Is this the worst product innovation ever?

Wetsuit business suit

If the Quiksilver bedding wasn’t enough, Quiksilver have done it again and introduced possibly the worst, most ill conceived product in surfing history.

The Wetsuit Suit. Yes you read that right, a wetsuit designed in the shape of a business suit. I can only hope that this is some kinda hoax – and even if it is, it surely isn’t worth the effort and ridicule?

The first question that comes to mind is why? Did someone not get the memo that the water is a place we escape the corporate grind.

The second question that comes to mind is why? It would simply never perform as well as a skin hugging wetsuit designed specifically for surfing, or a fitted Hugo Boss.

The third question that comes to mind is why? It takes all of 5 minutes to change out of a wetsuit…. but that’s right, Joey Corporate Surfer must too important to waste even 5 minutes.

The fourth question also happens to be why?  I imagine it will be super comfortable wearing a wetsuit as the salt dries and itches your skin and you’ve got sand up your bum during a power meeting with your boss in your Quiksilver work wetsuit….

Why, why, why? It is incomprehensible. Maybe the Private Equity firm Oaktree Capital  Management who took over the company this year knows why? They’d want to, or the $600 they invested to take the company out of bankruptcy (it still has $300m debt) might be kinda hard to recoup.

This folly was best summarised by Surfer Magazine:

Don’t you just wish you never had to change in and out of that stinky old wetsuit of yours? Well consider your prayers answered! Presenting the oh-so-literal wet suit by Quiksilver. Because how many times have you wished you could just live in one outfit for the entire day? And seriously, who wouldn’t want a soggy crotch while sitting though a budget meeting? Well, logistics aside, this is happening. Quiksilver Japan is apparently onto a market that the majority of us had no idea existed – which consists of businessmen who wish they could just go straight from the water to the conference room all while looking like colossal tools? Sure!

With all the incredulity aside, it shows a company who doesn’t know their customers at all. A company out of touch with why they originally succeeded. A company which is focused on the wrong side of where work society and technology is taking us.

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Yes, we are all in the technology business

A few weeks ago the surfing world was astounded when Kelly Slater released a video of his new wave pool.

The launch of his 10 year long project to KS Wave Co, and OMG did surfers loose their minds. The reason it matters for this here blog has little to do with surfing. It has to do with technology. I would never have believed a wave this good could come from a pool. That waves I spend thousands of dollars each year chasing, could happen all day, every day. And so you now, this picture below is typically how terrible wave pools are for Surfing – A wave pool from 1985 where they once held a Pro Surfing event.

Tom Carroll in wave pool

And the reason it is now possible is not to do with machinery, it’s because of what software can do. It’s because of what we can model it before we turn soil. We are entering a phase in life where possibilities confound expectations. Where dreams from our childhood and coming to life in all manner of entertainment and industry. The future has finally arrived.

If the worlds most nature driven zen sport, surfing, can enter an artificial arena, then it’s fair to say we are all in the technology business now. It might even be time to ask yourself if that ‘thing’ you dreamed about is possible now.

And Kelly, if you’re reading – I’d be happy too buy the rights for Melbourne.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.


What is possible?

Every now and again we are forced to re-consider what is possible. Maybe it is due to some form of technology advancement. Maybe it is due to a new scientific discovery. And sometimes it is due to a single person pushing themselves to the limit, and in doing so pushing human possibilities to levels that had previously been considered impossible.

Kelly Slater is a person who has consistently been doing this for 20 years. In fact, I regard him as the greatest sports person of all sports of all time. Anyone who disagrees with this has simply failed to consider what he has done over this period. He has dominated, and reinvented the sport again and again. To the point where we has been world champion 11 times over 20 years and is still competing against and beating surfers who were not even born when he won his first world title. At the age of 40 he is still setting the bench mark. His dominance of the sport is almost embarrassing for other competitors.

He did something amazing this week in the Bells Beach Ripcurl Pro. In fact it is the best manouvre ever seen in competitive  surfing. A full 360 aerial rotation – no hands. You can see it below. Just 30 years ago surfing magazines were full of discussions as to whether a simple 360 turn on the wave face was physically possible. And while every year, we think our sport has reached its limit it manages to forge into uncharted territory.

We should use this as motivation and a reminder of what we ourselves can do. That we are never too old and that the only limits that matter are the ones that we set for ourselves.

Enjoy this visual orgy of surfing goodness.


Innovation never ends

I happened upon this video (being a surfer and all) and was totally inspired by the product innovation. In real terms it is innovation at its core:

Problem – Solution.

They had to find and invent the technology to solve the problem. Rather than having some technology they were trying to find a use for. The video is worth watching, as the lesson is one any and everyone can take heed from.

It also reminds me that innovation will never end. Just when we thought the wetsuit solved all the problems it could (cold water / sunburn, wax rash) a human need takes it to the next level. Just like Bucky said: eventually we’ll be able to create everything from nothing.

Big props goes out to Billabong. If I was running Ripcurl, or a surfing startup, I’d be working on a wetsuit with an oxygen pouch!


Andy Irons – life is short

As a surfer, today I was devastated to learn that former world surfing champion Andy Irons died. He was 32.

It’s a poignant reminder that waiting is for fools. Andy only had 32 short years, but managed to surf the world and be the best at what he did.

But the key question here isn’t about whether you are, or ever will be the best. Rather, it’s about knowing if what you are spending your days doing is what you actually would dream about being the best at.

Start now.

Great bootstrapping

This Nutrigrain commercial isn’t really about cereal. It’s a message for Entrepreneurs. Take a look.

Notice how he didn’t let his environment (non coastal) hold him back?

Notice the tools he built to train himself and replicate his desired future?

Notice, the time invested in his dream, the years of dedication?

He wasn’t concerned about the resources he didn’t have, rather those he could use to bootstrap his training. It’s an attitude that all entrepreneurs should have.

Best we take a second look.

Shifting advantage & contrarian actions

Once upon a time savvy surfers would get down to the beach early. It was the way to get smooth, uncrowded waves. To step into the ocean at dawn and share the tranquil waters with a few other dedicated salty skin brethren.

This was such an advantage that more and more surfers adopted this method of soul (and sole) surfing. Until the point arrived when there were more people in the line up before there was any daylight. You could often arrive at your favourite surf break only to find the largest crowd of the day was between 5am and 8am. It got ridiculous, the crowd had caught on.  There is now zero advantage in getting up early to go surfing.


I got so annoyed with the crowds, that I decided to sleep in on surfing days regardless. Why get to the beach early and be greeted with the largest surfing population the day has to offer? It wasn’t worth the effort. So I started heading down the coast at either 10am or 2pm. I still avoided midday, but shifted my surfing times to mid morning and afternoon.

Next thing I found was that my ‘contrarian’ actions had resulted in a boon. Uncrowded waves and a sleep in! Turns out most people rarely surf for more than a couple of hours. So even the early morning laggards start to exit the water mid morning.  My current example, was two days ago: I went surfing in a very popular location near Torquay, in 37 degree c warm weather, had perfect waves and only one other person in the water at 2pm. No surfer would believe this is happening.


The point for entrepreneurs is; Like the waves, positioning advantage is constantly shifting. What is an advantage this year, will certainly change next year. But we will never know this if we always accept conventional wisdom of ‘where to be and when’.