by Otis Skipper
About 2 months before the our Annual Company Trip, Karl Edinger (celebrity hula hooper and friend to all) asked me if I’d be interested in performing in the annual Talent Show in Cancun. The answer, of course, was “Yes, yes, please let me do that.” However, after a short deliberation, we came to the unfortunate conclusion that my only “talent” is that I can quickly solve a Rubik’s cube. (Note the use of “talent” somewhat loosely here.)
In order to make the cut, I had to raise the stakes. So, I did. I told Karl that I’d solve the Rubiks cube — Upside down, underwater, and in front of nearly a thousand of my coworkers.
The first issue with this idea was that I’d never actually solved a Rubik’s cube upside down or under water, so I started practicing immediately. The first time I tried it, I lasted about 10 seconds under water before I had to be pulled out. (I hadn’t anticipated how much harder it is to hold your breath when all of your blood is rushing to your head. Don’t try this at home!)
So I practiced. I went to the gym to practice hanging upside down and holding my breath. I’d practice solving cubes at my desk within a single breath. I’m not always a big fan of motivational speeches, but I found a ton of motivation by remembering Jesse Itzler’s 40% rule: When you think you’ve reached your limit, you’re only 40% of the way there.
With just 2 weeks left until the trip, I was finally able to solve the cube underwater on a pretty regular basis. The only factor that remained to be seen was how much my nerves would come into play. On the day of the show, I put my chances of actually solving it at around 75%.
That meant there was a solid 25% chance that I could have forever been known at work as “that guy who almost drowned on stage…”
Fortunately, I didn’t screw it up.
HUGE shoutout to Nate, Streeter and Ben for all of their help in making this an amazing experience, and to Zain, Ken and Luke for subbing in for the practices. And of course, thank you to Red Ventures for giving me the chance to do something as crazy as this in the first place. #ChallengeWhatsPossible
Otis joined Red Ventures in 2016 after graduating from UNC and spending a summer in backpacking in Europe (and working on an Alpaca farm). Outside of work, you can find Otis playing soccer, disc golf or snowboarding.