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The Code for the Next Wave with Shaun Tomson

In true surf city fashion, TechServe Alliance opened their 2019 Conference & Tradeshow in Huntington Beach with world surfing champion Shaun Tomson, who shared his best advice on how those in the business world can catch the next best wave.

For Tomson, the answer to finding that wave lies in the code.

The code is simply a set of fundamental beliefs that motivate action, he explained. As the event’s keynote speaker, he translated the concept into a business context, referring to various lessons he had learned from his time as a professional athlete and entrepreneur.

In his lifetime, Tomson has started and sold two multi-million dollar clothing brands – “Instinct” and “Solitude” – and wrote two best-selling books, titled “Surfer’s Code” and “The Code: The Power of ‘I Will.’”

After moving to the U.S. and founding the Solitude brand with his wife, Tomson was approached about creating some sort of campaign that would excite young kids about environmentalism. 

Maybe we’ll give them shirts, sunglasses or wetsuits, Tomson thought. Then a wave of inspiration hit him.

He took 25 minutes to write down 12 lines, each line beginning with the words “I will.” He penned phrases such as: “I will always paddle back out” and “I will know that there will always be another wave.”

He called the 12 lines the “Surfer’s Code” and copied it onto 100 cards to hand out to kids.

“The code and the card took on a life of its own,” Tomson said.

Tomson has since used the concept of the code to encourage others to write their own, from students at underprivileged schools vowing to find a way out of poverty to a young competitive surfer who couldn’t get out of 25th place but then suddenly worked his way to third. 

In connection with leadership and work engagement, Tomson shared the many ways the code could be applicable to businesses and welcomed conference attendees to write their own code in a workshop led by him.

“The true power of the code is in sharing,” Tomson said. “When your team members, your peers, your associates share your power, it amplifies and magnifies the power… so you’ll understand each other a little bit better.”

Moreover, writing one’s own code leads to the discovery of purpose, he explained, adding that an Ernest & Young study showed that purpose-led organizations perform 42% better compared to those who are simply in business. 

“Purpose is timeless,” Tomson said, concluding his keynote speech with the hope that everyone in the room will find their purpose, their power and the courage to paddle out to the next wave.