Over My Skis

Photo by Maarten Duineveld on Unsplash

I had been thinking of writing this post a few times in the week and a half leading up to today’s SEAL Awards 2020 Environmental Policy Endorsement.

The title had to be “Over My Ski’s” – a saying I’ve used over the years when over-extended and taking on something too much.

Our presidential endorsement was the second time in 2019 that our impact work at SEAL has led to this “overwhelmed due to an ambitious project of my own making” feeling.

To put it lightly, going it alone and telling the CEO of Yelp to #SuckLess (our branding “play” on reducing straw usage by better highlighting sustainable restaurants in their listings) – especially after a partnership with environmental advocacy group gently fell apart – felt insane at the time.

Stepping into a presidential cycle – way outside our organization’s intended scope of focusing on environmental journalism and corporate sustainability awardswas arguably more ambitious.


  • The stakes are higher – it is not hyperbole to say the 2020 election has the power to radically impact whether we address the climate crisis or not. With all due respect to Yelp, #SuckLess was at best a building block.
  • The risk of doing harm – the first piece of advice I received when discussing SEAL issuing an endorsement was “to do no harm.”

Will SEAL get over our skis again? 100% for sure. Why?

  • If not now, when? Using the endorsement example, 2024 is a long way out – while SEAL might have more resources and relationship then, our existential crisis will keep compounding everyday.
  • The wildly ambitious project takes a comparable amount of effort as a modest one. To be fair, the mental burden of the ambitious route is higher. But the actual execution involved is pretty similar.
  • Your development rapidly compounds taking on initiatives like these. From Yelp #SuckLess, we quickly learned about the power of youth activists, “things that don’t scale” outreach, and paid advertising. All of those three elements were critical in making our endorsement a reality. I am immensely grateful we had activists from EarthEcho International, US Youth Climate Strike, ThinkOcean Global, and Sunrise Movement serve on our panel.

All in all, projects like this reinforce what I wrote prior to these two wildly ambitious projects:

The thinking required by writing caused me to revisit and grade past decisions in a way I would not have otherwise. Evaluating past decisions showed me that making ambitious bets – like including environmental journalism awards from Day 1 as a pillar of SEAL – generally were the right choices.

P.S. Getting out over your skis is the only way a small, resource-constrained group makes it into Fast Company.