fb thumbnailWhy Surfers Make Great Entrepreneurs

1.It’s all about the Hustle

Surfing isn’t as mellow and laid back as those picture-perfect images of Malibu sunsets make it look. Out in the water can be a real hustle. Very often you’ve got to paddle out into a line-up of established and hostile faces and stake your claim for a right to be there. Sound familiar?

2.Think outside the box

As with business, it’s very often the people who don’t follow the crowd that reap the rewards in surfing. Those people who are prepared to take a chance and go a long way out of their way to search for new ways to rip the ocean waves are the pioneers. Guaranteed they’re surfing innovations are rewarding them extreme new surfing experiences as well as netting great wealth in the process.

3.Surfing teaches you failure

Like nothing else. (Except maybe business!) When you first start out you’re gonna try, try and try and fail, fail and fail. Cold water will rush through your sinuses. Your arms will feel like someone’s tried to rip them from your body. People will shout at you telling you to get out of their way. And yet, you can see those guys, just beyond the breakers, gliding along the face of the waves like they were raised by a pod of dolphins. Don’t let the failure hurt you. Get back on your board, stick with it, and you’ll get there. Once again – sound familiar?

4.Live on a shoestring

Surfers know how to exist with very little. They can make $100 dollars last longer than most people would imagine possible. They don’t go on holidays, they go on expeditions, and they want to stay away for as long as they possibly can. Two months on a remote Indonesian island eating nothing but rice and bananas? If the waves are good it’s all worth it. Surfers make sacrifices for their passion, just like the most successful startups.

5.See the bigger picture

When you’re starting a business, it’s so easy to let it become your world. Tunnel vision kicks in and you can’t think of anything except the next list of potential clients you’ve got to email or what a blogger said about you on Twitter. Here’s where surfers have an advantage. A little time spent in the ocean reminds you that there’s a much bigger world out there; that you’re just a tiny part of it. That kind of perspective can be helpful when you’re stressing about how many Facebook likes you got this week.

I was born an entrepreneur, but surfing entered my life when I first saw the ocean at the age of three. I was thunder struck and feel in love with that big blue ocean. Every real surfer I know is an entrepreneur. Unable and unwilling to hold a job down longer than the next swell.

Kawabunga, Markethive is my newest surf board to ride the coming quadrillion dollar swell. Are you with me?

Well? Are you?

Thomas Prendergast
Big Kahuena and CEO of Markethive.

P.S. Outside bruddas!



Rules of Engagement for a Virtual World part 3

Master Virtual Team Makeup for Business Advantage

Small is beautiful

In my experience working with everything from iconic multinational companies to tiny startups, the best virtual team is a small one – under 10 people. Four or five members total is ideal.

OnPoint’s research supports me, noting that 37% of low-performing virtual teams had 13 members or more. Here’s why small is better: relatively minor coordination and communication challenges grow almost exponentially as a virtual team grows.

Do the interpersonal math: Inevitably, someone (or a subgroup) feels left out of the loop. Few things erode trust faster than being left out of important communications about a project with which you are involved.

Yet even the most diligent manager would have difficulty keeping up with the communication needs of a large, geographically dispersed team. Where input from a wide range of people with expertise in different areas is needed, there’s a strong temptation to put together a virtual team that’s too large.

OnPoint found that opting instead to keep the core team small while advisory groups gave input on an as-needed basis was more likely to be successful.

This is the strategy I recommend to clients as well – one that the manufacturer I described above adopted after months of poor coordination and regular communication snafus. Don’t make the mistake of including honorary team members.

And team membership shouldn’t be voluntary or outside the normal job. It is the job. In my experience, teams with a lot of members who have no real stake in the team’s success almost invariably fail.


Getting the structure right

Although I believe it is often beneficial for teams to be cross-functional, OnPoint’s study found that was not the case.

When virtual teams come together from a range of functions – say, finance, operations, HR, and IT – to work on a cost-management initiative, problems resulting from a lack of accountability tend to arise.

The reason is that leaders may not have formal authority over every member of such a matrixed team, making it more difficult for them to hold others accountable. I see this a lot, especially in large firms.

Virtual team members are frequently not evaluated on their contributions to the team or on successful collaboration, but rather on their performance within the line of business they represent.

This sets up an automatic disincentive to collaborate and has the potential to derail important and innovative virtual team initiatives. That said, although OnPoint’s study notes the potential for accountability problems and recommends avoiding crossfunctional teams, it’s not an inevitable outcome.

 I’ve written earlier about the importance of a culture of accountability in any successful virtual team. The important takeaway is that leaders who are putting together cross-functional virtual teams need to ensure that clear lines of accountability and uniform performance measures are established at the outset.


Chris Corey SEO Wildman