Mid-Week Motivation – Hayden Cox – New Wave Vision
I recently purchased a book about surf entrepreneur Haydon Cox titled New, Wave, Vision. Now I won’t sit here this week and recite the book for you or even give you a book review. Instead I wanted to share a few of the cool message that can be learnt from someone like Hayden.
If you want to know more of his story – go and get the book. You will love it and the reason I know that is because you listen to this podcast. That means you have more than a passing interest in being better and following the journey of those walking their talk.
Hayden was interviewed recently for The Australian newspaper and asked about his tips for success. So I’m going to share them here.
1. Don’t work, follow your passion. I’ve never had a job. I broke a surfboard at age 15, and couldn’t afford to replace it, so I made one myself. That one board has now grown into a business making 18,000 boards a year from three factories — in Sydney, Los Angeles and Thailand.
I love this. Yes I have had jobs in the past, I must say for the most part I loved them but once I followed my passion, found my driving force which was adventure and empowering people to be their best selves, well my life has never felt the same since. It’s easy to get up every day. I never feel like I wish I was doing something else.
Does it mean there aren’t challenges? Of course not, but it’s easier to handle challenges when you love what you do and you understand the purpose behind it. Not everyone will get that feeling in their lifetime, I understand that, but I wish they would. Or at least keep looking for it.
- Respect your seniors, but don’t be dazzled by them.When I started in the industry, I was treated as just another kid learning the ropes. I could see the older board makers were excellent at their craft, but they weren’t thinking about how to innovate either their boards or the way they were made. I learned from them, but I always knew I was going to do it differently.
It’s a great concept to respect people that come before you. It’s great to learn from them. As I always say you need to learn from mistakes but you don’t have to make them all yourself. It would be great to learn from other people, the people that have walked your path. Just don’t be over-awed by them. We live in a fast paced world that requires you to be constantly innovating. You need to be creating footprints for others to walk in, not just walking in others footprints. If you think you have a better way, a unique way, of doing something – then give it a go.
- Ignore cynics.People were cynical when I started using strips of carbon fibre in my boards to create a faster flex pattern while being, stronger and lighter. That technology, which I’ve licensed as FutureFlex, is now used by dozens of board makers around the world. Similarly, others in the industry were initially cynical that I could make boards in a factory in Thailand that were identical to boards made in Sydney or Los Angeles. But they are.
People will always knock ideas, no matter how good they are, if they didn’t come up with them themselves. Now if you want to be at the cutting edge of anything, you have to have enormous amounts of courage. Here’s a funny thing though, in life and in business, the more courage you have to stand out from others, the more courage you’re going to need. Because people will always look to kick your head off when you poke it above the crowd. Don’t you dare let that deter you from being the best version of yourself possible. The fact is, if you don’t have critics then you’re probably not creating anything, you’re certainly not innovating or living life on your own terms.
- Stay close to your customers.I test boards in ordinary beach breaks, among other everyday surfers. If I see someone riding one of my boards, I’ll paddle up to him or her and ask what they like or dislike about it. I really love interacting with customers. Anybody who doesn’t is in the wrong business.
Let’s get one thing straight here – if you don’t have customers then you don’t have a business. If they’re not the number one thing on your mind, your number one focus, then you need to get your priorities straight and your shit together. The best way to find out what the customers want is to ask them. Be an adult and being willing to ask not only what they like, but what they dislike too. That’s how you get to know your market. The day you think you’re too big for the people you serve, you won’t have people to serve. That’s how businesses die.
- But don’t just give people what they want.People don’t know what they want until they see it. I created the Hypto Krypto as a one-board quiver for average surfers. Until then, nobody thought you could make one board for a wide range of conditions. Surfers just accepted that they needed three or four boards, each for different types of waves, increasing in length with the size of the surf. The Hypto Krypto is a combination of a variety of boards, and it works. Now you can hardly go to a beach anywhere in the world and not see one.
This is a key to innovation. Listen to what your customers say they want, but don’t necessarily follow it blindly because so often people don’t know what they don’t know. In other words, you may have something awesome to offer, something no one has seen or done before. If that’s the case how can your customers even know they need it?
It reminds me of Henry Ford who famously said that if I had listened to people I wouldn’t have built the motor car, I would have just got faster horses. We all know how that worked out. I mean how many of you have ever owned a horse let alone used it as your primary source of transport? But you’ve all owned a car. People don’t know what they don’t know.
- Move outside your industry.The surf industry has traditionally been very insular. I have never been close to the sport’s inner sanctum. Instead, I’ve collaborated with surfers I like, which means our business continues to be fun. I’ve also collaborated with people like Alexander Wang (making boards for display in his New York shop) and Audi, participated in the Semi Permanent design conference in Sydney last month, and am talking to Google about taking the experience of buying a surfboard, which is still mostly stuck in the 1970s, to a whole new level. The more you interact with people from outside your own industry, the more you are able to innovate, and take your customers along with you.
I do this most every day. I mix with people in industries I know nothing about. I have friends from coffee moguls, building company owners, through to PT’s, hair dressers and school teachers. I learn so much from so many people because they all have different views on the world. The common thread for me is that they’re all good people. They connect with me on a soul level. They make my life feel better just by walking in the room.
I believe that’s also what helps my business because I have different cultures, educations, experiences and beliefs to tap into.
- Enjoy risk.I’ve almost gone bankrupt a couple of times. I spent 18 months getting the Thai factory operating properly. It was a hectic time. But I enjoyed every minute of it. If you don’t like taking risks, you shouldn’t be in business.
If you don’t like risk you will absolutely HATE business with a capital H A T E. This is not a game for the feint hearted. You can do everything right and still have circumstance conspire against you. What do you do? Get up, dust yourself off and march straight back into the battle with the same energy and enthusiasm as before. The day you don’t, you become the victim and it’s all over. Don’t be a victim. Be a warrior. Be a fighter. Take what you want and embrace the risk that comes with it. The upside is pretty bloody good too.
- Have a partner you trust profoundly.Danielle was my girlfriend when she came to the company six years ago. We married in January. She looks after the brand, publicity and HR — the things that I’m not very good at. She is strong enough to disagree with me about things, or call me out when I’m doing something wrong. And she drives me to take on new challenges, and to do them right. Running a business can be a lonely occupation sometimes, and you need someone to help you make the right decisions.
This is not my area of expertise as such. But I do understand how important this is due to a reverse experience. That is, an experience where I was with a partner for a couple of years that I could not trust and could not fall back on when times got tough. She just took and took from me and when the pipeline of money was cut off, she moved on.
I understand now how damaging that was for my business because in the six months post that relationship, I was so much more focused on my own business, and building a team of people I could trust, that the business has almost tripled. In fact, our success and advanced bookings in six months outweighed anything we’d done in the two years prior. That’s a phenomenal result.
It was an expensive lesson but one I am truly thankful I received because it has seen my business improve astronomically which means I get to offer even more people life changing experiences through world class adventure experiences. It’s also given me some great learnings that I can pass onto my coaching clients.
A setback is just that. A setback. It’s not brick wall. It’s a great opportunity to learn, grow and improve. I will take that lesson into any future relationship and both myself and my partner will be better off for it. That means my business – and you – will be better off for it too.
There are so many lessons from a successful entrepreneur like Hayden Cox. Truth be known there are so many lessons to be learnt in this world from so many people.
What you focus on is what you get. So why not focus on the people and things that make you grow, enhance your positivity and give you the belief that you can achieve anything? Because history is literally littered with examples where this is true. Yet we tend to get inside our own heads and convince ourselves that other people can do it, but not us.
Nothing can be further from the truth. I can’t tell you how many times I heard opinions on the fact that Alyssa couldn’t climb Mount Everest. Yet she did. Why? Because she believed she could and she was willing to prepare physically and mentally to back up that belief. She was polling family, friends and neighbours to see if they thought it was a good idea or if they thought it was possible.
Looked to the one person that mattered – herself – and then she acted on that advice. That’s what I hope you’re willing to do as well.
So that’s it from me this week. I truly hope you got something from this episode of the BBH Project Podcast. Not just some cool content but some stuff you will actually take action on.
I look forward to having you back here for our next episode.