On Fear, Entrepreneurship and Surfing

The last thing you expect while spending a few days on the coast, working and surfing, is to find yourself in deep fear.

I recently got back to Chile after a months of business trips across Europe: Milan, Barcelona, London – I came back tired but satisfied. Excited about the people and organisations I’ve met, about all the opportunities that are coming by and the interest we’re getting for Flythegap.

Though, less than 24 hours after landing in Santiago I left for Pichilemu, a spot on the coast. I felt like I needed to spend a few days regaining my energies, while surfing and (of course) catching up with emails.

And that’s when I started experiencing one of the weirdest feelings I felt in my life.

A sort of fear mixed with panic, enhanced by being physically tired and further messed up by my rational consciousness, that immediately wanted to regain the control and try to convince me that everything was just OK.

Meanwhile, of course I had to get back to Santiago, to the Startup Chile program and to my team – some of my responsibilities here in Chile.But I was missing the ocean, the waves and especially the surfing.

I know that staying close to the water always enhances my thoughts, and I felt the need to try to reconnect with that state of mind and see if I could use it to try to figure out what was happening.

And that’s how I ended up watching a movie that a friend of mine mentioned me a thousand of times, just telling me that it was based on the true story of a famous surfer: Chasing Mavericks.

You know, I love movies based on true stories, and there were waves and surfing too. Seemed OK to me. Well – it turned out to be quiet something more that just OK.

Chasing Mavericks

There’s this scene in the movie, when Jay and Frosty are diving in the water practicing holding their breath (Jay needs to get to four minutes to even consider surfing the Mavericks) and – as they are about to come up for air, a great white shark swims just above them (mini Spoiler Alert: they make it out).

When they get to the boat, Frosty asks to the upset Jay what happened.

“Why did you panic?
“Fear, I guess…”
“Well, one thing you gotta know: fear, panic. Two separate emotions. Fear’s healthy, panic’s deadly.”
“But if you’re scared to death, how do you not panic?”

“By identifying the fear. And what you’re afraid of. Not just out there, but in life.”


Hello, Fear & Panic. Nice to meet you.

I couldn’t help it – I felt like everything was clear again. Or at least understandable.

I think that especially when you have some sort of responsibility in life, or simply if you live by it as a principle, you just can’t avoid fear.

And it doesn’t matter if your fear comes from being afraid of failing as an entrepreneur and “lose everything”, or from the chance of disappointing your parents that are paying for your studies, or the team you work with, your family, your supporters, your friends… You fear to miss the expectations of what or who matters to you.

And that’s just fine.

The important lesson there for me to learn was to not panic about it.

The fear and panic separation and identification, the four pillars of foundation, the importance of being honest in recognising what your inner call is and how to better prepare for it… this movie has several concepts that I couldn’t avoid to relate to my life as entrepreneur.

Finding them all very simple, thought clear and powerful.

Chasing Mavericks to me has been one of those types of messages that just make it to you, precisely when you need them the most.

May this blog post do the same for some of us, out there.

Hang loose


“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.

Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

― Steven Pressfield