Try Everything and Fear Nothing
A glimpse back to Epicurrence, surfing, and facing my biggest challenges.
I’m a scaredy cat. If I did not feel like my motor skills are analogous in sharpness, speed, and firmness to a bowl of oatmeal, I would be much more inclined to be adventurous and risk-taking.
Queue scenes from our surfing lesson. The North Shore of Oahu. Water. Surfboards. OMG.
As legendary surfer, Pancho Sullivan, pushed me into a wave, I was beyond terrified. I boosted myself up on the board, like how we practiced on shore, and somehow I landed on both feet. I heard Pancho behind me rooting me on and yelling out how good of a job I did as I barreled into the water. When I came up for air, I felt like Rocky Balboa when he reached the top of the steps. I was ecstatic. I continued to try again and again and when my arms started to give out on me, I could feel the addiction settling in. I wasn’t necessarily addicted to surfing but to the thrill and satisfaction of doing something I never thought I could do.
That experience became my personal underlying theme at Epicurrence: be fearless.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.”
It feels like an eternity since everyone packed up their things and, probably quite hesitantly, departed their Epicurrence houses.
The closer that we got to the end, the shorter the days started to feel. I found myself wishing that there was one more day because as time went on, I was starting to get to know new friends.
On the last night, some of us gathered around the kitchen counter chatting about a range of things: what drives us as human beings to ingredients that make up our favorite burger. The conversation went on for hours until 3AM crept up on us and, with heavy eyelids, we admittedly knew we were lingering because we didn’t want it to end.
As Anthony and I bid farewell to the North Shore and all of its benevolence, we spent our entire drive back to Honolulu reminiscing about the week we had — the surfing lessons, eating poké bowls and musubi, swimming under waterfalls, mingling with brilliant minds, devouring delicious dinners, açaí bowls, and riding in a helicopter with no doors — that contributed to how inspired we both felt.
Suffice to say, everything that I experienced at Epicurrence was meaningful and the conversations I had the pleasure of being a part of were thought-provoking and full of substance. On top of our own personal conversations with each other, we also heard from people like Thomas Campbell, an artist and filmmaker, who shared his fascination with gourds, Jamie O’Brien, a professional surfer, who told funny behind-the-scene stories from shooting his Red Bull TV show, and Mark Healey, a water sportsman and professional surfer, who talked about holding his breath under water for 5 minutes and swimming with sharks.
The final round-table chat on the last night was with Daniel Burka and Dan Mall, two ridiculously intelligent guys with an infinite amount of wisdom to share. They turned the talk into a forum, asking specific questions directed at individuals and opening it up to others to discuss their insights and opinions. It was raw and honest and felt like it epitomized everything that Epicurrence was supposed to be. What an amazing note to end on.
Thank you Dann Petty for allowing all of us to share your passions with you and for creating something that’s bigger than us all.
“What’s your biggest challenge?”
As I was quietly celebrating all of my new friends, getting reinvigorated to get back into the saddle at work, and reeling with excitement about all the new memories that were made in the vast, beautiful landscape that is Hawaii, I also left with my head spinning.
During that open conversation on the last night, I was called on by Dan Mall in which I was asked to share my biggest struggles as a co-founder of a company, with my husband as my business partner, while also juggling to be a designer. As the question sank its teeth into me, I uttered the first thing that came to mind.
My biggest struggle is trying to find a balance between propelling Funsize forward while not losing sight of why I decided to join Anthony in the first place: design cool shit.
I was immediately was convinced that the answer I gave was my “oh-my-gosh-everyone-is-staring-at-me-let-me-just-say-something” answer. It wasn’t far off but it really inspired me to dig a little deeper. Because of Epicurrence, on top of everything else that I took away from the experience, I was also inspired to write. So here’s a deeper dive into the answer to that question:
1. Living up to a perception
I feel like there’s this silent perception of someone that runs a business. They’re experienced, decisive, confident, good public speakers. They‘re fearless, tough, persistent. While I try to embody these things, not only as a business owner but as a person, there are times where I feel completely inadequate.
When I’m meeting new people, I attempt to portray this confident, go-getting partner of Funsize but a lot of the time, if I’m in situations where I’m not 100% comfortable, I get this crippling urge to want to crawl into a hole and not say anything for a week.
As time goes on, I get to meet people who are similar to me that have been at the helm of successful businesses which is extremely encouraging. Thanks to networks like OwnerCamp, which has given me people to look up to.
2. Being a good leader
The best things that I’ve learned as a designer have come from previous peers and bosses that have mentored me and helped me think differently. I desperately want to give back that knowledge as others have done for me (whether it was conscious or not).
The easiest way I hear is to lead by example.
“Be the kind of leader that you would follow.”
The problem is that I, too, often struggle through the same faults as everyone else: not presenting well in meetings, not speaking to the bigger picture, not communicating high-level thinking, and the list goes on.
How can I lead my example if I don’t I even know what I’m doing?
What if I’m a crappy leader?
Am I doing this right? Crap.
Why do I even own a company? What is going on?!
Oh my gosh, there are people counting on me. What if we mess up?
These are some examples of the questions that, in Rolodex™-esque fashion, flip through my head at night.
It’s really inspiring to see other people opening up about their experiences so people like myself can keep learning as we try to teach others. The road ahead of me feels vast and never-ending, but I’m excited to hike up my boots and keep going.
3. Losing touch with design
When Anthony asked me to start Funsize with him, my one ultimatum was to never be asked to be in a role where I’m not designing. I can’t fathom the idea of starting a company because of a passion and then eventually being forced into decisions that take you away from why you started doing it in the first place. It’s a bit naive and selfish in a way, but I have to take a stand for what I love doing. Without the passion, it would be hard for me to find a purpose.
I’ve heard so many [horror] stories about people, from close friends to acquaintances, that eventually fell into a job they absolutely hated and, over time, became too far removed to do anything about it. That sounds absolutely terrifying.
The good thing is that the foundation of Funsize is built around people and friendships. It goes without saying that even if I did someday fall out of design, no one around me would let me because we all genuinely care for each other’s wellbeing and what’s best for all of us as a collective.
That leads to the last thing.
4. Making it count
We say this over and over again and each time feels as honest as the first: we want Funsize to be the company that we always dreamed of working at.
This doesn’t mean that we want to go out and only work with the most impressive client names we can find. A portfolio can easily be plagiarized, design trends can be replicated, but people and culture can’t be. At our core, we treat everyone right and work with amazing people we can call family (#fnszfmly). We didn’t intentionally want to do things differently for the sake of being different; it’s a side effect from all of the things we’re trying to accomplish together.
“Always remember to ask yourself if what you are doing today will help you get closer to where you want to be tomorrow.”
With all of that said, it would ignorant for me to believe that what we’ve created will last forever so what can we do today to make tomorrow count?
I’m constantly struggling with trying to find a balance between keeping sight of today while planning for the years to come. Sometimes I have to wonder if striking that balance is even possible.
The only answer I have, for now, is to continue to do things the way that we’ve always done things: from the gut and for the people.
Whether you’re creating a life-changing conference, running a freelance business or design studio, or attempting something you’ve never done before, you won’t know the success if you don’t take the risk.
Years from now, I might sit here and chuckle at my own ignorance. Until then, it’s up to me to continue to try and figure it out, learning, growing, and not fearing. At the end of the road, regardless of whether or not it was a safe or treacherous one, at least I know that I tried.
Catch you on waves.
Just kidding. I still can’t swim.