On November 20th, 2019, the pioneer of the snowboarding, Jake Carpenter, passed away. As a true innovator Jake established Burton Snowboards which now holds half of the industry's $400M market share. Over the decades, Burton’s sponsorship has fostered young athletes who grew up to represent the sport on the world stage; three time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White and a strong roster of women including Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark.
Skiing was a purely utilitarian device beginning in the 1800s. Leisure skiing caught on in the early 20th century in the mountains of New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire but didn't gain real interest until the 1920s and 1930s. A new generation of disrupters would have to wait until the 1960s before consumers could connect with a single plank board that gave access to the surfer culture in cold weather climates.
Snowboarding was met with much rejection as ski resorts continued to deny the sport. The “knuckle dragging” community had to endure years of rejection in order to disrupt the skiing legacy. Like everything, change is constant and is most always met with ignorance. However, if history has taught us anything it's that nothing in the world worth doing comes easy!
Similar to the snowboarding industry media is dealing with its own reinvention. The agencies aren't as powerful as what they once were. You have more nimble and innovative partners that are allowing brands to be more creative as they fulfill their passion for consumer connection. As with the ski resorts, agencies are being forced to address the on-demand market need or get pushed out altogether due to unsustainable financial models.
Snowboarding, like any true passion, allows people to connect with something larger than themselves. It quiets the mind allowing, if only for a moment, center and peace. The gift that Jake left us will live on in a way that transcends the sport. It's this mind-space that we should all apply to our daily lives. As you find your own flow, remember to take risks, be bold and stand sideways!
We must reinvent ourselves and our brands regularly to stay competitive. In a world of clutter, disruption is a requirement and creativity breeds innovation. As we reinvent our personal or professional brands remember to “alter your stance and look at the world a little sideways” (Donna Carpenter).