Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Craig: I was a a professional skateboarder back in the 70’s. I’ve also been struck by lightening and once owned a full sized Russian Space Shuttle which I bought from the Kremlin and transported to Australia for a space exhibition.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Craig: Persistence and perseverance. Calvin Coolidge’s quote on persistence is my life mantra. I had no kick start in life. My parents divorced when I was nine and I was roaming the streets after that on my skateboard. I left home and school when I was 14 and traveled to Australia to chase waves. I eventually ended up back at school when I was 21 and then went on to complete a double economics and law degree with honors. I put myself through school and university working 7 days a week for all those years with no help from anyone because I had no other option. Success was my only option – I had no safety net.
I’ve had many financial set backs but most of my set backs have been health related. I was in a coma for a month when I was nine, nearly lost my left leg when I was eleven, and had heart surgery when I was eighteen. My commitment to health and peak performance were grounded in those early years.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Craig: Surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you are is key – people who have the confidence to challenge you day in and day out – and who are not be afraid to be an outlier in their ideas. And you need a superstar #2 – someone who allows you to perform the main role of a leader which is setting the vision and plotting the course forward. I hate being bogged down in the weeds.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
Learn to speak in public. The most successful people in life, love, and business are invariably the best communicators. You need to be able to get up on your feet and speak with confidence. And as a CEO or entrepreneur, you need to be able to passionately articulate your vision and mission.
Meditate. Learning to focus your mind and control your breath is fundamental for peak performance. Simple breathing exercises reduce the anxiety and stresses of daily life that can have a significant effect on your health. We all operate in a 24/7 news cycle and are overwhelmed with the digital tsunami that comes at us all day. Taking time out to collect your thoughts and clear your mind gives us more clarity in our overall lives.
Always prepare for change: I loved the allegory in “Who Moved My Cheese”. I’ve always been “Scurry” – preparing for the next thing as I’m mentally immersed in the present. Never assume permanence – financially or personally. I’ve lived through a number of bull markets and financial crisis and they all had one thing in common – the blind expectation that the good times would never stop. With love comes pain just like with success comes failure. You can’t have one without the other – it’s nature and the balance of life. Like the old Chinese proverb – you have to “hope for the best but plan for the worst”.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Craig: Eat more broccoli.
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Craig: For me it’s about leaving a legacy with my children in relation to how they conduct themselves personally, in life, and in business. In everything I’ve been doing in my personal and public life the key principle for me is always “is this sending the right message to my daughters?”. When I first arrived in California 20 years ago I was walking down the main street in Laguna Beach with my (then) 5 & 6 year old daughters when this homeless man with a Gandolf staff came up and grabbed me and whispered in my ear “be what you want your daughters to be and they will follow”. It totally freaked the heck out of me at the time but it has stuck with me ever since. Lead by example – that’s the key to being a successful parent.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Craig: I don’t really have any “hobbies” although I race and compete in a lot of sports. I just love being outside, on the trails, and in the ocean as much as possible – and I’m lucky to live in a climate (Newport Beach, CA) that allows me to do just that. Every year my New Years resolution is the same – “be better” – a better father, husband, provider, and of course, to have better health. Looking back my most successful deals and partnerships grew from a shared passion around either sport or another interest such as cars, fitness, health and wellness, nutrition – or whatever else I was in to at the time. Historically, my businesses have always followed that same path. Ultimately you want to be in business with people who share your vision and mission in life so having that as the core foundation in a business relationship is fundamental for me.