Chris Grow's new podcast The Wire features Sustainable Surf Tourism Management's Jess Ponting
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 9 January, 2017 - Surfboard designs premier YouTuber Chris Grow has grown an extensive fan-base of viewers who value his precise-and-obsessive attention to surfboard design and his general openness and enthusiasm about life.
This week Mr. Grow launches a new series called The Wire. It's a podcast about the interesing things in life beyond rocker, template and bottom contour. Below is his latest blog and video, er, podcast...
2016 treated me fantastically. And instead of spitting the standard ‘thank you and sending you best wishes for 2017’ I decided to instead try my best to give you something of value; something that makes me a little nervous to share.
And that will essentially be the crux of this note - I think it’s useful to consider, each time something makes you nevous or scared, what is on the other side of that fear. For example:
Last year began with a risk
The first video I released in January of 2016 scared the shit out of me.
Why? Because the ‘public’ part of my life I had spent the previous 3 years broadcasting on YouTube was purely about surfing, and I’d grown a following on YouTube who expected surf related stuff from me.
But I began 2016 that January with a video about a snowboard trip. I remember (as if it happened this morning) pressing YouTube’s upload button on that video with visceral fear because at the time I was sure it was the end of Shred Show - 20,000 people would be disappointed that I wasn’t making another video about a surfboard or a surf trip, and I would lose whatever value I had built for myself by owning Shred Show.
But I was wrong.
After almost deciding not to, I pushed through the fear and I pressed ‘upload’ on that video. Because there was way more to my life than only surfing. And fortunately the same held true for most of you. The video was a hit and it caught the attention of Constellation Brands (they own Corona Beer, Modelo Beer and others) and they ended up giving me a sponsorship deal that let me live in Utah for a couple months and experience a dream I’d had for years: doing nothing but snowboarding and cruising, experiencing a sport and a lifestyle that I had long been interested in, but had not yet immersed myself in.
Then I got lucky.
Ski Utah was intrigued by the three videos I made with support from Constellation Brands (Ski Utah is basically a marketing firm owned collectively by Utah snow resorts) and they offered me a position that could only be loosely called a ‘job’ in the most liberal of language - they gave me the opportunity to live in Utah the following Ski Season (AKA what would have been right now) as an ambassador of Utah Snow.
Consider what that means: As a surfer from California with zero credibility in the snowboarding world, I was being offered an opportunity to spend four months (Dec 16' to March 17') living like a pro snowboarder in the most beautiful mountain range imaginable, riding the greatest snow on earth.
To say I was excited would be an an understatement. I said yes.
Then I got scared again (See: Anxiety)
Shortly after accepting the ‘job’ from Ski Utah, the most mentally and emotionally chaotic period of my entire life began when a girlfriend and I ended a partnership that had lasted years. The circumstances around our relationship's dissolve were so unexpected, and so 'out of left field' that language can't express the unsettling and disorienting impact it had on my life, and hers. The decision to move on scared me, but I moved on.
This is something I bring up only to illustrate that the absolute best things in our lives can unexpectedly fall into place just moments after the absolute worst things happen, and one should never excuse themselves for being sad or bummed out for any longer than two minutes.
Only weeks after considering that my personal life could be on the edge of an abyss, I found myself in August, during a random visit to Firewire’s HQ, unexpectedly asking them if they wanted to consider bringing me into the company. See, the process of making videos with Rob Machado and Mark Price in previous months had been so fun for me that it had got me thinking…
- The snow is incredible. But I began Shred Show intending to live at the beach. Not 2,000 miles away from it.
- Since surfing a Double Agent in Central California in mid 2014, Firewire has been the surfboard brand that has most interested me.
- Firewire is owned and endorsed by the most talented surfer to ever touch water.
I was ecstatic when they said “Yea chris we want you” but this brought up new shit to be scared about; “I have to back out of my upcoming deal with Ski Utah” and also “My surfing audience will be bummed that I’m not ‘independent’ anymore.”
These fears focused my mind and I thought deeply on both of them. But in the end both fears were misplaced.
The friends I had made at Ski Utah were beyond supportive as we explored together my new option to stay in California and join Firewire (luckily they either surfed themselves during trips in the Summer or were fans of Kelly’s new wave pool) and I can only count three people on earth who ever expressed any disappointment in my decision to go public with what my favorite surfboard brand was. And I suspect at least two of them are the sort that could be unhappy even while winning the lottery or sitting with priority at Jeffries Bay.
I chose to join Firewire because that’s what I wanted to do. And thankfully, it has turned out to be one of the better decisions I’ve ever made.
Which brings us to now
Episode #1 of the new podcast. I’m excited to begin 2017 this way. And scared. At this point (I’m 35) I believe everyone manages fear on a daily basis whether they call it fear or not. And I now use a definition for fear that I find useful: The stressful feeling that arises from recognizing the measured risks you must take, and the work you must do, to arrive at what is on the other side of fear. Success. The place you really want to be.
In hindsight, what Shred Show is to me so far is a map. And I hope others can view it similarly. It’s a map of how to get from Point A to Point B when Point B is whatever you would define as your ‘fantasy land’ and Point A is the middle of nowhere without any resources or connections that will get you to point B.
I began with a black bed sheet in a garage and grew my audience and craft and credibility over the videos you see in the years that followed, and that path I walked on YouTube is what lead me to what, for me, was the adult life I dreamed of when I was 18.
So thank you. If I said that a thousand times, it would still not convey my thanks to each of you who have ever given attention to the videos I've made. You've played an irreplaceable role in Shred Show as viewers and fans and even as friends.
Let's face 2017 with courage and enjoy what comes.
Jess Ponting was the first person in the world to earn a PhD in Sustainable Surf Tourism Management years ago. Today he is the Director of The Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University. Sound fun? It is - he dables in many exotic surf destinations you've heard of promoting environmental and social sustainability.
He is also the co-founder of Stoke Certified; the world's first sustainability certification program for surf and ski tourism operators.
Jess is exciting as a case study on how to align career ambitions with life passions, but he's also much more than that: this conversation contains a fascinating look at the way our actions as surfers in the ocean (or in wave pools) have impacts both good and bad, on everything around us.