Seth Hulley | Former World Tour professional surfer | Sports Marketing & Management guru

I first spotted Seth Hulley surfing as a ‘grom’ in Umhlanga Rocks in the 80’s and even way back then it wasn’t hard to see that this young man was going to go all the way. He was everything a surfer needs to be: blond, tanned, strong, athletic, fun, bad-assed, uber-confident and competitive. You name it, back then, Seth had it and he went on to travel the globe as a professional surfer on the world tour, winning the World Pro Junior at Bells Beach Australia in 1992, twice winning the Billabong Pro Jeffrey’s Bay (’92 and ’95) and winning the entire Billabong Pro World Qualifying series event in 1995. Its been such a pleasure, 30 years on, to catch up with him and to see that he certainly still ‘has it’. He has been one of those fortunate ones to spend his working life in and around the world of sport. After his pro-surfing career came to to an end, he joined Luxottica where he has been the Oakley Sports Marketing head for over 7 years as well as recently taking on an extended role as Oakley Surf Manager for the EMEA region. I hope you enjoy reading Seth’s story about what made, and still makes, him ‘tick’ as much as I enjoyed catching up with him after so many years.

My Definition Of Success | Winning at all costs and being the best you can be in your field and portraying yourself as a true professional and staying humble at all times. This definition of success hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s a view on life that I portray and it applies in everything I do to achieve success.

I Am Driven By | Having a passion and really loving what I do. Pro surfing and being a professional sportsman in my view is one of the best jobs in the world . Winning was a massive driving force when I was professional – but since I now have had kids, I feel most decisions I make is with them in mind, so they have become my driving force.

My ‘MAGIC’ comes from | a combination of factors: a natural talent, a great work/training ethic and a total commitment to being in the right head space – mental strength. I had some natural talent, I worked hard and I was committed at a super-high level. That was the foundation of my ‘Magic’.

The Difference Between good And Great | As I mentioned above – when people are aligned with all 3 of the following: natural talent, commitment and being mentally astute and are firing on all cylinders then they are great! Good people tick one or two of those boxes but not all three.

A Key Talent | I had commitment and a good work ethic in terms of training – and so I was happy to train hard. I suppose in my character I am an emotional person and that was a positive but it could also be a downfall. When I was on form, nothing could stop me but when I was out of form it took extra effort to get back up again.

Principles I Live By | I always believe its important to treat others how you would like to be treated and remain humble.

How I Use My Mind | When I was competing on the world surf tour, and chasing crucial points, I had to arrive at the contest in a good state on mind. I could have no other external factors interfering and my thought process needed to be clear and yet in a happy and focused state. I had to be confident in my equipment and have that magic board under my feet. I needed to study my surroundings – in my case it was the ocean – constantly watching the waves and visualizing myself riding the waves to the best of my ability. As  I was about to paddle out, it was the thoughts of feeling ‘light and loose’ that would come to mind and as soon as I entered the ocean it would then feel serene and my subconscious would then take over.

Performing At My Peak | Its hard for the body to stay at it’s peak constantly. Everyone’s body has a cycle – highs and lows. You have to identity the important events on your calendar and make sure that you are performing at your peak at those events. Timing that is so important. Everything has to align in order for you to achieve success at that event, and you would have needed to have all your training preparation done in the lead-up to the event, plus you need to be in great physical shape by that point,  your equipment needs to be well refined and your mind needs to be in a good mental state! In surfing, this is when you are performing at your peak.

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I used to only read biography’s of sportsmen and draw inspiration from those. Music would also play a huge factor in my professional sports career and I would constantly listen to music on the road traveling and before my heats, it would really help me get into my own world and alone with my own positive thoughts. I went on my best performance run, attaining the best results right after witnessing the Springboks win the 1995 World Cup – I was thriving on that post-event positives vibes and emotions were running sky high.


Balancing high-performance with happiness and contentment | I was always in a better mental state when I was unattached whilst competing in my early days on the world tour. I would have a harder edge and more of the ‘eye of the tiger’.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | Be happy with what you are doing. If you are not happy doing something, you will never achieve the highest level possible.

I Am Inspired By | John Smit  – one of the most successful athletes, a super human being and incredibly humble. Kelly Slater – for taking the sport of surfing to new heights and watching him perform over the many years with his amazing ability and timing on a wave.