A row for the world.
A row for our oceans.
A call for transformation.
Our mission is to accelerate solutions for ocean innovation and inspire a more courageous world.
The United World Challenge?
In spring 2016 I was earning my MBA in London, and I got a call that changed my life. My father suddenly died, and he actually took his life.
In the grief that followed I decided to row across an ocean alone. And to dedicate the journey – which I named the United World Challenge – to inspiring others to believe in themselves and to create a positive legacy with my life.
There was just one catch: I wasn’t a rower, or a sailor. I’d never even been to sea!
And when I boarded my 23-foot rowboat in July 2020, I had only 3 days of training due to lockdowns that spring.
The next 10 weeks became a crash course in transcending my mental blocks as I pushed farther out to sea, and further inside my mind and heart.
Finally after 71 days alone and rowing 2,700 miles, I reached Oahu and became the 1st and only person ever to row from North America to Hawaii with no prior experience. And by sharing the story, I raised 3 scholarships for peace to UWC-USA, funded the collection of 5,000 lbs of ocean plastic, gathered novel data for marine science at Scripps, and more.
The United World Challenge Isn’t Over Yet
Stay tuned for a major announcement later this year
The Ripple Effects of our Impact
Gather scientific data to advance marine research and guide collective action. Develop and deploy open-source curricula to teach high school students marine science and coding.
Get fired up with stories of resilience, grit, and overcoming harrowing setbacks, so you can find your own ocean and the courage to cross it.
Learn to work with your mind and cultivate the grit, discipline, and momentum to succeed.
2020 Expedition Impact
Gathered data for microplastic research with our partners at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Created the Ocean Classroom Campaign - open-source curricula to teach high schoolers coding and marine science.
Raised $76,925 in donations for 3 students of color from the US to attend UWC-USA with full scholarships.
All 3 students began UWC in August 2021. Two went on to graduate at the top of their class.
Funded the collection of nearly 200,000 ocean-bound plastic containers.
Harnessed the power of social media, live talks, and an immersive museum installation in Denmark to share the ocean’s story with the world.
A Glimpse into the 71-Day Saga
Stage 1: The Most Challenging Month of My Life
Day 1: Launch from California! July 3rd, 2020
The ocean has so much to teach me and I’m brand new to sea life. But I trust I will learn what I need to. I trust my training. I trust my team. I trust my path and I trust this moment.
Days 3 – 7:
I spend Days 3 through 7 strapped down to my bunk with a helmet on my head – like living inside a washing machine tumbling down a never-ending staircase. During the mayhem of the storm, a key part of my steering system breaks, my storage hatches flood, and water begins pooling in my stern cabin. I keep thinking, there’s no way I’ll make it to Hawaii.
Days 8 – 28:
Every day, doubts and demons rage inside me, shouting at me to go home before it’s too late. But I know I can choose to listen to my doubts or replace them with something else. So, I start to tell myself — out loud:
“I can quit, but not today.”
When we show up every day we compound our impact.
Stage 2: Turning Point
I get a wild idea of making new parts from scratch to repair the bolt that snapped in my rowing seat. My other repairs often lasted a day or less. And time is running out. The seat’s bearings are grinding to dust, and I don’t have spares. I get out my camp stove and began boiling strips of plastic, then shape them into new bearings, one by one. And as crazy as this idea is, it actually works! The new bearings last days, and I have enough plastic to make dozens more. Suddenly, a massive cloud lifts from my experience – I no longer had to MacGyver my seat – I just had to row!
From Day 45 onwards, although tendonitis, salt burns, and bone-deep fatigue are my closest companions, I love being at sea with all my heart. And most of all, it’s no longer a matter of if I would reach Hawaii – it becomes a matter of when.
GOOD THINGS TAKE HUSTLE. GREAT THINGS TAKE TIME.
Stage 3: Understanding Our Gem
Today brings two big milestones: 50 days at sea and 1,000 miles to Hawaii. I’m torn between pushing myself to see how far I can go each day, versus slowing down to savor every moment, because I know once this row is over, I’ll miss it.
The deep, vibrant blue beneath me, its waves adorned with white jewels from one horizon to the other. The soft, silky baby blue sky above me, hugging the world with a dreamy cradle of clouds. I can’t get over how many shades of blue this ocean creates. I sit in awe all day. I thought the challenge had been rowing across the ocean. Now I see, the true challenge is to embody it.
Day 71: Arrive in Hawaii! September 11th, 2020
Arriving is one of the hardest days in the whole trip. The heat feels so intense that I keep checking to make sure that I’m still sweating – a sign that I’m not in heat stroke. Then I begin repeating to myself, again and again: “My body is hot, but I am fine. I am rowing to the finish!” At first, it’s just a whisper. But slowly it grows into a full shout, and I pull on the oars while bursting, “I am rowing to the finish!” Finally, at 6pm after 36 hours of nonstop rowing, I arrive at Kaneohe Yacht Club – becoming the first person ever to successfully row solo from mainland USA to Hawaii as their first ocean row.
THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IS TO EMBODY THE OCEAN.
Hi! I’m Tez Steinberg, Chief Engine Officer of the United World Challenge, and a passionate entrepreneur, storyteller, and endurance artist. What’s endurance art? It’s my personal craft of completing extreme expeditions to raise funds and action to solve the issues of our time.
It’s this creativity that led the World Economic Forum to name me “one of the 50 best young minds in the world.”
To support my ventures, I call upon 15 years as an ultra-endurance athlete, a long background in theater and multimedia communications, and deep experience in management consulting and organizational partnerships.
My leadership has been recognized by some of the world’s foremost organizations. I’m a Global Shaper alum of the World Economic Forum, former Fellow of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and an active member of NEXUS Global and The Explorers Club of New York, founded by President Teddy Roosevelt. I have 5 years experience leading complex projects with Deloitte Consulting, 8 years experience founding and growing my own social enterprises, and an MBA from London Business School.
My career’s guiding vision is to create positive social impact and maximize growth opportunities for everyone involved. As a result, I’ve honed a potent set of mental and leadership skills that can support other leaders’ goals in work and life.
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