UGG Boots founder speaks to Northern students at 2019 Create ‘N’ Festival

UGG Boots founder Brian Smith speaking to a room full of NSU students

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Figure out what you can do better than anybody else, and then do it.

That’s the secret to success a friend shared with UGG Boots Founder Brian Smith years ago, and it’s some of the entrepreneurial advice Smith gave students at Northern State University on Wednesday.

Smith was the keynote speaker at the 2019 Create ‘N’: A Festival Celebrating Entrepreneurship, Creativity, Innovation and Workforce. The annual event also brought in regional entrepreneurs to share their experiences with students, including Kory Anderson, president of Anderson Industries of Webster; Brianna Kusler, Kusler Klinics; Gabriella Laimer, BellaFigura Media; and Lance Larsen, Agtegra Innovation Center.

The Australian-born Smith was raised with a passion for surfing and the surf culture, according to his website. After ten years as a public accountant, Smith left the industry to pursue a business idea closer to that passion. Undaunted by initial rejections from surf shop owners in the U.S., Smith forged forward with his dream, and the UGG brand, a much-loved favorite in casual footwear, became a reality.

During Wednesday’s keynote address, Smith shared several nuggets of business wisdom, including “you can’t give birth to adults.” That is, you can’t expect a brand new idea to be incredibly successful overnight. Most entrepreneurs give up in the early stages, he said, before the idea has time to become fully successful.

Fortunately for Smith – and for customers of UGG Boots around the world – he didn’t.

Smith passed along some of his tips by telling his own anecdotes – like the time he realized he’d been marketing to his target audience all wrong. True surfers found the staged photos of perfect models to be fake; once his ads were more authentic, his sales increased greatly.

Over the years, Smith developed an expertise in every aspect of the business, from marketing to retail – and even sheepskin. He’d found his niche and had become the best in it. Smith told students that whatever they wanted to do – be an entrepreneur of something else – they should do it well.

“Success isn’t a thing in the future,” he said.

He encouraged students to celebrate smaller successes – for him, even selling his first 28 pairs of UGG Boots during his first year of sales was a success.

“Success isn’t one big thing,” Smith said. “Success is a series of little good things.”

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.