The second time I met Victor Vescovo, in the wood-paneled office of the private equity company he co-founded in Southlake, he showed me a radar image of the stern of the Titanic. He’d had to navigate this mess of metal a few weeks prior, becoming the first man in 14 years to venture to the wreckage at the bottom of the North Atlantic. He’d done so alone—generating concern among everyone from his crew all the way to James Cameron, the last guy to do it—just as he’d done in the other dives up to that point. The first time I met him, he spent more than two hours telling me stories about his other dives, particularly to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, 7 miles down in the Mariana Trench.
We scratched the surface about the type of vessel needed to withstand such pressure. Just a few years prior, a research submarine had been crushed like a can compactor. Nothing had ever been built that could safely traffic humans to the bottom of our deepest oceans again and again and again. Victor Vescovo, of Preston Hollow, changed that.
I profiled Vescovo for the cover story in the February issue. It’s online today. We called him The Most Interesting Man in Dallas (when we told him the concept during the cover shoot, he laughed and told us he brought an empty Dos Equis to the bottom of one of the dives.) He’s summited the seven highest mountains in the world and skied both poles. He was a targeting officer in the Naval reserves, one of the guys who created the strategy for the commanders to issue to the squadrons. Take this example. In the late 90s, during the Kosovo war, Vescovo was part of the team that figured out how to knock out the power in Belgrade for a few days to show the Serbs what they could do.
“We’re the guys saying we’re not going to hit the power plants because that’ll take 10 years to fix,” he says. “We needed the high-powered transformer relays on the outskirts of the city, and we’re going to take them down in a way that would take them about three days to fix. … We’d figure that out and then give that to the squadrons and then the squadrons would plan and execute. That was my job for 10 years.”
And after retiring from the Navy, and after climbing those mountains (and almost dying at least once), he decided to look down. He wanted to commission a submarine that could reach the most desolate parts of the oceans and he wanted to go down himself. So, with the help of Florida-based Triton Submarines, he did. And, over the course of five years, Vescovo bought a ship to ferry the sub around and hired a team of the world’s best: a captain and an expedition leader who had both done this sort of thing before, researchers and oceanographers who would propel the world’s understanding of this portion of the ocean forward, crews from the Discovery Channel and National Geographic to document. (Air dates are still TBD, for some reason.) He’s also a pilot, and still made time to fly to kill shelters to rescue dogs on behalf of a nonprofit called Pilots N Paws.
Vescovo wants us all to do more. He’s a believer that we humans quit too easy, that we allow ourselves to get too complacent. We probably won’t be able to accomplish (or afford) all he has, but we can make changes in our day-to-day that jolt us out of our comfort zones and into new experiences.
“A common theme I keep telling people is that people constantly underestimate themselves, they just do,” he told me in our first interview. “It’s just too easy to work hard enough to get comfortable and then once you’re comfortable, people don’t continue to push themselves. And obviously I do that naturally, I guess, but you can do a lot more. If you’re harnessed by the right team and the right leadership, people can do extraordinary things.”
We thank Vescovo for being willing to be photographed underwater, which required him to dive back and forth in a deep pool for more than an hour. There’s a ton of stuff in this adventure, and I’m thrilled to share it with you. You can read it here, right now.