I have a personal theory about surfing. It takes riding a thousand waves to
become a surfer. It doesn’t matter if you catch 20 waves a day for 50 days or
one wave a day for a thousand days; you just can’t get around the experience of
learning the hard way.
Just as in surfing, there is no substitution for one thousand waves, or
in this case, a thousand personal interactions with your customer. I know it
seems like an overwhelming number, but there is just no way around it. Mastering
the seven steps above takes lots of practice. And practice will give you the
chance to develop your own style of engaging in a bottom-up strategy with your
customers and the marketplace, giving you the opportunity to drive real
Well, after a thousand waves I learned last week that there’s
still a lot to learn. Surfing in a place called Ticla, a big south came in last
week producing 15-20 foot waves, much bigger than I’ve ever been in. Surfing
these big waves was a fresh experience. To be in the ocean with such power was
inspiring and made me use all of the surfing tools I’ve learned. It forced me to
take off much deeper on these big waves, commiting to a much bigger ride. This
experience got me a lot more excited about surfing.
Just like engaging with your customers, once you’ve had a thousand
personal interactions with your customers things can start to feel stale. Up the
ante. Try new ways of engaging them in a dialogue. Get them more involved in
creating your marketing and product development.
As Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, told me when I was writing Spark:
Shake it up, amplify the focus, energize the sense of urgency, get on a
mission, get each other excited, and create momentum.
Try taking off deeper.