Surfing

Does surfing make you better at business?

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I haven’t been able shake this idea for the last few days, and the more i think about it more sense it makes to me. Now, i realise that this might only resonate with those of you who surf, and for the rest of you - you’ll just have to take my word for it. But here’s the punch line;

Surfers make better business people.

Whoa - big statement, I know. Let me tell you why - Surfing is almost 100% about feeling.

Firstly, let me paint a picture of what a pretty normal surf looks like.

1 - Decide you feel like surfing.
2 - Check the conditions by reading a bunch of graphs that mean absolutely nothing to you for the first 5 years until you start to recognise patterns.
3 - Decide its going to be worth going, So you need to convince a friend to come too.
4 - The negotiations with that person start. Finally, you convince them. Yay!
5 - Prepare the equipment, the car, the coffee machine and get some rest.
6 - Wake up before everyone else, acting irrationally optimistic that today is going to be the day.
7 - Get to the beach to either find great wave (success) or average waves that you convince yourself and the mate (who is now hating you) its still going to be worth it.
8 - Put on a rubber suit ~ Normally that is wet and gross.
9 - Paddle out, dodging rocks, rips, waves and anything else that’s out there to ruin your day.
10 - Suss out the other surfers to find your place in the line up.
11 - Sit in the line up for 2+ hours constantly reading the conditions waiting for a wave.
12 - Spot a wave, commit 100% to making it yours.
13 - Ride the wave for 2-10 seconds… If you’re lucky.
14 - Totally fuck up the wave and go back to step 9. Or have the wave of your life and then return to step 9.

For me this follows exactly not only the daily struggles of working for yourself, but also reflects the past 10 years of business I have experienced. Let me elaborate.

In comparison, this is what starting a business looks like.

1 - Decide you feel like surfing.
Decide you want to open a business or work for yourself - because you love what you do, not for solely for money.

2 - Check the conditions by reading a bunch of graphs that mean absolutely nothing to you for the first 5 years until you start to recognise patterns.
Look at some kind of analytics of the industry you want to enter. Then everything your accountant sends you for the next 5 years looks like hieroglyphics. The same as a swell chart.

3 - Decide its going to be worth going, So you need to convince a friend to come too.
'“
Fuck, this could be epic man” but I don’t know if I want to do this by myself.

4 - The negotiations with that person start, finally convince them. Yay!
Wanna open X with me? This is normally the start of co-founder conversations. And its also your first real pitch.

5 - Prepare the equipment, the car, the coffee machine and get some rest.
Piss Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance.

6 - Wake up before everyone else, acting irrationally optimistic that today is going to be the day.
Commitment. This is when you’re getting the wheels spinning, late nights - early mornings and nearly every conversation is about your new thing. All you do is eat, sleep, talk this business idea. Just like an obsessive surfer.

7 - Get to the beach to either find great wave (success) or average waves that you convince yourself and the mate (who is now hating you) its still going to be worth it.
Get your product to market. And either validate your assumptions - or find you need to start over.

8 - Put on a weird rubber suit ~ Normally that is wet and gross.
Put on a weird fabric suit. That normally feels just as foreign as a wetsuit. Pro-tip: Don’t wear a suit if you dont like suits. Simple.

9 - Paddle out, dodging rocks, rips, waves and anything else thats out there to ruin your day.
Stay in the market, dodging sketchy emails, slimy SEO people, false leads and any other snake in the grass. You’ll make heaps of mistakes here, I sure have. But you’ll get better at spotting it - just like surfing.

10 - Suss out the other surfers to find your place in the line up.
Suss out the competition again. and again. and again.

11 - Sit in the line up for 2+ hours constantly reading the conditions waiting for a wave.
”Holy shit, we’ve been open for 2 years now? where did that time go?!”

12 - Spot a wave, commit 100% to making it yours.
After sometime you get really good at reading the play and seeing when opportunities arise. this is when being a surfer has its advantages. Because once you commit - you’re committed.

13 - Ride the wave for 2-10 seconds… If you’re lucky.
You’re in the market. Now it’s all about becoming sustainable so you can keep this going. If it works and you can continue to evolve and adapt you might be able to stay around for the rest of you life. But if you’re shit at adapting then you’ll be around for 2 seconds.

14 - Totally fuck up the wave and go back to step 9. Or have the wave of your life and then return to step 9.
As per above. Get it right and keep the dream alive and repeat process from step 9. Or get it wrong and go back to step 9.


Aside from the literal steps (that aren’t always so literal) there is a certain skill that isn’t as obvious. And thats the ability to feel the direction that the market is heading without any proof or obvious evidence. Some call this intuition - but I call it catching a vibe.

Growing up surfing you become hyper attentive to the small things like ripples on the surface of the water to indicate a changing wind direction. You become extremely observant of the subtle movements on your feet on a board or a style of a surfer you admire. From here the ability to be slightly ahead of the curve is no longer a feat to strive for as it becomes the norm. And all of this equates to free expression and the ability to express yourself creatively without the fear of judgement as there is no measuring stick of “stoke” for surfing. Meaning Kelly Slater can go have the best surf of his life, and a beginner can go out and just stand up once and have the same amount of excitement regardless of their contrasting abilities.

This is because people surf because they love the feeling of gliding on a wave and expressing themselves, not because there is a clear path to becoming the next Kelly Slater. Unlike other sports that are built around a financial system that relies on fans and money, people surf because they love to surf. Just like business, you shouldn’t start something because you want to be the next Warren Buffett or Jeff Bezos, you should start something because you’re curious and you love solving the problem your customer is experiencing.

You should start a business because you love creating what ever you create.

So if you want your kids to be creative, and become advantageous of opportunities, Let them go surfing.