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Monster Energy Cares: Matt Dawson

Friday, 17 May 2024 10:15 AM

NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / May 17, 2024 / Monster Energy
Monster Energy chats with Matt Dawson about founding Dawson's Creek and working with other charities and foundations

Courtesy Monster Energy

Monster Energy Cares Foundation

Monster Energy Cares: Okay Matt - I'm looking over your CV here, and I have to say… it sounds like total bullshit. According to this, in your 20s, you had crippling compartment syndrome in your legs, which prevented you from even climbing up a flight of stairs, correct?

Matt Dawson: Yes. A flight of stairs was something I tried to avoid at all costs.

MEC: And since then you have somehow:

  • Summitted the 7 highest peaks on the 7 continents in less than a year
  • Also summitted the Matterhorn, for shits and giggles, in under 7 hours
  • Walked solo and unsupported across the Mojave Desert and Death Valley
  • Rowed across the Atlantic Ocean
  • Skied to the South Pole
  • (And would have already skied to the North Pole AND flown around the world, if it weren't for Covid and the War in Ukraine)
  • You turned down contracts to play pro football
  • You're a licensed motorcycle racer
  • You're a licensed pilot
  • You are a Navy-trained rifles and pistols expert
  • You run your own charity
  • …and it says here your day job is Managing Director of an investment banking firm.

Is that all correct?

MD: (laughs) Yes.

MEC: So I guess our first question is: Where do you find the energy? And you're not contractually obliged to say Monster Energy by the way.

MD: (laughs) You know, you gotta find… people talk about the "why", you hear that all the time. And personally, it's not what I would subscribe to. Mine is kind of like the "have". It's what do you have inside of you that you have to get out. It's not why I do something, it's just I've identified something in me that's… it's like oxygen. It's "I have to get this out of me". You've gotta find a greater purpose behind all of this stuff, because it's not about running a marathon or backflipping a motorcycle or climbing a mountain; it's why are you doing these things.

And ultimately, the way that I look at it and the way we built Dawson's Peak is, it's living with a purpose and using that purpose to help elevate others around you. It's understanding what you're doing and why you're doing it, and the impact you want to have on others. Because anyone can go out and train when it's pretty out, you go to the gym, all that kind of stuff; but when it gets… when you're years into a project, or when you're months into an expedition, or your toes are frozen, where you can't feel your hands, or you miss your family or whatever - the energy doesn't work at that point. It's that greater sense of what's inside of you that you have to get out, and why is it that important to you.

MEC: You are a fairly unique addition to the Monster roster; you're not a pro athlete, not an artist, not a gamer, not a Monster Girl (that we know of). You are a Monster Adventurer. Is that a title you think fits?

MD: You know, it's something that I'm trying to earn. To be quite honest with you, I don't think I'm there yet. I think I've had the opportunity to do some fun things, and some interesting things, but as you and I have discussed, the more I do, the less impressed with it I am. And where I thought my limits were, now just every time I do something, I see my limits are so much more than I ever imagined. So, I think that that's hopefully a great representation of the Monster brand and why we've been so fortunate and honored to work with y'all to try to truly exemplify that.

MEC: How long have you been with Monster and what's it been like?

MD: We started with Monster just before leaving for Everest in 2021, where I met with Dan McHugh, the CMO. He and I had a wonderful meeting… it was like I'd known him for 20 years. And that's how it really got started.

And you know, this is not me saying this just because you and I are speaking, I tell this to everybody I talk to: literally every single person I've met within the Monster organization, the Monster Family, has been enjoyable to work with. Or just to speak with, or just to spend time with. And the level of community and camaraderie that Monster has built is something very special. Being an investment banker working in mergers & acquisitions for the last 15-18 years, all I've done is work with companies. So I know company culture, I've been around dozens and dozens of companies, so I know something special when I see it. And what y'all built here is very special.

MEC: Aw that's very sweet of you to say Matt! So how did all this adventuring get started? As you say, you were on a very different life track, as an investment banking financial advisor…

MD: To really scale the story down, I'd been working in banking for more than 10 years, I was successful at that to a degree where I lived a good life, I was comfortable financially and that kind of stuff… but there was this growing sense of emptiness that was inside of me for probably 20-30 years, and no matter what I did, nothing filled that hole. I felt that it just continued to develop and to evolve. It got to a point where it was almost crippling depression. If you saw my life on the outside you wouldn't have thought that; but on the inside, there were days where the thoughts of getting out of bed and putting my feet on the floor made me almost want to start crying. There was just so much internal pain - and I didn't know why. Because I looked at my life and I had everything, I've got friends, and opportunities, and means… it just didn't make sense. And it kept getting worse.

And roughly about that time I lost my mother and my girlfriend. And I just knew that it was time for a change. So I travelled to Nepal alone, spent three weeks wandering around Mount Everest, and on that trip just really broke through a bunch of personal thing that I needed to. The joke I make is, it was going far to go deep. I needed to do work, but the level of work I needed to do, I couldn't do it around the same people every day, in the same environments, doing the same things.
And when I was on that trip - whatever you want to call it, God, or the Universe, or Energy, or Allah, or whatever it is to you - it spoke to me. And this thing, this presence said two things: 1) you're not living with a sense of purpose. And 2) your life is only about you.

And that, coupled with being in the Himalayas, where you truly understand how irrelevant we all are… just the scope of these mountains and the role we all play; everybody matters - but nobody is important. Just a destruction of the ego. It all just coalesced together. And I was like "Maybe there's something here." Because before this, I'd never done any type of climbing, any type of trekking, any type of anything. To go from zero to over 17,000 feet was an interesting experience.

MEC: And this is the wildest part of it all, you just… did it. With no experience or training at all. So what was the hardest part? The most dangerous part? People die doing all of these things all the time. How many times have you said "Fuck - I could die right here"?

MD: I don't say that… I say "Now it's serious."

MEC: Have you ever thought you were going to die?

MD: Yeah there were times where I was definitely concerned for my welfare, let's just put it that way. There are certain times where you get nervous, your mind starts speeding up, your heart starts speeding up. But then you cross over a threshold, where whatever can happen to you is right there, and it can be very bad very quickly - and you almost become calm. Because you understand - for want of a better term - if you lose your shit at that point, it's only going to hurt the situation. You've got to focus; everything else has got to go away, and you've got to get locked in and locked on

MEC: So in all this crazy shit you've done, what was the most dangerous?

MD: There's two sides: there's the hardest, and the most dangerous. I'd say the hardest thing - and this is probably not the answer you were thinking - was the training. Day in, day out. I've been training since August 1st, 2018, and since that time I have never missed a single workout. I've never skipped one workout.


MD: Yes. But I can tell you now, as much as I've enjoyed this, I don't enjoy it every day. And of those workouts, I think less than 10 of them were workouts that weren't completed exactly as written. There were days that maybe I didn't wanna do this big leg workout, but I got it done, because that's what you're supposed to do.

MEC: How often do you work out?

MD: I train 7 days a week.

MEC: You've trained every single day since August of 2018?

MD: Yes. The only days that I would miss are travel days where I just physically could not train, or if I had scheduled periods for recovery, that was part of the training. I train on average 20-25 hours a week.

MEC: Incredible.

MD: It's that level of consistency; the days that you don't want to be there - and you're still there - is probably the most difficult part of it.
In terms of the actual expeditions? The one that sticks out in my mind… people love to talk about Everest and high altitudes and all that kind of stuff, but the one that really sticks out was the row, the 53 day crossing of the Atlantic. It was just the monotony of the same thing, day in, day out. Once we started rowing, we didn't stop for 53 days. You're rowing for 24 hours a day, between you and your teammate. You row for 1-4 hour shifts, you sleep for 1-4 hour shifts. You can't push the pause button. And when you're not rowing, you're in the boat and you're cold and you're wet and it's loud, and it never stops moving. That was the first time I'd done an expedition like that were you just don't get a break. For nearly 2 months. Imagine an NBA game that lasts for 53 days! Which is essentially what it is.

MEC: And is that not scary? Being out in the middle of the ocean at night, it's just black, there's no lights, there's no land… there's nothing?

MD: Again, there are points where I got concerned, but I don't think I ever had fear of being out there. Well, except that one time when I thought a whale went under the boat… to this day I still don't know whether it was a whale or my mind, but this thing was bigger than the boat, and I swear it went right under the boat…

But you do get concerned at points. Something that helps when you're in those situations, is just to appreciate the magnitude of not only the opportunity, but the moment. I'm in a boat and nobody is within hundreds and hundreds of miles of me, and what a special experience and opportunity that is. That's what fills my mind, rather than "if I move 2ft to my left I'm gonna drown because it's 15,000ft deep." You can choose either perspective you want to take.

MEC: Tell me a little about the charities you work with - Hope for the Warriors, the Gary Sinise Foundation, LA Circle of Giving, and LEAP Foundation, as well as your own charity, Dawson's Peak.

MD: To start from the top down: Dawson's Peak is a fully registered 501c3; our mission is to inspire the discovery and pursuit of individual purpose. To get people to understand that we are all capable of living greater lives, and that it is important for us not only to identify, but to each develop our individual purpose… basically the unique gift that we can offer the world in a way that only we can offer it. I think that gets lost a lot - people fail to understand that you can impact this world in a way differently than I can, differently than someone else, and someone else… we all have a unique impact through the special gift that we all have. And the way that Dawson's Peak does it is, we create large scale global expeditions where we sponsor athletes, the athletes go out and undertake those expeditions, and viewers can watch them, and hopefully serve as points of inspiration, where the viewer can see them climb a mountain or row an ocean, and say I can find the mountain or the ocean in my life. If they can do that, I can apply that to my life.

On our first project, Seven for Soldiers, where I'm trying to set 7 world records - 100% of our net proceeds are going to two outside groups, as a way of putting our money where our mouth is, to show the kind of impact we want to have on others. 100% of net proceeds benefit the Gary Sinise Foundation and Hope for the Warriors, which are two of the highest Veteran ranked and rated charities in the country, and we are very proud to have them be a part of this.

I also sit on the board of LA Circle of Giving, they work directly with individual specific families that are in need; rather than having an organization that generally raises money and generally distributes money, they work with families on a one-off basis, understanding the needs of that particular family, and then raises the necessary funds or awareness or assets to address the issues that they are going through.
And then the LEAP Foundation is a group that works through UCLA, that mentors young kids, and their development as individuals and professionals.

MEC: Not just where do you find the energy - where do you find the time? You must have excellent time management skills!

MD: I enjoy efficiency! I really do.

MEC: Any tips for us?

MD: It's what we spoke about earlier: when you find that "have" - It's gotta be that important to you. Look, before all this started, I was going out 4-5 nights a week, going to bars and restaurants and dinners and clubs and hanging out with friends and vacations. Since August 1, 2018, I think I've gone on one vacation, and maybe three dinners. I don't hang out with friends, I don't see my family as much. The social life, the dating, all that stuff has taken a back seat to this. I'm in bed at 10pm and up at 4, 5, or 6am and at it… it's just part of the game.

MEC: But obviously no regrets? You seem like a very happy person… you seem very content. Not just focused, but content.

MD: You see, I would say exactly that. I'm not a happy person, by nature. It's just not how I'm built. I think happiness is a word that's overused nowadays… It's kind of like white sugar, it's sprinkled on everything. "Oh I wanna be happy!" Happiness never enters my mind or equation; it's contentment, and satisfaction.

MEC: Fulfilled?

MD: Exactly, fulfilled. Those are the words that I look for. Not only in my life, but through my actions.

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SOURCE: Monster Energy

Environmental, Social and Governance
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