Michael Peterson passed in 2012. He is recognised as one of the greatest surfers, an authentic Australian ‘someone’ who set the bar for Australian surfing in the mid-seventies. His aggressive, no-nonsense style was all his own at a time when Midget Farrelly and Nat Young were dominating.
Michael was the son of a doting Jean, growing up near to Queensland’s Gold Coast with brother Tommy, he picked up his first real ‘board’ in ’66 aged fourteen and with his extraordinary drive, set himself on a path to being the best.
Michael Peterson dominated
During 1970’s surfing, Michael was winning Australian titles in ’72 and ’74. Taking out the win at Stubbies with his final competition in ’77. Michael Petersen won most of the available prize-money during his relatively short shine-time living for the sea. He was single-minded, lived for surfing and shunned the lime-light celebrity brought him … unless it was on his terms.
But there was a dark side that even Michael was unaware he was contending – undiagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenia. It the height of his time, when he was setting himself apart from his contemporaries through dynamics on the water and alienating friends and family as he unwittingly contended with his illness and the hedonism that was surf culture.
Michael was so successful as a surfer, his merchandise was soon in demand and carrying the now famous (MP) brand. The trouble was, Michael Petersen shaped boards for Michael, and so no-one could ride the ultra-thin, radically-channelled designs that commanded premium bucks. Sadly the business was short-lived, with no-one getting close enough to offer the business acumen, diversity or insights for managed growth. Michael never capitalised on his legacy. Being the winner out of the water.
Michael Petersen ended his competitive surfing while still having much to offer. He’d succumbed to the dark thoughts he was not to recognise for another ten years but still, with the support of his family and ‘friends’ his legend prevails.
Michael was authentic but through no fault of his own, he was unable to reach out and collaborate.
A lesson from MP? Whatever business we’re in, it’s personal. We can inspire new clients and encourage our customers to return if we are able to recognise diversity, embrace our collaborators and work on our offer.
Ask yourself. ‘Can I remain authentic, while reaching-out?’