Last summer, Sami Inkinen, cofounder of the Trulia real estate website, and his wife, Meredith Loring, set out to row an ocean boat from Monterey, California, to Honolulu. They were to cover the distance, a straight-shot, 2,765 miles, with only physical effort, sometimes rowing together and otherwise taking turns for round-the-clock propulsion.
Why? “I was inspired by Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, and the descriptions of the vast, wild ocean,” says Inkinen. Also, he says, the trip was an effort to raise awareness about the harmful effects of sugar in our diets.
Some might call the quest crazy, but Inkinen points out that with rigorous training and careful analysis, the trip wasn’t really risky from a life-and-death perspective. It was grueling (Inkinen lost 26 pounds), but he says the raw natural experience and exploring of personal limits was actually restorative.
“Typically we use our bodies to carry our brains from meeting to meeting,” he says. “So to suffer physically in a way is good for you.” Mentally, Inkinen says, he honed skills exceedingly valuable in everyday life: how to overcome setbacks; staying focused on the moment; how to plan for and manage factors you can control; and training your brain not to cling to external factors you can’t control. “This lesson was particularly important for me when changing winds and currents slowed our progress from 60 nautical miles per day to 45,” he says.
Coincidentally, as the couple rowed, Trulia was being sold to Zillow for $3.5 billion in stock at the time of the announcement; Inkinen says this wasn’t a distraction. And after 45 days of rowing, the couple reached Honolulu, beating their goal of 60 days and setting a pairs world record for rowing across the Pacific.
Sami Inkinen earned his MBA from Stanford GSB in 2005, the same year he and classmate Pete Flint cofounded Trulia. Learn more about them online.