Archive for category: Misc

The Importance of Compassion

11 Jan
January 11, 2012

The Importance of Compassion

Not long ago, I wrote about a memorable moment shared with my 9-year old daughter, Kaelyn, who revealed to me in a wonderfully subtle way, her strong sense of empathy and compassion. I feel that the ability to recognize and share feelings such as sadness or happiness being experienced by others is one of the most important qualities an individual can possess. Consequently, I also believe it’s one of the most important attributes for parents to nurture in our children.

Like all things, given a bit of purposeful attention, compassion has the power to grow and evolve. What begins as a simple feeling inside of a child’s heart can morph into a desire to help others. That desire can turn into an idea. And that idea can blossom into acts that transform lives for the better.

My 12-year old daughter, Kendall, recently provided a great example of how a strong sense of empathy can mature into something greater over time.

Kendall is a sweet, kind, intelligent girl. Like her mom, she’s beautiful with a gorgeous smile and dimples. Everyone who meets her seems naturally drawn to her (Yes– I am a “Doting Dad” and don’t apologize for it! I may ask to be excused for this, but will never say I’m sorry for it!). Although people have always enjoyed engaging with Kendall, she herself has always been relatively shy and quiet, and never one to dominate socially.

Last year, Kendall entered 6th grade and that transition proved challenging for her.

Most parents understand the anxiety a child faces when moving from elementary school to middle school. All of a sudden, our children are no longer being coddled. They’re getting up at the crack of dawn, being thrown together with kids from other schools. Their bodies are changing. They have class schedules and lockers. And for 6th graders, well, they’re at the very bottom of the totem pole and perhaps their greatest wish is simply that no 7th or 8th grader will even notice them at all. They’re just trying not to get run over during the stampede between classes.

As much as Kendall loves school and being with her friends, she struggled against a merciless battle with anxiety last year. She was continually plagued with fits of nausea. She would throw up– often several times a day, moving back and forth from class to the clinic. Often, she would have to come home. She missed parts of over 60 days during the year! Most heart-wrenching, Kendall didn’t even understand what was happening to her. She was excited about 6th grade and desperately desired to be at school with her friends! That excitement was simply morphing into anxiety.

Fortunately, we are blessed to live in an incredible school district with some outstanding administrators and teachers, as well as an awesome community of supportive friends and family. Our local school officials provided us with heartfelt support, helping monitor Kendall and helping her stay current with her classwork. Similarly, our friends reached out to help any way they could.

Eventually, Kendall began to overcome her anxiety. Her bad mornings and clinic visits became more spread out, her self-confidence started to grow and by the third quarter of the year, she seemed to hit her stride and put those anxious feelings behind her.

Kendall’s fierce battle with –and ultimately, victory– over severe anxiety was no secret in our social circles. So it was not surprising when we began to get inquiries from other parents about our experience. Apparently, several other children in our local community were having similar issues and their parents wanted to learn more about how Kendall had overcome her problems. They wondered if she might agree to speak with their children about her own experiences, peer-to-peer. Of course, Kendall understood and happily obliged.

Shortly thereafter, a 5th-grade teacher approached us with a similar request, this time asking if Kendall would speak to her entire class. And once again, she obliged cheerfully.

Finally, after the third request from yet another teacher, Kendall came up with an idea: What if she created a support program for any and all new 6th graders who might be experiencing anxiety over the daunting transition into middle school?

She more than anyone understood these challenges and how to deal with them. And so, “Ask Me Anything” was born. Kendall came up with the idea for the peer-to-peer program and the name. She thought through the mission, goals and structure of the organization, and then created a powerpoint to present her idea for it to her school.

“Ask Me Anything” is beautifully simple and straightforward. If a child is having difficulty with anxiety for any reason, they can call on Kendall or another volunteer peer mentor, boy or girl (Kendall has since recruited some of her friends to assist), to simply reach out to that child– to speak with them, be a friendly face in the hall, help set their expectations, and basically provide encouragement from a friendly, “wise elder”– one who has lived through the experience.

The school has since called upon Kendall to assist three times this year, both with individual students and larger groups. And not just sixth graders but also students transferring in from outside school districts. All the while, true to the universal, reciprocal nature of giving and sharing, Kendall’s own self-confidence has continued to blossom.

I am sharing Kendall’s powerpoint here. It is an easy program to duplicate and apply at any school and doesn’t require that that peer volunteers have to had to suffer from anxiety, themselves. It’s simply about being on-call to provide support and encouragement to anyone who may need it.

Beyond just sharing the program with those who might be interested in it, my greater point in writing about Kendall’s experience is this: Like her 9-year old sister, and many other young, sensitive children, Kendall, from an early age, always seemed blessed with a strong sense of empathy and compassion. Her mother and I recognized it and we always made it a point to nurture those feelings.

Now, at age 12, we’ve watched Kendall’s special qualities give birth to an idea. That idea evolved into action. And that action may well be helping a few people through a very difficult time in their lives.

If this is what compassion can develop into by age 12, what might it become in another 5 years … or 20?

We can’t wait to see.

A-1.M.A._Presentation

All.I.Can.

01 Jan
January 1, 2012

There’s not a lot I can say about this clip that the list of awards below don’t already communicate. I am a surfer, not a skiier; blessed to live near the ocean, but unfortunately, not the mountains. But this trailer makes me want to ski. And film. And ski. And edit. And ski. And create soundtracks. And ski. And preserve the environment.

Most of all, it makes me want to go buy the DVD.

And sit. And watch. And feast.

“BEST FEATURE-LENGTH MOUNTAIN FILM” – Banff Mountain Film Festival 2011
“BEST DOCUMENTARY” – IF3 Film Festival Montreal 2011
“MOST INNOVATIVE VISUAL FX” – IF3 Film Festival Montreal 2011
“BEST SKI FILM” – Adventure Film Festival, Boulder 2011
“BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY” – ESPN Fan Favorites
“BEST FILM OF THE YEAR” – Adventure Film Festival, Copenhagen 2011
“PEOPLES CHOICE” and “BEST SKI FILM” – Fernie Film Festival, BC 2011
“BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY” – International Freeride Film Festival, France 2011
“BEST PICTURE” – International Freeride Film Festival, France 2011

No Snow? No Problem.

01 Jan
January 1, 2012

Here is another clip from All.I.Can., the multi-award-winning extreme skiing film from Sherpa Cinema. This segment is titled, “Imagination”. Watch it, and you’ll see why. This whole film is nothing but imagination, at the least the parts I’ve seen to date (plan to purchase the DVD soon). It is so beautifully concepted, shot, filmed and edited. You can tell that the folks who created it are extremely passionate about what they do- their sport and their art. They are also insanely talented. It is dazzling.

Awards:

“BEST FEATURE-LENGTH MOUNTAIN FILM” – Banff Mountain Film Festival 2011
“BEST DOCUMENTARY” – IF3 Film Festival Montreal 2011
“MOST INNOVATIVE VISUAL FX” – IF3 Film Festival Montreal 2011
“BEST SKI FILM” – Adventure Film Festival, Boulder 2011
“BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY” – ESPN Fan Favorites
“BEST FILM OF THE YEAR” – Adventure Film Festival, Copenhagen 2011
“PEOPLES CHOICE” and “BEST SKI FILM” – Fernie Film Festival, BC 2011
“BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY” – International Freeride Film Festival, France 2011
“BEST PICTURE” – International Freeride Film Festival, France 2011

Guano State Park

01 Jan
January 1, 2012

Guano State Park

 

Giving Thanks

26 Dec
December 26, 2011

 

I’ve just returned home to Ponte Vedra Beach after traveling up to Hartsville, South Carolina (pop. 7,764) to spend Thanksgiving with my wife’s family. This is one of my favorite annual holiday traditions – when I pack up, hit the road and head so far out into farm country that my cell phone is rendered useless. I couldn’t receive one of GAP’s Black Friday mobile coupons (or any retailer’s), even if I wanted one. And if I actually wanted to go shopping (HA!), I would have had to travel countless miles just to try and find a store. For someone whose career has revolved so heavily around marketing and online digital communications, I must admit I’ve always found it remarkably easy to just “unplug” on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Rather, I relish this rare and special time on my wife’s grandma’s (Nana’s) 70-year-old farm, trying to shoehorn 20 family members ranging from ages one to 93 into a humble 3-bedroom home, and ultimately around a vintage bench-style kitchen table for a Thanksgiving meal where we slide in close to those we love.

Despite floors that creak, guest beds that dip about 6″ in the center and all the challenges of a home strained by the burden of accommodating five times the number of people it was ever designed for; I still find comforts there that the most modern conveniences could never provide.

And I am so grateful…

Grateful to learn that a mix of honey, lemon and whiskey can vanquish a head cold faster and more effectively than any overpriced, over-the-counter medication ever could.

Grateful to witness my 12-year-old daughter, Kendall, get behind the wheel of a truck for her first driving experience, in a lap around the cornfields with her grandpa.

Grateful to know that my 9-year-old daughter, Kaelyn, who seems to grow taller and more independent with each passing hour, is still not too big to find sanctuary in her daddy’s lap.

Grateful to sit back quietly and just admire how truly beautiful my wife and daughters are, both inside and out.

And shopping, and work are the farthest things from my mind…

Only… How lucky am I?

Interestingly, researchers say that there are enormous benefits resulting from living with an “attitude of gratitude.” Not just spiritual benefits, but physical and emotional ones, as well. In fact, they say it has been scientifically proven that people who live with a “spirit of gratefulness” live longer, and enjoy better overall well-being.

Like most people, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life– a lot of times when I could get down on myself, lose myself in self-pity and ask, “Why me?” But I understand that everything in this world is relative. Somebody’s always going to have it better. Someone’s always going to have it worse. So I never question my circumstances, or why I don’t have this gift or that blessing. I just focus on the things I do have and try to remember to thank God for each and every one of them, every day.

In the “Black Friday” scrambles that so often seem to characterize routine existence, I thank God especially for those too rare occasions when he strips away the superficial extravagances of our everyday lives and allows us to focus on the real gifts standing right beside us.

ASP: Is Pro Surfing Really Dead?

26 Dec
December 26, 2011

ASP: Is Pro Surfing Really Dead?

After surrendering to a flood of questions surrounding its executive leadership, the drug-related death of one of its brightest stars, and an unrelenting wave of public criticism concerning everything from the scheduling of events to the scoring of competitors, the ASP announced today that it was ceasing operations, effectively shuttering the governing body of professional surfing. The announcement by ASP Executive Chairman Richard Grellman came just two weeks after former ASP CEO Brodie Carr resigned following a high-profile math error prematurely awarding this year’s ASP World Championship Title to surfer Kelly Slater and only days after releasing its 2012 events schedule which was to feature 12 contests at premier breaks around the world with $5,675,000 in prize money. The announcement sent sponsors scrambling to rethink their global marketing strategies and competitors to rethink their careers.

Thankfully…

None of this is true.

But what if it were? Would surfing really be better off?

Clearly, surfing as a professional sport faces unique challenges. It stands at the mercy of geography, weather conditions, powerful brands and an inherent assortment of independent-minded competitors and fans, all with their own strong opinions about what surfing should or should not be. It’s an enigma, and so is easy to knock. But that doesn’t mean that the ASP and competitive pro surfing are worthless. Or worse, as some critics argue– destructive. Indeed, they’ve helped many surfers enjoy great careers in a sport they love. They’ve also helped surf-related brands to thrive, producing even more of these same lifestyle opportunities. And, they’ve progressed the overall level of surfing. Many might argue that this last point isn’t true, but pro surfing provides the macro-structure for amateur surfing, which drives the advancement of our most talented youth. If there was no structured pro surfing, you’d likely lose a lot of that. The ASP also continues to modify its judging criteria to conform with advancement in the sport, quirks like the seemingly renewed emphasis on floaters and occasional questionable scoring, notwithstanding. The ASP and pro surfing have also long provided a generally stable platform for surfer skill rankings and credibility. Is the system perfect? Obviously not. Nothing in this world is. Can it “miss” on people like Dane, Jamie O’ Brien, Bobby Martinez or others? Sure. Which is not to say that some responsibility doesn’t fall back on those same surfers to perform within the existing infra-structure if they or their sponsors feel a need for validation (or prize money). Not all of them do…

That’s a matter of choice.

And choice is always good.

That’s why I’m thankful for the ASP and the sponsors who support them. If you don’t like professional competitive surfing, don’t attend their events. Don’t watch them online. Don’t buy their sponsors’ products.

Take your board and go home.

Just to be clear – I’m speaking from the perspective of a life-long surfer, traveler and pro surfing fan (currently ranked 58th in Fantasysurfer). I’m also a marketing professional (but outside of the action sports industry, and California). But honestly– I am amazed at the voracity of the criticism leveled at the ASP and its institutional sponsors, when all of them have worked extremely hard over many years to advance our sport.

Most of the same people who rip the ASP also knock the surf mega-brands (Quik, Billabong, Rip Curl, etc.) as “soul-less”, but I think that’s lame. Those companies were started by people who were passionate about surfing. They loved it so much, they wanted to build their lives around it and they made that happen. Then, they created more opportunities for so many others to do the same thing, not to mention carrying the load when it came to promoting the sport, sharing it with the “outside” world and helping bring more of it to us through a variety of marketing and media channels.

Some decry the the mega-brands’ burgeoning relationships with China. It is no surprise that their eyes are fixed upon China due to the sheer size of markets there and the fact that China already has a vibrant youth action sports subculture. That is simply the nature of globalization, an inherent byproduct of advances in transportation and (especially) communications technology over the past 20 years. It does no good to stick your head in the sand to try and ignore it. Look at a well-regarded core action sports brand like Camp Woodward. Rest assured, they raked in a chunk o’ change taking their brand to China. And make no mistake- that wasn’t even about straightforward consumerism on China’s part, but rather the Chinese government’s ultimate goal of having the proper training facilities in place to soon begin dominating us in Olympic skateboarding and BMX! The flip side? At least the flow of goods is running from west to east for a change and perhaps as we export more western culture, an unquenchable thirst for freedom and independence will come in the box.

As for the exploitation of surfing in China– as some have noted, Kelly’s wavepool seems the perfect match. We can’t afford it. China can. And while I know better than to bet against Kelly getting his pool built somewhere, I have to confess that even the one he describes would not be that interesting to me. I should clarify that it sounds like it would be great fun to ride, just not interesting in terms of watching contests. Mechanical waves. Talk about “soul-less.” I strongly believe that the unpredictability and varying conditions of Mother Nature is a vital characteristic of what makes the current ASP world tour events so compelling and that wave selection is an integral part of a surfer’s skill set. That’s why I believe thinking about future contests in terms of wavepools will always be lacking (which is not to say that it won’t be successful, or shouldn’t be). And so we circle back to pro-surfing’s numerous core challenges. Surf in a wave pool and you increase accessibility; likely improve judging; provide viable platforms for Olympic inclusion and more affordable network broadcasts; paving the way for broader audiences and increased advertising revenue.

But you neuter its soul…

At least, in my own opinion.

Which brings us back to choice.

CHOICE is always good.

Always…

So, for those of us who appreciate the ASP and pro surfing as it exists currently – what can be done to make it even better?

I think you begin solving problems of these kinds with no-holds barred idea-fests– where no idea is a bad idea. I’ll start with a couple of softballs:

Yes, drug test the athletes. Build credibility and acceptability. The death of one of the sports icons not far removed from his prime, makes this a no-brainer.

Stop giving the cold shoulder to non-traditional brands like Nike. If they can bring more people (and money) to the party, then by God, welcome them in! If Quik, Billabong, Rip Curl and Red Bull can’t fund MAJOR NETWORK BROADCASTS by themselves, then find corporations that can. The way action sports continues to grow, certainly most major brands even remotely trying to target youth have, or are creating divisions exclusively for it. And what kind of elitists are we to say who is, or isn’t cool enough to surf?

ASP: Take control of your media rights and get the events on MAJOR NETWORK TELEVISION. The ASP’s new media offerings are uneven (per event sponsor), but improving rapidily. The heat analyzers are brilliant. And certainly, distribution via the web has massive reach potential. However, online media, despite its propensity for complete, accurate measurement isn’t highly valued (everything on the web should be “free”, remember?)- not like network television broadcasts which ultimately bankroll organizations like the NFL, NBA, PGA, MLB, etc. And contrary to popular belief, kids are not abandoning TV for new media. They watch TV more than ever, up to 3.5 hours per day. Perhaps, when our televisions and our computers finally become one (Apple and Google may argue this has already happened, but many problems still exist), then the ASP will be in a great position to leverage it further. But network television has, and will continue to be king.

How to sell the major networks given the production expense, unpredictability of conditions and no assurances that anyone further than 50 miles from any coastline will care? How about simply identifying a world-class salesperson and media rights negotiator and incentivizing them with a minimum threshold and unsparing commission structure. I mean come on– Are you telling me that you couldn’t show anyone -and I mean anyone- the slabs that I saw during Chopes this year on an off day, and dare them to not be compelled? Can you imagine watching that contest on a 50″ HDTV? Live? Heck, even if it wasn’t live! And you don’t need to show the whole contest- just highlights and the finals. Even a fully pre-produced, creatively edited special, set to popular music. Then, jack the prices up and sell that #$%!. And if Quik / Billa / Rip Curl can’t afford it, don’t assume that just because they won’t swallow it, that no-one else will. Go over their heads. Bring in Ford, McDonald’s, Apple and Target. Better yet– get all of them. And if you can’t sell events like Brazil, then can those and replace them with Mavericks. Or more Hawaii. OrShipsterns! (How insane would that be?!) The ASP generally seems to have done a terrific job with pulling together a dream tour. They just haven’t done a good job of selling their dream.

Other thoughts:

Perhaps the ASP should invest in establishing its own network or production company.

If it can’t afford to regain control of all events immediately, take a stepping stone approach and begin taking back control of one event at a time, starting with the most compelling.

Finally, for the ASP and every corporate sponsor it is connected with: GIVE BACK. You want to connect with today’s disenfranchised youth (and all the rest of us)? Show them you care by making it a point to DO GOOD in the all the areas of the world where you play. There is a fundamental cultural shift underway in reaction to a world that has been broken by greed run amuk. That doesn’t mean that capitalism is bad, that all corporations are sinister or that the ASP sucks. Only that the entire world could use a little more selflessness. Corporations have it in their power to affect serious change in the world, while inspiring an army of brand loyalists. Critical is approaching charity earnestly and creatively and in a way careful not to suggest self-appointed elites pushing Marxism as “progressive”. When you approach anything in life with this mindset, you will always enjoy success. Eastern religions call it “Karma”. Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism) call it “God’s Will” or “Cause and Effect”. Bob Marley simply said, “What goes ’round, comes ’round.”

I’d like to see the ASP and competitive pro surfing come ’round.

I’m a FAN, and I’d like to continue to have that CHOICE.

Author’s Note: This is my latest piece for The Inertia, the highly-popular action sports website billed as, “The Planet’s Largest Network of Thinking Surfers” To see the response and full discussion of the article, please visit: http://www.theinertia.com/author/tim-hamby/

 

 

 

 

Remembering AI: A Fan’s Perspective

26 Dec
December 26, 2011

SURFER Tribute to Andy Irons

A lot has been written about Andy Irons from some of the surf world’s most notable personalities- people who knew Andy personally and interacted with him in a variety of ways.

So, I’ll offer some perspective coming from the rest of us– fans of Andy who knew him only through a prolific collection of videos, magazines and online webcasts, but who somehow still felt strongly connected to him, just as if he was one of our own crew paddling out, laughing, and sharing good times and bad with one another.

Keala Kennelly wrote in a moving tribute to Andy that her remembrance was “…one of the hardest things I have had to write about, because I don’t feel like anything I write will be good enough to honor Andy.”

Keala, if you happen to read this, it was better than “good enough”.

What was so beautiful about it is exactly what was so beautiful about Andy. It was an honest expression of emotion that came straight from the heart. And honesty in all things (writing, design, music, art, people…) is what ultimately makes them special and so compelling to all of us.

When I reflect on Andy’s passing, I do so coming from a perspective that is likely not too uncommon– that of a lifelong, die-hard Kelly fan, Andy’s long-time nemesis.

I viewed Andy as a “villain” (aka “asshole”) for a great part of his career until ultimately won over, not just by his incredible surfing, which was always undeniable; but by his fierce competitiveness, raw energy and passionate personality– no matter where that passion was directed.

But Andy’s rise from Antihero to Almighty, even amongst those of us who once rooted against him, wasn’t just about that endearing kinetic energy that oozed from him. No, what ultimately drove his popularity off the charts for all of us, the rest of us– even Kelly fans, was when he finally started owning his insecurities.

Not hiding them.

Not apologizing for them.

Just being authentic and admitting that he had them like everybody else. Just like Kelly himself did in front of Andy following the death of his father, as he so eloquently related in his own moving tribute to his career-long foe and good friend.

That’s why Andy became and remains one of my favorite surfers. 

 It’s one of the same reasons people are drawn to Dane. 

 And, it’s why Keala’s tribute wasn’t just “good enough”, it was freaking perfect.

You see– you can be a superhuman surfer… and still be human.

I didn’t know Andy, but I sure do miss him.

 

You can see a lot of that honesty on display in this gem of a video.

Author’s Note: This is my latest piece for The Inertia, a leading-edge highly-popular action sports website based out of California billed as, “The Planet’s Largest Network of Thinking Surfers” To see the response and full discussion of the article, please visit: http://www.theinertia.com/author/tim-hamby/

 

 

 

Florida on Fire

21 Dec
December 21, 2011

Untitled

 

Frontyard

17 Dec
December 17, 2011

Frontyard

 

Moments in Time: Watch Sculptures

13 Dec
December 13, 2011

I am a huge fan of Dominic Wilcox. Dominic is a tremendously talented artist and designer who creates unique and imaginative objects, drawings and installations. His work is always surprising, generally profound and always fun. Visit his blog, Variations on Normal, and you’ll quickly lose yourself in his whimsical world.

I wanted to share some of his most recent work here- his “Moments in Time” watch sculptures. He’s created five of them here- tiny plastic sculptures brought to life by setting them upon the second hands of vintage mechanical timepieces. Included are scenes of love and protest, including a brilliant recreation of the “pepper spray incident” at the UC Davis Occupy protested earlier this year.

Like all great works of art and design, it is the conevyence of human emotion that allows the very best to transcend the ordinary. And Dominic has captured several varying moments in time so beautifully, giving them all eternal life, figuratively and literally.

Beautiful, Dominic.

Backyard

06 Dec
December 6, 2011

Backyard

 

Birthright by Sean Mullens

05 Dec
December 5, 2011

 

One man’s struggle to transcend. 

This humble film is about a friend of Sean Mullens’ named Michael and his daily ritual to find his natural self through surfing.

Directed by Sean Mullens
Cinematography by Sean Mullens

Music by The Album Leaf – Into the Blue Again – Broken Arrow
Sub Pop Records 2006

Home

04 Dec
December 4, 2011

Home

 

Coolest Coastal Halloween Costume: Jellyfish

14 Nov
November 14, 2011
The reviews have been completed.

The results are in.

And we have a (slam-dunk) winner.

After scouring every obscure website and hipster blog in the webishphere, I only had to look down the street to find the coolest Halloween costume– not just this year– but possibly, ever:

Jellyfish.

Straight from the creative imagination of LeAna Kimball, wife of my good friend Jake, LeAna is this year’s Grand Prize Winner and will recieve the balance of my kids’ Halloween candy that I still haven’t been able to polish off. I think there’s even a few Snickers left!

LeAna is the author of A Small Snippet, a rockin’ Mommy blog. In the course of doing marketing research for past clients, I’ve actually visited quite a few mommy blogs and LeAna’s is one of the best I’ve seen. Whatever you’re looking for- from parenting advice, to photography tips, creative crafting, cooking and costuming– you’ll find it there. 

The last time I visited LeAna and Jake’s home, I think she was using one hand to tend to a sick child and another restoring a piece of antique furniture. I believe that if she wasn’t a full-time mom, she’d probably be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company like IDEO. I know she’d give Martha Stewart a good run for her money. And she’s a lot nicer.

Awesome job, LeAna– Congratulations!

P.S. Lest we forget, here is a beautiful video (Jellies – RED EPIC Style) by stillmotion on Vimeo shot at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago showing you the real things! So beautiful. Thank you to Tory Strange and the gang at the Surf Station in St. Augustine for the find. Their blog is always a go-to resource for interesting surf-related content of all kinds.

 

Kurtis Loftus Breaks Surf Marathon World Record for Breast Cancer

29 Oct
October 29, 2011

WOW- he did it!

Local Jax Beach surfer and design professional Kurtis Loftus surfed for 31 hours, 16 minutes and 35 seconds this week, breaking the world record for longest surf session. Kurtis was surfing to raise money for 26.2 With Donna, The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, a hugely successful foundation established by beloved local newscaster Donna Deegan, who battled the disease herself.

As I noted in my post a week or so ago, I was fired up to be able to assist Kurtis in his attempt. After a hectic week in which the schedule was moved several times to coordinate with the most favorable weather/surf conditions (hard to do here in late October), the event was launched on Wednesday the 26th at 1:00 pm, ending at about 8:15 pm on Thursday the 27th.

Kurtis needed a minimum of 16 certified witnesses to verify and document his effort, as well as support and encouragement in the water. I was stoked to be able to do both, surfing with Kurtis from 9:00 pm – 1:30 am on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. As Kurtis notes in this article, surfing at night was extremely difficult. There was no moon at all and only minimal lighting that the local Jax Beach Lifeguard Station had set up (Shout-outs to them- those were “lifesavers”!)

I can state that after 4.5 straight hours of surfing, I just don’t know how Kurtis pulled fully 7x that amount. It was superhuman. Check out his knarly “zombie hands” in this post-event celebration when we gave him a champagne bath. I understand he slept for 7 hours afterwards, then was right back at it, alert and smiling at his desk in his office. Incredible.

Kurtis Loftus Breaks Surf Marathon World Record for Breast Cancer

 

Surfing during the night was an interesting experience. It was extremely difficult to see and the waves would get right up on you before you knew it. I’m a shortboarder, but brought a longboard to sit up as high as possible out of the water and have a lot of board beneath me in the event of unwelcomed sealife. Gnerally, conditions were very peaceful. The surf was about 1-2 ft., maybe a little bigger than that on sets and the water warm in a fullsuit. During the evening, I saw three good-sized dorsal fins (at various times) in the nearby area, but I believe all of them were dolphins. One was questionable, but I wasn’t going to be the one to disrupt the attempt in any way. There were also 4-5 guys in the water at most times, so I figured my odds were good.

One of the things that I loved about Kurtis’ attempt is that for him, this really wasn’t about a world record, but rather about genuinely trying to raise money for a cause he is truly passionate about. Kurtis loves to help people, loves surfing and very clearly loves challenges. He’s also got a lot of faith in Jesus Christ and I love all those things about him, because I relate to all of them.

Coincidentally, tonight, just one day following Kurtis’ successful finish, my wife, Gretchen and I went to drop off a meal to David and Ann Smith, friends of ours from church. Ann used to oversee our children’s ministry and has been undergoing chemotherapy for several months for breast cancer.

While we were there, we asked her if she had heard about Kurtis and/or Marathonsurfer.com. Of course, they had. She also immediately went on to share how much help Donna Deegan’s foundation had been to her and David, providing significant financial assistance for treatment, that without, might have resulted in financial calamity, or worse. And just that quick, we had a clear affirmation about the tangible importance of Donna’s foundation; why Kurtis did what he did; and why it is important for all of us to look for similar opportunities to use our own passions, imaginations and energies to help others. You may not break a world record, but you can change the world around you and make it a better place for all of us.

Postcript: I think it also important to note the very critical role of Kurtis’ wife, Margaret. In all the various press I’ve seen, I think I saw one article that mentioned her presence. Like Kurtis, Margaret stayed awake for the full 31+ hours. I was out there for the kickoff; checking in and out of my own time slot; and at the end; and I don’t think I ever saw Margaret sitting down one time.

Not once.

This was possibly even more callenging than being out in the lineup, where you are buoyed by adrenaline and much less succeptible to the temptation to just lie down, or to just go home and take a short nap.

Margaret also spearheaded the pre- and post-event coordination of scheduling and paperwork, of which there was more than you could imagine. I don’t believe that people accomplish feats of these sorts without extraordinary support from those closest to them- the kind of support that comes from relationships like the one Kurtis and Margaret, now well into their second decade of marriage, seem to enjoy. I know I have always blessed with a similar force (my wife, Gretchen) behind me who has always been there for every big and small effort I’ve ever seen fit to pursue, working as hard as she can to lift me up and help me achieve my goals. As I am sure Kurtis will relate, it is almost an unfair advantage. Hopefully Guinness will overlook Margaret, too. ; )

 

Author’s Note: This is my latest piece for The Inertia, a leading-edge highly-popular action sports website based out of California billed as, “The Planet’s Largest Network of Thinking Surfers” To see the response and full discussion of the article, please visit: http://www.theinertia.com/author/tim-hamby/

 

 

 

The Beach Boy, The Rebel & The Mad Man: Authentic Wisdom From Bogusky, Clow & Hughes

23 Oct
October 23, 2011

Marathonsurfer Guinness World Record Surf Attempt

21 Oct
October 21, 2011

Marathonsurfer Guinness World Record Surf Attempt

I am extremely excited to be helping local surfer and professional colleague, Kurtis Loftus with his Guinness Book of World Records attempt for the longest continuous surf session over 26+ hours, raising money for Donna Deegan’s Foundation for Breast Cancer awareness, this Tueday, October 25th and Wednesday the 26th at the Jacksonville Beach Pier. (Pleas note: He has moved up the event date to coincide with optimal surf consitions).

I’ll be an official eyewitness for Kurtis, a passionate surfer, artist, designer, marketing strategist and civic-minded wildman, paddling out with him from 9 pm – 12 am on the 25th, then again from 6 am to 9 am on the 26th.

The current world record was set in Huntington Beach, CA and you can read more about it on Kurtis’ Marathonsurfer website. This is also where you can donate to the cause, which I hope you do.

Kurtis is trying to raise $10,000 and is putting his health and safety on the line to do so. He will be physically and mentally tested in extreme ways. If you are unable to contribute from your wallet, please simply consider contributing from your heart, by sending words of encouragement through the website and keeping him in your prayers.

Movin’ on.

19 Oct
October 19, 2011

Keep Thinking Forward

So what’s it like to wind down a company that you founded and invested 15 years of your life in? A lot of people have been asking this question and inquiring “What’s next?” for me, since I decided to close Renaissance Creative two weeks ago.

 

Let me tackle the first question, first.

 

It hurts. 

 

It is a physical (logistical) and emotional challenge. My brain hurts. My body hurts. Imagine breaking down an 8,000 square foot office- the furniture; displays; computers; file cabinets; the stuff in the file cabinets; actually paying attention to the stuff in the file cabinets to see if it needed to be saved, tossed or shredded; backing up and storing digital files; listing and selling things on Craigslist; all, while still working with clients transitioning their accounts to those who will be carrying on.

 

Oh– and saying “goodbye” to good friends. 

 

Great people. People overflowing with talent, intelligence and character who are like family to me, who helped create something meaningful that wasn’t able to survive the crushing weight of its own good fortune and growth, ultimately falling victim to the bursting of the real estate bubble, to which we were so vulnerable based upon our strong focus in the sector prior to 2007. 

 

Needless to say, there were a few tears, but in the end, more laughs and great memories.

 

Some interesting tidbits about the “final countdown”:

 

  • We began moving over a 2-week period, a little bit each day.
  • I worked hands-on in the middle of it, just as I always have in the professional work of our agency.
  • I’m guessing I must have literally filled at least (4) large dumpsters with ancient paper records, samples, etc. I was definitely feeling like a tree-killer. Thank God the world continues to go digital.
  • We had (5) super-sized boxes filled with nothing but awards. You know the saying, “You can’t take it with you”? I get it now. At the end of the day, what purpose do they serve? I almost tossed them, but considered it thoughtfully and decided that if my Partner and some of our former Team Members can carry on successfully with reduced overhead, they may wish to have them available in the future. Worst case– my daughters open the boxes one day in the future and think, “Damn- Dad was pretty good!”. And, then they can throw them away.
  • “Final Friday” was difficult. A lot of work, with a final lunch of pizza, beer and story-telling… and some more hugs and tears.
  • The actual move occurred over the weekend- a full 12-hr. Saturday. 
  • To add insult to injury, that same afternoon amidst the move, Maria Coppola stole my Foursquare Mayorship to the incredibly obscure (but extremely good) Ling’s Alterations in Sawgrass Village! How did she even know it was there, let alone think to check in?!! Hey, thanks Maria! : )
  • And the day following the move? Well– now half this $%#’s in my house!

 

So, I’m slowly getting things organized here at home and beginning to take some time to reflect on what might be next for myself and my family. And I’m starting to get excited about that.

 

As difficult as this whole thing has been, I can’t repress my own inner desire to get on with something new– to throw my broad experience and passion for marketing into new challenges and see what’s next. I think it was Walt Disney who said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we’re curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

 

I’m curious, too.

 

Fantasysurfer – Closing in on the Grand Prize… Again!

13 Oct
October 13, 2011

Fantasysurfer - Closing in on the Grand Prize... Again!Remember last year when I came oh-so-close to winning the Grand Prize in Surfer Magazine’s fantasysurfer.com contest? I battled my way all the way up to 195th place out of 16,866 players across the globe! As it ended up, Johnny Correll, a surfer and IT administrator from VA Beach won last year’s Grand Prize trip to Indo. He even checked into my blog afterwards to let me know that “Indo was epic!”

#@%^%!

Well, the last thing I wrote in that post was: “Have fun in Indo, Johnny. The next round of fantasysurfer starts in 60 days, and I intend to win it.”

So, here we are (9) months later, heading down the homestretch of the ASP World Tour. I’m proud to report that after the completion of (8) of (11) scheduled tour events this year (only three remaining), I have improved my position even further in this year’s competition, and am currently in 77th place out of 14,436 active traders! Oh, and my team is loaded for the final three events…

Where are you now Johnny?!! ; ))))

Keep Thinking Forward

10 Oct
October 10, 2011

Keep Thinking Forward

Dear Clients, Friends and Business Partners,

I am writing you today to deliver some sad and unfortunate news. After 15 years in business, my wife Gretchen and I have made a decision to close our firm, Renaissance Creative.

 As most of you are aware, prior to 2007, our business was primarily residential and resort real-estate focused with 27 employees doing about $5 million / yr. annually. Indeed, during this time period, we were named one of the city’s “50 Fastest Growing Companies” five times by the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2002; 2004; 2005; 2006; 2007,  as well as one of Jacksonville’s “Best Places to Work” in 2007.

The sudden collapse of the real estate market was a significant shock to our system that required painful downsizing coupled with a complete, capital-intensive diversification of our client base. And while  we had made substantial progress and continued to grow on these fronts, unfortunately, after giving it our most sincere best efforts, the fixed overhead associated with our now-8 member team, combined with the continuing challenges of the larger economy, left us with little alternative.

We have been blessed to have had an extremely talented group of creative professionals here for all of these past 15 years and you should be aware that our still highly capable core team, led by partner, Ed Bondi, will be continuing to service accounts, operating as a consortium. Call it Renaissance 2.0. It is our expectation that they will be able to continue successfully in a new and more efficient operating structure, and I would encourage you to please continue to support them with your business, and referring them to your friends and associates. During the months to come, you will continue to be able to contact them (and me) via their current RC emails, as well as via their personal contact numbers.

Together, with the help of all of you- our valued clients, friends and business partners, we have produced an extraordinary volume of memorable work that we will forever be proud of. It is disheartening to see businesses like ours everywhere struggle in this difficult, stubborn economy, but I am certain that “American Exceptionalism” will continue to prevail, and that things will eventually improve for all of us.

Just as our team is doing, Gretchen and I move forward not only with sadness, but also with an inherent optimism, drive and excitement that cannot be extinguished to meet all challenges in front of us, and seek new opportunities as well. We have long put 100% of our faith in Jesus Christ, operated by His will and on His timeline. Choosing to do so has never failed us; just the opposite. We have always been, are and will continue to be richly blessed! We are grateful for these blessings, to which all of you have for so long, contributed. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Sincerely,

Tim Hamby
President / Co-Creative Director

 

 

 

Unconditional Love

06 Oct
October 6, 2011

Unconditional Love

This is a shot of me and my two daughters, Kendall & Kaelyn, taken by my wife, Gretchen, while on a visit to Playa Avellanas in Costa Rica, in 2007. I’ve used this image as my Twitter background for over two years, but may change it soon to something more corporate. I’ve always loved this image, though. What’s so great about it is simply the emotion/love that’s communicated. I could theoretically fall on every single wave I attempted to ride and my girls would still come running to greet me at the water’s edge like I’m Kelly Slater emerging from a victorious World Championship heat! There’s no greater feeling!

Fun Day at Playa Negra in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

06 Oct
October 6, 2011

Fun Day at Playa Negra in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

 

This was the second (smaller) day of the swell. Good times!

RIP Steve Jobs

06 Oct
October 6, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

My deepest condolences to Steve Job’s family, friends and colleagues.

He made our work easier, better and more efficient.

He made our play more fun.

It is incredible to consider how influential he was in the areas of technology and design. 

It is heartbreaking to imagine where he might have taken us.

He leaves behind a legacy few will ever be able to match.

Good Design. Good Business. From Competitive Advantage to Survival Tool for the New Economy

01 Oct
October 1, 2011

Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 10.54.22 PM

I hear a lot of people today talk about “design process” and how it is being applied more frequently to more areas of business. I’ve had the luxury of working around some great designers for a long time and have long understood the benefits of “design thinking”. To follow is a piece I wrote for Jacksonville Magazine back in late 2008 that is more relevant than ever, so I thought I’d repost it.

Recently, while driving to work and listening to automotive executives getting scorched by Congress on satellite radio, I found myself shaking my head in astonishment at these embattled CEO’s. Like many, it wasn’t the “spectacle” of their treatment that shocked me, but the way these top-level leaders seemed plaintively disconnected with us ordinary folk-aka, their customers.

 While there are no doubt many forces- economic, political and otherwise which have contributed to their troubles, at the root of it all seems to be a gaping hole in their understanding of the consumers who use their products. They’re not connected to us. We’re not connected to their brands. And that’s what I’d call, a “design problem”.

I’m not referencing the lack of aesthetic refinement of any particular American make or model. Perhaps to the surprise of some, great design isn’t just about looks or style. Nor is it an issue related specifically to engineering, price, performance or service following the sale. Rather, it’s about the cumulative nature of all of these qualities and how a company’s products and services make their customers “feel” over time.

Great design emerges from a specific kind of organizational “culture”. It is guided by a commitment to understanding your customers (and your “brand advocates”, including your internal team and supply chain), on a human level, so that you can connect with them there emotionally. It’s a problem-solving process that can be utilized in every facet of your business. And in today’s world, it is fast becoming not only a powerful competitive advantage for those all-too-familiar companies that clearly “get it” (Apple, Target, BMW), but a survival tool for those hoping to compete in a tumultuous new economy — a world where companies are increasingly being forced to choose between operating as standardized commodities, or class leaders. I’d theorize that the fact that American automakers occupy neither space distinctly or consistently is a potential source of their problems.

So, how can we utilize the power of design to its full potential in our businesses? A great way to start is simply understanding what design is and the methodology behind it. And don’t worry– you don’t have to be Steve Jobs or Michael Graves to do this.

While design was one of my responsibilities years ago, it rarely rose above my roles as a writer, marketer, strategist and generalist. But, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some great ones for many years, and so have come to understand their processes well. Whether you’re talking about industrial, environmental, graphic, interactive or experiential design or whether you’re referencing product development, marketing, branding or organizational attributes, the methodology remains wonderfully, consistently effective.

It is a process based on inquisition; exploration; anticipation; innovation and continual trial and refinement. It is focused obsessively on user-experience (i.e. What’s in it for the customer?). It’s about fostering positive emotional connections with users by focusing on the most sublime details (this is where professional designers are worth their weight in gold and where brands — some knowingly, some unwittingly — often make that choice between invariable “commodity” or “class leader”). Oh yes, and be forewarned: The design “process” never, ever “ends”, because time inherently presents us with new sets of problems to anticipate and resolve.

Many people fail to recognize design as this type of a problem-solving “tool”. They understand it only as one recent prospective client did, when in the course of attempting to pay our firm a compliment, noted our reputation as a creative agency, and said that we are great at making things, “pretty”.

“Pretty”?!! Please!!! Design isn’t about being “pretty”, “good-looking” or even “kinda cute”. Design is about criteria-based problem-solving. And only when a project’s criteria calls for “pretty”, will it be designed in such a way because form follows function.

This is where much public understanding of design tends to get lost.

You see, design is not art. Art is subjective, based on an artist’s personal expression. Design is objective, based on well-organized performance criteria.

Good design is not influenced by the designer’s personal feelings and is only beautiful when it works beautifully — when it effectively achieves what it is designed to achieve.

My iPod is a work of art. But, it works because it can hold a thousand songs in a smooth, elegant case about the size of a book of matches. Same thing with my iPhone. It’s sleek and beautiful and it’s a working computer that’s thinner than my wallet! These things make me feel good about my purchases of them, good about the Apple brand and thus more likely to purchase the next new gizmo Apple puts in front of me.

I trust the company because they provided me with great products and services that have translated into positive memorable experiences, over time. They’ve elevated their brand for me, to the point where I not only use their products loyally, I’ll pay more to get them, because I recognize the value they extend over the long run through the quality of their design. So often, so many companies waste so much money throwing more media dollars after bad brands, when they could have dedicated their budgets to creating stronger brands that require less marketing across the life of their products!

This is not say that good design has to cost more. Just look at Target. They’ve created a design-driven company, whose entire business model is, “great design for less!” Same with IKEA. Their commitment to design runs throughout their products, retail spaces, marketing efforts and no doubt, their entire internal structure.

Meanwhile, American automakers seem confused. They don’t understand their customers and they’ve admitted it. They say they can’t figure out if we want better gas mileage and lower prices; or more room and greater safety for ourselves, and our families.

Hey, how about both?!

If Steve Jobs can cram 1,000 songs into a gorgeous matchbook; if Target can give us haute couture for $19.99, then we know it can be accomplished! And if you want to make sure your brands transcend the competition in lasting, meaningful ways by connecting with us on an emotional, human level —– then by all means, leave the jets parked on your day trips.

Ultimately, not every company has to be a BMW, UPS, Apple, Starbucks, Disney, Samsung or any other of the many organizations that understand “design culture” and employ it throughout every aspect of their businesses. You can choose to utilize design methodology to attack any individual problem and integrate it to whatever level your personal business philosophy begets – or your customers demand.

Regardless of how you use it, here are some handy tips to help keep you “thinking” like a designer:
1. Define the problem: Gather all the criteria by gathering all the stakeholders. Design is a collaborative process. The more brains you involve in problem-solving, the more effective your solutions can potentially be, though someone should always clearly lead.
2. Put yourself in the place of your customer: It seems so obvious, yet is so easy to forget. You’ve got to intently focus on the user, at all times.
3. Inquire: Ask these important questions: What’s in it for the customer? What are their desires / needs / fears? How can I address these wants / needs or anxieties and foster positive emotional connections with users by answering these concerns? How do my products and services make people feel? How can I connect with them on a human level? (Hint: Use your gut).
4. Anticipate and Innovate: As we are fond of saying at Renaissance, “Think forward”. Anticipate change. Study consumer, cultural, media and technological trends and consider how your product or service might intersect with these shifts down the road.
5. No idea is a bad idea: Everyone has a creative gene, from the Creative Director right down to the mail room. Never be overly critical or dismissive of a new approach. Consider all ideas thoughtfully and respectfully.
6. Never be satisfied: Test your ideas, measure their results and never stop refining.
7. When in doubt, consult a professional.

If you elect not to integrate the principles of design into your organizational culture, it doesn’t mean that you’ll end up sweating in front of a microphone, getting flogged by an elected official. But if you do, I promise that your customers (and your people), will notice. They’ll feel that you care. They’ll stick by your class-leading company in up or down economies. And when they shake their heads, it won’t be because you are so woefully disconnected, but because you are so consistently, astonishingly good.

 

 

Thinking Forward: The Importance of Innovation & Anticipation

01 Oct
October 1, 2011

Thinking Forward: The Importance of Innovation & Anticipation

A while back, as part of a theological study I was involved in with my church (Blueprint for Life, co-authored by Michael Kendrick and Ben Ortlip), I came across a terrific illustration of the importance of “thinking forward”. The study utilized a short historical essay on the WWII-era Pomeranian Calvary Brigade of the Polish army to highlight the relative value of time when taken in consideration of planning only for “today”, vs. planning for “eternity”.

The story applies beautifully to all of those who become too comfortable with any aspect of life; not anticipating change and innovation, nor planning appropriately for the future.

As a professional marketing strategist and one whose job has always been intimately connected to an evolving landscape of consumer, cultural and technological trends, I have long believed in this principle with great conviction. It’s how I have always tried to encourage people to think about their products and services, and the mindset I’ve urged them to apply to all areas of their businesses. Because failing to do so can have serious consequences, as Kendrick and Orthlip’s history lesson shows:

“Colonel Mastalerz was one of the most prestigious men in all of Europe- a decorated soldier and leader of the Pomeranian Calvary Brigade. As head of the 18th Lancer division, he was in charge of defending the Pomeranian Corridor. Built around the strength of its 84 infantry regiments, the Polish military had reigned supreme for two decades, turning back numerous assaults and defending their borders victoriously.

Tactically, they were superior. Their training and horsemanship were unsurpassed. Their determination and bravery had earned them an international reputation as one of the fiercest fighting units the world over. But on the morning of September 1, 1939, even Col. Mastalerz knew that Poland’s string of victories was about to end.

The horses of the Polish calvary grew skittish and reared up restlessly. A deep rumbling sound shook the earth, growing louder by the minute. In the distance, Mastalerz could hear the sound of trees cracking and falling to the ground. Through the morning mist, the 2nd and 20th Motorized Divisions of the Third Reich made their way toward Masterlerz and the small hamlet of Krojanty. The invasion of Poland had begun.

In the hours that followed, Polish soldiers on horseback fought a war of attrition against a German unit of tanks and armored cars. It was one of history’s great juxtapositions. The unthinkable was happening. It was a contrast equal to the Wright Brothers observing a space shuttle launch, or Alexander Graham Bell witnessing an Internet Videoconference. Residents from two different worlds met in an iconic exchange of ideologies, as one bygone era surrendered indefensibly to the next. Time and technology had marched by unnoticed. And that changed everything.”

Just like the Polish army, we as marketers must continue our push to evolve. Enduring success will be enjoyed not by those looking to leverage the tried and true, nor those satisfied with remaining in lockstep with their peers; but rather, by those willing and committed to thinking forward and considering: What’s next? How can I do this differently? How can it be improved? What changes can I anticipate (cultural, media, technological)? How can I leverage these trends?

Our industry today (integrated marketing, advertising, public relations and brand communications) is characterized by profound change– extreme shifts in technology and fragmentation of media, all occurring at unbelievable speed. Is there really any question that the ways we deliver messages must always continue to evolve?

As the Pomeranian Calvary Brigade proved, if you’re not committed to the process and looking far enough ahead, you’ll one day find yourself at the unwelcome crossroads of time and technology; of the past and the future; of foresight and hindsight. And you’ll have no choice but to surrender to those who eyes were fixed on a point on the horizon, much farther than your own.

As Kendrick and Ortlip so eloquently put it, “the advance of time has a great way of correcting nearsightedness”.

Note: The Blueprint for Life Study from which the story of the Pomeranian Calvary is referenced, is a truly enlightening (and exceptionally well-developed and designed), multi-media resource that takes valuable, secular-styled lessons for intentional living and goal-setting and applies them to Christian principles. I highly recommend this $59 study for groups or individuals. You’ll find many more brilliant illustrations you can apply to every area of your life. www.blueprintforlife.com.

 

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