I started my career 15 years ago at the world’s biggest snowboarding company, Burton Snowboards. If you’ve been here for a bit, you might know that – but this is a new story!
Fresh out of college, before moving on to manage their social, I spent a couple of years working directly for the late Jake Burton Carpenter. He was the founder and CEO at the time.
I did a lot of administrative and personal stuff for him, but my main purpose was to support him with product development. 40 years in, he was still testing every single piece in the line a year before it hit the market.
There were hundreds: snowboards, boots, jackets, snow pants, layering, socks, mittens, hats, helmets, and goggles. I made sure the right gear was in the right place at the right time, that he had the proper details for what he was testing, and that his feedback made its way to the product teams.
I was working with him when he battled testicular cancer for the first time. That year, he refused to cancel the annual “fit test,” and I helped him in and out of dozens of garments. I had a line of sight into his habits and behaviors in both sickness and health that taught me immeasurable amounts about what it takes to do great things.
Jake wanted surfers and skateboarders to have a stake in winter, and he pushed the sport from nothing into what it is today. This was an uphill battle that took the better part of a decade to pick up momentum and gain support in the face of elitism that worked to hoard natural resources for skiers and ban snowboarders from mountains.
Eventually, he made a lot of money, but that was never most important.
Follow your heart, love your family, and have as much fun as possible — these things mattered to him more than anything. At the intersection of those three values was his greatest love: snowboarders. What’s best for the rider? He was relentless with this question for more than 40 years.
I gathered hundreds of index cards littered with questions, thoughts, and new designs that he’d jot down and leave in his car, office, or kitchen. I’d shuffle them to their designated destination — a product engineer or category manager. The “result” his brand promised was fun, and not a day went by when he wasn’t thinking about how he could help his customers have more of it.
Fast forward 15 years, and I’m spending this winter in the Alps – a life project I crafted to help me have more fun and ultimately, tend to my mental health as I continue to drive this business forward in its sixth year.
This morning, I was riding at Verbier in Switzerland, 3,711 miles from Stowe, Vermont where he lived. Verbier has 92 lifts with dozens to hundreds of chairs on each. On two consecutive lift rides, I found stickers with his name on them that were printed when he died to celebrate his life and legacy.
This man taught me most of what I know about the critical balance of building a business, being true to yourself in the process, and never losing sight of your values. He taught me that having fun and being real are secret ingredients for sustainable success – the kind that reaches across the globe to impact lives for the better.
Jake could never fake it. He had a hard time relating to other “businessmen.” He asked me once or twice before formal events if he looked “too much like a suit.”
This morning, I thought about how he’d like the way I challenge our industry’s status quo and the systems that benefit Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies much more than those of us they claim to serve. And then I smiled, realizing how much Jake has influenced how we do what we do.
Whether you’re a snow sports person or not, if you’re here, you’re learning how to grow your brand with social media marketing from someone who cares about more than helping you make money. I want to help you reach your wildest financial goals while preserving your humanity, protecting your peace, and having fun while we’re at it.
The quantity-over-quality approach pedaled by our industry does nothing but make Zuck more money, add to the noise, and contribute to addiction culture.
We’re not here to fall in line or follow the leader – we do things our own way. Not for the sake of being stubborn, but because we know there’s a different path forward that’s much better for you and your customers.
We’ve helped thousands of brands across dozens of industries redefine their relationship with marketing to be smarter, sharper, and much more fun, and we’re just getting started.
You can come with, if you want!