Interview with Paul Heiney
After several years as a successful broadcaster you decided to become an organic farmer aside from your career, why?
I like taking opportunities and a chance came for me the experience the culture and practices of the working horse – which was my main interest. The organic nature of the farming was something of an aside. I believed, and still believed, that food and farming has many lessons to learn from the practices of the past and the challenge is to extract those and make them fit into a modern farming world where profits have to be made and mouths fed.
What can the ocean teach us about life?
Being alone on the ocean is a complete distillation of your life. Everything that is good about you, and everything that is bad, becomes condensed and you discover who you really are. You see this in the way you behave when the challenges of ocean sailing present themselves, how you cope with the emergencies and also with the tedium of an everyday life lived in isolation. For that reason, you can walk taller when you have sailed oceans.
How did sailing across the world influence your life?
I didn’t go round the world, only to Cape Horn and back. It made me realise that everything is achievable if you make the effort, that you can discover hidden strengths while at the same time you have to confront your weaknesses. I’m more relaxed about things now: everything seems easier than getting that boat through 18,000 miles.
How do you prepare for speaking engagements?
I like to know how big an audience is, and what kind of venue – have they eaten, are they waiting to eat etc. But more important are the people and their background. Are they seeking simply entertainment, or are they coming to this in a thoughtful frame of mind. How do I want them to feel when they leave?
Will they understand anything about sailing/farming, or will I have to explain? How can I make it work for those who come with some background knowledge, and those who don’t?
Why should clients book you for their next event?
I have appeared at many venues over the years to talk about my adventures on the land and on the sea. I have yet to come away from any of them thinking other than it has been a success – and the organisers would agree.