Guy Grieve: Adventurer / Author / Scallop Diver / Entrepreneur

Published: October 31, 2016
Author: Steven Thomas

"If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly.  Make a start, adapt, then make it better." - Guy Grieve


Have you ever had a friend who's approach to life never fails to inspire you?  If you haven't, I hope you are lucky enough to find one in the future.  For me, Guy Grieve is definitely that kind of friend.  A quick read of his bio might help you start to understand why. In a recent chat we talked about how he's managed to take on so many diverse challenges.  The insights he shared with me might just help us all in our quest to make the most of our own opportunities.


Guy is an adventurer and entrepreneur whose fight for sustainability has led him to start up a multi-award winning ethical fishing company on the Isle of Mull. He skippers the family fishing boat, Helanda, and dives for king scallops that are prized by chefs throughout Britain. Call of the Wild, My Escape to Alaska, his first book, was inspired by the year that he spent living alone in a cabin he built in the wilderness of the Interior of Alaska in 2004-05. He has gone on to present a number of television programmes as well as writing for various national publications. His latest book Sea Legs charts the year he and his family spent sailing from Venezuela to Scotland, via the Caribbean. Guy lives on Mull with his wife and two sons.

Building a life full of challenge and adventure

You can see what I'm getting at.  Together with his wife Juliette, Guy has set about building a life full of challenge and adventure.  They've taken on things that many others would shy away from.  They've continually pushed themselves to take on different types of projects, often for long periods with very little reward.  I'm pleased to say, though, that it has become a successful way of life.  Yes, they've built a wonderful business in the Ethical Shellfish Company, but of course what the bio doesn't tell you about are the early days, when Guy would leave the freezing waters off of Mull, exhausted, to then jump straight into a van to drive through the night to deliver his catch to chefs all over the UK.   Or, the times when the entire family caught terrible food poisoning on the Caribbean leg of their year living on a boat whilst traveling from Venezuela to Scotland.  All of the failed ideas and projects are missed out, along with the fact that they started their current business with nothing in the bank.  It even misses out the truth about his terrible taste in corduroy suits during his mid-twenties (sorry Guy, I couldn't resist).

It takes a particular kind of attitude.

When chatting to Guy recently and reflecting on the type of challenges that he and his family have navigated so successfully, it occurred to me that  the insights he shared, can be applied by us all when taking on any form of personal development.

Up-cycle each of your experiences

Every experience I've had, is linked.  The previous one informs the next.  Every phase leads to another.

Guy has continually taken what each 'project' has taught him and fed it into the thing he's doing next.  He's effectively learned to up-cycle everything that is useful to make the next opportunity work for him.  For example, adapting to the solitude of his Alaskan adventure taught him to now take time out, away from relative civilization, to write his next book.

Don't get overly stuck on a particular course, be prepared to adapt

When sailing, I always set course to go from Point A to around Point B... because I know that other factors will mean that I might need to alter course... or I might even need to alter my destination. 

Being the skipper of a fishing boat in the challenging waters around Scotlands Hebridean Islands has not only pushed Guy's survival skills hard, but I suppose it also enables a rather useful analogy when you place it in the context of taking on personal challenges and getting things done.  Guy explained to me, in sailing terms, that, he tends to chart his course between two points but, rather that remaining totally fixed on the destination, he allows for other factors to come into play - namely the weather and tide.  Through experience, he knows that it would be foolish to remain inflexible and that you simply have to adapt to factors that are often outwith your control.   If you want to survive the journey and, eventually, make it to your destination be adaptable.  An ethos that is not only true in sailing but in life in general.

Feedback is crucial to the creative process

With many things, particularly writing, I'll ask for opinion from various people, people who'll see it differently from me.  I'll then take that feedback and use it to make what I'm doing better.

Guy has no hesitation in asking for feedback from his trusted network.  Particularly when it comes to writing, he uses this feedback to improve and refine his work.  A crucial part of his creative process.

So, whether you're writing a book, building a sustainable fishing brand, distributing a premium product or simply navigating your way from one of life's challenges to the next, we can all apply Guy's insights when taking on our own personal projects.

Of course, like any friendship that started in your 20's, that has endured a couple of decades we also do a great line in juvenile banter.  So, with that in mind, this one's for you Guy - keep sailing uncharted territory, my friend.