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Kindhumans Profile: Vipe Desai

Kindhumans Profile

Kindhumans Profile: Vipe Desai

Author, surfer, boardroom strategist, ocean conservationist, and father, Vipe Desai has taken all of his past work and life experience and applied it to help better his community. Enjoy!

Who is Vipe Desai?

I’m just a surfer who found a home in the action sports industry but somehow ended up on an incredible journey using my experience to do the best I can for my tribe and community. I wake up every morning ready to roll up my sleeves and tackle whatever comes my way. While I started my career on a surfboard, I now find myself regularly in the boardroom driving strategy for nonprofit and for-profit organizations. It’s a unique career path but one that I find really rewarding personally and professionally. And as busy as I may get, I always make time for my family, get in a quick surf or hike a trail.  

What inspired you to pursue ocean conservation as a career?  Tell us about your journey from action sports to where you are today.

I started surfing when I was about 15 but I was never good enough to compete. After graduating from college I did the next best thing which was to find a way to work in the surf industry and that’s when I bought a surf shop with one of my best friends. Working in retail really opened me up to the business side of the industry and I discovered that I had a hidden passion that I could use to propel my career. During the retail phase of my career I got to work with upcoming brands and also leaders in the industry and I learned a lot but also was contributing ideas helped shape the Global action sports industry. I found it exciting and also challenging but I found my niche. I was good at marketing, communications and brand building strategies. It was also during this phase where it was the early days of the Surfrider Foundation and volunteers would come into my store and ask if they could hang up a flyer for a beach cleanup or donate a gift certificate for a community event. While I never paid close attention to their work while I was in retail I can look back and see that these volunteers were laying the foundation for everything that the ocean conservation movement is working on today.

From there, the idea of giving back slowly began to become part of my work and free time. I started getting invited to serve on nonprofit boards where I got immersed even more and discovered that I could help organizations fulfill their mission using my experience and leveraging my network. So now I find myself serving on several boards, working with lawmakers in D.C. and large funders to protect our ocean.

Why is it so important for people to be involved in ocean conservation? How can people get involved?  

There are so many reasons for everyone one of us to be involved in ocean conservation starting with how important a healthy and thriving ocean is to life all around the world. From a food source to providing oxygen to being an economic engine that supports jobs across the globe. But it’s so much easier to get involved today than it was even ten years ago. Today its as simple as reducing your waste and increasing the use of reusables. But we also have recycling programs in certain areas and we have access to clean energy solutions so we can move away from fossil fuels. There’s never been a time as easy as now to change our habits and change how we consume that can have an immediate and positive impact on our planet than now.

Getting involved with ocean conservation is as easy as participating in a beach cleanup but you have to be fired up and passionate about doing something. No one likes to be forced to do something. That’s usually when it becomes an irritant than something you feel good about. 

There are so many great local, state and national organizations like Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, Heal The Bay and even places like the Ocean Institute in Dana Point but I’m also launching my own nonprofit, Vote The Ocean. It’s a unique approach to inspire people to protect our ocean through a variety of actions that can scale solutions and innovations.

Tell us about your latest venture with “The Radical Undersea Journey of Mr. Dude”

I’ve been involved with ocean conservation for more than 30 years and from grassroots activism to testifying before members of Congress on Capitol Hill, I’ve discovered that the best way to get more people involved in protecting and caring for our ocean is to get them started as early of an age as possible. We read so many books in our house and I see how these stories stick with my 8-year-old son and reading books to him has made me realize that a children’s book based around a fun story would plant little ideas in his heart and mind that he could carry throughout his life.

The story is basically about a local surf hero that didn’t really pay attention to his personal actions but after wiping out on a wave, he’s magically transformed into a fish and begins his journey meeting undersea creatures who show him what’s happening in our ocean. He quickly discovers that he has to change his ways and become an ocean champion.

It’s a fun and quirky story but my son and his friends love it and I can see that he looks at the ocean in a completely different way and every time we go to the beach he’s always leaving it better than he found it.

What’s been fun about this book is how much support its been getting from friends like Billabong, Boardriders Foundation, and Kindhumans. The folks at Billabong really love the idea of connecting with kids and we’re taking some of the illustrations from the story and they’ll be available on t-shirts in the early part of 2020. It’s such a fun way to get an important message out.

If we can raise an army of kind and conscious humans, we can move towards better solutions and have even more impact in our communities. And all the proceeds from the book go to Vote The Ocean as well.



What role does sustainability have in your life? How do you inspire other people to adopt more sustainable practices?

Sustainability is tricky because it has a broad spectrum of interpretation. Sometimes it can be too soft and other times too aggressive but I believe that we have to be pragmatic in how we bring others along in this conversation. I like to think that we have to inspire people to take personal accountability and lead by example so I do what I can and hope that others see me in action and pick up ways they can be more sustainable in their daily lives. We all lead very different lives so there’s no one size fits all solution but we each have to do what we can when we can and as often as we can.

What is a message you want to spread and leave with the Kindhumans community?

I love the idea that Kindhumans is promoting of spreading kindness, especially in this particular period where politics is being used as a weapon to divide us. And while being kind is what we should all practice day in and day out, I’ve decided to build off my personal mission statement that I’ve been using for more than 15 years and that is to #MakeOthersSuccessful. Helping others to succeed is kindness in action. I’ve always believed that when we make others successful, we’re building the type of community we want to live in. I think if we all elevated this type of thinking we could really make a difference.

What does kindness mean to you?

Kindness to me equates to primum non nocere, “not knowingly to do harm,” it’s the basic rule of public responsibility. I think if we take this approach being kind becomes a natural act. And when our kindness is natural, it’s also genuine.

How do you show kindness?

I really enjoy helping others and I find that the best way I can show kindness is to give it to others before its given to me. It’s like the old saying “it’s better to give than to receive”. But we can’t wait for others to be kind, we have to be ready to practice it unconditionally, and even sometimes when others aren’t kind to us.


Author Profile:

Vipe was born in India and grew up in Southern California near the beach. He now lives with his family near the mountains in Southern California. Serving on boards is the only sport Vipe needs but surfing is a close second. Vipe feels that surrounding himself with good people has been the key to his success as they all looked out for him, and still do. He feels he is at his best when in the boardroom helping others succeed. 

Vipe knows that when it comes to kindness he has to lead by example for his eight-year-old son, as he is focused on raising a kind human. Vipe knows that kids have to be inspired at an early age and building this value of kindness in his son will lead him to a life filled with purpose and respect for others. Vipe had never looked at kindness as a brand before but he feels this is the right place and right time for Generation Kindness to rise up. 

We have some serious issues to tackle and the only way we’re going to get on the right track is to prepare the next generation to be better than those that came before them.” – Vipe Desai

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