Rob Machado is best known for his casual, Zen-like flow and abilities on a surfboard. He has been entrenched in the business for the better part of his life, giving him not only strong perspective on how it’s evolved, but also on the ripple effects of the sport and the different things it impacts. We sat down with Machado to hear more about his life at present, and to reflect a bit on all he’s learned over the course of his career.
We asked him to tell us about how he has been able to accomplish many of his milestones and goals, in and out of the water. What makes these things possible? How has he been able to reach his goals? He noted that one skill he has really mastered is that of acquiring sponsors, which has helped fund and bring notability to a lot of what he’s done. How does he evaluate which companies and corporations he’s willing to work with?
“Over the years I’ve learned how to identify the goals of a company, which is a huge part of the evaluation process. I definitely have to work alongside brands that share my passions towards environmentally friendly practices. It’s not always easy: take surfboards for example. The main tool for what I do is probably one of the worst out there [environmentally], but it’s all about balance. Most of my sponsors I have had for the majority of my surfing career; by this point we’re in sync and work on some cool initiatives together. “
“Working with Nixon [Rob’s longtime watch sponsor] has been amazing. I’ve watched the brand grow from a garage in an alley to what it is now and it’s been fun to be a part of the ride. They pay a lot of attention to detail and treat their athletes better than anyone I know. And at the end of the day, we have fun.”
His focus on the environment and on working with like-minded companies and individuals eventually impacted Machado’s desire to found and run a charitable organization focused on water availability, environmental impact, and caring for those in need. When he started his charitable foundation a decade ago, he was right in the thick of his busy professional career. Did the North County, San Diego local ever imagine then that he’d be spending so much of his time today being the leader of a clean beaches/fresh water advocacy organization?
“No—to be honest I didn’t really set out to be a leader,” he says. “I set out to make a change I was passionate about like lessening single bottle plastic use. I knew I eventually wanted to put my time and energy into the foundation because I had goals and projects that I wanted to see through. I knew I wanted to grow and accomplish more each year, but honestly it’s been a blessing to have completed this much with the foundation and of course the people who want to help and be a part of it as well.”
The Rob Machado Foundation distributes reusable water bottles to kids and installs refill stations at San Diego public schools and beaches.
“My brother, sister-in-law and Mom have all worked within the local school system so I always seem to be at one of the schools for one reason or another,” Machado explains. “I couldn’t believe that the drinking fountains were the same as when I went to high school and that’s when I thought, why don’t we install new drinking foundations that the kids would want to use. We approached my sponsor Hurley’s H2O program and created Hydration Nation and the reusable water bottles were created to help eliminate the need for plastic. The whole goal is to eliminate plastic bottles from the schools; because fewer plastic bottles means more clean water for those in need. Hydration Nation works to install the water filling stations at schools, and then encourage the use of reusable water bottles.
The foundation’s local initiatives in San Diego also work in conjunction with others to bring fresh, clean water to places that don’t have it.
“Sale profits and donations is what allows RMF along with Hurley H2O to deliver water filters to places with little to no clean water. We work with my friend Jon Rose and Waves 4 Water and we’ve done some amazing trips. Every time I’ve gone on a trip to help deliver and set up filters I want to do another immediately after. To see people without one of the most basic necessities, water will inspire you for sure” he says.
Which brings up the question, what’s more important, local or global activism? Machado’s seen both.
“I’m not sure if one is more important than the other,” he pondered. “On one hand you have the importance of global activism which raises collective awareness which is massively important and helps build a large team of like minded doers. Eventually it can lead to better resources and funding if needed.
But to me, local activism is where it all starts. Small groups and communities taking a stance in what they believe needs to be changed or bettered.
Really though it all starts with the individual. It’s important to me to look after my home community, my own back yard. The foundation is a lot of both actually. We do so much work locally with schools and beaches in the area, but then we have some global outreach through the Hydration Nation program.”
Machado has taken his passion and transformed it into something larger, finding an ability to directly make a difference in people’s lives via his foundation. Even so, he knows his roots and has stayed true to the lifestyle and values that shaped him.
Sponsored by Nixon
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