“Crash and Rise” is an inspirational book by Mike Shoreman—also known as “the unbalanced paddleboarder”—who is eager to share his experiences at the Ganges River in India. A dedicated paddleboarder, Mike found his passion for the sport after an enlightening trip to India where he felt a keen connection with the element of water. Now a professional paddle boarding coach who specializes in stand-up paddle boarding, Mike runs a business where he can share his knowledge with students.
Mike had overcome a lot of hardship in his life, including coping with a neurological condition called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (which he got a result of having chicken pox as a child). The ailment caused him excruciating pain, a collapsed face, extreme vertigo, and an inability to walk properly. Rather than giving into hopelessness, Mike channeled his pain into purpose and used positive thinking to reverse falling down. His book titled “Diaries of The Unbalanced Paddleboarder: Crash and RISE: From Victim to Thriving Survivor” highlights what it truly means to crash and rise again by transcending mental and physical limitations. In August of 2020, Mike won the top award at Speaker Slam which is the largest North American Inspirational Speaking Competition.
Mike recently spoke about his life and career via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in paddle boarding and how did you break into this sport?
Mike Shoreman (MS): I actually went for a lesson with someone I was in a relationship with at the time. We thought it would be a great “date night” activity and it was so much fun. I of course was terrible at first, I think I spent 40 of the 60 minutes in the water- but I was hooked. Just like with any skill, you progress with practice and I spent a great deal of time training. Fast forward a few years, a break up and an ‘Eat Prey Love’ trip to India I returned from that trip wanting to turn that hobby into a profession. I became certified with the national governing body of the sport and set out to create experiences for a consumer wanting more than just a lesson. I wanted to create something that the consumer would never forget.
MM: How old were you when you started to get sick and what was the healing process like?
MS: I think what most people find to be so shocking is that I was athletic, fit, in shape and only 35 years old when the onset happened. I never thought I would be living with a neurological condition in my thirties and that it would cause so much emotional, mental and physical damage. I was dealing with my face collapsing, spending a year retraining my brain to walk again and adjusting to my new normal. Being told I would never paddleboard again was crushing as was losing a business and a life I built and that sent me on a huge mental health journey I never saw coming. I think a lot of people who experience sudden loss with anything really resonate with that. Where does someone go when their identity is shattered and they don’t see a way out?
MM: How did you keep yourself mentally healthy throughout this hardship?
MS: At first, I didn’t, I was focused on just surviving. I think there should be a big focus on mental health when someone is diagnosed with a life changing condition so they can navigate the journey easier. My friend P90X’s Tony Horton who also shares my condition has described this as painful as when both your kneecaps are shattered so exhaustion combined with pain was extremely challenging. My mental health deteriorated very quickly, feeling defeated and very alone with what I was experiencing. I felt like I looked like a monster when I looked in the mirror and I was grieving a planned life lost which took a huge toll. It wasn’t until I sought mental health treatment that I was given the tools to help bring me out of the struggle. Journaling and mindfulness activities as well as open communication with those closest to me really helped. Today because of where I went, I am a spokesperson and ambassador for several non-profit organizations, one of which is a mental health organization training youth. Mental health is a hot topic right now and I use a lot of the tools I was given back then now to navigate what we all are facing.
MM: What made you decide to visit India and what were your experiences there like?
MS: I had always been fascinated with India and the cultures from what I had seen in films — “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”–it all formed this curiosity. The history, the food, the architecture always inspired me and when my relationship was coming to an end, I decided it was time to have my “Eat Prey Love” moment and head off. Travelling alone though India for me was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had- meeting other solo travelers and locals everywhere I would go. Every province is different with how they dress, dialect, food- it was like travelling through 22 different countries not knowing what was coming next. From running off a mountain attached to someone and a kite in the lower Himalaya, avoiding scorpions and snakes in my beach hut bathroom in the Andaman Islands, visiting the elephant and rat temples with new travel friends I met, visiting schools; every day was an adventure. But the best part was the people and connecting with them who were equally or more curious with me, I always felt welcomed and like the locals wanted to assist me. I met Liz Gilbert who wrote “Eat Prey Love” at a conference we were both at a few years ago and I chatted with her about my experience and was a full circle moment. The paddle boarding version of “Eat Prey Love!”
MM: How did you establish your business and build a client base?
MS: Being an outdoor-based business, I quickly realized that other paddleboard businesses were not my main competition, the elements were. I had charts and graphs of all my competitors, I did s.w.o.t. analysis of everyone but that didn’t matter if it rained or was too windy! I think every entrepreneur wants to create an experience for their consumer that is unlike any other. I positioned myself as the sunset king and marketed towards couples who wanted a fun romantic night out on the water, partnering with different influencers and blogs with the same target audience. By the end of that first season, I was the top-rated paddleboard destination in the city thanks to that and becoming the media safety guy whenever safe boating week would come around. The media really helped but ultimately it was the referrals of the people who came out because of that attention. A testimonial from someone you know and trust is a powerful and when they scream it from the rooftops even better. If I could tell entrepreneurs one thing, it would be to lead with experience. I have carried that with me in every business endeavor and it has served me well.
MM: What made you decide to write this book and how long did it take to complete?
MS: “Crash and Rise: Diaries of the Unbalanced Paddleboarder” came very organically. Written in an easy-to-follow diary format, part biographical and part self-help, it is designed for people who are struggling because I have struggled and have come out the other side stronger in spite of the challenges. I was very fortunate in that I was journaling for a big part of my journey and I had kept track of experiences and how they made me feel and what I learned from them and how it can relate to others. The whole process took about a year and a half from beginning to end and every step of it was healing, cathartic and incredibly rewarding knowing that this would help people.
MM: How did you find a publisher and market the book?
MS: My publisher, Life to Paper Publishing, is based in Miami and her publishing house is fantastic. Some of the projects she is working on right now are pretty wow! But I met her in Toronto through a community of entrepreneurs at an event and we hit it off right away. She fell in love with the messaging of the book and it all happened really quickly and I felt like she was magic and that she understood the mission and the vision best. In terms of marketing, the book is designed for people struggling which I think a lot of people are right now with the current global crisis. I have been very fortunate that celebrities, sports figures and the media have supported this with endorsements and positive reviews. It’s been a whirlwind for both of us and her role with getting this distributed by stores and online has been incredible.
MM: What made you decide to enter Speaker Slam and what did it feel like to win?
MS: I was encouraged by a friend to enter North America’s Largest Inspirational Speaking Competition who told me ” I was not done, what’s next for you?” It was morning, I was visiting her and I thought she was drunk when she said that because I was using a cane to walk, battling vertigo and had an eyepatch on; I looked totally unrecognizable. I had just been told by specialists my career was over. But I had gained confidence in myself at this point from time spent in a mental health treatment facility and I believed in her belief in me. Winning Speaker Slam was a big shock. Of course, I had rehearsed hundreds of times and dedicated a big part of my recovery to that but I never expected to win- I hoped to win! But I was also giving a speech for the first time and was competing against Ted Talk Speakers, professional corporate speakers and people who had gone viral with millions of views. Really, I just hoped to uplift a few people in a room of 300, I never imagined it would be viewed around the world by millions of people and what would happen as a result of that. It’s been one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. But it is pretty cool thing that the founders call me the Kelly Clarkson of North America’s Largest Inspirational Speaking Competition. This month I am returning as a judge on the panel which is a huge honor.
MM: Are you currently working on any new that you’re especially excited about?
MS: The book has brought so many amazing things. I am currently working with an app launching this spring designed for parents and kids to negotiate screen time which is a hot topic for parents everywhere! They have brought on award winner musicians, speakers, authors, athletes as life experts delivering mini classes with a call to action to get kids off their phones! I have been busy with that and just headlined a virtual event with this year first ever Time Magazine Kid of the Year, Gitanjali Rao. This summer I have several speaking engagements and book events and of course paddle boarding! I think with my win as this year’s International Stand-Up Paddle Boarding Man of the Year award there comes a responsibility and gives me a platform to do some great things for accessibility in the sport. I am working with a number of people with the national governing body of the sport to implement practices and policies that are regulated to make it more inclusive and this summer I will be the first person with a disability to paddleboard from the US to Canada so a lot of training right now!
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
MS: I just did an interview with Jen Schefft Waterman who was “The Bachelorette” on her podcast and we were talking about goals and the future! Right now, I am enjoying the ride. The response from the book has been overwhelming just like when my talks went viral so I try to stay in the moment and enjoy that as much as I can. But looking to the future, I hope to continue motivating through speaking engagements with businesses, organizations, schools and my writing. I have just set up partnerships in ten North American cities for corporate retreats which I am really excited about. I love the work I get to do with non-profit organizations and seeing the impact of that- one of the amazing things that has come from all of this. I feel like I have been given a second chance and I hope many who are facing significant personal or professional challenges right now are motivated through the talks and “Crash and Rise: Diaries of The Unbalanced Paddleboarder” that they can make a comeback too.
Mike still coaches paddle boarding while being a sought-after motivational speaker. To purchase his book, see here. To learn more about Mike, visit his official website, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.