, that makes sense.
Larry Jacobson 41:41
Yeah. Well, what I claim it and I’m sticking to it until someone else can prove me wrong.
Coach Maddox 41:49
Can can overturn it. Yeah. I don’t blame you. Exactly. When you finish the trip and came back. Did you sail back into the Golden Gate area?
Larry Jacobson 41:59
Oh, yeah. So when you
Coach Maddox 42:04
when you got off, you know, got off the sailboat and went filtered back into society as it were. What was that like?
Larry Jacobson 42:14
Yeah, good question. Well, the first thing, actually, when I stepped off the boat, I did the ceremonial what you’re what you typically, you know, his tradition is you kneel down and you kiss the doc. And then I stood up and I said, Well, is there about 50 people that are waiting for us, and there are people on the Golden Gate Bridge with signs, welcoming us home shouting, and there were boats that came out to greet us and, and everything. And so on the dock, I kissed the dock, raised a glass of champagne, that would have been handed to me. And I said, I’d like to make an announcement. It’s great to be home and everything is for sale.
Coach Maddox 43:00
You were done. Huh? I was done. Have you not sailed since then?
Larry Jacobson 43:04
Oh, no, I sail all the time. But I sail on Opie boats now. Other persons? Oh,
Coach Maddox 43:11
Larry Jacobson 43:12
But, um, it was? It’s a really good question. Because to tell you the truth, I was. I was lost. I was I was lost for four years. After returning. I took three years to write in the book, the boy behind the gate. And during that time, I think I stretched it out a little bit longer than I needed to, mainly because I didn’t know what to do. And I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I didn’t I couldn’t relate to anything. And it wasn’t because anything here changed. But it was because I had changed.
Coach Maddox 43:51
You had changed. I was just going to ask that. Yeah. What was it like seeing your mom for the first time after six years?
Larry Jacobson 44:08
Incredible. Fabulous. just overjoyed. I mean, she was a there’s a picture that I think it was Bob who took that. She and I hugging when I showed up at her at her door. And it was long as hug I’ve ever had.
Coach Maddox 44:37
Wow. And probably the best hug you’ve ever had. Yeah.
Larry Jacobson 44:40
Yeah, it was great. When I published the book, she would she would give me some of those books. And she had him in her in her place down in Long Beach. And every time a friend would come over she’d say, you want a copy of Larry’s book? And they go you know, friends? Oh yeah, great. She got 20 bucks.
Coach Maddox 45:01
In a way she was selling,
Larry Jacobson 45:02
he was selling him.
Coach Maddox 45:04
That’s a proud mama.
Larry Jacobson 45:05
He was very proud. Yeah, very proud. And I don’t know if she recognized, you know what? I think she did recognize how difficult it was and how challenging it was. Because all during the journey, I was sending emails back to friends and family. How are we doing? You know, what’s going on? How are you know what it’s like, and they were descriptive emails. And so we had her set up so that she could get emails. And so you know, people knew what was happening is interesting, actually, in the book. At one point, there’s an email that goes back to everybody that says, Oh, this is wonderful. It’s sunny and happy and beautiful. And we’re enjoying ourselves and everything like that. And then my personal journal is in the book as well. And the same day is an entry that says, That’s it, I’ve had it. I’m selling the boat of the next port. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. So it was, I just, there were a lot of ups and downs.
Coach Maddox 46:10
And after, I mean, you said it took a long time, after you came back, how did you finally get your footing? Yeah,
Larry Jacobson 46:19
um, I was, after writing the book, that kind of got me going, because then I got, I started getting invited to speak. And, and so I started speaking about achievement and challenges and, and, you know, fear and passion. And that, then I got the two, the two TED talks, and I thought, well, this is good. But I still didn’t feel that I was that I was achieving anything. And my contentment comes from achievement. I know that now.
Coach Maddox 46:57
Well, and I suspect you are also using yourself as your previous self as the measuring stick.
Larry Jacobson 47:05
Yeah, maybe so. But in a lot of ways, I really wanted to let that go. Like I was invited back by another company, to go back into the same industry that I was in, and I resisted, and said, No, I don’t want to do that I need to do something different. It’s not that is my past. And now I want to reinvent myself. Well, it turns out, I got a call from a friend who was a CEO of another company. And he said, Hey, Larry, can you come in and give me some advice on something? And I’m in a big company in San Francisco? And I said, Yeah, sure. So I go over, and I go to his office, and I said, So what do you need advice on personnel or finance? You know, what? And he says, No, I know how to do all that stuff. I’m the CEO. Okay, what do you need? He says, I want to know how you did it. How you got out? How you left your identity behind from CEO to become a sailing bum, basically, how did you do that? How did you let go? And it kind of caught me by surprise, you know, and so I thought about it for a little bit and gave him man Oh, I don’t know, a couple of ideas. And then about a week later, I got a call from another guy who is a CEO, and a friend of the first one. And he said, Hey, can you come in and give me some advice on something? And I go in? And he same questions. How did you do it? How did you get out? And I thought, hmm, I might be honest, I’ve been here. And that’s how I got into coaching.
Coach Maddox 48:39
So So Larry, if you had to sum it up in just a sentence or two, which may be very hard to do.
Larry Jacobson 48:47
For me, yes.
Coach Maddox 48:49
How did you get get out? How did you leave all that identity and, and all of the luxury and the, you know, the houses the cars, the title The the bank account? How did you get out? Yeah.
Larry Jacobson 49:07
Well, that’s how what I did is actually after these two guys, the CEOs asked me about how I did it, I took another year. And that’s how I I reverse engineered all the thoughts, ideas and actions that I think that I had taken during that process. And that’s how I created that online, my online video program that was called sail into retirement, and which really should just be called sail into transition because it’s for really any transition. And and I go through the steps of visioning, picturing what it would be like to be doing that, instead of what I was doing, and and picturing myself in that picture and being happy as a sailor And then then I decided that I had to turn that vision into goals. Because, you know, dream is just a dream, it’s how you add a calendar and a plan. And so I set goals, you know, my fiscal goals, and if you want to go sailing around the world, well, you’re gonna need a boat. And then you’re going to need crew, and then you’re going to need some some knowledge. And, you know, these are all things that are on a list of, of goals that I set for myself. And it was three years, from the time I decided to go sailing, and then I left. So that was a three year process. And then, you know, after goals, it was like, Okay, well, what are the risks, you know, that I was taking? And what am I good at? And what do I need more knowledge in. And, you know, there’s this whole the whole process, and that’s what that course takes people through the end. And I write in the book that I felt like I was on a runaway freight train, that just couldn’t stop. And that was my passion, that I just, I knew I wanted to do this. And I knew I was sacrificing all of these things. I knew I was, you know, leaving everything behind, and everybody and, you know, I mean, Bob, and I, you know, we cried, and we, you know, and, and, but we said, this is what we have to do. And he says you have to go, this is your chance. And I said, well, then you’ve got to become an artist, this is your chance, you know, so and it turns out that halfway around the world, I ran out of money. And I ended up selling my half of the house to Bob. So I could afford for the rest of the trip. And by the time I got home, then I was broke again. And I and it didn’t matter. I was I had achieved my ultimate dream. And I pay see my life now as pre trip and post trip. And even though my pre trip was great years, wonderful years, I like me better now. After this whole thing was good for me.
Coach Maddox 52:18
Wow, it sounds like it was really good for you. How would you say you we started this conversation off with you talking about what it meant to you to be an authentic a gay man? How would you say that the challenge is, with this sale, that this trip that you made around the world over six years? How does that correlate? How did that contribute to that definition that you shared earlier?
Larry Jacobson 52:47
Definitely. It made me strong, much stronger. It made me more resilient, it made me know, it gave me the confidence to know that I could do anything that I set my mind to, and that I could be who I am. And then anybody could challenge me on any aspect of my life. But I belong to this very, very small club of circle navigators. That is that tests the ultimate, I think in in spirit, tenacity, perseverance, and and sticking with your decision about who you are and what you’re what you’re capable of doing and being I think it just strengthened me in that in so many ways like that. I mean, it’s just, it’s the challenges. Were beyond anything that I ever expected. I was a sailor, I was just like a local sailor, you know, but the but sailing around the world is, is they say it’s sailing around the world is fixing your boat in foreign ports with no parts or money. And, you know, you just become like the MacGyver, you know, where you can fix anything, you can do anything, you can stand up to anything.
Coach Maddox 54:19
You become incredibly resourceful,
Larry Jacobson 54:21
you become very resourceful and that apply all that applies to being authentic gay, man. I mean, it’s no one can tell me that I have to hide being gay anymore.
Coach Maddox 54:32
All of it applies to just life in general. DevNet
Larry Jacobson 54:36
it does. It does. I mean, I think maybe why so few people complete a circumnavigation. The it’s just, it’s just so difficult. A lot of people leave intending to circumnavigate, but those that leave from California usually ended up stopping in New Zealand and took Keep going is quite a challenge.
Coach Maddox 55:03
Wow. Yeah. What an amazing story.
Larry Jacobson 55:09
And you can read about it jacket
Coach Maddox 55:10
is is just like what what we say and you can read about it too? Absolutely. Absolutely.
Larry Jacobson 55:19
Yeah, it was it was a big challenge. And I really does apply. I mean, I don’t think anybody’s ever asked me this before the questions you’re asking about, you know, how does that apply to being an authentic gay man? But I really, I think there’s a direct correlation there. Oh, I
Coach Maddox 55:37
I completely agree. Yeah. Completely agree. So I take it, Julie is no longer with us.
Larry Jacobson 55:46
Neither Julia is no longer with us, right? My mother’s past. And Julia, I sold when we got back in 2007. Which was a really bad time to try to sell a boat, you know, the the crash of 2007 and eight and all that. But I sold her. And she was bought by a couple in Oregon who had two little kids. And they sailed her across the Pacific, as far as New Zealand. And then they sold her in New Zealand. And from what I understand, she’s in New Zealand now, which to me is where a boat belongs.
Coach Maddox 56:28
That’s wonderful. Yeah.
Larry Jacobson 56:30
I mean, I’m
Coach Maddox 56:33
I miss it. Oh, I bet it’s such a big part of your life. I just, it was
Larry Jacobson 56:41
the six years, we always said that being on board a boat is like a dog year. And so in so many ways. And I mean, it just be the boat becomes part of you, you become part of the boat. I could hear I hear everything that you know, little changes in from wind direction to the boats, steering gear, you know, I could, you know, I was just in tune with it all. And of course, being with somebody on a boat in for a dog year, you know, that’s six years kind of seven. That’s 42 years together with Ken. So, you know, it’s you really get to know somebody.
Coach Maddox 57:24
Oh, I bet. Like I can’t even imagine that really get to know so
Larry Jacobson 57:28
there’s no hiding and no privacy. No, no, no, no. No. And I still have that. I mean, there’s some most of it is good. The memories and everything. But I still have what a friend in a friend of mine said that, that I still have I have PTSD from it, which is you know, when if it’s really storming and rainy, and really, really windy. Even in my apartment here. I can’t sleep. Yeah. Make sense. And it’s, they call it post traumatic distress. I call it post traumatic sailor’s disorder. But it’s, you know, it’s it just sticks with you. The the there’s the scene when when you read in the book about the scene in the Red Sea, when the winds blowing 60 knots for 24 hours, and the seas are 30 feet. The it was so terrifying. That it just sticks with you.
Coach Maddox 58:34
Yeah, I’ve never experienced anything remotely like that has given me chills just thinking about it up to well, what a lovely story. And thank you, Larry, so much for sharing that I really enjoyed hearing it. I mean, I knew that you had sailed around the world, but to have you unpack it and share the details, the sorrows, the joys, all of it. What a what a great story.
Larry Jacobson 59:00
Yeah, thank you. Thank you
Coach Maddox 59:02
how it contributed to your life. And now how you’re, you know, sharing what you learned with with others.
Larry Jacobson 59:10
Yeah. And it I think it’s, it’s given me a lot of insight into a lot of different aspects. I mean, I, I do leadership workshops for corporations. And in the stories that I use, you know, the best way to make a point is using a story. And the stories I use are almost all from my sailing journey.
Coach Maddox 59:35
That makes sense. I love stories. I’m a storyteller myself. I don’t have anything quite like that to tell, but I’m a storyteller myself.
Larry Jacobson 59:42
Yeah, yeah. Well, you can listen to the book on Audible too.
Coach Maddox 59:46
Yes, yes, I think. I think my partner is reading your
Larry Jacobson 59:50
book. That’s right. Yes. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Right. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 59:54
I think he’s got a couple of books going but he is he is reading it.
Larry Jacobson 59:57
Good. Good. Glad to hear it.
Coach Maddox 59:58
So our Are you ready for some rapid fire questions?
Larry Jacobson 1:00:04
Coach Maddox 1:00:05
right, well, for rapid fire answers, you know, so you want short answers. Yep. Just go go straight to the, you know, to the point, I guess what matters most to you and ye
Larry Jacobson 1:00:19
friends there’s no greater treasure in the world than friendship.
Coach Maddox 1:00:28
I agree. What a beautiful answer. I fully agree. I bet everybody in my life has heard me say that I’ve come to the point in life when I realized that my greatest resource aside from air, water and food are my relationships. Absolutely. That’s beautiful. If you could go back in time and say anything to the younger you, what would you tell him?
Larry Jacobson 1:01:07
Take auto mechanics in high school.
Coach Maddox 1:01:12
That’s great. That would have come in handy, wouldn’t it?
Larry Jacobson 1:01:15
My father begged me when I was in high school to take auto mechanics. He had been a mechanic and airplane mechanic in the war. And he said you’re going to need this someday take auto mechanics. But no, I wanted to be going to student government and became class president. But he goes well, that’s just a mistake. Anyway. Well, at see many times I said, Dad, you’re right.
Coach Maddox 1:01:40
Wow, that’s great. I love that. That’s funny. That’s humorous. It’s very funny. If you only had moments to live, what would be your greatest regret?
Larry Jacobson 1:01:56
I don’t have any regrets. Except one financial regret, which is that I didn’t buy more real estate. But I have no regrets. I don’t I don’t live my life in any way that makes gives me regrets.
Coach Maddox 1:02:11
That’s that’s a pretty powerful thing statement to make. Larry, I doubt very many people could say what you just said. That’s beautiful.
Unknown Speaker 1:02:21
I hope it’s true. Well, I
Coach Maddox 1:02:23
mean, you know, your your story about sailing around the world definitely shows that you don’t hesitate to, to grab life by the balls.
Larry Jacobson 1:02:34
Yeah. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 1:02:40
Well, this has been Truly amazing. I really enjoyed our conversation. And I know that the listeners will as well. The one thing I want to leave you with before we part is to let you know that in my eyes, you are indeed an authentic gay man and thank you for your contribution to our community.
Larry Jacobson 1:02:58
Thank you very much. I appreciate that coming from you. That means a lot to me. Thank you, Maddox.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai