YPO (“Young President’s Organization”) recently profiled me in a very different sort of interview. Many of you may think of me as a fighter pilot motivational speaker, but I am also a passionate surfer who loves to travel the world looking for the perfect wave.
Finding Anthony “A.B.” Bourke:
Surfing YPO’s Sports Networks
The movie opens on the ocean under the sepia tones of the setting sun. Everything appears painted in bronze—the waves, the boards and the tanned backs of the surfers. A Seminal film for surfers, “The Endless Summer” was released in 1966.
Watching the adventures of Mike Hynson and Robert August unfold encouraged many surfers to go abroad, in search of the perfect wave, untouched shores and more temperate water. Seeing the film for the first time at 14-years old, Anthony Bourke (WPO Northern California) CEO and founder of Mach 2 Consulting and a member of both the Surfing and Water Sports networks, is no exception.
“One of my life’s dreams since then has been to surf Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa,” where Mike and Robert found the perfect wave in the movie.
“At the GLC in Los Angeles a couple of years ago I shared this dream with Arnold Vermaak (WPO Durban), who was education chair at the time. Not only did he invite me to come and speak to his chapter in Durban, South Africa, he offered to host me at his home on Jeffrey’s Bay, in South Africa. When I arrived, Arnold introduced me to a professional surfer in the area who was a member of the Durban Surf Club. This provided me an inside look at the Durban surf scene and culture that I never would have had without these two.”
Surfing the Sports Networks
A passionate surfer, snow skier and water skier, A.B. as most people know him, does his best to combine the different areas of his life whenever possible.
“I will often extend a business trip for a few days so that I can ski or surf,” he says.
A highly experienced F-16 fighter pilot who has flown tactical missions across the globe, it is easy to imagine AB like the stars of “The Endless Summer,” in a dark suit and glasses, his hair combed back and a surfboard under his arm, boarding a plane. Much like he makes it a habit to combine work and play, he has made his career applying his tactical experience to the boardroom.
The Next Wave in Business
“The most powerful tool I have taken from tactical aviation and applied to business is the discipline of a regular feedback loop, based on a process of briefing and debriefing,” he says. “As a team leader, you must find an efficient and effective way to communicate your ideas to your team in order to ensure successful execution. Fighter pilots use a tool called briefing to make sure our teams are aligned and flying in formation every time we fly. In tactical aviation, we have also learned that no matter how great your results are, no fighter pilot has ever flown the perfect mission, and no one in business will ever have the perfect day, week, meeting or project. This is why fighter pilot’s always call time out immediately following our missions and hold a debrief.”
(Yes this really happened and don’t worry…it was a dolphin!)
To read the rest of the interview,
see here –> YPO Interviews AB Bourke about Surfing, Flying, and Leadership