5 Things Your Business Can Learn from John Florence

John’s first world title – 2016. Image: WSL / Damien Poullenot_Kelly Cestari

By now, everyone knows who John Florence is. For those of you not au fait with the world of professional surfing, Mr Florence is the World Surfing League’s (WSL) 2016 Men’s World Champion. John has always been destined for greatness, ever since his mother placed him on a surfboard at 6 months of age in the testing grounds of surfing in Hawaii. At 25, John has one world title under his belt, and is the current ratings leader for the 2017 tour after the first 4 events.

So what can your business learn from one of the most exciting and innovative surfers of our time?

 Dream Big.

John grew up on the North Shore of Oahu, the ultimate proving grounds for any surfer worth their salt. From a young age he’s watched the likes of Kelly Slater and Andy Irons doing battle in front of his house at Pipeline, and he’s always dreamt about being a world surfing champion.

Your business needs a big vision. What are the ‘what if’ things you wish you could achieve. What are your big, hairy, audacious goals? (Phrase coined by Jerry Collins in his book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies) Make sure there are always big picture dreams in front you – they become like the north star of your business, motivating you and keeping you on the path to greatness.

John has been surfing with the world’s best in his own front yard from a young age. Image: WSL / Brenden Donahue

 Do it your way.

John Florence brought a new approach to surfing on the tour. Almost brash and raw, typically Hawaiian, but combined it with a creative flare and edge that hadn’t been seen before. He didn’t compromise on his brand of surfing, didn’t conform, but rather persisted with the way he approached surfing heats. He had to make some minor adjustments along the way that come from maturity, but he never deviated from his true self.

Once you’ve set the vision and brand values for your business – never compromise them, especially not for short term gain. While financially some opportunities might look good on paper, but if they are not on point with your brand DNA you’ll risk damaging your brand and leaving your customers confused. Know what you stand for as a brand, and do it your way.

John puts his hand up early for ‘maneuver of the year’ at Margaret River. Image: WSL / Ed Sloane

 Ride the Momentum.

After a slow start to the 2016-year, John started gaining momentum…by midyear he had reined in the lead and rode the momentum all the way to a world title, before the final event of the year in Hawaii. He then started 2017 with momentum on his side, and has kept it rolling, while also re-negotiating his sponsorship deals and making some wise investments in the process.

Hot streaks don’t come along every day, but when they do – businesses need to capitalize on the opportunity. When done right, this oftentimes leads to the gaining of market share, lifting of brand profile and a strengthening of relationships with your follows.

 Humble in Victory, Gracious in defeat.

A more humble winner you will struggle to find. And while you can see the loses sting, rather than wearing it whole-heartedly on the outside, John has learned to set emotions to the side publically, but use them as positive fuel to his fire internally.

The wheel always turns in business (and life) and one never knows when an act of arrogance or pride might turn around and bite you. In business and life, humility always wins.

Humility wins. Image: WSL / Daniel Ridgely Hewitt

 Invest at the top

One of the first orders of business John took care of after winning a world title was to employ a coach. While that may seem counter intuitive for a new world champ, he realized the importance of investing in himself even when he was on top of his game. When the New Year begins, everyone starts from zero again and John made the call to make a change in spite of the success he just enjoyed.

We can never underestimate the value of reinvesting into our businesses and our people, especially when we are at the top of our game. New seasons, new trends and new economic cycles re-set us all back to zero again – that’s the time for investment.

Former WCT competitor Ross Williams in his new role of coach. Image: WSL / Peter King

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