Jake Falkinder - Misfit Media

When did you get your first surfboard?
I didn’t lay my hands on a fibreglass board for quite a while actually. As a micro-grom I didn’t live on the coast, Noosa was our closest beach and it was a good 40 minute drive away, so for most of my single-digit years I was riding one of those fluoro Kmart foamies.  You know, the kind that leaves you with worse gravel-rash on your stomach than gravel itself.   Bodyboarding actually ended up keeping me chomping at the bit throughout my landlocked teens, I was inspired by the wave- riding abilities of the legends that era like Mike Stewart, Bullet Mackenzie and Eppo. I spent a lot of time with my head buried in Riptide mags (in hindsight, an early catalyst for my interest and career in action sports advertising), hanging out for weekends and school holidays so I could get back in the ocean.

Eventually I needed to find something more challenging to ride than an esky lid on smaller days, which got me standing up eventually (I’ll admit, there was a smidgen of peer pressure thrown in too!).  These days I still enjoy taking the occasional air-drop on a bodyboard, I’ve even started bodysurfing with a Surf / Brand hand plane a bit too, but surfing is really my focus and passion.

What do you love about surfing?
I’m going through a phase at the moment where I find myself regularly saying “That was the best wave I’ve had in my life”.  Of course, it’s a recycled quote from Pat O’Connell, who said the same thing repeatedly in Endless Summer 2, because he was just so constantly stoked on riding waves. For me this quote really reflects that feeling that every surfer knows – the feeling that overcomes you when you take off on a wave that really challenges your skill level, and then you conquer it!  It could be your first decent cutback, a really critical turn or a long, deep barrel, whatever it may be, when you manage to ‘one up’ yourself while surfing it just feels fucking awesome.  Pardon my French, but there’s really no other way to explain that really gives it justice.  Tell me any other pursuit that can elicit the same feelings and sense of satisfaction… and  that doesn’t give you a hangover!  Surfing’s is probably the world’s best worst-kept-secret.

I reckon Billabong were onto something when they penned that slogan ‘only a surfer knows the feeling’.  Hopefully I won’t spark any legal action between GSM and my Year 9 English Teacher saying this, but I wrote a poem at school called “A Surfer Knows…” entirely about the silent satisfaction that riding waves gives you, and how it’s unique and special. So yeah, I guess this whole notion is something that has rung true to me for years.

What was your most memorable wave?
It’s hard to go past the final wave I had on a 10 day James-Bond style luxury boat trip in the Southern Atolls of the Maldives a couple of years ago.  I’m not usually a surf trip snob, but we splashed some extra cash on this particular trip and it was epic!  We surfed one break almost exclusively for the best part of a week, perfect right-handers reeling every day, with insanely beautiful scenery and colours all around. I finally had that surfbreak wired by the end of the trip, and that final wave I had served up a barrel I will remember for the rest of my life.  

The whole adventure was a celebration with my old man for his 60th, hosted by Tropic Surf. Definitely a special trip, an amazing wave, and well worth saving every penny for. 

Your favourite surfspot?
I’m lucky to have Burleigh as my local. When it’s on, and you find yourself floating out in the lineup hooting at perfect, sandy cylinders with that green grassy headland as a backdrop, and you wonder why you’d ever go anywhere else….but then sometimes you take a look at the crowds and drop-ins and you realise that even the uncrowded beachbreaks just a couple of minutes South, shared with 2-3 mates, can just as easily make for an all-time session. 

Who did you look up to and admire when you were a grommet?
Mike Stewart was, and still is, the man.  I think that with all the focus on big wave surfing and ‘ultimate water men’ that sometimes his amazing ability to read the ocean is passed off because he (or maybe the media) chose to publicise bodyboarding as his primary pursuit, rather than simply his broad knowledge of the ocean.  He was one of the first to ride solid Jaws, he can ride the foamball Pipe with nothing more than a set of swim fins – he is a deadset pioneer and legend. He’s still evolving too, I watched the Come Hell or High Water flick recently and the footage is simply captivating to watch.  If he evolves any more he may actually grow a set of gills, I reckon.

Of all the places you have travelled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I lived in Dubai for a while, that really opened my eyes to the Middle East and Europe. Until then I’d always steered my holidays towards destinations that offered waves, like Tahiti, Fiji and Indo, but a job opportunity popped up and on a whim, I took it.

In my eyes, Dubai is just like an adult version of Disneyland. If you want ski, you go to the indoor snow slope. Want to ride waves? Just head to the flow-rider (I actually bought a season pass to get my fix of ‘waves’).  But the really intriguing part was discovering the cultures and practices of the surrounding Emirates and countries. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Yemen, Syria – sure, you hear about those countries on the news here but it’s all really just ‘filtered’ crap. Seeing and hearing it first-hand is the only way to get the real picture. It helped me to appreciate life back here in Australia too.

What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Riding waves has been my only consistent lifelong hobby, or sport, or form of expression….call it what you will.  I think because it fulfils so many of those different aspects in my life, that it will always be present.  It changes my life every time I hop in the water, it calms me, allows me to reflect, and humbles me.  

Interestingly enough, riding the flow-rider in Dubai did none of these things, so I guess in its pure form riding waves is something that can’t be duplicated outside of the ocean. I fear that the next generation of wave pools will suck the spiritual aspect completely out of surfing, and that surfing in the ocean will become a fad, just like playing old vinyls or something.  Imagine when surfing becomes all about waiting at a turnstile for 20 minutes for your next perfect 100m right hander, breaking in a circular motion along a concrete wall beneath blinding floodlights with inescapable noise (maybe Skrillex) blaring from the speakers. Where’s the senerity? It’ll be long gone!

What are you most grateful for?
Family. My parents always encouraged my sister and I to take opportunities, and made sure I was presented with plenty of them too, which I am always grateful for as it has got me to where I am today. Now I have a young family of my own, which presents its own challenges and joys, and makes me appreciate what my parents did even more.  Second to family, it’s a tie between waves and mates, they go hand in hand. Sorry beer, you’ve been relegated to third on the list.

What was life like growing up?
I was pretty lucky as grom, I had everything I needed, plenty of support, and was encouraged without ever being pushed.  As a result I was really active during my schooling, always playing sport, or music…. I was involved in anything and everything and always on the go.  I guess in a way this helped me to realise there was life outside of the relatively small town I lived in.

What sort of education have you had?
I finished school and moved on to Uni where I originally started studying engineering.  I had wild fantasies of landing a coastal engineering job where I’d surf the banks that my (environmentally-concious) employer would be unintentionally grooming in remote and uncrowded locations.  I quickly found out that this type of engineering was required me to study a lot of Chemistry subjects, not my forte or interest, so I switched to Computer Science because I’d always had an interest in technology. Stoked now I made the change….engineering, what was I thinking!

What was your very first job?
I was pretty lucky, I didn’t have to find a part time job until I left school and hit uni. I worked in a surf retail store in Brisbane City. For a while I was their skate ramp attendant – I literally just stood in front of the mini ramp and made sure the kiddies signed their life away before they rode, to avoid any legal stoushes for broken bones.  Hardly a tough start to the workforce, I was bit spoilt really wasn’t I!   Actually, I did a few holiday jobs during high-school too, just stuff like washing cars at the local card yard, and I learnt to weld at the local engineering plant, so I guess it wasn’t always the silver spoon for me during my schooling.

What is your current job and what does it entail?
I’m the head of Misfit Media, a business specialising in action sports marketing. We consult major brands to assist with their online marketing strategy & placements. As an offshoot, we have already assisted more than 15 leading Australian publishers within the surf, skate, snow and motocross industries in securing more online advertising revenue – I really enjoy working with those guys, they are so passionate and dedicated.  

Knowledge of the internet and online technology is my passion and probably my strength, so I am always on the hunt for new strings to add to Misfit’s bow. We recently secured an agreement with innovative tech startup the Viral Ad Network to offer their rather unqiue viral video seeding technology to Australia.  It’s nice to be able to offer the Australian market some unique world-class advertising opportunities, and we’re quite proud of our capabilities and offering.

Oh, there’s also Radness too, another of our ventures which I look after. Radness is essentially a shopping comparison site specialising in action sports gear, comparing thousands of products from all the major Aussie surf & skate retailers. The idea came in about in 2012, I wanted to develop a platform to deter Aussies from purchasing their surf, skate and bodyboarding gear offshore after the U.S. dollar turned and local retailers started crying for help. Radness ultimately it provides consumers with choice and the competitive pricepoints to keep them shopping within our shores.

How did you get into the position you are today?
I’ve worked pretty hard to get here, and have always been pretty picky about who I’ve worked with.  I figure if you spend 2,000+ hours per year at work, you really should spend it with people and brands you admire and can learn from, so I’ve always made an effort to work with employers I respect and can learn from.  Over the past 10 years I’ve had exposure to more brands than I care to list, from the big Aussie airlines through to core surf brands.

What do you like most about your job?
I work with great people every day, with some of the best brands in the world, and I have a world-class wave directly across the road from my office.  What is there not to like!

Where can we find you online? 

Web: http://misfit-media.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/misfitmediaAU
Instagram: @misfit_media
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/jakefalkinder

Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on June 18, 2013
Categories: Interviews