What Business Can Learn From A Surfer

Hayden Cox - CEO HaydenShapes

Hayden Cox has ridden a 20-year wave of success that he designed himself – and he’s happy to share a few tips he learned along the way.

Don’t be fooled by the laidback surfer look – the Hayden Cox success story is one of steely resolve and determination; about biting off more than you can chew and chewing like mad.

It’s a story the award-winning surfboard designer and entrepreneur will share at a breakfast event co-hosted by CCI and Boffin’s Books on Friday November 11.

“There’s a laid-back energy in surfing, a stereotype, but I’m extremely passionate about progression and innovation,” Cox tells CCI.

“From the outset a lot of people expect my business, Haydenshapes, to be a slow-moving and cruisy environment, but it’s actually fast-paced, energetic and filled with people who love creating things.

“I think certain energy like that always filters down from the top. In our case, it’s a result of a marriage between a business mindset and a surf mindset.”

Cox famously started his business with, quite literally, nothing. At 15 years of age, he broke his favourite surfboard and, not having any money to buy a new one, decided he’d learnt to make one instead. It was a young-and-fearless entrée into the business world that served him well.

“Without question, naivety and the ‘nothing to lose’ attitude are big parts of why I went out and took risks at the beginning,” Cox says.

“In saying that, there are no guarantees in business and you are always gambling at any age or level of experience – especially when you are doing things differently. Some risks just eventually become more calculated as you learn along the way.

“You’ll never always get everything right from the get-go, which is important because some of my biggest mistakes and lessons led to some of my biggest goals being reached.”

Cox’s new book, New Wave Vision, is different to other business books in that it doesn’t offer any hard-and-fast rules of success or pithy mantras – mostly because Cox himself does things his own way.

“The book is not and was never intended to be any type of how-to or guide,” he says. “Personally, perhaps out of stubbornness, I get very little from being told what to do. However, I have learned so much over the last 20 years of Haydenshapes from listening to experiences of others who have taken risks, gone out there and created something.

“The book doesn’t glamourise myself or any of those that contribute. Instead it breaks down the realities (sometimes harsh) of different decisions and moments throughout the years that were turning points.

“It’s not just for people starting businesses; it’s for anyone who has an interest in creating things, taking chances, progressing. More than anything else, it’s mental. If those who read it can learn from the stories or lessons myself or others have shared so they don’t have to go out and make the same mistakes themselves, then cool!”

If Cox had one piece of advice for aspiring business people or in fact anyone chasing a dream, it’s this: just start.

“If it’s something you’re truly passionate about, you will work harder to make it happen, but you need to be prepared to get your hands dirty, spend the time it takes to build and be extremely thoughtful about how you spend the resources you have starting out – if any.

“I started with no money, so it forced me to really hustle and be creative with how I was to get certain things done. A lot of people love the idea of running a business, but get a shock with the work, time and energy it really takes to create something and turn a profit. Even Facebook took five years before it made any profits.

“If you’re in it for the right reasons, you have a much better shot of succeeding at it.”

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