Episode 18
Laird Hamilton, big wave surfer and wellness entrepreneurEmbracing patience and a wellness practice can provide the motivation and hustle for the longevity of your business — and your life

The saying “patience is a virtue” is not lost on big wave surfer and entrepreneur Laird Hamilton. He built his career on patience and preparedness. When the right weather and wave came along, he was ready. He shares why continued practice can give you the motivation, peak mental performance and hustle you need to succeed professionally and as an individual.

Laird Hamilton, a big wave surfing athlete and wellness entrepreneur, doesn’t consider himself to be a patient person by nature. But, as pointed out to him by a journalist, his vocation as a surfer was all about patience: waiting for the right weather and the perfect waves.

He believes practicing patience and wellness self-care — whether it’s meditation, good sleep hygiene, nutrition or working out — can provide people with the motivation and hustle they need to succeed and live their best lives.

Laird sits down with the Entrepreneur’s Studio to share how motivation has shifted during his lifetime, why patience is needed for all things — relationships, wellness and success.

This is part 2 of 2 from our conversation with Laird Hamilton. To be the first to be alerted when we drop future episodes of the podcast, be sure to visit theentrepreneurs.studio and SUBSCRIBE for notifications and other exclusive content from The Entrepreneur’s Studio. Revisit part 1 of the conversation.

Below is an edited transcript of the conversation. In the episode, you’ll hear:

  1. Motivation and striving to succeed looks different in various stages of life
  2. Why both patience and hustle are needed to succeed
  3. How to embrace patience to build quality relationships that can go with the flow
  4. How building a physical practice can help mental performance
  5. Why build a work culture that prioritizes wellness practice
  6. Why prioritizing self-care can keep entrepreneurs going for the long haul

Motivation and striving to succeed looks different in various stages of life

Chris: The instincts, the living in your values versus living outside of them, it’s a pretty powerful combination. When you’ve got skill and you’ve got a way to go tackle something, I think one of the pieces of equipment is a good mindset. And so, I think something we talked about earlier, just when we were getting to know each other on the phone call was this idea of patience as a competitive advantage. And one of the things that you were saying previously was this idea of balancing and being able to regulate and all this stuff. What are some of the tools that you have in your mindset tool chest that help you prepare for tackling some business thing or tackling some physical feat that you want to make, some endurance piece? What are some of the tools you have in the tool chest?

Laird: You know I’m…

Chris: You’re like “I have a lot.”

Laird: Faith. Faith.

Chris: OK.

Laird: Faith is, well, believe.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: Believing. Believe. You don’t need much after that. Believe you can. I had a woman one time ask me, she said, “Hey, I really need help with my surfing because I suck. Can you help me?” And I said, “Sure.” I go, “Repeat after me,” and I go, “I don’t suck.” She says, “I don’t suck.” I go, “There’s your lesson, have a nice day.” I think that that’s a crazy thing, right? I always say there’s a physical manifestation of every spiritual thing, right?

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Laird: So for me, I think my mental fortitude or my mental attitude is so physically-based. I think we all are, actually, because we're on a physical plane and we have to eat, and we have to sleep, and we have to move. And so I think that all of those feed into... There’s a woman, Byron Katie, who’s an amazing woman, she says, “I’m never good when I’m in here.” [Points to his temple]

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Laird: “I’m never good when I’m in here.” [Points to temple] And for me, I feel like if I’m doing, I’m not in here, I’m out here and that’s useful. That’s very useful in just having mental confidence and feeling good.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: Feeling good. Coming into a situation if you're feeling good, you're going to be able to move.You're going to be able to adapt and do things. If you're not feeling good, and whether it’s the physical makes the mental or the mental makes physical, whatever it is. It’s hard to make good decisions when you're not feeling good.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah.

Laird: I went to the bipartisan, Obama was giving the healthcare speech to the whole group and I looked at the group of people out there and they were all arguing about stuff that probably you wouldn’t argue about if you were feeling better. And I was just like, “Wow, a lot of people aren’t feeling good. These people aren’t feeling good. They're not feeling good.” And some of that’s from not eating well, not sleeping well, not morally behaving or whatever, just all the stuff.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: Everything that feeds into undermining the thing. And I think something that I wanted to say too is that: I think there’s different stages in development, right? I can say that. I’m at a stage in my career, in my life, in my thing that I speak in a way, and I think in the way, and I do in the way that differs from when I was 15, and differs from when I was 25, and differs from when I was 35. And some things are a continuity.

Chris: Yeah. They persist.

Laird: There’s continuity in some of it, right, but there are some changes. Something that I went through in my career earlier was, I was coming at it with a lot of anger, right? When I was younger, I was angry and I was striving, striving, striving. And then I got to a certain level of accomplishments, or I reached certain things. And then I wasn’t angry, or I didn’t have an excuse to be angry anymore.

Chris: Oh, that’s good.

Laird: So I didn’t have an excuse to be angry and anymore. So I was like, “OK. Now what I’m going to do?” OK. And then I’m like, “Oh, now I’m supposed to be content because I set this thing that I went and achieved, and then I got contentment.” And then I was like, “Wow. Now, I got to motivate from contentment.” That’s a lot different than motivating from anger. We got to figure out how we're going to do this. And then we go, “Oh.” Well, then we have to look at why. Then we have to look at the why. And then I was like, “Oh, because I love this. I love it. I love it.”

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Laird: I can motivate from loving it. I can definitely motivate from loving it. I can drive hard from that, but that’s a lot different than anger. Loving and anger, those are... But at that point when I realized that I'd do it because I love it and because it’s in me and it’s part of me, because the anger was out, the love was in. So when I took it over for myself, that was when I took over the control of my happiness. At the end of the day, I got control of it because then I could go do something and be like, “Oh, that was great. I really feel good about that.” And I like, “Oh yeah, good.” So that was like all of a sudden, I became the judge and the jury of my own outcome. Which if you're in control of it, you might be able to actually have the outcome you like. Where if you're not, it’ll never have the outcome you want…

Chris: That’s so true.

Laird: … because everything outside doesn’t care about you.

Chris: Now that’s so good.

Laird: I don’t know if I got off track, but I just had something I wanted to say.

Chris: No, it’s powerful. I had a conversation with the president of our company the other day and he said, “You know what? Happiness is reality minus expectations.” You're saying something so similar, which is this idea ... And the thing about anger that’s really interesting as well is, if you're angry at something, it’s typically what are you trying to protect?

Laird: Yeah. Well, it’s connected to fear.

Chris: It’s connected to fear. You're trying to protect something.

Laird: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: And so I think that those are signals, right? And if you can pay attention to, “Oh man, am I really happy? How attached to an outcome am I? Or what am I protecting?” Right? And using those things as signals is really huge.

Laird: Well, you might be also... I apologize for overlapping, but you might be trying to protect that you don’t want to fail.

Chris: Wow.

Laird: So that could be something that you're trying to protect, right? “I’m trying to protect myself from failing,” because that’s usually...

Chris: And that’s where hustle comes from.

Laird: [Laughs]

Why both patience and hustle are needed to succeed

Chris: So what side do you stand on? Are you a hustle first and patience later? What’s your relationship to hustle?

Laird: Well, I’m a crazy, patience guy. Because one time a writer was doing an article on, I don’t know if it was on big wave riding or a group of us or something. But we had a lunch and the guy goes, “Oh yeah. I’ve come to realize that you guys are really patient.” And I almost fell over out of my chair. I was like, “Do you know me? Patience is not something that...” I wouldn’t connect me and patience even in the same room.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: And then once he explained that we would be willing to wait a lifetime for a moment, I was like, “Hmm, you have something.” So maybe because I use so much of it for that, I have none of it in the other areas. It’s out. It’s like, “Sorry, yeah. We're out of that. We're out of that patience over there.”

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: But I don’t know. I don’t know if I could say... Because I’m all about hustle. I’m all about hustle. I think that hustle without patience is probably useless. I think if you're just hustling, you're going to hustle yourself because you have to be... There’s never a situation that patience isn’t going to benefit you, there just never. I mean OK, you're in a hurry. I just like to drive fast, right?

Chris: OK.

Laird: So I just love driving fast. And so it’s like, “Oh yeah, why you're hurrying?” I’m like, “Even if I’m early, I’m still driving fast. I’m not like trying to get there, I just like to move. I want move.” Plus it makes time to go by quicker, the faster you go, so.

Chris: [Laughs] So that’s why you're like, “Why is this person describing me as patient?” You're like, “I love to just fly everywhere I’m going.” Everybody’s looking at you like, “OK, I would not describe him as a perpetually patient person.” But then there’s the sage wisdom, the “waiting lifetime for a moment.”

Laird: Yeah.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Laird: The waiting a lifetime. And really waiting, and being able to wait and being prepared actually. That’s the thing too about waiting is that waiting doesn’t mean anything if you're not prepared for when it happens. You can say, “Yeah, I’m waiting,” and then the thing happens and you're not prepared. And then what? Then you're not even able to take advantage of the thing that you're being patient for.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: So there’s something about that too. I think there’s something about the preparation that always allows you to be prepared, right? If you are waiting for this moment to happen and you don’t know when it’s going to, it could happen any second, or any moment, any hour, any day, any week, any month, any year. If you're waiting for that, but then you're not actually able to take advantage of that when it does, the waiting, that’s useless.

Chris: Yeah. And maybe that’s the interesting part about hustle versus patience is what you're saying is, or what I think you're saying is, hustle in your readiness so you're prepared while you wait on the moment.

Laird: That works.

Chris: Yeah? That’s powerful.

Laird: I’m with you.

Chris: You're like, yeah. OK. Yeah. That’s a powerful concept.

Laird: I’m good with that.

Chris: That balancing really, really matters. And I would say, I don’t know. Do you feel like you’ve learned the lessons of balancing by trial and error, or do you think you’ve got good advice or both? Because it’s a theme, right? You're a balancing person.

Laird: I would say yes. And I would say I haven’t learned learning. I haven’t learned learning. So it’s an ongoing polishing of the stone, right? It’s an ongoing polishing, wouldn’t say all the scratches are out. And so yeah. The truth is that if you learn from observing someone else, then you're probably smarter than if you just learn from your own stuff, that’s what they say. And the truth is that you learn best from your own flame.

Chris: Yeah. You tend not to forget.

Laird: Yeah. When you burn your hand, it doesn’t matter how bad it looks like when someone burns their hand, it’s not the same as when you burn your own hand. But it’s an ongoing thing. It’s an ongoing development to get better at, and be aware of better at the process of being able to get through all those in betweens, those moments in between that last so long, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: The silence between the beat seems to take a lot longer, even though it’s exactly the same.

Build quality relationships that can go with the flow

Chris: So true. Something that has been really been, I'd say evident in our conversation is the self-talk, and the relationship to yourself, and the relationship to the journey and all that stuff is really, really important. As people and as entrepreneurs — I think many young entrepreneurs maybe underestimate the value of relationships, OK? And so I think patience in relationships is something that I'd love to just hear from you, right, about the value of relationships in business, just relationships in life and how it’s an ecosystem for yourself, right? It’s an ecosystem that you need to have the right relationships. How do you make those choices and how do you have patience in those relationships?

Laird: Well, first of all, they say you're a culmination of the five people you spend the most time with, right? Here, I am repeating more things.

Chris: No new ideas.

Laird: None left. So you're a culmination of the people you spend time with, right. And that means, what are their interests? What their priorities? Who are they? What do they believe? That has a huge influence on you. We're communal creatures, right? When they look at people living longer and all these things, it’s always connected to what kind of community they have, what kind of relationships they have. It’s all about relationships. If you want to get into probably two of the most powerful relationships you're ever going to have in your life and you think about the importance of patience in those relationships. Think about a wife, if you're married and tell me how your relationship would be. Or a husband, just in a relationship of marriage. Tell me what relationship that’s going to be if people aren’t practicing patience. I'd like to see what that looks like.

Chris: A volatile one, most likely.

Laird: Not great. And then also crazy parenting. If parenting doesn’t make you patient, I mean... I told somebody, I go, “Parenting is like building a samurai sword.” And they go, “What do you mean?” I go, “Well, parenting is like, when they build a samurai sword, you take a piece of steel and you heat it up until it’s red hot, and you beat it with a hammer and then you stick it in ice. And you just do that over, and over and over. And eventually, it’s the strongest steel in the world.” Where your kids take you, they heat you up, they beat you with a hammer and they stick you in a bucket of ice, and they do it over, and over and over. And that is a patient process, right? That is a patient process because as you're getting heated up, and then you're getting beaten, you're going to go to the ice and then it’s going to be back into the same thing.

So I think that — who you know is where you go. That’s why it’s so important to have good human relations. If you look at the success, you have to have that somewhere along the line. People can have great ideas and be idea people, but then they're in the closet and you have to have somebody else who has good human relations in the front. But if you're talking about business, it’s all about that. Unless you're in a weird job where you can just hide in your room, which there are those and there’s a lot of that, especially now. But we get back to the lack of... We're seeing so many things going on right now in our society because of the isolation. That even through digital communication, this communication that we're having, the digital communication doesn’t quite have what we're having [Gestures toward Chris and back to himself]. We're here and we're communicating with eyeballs and we have all these other things happening.

The people that watch this and see this are able to benefit from our conversation. But when it comes to, I always used to say “eyeballs, not emails.” It’s like, “Never mind, let’s have interaction because it’s crucial for our wellness. We need to have that.” And especially first of all, it is in your house. First of all, it’s with you. My mom said to me once, “If you can’t be true to yourself, you can’t be true to anybody else.” And so first you have to start in your house with you, then you go from you, you can go to whoever, with your partner, your family stuff, and then you go outside and then you build from that. And listen, anything I’ve been involved with it’s always been about the people. It is about the people. It’s like, Laird Superfood, that’s really about people. And in a way, that’s a thing that I’m able to share with people something that I’ve benefited from that I use on a daily basis that’s been great for me, had an incredible effect on me, had an incredible effect on my friends, and my family and other people.

And so we're just spreading that, right, we're spreading that thing that we’ve benefited from that we’ve enjoyed, which we're spreading it to the people, it’s all about the people. So it goes back to that. And every business I can’t imagine isn’t about people, that’s what a business is. Things for people. So you're never going to not be in that position. You're never going to not have to engage with people. You're never not going to need relationships with the thing. Gabby, she always shakes her head, but like a honest to a fault stuff. But my stepdad always used to say, “If you have a problem with somebody. If you’ve done something and you're wrong, you put your head down and you take your punishment. If you're right, you stand with your head up and you go to the end and then face everything.” If I have a problem with someone, I go to their house. Let’s just resolve, even if we just get to the thing that we agree to disagree, great. Whatever it is, but you have resolution.

And I think the more you can do that in your life, the more you can resolve things, even if you're not necessarily right, it’s just, this is how you feel, “Hey you know what, Joe, I feel this way. This is how I feel about what you're doing, or what you’ve said, or what I did, or what I said.” Because then it’s off your plate, then you’ve done it, you’ve taken care of it. It doesn’t just grow into this oneness thing that ends up being a deterrent to your business, to your family, to your relationship, to all that stuff. So I think that’s work for me. That’s what I do, that’s what I use and don’t fix it if it’s not broken. I’m going to keep doing it.

Chris: You're going to be on that bandwagon. I love it.

Laird: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: Well, there’s got to be, I would say a big part of the innovation side, right, these values we were talking about. There’s got to be patience in innovation as well. What waiting period that you went through, right, to push the envelope on something in Laird Superfood.

Laird: Well, in Superfood, well, waiting on products to get developed. It’s an ongoing one right now. It’s an ongoing one to develop more retail, we're having to just... When something’s great and every time you're able to... I always tell people that drink coffee or just whatever you drink, I don’t care, chai, matcha, hot chocolate, whatever. Just give me a shot at it and I’ll own you, that’s how my confidence, that’s my belief. Because I know what people are drinking. I know what we make. I know that I can do it, right? And so you want the thing to happen. You're like, “OK, I just need the opportunity and it’s not happening as fast as I'd like it to.” It should be done already, but it’s not because it’s just the process, and the thing, and all the hurdles that come. And you got COVID, everything’s online. Then we're back on retail, but then everyone is on vacation and then we're in a recession. But it’s back to all those lessons that I’ve learned in all the other things that I’ve done…

Chris: To tame the excitement.

Laird: It’s all good.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: If today was the last day of my thing, I had a good run down here. So I'd like to last a little longer and I'd like to see a few more things, to do a few more things. So I think there’s some of that. I think there’s some of those lessons that they pay dividends. The waiting for the surf and being patient for the surf. Again, the teacher from the grand master for me is the ocean. The ocean has just taught me so many things that have been beneficial. It’s the wisdom of the creator through creation, or however you want to say it. But I’ve lived and died in the ocean many times, and so I’m able to use that in Superfood.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: I’m able to use that in Superfood. And again the old Korean man, bad time, good time. It’s all part of the deal and no expectation, no disappointment. At the end of the day, I think you have to realize that it’s going to be how it’s going to be. And we have a saying, it’s funny, because again, I’ll give you another little ocean parable or whatever. But the thing that I like is, I was involved in the innovation of standup paddling, right? So where you stand on the board and you use a paddle, right? And so I did that for six, seven, eight years before anybody else ever did it. And again, back to ideas, I go, “It’s a new application of an old idea that we never saw, but we know existed.” So something like that, whatever. We just give the disclaimer every time. But if somebody gets on the board and then you teach them how, and then a little wave or a little boat wave or something comes, and you see them and they start to move because this thing’s coming, but it hasn’t gotten there yet.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Laird: And then what happens when it gets there, because you are moving now, you're having to compensate for the move. So we're always like, “Don’t react to what hasn’t happened yet.”

Chris: Oh, wow.

Laird: “Don’t react to what hasn’t happened yet.” You're projecting a thing, but it hasn’t happened yet. So let’s wait until it actually happens, not that it could, or it might, or it will, or all these other things. Or it should, that’s never going to be good. Wait until the thing’s actually hitting you and then react to the-

Chris: To the reality of the situation, not the anticipation of it.

Laird: And you might actually do the right thing.

Chris: Oh, that’s great.

Laird: Yeah. Because if you're starting to adjust for something that hasn’t happened, then you're adjusting for something that you don’t even know all the circumstances, you don’t even know what it’s going to do and how it’s going to do it. Then you're having to do a double reaction. Then you're having to react to the actuality of what’s going on and the proposed, then you're going to fall off.

How building a physical practice can help mental performance

Chris: It’s like double and triple compensating. Something that you’ve really talked about is the mental preparedness, right, and being ready and being prepared. But another thing that I'd say is a key part of who you are and what you do is... Well actually, the lady that said you're bad if you're up here [Points to head], and getting that ready is a huge deal. But you also talked about people that you can tell they're not feeling good. So you’ve got the Superfood, and you’ve got the fitness and all of the things that are a key part. We’ve worked on the mind, but there’s a really big part of your story about working on your body and optimizing the human, right?

Laird: Mm-hmm.

Chris: So let’s just say, even in the workplace or building teams, right, what’s the first place that you start as it relates to why having a healthy body really matters to all these different aspects of your life?

Laird: Well, we're on a physical plane. We're in a vessel and the vessel is fueling the relationship between the heart and the brain, and the physical body, the body itself, those are as one. It used to be-

Chris: They're intensely connected.

Laird: We love to go, “Oh yeah, he’s a jock.” And, “Oh, he’s a smart guy. And he’s a dumb guy.” We have all these things that we do where we try to compartmentalize and separate, there’s no separation. There’s no separation. It’s all part of the thing. And I know from personal experience when I’m hurt or not feeling good, my thoughts aren’t pleasant, they're not great. And when I’m feeling good and I’m on point, my thoughts are pretty crispy, they're pretty good. So I just know that just from my own experience, what a difference that is. What a real, tangible difference that is. And I know when I don’t get to good night’s sleep and I don’t eat good food. And I know when I don’t move, I know how well my brain works. And I know when I do, how well it works and what it does.

And again, the connection. And you can get religious and you can look at the temple, the house of the spirit, you can just go to all as far down that road as you want. Or you can just go to the present like, “Hey, I ate something that didn’t make me feel good.” Or, “Hey, I’m sick. I got COVID.” Talk to me how your brain’s working right then. So I can go to the ethereal or I can go to the material, but at the end, you're just not being honest if you don’t realize the connection between those two, which means that you have to have practices. You have to have practices, right? You have to have fitness practices. You have to have nutrition practice. You have to prioritize.

I’m hoping with Superfood, because people feel because there’s a function to the product, that’s what we do in Superfood. There’s three things that needs a function because everything has a function, there’s no reason to not. And it has to taste good. It has to be pleasurable because people... I can eat mud every day, no problem. I can eat dirt. Like little dirt, not things they call dirt that taste good, but dirt.

Chris: Earthy things.

Laird: Yeah. I can eat whatever. I can eat some terrible stuff, right? If it’s in the idea that it’s good for me. I’ll have no problem doing that every day, very few people will. And then it’s got to be accessible, you got to be able to get it, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: So we look at it like that, that’s what we're using in Superfood to get it. But I know that when people do use it, and then they feel the effect it has, that that’s having an impact on them. Then they become more aware. Then they're like, “Huh, I tried this other stuff and I’m like eh. You know what, that made me feel bad because I, all of a sudden feel good.” Because you don’t know what bad feels like if you're just feeling numb. If you're numb, then you don’t feel it when it’s good or bad, and so you have no relationship. But if you all of a sudden feel a little bit like, “Wow, I feel a little... My clear thoughts. I got energy. I got this.” OK cool. Then you're like, “Oh, I didn’t really...” So then you start to build from that.

So again for me, I go, “That’s an opportunity,” right? That’s an opportunity to help people with experience, which I know quite well. Being an athlete helps. Being raised how I was raised, where we were raised with fishing, farming, eating off the land. Food was fuel, right, so we looked at food as fuel. It’s not just to make your tongue feel good and because it makes you feel good because you eat it, it’s not all about that. It’s about energy and what the difference is between eating oysters and donut, and how all that stuff correlates. And so, back to the body.

Chris: Yeah. Spirit, soul and body. It’s all connected.

Laird: Yeah. I think sometimes people don’t realize, not all, but a lot of the intelligent people throughout history were physical creatures. Jesus wasn’t a weakling, and Leonardo DaVinci wasn’t... Leonardo cut stone with a chisel and a hammer all day long, so I think sometimes we like to separate that. And part of it takes the responsibility of actually having to nurture the system. Because we can use a disclaimer like, “Oh yeah, highly intelligent, but not physical. And highly physical, not intelligent.” And if you're physical and intelligent, that’s unusual, but congratulations kind of thing. No, I think we all have a responsibility and we all have a right to feel good, we should all feel good. We should all—

Chris: And it’s in your control. You're responsible for your condition, right? And if you take responsibility for it, it’s a big deal.

Laird: It is. Yeah. You also have to take responsibility for it, which means it’s a big deal. Yeah.

Building a work culture that prioritizes wellness practice

Chris: Oh, the paradox. Well, talk about your team a little bit at Superfood. What are some of the unique things you do to build the culture around health, and wellness, and this holistic spirit, soul and body wellness? What are some of the things that you guys do?

Laird: Well from the beginning with my friend that was the original entrepreneur, my friend Paul Hodge, who him and I started it together. And it’s an interesting dynamic because the people that are really good at building the businesses from scratch won’t be the ones that run them once they get up because you get to specialize.

Chris: It won’t be founder-led, yeah.

Laird: Well, and founders have a different mentality because you're going to have, “What hat today? What hat today?” You're going to be able to do nine, 10 different jobs. And then eventually, you're going to get to a thing where you need a specialized guy that just ships and a specialized guy that just does R&D, and you're going to need all this specialization.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: But our whole, there was always around physical practice, right? It was always around sauna, ice, breathwork, which has some meditation aspect and then fitness, wellness. Your philosophy of sleep, and eat and family. But there was some physical, like I said, we built some stuff around that. And then now Jason, and the new CEO, and these guys are all endurance runner, a hundred miler. And so you also attract the things that you are too, right? I used to talk to Gabby about the honey line, I call it the honey line. It’s like you find a wasp, and you follow a wasp and it runs into another wasp. And then pretty soon, you're at the wasp’s nest and there’s all the wasps. You find a bee, and you find another bee and then pretty soon, you're at the hive and there’s all the honey there.

Chris: Oh yeah.

Laird: And so in a way, I think you attract that stuff. The products we make, the philosophies we have have attracted a certain type of people.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: And it’s not easy because as you grow and you get more people, not everybody is going to be Jack Elaine. Not everybody’s going to be like a fitness nut... but there’s similar values to it that you'd hope would repel and attract, right? Repels people that aren’t, and then you're going to go through that process. You're going to have people that are there that eventually won’t be, or that are undermining the thing.

And I know from XPT, which XPT Life is our fitness thing. We know that you build bonds through stress. So we know that you build bonds through stress. And that’s why military guys with their guys, when they go through some heavy stuff, they just have a bond for life. I know it in the big waves, we build bonds for life. I know it through the practices, our fitness stuff that we build bonds through stress. It’s a human condition that when you go through things that are stressful, you bond with each other. And so if you can implement self-induced stress, you can build bonds through that, we see that. And whether it’s tight times in the business, or tough situations with family, or emotional stuff through death or whatever, you're going to build some bonds. It’s just who you want to build them with and what are you building them for?

Chris: That’s so true and so good. You're talking about building bonds and having stress be a part of that, and you're talking about doing that with an intention. What’s something that you guys have done as a company that you're like, “Let’s go build some bonds!”

Laird: We’ve done heat and ice in that practice, and I’ve done a bunch of breathwork stuff.

Chris: With the teams?

Laird: Yeah.

Chris: That’s awesome.

Laird: Yeah. Yeah. Take everybody and do breathwork. Breathwork is profound when you're disciplined with it. When you really go into it, you go far. And so we’ve done some heat and ice, and some other environmental stuff with the top executive guys just because it’s hard to take a hundred people into a frozen lake or whatever.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah.

Laird: But breathwork is probably the most obvious one that we’ve done multiple times. We’ve done that multiple times. And so we will take everybody through some breathwork because we have some breathwork apps that we do with XPT so that you can get a tool later that you can continue to practice.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Laird: So again, just trying to build the habits, right? Build those habits. Listen, the product itself is a habit.

Chris: Yeah. That’s true.

Laird: Laird Superfood is a habit that if you're doing that, you're already... It’s not stress like the breathwork can be stressful. But the creamers and the Laird Superfood is not stressed, but you're still helping connect because the product is a connected product. It makes you feel better. People, they communicate about their experiences. “Oh, I love this. I love that.” Or, “This is doing this.” Or, “Does that do that to you? Did you get this from that?” So I would say they have that in common, right? We have that in common.

Why prioritizing self-care can keep entrepreneurs going for the long haul

Chris: Yeah, that’s good. How important is sleep to you?

Laird: My wife calls me the sleep Nazi, like the sleep general. I’m bad. I’ll give you an example. We’ll have a dinner, people are over for dinner. Then we’re after dinner, we’re having a nice conversation. I look, I realize it’s 9:30 already. I’m like, “Oh, here we go.” So then I’ll just be like, “OK, goodnight.” And then everybody thinks that it’s time to leave. I’m like, “I’m going upstairs. I’m going up.” I don’t even say goodnight, I say, “I’m going up,” and I’ll just disappear, go up. Yeah, I need sleep. Sleep is just too valuable, too important. I think we just don’t…

Chris: You think we underestimate it?

Laird: Yeah. We don’t respect it. We don’t respect it. There’s a reason why a third of your life or more that you're in that state. And I think we put some badge on or on like, “Yeah, I don’t sleep,” blah, blah, blah. I’ve done stuff where I haven’t slept. I’ve done endurance things where I go for days in a row and yeah, I can do that — but it’s hard on the system and don’t live that way. And I want to be moving early anyway. I like to watch the sun come up. I want to see the sunrise and look at it. I’ll solar gaze in the morning whenever I have the opportunity. So I want to see the sun crack the horizon if I can, if I’m in the position.

And again, back to it just feels too good. I feel optimum. There’s a guy, Paul Chek, who’s a friend of mine, who’s a crazy nutrition, health wellness — a master of all this different stuff. We always just talk about the importance of that practice, right, of how beneficial... Yeah. I don’t know how people can get away with it? It just shows you how durable we are. We can eat garbage, and don’t sleep and live for a hundred years. But are you optimum? Are you living your optimum self? And how productive would you be? Right? How productive would you be? I remember at one point I was with Elon, and I overheard or I saw something, he was talking about his sleep and his thing, and diet and health and wellness. And I told him, I go, “Listen, I appreciate how intelligent you are and all the things you're doing, but how optimum would you be if you had an optimum practice?”

Chris: How did he take that one?

Laird: I don’t know if it even registered.

Chris: Who knows? He’s way on another level.

Laird: But he could be. Absolutely.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: I don’t know. Sometimes I think people are... Well, also too, we're all reluctant to change a pattern that has been working. The whole “4-Hour Workday” book, it just shows you it’s like, what’s the-

Chris: “4-Hour Workweek.” I love that book.

Laird: Yeah. Exactly. But I’m just saying part of the productiveness of things — it’s like sometimes people think you have to burn it all day long. And if people are having trouble with sleep, I always question how tired they are, like physically tired. Because part of it is, you have to be physically tired. And I don’t mean “tired” because you can be tired and not sleep easily. But if you're physically exhausted, very few people physically exhausted don’t go timber, we're just not getting tired enough. That’s the problem. People go, “I have a sleep problem.” I go, “Get more tired. Do whatever you have to do to get...” And that could mean that you might have to carry a bag of cement across the yard 30 times or whatever. There’s ways, but just physically exhaust yourself. See, and I think we're so out of our biology that we're not physically exhausting. We can be mentally exhausted but the body is not tired enough to go “off.”

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: Because the body has got to go “off” too, right?

Chris: Well, the thing about a lot of what you're saying is that you have, I'd say there has to be some level of time awareness, right, and I think that that’s one of the things is people not creating space, not creating the time. And it’s something that you seem to do is like if you're in pursuit of the optimum — you have to optimize your time, right, because you got to make time to get tired, right? You got to make time to get enough sleep. You got to do some of these things. And why do you think people struggle so bad with time?

Laird: Well, because we invented it.

Chris: That’s why we struggle.

Laird: I think that’s a big piece of it. I think that if we were living off of light and actually going the distance. Because we're still our biology, we're still our biology. No matter if we have tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, we created this crazy system where we're like... So we invented something and then we're wondering why it’s having the effect that it’s having on us.

Chris: Yeah. And why we don’t have enough, even though we all have the same amount.

Laird: Yeah, exactly.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: Exactly. And again, I think it’s a prioritization of things, what’s important. I think we don’t put enough value in our food, first of all. We don’t prioritize, we don’t put enough prioritization in... Gabby said something once that I always appreciated, which is: somebody was asking her about working out and she goes, “Well, working out is not optional. It’s not optional. Is brushing your teeth optional? Well then you probably...”

Chris: There will be consequences.

Laird: Yeah. You’ll have decay. So I think when you put things it’s not optional. Like me, not sleeping is not optional. Me not eating good is not optional. Me not doing the physical appearance is not optional. These aren’t optional. And I can say I’m blessed to be able to have the opportunity, but do I have the opportunity because I’ve prioritized it and made it important? Hard to have something that you didn’t prioritize be a priority. You got to be like, “Hey, this is important. I’m going to get this sleep. I’m going to eat this food. I’m going to physically do this. And sometimes I can’t, it’s the way it is and I pay for that.” But yeah. I think just our lack of appreciation for needing good nutrition. For sleep, we just look at sleep like it’s an inconvenience. Like, “I got to sleep.” That’s our attitude. “Oh, I got to go to sleep. I got to.” No, no, you want to. I want to. I’m going, “OK, here we go.”

Chris: I’ll go recharge.

Laird: Yeah. Beautiful. Plug it in. It’s like as soon as the battery is low in your phone, you're shoving it in the wall because it’s going to go dead if you don’t.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: So yeah, I think the prioritization of what’s important and then where you put that in your... We make so many things important that have really no true value to us. We put a lot of things up that really don’t have value.

Rapid fire questions to close the episode

Chris: Yeah. That’s powerful. We’ve come full circle about the situational awareness, and instincts and all those kinds of things. And it’s like you have a deep well, right, and it was super awesome to hear all of the way you look at life, the way you connect to people, the way you connect to nature. And the way that that shapes how you conduct yourself in business has been huge, it’s been huge. But I do have some rapid fire questions for you.

Laird: Well, let’s see how fast I can go.

Chris: Take a sip. Here we go.

Laird: This is water though, by the way, it’s not going to help me.

Chris: It’s not going to help, but it doesn’t have the coffee in it. So this is this one I thought was really great. But who’s your favorite eighties movie bad boy? Is it Johnny Lawrence from “Karate Kid”? Brian, I think it’s Shute from “Vision Quest’? Bart Taylor from “Rad,” or Lance Burkhart, “North Shore”?

Laird: Lance, all the way. Come on, come on, come on, come on. That wasn’t a script, that’s typecasting.

Chris: That’s typecasting.

Laird: Typecasting. Yeah.

Chris: All right. All right. All right. So as a kid, the cool thing to do at our school was put Mr. Zog’s Coconut Sexwax under our lip. Are there any health benefits to this?

Laird: Let me just say this. There may be, but we don’t know what they are yet.

Chris: Still trying to figure that out.

Laird: That’s right.

Chris: Still evaluating.

Laird: Wax brain.

Chris: That’s good. All right. What’s the one surfer stigma that you could do without?

Laird: “Hey dude.” You know, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: That we're not professional, we're not athletes.

Chris: OK.

Laird: That’s changed, but I think that’s something that we're dealing with. Well, it’s hard to take us serious. We're at the beach and there’s a bunch of girls in bikinis and we're in the coconut trees. How serious can it be? There’s no…

Chris: How serious?

Laird: Yeah.

Chris: So do you prefer bra? Is that what you prefer? Bro?

Laird: Yeah. “Dude. Hey dude.” Bra. No. I had a friend, it was interesting, that just always thought surfing was just, I won’t use the word, but he was just saying he just thought surfing was a sissy game or something, I don’t know what. And he said after he got pounded, he realized that it was a different animal. That there was a whole different thing. Because the image of what surfing is and actually the reality of what it takes to actually do it. And then of course, it’s exaggerated when you have Titanic-type conditions.

Chris: I was sitting here going like, if you get tackled by one of those big puppies, you're definitely—

Laird: Well, there’s no air under there. And there’s no stretcher and guys carrying you off after.

Chris: No.

Laird: No refs. No refs there.

Chris: Survival is required.

Laird: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah, that’s good.

Laird: Location.

Chris: All right. So I’m assuming that because you're a surfer, you naturally like fish tacos.

Laird: I like regular tacos, but you can give me a fish taco.

Chris: What’s your favorite place to get tacos in Hawaii?

Laird: At my house.

Chris: OK.

Laird: Oh yeah, at my house. Come on, hard to beat my house. They make them with love there.

Chris: Oh, look at that. That’s a great answer. That’s a great answer. All right, not many people can say this one. Is it true that you once saved your best friend’s life while in the nude?

Laird: Yes, that’s true.

Chris: OK.

Laird: I had to use my wetsuit to tourniquet his leg, and that made me not have clothes on. Yeah. Yeah. And then I flew up in front of a bunch of people, like crash landed on a beach with him on the back. Yeah.

Chris: Oh my gosh.

Laird: I immediately said that the water was really cold, but...

Chris: [Laughs] No excuses.

Laird: No one believed me.

Chris: No excuses. It’s a great answer. So when I go to Hawaii, the Hawaiians always calling me “Haole.” I’m assuming that’s Hawaiian for “friend,” right?

Laird: Yeah. No, no. “Brother.”

Chris: Yeah, exactly.

Laird: That’s my second name.

Chris: Yeah. I’m sure it is.

Laird: Laird “Haole” Hamilton.

Chris: Yeah. When you were talking earlier…

Laird: Actually, it might have been my first name.

Chris: You're like, “I actually live here though.”

Laird: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: Oh, that’s good.

Laird: Didn’t matter.

Chris: All right. So Joe Rogan likes to tell a story about how you enjoy riding an airdyne in a sauna that’s so hot that you have to wear oven mitts…

Laird: Yes sir.

Chris: … to keep that handle bars from burning your skin. Is this true? And if so, do you recommend we try this at home?

Laird: Well, first of all, you can’t make that stuff up. So that'd be affirmed. And I would definitely not recommend it, by the way.

Chris: OK.

Laird: But I will tell you a story. I got my friend to do it. And we had an amount of time that he had to do it and he had to get out twice. And then after he was finally done, he was laying outside on the ground when he was finished. And I told him, I said, “Well you know, James, the good news is you're finished.” I go, “But the bad news is, we're not sure if it does anything or not for you.”

Chris: We think it does.

Laird: We don’t know if it does anything, but we just know it’s hard, and that has a benefit, so.

Chris: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, the mental toughness for something we don’t know what it does for our bodies.

Laird: That’s right. That’s right.

Chris: That’s super good. Well, what’s next for Laird Hamilton?

Laird: Just eyes on the horizon. We have a lot of work stuff going on. So we have just my apparel, Superfood has a bunch of new products and some other crazy stuff with that. I got the XPT Life. And then family is ongoing, but we’ve got a season coming up, so we're keeping an eye on the ocean. There’s a lot of balls in the air, so the next step for me is the continuation of the juggling act of life. So let’s just go with that.

Chris: Always next. That’s always next.

Laird: Keeping the balls in the air.

Chris: Yeah. Well, last question we like to ask everybody is, what entrepreneur inspires you most or has inspired you most?

Laird: Which entrepreneur?

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: Who would I be most inspired by? Can they be big?

Chris: No, I’m just kidding. Sure.

Laird: No, I’m just... Well, Elon is pretty tough.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: He’s hard because of the diversity.

Chris: It’s amazing what he’s done.

Laird: Yeah. Yeah. His diversity is pretty hard to…. And I think it'd be less about success, it’s just the diversity with the creativity.

Chris: Yeah.

Laird: The creativity… it’s not fair. He gets things to fly, and drive and stuff. Come on, that’s not good. How do you compete with that? You get to shoot him in the air, and you get to drive over him and he’s got vacuum trains. This is not fair.

Chris: And he’s still alive. This isn’t talking about somebody who lived, this is somebody that’s still alive doing these things. It’s amazing. It’s amazing.

Laird: Yeah, exactly. And unfortunately, we don’t know about all the past ones, but...

Chris: Mm-hmm, Mm-hmm. Well, I have to say it was a serious privilege to sit and talk to you, especially talk to you for this long. I feel super honored. Thank you so much for coming to the studio and wish you the best.

Laird: Aloha.

Chris: Aloha.

Laird: Yeah, thank you.

Chris: All right, absolutely. Take care.


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