Mark Chu - Action Sports Lifestyle Group

When and where did you start surfing?
I started surfing much later in life as I grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota of all places (the furtherest place from the ocean in the US – right smack in the middle of the nation). I started at 25 years of age in Santa Monica, California when I was working at an ad agency for Honda called RPA. My manager and friend (who now works at Facebook) from Appletown, Wisconsin taught me how to surf. How ironic is that?

What is it that you love about surfing?
It reminds me that there is something bigger than me out there. A spiritual connection with a Creator vs. the creation.

Do you have a session that stands out as your most memorable?
I think there are too many to remember and I’ve traveled so many places by now. I’ve always been one of the guys that prefers to be out with his best mates in mediocre conditions vs. an epic day by myself. But an uncrowded day at Lance’s Left stands out to me especially since I’m a goofy footer and love Nicaragua. It was the first time my legs were tired from turning.

What kind of education do you have?
I have a BA in Political Science from the Uni of California at Santa Barbara.

What was your very first job?
I was a pizza cook at place called Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Parlor in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I had to occasionally put on a big dog costume (“Happy" was the mascot) for grommet birthday parties. They would pull my tail, kick my legs and yank the zipper open. That costume was beat up.

Can you tell us a little bit about Action Sports lifestyle group and what your role is?
After freelancing off and on for various digital action sport properties (mostly in surf) for several years, I’ve decided to assemble a premium collective of surf publishers to represent to the non-endemic world which is the side of the business I came from. I am the founder and president of the Action Sports Lifestyle Group (ASLG) and we just launched at the beginning of the year. Brands on both sides (core and non-endemic) have had difficulty working out authentic & efficient partnerships for both parties and that is the value we provide. I have 15 years of marketing relationships on the client, agency and publisher side. It was time I monetized that and stepped out in Faith on my own.

I can see you're also involved with a few other surf based organisations such as the Inertia, Surfline and Christian Surfers, can you tell us a little bit about the work you do with all those guys? is the planet’s largest network of talented surfers. They are the Huffington Post for the world surfing community. Surfline is the largest surf site in the world by far. They are constantly launching new cams and products like Surfline Rewind and the Surfline Connected TV app which is great to see. Christian Surfers is the only international missions movement that exists to serve and love on the world surfing community without asking anything in return. It was founded in Cronulla, NSW in 1977 by a man named Brett Davis. I represent these movements and find relevant partnerships with the brands of the non-endemic world for them. I also have the honor of serving on the Board of Directors for Christian Surfers International and represent several other digital & event properties in action sports in addition to the ones mentioned above.

You're a pretty busy guy, how do you effectively manage your time between all the work you do, plus manage to get out for a wave?I was blessed with an amazing office location in Newport Beach, California that is walking distance to the water. It’s also a miracle to live near the water in Huntington Beach. And as an outside sales rep for my publishers, I am constantly on the road traveling to meet with clients. I always keep a few boards & wetties in the car and manage to hit the water where ever I might be. It’s an amazing lifestyle to work for yourself but it does require discipline and self-control. Let’s just say I work a lot of late nights and weekends when I’m not in the water.

What is it that you love about the work you do?
After a few days into starting my own company, I received the revelation that I get to choose exactly what projects I get to work on. In the past, I had to work on whatever my boss put on my desk or inbox (whether it was surf related or not). I may not get rich creating unique surf partnerships & experiential programs but I love what I do. I get to be creative and I love that. And I may work a lot of hours but it doesn’t feel like work to me. Loving what you do really does make a difference. Also, I get to help two different worlds speak to each other in a native and relevant way. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Do you have any advice for anybody wanting to turn their love of surfing into a career?
Okay, here we go. Surrender your surfing. It sounds backwards, I know. But the more you care about or idolize surfing, the more disappointed you’ll be on bad days in life when it’s blown out or you get dropped in on. Get back to a place where you are you stoked no matter and surfing does not make or break your day. Stay humble and realize there is a greater purpose for your life. Surround yourself with smart and good ethical mentors (professionally and personally). Leave the line up a better place then you found it. Intern at a few brands you love. Don’t be scared to work for free. Value every relationship you have. Never turn down a meeting - you never know who might know who. Oh, and pass on the wisdom to those younger. Lastly, don’t let the work ruin your love for surfing (but this won’t be an issue since you would’ve surrendered your surfing by now).

Where can we find you online?


Posted by: Matthew Ryan, on February 14, 2014
Categories: Interviews