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Here’s the Wild Idea

Today’s guest is Brian Keaulana, a legendary waterman, who gave me magical advice at a pivotal point in my life. Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian grew up on the water near Makaha Beach fishing, surfing, and spending time with friends and family near the ocean. He became one of the top lifeguards on the island, and is credited with not only creating the jet ski rescue sled, but also some of the first commercial standup paddleboards. His heritage goes all the way back to Hawaiian royalty, and his insight into traditional Hawaiian values and culture has made him the ultimate mentor.

I met Brian in 2009. I’d just quit my job at the height of the recession to pursue a career in “adventure journalism,” and I talked myself onto a boat trip to the Mentawais, an archipelago of islands off islands off the coast of Indonesia, on the Indies Trader III with some of the best surfers and standup paddlers on the planet. The waves were bigger than anything I was used to in San Diego, and even though I was just there to write, eventually I just had to get off the boat and drop in. I was absolutely terrified, and kept falling while surfing, but Brian shared wisdom with me in the water that not only helped me catch a wave that changed me forever (which I talk about on this show), but has helped me in life to this day. There’s a picture below. I have awful style, but the biggest smile.

A highly respected lifeguard and teacher, Brian advises all sorts of agencies from the military to police forces around the globe on water safety practices, and also works as a stuntman and stunt coordinator on TV shows and movies filmed in Hawaii. 

Above all, he’s Hawaiian to the core and a family man. He gives sage advice about respecting mother nature, giving back to his community, and even how to make it as a stuntman. I love the way he lives his life with intention, one where he not only spends a lot of time in the outdoors, but also honors his heritage, the land around him, his community and family, and teaches others to do the same.

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You want to hear from one of the most legendary Hawaiian watermen ever.
  • You surf or do any water sport activity, or want to try but are scared.
  • You have been (or want to go) to Hawaii.
  • You’ve ever thought about being a stunt man.
  • You think it’s important to respect nature.
  • You want to hear a story of my life-changing moment in Indonesia while surfing.

My first barrel in 2009

Key Takeaways

  • 0:15 – How I met Brian Keaulana on the Indies Trader.
  • 10:40 – Brian says you have to be in the moment and create calmness in chaos.
  • 14:45 – How Brian’s Hawaiian background has impacted his life.
  • 19:20 – The ocean was a big part of Brian’s upbringing at Makaha Beach.
  • 25:40 – What traditional Hawaiian values Brian and his family still practice.
  • 28:50 – How Brian started out in the entertainment industry.
  • 36:50 – How to become a stuntman.
  • 41:00 – Applying Hawaiian lessons to his career.
  • 46:40 – Fear is just the unknown.
  • 50:15 – The ocean changes you.
  • 53:55 – Home is your community.


Blue Crush film
Baywatch 2017 film
Baywatch TV series
Brian’s IMDb page



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