What can you tell us about your book and why you decided to write RIDE THE WAVE?
RIDE THE WAVE is a business book that highlights the new challenges we are all experiencing because of technology and information-sharing platforms. There is a new power dynamic between companies and customers in which buyers no longer need organizations to help them make a purchase decision.
This change is happening so fast within markets that organizations are having a hard time keeping up and professionals are having to rethink how they approach selling and marketing as well as what skills will be needed to solve these new challenges.
I wrote RIDE THE WAVE because I had experienced these same challenges first-hand and I had to go through the process of reevaluating where I was at in my professional career and had to identify the kinds of sales and marketing skills that I would need now and in the future.
From this journey, I developed a process that helped me embrace the change I was experiencing, it provided me with a way to rethink how I would develop these new skills and it forced me to take on or explore greater professional risk than I ever had before.
I shared this process with other organizations and business leaders who were experiencing the same set of challenges and I used what we learned to create the Ride the Wave Process that I present in this book.
Why did you use surfing or surfers as the model for overcoming these challenges?
Just prior to writing this book, I had two experiences that served as the genesis for RIDE THE WAVE. The first was a failed product launch while working for an organization where our customers were making purchase decisions independent of our sales and marketing efforts and we really struggled to get traction with that product.
Around that same time, I tried ocean surfing for the first time. My attempt at surfing in the ocean proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated and I failed in spectacular fashion! I had prepared for weeks to try and surf, but experienced a set of challenges that I did not expect and was not at all prepared for.
In both situations, I realized that the conditions were more challenging than I had anticipated, that I had did not have skills needed for either and that there was a tremendous amount of risk that I had not fully thought about until it was too late.
I took what I learned from my experiences ocean surfing and applied them to the challenges I was experiencing professionally within business. What I learned was that
surfers had a set of principles that they used to ride waves and there was a lot business professionals could learn from their approach.
Based on what I learned, I created three principles that can help organizations to embrace the conditions (quickly evaluate changing markets), adopt a progression-based mindset (continually build new skills) and use risk as a compass (willingly explore risk-driven strategies) to thrive in the new conditions.
Who is RIDE THE WAVE for?
RIDE THE WAVE is for business leaders, organizational teams and anyone looking for a process to overcome a new personal or professional challenge. Everyone can relate to the experiences I describe in the book. I wanted to make it personable and relatable, but I also wanted a good balance between using my own experiences and providing some tactical or actionable sales and marketing strategies that the reader could use.
I highlight examples of how successful organizations have overcome market challenges and used the principles to better understand and manage the changes that are happening in their markets. There are examples of how business leaders identified new sales and marketing capabilities needed within their organizations and then used the process to lower the risk involved with making those kinds of changes within their organizations.
Business leaders can also use the book to evaluate their current strategies and to identify new opportunities in their respective markets. Sales and marketing managers can use the process to evaluate their current individual skills and capabilities. And the book can help anyone that needs the motivation or inspiration to take on a new personal challenge that involves change and a healthy amount of risk.
RIDE THE WAVE is meant to inspire readers to embrace the changes we are all experiencing and my hope is that the process gives readers the roadmap to explore these challenges in a new way. The surfer profiles and principles bring new life to the challenging business situations we are all facing and the process gives us a way to explore them together.
Wessinger’s volume intriguingly combines a memoir and a professional manifesto. He spends a good deal of the book’s early pages recounting his own experiences feeling dead-ended in the business universe and learning about the world of surfing off the coast of Malibu, California. With spirit and easy readability, the work details his formative experiences in sales and marketing and the rigors he endured (“I have firsthand experience with everything written in this book and have the mental and physical scars to prove it”). He alternates those stories with his account of overcoming his doubts and fears in order to learn surfing’s intricacies, which were at first intimidating and required new ways of problem-solving. The inspiration here is to marry the two worlds—to import into the realm of sales and marketing some of the basic tenets of surfing. “Surfers know how to leverage progression on wave after wave, and they can quickly move through a series of tricks and challenges to improve their surfing,” he explains. “The surfers that have mastered the process of building skills through progression will not stop and bask in their accomplishments.” In this view, companies that rely blindly on old patterns rather than continuously shifting their approaches to fit new situations are just asking to be swamped by the next big wave. Rather, the author maintains, companies should use risk, harnessing it to prod their thinking in new and necessary directions.
Wessinger’s writing is clear and inviting, enlivened both by his frank honesty about himself and his hard-won understanding of business dealings. One core concept of his unconventional book is the idea of progression: the atmosphere of constant change that is the new normal of the business world. Some of his comments about this concept are basic enough almost to be truisms —the fact that successful companies survive by being responsive to their customers isn’t exactly a new discovery—but the author’s insights into the modern-day dynamics of that relationship are unfailingly captivating. “As customers become savvier about how they find information and make decisions about products or services,” he writes, “organizations will need to change to meet the customers’ new level of expertise.” That new reality in which customers are no longer dependent on sales or marketing to inform them about products and services—that they can make assessments on their own—is neatly presented to mirror the case-by-case unpredictability of each wave a surfer rides. Wessinger’s blending of these two seemingly disparate worlds, a gimmick that could easily come across as strained and artificial, here feels smooth and valid, mainly because of the author’s plainspoken conviction.
This rare and engaging business manual should appeal equally to the manager’s inner surfer and the surfer’s inner manager.
Pub Date: June 1st, 2017
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Wise Creative Publishing Inc.
Original Review: Kirkus Review of RIDE THE WAVE
Review Posted Online: Jan. 2nd, 2018
“The concept of the book is to demonstrate that surfing and business are actually very much related. It is meant to be driven by two experiences of which the author has encountered. He has two bad instances. One, when he decides to surf for the first time and second when he begins to start a business. Soon after he realizes that the two challenges are not so different, and by comparing the similarities and differences, he begins to strategize on addressing the problems and inevitably create a book that teaches you how to succeed in both.
I found the literature to be very easy to read and to understand. The book is planned and organized in specific sections addressing each issue, and I found the entire read to be very enjoyable. I believe anyone seeking a novel way of approaching problematic business and personal obstacles will benefit from this book.” – S. J. Main
“John gets us out of our comfort zone through his personal journey and re-tells age-old lessons of persistence, embracing change, life-long learning and visioning the landscape through a fresh lens. He leans into the future by shaking us out of the status quo through the imagery and his personal story about surfing. He neatly ties his surfing experience into the world of business, inspiring all of us to think outside the box as we Ride the Wave.” – R.J. Randall
“If your approach to sales and marketing isn’t working, this book can help you make a change. It’s got practical advice with personal stories about surfing, business, and overcoming obstacles.” – JB
“The lessons in this book have left me with a constant running inner dialogue; to be mindful of operating my business not only from its present state, but where it’s going in the future.” – E. Caplan
“Awesome book. Change is the new constant in business and in life and John hits the nail on the head with this one. Highly recommend grabbing your copy today!” – Andrew
“An engaging and fast paced read, Ride the Wave shows entrepreneurs ways to overcome challenges and hurdles in this always-online, technology-dominant time, inspiring readers to think outside of the box.
With comparisons between surfing and starting your own business, the author strategizes on how to succeed in either, offering a fresh, non-clichéd perspective on the much clichéd pointers like embracing change, resilience, persistence, having a vision and always learning.
I especially loved how the author weaves his real-life examples and stories from surfing experience into the book, marrying them to world of entrepreneurship. I would definitely recommend giving this book a read, if you’ve ever dreamed of starting something of your own.” – Aparna