PR 83 | Following The Bubbles


Pivoting is about change. It’s about evolution and innovation. Dave Kalama has a lot of experience in this arena, being a pioneer and prolific innovator in water sports. His story is larger than life and interesting in so many ways. He is – and has been – everything from a big wave, tow-in, stand up paddle (SUP) surfer – to a racer, shaper, windsurfer, even a private adventure guide. Dave shares his experience of committing to a lifestyle that, while risky at times and not necessarily financially prosperous, is one of the richest for feeding your soul and creating memories. He talks about how he and close friend, Laird Hamilton, have collaborated on some of the most incredible things, all for the good of the sport. Dave shares his incredible journey as well as his recipe for pivoting and what the metaphor of “simply following the bubble” means.

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Follow The Bubbles: A Recipe For Pivoting with Dave Kalama

I am feeling grateful as you probably used to do this with me. I’m not just practicing gratitude and saying thank you but wanting to live into it in a big way. A friend of mine, Ken Honda, he gives me the Japanese word that’s always in my head these days, which is arigato, thank you. I am blessed. I feel sunshine inside because we finished up a three-day speaker training, our speaker masterclass where we had a dozen people go through our training. I woke up feeling exhausted and a bit wrung out but also energized because I saw so much transformation. When I looked at my calendar and I saw the gentleman that I was going to get to speak to, and invite to have a conversation about pivoting on this podcast, I got even more stoked. I met this incredible person. I was introduced to him in an event that I was at. We have some mutual friends. His story is epic. He led a bigger-than-life life, which is interesting in so many ways.

I want to catch up with him and I’m sure you are going to be fascinated to find out what he’s up to. What his journey has been in the past, but what’s the journey look forward from here, which is exciting as well. Dave Kalama is our guest. He’s a big wave surfer and towing surfer, standup paddle surfer, SUP surfer and racer. He’s been a pioneer in that space. He and a friend of his, a collaborator of his, Laird Hamilton, have done some of the most incredible things for the goodwill of the sport, just the way that the sport of surfing and standup paddling is received all over the world. He’s been a leader in that space and somebody that is a fine example of what it means to be a great athlete but also to be a great person, a great father, husband and human being. Those two things don’t always go together so well. When I met him, I was taken by a story. I was taken by his character and what he’s been through. It’s a great pleasure to have him on. Dave, I want to welcome you to the show.

Thank you, Adam, for that incredible intro. Thank you very much for that very gracious introduction.

As your intro goes on, I could read for paragraphs and paragraphs of your Wikipedia page all the things that you’ve done for the first time. There were a number of ways that you have been an innovator. The word pivot is about change, it’s about evolution and innovation. You’ve been an innovator in the sport. I’d love to know what’s something that you would love people to know about you that’s not typically included in your bio or your introduction?

The first thing that pops into my mind is you mentioned that I’ve done a lot of grand adventures and feats and things of that nature. I’m about as down-home and normal as your average kid in the average neighborhood that likes to skateboard, rides his bike, skin his knees, swing from a tree and being normal. I found myself hanging out with perhaps the wrong people doing things a smart person doesn’t do. Meaning riding giant waves and pushing the envelope in a few different directions. I’ve been extremely fortunate but there is no magic to it. There is no special league or code that you need to know. It’s committing to a lifestyle that is risky at times and by that, I don’t necessarily mean life and limb. I mean financially because it’s not a prosperous life I’ve led, but it’s perhaps one of the richest in terms of feeding your soul. The memories that I’ve created over that time. I had an extremely normal upbringing. Even on a day-to-day basis, I do not feel special or grandiose in any way. I’m a normal dude doing normal things most of the time. That leads to extraordinary things now and then.

Keep it simple. Don't overwhelm yourself with the enormity of the situation. Click To Tweet

A rich life, a rich existence not in money terms. What you shared is profound because what could be richer than the development of our soul, the nurturing of our souls. Anything that nurtures our souls or regenerates our souls, I would put at the top of the list. I don’t know that that’s what people are thinking about necessarily as they’re going to school or getting the job or thinking about how it is that they’re going to create a family or support a family. They’re not necessarily coming to those bigger life ideas. It is profound that that’s where you started. What’s something that you’re grateful for? I have a sense of what you might be grateful for, but I want to ask you anyway.

This was a concern of mine when I was more in the thick of it. Would I be able to transition out of an extreme version of my life, meaning riding these giant waves and doing these big things? Being able to find contentment and pleasure in a much more toned-down version of myself. I know a lot of people struggle with that. I’m happy with how I’ve managed to find my way and stay very fulfilled as I wind down the more extreme portion of my career.

Would you call yourself an adrenaline junkie? You wouldn’t describe yourself that way, would you?

No, but if you look at the body of work I do, I have some problem with adrenaline.

It’s funny because you’re sitting in your car in a parking lot, getting ready to go surfing because the waves are big. Big is a relative term because to me I brought my surfboard into the office because I knew we’d be speaking and I’m going to probably get out in the water. I’m looking forward to getting wet. Big to me out here is eight feet, over my head. I’m not even 6 feet tall. Big by you is entirely different. What are the wave conditions? Let’s check in from someone from Maui.

It’s very big this time of year. It’s probably in the neighborhood of fifteen to twenty-foot phases. Not extreme, but fairly large. That’s why I’m on the outer reef. I’ve been hydrofoiling quite a bit and with that form of surfing, you don’t need as big of a wave. In fact, hardly any wave at all provides plenty of speed and opportunity to ride a hydrofoil. That’s what I’ve been passionate about lately and I’m having a lot of fun. I don’t need big waves anymore, which plays into where I am and where I’m focused on going as I move forward.

There was something in a story that you shared that I remembered. I’d love it if maybe you share the piece of that story with us. It was this idea that at a certain point when things were dark and cold there wasn’t a lot of light, from a certain place that you found yourself physically that you used bubbles as a guide. I saw that as a metaphor for a lot of things in life. We don’t always have a lot of vision for the future and things can seem dark and they can be cold and even scary or lonely. We look for guidance or if we’re on a path where we’re more self-aware, we’re looking for guidance as opposed to trying to figure it all out on our own. This metaphor of following the bubbles from a deep dark, cold and potentially life-threatening place was interesting. Would you share a little bit about that story and where the bubbles and that whole thing came from?

PR 83 | Following The Bubbles

Following The Bubbles: Doing normal things most of the time leads to extraordinary things now and then.


You bring up the bubbles, which is for me it’s an interesting item that you pulled out of that story. I’ve never had anybody ask me about that, but you’re right. It’s a very big part of orientating yourself so that you can make better decisions and know where to go. Why are the bubbles important? After a wipe out in a real large wave like that, you are spun and cartwheeled and flipped so many times so quickly you completely lose orientation of which way is up because you’re in this liquid state. There’s no obvious pull down, there’s no obvious direction up because of it. How do you orientate yourself? With the bubbles. You can feel them pass over your body and they’re all going to move in the same direction once the tumbling stops. That orientates which way is up, and once you have that it becomes very simple, follow the bubbles. The bubbles are headed towards the surface, that’s where I needed to go. At that point of the story it becomes breaking the moment down not thinking more than a second or two ahead of what’s happening and what’s happening is literally swimming. Swimming and the saving and your natural instinct to survive kicks in.

You get very much into that moment very specifically. You do what you have to do in that moment and what you need to do is swim up. That’s your extreme focus. Don’t get complicated don’t overthink it. Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the enormity of the situation. Just focus on swimming. Taking a stroke, one stroke at a time, get through one stroke, move on to the next one. When you break it down into segments like that, it seems much more manageable because everybody can take a stroke. If you only have to take one stroke, I can do that and still that builds confidence, that confidence creates more relaxation. When you’re relaxed, you’re not going to consume oxygen as quickly and so that gives you the best chance to ultimately get back up to the surface with not knowing how many strokes it’s going to take. You don’t know how deep you are. You know by the pressure on your ears you are deep. Following the bubbles up is headed in the right direction but you don’t know when you’re going to arrive.

Being in a state of fighting for your life even could cost you your life.

In its entirety, it’s very easy to be overwhelmed with it and start feeling that there’s no chance of survival. You have to let go of that bigger picture for the moment and get very specific into executing small movements one at a time. When you do that it’s much easier to digest mentally and emotionally and it feels much more attainable to do one stroke at a time.

You have to let go of that bigger picture for the moment and get very specific into executing small movements one at a time. Click To Tweet

You’re sharing a part of the recipe for pivoting. Our folks would love to know that we picked off this one moment in time, where you’re under the water, people get that. You’re deep, you don’t know how deep you are. You’re disoriented because you’ve been flipping in and you don’t know which way is up with. The bubbles point to the surface at least they’re a guide for you to breathe for one thing. Take us into the scene. What was going on that day where you found yourself in a situation where you had to follow the bubbles to the surface?

To set the scene, Laird Hamilton was out of town. Laird is the Alpha dog on any given day and without him there, that allows me to take that position. My confidence is raised up. My role is perhaps inflated. I look at it as an opportunity. I’m going to reset the bar of how things go out here and who I am. My approach might have been too confident. I tried to make a very aggressive move on a good-sized wave that it distracted my focus from where it should’ve been. I was focused more on my touchdown dance, than I was on running with the ball and making sure I got the touchdown to put it in football terms. That’s exactly what happened. I wasn’t paying attention to the water when I should have been. I was focused on the people in the channel and with their cheers and screams might sound like, as opposed to catching and running. I hit a bump, which bucks me up on my board and started a hole literally downward spiral figuratively and literally underwater which started the whole episode of hold-downs and life-changing experiences.

The face of that wave, because people they think numbers matter, the metrics of this thing mean something. We’re talking about a ten-foot wave here?

I would say we were probably in the 35 to 40-foot phase range.

A massive wave.

It was big by anybody’s standards but as far as Peahi on the North Shore Maui goes, not extreme. It gives you a picture of how extreme it can be over here.

You get bucked off this wave and you’re sliding backwards down the phase, is that what’s happening?


Then this thing pressed and breaks on you?

It’s funny at that moment on sliding down on my back, like a car wreck or something of that nature where time slows down, I have this internal conversation going on with myself. The old surf footage that you see of the guys at Waimea, this is what it felt like. I almost have this little giggle. How can I be having this conversation with myself when things are about to get as ugly as they possibly can? It comes back to a survival mechanism that kicks in, trying to lighten the moment so that you don’t become overwhelmed.

That’s your survival mechanism. We know there are people in situations whether they’re physical like that or they’re in their business, their jobs, their relationships or whatever it is. When the shit hits the fan, they freeze where they get so tense that they don’t have any access to some guidance. You were in a relaxed state, you’re checking out the scene. It sounds like as you’re sliding down this wave knowing things are about to get real in a big way. Instantly, you’re under the water twenty, 30 feet deep I suppose, in this dark, cold environment. You can’t see anything. You don’t know which way is up.

The first wave I’m tumbling and I’m spinning. You have so much energy and so much adrenaline, and at that point there’s still a lot of oxygen in your blood. Even though it’s scary, it’s not life-threatening. Literally, almost anybody can handle one of those waves. The first one, you’ve still got a lot of energy and a lot of oxygen in your blood. It’s the second one, the third one, the fourth one that your energy is expended. Your oxygen has been used up and that’s when things get extremely serious. While I tell a story that I brought a lightness to the mood, by no way in any shape or form that I take the situation lightly. I tried not to let it seize me up.

PR 83 | Following The Bubbles

Following The Bubbles: Don’t let the situation and its entirety overwhelm you. It feels much more attainable to do one stroke at a time.


You didn’t panic in other words.

Panicking is absolutely the worst thing you can do on almost any given situation. Regardless of if it’s waves, life, anything.

“You follow the bubbles,” is I remember you saying. The bubbles are the guide they take it to the surface, you get there. What do you see? This is after the first wave. What’s happening then?

I break the surface and I inhale as much air as I possibly can. As I start to finish that inhale, I start getting orientated on where I am at my facing towards the shore. Am I facing out? What’s going on around me? I’m faced out. I’m looking directly at the next wave between the wave and myself, one of my friends, Mark Angulo, he’s there to rescue me. He’s on a jet ski. He’s driven to a bad situation and he’s committed himself to rescue me. Whether I get on or not, he’s already over-committed and he’s going to get run over by the next wave.

I realized this and I jump on the rescue sled that’s attached to the back of the Jet Ski. We start to take off but there’s so much air in the water. The ski can’t grab anything. It’s like trying to accelerate on an icy road, the tires are spinning. You’re not going anywhere. We got steamrolled from behind by a 25, 30-foot whitewater. I got ripped off the back of the sled and that’s when it brought me down very deep. I knew it was deep because I could feel the pressure increasing as I’m getting spun and pulled down. It was very apparent that I was deeper than I’d ever been based on the pressure I was feeling in my ears.

Same thing this time, you search for the bubbles and swimming to the surface as best you are able under the circumstances.

Panicking is absolutely the worst thing you can do on almost any given situation. Click To Tweet

I’m in the second wave, I’m deeper than I’ve ever been. I’m more fatigue because I’ve experienced the first wave and it’s all down, but I still have a bit of energy. I’m trying to keep my wits about me and so that the internal conversation is still going on. I remember saying to myself, “If you’re ever going to have trouble, this is it. If you’re going down, you’re going down fighting. Let’s get going. Time to go to work.” I start swimming for the surface and after about three or four breaths my body goes into these involuntary convulsions, which completely caught me by surprise. I had no idea what was going on. It seemed like an odd place to lose control of my body. In any case, after about three or four of them, they stopped. I took a quick inventory of I still had control of my limbs, which I did.

I figured out I don’t have time to figure out what happened. It’s the surface is where I need to focus. I start swimming again and my eyes are open and it’s completely dark. You couldn’t see your hand two inches from your nose. I’m swimming, I’m taking four, five, six, seven eight strokes. Still, pitch black. All of a sudden, I start to see the tiniest hint of light in the water. That light is an indication that you’re anywhere from three to six feet from the surface. That gives you a lot of hope because you know where you are, you know you’re close to the surface, and there’s a chance you can make it. That gives you a lot of confidence, which calms you down. It gives you energy at the same time. You know you’re a few strokes. I keep going, sure enough, I break the surface.

I took a deep inhale, orientate myself again like the last one and it’s an exact carbon copy. Brett Lickle is right there on the ski probably eight feet away from me. There’s another giant whitewater bearing down. The difference from the first time is I know that I need to get on that rescue sled, hold on for dear life because it’s not an expression anymore. It’s literally life and death. That rescue sled is very floaty and I know it will make it to the surface before I can. I get on the rescue sled and I hold on for dear life and brace for impact. I remember one of the thoughts in my head before we got hit by the whitewater was, even if my body’s not on this rescue sled anymore, my hands need to be. That’s how much I was anticipating holding on that my hand would still be there even if my arms ripped off because I was not going to let go.

It was as serious as it could possibly get. We tumbled and we rolled. I hit the ski, but my hands were holding on for dear life. I stayed with that rescue sled. As I anticipated, the sled and the ski have so much buoyancy. They came to the surface quite quickly when the whitewater released us, which got me to the surface. As I swam out from under the sled, my partner, Brett, swam out on the same side. We broke the surface together. I’m looking at his eyes and he can see that I’m shaking seriously. I look at him and I go, “Thank you. I love you. You saved my life.” It was a pretty intense moment.

Two brothers went out there and put themselves in great danger. That’s the part of the integrity of the sport that you look out for each other. There’s a code of honor I suppose.

I feel very uncomfortable comparing it to what guys go through or more. I don’t want to give it that gravity, but the level of commitment is similar and that’s our brother in harm’s way. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to save him to make him be okay. I’ve done the same for them, they do the same for a man. There is a brotherhood that’s formed and everyone out there at least in our crew knew that the other guy was looking out for us. When you’re underwater, there’s not much they can literally do. That fight is unfolding and you’re underwater. It gives you a lot of confidence to know there’s someone on the surface doing everything they can to be prepared to save me. All I have to do is get to the surface. Then my team will be there, you’re not alone because the loneliness or isolation can be overwhelming, too. To know that someone is doing everything they can to be prepared to save you gives you a lot of confidence and creates bonds that last to lifetime.

That day had an impact on you. It got your attention to say the least. There was something that you were out there wanting to accomplish that something maybe even to prove or whatnot. This got your attention in a significant way. It changed some things for you.

PR 83 | Following The Bubbles

Following The Bubbles: If you’re going down, go down fighting.


Prior to that, surfing was fun and it was an activity that brought me a lot of enjoyment. I didn’t take it that seriously. After that experience, I have a much clearer understanding of the immensity of what I was dealing with and the power that I was dealing with. It was a real kick in the teeth to get my shit together and be prepared. Take this seriously, it’s not an activity. It’s not something you do to get chicks to check you out. It’s for real. If I want to be out here for any length of time, I need to take this seriously for myself, for my family, for my teammates and it brought a lot of motivation and clarity to what I needed to do to be prepared.

I love to use it as a metaphor. There are people in the audience that spend time in the water, and I consider myself more of an active water person than many. I don’t know if I call myself a waterman. I spent a lot of time. I’m a Pisces and I’m in the water a lot, as a lifeguard. In other contexts, I’ve always said to myself, from seventeen years old when I started teaching swimming to kids in a camp, in the lake and thereafter, you have to respect the water. It’s an interesting thing because having respect is a big part of why it is that the water holds a special place in many people’s lives because of its immensity, its power. It represents its nature in a very uncontrolled way. It even brings into focus the fact that we are ourselves such a small piece and part of that, whether you have that kinship with the water and understand this idea of that larger context of nature. This idea that there’s a need to respect this greater context, people understand what it’s like in their own lives to get crushed. The wave bearing down on a surfer is great in the sense if you can understand that story because you’ve been there or where you’ve seen it even. Regardless of that, we’ve all had a wave break on us.

We’ve all had that something big and heavy bear down on us. Most people have anyway. To be disoriented and to have a lot of the same feelings that were condensed into what probably felt like hours but was only minutes for you. It’s a great story from that standpoint because there are things that you did not just to survive, but to learning from the experience itself so that you could move forward from there. You took things a bit more serious after that. You had a bigger context from that experience than you had going into it. It was also guiding you in making future decisions.

Stop being afraid of change. Stop being afraid of new ideas. Click To Tweet

Looking back on it and at other times in my life when I’ve had massive failures, those are the moments that are the key to success. Without that kick in the teeth and that reality check, I don’t take things seriously or not to the level I did. Without taking them as seriously as I was after that incident, I don’t become as educated. I don’t become as skilled. I don’t become as well-rounded in so many other areas. All grew from that experience that without it, I don’t become as successful or as capable of a waterman as I am without that failure.

You became an early adopter of something as a result of this too, which is to the flotation that’s now part of the standard wetsuits that the surfers who are riding big waves are wearing. At the time, you were one of the innovators of the tow-in. You are getting towed into waves, which wasn’t done before that. Then this idea that there could be flotation included a wetsuit that would help surfers to get to the surface quicker and save lives. People die from what you described, this idea of getting hit with a serious wave and then a second and a third one, people die all over the world from this every year. The PFD, the Personal Flotation Device, I’m not sure if that’s what they called it in the wetsuit. You’re one of the early adopters, if not one of the innovators of that technology.

I wasn’t the first one to wear one in the towing community but from that day forward, I wore one every time. Big wave surfing at that point and prior to it was very macho. You had to be a man, you had to be self-reliant and you still do, but there was this code of honor that didn’t allow for flotation. It didn’t allow for intelligent progression. That’s what the PFD was or what it represented in this scenario. Due to that incident, I started wearing the flotation, which opens up your mind to an enormity of other potential devices, ideas concepts that can now make it safer moving forward. To reiterate the point that failure is a pivotal point in moving forward and progressing and influencing not only my future, but the future of big wave surfing.

You shared your pivot, that’s your pivot story right there. You’re a standup paddleboarder and this is an ancient thing. People see this today, they don’t know maybe they think it’s something new and it got created. This is this is a part of ancient Hawaiian culture to do standup paddle boarding.

It wasn’t the most popular perhaps form of surfing but the Duke, perhaps the best-known surfer ever was the one that I first heard of teaching a gentleman named John Zapotocky from Kentucky how to standup paddle in Waikiki. John adopted it as his primary way of surfing. He was the one that carried the torch to stand up with Duke’s tutelage into the ’70s. It was a few more people that started to do it. It never took off, but when Laird and I got into it because of our access to media and people paying attention to what we were doing, it allowed us to share it much more effectively.

Do you see any changes to the sport coming up? This idea of learning from experiences creates the innovation wave ahead. There must be things that are probably going to change if we could predict if we had a crystal ball. Are you seeing any changes on the horizon? The foil is one of them.

The foil is perhaps the most significant progression going on in surfing. Standup is one of the biggest developments in surfing in quite some time, I should say the popularity not necessarily the development. It’s been around for a long time. What it did was it made surfing much more accessible to the rest of the world. You didn’t have to live on the coastline, any body of water would do. You can participate in an authentic way that is directly connected to the source of surfing. That mindset that goes with the activity and then ultimately the lifestyle that goes with it is very healthy, very community and connective. The social aspect is a very important part of what’s attractive about it. In that sense, standup had a huge benefit, not only to the surfing community but the society at large. The most recent thing I’m passionate about is foiling. We can do it down winding, we can do it in waves and we can do it behind boats. It’s another activity that’s quite accessible to any body of water. It’s fun because you’re essentially flying. It’s a small airplane connected to the bottom of a surfboard that when it passes through the water, it creates enough lift that allows you to rise above the surface and fly.

You don’t need to get towed into this thing?

No, you can paddle in laying down on your stomach and jump to your feet. You can do standup paddle and catch it already upright, towed behind the boat or jetski. There are so many applications and variations of it that it’s fun and it’s at the very beginning of that growth cycle so it’s a very fun time to be involved in it.

PR 83 | Following The Bubbles

Following The Bubbles: Failure is a pivotal point in moving forward and progressing and influencing not only my future, but the future of big wave surfing.


I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never done foiling. I’ve been a water skier and crossing the lake on a single ski you get some air. That’s about as close as I’ve come maybe to that. We found out that our daughter and future son-in-law are getting married in Hawaii. I may get my chance pretty soon. Last question and then I want to give you the set you free seat and get out there and catch some. What is a ritual that you have? I always ask our guests because I believe that the quality of our lives is very closely tied to the things we would do or we do consciously again and again. You might call them habits, but we refer to them as rituals because they’re not something that we’re doing because it’s the way we brush our teeth with the same hand. Do you have rituals that support you in the reinventions that you’ve had? The ones that you’re creating going forward as a business person? As a role model for other people, as a father or husband?

The literal meaning of ritual to me, I only have one. The rest approaches situations. As far as rituals go, every time I get in the water, I say a little prayer that’s very based on appreciation and thanks. Looking for a little help and guidance because you never know what can happen when you get in the water. I would say throughout my life that has probably been the most consistent ritual of anything I’ve ever had. I don’t do anything that would draw attention or make you think I’m praying when I get in the water and I’m on my way out, I check in with myself and whatever term you want to give God, spirits the ocean, wherever you check in with.

I do that and show my appreciation for what’s going on, where I am, what I have and ask for a little help out there, “Keep me and everybody else safe and enjoy.” In terms of approaches, I feel like this foil thing in a funny way I didn’t anticipate. The design of the board is very different than a surfboard. It showed me how stuck I was in my approaches and my beliefs of how a board should be. I realized with the foil board, I have to let go of all my preconceived design concepts and start from scratch. Going through that process of opening my mind again and starting with a clean slate, not bringing my old thoughts and concepts to the table was much more difficult than I ever thought it would be and has proven to be extremely beneficial in so many different aspects of my life because what I realized was I don’t want to take chances.

I want to be safe. I want to do the safe thing. In that process, I realize I can’t do the same thing. Stop being afraid. Stop being afraid of change. Stop being afraid of new ideas. That wasn’t isolated to my board design in the beginning, I know that’s a very small thing, but it had a profound effect. I realized I could look at everything I do and all the decisions I make and it was like, “Am I making those decisions out of fear and trying to be safe? Am I making those decisions because they’re literally the best decisions taking everything in?” That has taught me so much about how to approach things and how to move forward and make better decisions. I had no idea how confined I was until I had to go through that process what with the boards and their design.

Change works to your benefit rather than against you. Start to take advantage of that change. Click To Tweet

There’s a neighbor of yours at least on the island, Ram Dass, and I don’t know if you’ve ever run into him at all. There’s something pretty cool that he said that relates so well to what you shared. His life underwent a massive change. He had a stroke and his whole world changed significantly. He said this, “Make friends with change,” as a mantra or something to remind ourselves of. It’s so important that we are receptive to change because it’s in that receptivity that the world that we can see and perceive opens up to us. The sea of possibilities is so much greater when we’re not looking at it through a lens of safety, which is fear-based when we’re looking at things.

The reality is things are going to change, whether you want them to or not. If you fight that change, you constrict your options, the potentials, and all the things that can come from it. You’re open to them and you can have that open mind, which allows that vision to see the potential and the possibilities. You start to take advantage of that change and change works to your benefit rather than against you. That’s the perspective, that’s a mindset and can have profound results. While I was aware of that for quite some time, I never realized how important that is.

PR 83 | Following The Bubbles

Following The Bubbles: Things are going to change whether you want them to or not. If you fight that change, you constrict your options, the potentials, and all the things that can come from it.


Any sense of what your next pivot is?

I’m into the boards and new designs and learning so much from that. I don’t know what the next thing is, but I feel like I’m in a position to help develop whatever it is because my mind’s open. I know change has always been a good thing for me. I’m excited to see what it is. However I arrive at it, it’s coming one way or another whether I like it or not, so let’s get into it.

That’s what came through for me, I’m not a non-intuitive writing but when you were saying it, I wanted to finish this sentence by saying, “It’s good.” No matter what it is, I don’t have to know what it is the moment, I just know it’s good. It’s been more than good it’s been great to have you on the show and spend time. I appreciate you leading us into that dark place again. It’s so powerful to use that metaphor of following the signs, following the bubbles that was your guidance in a place where you couldn’t otherwise know which way to go.

Thank you for being on the show. For everybody out there, I want to say as always how grateful I am to have access to all of you. The size of it is not that the big thing, it’s great that it’s grown so big. The fact that the feedback we’re getting from all of you is so positive and wonderful. That’s the greatest gift for us that we get your feedback. If you are not yet subscribed to the show, please feel free to do that and leave a comment. You can leave a review on iTunes. You can get access to our Start My PIVOT Community on Facebook or go to

As we started this show in gratitude, this is a place to transition. I want to leave you with a waking ritual that has changed my perspective in so many ways, changed my life transformed a lot of things for me and that the blessing to share it with many people around the world. I will extend my prayer across when I say this is that my hope and my prayer is that we all wake up tomorrow. It’s quite evident that you woke up now and that’s a blessing. Just as importantly, it wasn’t guaranteed. For us to wake up tomorrow, we can also be aware in that moment that we’re waking, taking our first conscious breaths and realizing, “Yes, I am taking a breath.” Like Dave said, “I’ve made it to the surface and I’m going to live another day. I’m going to breathe another deep breath of air.”

There are people who’ll be taking their last breath at the moment you’re taking your first breath tomorrow whenever that is. You need much more of a reason at that moment to feel grateful. Regardless of whether your life everything is going super easy and well or just as you want, which is not everybody, I know frankly you’ve got challenges. However it is, whether it’s a sunny day or it’s cloudy, whether the surf is big and that excites you or it’s flat that day, whatever it is. You can be grateful for that moment, for that waking breath. Lastly, if you’re willing to do it, you can declare these words from your bed or when your feet hit the floor, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life. I truly do.” I wish you all the best of days and everything that your heart could desire.

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About Dave Kalama

PR 83 | Following The BubblesDave describes himself as simply ” a professional waterman”. However, this is more to it than that. Dave Kalama is a big wave surfer/tow-in surfer, stand-up paddle (SUP) surfer and racer, surf and SUP board shaper, windsurfer, outrigger canoe racer, private adventure guide and celebrity watersports enthusiast. Kalama, his wife, 2 sons and 1 daughter live in Kula, Maui.

Kalama is credited with the co-development of tow-in surfing, along with Laird Hamilton, Darrick Doerner, and Buzzy Kerbox. Recently, Kalama together with close friend Laird Hamilton have been actively promoting and mastering an ancient Hawaiian mode of water transportation and watersport called SUP, “stand-up paddling”, and he has begun a series of increasingly longer solo paddle events between various Hawaiian islands. Kalama and Hamilton are also credited with the co-development of “foil surfing” (hydrofoil surfing).
Kalama is a descendant from a long line of noteworthy Hawaiian watermen; his grandfather brought outrigger canoe paddling to the mainland U.S., and his father Ilima Kalama was the 1962 world-champion surfer and a lifelong outrigger canoe paddler.[2]. There are, among others, a beach on Maui and a town in Washington State named after family members. Kalama is known socially amongst surfers as placing high respect on local/community surf etiquette.

Kalama is a part-time coach to SUP competitors Kai Lenny (2010 and 2011 SUP Surf World Champion) and Slater Trout.