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Getting to know surfer and motivational speaker Mark Mathews

Mark Mathews

Mark Mathews is one of the top big wave surfers in the world. The Australian is also a celebrated keynote speaker helping people internationally live a ‘life beyond fear’. Mark has overcome many hurdles in his 30 plus years, including horrific physical and life altering injuries, that saw him battle fear at every level. He is passionate about personal growth, high performance and how we can all adapt to stress and build resilience.

Available for:

  • Keynote speaker

“We recently had Mark speak at our annual sales incentive trip. Mark was fabulous, he had everyone on the edge of their seats with his wild and inspiration tales. Mark conveys his key messages with conviction, authenticity and humour, relating and applying his experiences to the business and corporate worlds. If you want an unforgettable speaker that radiates courage and belief, Mark is your man.”

Petrina MaxwellGeneral Manager Events - NZME. Publishing Limited

Here’s your chance to learn more about the renowned Australian professional surfer and motivational speaker:

As a boy you were terrified of the ocean, how did you become one of the world’s best surfers?
By having a clear vision of exactly what I wanted to achieve every week, month and year. Then motivating myself by spending time focusing on why I wanted to succeed, what would the success mean for my life and the lives of my loved ones. Most importantly surrounding myself with people who could help me get there.

I wasn’t the best early on but that didn’t bother me. I just focused on myself and how I could get a little better at what I was doing every week.

You nearly lost your life surfing in shark infested Tasmania waters when you hit a reef, blacked out and were hospitalised. How did that experience shape you as a person and the direction of your life?
It was an important reality check. I had built up a ridiculous amount of confidence over the previous four to five years and I was at a point where I felt like I was invincible. That wipe-out brought me back down to reality and forced me to be more meticulous in my approach to the safety side of what I do.

One particular thing I focused on was learning to managing the stress pre and post surfing and managing any other external pressure and stress in other areas of my life. By doing that I could stay fit and healthy and in the best physical condition to deal with the big surf sessions.

Recently, you were one hour from having your leg amputated following a surfing wipe-out. At any point do you think it’s time to call it a day?
If you asked me this in the months after the accident when I was in hospital struggling to deal with being stuck in bed and the burning nerve pain I would have said, “I’m done”. But I promised myself that I’d give it time before I made any rash decisions. Now, seven surgeries later and a year down the track, I’m back in the water and getting stronger. As my body gets healthier and stronger my thoughts about returning to big waves are much more positive! And I still have a few big wave spots that I need to tick off the bucket list before I’m done!

Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
My Mum and Dad for sure. They got me into surfing and gave me the opportunity to fall in love with the ocean at a young age. Also, Koby Abberton, he was five years older than me and already a professional surfer when I moved up the road from him. We started surfing and training together every day. And he made me realise what was possible if I worked hard enough.

What was the biggest career (or life) lesson you have learnt so far?
You have to want it more than you fear it.

You seem to be a jack-of-all trades – surfer, businessman, motivational speaker… is there anything you can’t do?
Hahaha there are lots of things I’m not good at but there’s nothing I won’t have a go at. I have always loved learning new things and I don’t care if I’m the worst person in the room at it, as long as I’m better today than I was yesterday then I’m happy. My golf game doesn’t always work out that way though.

What’s one piece of advice you give people wanting to overcome a fear?
Experience is the only way to get over fear. Prepare, DO, learn, prepare, DO AGAIN. With an emphasis on the ‘doing’. It’s scary, but taking action is the only way to get the experience necessary to overcome your fears. I realised this after about the 500th self-help book I read about fear. It’s time to put the books down and do something.

Actually, my ‘that’ something should be to come watch me speak! Ha ha!

Why did you become a motivational speaker, and why does your message resonate with everyday people?
Initially I did it because I wanted to challenge myself. Public speaking is my biggest fear, I find it more stressful than surfing 50ft waves. I figured if I can apply the same approach I use to be able to surf big waves then I can use that same approach for anything.

Create the desire by focusing on your ‘why’, surround yourself with people who can help you, and then go out there and PREPARE, DO, LEARN, PREPARE, DO, LEARN.

The documentary “Fighting Fear” has am underlying theme that ‘one good mate can save your life’ – how is this relevant to you and has it impacted on the type of friends you have?
I owe so much of my success to my friends, family and the surf team that I work with. It’s not always easy but I think it is really important to be diligent about spending time with people who are a positive influence on your life and also take time focusing on how you can be a positive influence on their lives as well.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I have the exact same size quads as Australian model Jennifer Hawkins.

I’m pretty sure I was actually genetically gifted to be a female super model, not a professional surfer.

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