Foundations (or why you never skip leg day)

“Learn to snowboard first. Film second.”

I found this simple advice while reading up on KNOWHOW speaker Spencer Whiting (AKA @Gimbalgod) and it has stuck with me since reading it. The answer was for aspiring follow-cam videographers, but the ethos behind the statement is one as old as time.

Here’s another way of saying it: a house is only as strong as its foundation.

To follow a rider like Stale Sandbech as he sends it, Spencer had to be able to send it. For Spencer, excelling in cinematography could only come with a strong foundation of riding ability. Over a million online views later, he’s now focusing on the foundation of his cinematography.

Spencer's story follows a simple - yet effective - path, not uncommon to innovators in every industry.  Find something you are passionate about, immerse yourself in understanding it, have the humility to understand your strengths and weaknesses.

So what happens when landscapes change and foundations shift?

I often think about when I entered this business, running a small skate shop in the mid-’90s to early ’00s. Everything was different back then. Shops ran on fax machines and slat wall, Carbon copy receipt books; no POS software; no reporting; no online sales; no Instagram. The only followers I had were the 8yr old sticker fiends whose parents used the shop as a de-facto daycare. If I ran that shop today, as I did then, I wonder if it would be months, or merely weeks until we went belly up?

Everything we know seems to have changed, is currently changing or is about to change. We, as an industry, need to immerse ourselves in understanding our business once again. Who are our customers? What do they expect from us? How do they want us to talk to them? How do they want to make transactions? 

We need to question our strongest instincts and rethink the most basic assumptions.

How we deal with the answers to these questions will go a long way in helping us strengthen our foundations, so we can start to build on top of them once again.


Make sure to catch Spencer in conversation with Craig McMorris at the KNOWHOW Conference this July. Ticket prices go up Friday, so get yours while the price is right!


Perry Pugh, KNOWSHOW Founder

Jani Tsui