Shaun Tomson

Shaun Tomson

  • Author of best-selling books, Surfers Code – 12 Simple Lessons for Riding Through Life, and The Code -The Power of’ I Will.’
  • Writer and producer of the award-winning documentary film Bustin’ Down the Door
  • World Surfing Champion, an inductee in the Jewish and South African Sports Hall of Fame, the US Surfing Hall of Fame, and has been described as one of the greatest surfers of all time and one of the most influential surfers of the century (Surfer Magazine).

Travels from Santa Barbara, CA

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Shaun Tomson started, managed and sold two multi-million dollar clothing brands – Instinct in the 80’s and Solitude (co-founded with his wife Carla) in the 90’s. He is the author of the best-selling book Surfer’s Code, and the writer and producer of the award-winning documentary film Bustin’ Down the Door. He is a Business Administration and Finance graduate from the University of Natal. He is a World Surfing Champion, an inductee in the Jewish and South African Sports Hall of Fame, the US Surfing Hall of Fame, and has been described as one of the greatest surfers of all time (Surfing Magazine 2004) and one of the most influential surfers of the century (Surfer Magazine 1999). He is a board member and ambassador for Surfrider Foundation, the world’s largest environmental group dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, waves and beaches and he received the SIMA Environmentalist of the Year Award in 2002.

Shaun talks about the influence of positive values on success in life and business based on his own experiences of overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges, in and out of the surf. An attitude of Commitment and Positivity is the basis for his unique empowering business philosophy based on his ‘Surfer’s Code – 12 Simple Lessons for Riding through Life’. He has spoken internationally and inspired and touched the hearts of audiences as large as 3,000 people, has shared the stage with well-known personalities including Sir Richard Branson and Malcolm Gladwell, and inspired corporations like General Motors, Cisco, Price Waterhouse, Toys R Us, Sasol, Disney, Google, Primedia, MTN and Adcock Ingram.

Shaun is an expert on leadership, self-growth and organizational development – how to empower team members to be the best they can be, and align personal purpose with organizational culture. Shaun founded, managed and sold two market leading clothing brands – Instinct in the 80’s and Solitude in the 90’s – and has held executive positions with lifestyle brands Patagonia and O’Neill. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, is the author of the best-selling books Surfer’s Code and The Code – The Power of ‘I Will’, and the writer and producer of the award-winning documentary film Bustin’ Down the Door. He has a Bachelors in Business Administration and Finance, and a Master of Science degree in Positive Leadership.

Shaun Tomson offers up a profound set of action principles to show one how to get back on the board after a wipeout and paddle back out to catch and successfully ride the next wave. We all live in a challenging sea and our attitude towards those challenges defines who we are, and how we live our lives.

He currently lives with his wife and son in Santa Barbara, California and still finds time to chase the perfect wave.






Commit to the Next Wave

A unique perspective on how to activate the internal power needed to achieve success in life and business, based on personal experiences of overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges, in and out of the surf. An attitude of Commitment, Passion and Purpose is the basis for Shaun’s empowering business philosophy based on the #1 Amazon best seller The Code – The Power of “I Will.” Objective: The fundamental goals are to inspire and influence introspection and envisioning to activate a commitment for positive personal change. Take-Home Value: A perspective that shows the importance of aligning passion and purpose in business and life and how attitude is the basis for resilience, optimism and hope. A simple tool to immediately use to transform oneself and others to commit to the next wave of change.


Commit to the Code Description: A group workshop that is activated by the keynote in which every participant writes their Code in 30 minutes – 12 lines, each line beginning with “I will.” In its simplest form, the exercise is writing twelve promises to oneself. Each member then reads their Code to the group and picks their most resonant line which is written on a white board. The Code on the white-board represents the true purpose and collective will of the group, and the exercise binds all members at a core emotional level. Objective: To help team members deepen relationships and transform individually and collectively through the use of a simple tool to help prioritize actionable steps and to focus will to activate positive change. Take-Home Value: A renewed sense of common purpose and commitment, a clear path forward through complexity, and a knowledge that while all team members are different, their basic values and life mission are congruent. When one thinks and writes down one’s promises they develop great power – thoughts are transformed from imagination to reality as letters, words and sentences – they are legible, tangible and actionable. Values and goals come to life as these promises, as a series of commitments that form a powerful and personal code for today and tomorrow. The Code is designed to create a feeling of confidence in oneself, an attitude of strength that results in positive decision-making to combat despair, lack of hope and negativity.


“Shaun inspired our partners and team members in a very unique and exciting way through his life lessons and introducing us to the Surfer’s Code. We all left committed to take our Drops with Commitment and To Always Paddle Back Out no matter what the challenge. I would highly recommend Shaun for any event where you want to strongly motivate your customers, partners or team members.” Scott A. Brown, Vice President, Worldwide Distribution, Cisco

“Shaun was fantastic! The group loved both the content and the delivery of his presentation. It was a nice break in our meeting to reflect on ‘how’ we do things in life. The fact that it all linked to our surf theme made it perfect.” Marc Low, Disney International

“Shaun Tomson addressed our senior executive team, directors and store managers on Tuesday 08 November 2011 at the Fairmont Zimbali, North of Durban, South Africa. Shaun’s approach to public speaking is unique. As distinct from the rah-rah, one often encounters on the international speaker circuit, Shaun touched my team on cerebral, spiritual and emotional level. His kudos as a world champion surfer, businessman and author are well known. Much less well known, are Shaun’s more important attributes of being a father and husband. Shaun’s humility, combined with an under-stated authority on his chosen subjects make for a memorable and meaningful ‘guest speaker’ experience. My team was blown away.” Issy Zimmerman, Toys ‘R’ Us

“The 2009 Discovery Invest Leadership Conference was the largest in the Southern Hemisphere with 2,000 attendees. Speakers included Sir Richard Branson, Malcolm Gladwell and South Africa’s top leaders and business people. Shaun opened our conference and was one of the stars of our elite line-up – his unique viewpoint on life, success and leadership wowed the capacity crowd and his engaging and warm approach left our attendees wanting more. I would strongly recommend him as an inspirational speaker.” Dean Carlson, Managing Partner, Discovery Invest Summit

“Excellent across all criteria – Presentation Skills, Performance, Relevance, Entertaining, Value, Attitude.” Leonie Kirsten van Pletzen, Micro Finance Corporation

Too often you have motivational speakers that are hard, driven and shout from the podium to get the team motivated – the feeling leaves very quickly and you often wonder if they really believe what they are saying. You very seldom have a speaker that calmly shares his life, his passion, his values and his learning in such a way that keeps the audience engaged for a full hour. We had 500 people in the room and Shaun Tomson achieved this. He spoke about very real lessons in life, about the value of loved ones and most importantly about how the decisions we make ultimately affect what happens to us – good and bad. Shaun Tomson connected with every single person in the room and had people talking about and connecting with the 12 laws of surfing in a way that is relevant to them.”  Siobhan OʼSullivan, Business Executive OTC, Adcock Ingram

“Seldom can someone bring a true-life experience to the fore as Shaun Tomson does. Not only is he a real legend in terms of his proficiencies in the surf, but also he is a true human being who has the uncanny ability to take his life’s lessons and articulate them in a way that makes real sense.” Ken Varejes, CEO, Primedia Unlimited

“I’ve been waiting for someone to do this…bring out the spiritual and wisdom edge of surfing in a very accessible format…for a long, long time. Shaun is the right man at the right time and has done a beautiful job. The master of the waves is also a poet of the heart. Biography, sportsmastery, the gifts and problems of modern culture, Shaun’s presentation touches all these bases and resonates with anyone’s personal quests for joy, depth, and meaning. Our audience was filled with people who had never surfed and they joined in a rousing standing ovation, not missing a beat. For sons, families, fathers and learners of all ages.” Brook Cross, Program Director, Inside Edge

“Listening to a former world champion speak is always interesting, but listening to one speak with humility, honesty and obvious passion is nothing less than a privilege. Shaun Tomson can engage people at all levels, sharing profound messages through simple stories, and his love for the sea is infectious. He is fascinating, funny and so down to earth… quite an inspiration.” Dr Mark Penning, CEO, South African Association for Marine Biological Research

“Shaun is a pleasure to work with.  He cares about adding value to the events he participates in.  His passion for his work shines through.  After co-chairing two large conferences and working with many speakers over the years Shaun is one of the best.  The time he invested in preparing for our conference and participating in our event engaging with our attendees was some of the most I have ever witnessed.  He left his mark on our conference in an extremely positive way and his messages of lessons about courage and leadership wrapped in stories from his days surfing resonated with our audience.  I strongly encourage anyone to hire Shaun for their event.  I know that you will love working with him as much as we did and your attendees will value the lessons he has to share in their personal and professional lives.” Josh Mesinger, Vice President Mesinger Jet Sales & Co-Chair of the 2016 & 2017 National Business Aviation Association’s Leadership Conference

“Shaun provided a powerful tool for our leaders with introduction of ‘The Code’. The lessons provided and the analogies made with Shaun’s surfing career created a lasting impression. His story telling was excellent. Shaun’s passion shined from our very first engagement in preparing for our leadership conference. He spent the time to understand our industry and he adapted his message in a way that truly connected with our attendees.” Reggie Arsenault, 2017 Leadership Conference Co-Chairman, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Director of General Aviation Sales & Service, Jeppesen (A Boeing Company)

“You were a smashing success!  You really helped set the tone for 2017 and inspired the individuals to collective achievement.  The cocktail chatter was full of ‘I Will’ statements. I’m so impressed with your humility and perspective given the success you’ve had in multiple businesses. Shaun did a wonderful job inspiring our team with our “GO BIG” Global Sales Meeting.  He is exceptionally talented providing the rare balance of meaningful practical advice and inspirational messages that carry beyond the day to day grind. Our Team loved him-I think you will as well.”  Clint Carnell, CEO, Edge for Life

“Shaun Tomson met with our relatively small group recently, and from the start had everyone’s eyes and ears riveted on him.  He is an honest, articulate and genuine person with an inspiring message that he delivers with an intimacy that is unique and very special.  Shaun has boundless energy.  In addition to speaking to our group while he was in Milwaukee, he made the time to stop by a local school to deliver his message to the young people there and he even surfed with the members of the local surf club in the cold November Lake Michigan water!  We will all carry the ‘I WILL’ message with us close to our hearts.  I would highly recommend Shaun to speak to any size group and of any age “ Dick Strong, CEO, Baraboo Growth, LLC

“Shaun took our group of business owners, all from different walks of life, and brought us together in a way that will transform us personally and as a group forever.  I cannot recommend him enough as a transformative, unique, and moving speaker.  He will simply but powerfully change your perspective and take your organization to a higher level of cohesion and understanding.”  Lizzie Depp Metzger, Chair, YPO Paso del Norte, President’s Retreat

“Many thanks for coming down and inspiring us.  It was the highlight of the meeting. Not to mention getting to hang out with such a legend who shares our passion for making the world a better place. After working with Shaun, we were all very inspired by his ability to first get us thinking individually about how simple positive values can dramatically influence our lives and secondly how these same values can drive success in our businesses.” Mark Litton, Chief Business Officer, Alder Biopharmaceuticals

“Your story lives now in my memory forever. I thank you from the bottom of my soul for sharing because you have the ability to inspire, comfort and impact people in a positive way through your courage and journey.  You are the light.  Your ‘what is’ allows you to share that light with everyone around you. I will leave the retreat a better man, a better husband and a better father.” Mark Zwerenz, CEO Lorica International, San Diego Coastal YPO Retreat

“If your ears have been ringing like a cell phone provider on steroids – I wanted to let you know that the source of the ringing is the delegate base from the Liberty VIP groups you addressed in New York last week.  I can’t remember when last the entire group was so mesmerized and spellbound by one speaker – and when last, if indeed ever, we have had such a rousing response to a single element of any of the business experiences.  So – just in case I have not said thank you sufficiently – one more time – THANK YOU!” Sarah Welton-Blake, Director, Showgroup

“I would highly recommend Shaun Tomson doing a talk at your school or at any education organization, for that matter. Due to Shaun being a highly-recognized sportsman and world champion as well as a wonderful speaker, it is very easy for him to connect with young and old, teachers and school leaders. Far more importantly, however, is the message that Shaun conveys. Shaun’s book, The Code, not only tells the story of his life, travelling around the world as a surfer, but also encourages each one of us to develop a ‘code’ to live by – a very pertinent topic for boys, in particular, on the cusp of manhood, as in our case. But for all young people. It was wonderful to see so many boys and their dads listen with rapt attention to Shaun’s story.” Patrick Lees, Headmaster, St Johns College

“What a privilege to have you visit the school yesterday, I do believe that the message on how our perceptions affect our experiences was very pertinent to where we are as a school at the moment.  Girls, in particular, battle with the idea that failure can teach you many lessons not least of which is perseverance.  My dream is that we keep training young woman leaders for now and the future.  I will be challenging the school to post their ‘code’ onto your website and look forward to how this will positively impact our staff and learners.  We particularly appreciated your up-beat and humorous delivery and as you saw from the response the girls really warmed to you and appreciated the talk.” Michael Gates, Principal, Rustenburg Girls’ High School

To book Shaun Tomson for your upcoming event, contact Forte Speakers & Forte Speakers Hawaii at or call (808) 321-2715.  Visit our website at