“100 Foot Wave”: Why so many Entrepreneurs are like Surfers
I stumbled upon this documentary on HBO about big wave surfers. Mainly about this surfer called Garrett McNamara who ends up surfing massive 100 foot waves at the now legendary Nazare in Portugal.
He was a Hawaiian surfer who spent every cent to try to find good surf. He would show up at the beach with literally no money. After living the surf bum life till 35, now married with 3 kids he felt he had to settle down. He opened a surf shop that did well. But after 2 years he became depressed with this so-called adult life. He decided to give professional surfing another go. This time he tried the newly emerged extreme wave surfing.
He was focused and he had a plan to go after every big swell. He was truly committed and in his words “going to go after it.” He was relentless. His goal was to chase the biggest gnarliest wave anywhere in the world whether in Hawaii, off Northern California, Morocco, Norway, and Tahiti. He was the one who discovered and popularized the legendary Nazare which incidentally the main surfing crowd derided at first. But he had found his niche. He was a maverick doing his own thing. And because of this, stood out from every other surfer in the world. The result: he carved out an incredible career over the last 20 years.
Why do I raise the topic of surfing? There is a lot to surfing that is similar to entrepreneurship. You have to understand where and when the waves (ie. Trends) are coming in. You have to paddle like crazy to position yourself and get in front of it. Be too late, you miss the wave. Too early and you get smashed by it. You have to respect the wave because you can get hurt. You get pounded by waves. You get ground down. You also risk drowning.
But when you are able to successfully ride that wave, you experience an incredible high. The “Rush” they call it.
No wonder so many startup founders also surf fanatically. The process of building a business is very similar. All successful surfers are successful only by facing and conquering the natural fear they feel when they see these massive terrifying waves. No different than doing a startup.
And in the technology business, the good news is that there is always another big wave that will come in that you can ride. The problem is it’s just not usually found in widely known or popular locations. So you usually have to go off the beaten track to find it. That’s the big challenge and the fun. So surfs up folks!