How Did I Get Here?

Paul Speaker

Chief executive officer and co-owner, World Surf League
  • Education
  • Shenandoah Valley High School, Shenandoah, Pa., class of 1982
  • Villanova University, Villanova, Pa., class of 1986
  • Work Experience
  • 1986–88
    Production assistant, Reality Films
  • 1988–90
    Freelance film assistant
  • 1991–92
    Business and film development assistant for Fred Caruso
  • 1994–95
    President, Ethos Films
  • 1995–98
    Director of marketing and ideas, National Football League
  • 1998–2000
    President of worldwide entertainment, Shooting Gallery
  • 2001–03
    Consultant, Sundance Pictures
  • 2005–09
    President of Time4 Studios, Time4 Media
  • 2010
    Founder, ZoSea Media
  • 2013–Present
    CEO and co-owner, World Surf League
  • Life Lessons
  • “Showing up is really important: for family, for negotiations, for difficult conversations.”
  • “Know when to adjust and when to stay the course.”
  • Speaker in high school, 1982
    “I was class vice president, editor of the yearbook and newspaper, and head of the float and prom committees. I played football, basketball, track, and some baseball.”
  • “They’d done some official Olympic winter sports videos. I wrote them letters saying I could ski backward and hold a camera.”
  • “We worked out of a garage.”
  • With WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow in Rio de Janeiro, 2013
  • “I saw that the surf tour needed help, so I flew to Australia to meet with the board of the Association of Surfing Professionals. It was almost a year of negotiation.”
  • “I was an economics major. I loved the people but could not wait to go make money.”
  • At the contract signing to acquire the Association of Surfing Professionals, 2012
  • “I worked on Super Mario Bros. for 18 months. It was a game changer for me.”
  • “Everybody would be like, ‘Oh great, the idea guy’s here. Let’s let him come up with some ideas.’ I was 29 and didn’t know it was a stupid title.”
  • With 2014 WSL champions Stephanie Gilmore (center) and Gabriel Medina (right), 2015
  • “We’re the governing body of professional surfing—we changed the name to WSL last year—from junior programs up to our world championship tour. It’s incredible fun.”