How “Jago A Life Underwater” Made Me A Better Salesman

Away from the waves to tell a story…

Consider storytelling for a minute.

Now consider GREAT storytelling.

Walt Disney…

In my years as a professional sales executive, the most consistent and successful sales people were nearly always great storytellers.

Those few individuals who could place you “in the picture” with their details, emotions and descriptions of something that had happened to them, however trivial it may have been.

Whether to make a sale, or doing something as random as trying to get to work on time, good storytellers could grab your attention and sell you their idea.

Once, not very long ago…

Storytelling is also universal.

And this to me has never been more apparent than watching an incredible documentary which puts the power of storytelling at the forefront of how we, as humans, have communicated with each other for countless generations.

And how storytelling is relevant, whether it be in modern society, or in a tiny community of sea nomads, in the middle of the Southeast Asian Sea.

This is my review off the documentary: Jago A Life Underwater, and the impact it had by making me a better salesman.

The gold nugget…

I must confess that I was looking for some inspiration. As a writer, “writer’s block” is common malady that you must accept and overcome.

So, I started to look for articles and stories that would take me a bit away from surfing and other water board sports in my blog, which, currently, make up almost 90% of my website.

I looked at magazines, surfed the internet for a couple of hours, but nothing intrigued me. I decided to take a break and went to my Netflix account.

As I went from program to program, and series to series, I began to feel that this was also a waste of time. But then, going over the documentary listings, I found it.

A thin boy, standing above a multicolored brain reef, sun rays making magical lights through crystal clear waters. The title of the documentary immediately intrigued me: Jago A Life Underwater.

It was late so I decided I should set a time to watch this promising piece and give it my full attention. Next day, my wife had the evening shift at her hotel, so this would be the perfect time to watch the documentary without any interruptions.

My review…

Jago A Life Underwater is the life account of Rohani, an 80-year old sea nomad living in the Southeast Asian sea, in a spec of an island located in the Togian Islands, in the Coral Triangle.

Through Rohani’s very particular perspective, we get an intimate glimpse at his life, from his childhood, romping and enjoying life with his island friends, through his adolescent life, preparing to be a sea hunter, on through his adulthood, as a full-fledged sea nomad, arriving at his golden years, a grizzled, old man, with a vast knowledge of the sea.

Throughout the documentary, we have the unique opportunity to observe the importance of storytelling in Bajau culture, and how important this part of their culture is to preserve their traditions through generations.

Rohani is a master storyteller and that alone bestows uppon him a privileged position in the village; however, his first and foremost passion is the sea and that’s where the documentary’s production strength really shines.

The underwater shots are breathtaking.

The Togian Islands live coral reefs, teeming with multi color underwater life, are astounding and literally come to life before you, specially when viewed in 4k.

The crystal clear waters and lush jungles surrounding the islands, at times seen from Rohani’s perspective as he snorkels and sails from coral head to coral head, are beautiful and mesmerizing.

But it is when the production takes to the sky, very possibly through the use of waterproof drones with camera, where the islands’ waters become the main protagonist.

Turquoise blues, crystal clear atolls, myriad-color reef breaks and drop offs, and the list goes on. Jago A Life Underwater is a joy to watch, both underwater and above it.

And through it all, Rohani’s simple, yet powerful account of his trials, from adolescence to manhood, allow the reader an intimate glimpse at a life style nearing extinction.

Places like the Togian Islands remain under real threat of disappearing completely due to global warming and climate change.

This is why it remains relevant to anyone who is advocating for ocean awareness and care for our oceans to give this amazing documentary an opportunity to reflect, enchant, and educate.

Do you have a documentary that has left a lasting footprint in your memory? Did it teach you to become better at a certain activity? Perhaps it inspired you to become a better person or professional, as was my case in sales, after seeing Jago A Life Underwater. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the comment box below. I will be very glad to answer back and share opinions with you. Thanks for reading this article!


The Hidden Mystery Behind Scheck Exley

When Myth Becomes Legend…

Every sport has personalities which transcend and go beyond the ordinary.

These individuals, with their unwavering courage and persistence, their incredible vision and steadfast commitment to their beliefs, have left an undeniable footprint in our hearts and memories.

In basketball, Magic Johnson & Michael Jordan, in Football, Tom Brady & Peyton Manning; in Soccer, Pele & Messi, in Formula 1, Ayrton Senna & Michael Schumacher.

In the ever evolving world of action water sports, legends, both living and dead, have also made a positive impact, leaving a legacy of excellence and commitment.

They may not be as famous as the mainstream sports heroes mentioned above. But their contributions cannot be denied.

Sheck Exley

In surfing: Laird Hamilton & Kelly Slater; in windsurfing: Peter Cabrinha and Robby Naish; and in extreme deep SCUBA diving, Jack Cousteau & Sheck Exley…when myth becomes legend.

It is because of this very reason, for their efforts, vision, and courage, that they stand out from the rest.


That is why, when one of these bright luminaries’ lives is suddenly and inexplicably snuffed out, the entire watermen community suffers, mourns and saddens.

For these are the rarest of individuals, almost super gifted, and to see their like again is very unlikely. Sheck Exley was such a rare individual.

Calculus Teacher, Karate Expert and Seasoned Cave Diver… At age 23!

Sheck Exley was born on April 1, 1949. His first cavern dive was at barely 16 years of age.

Diving has always been an expensive sport to practice. Cavern and cave diving even more so, since it demands special equipment and redundancy (two of each piece of equipment, in case of an unforeseen event).

Exley financed his passion by teaching math and calculus at a local high school in Florida. He also served as an aquanaut for 8 days aboard a Hydrolab Underwater Habitat in the Bahamas.

By the time he was 23 years old, he had accumulated 1000 cave dives under his belt.

At age 42, near his unfortunate passing, he had amassed a total of 4,000 dives.

He was also one of the few divers to survive a 400 ft dive (120 m) in open water, on simple compressed air.

He is one of eleven people, and the first, to dive below 800 ft (204 m), doing multistage decompression of up 13.5 hours, never suffering from Decompression Sickness.

Exploring The Deep Corners of The Earth…

Sheck Exley pushed the limits of extreme deep diving.

Like Reinhold Messner, Exley became famous by pushing the limits of the possible.

His expeditions into Nacimiento de Rio Mante (Mexico) and later on in Bushmansgat (South Africa) paved the way for extreme technical diving, advancing our understanding of diving at great depths“. 

Bushmansgat South Africa

In fact, Exley was so dedicated to the perfectionism of extreme deep diving, that he actually purchased Cathedral Canyon Spring, in Florida.

Once installed, he began the exploration of the spring system, which resulted in a world record penetration of nearly two underwater miles.

This alone was a tremendous accomplishment for the young diver. The fact that he made it solo in eleven and a half hours was a testament of his technical ability and sheer courage.

Rio Mante & The Sink Hole at El Zacaton…

For a few years after Cathedral Canyon Spring, Exley excelled at pushing the barriers of extreme deep diving, both in depth and distance.

His incursion and experimentation with Trimix  diving El Nacimiento De

Nacimiento del Rio Mante

Rio Mante (Mexico) allowed him to descend to a depth of 881 feet (another world record) without feeling the effects of nitrogen narcosis or oxygen toxicity. Trimix also shortened decompression times significantly during ascents.

It wasn’t until his expedition to Bushmangat (South Africa) that Exley suffered his first deep diving incident.

In 1996, he reached the bottom of Bushmangat but soon after he experienced a severe case of high pressure nervous syndromeHe suffered from uncontrollable trembling and blurred vision.

Having recovered from his bout with HPNS, Exley soon joined Jim Bowden, a 52-year-old adventurer and dive instructor from Austin, Texas, to sttempt a descent into the world’s deepest sinkhole: El Zacaton, Mexico.

El Zacaton…

This was it. If the Andrea Doria was considered the Everest of technical deep diving, due to its complexity and multi faceted approaches, El Zacaton was considered the K2…treacherous, unforgiving and deadly.

Into the Abyss and Beyond…

And so, on April 6, 1994, two of the world’s most skilled extreme deep divers plunged into the dark, murky waters of El Zacaton. (For an unsurpassed, detailed account of the Zacaton dive, please refer to this article by Sports Illustrated).

Suffice to say that Bowden and Exley were both determined to reach the 1000 ft milestone. This was their descent; their K2.

Many months of detailed planning and logistics had come to this moment.

The proportions were staggering: if you were to place the Empire State building inside El Zacaton, one could step onto its main observation deck where the observers and reporters were standing.

And thus began their descent into darkness.

After eleven minutes, Bowden had reached 898 feet when he noted that his gas reserves were lower than expected. Deciding to abort the dive, he ascended, going through a 9-hour decompression period.

Exley went on, the water so dark that he never knew of Bowden’s decision to abort. He would remain alone to the very end.

18 minutes into the dive, one of the safety divers, closely watching the bubble stream of both divers, noticed that Exley’s stream had stopped. What followed remains one of sport’s greatest mysteries.

The Mystery Unfolds Before Disbelieving Eyes.

Exley’s wife, Mary Ellen, descended to 279 feet to verify if the flow of bubbles had been diverted by some obstructions or ledge but they had not.

El Zacaton had taken a singular human life and left very few clues.

What happened to Sheck Exley during those 18 minutes?

Typically, a demise of a solo diver, under such adverse circumstances, left very few leads to go on. The people that knew Exley were certain of one thing: he did not panic.

Cave diving is to open-water scuba as flying an F-16 is to piloting a Cessna, and Exley was the ultimate definition of grace under pressure, even under the most harrowing of circumstances.

Breaking The Sheck Exley Code.

As if to defy El Zacaton’s deadly clutches, three days later, Exley’s body was recovered when the guideline was pulled from the cave.

What the rescue team saw left them speechless: Exley’s body appeared to be wrapped intentionally with the guideline, around his arms and valves of his dive tanks.

His dive computer read a depth of 879 feet.

It is speculated that Exley, seeing his imminent death, proceeded to do this in order to prevent any rescue attempts. At these depths, it would be suicidal.

It was also concluded, after a careful analysis of the incidents leading to Exley’s death, that he probably suffered from HPNS (oxygen-induced tremors and incapacitating).

But where the mystery really tightens its grip is with the primary dive tanks.

For reasons which remain unknown even today, Exley’s primary dive tanks became depleted sooner than calculated. It is conjectured that he had to switch to his “travel mix”, clearly not suited for such depths, exacerbating an already dire situation.

It is also believed that he also tied the surrounding guideline to stabilize a failed ascent attempt. His BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) was unable to fill with air from his “travel mix”, making things even worse.

At some point, many experts believe, Exley lost consciousness, eventually leading to his death.

One thing that everyone who has studied his untimely death is that there is no single factor that leads to tragedies like these, but more likely, a series of disastrous events.

These events result in situations that not even experienced individuals like Sheck Exley could have foreseen.

Reckless daredevil or pioneer and visionary?

Whatever you want to make of Exley’s life, one thing stands true above all. He left a legacy of safe, responsible practice in an inherently dangerous activity.

He pushed the limits and thrived in extreme situations. Like Schumacher, Hamilton, or Baumgartner, Exley knew exactly the risks of his craft.

Just like an experimental jet pilot, a great measure of his job was pushing the limits of what was possible.

In the end, Exley paid his awesome, jaw-dropping intrusions into the deepest places of the world with his life.

But isn’t this search for the unknown, this fiery curiosity, to see what is just beyond the next cave, part of what sets us apart as a species? We are explorers.

And as long as there are watery chasms to explore, there will always be that thirst for exploration. Like Sheck Exley? Probably not. He stands in a different dimension, in the halls of human exploration, along with Messner and Scott.







What do you think? When do you push to transcend? Or would you rather take a step back and let others take the risk?

Reckless risk is suicidal; some say, however, that this kind of risk is its own reward, whatever that means.

Calculated risk, on the other hand, is the path taken by explorers, pioneers, and visionaries throughout human history. Where do you stand on this?

Please offer your thoughts on the space below. I am looking forward to reading your comments on this!

Thanks for reading and I hope you liked this article.






5 Universal Truths When Pursuing A Diving Career

The Magic Of A Dream…Nevermind The Free Wake Up Call!

I got my PADI Open Water Diver certification in Puerto Vallarta, back in 1995. Sometimes I wonder where my professional life would have led me if I had decided to continue my search for scuba diving career opportunities.

The Magic Of A Dream.

When I arrived in Cancun back in 1998, a literal “Green Horn” to the region, all I wanted to do was spend as much time as I could in the warm, crystal-clear waters of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, which, I confess, still manage to take my breath away.

I settled into my job as an executive sales rep. for an airline catering company. And would stay there for the next 3 years.

Not the best job in the world. Far from it, in fact. But it payed the bills. And, yes, I did learn a lot about how to run a big scale business, with the challenges and drudgery found in your typical 9 to 5 job, plus all the rigors, rules and regulations found in the aviation industry.

I learned a lot throughout these years, but it nearly killed my dream to have a job that would find me 100% involved with the ocean, which I had always wished for. Well, you know that saying “be careful with what you wish for you just might get it”? It came true for me. Allow me to explain…

Time Is The New Money…Then And Now!

Like any resort town around the world, living in Cancun is expensive. Getting in the water, to practice the sports I really enjoyed, like diving and surfing, were luxuries. They remain luxuries even today.

70.00 US for a dive was simply out of my budget, and surfing (whenever there were actual waves, which was not often at all), also carried a hefty price for the board and the sun-chair rental (in a public beach things have a tendency to disappear…you were really paying for security staff to look out for your stuff).

So for sometime, I turned to free diving and snorkeling. Eventually, when my economy got a bit better, I gave windsurfing a try. That turned out great, and amazingly, it was cheaper than diving.

And thus it went on for about two years or so, until I left the airline catering business and decided to try my luck in vacation club ownership, also known as time-share. Cancun is well-known for its many time-share projects. Some are notorious for their high pressure tactics and low integrity. To my fortune, I was accepted in a project where both integrity and honest sales and marketing were the core values of the company. Rare indeed.

And the reason I did this change? Simple: Time.

As a marketing rep. my work hours were a vast improvement from my previous job. I only needed to show to work 3 days out of the week. If you did your job well inviting people to see “the club”, the rest of the week you would work for half of the day and be on your merry way to do whatever with your personal life.

The only catch was that the job was commissioned based. No salary. If you invited families, you got payed. Otherwise, no paycheck.

So, in exchange for the inevitable income roller-coaster ride, I was given more free time than I had ever experienced. And this gave me the opportunity to seriously start looking at SCUBA diver jobs, and the exciting possibility of a new career change.

SCUBA diver jobs and career change

Decisions, Decisions…Time To Get Wet!

As my learning curve in the time-share industry began to level-off, I began to have better income and the time had come to put this income to good use. I decided to re-take my diving education in earnest. My free time was dedicated to learning the intricacies, techniques and rigors that would eventually lead to reaching the title of PADI Open Water Rescue Diver.

This was a decisive moment where my next decision would take me into professional dive training and all the responsibilities that came with it. Amateur time was over: Dive Master training was the next step and I took it without hesitation.

A few months later, I had my PADI Dive Master credential. I could now begin my next objective: Dive Instructor.

And just like airline pilots, the way to progress and become a skilled and confident Dive Master was to start accumulating dive time. I began to look for marinas where they needed help to take people out to dive. And this is where my journey got really interesting.

I encountered the 5 truths a beginner Dive Master must face (and accept) in order to choose diving as a full time career. Mind you, this is what I experienced in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. But I think these truths are pretty much universal.

Truth No. 1 – No one is interested in offering you dive time.

As mentioned before, to become a confident, experienced Dive Master, you require dive time. Hours spent underwater, honing the very skills which will allow you to aspire for higher level dive practice, instruction (and better pay). In case of a Dive Master wanting to reach Assistant Dive Instructor, a minimum of 60 hours of actual diving are required.

That’s a lot of diving, considering that each dive takes approximately 45 minutes.

Having connections with your local marina was essential. In my case, I was able to get in the door to one of the largest marinas in Cancun, with help of my dive instructor. It was a great opportunity and it would’ve been a phenomenal place to acquire the necessary skills due to the amount of people the marina took out diving every day.

However, the staff really had an attitude problem within their ranks, and they would make lame excuses to avoid having me on-board, even when all I wanted to do was help out…pro-bono. So it didn’t last long and I left.

I found myself once again knocking on doors of other marinas to offer my assistance. It took a while, but I settled in a smaller marina where I was given the chance to help out, again, pro-bono. See where I’m getting at?

Truth No. 2 – There is no pay for beginner Dive Masters.

Ugly truth, but there it is. Your pay is getting wet and accumulating dive hours. That’s it. This can be somewhat tolerable if you have a part-time job to fall back on. But I met a few dive masters who were there with no financial back up of any kind. Real brave (and real crazy). They lived off the tips tourists left to the boat crew. Many didn’t last long and ended up waiting tables or as sales reps for time-share projects in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Truth No. 3 – Get ready for stubbed toes and bruises.

Not underwater. But above it. On the dive boat.

As a beginner Dive Master, you will normally be put in charge of dive tanks, vests (also called BCDs) and fins.

Consider an average group consisting of 12 beginner divers, the boat crew, the dive instructor and you. In a relatively small dive boat. It gets cramped. Real fast.

Sometimes, dive gear becomes loose. More often than not, the ocean does not cooperate. It can get really choppy. Tanks are pretty heavy. Accidents inevitably happen.

You deal with it and move on. Remember, the customers’ have payed good money for you to take them diving. They expect a great time. So you have to bite your lip, smile and keep going.

Truth No. 4 – Motion sickness and diesel fumes. Learn to cope.

If you are sensitive to motion sickness, diving can be a challenge. But when diesel fumes are added to the mix, you have a sure recipe for disaster. And the thing is, it is inevitable.

All marine engines run on diesel. When they idle, whether waiting at the dock for everyone to climb aboard, or looking for a dive spot, the fumes cover the boat, the crew and divers. It is a very intense, pervasive odor. The experience is intensified by the inevitable motion found in open waters.

The fastest way to solve this is to get everybody in the water, as fast as possible, before anyone spills their lunch all over you, or all over the deck area. Even then, you are not guaranteed that motion sickness will go away.

One time, a beginner diver, a lady, threw up while being already in the water. It was rough and waves were making everyone sick on board. She was the first one out in the water, but the up and down motion got her really sick. She emptied out her lunch right there and then. Needless to say, she felt better afterwards and the fish had dinner that evening.

Truth No. 5 – Diving becomes a job.

Above all, you are there to guarantee the customers’ safety and enjoyment.

Regardless how clumsy, heavy or nervous they are, you are the professional. The responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders. Even if you’re just a beginner Dive Master. They don’t know that. They don’t care.

There is much psychology applied on board dive boats. You are there to still their fears and anxiety. And even then, it’s not a sure thing how the beginner diver will react once exposed to open water diving. Sometimes they do an excellent job; most times they don’t.

And you get so busy trying to keep the group together, you barely have time to enjoy the dive itself.

The enjoyment now stems from handling group dynamics. This is the real challenge. This is where you really find out whether you have what it takes to become a professional Master SCUBA Diver…or not.

Diving becomes a job. The enjoyment part of it is, in great part, exclusively for the customer. You are there to make sure they get their money’s worth. Your enjoyment becomes an afterthought.

A special kind of mettle…

Now, these truths, although quite real in my experience, may not be powerful enough detractors for those willing to look for a career in recreational diving. And that’s awesome. This article is meant merely as a “heads-up”; a glance at some of the real life aspects of this somewhat misunderstood and often times glamorized activity.

Being a Dive Master carries a lot of responsibility. After all, taking care of people above the water is complicated enough. Taking care of people below the water…well…that takes a special kind of mettle. That’s why I always look up to the men and women who do this activity for a living.

And that’s also why I always leave them a nice, hefty tip!

Are you interested in pursuing a career in recreational diving? Perhaps you are already an established Dive Master and have met with some of these challenges. Please tell us about them and share your experiences and trials in the comment box below. I will certainly do my best to offer feedback on your opinions. Thanks for reading!