Oprah Winfrey Network President Erik Logan on His Passion for Standup Paddling

Photo: Peter Joli Wilson

Erik Logan, president of Oprah Winfrey Network, gives us the scoop on how SUP changed his life

Age: 47

Erik Logan, president of the Oprah Winfrey Network and former radio executive, was a brand new paddler when he found himself alone in an elevator with Laird Hamilton at a work event. “I look back at that and think how one moment can change the course of everything,” Logan says. He and Hamilton spoke for two hours that night and it ignited what would become Logan’s standup paddling passion. Here, the husband and father of two discusses intention, personal growth and making time to get on the water. –WT

I did a couple lessons with Laird before he said, “What you really need to do is meet this friend of mine.” It was Dave Kalama. He was my second instructor.

Dave saw me getting frustrated because I kept falling. He said, “Listen, I’ll be disappointed if you don’t fall. If you’re not falling, you’re not trying.” And what I know about myself and about business and life is if you’re not operating on that periphery, you’re not being innovative, you’re not pushing, you’re not improving.

I’ll have as much fun loading up, driving down, hanging out on the beach, watching it be one foot and blown out as I do surfing. A lot of people grew up with this (lifestyle). I grew up in Oklahoma. This is my sixth or seventh year at it. I’m like a seven-year-old kid.

When I take people out for their first time, I say, “Leave your ego on the beach.” If you don’t, it will be beaten out of you and it will wash up there and you can pick it up after. If you take that metaphor into meetings, conversations, environments, it really changes your energy flow. It puts you into a more receptive place. People pick up on that.

“Passion is where your mind goes in the downtimes, where your heart goes when you’re happy.”

The difference between the pre-surfing Erik Logan and the post-surfing Erik Logan is amazing. I’m much more aware.

One thing I have a lot of experience at is being stuck on the inside and getting hammered. I always say problems and emotions are like waves. When you feel the emotion come up, when you feel problems swell, go under them and come back up. Eventually it passes and you can move on.

When I got into paddling, because I was dedicated and I was going everyday, I got better. I thought, “I’m getting good!” Then you go and surf with these (pros) and you’re like, “I’m terrible.” Then I thought, “OK, just stop trying to be that. That’s not why you do this.” The whole point for me is to have fun, be with friends and enjoy myself.

You just have to make time. I’m up everyday at 4:15. In the summer I’m in the water in Manhattan Beach (California) at first light, up until I need to get back home and go. With four or five different boards, I can be on the water almost every day.

People will ask me how I found my passion. It’s the thing that takes over your consciousness. It’s where your mind goes in the downtimes, where your heart goes when you’re happy and what you think about to get away.

You have to commit. Things don’t just happen. The universe is going to speak to you in a bunch of different ways. Your job is to listen. When you find something that you’re passionate about, you have to lock in and work at it. You don’t know where it’s going. –Erik Logan


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This article was originally published in our 2018 Gear Guide + Photo Annual, available on newsstands and here in print and digital form!

The article was originally published on Standup Paddling

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