“Go on the results of your actions. When everything’s all laid out, and it’s all done, what effect did you have on something? Positive or negative? How did you help it or hurt it? So I like to think of that. Go on results, with anything.” – Kelly Slater

It’s fitting that when I ask Kelly Slater, the most dominant competitive surfer to ever live, about his guiding philosophy that he mentions the word results. Of course he would. He’s built a name, career, and enviable existence around something very simple: results. He has learned with unprecedented skill what he needs to do in order to get what he wants.

That sounds opportunistic, but really it’s just savvy – and exceptionally difficult.

But when Kelly mentioned results, it was outside the context of surfing. In fact, just a few minutes earlier he told me that he’d much rather discuss gun control, bullying, America’s knee-jerk response to 9/11, supply and demand in the global drug war, morality, and a host of other very interesting, unsolicited topics that he’s clearly been thinking about – for a while.

“Those things are more interesting to me than talking about surfing,” said Kelly. “To me, that’s life, and that’s the world. And surfing’s just something we do when we have some free time. Those are more important debates for culture and society, and I’m just a citizen like anyone else when it comes down to it, and those are topics that interest me.”

The dude just wanted to talk about something (anything) other than surfing. I would too.

So we did. But you’ll have to wait until next week to hear that stuff. It’s good.

In the first part of our two-part interview, which took place right after Kelly beat Dane at the US Open of Surfing in 2012, Kelly Slater discusses what it means to be included in the “The Greatest Athlete Ever” debate as well as his relationship with Andy Irons, his father, the future of Kelly Slater Wave Company, and words of wisdom that have kept him going. - Zach

Stay tuned. Part two drops next week. In it, Kelly discusses his politics, gun control, morality, why he likes to aggravate people on social media, and how the surfer stereotype has affected his approach to being a leader. Wednesday. Don’t miss it.

Special thanks to Chris Steblay, Fresh Clean, Quiksilver, and CI and  for making it happen.

Kelly Slater Headspace Interview

Kelly Slater Headspace Interview


The Inertia


  • Costa del Tennis

    I can’t tell you what a terrific role model I find Slater for any age in any sport. There is something so totally centered and real about this man with wisdom far beyond himself. We have great sports in tennis no question but I’m not sure we have this depth of character as Slater. http://www.costa-del-tennis.com

  • Costa del Tennis

    Very endearing :)

  • Tim

    Kelly’s answer to “Greatest Athlete Ever?” reminds me of an answer I gave on an exercise physiology final exam in undergrad. He has great athletic intuition.

  • RB2

    “Stay tuned. Part two drops next week. In it, Kelly discusses
    his politics, gun control, morality, why he likes to aggravate people
    on social media, and how the surfer stereotype has affected his approach
    to being a leader. Wednesday. Don’t miss it”.

    Big Wednesday, two wednesdays have come and gone!
    Oh well independent contributors

  • Jeff Byrnes

    “…he told me that he’d much rather discuss gun control, bullying, America’s knee-jerk response to 9/11, supply and demand in the global drug war, morality, and a host of other very interesting, unsolicited topics that he’s clearly been thinking about – for a while.”

    Heartening.

    I hope he is applying this to the direction Quik needs to take in order to stake a claim to legitimacy (drawing down from GMO and monoculture cotton and gradually going all organic, bringing manufacturing back to Oz and the US, using recycled/repurposed materials, putting bins in retail locations to reclaim used and worn out threads and gear). I know the brand has been struggling for a while and I’d hate to see them run off a cliff trying to do the “right” thing but Quik has to stop trying to impress Wall Street (which is what got them in trouble to begin with) and start working harder to impress the core surf community, the one that genuinely cares about surfing as a lifestyle more than a sport. After all, it was surfers and not suit-and-tie parasites that made them.

    Stay true to your roots, Quik. Wall Street only waters your leaves, all the while eyeing the best spot to swing an axe at your trunk.

    As for the rest of the bit, huge kudos to Kelly. While the claim to “greatest ever” is arguable what is not is how he does far more than most to prove he has more to offer than a good show.