By Peter Viele Aug 16, 2016
Why in the World does N2 have a Surf Club? Well, despite the stereotypical archetype of the slacker surfer loitering around the beach all day, surfers are in-fact, some of our local community’s more prominent contributors to society; they are businesspeople, entrepreneurs, doctors, dentists, creatives, pastors, attorneys and CEOs – heck, even our Duane Hixon surfs.
It just so happens that N2 is headquartered at one of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, which has decent waves from time to time, and as such, N2 has a few surfers on staff – me being one of them. The real answer as to why I started the N2 surf club, though, has far more to do with the culture that our leadership has designed and cultivated, rather than any arbitrary coincidences.
Despite any preconceived notions associated with being a surfer, I do indeed have a mortgage, a family to support and taxes to pay and, thankfully, I not only get to work for one of the fastest growing media companies in the U.S., but also get to work with a talented, camaraderie-filled team. We are all collectively striving to be better tomorrow than we are today in our roles here, and individually, we are challenged to grow, be self-disciplined, self-improving and self-motivating. So, when asked how I could step out of my comfort zone by challenging myself to grow in areas that I thought that I could improve upon, I was immediately worried.
I am, typically, a very private person, a mind-my-own-business type who has moderate anxiety issues, particularly in large groups of people. I was worried because I knew I was going to have to challenge myself to get to know people that I may not have otherwise interacted with and build camaraderie outside of the little sphere of my team that I work with on a day-to-day basis. There was no getting around the personal challenge of putting myself out there. I knew it was time to step out of my comfort zone in order to self-improve.
Surfing has always been a reprieve from that anxiety for me – a mental and physical escape. Regardless if one decides to attach some sort of pseudo spirituality with surfing, there is in-fact, something very special about riding waves. And though surfing is a very individualistic activity, there is an inherent camaraderie associated with individuals who surf. We commune in our early morning rituals, share stories and discuss surfboard design theory, weather patterns and tidal effects of our shoreline – camaraderie is just a by-product.
So, it made sense for me to utilize that natural connection to find the surfers in our offices to help me work on my personal growth. And thereby, the N2 Surf Club was born. I was actually surprised by the amount of interest it generated, but I was more surprised by the encouragement I received from people who don’t even surf – this was already a testament to our incredible culture and how personally uplifting it can be.
Our Surf Club is a low-key, casual gathering of fellow N2ers that love the ocean and love to surf; it’s nothing fancy, just fun. It’s a pretty simple premise; when it looks like there will be waves, we plan to meet up before work for a surf, and we always have a nice time together even if the waves aren’t great. What I’ve discovered during the process of forming the N2 Surf Club is that stepping out of my comfort zone to bond with teammates, build relationships and grow, isn’t so complicated or intimidating. It’s as simple as showing up. Further, I’ve learned that I work for a company that cares about my personal well-being, allows me to thrive, and challenges me in the appropriate areas for maximum growth – the challenge from leadership proved to be more fruitful than I ever expected. And though both the club and I are works in progress, it has become immediately apparent that all it takes is a little bit of going the extra mile to connect with some awesome individuals and, by doing so, we create a much more fulfilling, effective and fun place to work.
With a culture of camaraderie, the work environment becomes relaxed, and the ability to concentrate on the things that matter most come into sharper focus, driving our future innovation. The N2 Surf Club helped me discover that, and it exists simply as a natural evolution of our culture… and I’m excited to see what clubs are going to pop up next.
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