I was scared shitless.

Even though I had dreamed about this day for years, had a Pinterest page dedicated to surfing, studied YouTube videos about how to surf, and loved to imagine the thrill of riding down a wall of water, there I stood: afraid to approach the surfer dude’s van to ask for a lesson.

It was not exactly how I pictured California surfing. It was cold … and super windy … and, on this day, there was no one else out in the ocean attempting to surf.


The problem was, I told everyone. Friends were texting me. My wife was calling me wondering when the heck I would get out there and do it. Geez, people were even praying for me. The pressure was on – in heaven and on earth. I couldn’t chicken out. Not now. Not this time.

When I finally got up the nerve to talk to the surfer dude, he even admitted the ocean was rough that day but he was game to take me out, said my age didn’t matter. (Besides, otherwise he might get skunked on business for the day.)

Turns out that Marilyn Monroe nailed it: “What the hell” IS always the right answer.

Yep. I went surfing for the first time in my life that day. And: It. Was. Awesome.

Another Risk Taker

CEO Michael Dubin of Dollar Shave Club knows a thing or two about trying something for the first time.

Dollar Shave Club swooped into the $13 billion shaving industry in 2012 with an outrageous – and never before attempted – subscription business model.

Many thought Dubin was crazy, that his idea would never work.

Dubin stated in an early interview that Dollar Shave Club wanted to create value around what it meant to be a member and create a community.

And, he delivered on those brand promises; I know because I experienced it.

Listen and Win

After being a Dollar Shave Club member for several months, I was frustrated with finding real “man” soap at local retail and drug stores.

I emailed my frustration along with an idea to the Dollar Shave Club. Offer bar soap for men: man-smell, man-sized, man-wrapped. Guess what? A few months later, they began to sell it.

Do you think I feel valued as a member and part of the community?

(By the way, I get that several member emails, including mine, or simply a happy coincidence may have prompted the introduction of the new bar soap. Either way, I am a member for life.)

I love that this startup with little more than a “crazy” idea and a funny advertising video on YouTube (24M+ views to date) hit a chord with so many guys, and, in just four years the company built a powerful brand.

Dollar Shave Club is now riding its own big wave: The company was purchased by Unilever for $1 billion cash.

Keep Putting Yourself Out There

No matter how young or old we are we must continue to find ways to mix it up and keep it fresh – in our lives and our careers. Keep trying new things. Keep going out on a limb.

Maybe it is time for you to try something for the first time, to get out of your normal element.

There is no guarantee for success, but I do know that while doing things for the first time or taking risks you will become more alive, completely switched on, and ultimately able to bring more innovative ideas to the table – and you will learn a TON.

It can be in these moments, and even in the moments that follow when great clarity of mind and creative direction may be realized.