Very few human beings have a heavy passion for understanding and bettering humanity and actually taking substantial action to move towards progress. Rob Best is one of them.
New York born but Los Angeles raised, Best is currently the Regional Director at VCA (worlds largest provider of veterinary medicine), Chief Operating Officer at SAGE Global and Owner/Photographer of Rob Best Photography. Aside from his work, Best is an avid explorer and adventure seeker. He finished 2015 having visited South Korea, China and Bali and looking this year to explore New Zealand’s beaches, mountains and waterfalls, island hop throughout the Philippines. Before heading to Antarctica in 2017, marking Best’s 7th continent he’s visited.
Best was raised in a mixed race home and from a young age he learned the value of not being judgmental and accepting people for who they were. Athletics eventually moved him overseas to Belgium igniting a new excitement for exploration and new experiences. He found himself traveling throughout Europe, learning and taking in the way of life. After touring the popular sites of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the Red Light District he found something else calling for him. “It was authentic cultural differences, majestic natural wonders and incredible wildlife experiences that captured my attention and inspired me to continue [to travel],” says Best.
His attention began to shift and he started to seek opportunity in the world around him. In 1999 he co-founded a small non-profit that works with teenage entrepreneurs in the U.S., which became a global organization in 2002 called SAGE Global. Today the company is active on six continents and in nearly 30 countries.
Through SAGE Global, teenagers are building real, for-profit businesses, but their businesses must somehow meet or address social needs. At the end of every year, these teenage entrepreneurs compete in a global tournament to see who’s had the greatest impact. “We’re so proud of all the young leaders connected to SAGE, but I personally enjoy highlighting Jason Li who was the first teenager to present and receive funding on the American TV show, Shark Tank,” said Best. “Now my travels are inspired for two reasons: the adrenaline of the adventure, and igniting positive global impact through youth education and entrepreneurship.”
Aside from developing SAGE, Best has become a professional outdoor & wildlife photographer and had captured numerous exotic creatures. When asked about his most memorable place he’s ventured, Best is doubtless in saying Africa. “From helping in villages where I’ve encountered some of the happiest people on this planet, to trekking through dry bush before coming face to face with wildebeests and rhinos, to scaling Table Mountain or Victoria Falls, to being underwater next to seal island as I tread water within an arms reach of great white sharks, Africa connects me to my desires of both helping and exploring like no other experience I’ve yet to discover,” said Best.
When asked about traveling advice for adventure seekers like him, Best says to “plan ahead! Any amount or type of travel requires some planning, but global adventure travel creates new challenges.” Best also says to the lighter you pack, the easier it is to explore; learn the legalities and logistics such as visa requirements, appropriate identification, required and suggested vaccines, and make electronic and paper copies of all documents (take pictures with your phone and email them to yourself for quick access in case your paper copies are lost or stolen); inform family & friends of your itinerary and be sure they know when to expect communication from you; register your travels abroad with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free U.S. Government service that connects you to the local U.S. Embassies & Consulates and informs you of travel warnings and assists you with emergencies; and finally, learn the culture and be prepared to respect the culture.
Best continues his mission to leave the world a better place and to continue to learn and grow with the changing times. His favorite quote being from Nike CEO Mark Parker, “Be a sponge; Curiosity is life; Assumption is death; Look around…”