Stab Magazine | Going For A Surf Is The Best Business Meeting!

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Going For A Surf Is The Best Business Meeting!

High performance conversations.

style // May 2, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Riding waves is simple but also complicated. The act is always the same; drive to beach, ritualistically apply wax, suit/trunk up, paddle out. And in these precious moments of life it’s useful to set goals. Whether it be finally landing that air reverse, getting into better shape, surfing every day (nobody surfs every day!)… without those aspirations you become complacent.

The Stab Scorecard returns this month with a focus on having a goal and allowing that goal to make you a better person. Let us introduce to you Dugald Christie-Johnston. He’s a Melbourne gent who makes his living as a Business Coach. “What that means is I work with senior execs and teams to help improve their businesses,” he tells Stab. “Instead of meeting in a boardroom, we go out for a drive and have a surf together.” Which he’s aptly dubbed as a board meeting. “When you go for an hour drive down the coast, you’re locked in the car, not taking phone calls and everyone’s amped because they’re going for a surf. When we come back everyone’s on that buzz you get from surfing and you end up having high performance conversations.”

Dug cs

For Duggy surfing isn’t just strictly a business tactic, here he is in Taiwan with the backside hack. Photo: Surf Taiwan

You see, Duggy’s a proud owner of the Rip Curl GPS watch. And before the watch was even a thing, he would record his surf sessions manually. “For years I documented my surfs on the wall calendar,” he says. “I started doing that in 2008 and I set myself a goal to catch 1000 waves. Whenever I’d surf I’d write down how many waves, where I was and note the conditions. I would even give a percentage score on how much I enjoyed it, what countries I’ve surfed in and how many different breaks. I’m up to 20 countries.” The purchase of the watch couldn’t have made things easier for our friend. “1000 waves may not seem like a lot but for a guy that lives in Melbourne and works full time it was obtainable and not too easy. Every year I made it, one year I was at 997, it was December 31st and I drove down to the coast, it was flat and I forced myself into three crummy little waves breaking on the beach. When I made these goals, it made me more likely to go surf when it was crappy.” 

Dug at Bells

Mr Christie-Johnson out of Melbourne and onto the slick walls of the world famous Bells beach. Photo: Steve Ryan

“When the watch came out, I was all over it,” Duggy continues. “It was tracking more than what I could do manually. Last year was my first full year with the watch, I still had my goal of 1000 waves and I smashed it with 1600. That’s when I started to get philosophical about it. I thought, hang on, am I being an aggressive prick in the water just trying to get my numbers up? So I started paying attention to other stuff. One that I’m really keen on is how much time I spend in the water. For the year to date I’m at 41 days, last year I was at 100. When it comes down to it, that’s what makes me happy, just being in the water. Whether I catch 10 waves or 20 it doesn’t make much difference. It’s more about enjoying it.”

On Dugald’s business portal he keeps his scorecard stats at the very bottom of the page. “I keep them on my site just to show people they can set goals and you can achieve them. It helps my clients make decisions based on a slightly deeper level of thinking.”


Dugald Christie-Johnson the Barefoot Coach #boardmeeting.

“The app really drives me,” he says, “I already thought I was doing pretty well at getting in the water but following other people who have the watch gets me competitive with my mates. It’s not like trying to beat your personal best swimming laps in a pool. When I see my mates going for a surf on the app, I start thinking I need to get out there and catch up. It keeps me motivated to get in the water, it’s not that complicated.”


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