Be A Corporate Nomad, Not a Corporate Hodad!

A hodad is someone who pretends to be something he is not.  A term born in surfing, hodads were guys who hung out at the beach, knew the lingo and talked like they were the guys in the water riding the waves. They never got wet, the admiration of the pretty girls on the beach or the stoke of riding a wave. This link explains stoke


A nomad is someone who moves around, relocating seasonally, an ambler on a walkabout if you will. They say millennials like to move around a lot so I will define them as potential corporate nomads.


When I started working in April of 1983 you signed up with a big company and immediately started counting the days until you got the watch (20 years) and grandfather clock (30 years). I remember feeling excited after I became an officer of a bank because I would get 4 weeks vacation vs. the 2 I had.  I was young and dumb but did start to think it was a waste of time for people to count this stuff. Then I learned there were departments of people in big companies who did this for a living. I later learned I was actually part of the department called Human Resources. I started to wonder if I was I ever going to be successful in a career recording the days, weeks, years and decades of other employees to ensure they got their reward on time.

How do you make money doing that? 

I was fortunate to rotate through the various disciplines of HR and settled on Recruiting. This would serve me well for the rest of my career as I developed a skill for finding talented people.

So I had some success and thus began my nomadic adventure.

I left to start my own recruiting business and failed miserably. I was 26 years old and didn’t have a big brand or connections to make it on my own.

So I went and became a broker and learned how hard it was to sell stocks after the ‘87 crash. Timing is everything in life.

Next, I ran back to the bank where I started in HR and worked in private banking, helping rich people get richer. This went pretty well and I promised everyone I would never leave and get my watch, clock and whatever else I qualified for from the career ball and chain that is corporate loyalty.

Three years later I left and became a software salesman. I absolutely sucked at sales and hated it.  Our family was growing so I did what any logical person would do next.

I quit selling and sat at home trying to figure out what I was going to be when I grew up. By the way, I was 39 years old, we had 3 boys, but I had something special, a great wife and partner.

The ensuing years would take us on a wild ride. I did a start-up and became a management guy. The classic tale of the guy who couldn’t sell gold bars, at a discount, in the jewelry district gets to manage those that can, at a premium.

So as a sales manager what did I focus on?

Sales, hell no!

I made a bet that if I focused on marketing that it would enable sales. The problem though was simple, I wasn’t responsible for marketing. I read every book I could get my hands on and pretended to be the marketing guy in front of the guy who actually had the title Marketing VP. We grew fast and sold the company at a nice premium which allowed us to become independent.

So instead of cashing in further on my new found expertise what did I do?

I took a shot at retirement. It sucked, no plan. Days filled with sleep and vices.

I didn’t work for almost three years. I did, hit the books again and started writing.

I joined another bank and became the CMO of a software division and then lead global business development and client support for the next four years. A great gig where I didn’t have to wait 20 years for the gold watch. I just went out and bought one. I made it on the list of candidates to replace the CEO when he would retire so naturally I left the company.

Today I am CMO of a small software company and also manage sales and relationship management.

I watched the Pe’ahi surf contest last weekend and the men who spent the better part of their day riding 50 foot bombs. No hodads here. No matter how wild your imagination there’s no pretending to have done this. They have such a soul for what they do. There is a word in Hawaiian “Pono”. It means righteous – these guys are Pono personified. I am reminded again of others who are as well like, @Byron Slat. Learn about Byron here He just might clean up the ocean and save humankind.

Try everything, don’t be a hodad – just go do it.  If you fail get back up and try something else. Just keep pushing.

In memory of my old friend, surfer and sunset extraordinaire @Ben Hamilton. Double shaka’s Ben!

My best, Chris

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