David Cuthbert, Wine to Water

Life has been a series of transitions for David Cuthbert. He played collegiate soccer at the Naval Academy, then went on to join Naval special operations as an explosive ordnance officer, then began a tech startup, and now works in the nonprofit world as the CEO of Wine To Water, which provides clean drinking water to places in need around the world. Throughout his journey, he’s learned to understand his experiences universally, so he can bring skills from one discipline to the next.

Leadership and the idea of a team have been two concepts that have held strong for Cuthbert throughout and are what guide him in his current work. Cuthbert says it’s important to focus on building a strong and cohesive team, so the internal work can be done to create a great external product. If there’s too much focus on the end product first, team-building can fall short and the product may not reach its full potential. It takes strong leadership to encourage that team to always share its best ideas and have passion for the work it’s doing.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Look at experiences universally
  • Find different applications for skills across platforms
  • Focus on internal work that leads to external product
  • Ensure people are sharing their best ideas
  • Focus on building a strong team


“You can apply being on a team … in so many things outside of sports. I think it’s easy to get pigeonholed into that sort of identity or that persona, but I think there are elements of that that do transcend the sport itself and team is one of those things.” -David Cuthbert

“I think if we focus on the external part of the eventual product, if that is the one thing that we focus on and forget about the importance of the process, the importance of individual roles, the importance of teamwork, I think what we’re building is a house of cards.” -David Cuthbert

“Leadership transcends many of those specific mediums. Certainly, it has different applications, it has different nuances. You have to apply different tactics. But at the core, it’s still leadership. It’s still investing in people and growing people and having them believe in something that’s greater than themselves and taking on a challenge worth taking on.” -David Cuthbert

“When they get involved in these things and they see the transformational change that they are a part of contributing to, it actually transforms them. It’s really a beautiful reciprocal relationship, I think.” -David Cuthbert

“No matter where we are as parents, no matter how old our kids are, I don’t think they’re too young and I don’t think they’re too old to be exposed to service. And I don’t think there’s ever a bad time to bring them into a process of giving and bring them into a process of relationship building and bring them into a process of serving.” -David Cuthbert


You can find out more about Wine To Water online at winetowater.org. You can also follow the organization on social media @winetowater.

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Episode 155