Why Innovation is like Surfing

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

The beauty of the ocean is undeniable and some argue that it is even less well explored than near space. Surfers love snappy quotes when they ride a wave in to shore, having navigated all the unpredictable elements of the waves. Famous surfer Laird Hamilton quipped that “surfing’s one of the few sports that you look ahead to see what’s behind.” Innovation is a lot like that – you always have to strive to stay ahead of competitors!
This is the essence of what IAI loves about innovation theory – not just that history DOES repeat itself but that there is always a lesson or three that an entrepreneur can learn as he or she makes their way along the wave. The “Ambassador of Aloha”, Duke Kahanamoku, was one of the most influential people in the history of surfing. He is widely recognized as the father of modern surfing, and he is the man responsible for introducing surfing to Australia, in 1915. And he introduced use of the surfboard as a lifesaving tool for lifeguards, and good entrepreneurs look out for fellow travelers and risk takers.


Source: David Davis, Duke Kahanamoku Foundation

Amazon’s review of “Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku” (Oct. 2015- University of Nebraska Press) by sportwriter Dave Davis pays tribute to the amazing trailblazing nature of the Duke.

Waterman is the first comprehensive biography of Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1968): swimmer, surfer, Olympic gold medalist, Hawaiian icon, waterman. Long before Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz made their splashes in the pool, Kahanamoku emerged from the backwaters of Waikiki to become America’s first superstar Olympic swimmer. The original “human fish” set dozens of world records and topped the world rankings for more than a decade; his rivalry with Johnny Weissmuller transformed competitive swimming from an insignificant sideshow into a headliner event.Kahanamoku used his Olympic renown to introduce the sport of “surf-riding,” an activity unknown beyond the Hawaiian Islands, to the world. Standing proudly on his traditional wooden longboard, he spread surfing from Australia to the Hollywood crowd in California to New Jersey. No American athlete has influenced two sports as profoundly as Kahanamoku did, and yet he remains an enigmatic and underappreciated figure: a dark-skinned Pacific Islander who encountered and overcame racism and ignorance long before the likes of Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, and Jackie Robinson.Kahanamoku’s connection to his homeland was equally important. He was born when Hawaii was an independent kingdom; he served as the sheriff of Honolulu during Pearl Harbor and World War II and as a globetrotting “Ambassador of Aloha” afterward; he died not long after Hawaii attained statehood. As one sportswriter put it, Duke was “Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey combined down here.”

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