Examine the rise, fall and rise of Hypto Krypto inventor Hayden Cox…
Books can change lives? Yeah, you know they can.
All of us have a book that hit us at the right time, when our heads were in the right space, and it irrevocably changed our position in the world. I was a miserable sonofbitch as a kid and worse as a teenger: morose, friendless, one misstep away from blowing high-court judges in Kings Cross alleyways.
Before it got that defiantly sexual, I found the 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People in a library and, overnight, my life got a whole lot better. The chapter Six Ways To Make People Like You might state the obvious (be interested in people, smile, be a good listener etc) but it… works. Same thing with Neil Strauss’ The Game. Pick-up artistry is the ghastliest, but the ability to meet the woman of your dreams isn’t.
A few nights ago in Bondi, the noted Australian shaper Hayden Cox launched his book New Wave Vision, a memoir-self-help tome. Cox, who is thirty-four years old, divides his time between homes in Venice Beach, California, and Palm Beach in Sydney. Although figures are a little blurry on such things, it’s likely his surfboard model, the Hypto-Krypto, is the biggest-selling surfboard model in the world.
New Wave Vision, therefore, is a wonderful story of a driven kid who shucks the expectations of his family (accountancy!) to learn to shape, build a surfboard company, create a unique method of surfboard construction and, eventually, be feted by icons as diverse as Audi and Alexander Wang. A tough biz-man, sure, and…oowee… a little sensitive to the inconsequential yapping of critics, but his advice, his thoughts, are compelling enough to fill a few hundred pages.
On schools: In the most crucial years of learning, the test system doesn’t exactly encourage outside-the-box thing, which is what leads to innovation. Some of the world’s best-known stories are school dropouts, who went on to create products and businesses that have changed the world. (Sure, there are also the dropouts who really should have stayed in school…) When you see the big success stories, however, it’s hard to deduce that traditional education systems are flawed.
Tough times: When I started my factory I had no boards, no money, nowhere to go, and I’d fallen out with my friend and only employee. I asked my mum for a loan, but she said, ‘No way and I lending you money for a business that you’re already starting in debt.’
Rounding out the book are short chapters from Tony Hawk, the co-founder of Google Maps Noel Gordon, designer Karen Walker, Oakley founder and RED creator Jim Jannard, Vissla’s Paul Naude and the founder of Aesop Dennis Paphitis. These are a little light, but you’ll like Jannard’s manic story which ends with the carrot, “Oh and one more thing. The biggest project of my life is coming in 2017. And it is for everyone…” A phone, maybe?
Cox is an easy target. Handsome kid and gorgeous wife annex a hunk of the surfboard market with a a high-fashion approach to marketing and a model that appeals to everyone, even beginners. What’s not to hate?
New Wave Vision isn’t How to Win Friends nor is it The Game. And I doubt if Cox would claim it so. As a window into a young shaper’s rise, fall and rise, of the challenges of the surfboard game, of defiance in the face of unsupportive parents, of making your way in the world on your own terms, it works.