Monday, May 15, 2017

My Interview with Philipe Newlin / #skateboarding #executiveFUNction, #growthmindset #NYC #fathers #legacy

Mr. Newlin's son on Mount Rainier, Dad took photo

A while back I was fortunate to pin down an incredible Dad, Philippe Newlin. He has constantly transitioned and transformed himself across his life and I wanted to share a segment of his life, as well as his thoughts on skateboarding with the public. In and of itself, skateboarding helps us practice important life skills, which can be extrapolated across our life far away from the Olympic sport of skateboarding. Mr. Newlin’s story is quite interesting in that he has steadfastly kept up his mental prowess over the years, catapulting from one endeavor to another without skipping a beat. 

Soft skills (which are ‘abstract’ life skills, like humility, perseverance, grit, tenacity) and cognitive executive function skills flexed in his youth on the streets of Manhattan seem to not have lost their mental-muscle power over the years. Mr. Newlin, manages a wine importing business in the United States for a family-owned company in France, teaches at Yale University, and is an avid wing-man to his son’s mountaineering ways (who is purposed to climb the seven tallest mountains of the world, having already climbed numerous American local mountains), even on of the seven tallest mountains in the world, Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro. The son did so together with his Dad, before going off on his own last year to do a 3 months encampment exploring Mount Everest.)

Where has this tendency of taking on big challenges cropped up from within the family? Could it have begin in Mr. Newlin’s youth as a New York City skateboarder back in the early 1980’s?

Skateboarding is cool, that is to say, it can be fun, remain novel, be done repetitively and capable of generating a sense of accomplishment. The constant skateboarder tones resilience, stick-to-itiveness and hones a penchant for not giving up. My goal in bringing a part of his story to light is to showcase to others that our will directly shapes our destiny. It literally comes down to such things as making goals, being organized, not giving up, staying consistent and dreaming big. After that, it is like the small steps father and son placed on Mount Kilimanjaro. We can’t reach the summits of our goals if we simply imagine lofty dreams and walk around base camp. It comes down to making forward movement, one step at a time. It comes down to being prepared to take on the demands and pressures of what is before us. If you are going to climb a mountain, or achieve a specific aim, you will need the right gear, the right mindset and the right supports to do so. It is in no way startling that the legacy of Mr. Newlin is showing dividends in the life of his son. Philipe has never given up on learning and staying open to learning. Trying new things and developing himself while looking to pass on lessons learned to others has become part of his ‘modus operandi’ and this makes him a special kind of champion to his family and the community-at-large.

“The Interview”

Philipe, I have just one question for you. Your life seems one of constant experience and stepping outside the box, outside your comfort zone. This makes life fun and can fill it with purpose.


How has skateboarding served this mindset of pushing boundaries, trying new things, failing, trying again and then succeeding? In other words, how has your applied knowledge of your skateboarding experience helped develop you personally and professionally?


Between an iceberg and a hard place:)
When I was thirteen and my brother eleven, we both took up skateboarding as the sport was just beginning to take hold in NYC. Every afternoon after school on the cement sidewalks of our midtown street, and every weekend in our 'backyard', Central Park, we practiced downhill, slalom and 'vert' on the ramps we built with plywood 'borrowed' from construction sites. 

I think the attraction of skateboarding stemmed principally from three things: the fluidity of the gliding motion, the thrill of speed, and the constant discovery of new ways to use this fun new tool to test balance and coordination.

We also learned to anticipate. We anticipated cracks in the sidewalk by bending our knees to absorb shocks. We anticipated pebbles that could stop the boards wheels' forward motion instantly. And we anticipated banks, turns and bumps in the terrain. My brother became a freestyler, learning to do handstands, kick-flips, and jumps. And I became a slalomer, enjoying the rhythmic pumping turns through the cone course, often in front of small crowds, on Central Park courses set up on the loop, usually by Tavern on the Green. 

As we became proficient we even entered some local competitions and managed to take home a few wins. But it was the camaraderie of the 'group', the 'skate rats' that we regularly skated with and hung out with that really built up our confidence and sense of belonging. These guys and girls were our community. And we defended each other. There were the cyclists, the roller skaters, the muggers. And we were the 'boarders and we ruled the road. 

In other words, our skateboarding taught us many things: some physical and some social. And it gave us confidence, and made us feel cool. It became a part of us and we still pull out the boards every once and a while some thirty+ years later - just to glide and reminisce. It feels good and it brings back good memories of when we were 'shredding' the sidewalks of NYC. 


As an added bonus, I visited the Newlin home many times in my coaching work with their ‘summiteer’ son . Mr. Newlin had me over to show me his skateboards and discuss his time growing up skateboarding in Manhattan in preparation for the short interview. His mental flexibility, or ability to transition throughout his life has allowed him ample latitude to go forward in continuing to develop himself be it supporting his son as they trekked across icebergs, in managing the winery business in France, or in the classroom environment at Yale University.

In a sense, he exemplifies what is known as the growth mindset, or the champion mindset, which is a perspective and attitude of fine-tuning how we go about our daily process as we look to reach our end goals. A down to earth, family-man, Mr. Newlin’s skateboards rest in his garage, but his knack to never give up and welcome each new stage of life is met with a determination of will to shape his own destiny.

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