At just 32 years old, Sydney-born Hayden Cox has exceeded in making his mark on the surf industry. With Haydenshapes—his line of performance boards—the self-taught computer programmer, web designer and shaper embodies the spirit of modern surfing. Aesthetically focused yet driven by performance, Cox’s boards integrate innovative materials and design features into unique board shapes inspired by free-surfing’s past.
My Definition Of Success | Success can mean many different things – financial, consumer reach, sales volume. I have been running my business since I was in my teens and have always felt successful in the fact that I was able to do something that I loved and was passionate about and able to make an income from it – even if it was only very little at certain times and stages. The Haydenshapes business has grown a lot more in the last few years with our recent move into the global and US market, but with that, a lot more resources have been required to keep up with the growth which can send you backwards if you aren’t careful. Things keep changing as the goals I set for myself just keep getting greater and greater. The only time I really sit back and feel a sense of real success, is when I see people out in the surf all around the world on my surfboards stoking out and enjoying themselves. The consumer connection with a product is really important. Jim Jannard, founder of Oakley and Red Cameras, recently gave me that advice.
I Am Driven By | Passion. I have seen really great highs in the business but some really scary lows too which definitely keeps me grounded. I surround myself with like-minded people who motivate and inspire me – staff, friends and mentors’. I’m a huge believer in power of good energy and manifesting a vision. I’ve seen such a shift by weeding out negative energy around me because it spreads like wildfire.
My Highlights | Just this year, my surfboard design the Haydenshapes ‘Hypto Krypto’ won Surfboard of the Year at the Australian Surf Industry Awards. It was voted as the winner amongst the worlds leading surfboard brands by the surf industry and Australian surfboard retailers. To be recognized at that level by my peers was a cool moment. That model is actually currently a best seller all around the world which is something I am proud of. Recently I also worked on co-developing an exclusive range of 5 Marble printed surfboards with international fashion label Alexander Wang for their stores in NYC and Tokyo. It is such an influential brand that I truly admire and that project was a huge highlight for myself and my brand.
The Difference Between Good And Great | I am a big fan of those who are innovative with their ideas and are not fearful of uniqueness and changing things up. Following a trend and doing it well is good, but carving a new path in creating something thought-provoking is great.
A Key Talent | One thing that I have always been pretty good at is seeing the “bigger picture” in certain situations. This has really helped me see past some of the obstacles I have been faced with along the way including some of the more trivial stresses of running a business. If you can learn to “not sweat the small stuff” it means you are seeing things from the outset and can stay focused on where you are going. Start to put action in place that allows future growth, without biting off too much more than you can chew. For example, starting a US Haydenshapes operation was a big risk but rather than focusing on what we were selling on that present day I focused and analyzed our bigger picture growth over the previous year to influence my decision. It can be a bit of a gamble, but I think it’s down to the individual. Even the world’s largest brands started from somewhere right? You have to think big.
Principles I Live By | Firstly, you really need to 100% back yourself and your ideas. If I had listened to the advice from others, especially during tough times, I probably would have thrown in the towel and accepted defeat. It’s important to always strive to be at least two steps ahead of those around you as it sets a standard of pace that keeps the wheels in motion – I’m definitely not a procrastinator. I am also a huge advocate of trusting your own ‘gut instinct’ and trying your best to remove emotion from decision-making – as hard as it can sometimes be. In saying that, having good morals in business and how you conduct yourself is something I also live by. Don’t be an asshole – it will come back around eventually.
Critical Skills I Develop | People management for one – humans are very complex creatures. To get the most out of people around you, communication and interaction is critical and it changes from person to person. I am always reading books and researching ways to improve this as it admittedly isn’t the greatest strength of mine. Learning how to have a healthy life balance is also really important. Life isn’t all about business and it’s important for your own sanity to be able to completely remove yourself sometimes and zone out. Surfing and being in the ocean is how I disconnect, which is ironic considering I am in the business of surfboards!
How I Use My Mind | Manifest. See your goals so clearly that your mind begins to find it’s own path in turning them into a reality. I vividly remember the day when I decided I wanted to created a new surfboard technology… That night I dreamt about it and I remember waking up in the morning and thinking to myself, “I’m doing this….” I read a book called Mind Power, which helped feed my motivation. Soon after, I designed and patented FutureFlex, a parabolic carbon rail surfboard technology that today is not only signature to my brand, but is also sold to the leading brands in surfboards all around the world.
Performing At My Peak | I like to always feel challenged by what I am doing and raise the bar on the tasks I set for myself. If things become too easy to me, it makes me instantly feel as though I’m not reaching my potential. Physically, I try to get a lot of sleep and eat as healthily as I can with organic foods and minimal gluten. My fiancé is a great influence on me in that regard.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I don’t read a lot unless I am craving inspiration and right now I am also quite time poor. However, I am addicted to the TV show ‘Shark Tank’. It is about a panel of real life ultra successful sharks (investors) that are pitched ideas by different types of businesses, in which they invest real money of their own. It is actually pretty educational and I have picked up a lot of interesting insight into the world of venture capitalists. I also really relate to the business owners and entrepreneurs who go on the show as I find it interesting to learning about their individual journeys. It’s an entertaining show too, which helps. I recommend it.
On Inspiring Others | Not everyone wants to own and run their own business which is fine, but I think it’s important to identify and create a path of growth for people who work for me so that they can set and achieve goals of their own. It empowers them, which will only reflects positively on business goals. Culture is important and I like to create an environment that is fun and inspiring so people want to come to work and take pride in it. In the past I have rushed into employing certain people just to fill a role. Good people are hard to find – it may take time, but in the end it is worth it. You know the saying… “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait till you hire an amateur.” Amen to that.