I was fortunate enough recently to spend a few days in Lisbon with folks who have managed to combine their passion for surfing with business adventures. I use the term “adventure” instead of “venture” because the commercial endeavors of my fellow travelers were as much about bringing their ideas to life as the journey to get there. For some, including myself, the latter was more important.
From writing guides to creating festivals to web development and product retailing, here was a group of folks from different backgrounds and nationalities, each with the same drive, energy and vision starting with their own light-bulb moment.
The catch is I’d never met any of these people before. Most of us had no prior dealings with each other – business or otherwise – but from the start we were engaged in each other’s ideas, discussing problems and parsing out solutions.
The catalyst for this was a compact, well-equipped hub known as Surf Office, located in one of the coolest parts of Lisbon and run by the very able and amiable Peter Fabor. This particular meeting of surfing minds was also moderated by an equally driven James “Mammoth” Marshall, a fellow surfpreneur.
Successfully combining work space with free surfing at local breaks and of course adventures into Lisbon’s vibrant nightlife, this unique and charming little haven provided a virtual greenhouse for exchanging ideas and mutual inspiration on how to be better at what each of us had chosen to pursue.
You see, it’s easy to create a vacuum for yourself in this industry, losing perspective of what’s important to what you promote and to whom you promote it. From time to time at least, it’s good to talk, to be honest with yourself about what you’re trying to do. In fact the more often you do this, the more likely you’ll reach your goals.
Of course the elephant in the room is the view that while surfing has exploded recently in global popularity, that it has been turned into a commodity. This leads to the fear that surfing is losing its soul to brand owners and big business. What I experienced in Lisbon was evidence to the contrary. Yes, there are business folks out there who are “surfpreneurs,” turning their passion into an income. But above all else, these same people are surfers. And frankly, that’s good enough for me.