Jack Jensen is a Kiwi action sports enthusiast and a powerhouse when it comes to building people up and creating communities. His group have torn it up on water, dirt, concrete, you name it, they’ve probably got a shot of them hovering over the top of it on a board or a bike.
We spoke to Jensen about his passion, of which he has a lot, and what it takes to be brave and grab life by the balls.
Top image by Juliane Burchardt
I want to start with your company motto “Live life to the fullest, chase your dreams and have a hell of a time doing it. Spread the froth.” Can you give us a breakdown of what that means and how that has become the ethos for what you do?
Growing up on a farm as a rural bloke, I was lucky enough to have a fortunate upbringing. Living in the outdoors, learning the value of a dollar and hard work, whether it’s crutching sheep or working on a vineyard or stock work.
I think that’s been a really key driver of my work ethic. Being able to really visualise and understand that there is no dream too big. If you put your mind to it and dedicate your life to it, there is nothing on this planet I believe you’re not capable of. Utilising the way you think and the power of the mind is so very important.
As a young boy growing up, I always knew I was going to be my own boss and love what I do day in, day out. As soon as I got the opportunity, I chased it and made it happen. I’m just over two and a half years full-time with MSFTs and it’s just exploding.
The energy we bring in across the company is really spreading far and wide. My ‘why’ is to help people and get everyone on that stoke-filled movement to get out there, be your best selves and really send it.
What is so important to me is living up to your word. What you say, no matter how big or small, if someone says something and they don’t do it, it’s a really telling character trait from me. Personally, I live by it, not letting people down. If I’m saying ‘I’m going to do something’, I’d do it.
Believing yourself and working your butt off, but also trusting your own mind and how powerful that is. That is what I want to get across to as many people as I possibly can. Spreading the froth of life and doing it day in, day out. Creating content, getting everyone inspired to get out there and give life their best nudge.
Life’s gnarly out there, but it really can be so much better if you just wake up with the right mindset day in, day out and choose to be rad and help people. Be yourself and embrace your individuality around that.
You’ve been running MSFT for two and a half years now, how does it work?
There’s three pillars to the company that make MSFT right now. The first one is content creation. That’s when we do videography, photography, but now also collaboration with other brands and businesses nationwide. We’ve got stuff in the works with worldwide brands that want to align themselves with us.
The next is clothing. We sell merch nationwide. We’ve got a couple of shops, which stock our merch. That’s just a web effect. We’ve been in touch with many more surf and skate shops that want to stock MSFT kit.
For these people that are purchasing it, it’s not just a sick clothing line. They’re wearing it like a club rugby jersey. They’re proud to represent and wear the patch on their back and front. It’s really uniting people as a family.
We’re also doing events. We’re starting to host action sports events, as well as music events. Music to me is such a big part of me and what I do is driven with music. It can drive any mood you want, so we want to incorporate that. We’ve got artists in the MSFT crew that are extremely talented rappers and DJs that we’re really pushing out there. We’ve hosted two East Coast skate jams and they’ve just grown by the year as the brand’s grown. We’re then going to get into surf jams, free ride mountain bike, et cetera.
In the next year or so, I want to have the first MSFT music festival out on our home farm where I grew up. We threw our first MSFT Bush Doof at the start of this year which was epic. It ran really well and had the components of being a really successful way to navigate an epic party for people to come in and really experience the energy of what MSFT is all about.
All of those three sectors really align to the whole meaning of it and really incorporate everyone that wants to get amongst it. The content creation, it captures them on social media. What we’re doing day in day out. We’re plugging it, people want to join that. They become an invested follower.
Then the next thing, they’re buying the merch and they’re proud to wear it. And then the next thing is creating these events for people to really come and experience what MSFT is and the energy we put out there. It’s just a whole ring of living the best life you can live and really be inspired to come get amongst it.
Did you start out knowing that you were going to push out on these three sectors, or did one thing lead to another, and then all of a sudden you’ve got events, merch and content?
I’ve always been a big dreamer, but to the scale of how big we’re going now? No, not structurally. I had roughly in mind what I wanted to do, but really to where I’ve grown in such a short amount of time, it’s been pretty wild.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for me. Where I’m at now is just the beginning of what I visualise MSFT being. I want it to be a globally recognised brand and business, where people can just feel like they’re a part of it.
It’s about being completely inclusive as well. There are brands out there that are about being exclusive. We’re all about inclusivity and including everyone that wants to be a part of this energy, this movement.
You do have that global recognition now. Are you surprised at how quickly you’ve grown over the last couple of years?
It’s extremely humbling when you say it like that, how it’s grown so fast in such a short amount of time. Recognising that is pretty wicked, very cool.
Were there hurdles that you’ve faced along the way that you didn’t expect when getting into business?
I studied an AgComm. I also grew up on a farm and recognise hard work, dedication and what the result of that is. But absolutely it’s not sunshine and rainbows, it’s hard yacker and there’ve been some really, really gnarly mental times.
Growing through this, taking a stab and chasing the dreams, there were times where I didn’t know how I was going to pay rent the next week. But I’m fortunate enough to have such an epic partner, she’s also a business owner. In those gnarly times, I’ve been fortunate enough to have her to tell me to trust the process, keep working my arse off, things will work itself out.
That’s exactly what I did through each of those gnarly times. Funnily enough, the next day I’d receive a gig or a job. That’s the thing with freelance work, but it’s really about just trusting the process and that’s what I’ve done. There’s been a massive amount of learning curves. There’s been a massive amount of growth as an individual, as a businessman, as an athlete. I really absolutely believe it’s those gnarly times that shape you as a person.
I’m super proud of the way I’ve navigated through that and it’s been extremely important. You can’t always have highs, that’s not the way life works. You’ve gotta have that ying and yang, you’ve got to have those super hard times. You’re either winning or you’re learning. It’s learning from those times where you don’t quite get what you want, but it’s so important to embrace it.
It’s been a hell of a ride and it hasn’t been easy. The Tall Poppy Syndrome has been massive in terms of people’s jealousy and lack of support or learning about people or growing away from certain mates because what you’re doing is so different and misunderstood. The whole journey has been wild, but I wouldn’t change anything.
It is part of life to have the ups and downs, you don’t get the light without the darkness. Should we be accepting that we do get down at times and not try to avoid that?
Absolutely. It’s been a super wild three months for me learning about that. One of the MSFT crew, one of our brothers, committed suicide three months ago. That would be the last thing we would think would happen to anyone in our crew. Since then, we’ve been on this wild mental health journey and I’m just such a passionate advocate of helping people’s mental health.
One of the main points around that is absolutely accepting that feeling down is okay. We’re all human, we are wired in that way. Not necessarily all of us, but most of us are wired in that way where you’ve got emotion because you get set off by different things. But it’s really understanding and having the tools to be able to cope.
You talked about some of the tools. Can you elaborate on those tools that you would use to cope with those feelings?
Personally, the tools I use to be able to cope with things, to clear my head, is getting out there amongst nature and doing the things I love to do. Going for a surf. Things that mean you are in the moment, you’re focused on living in the present. For me, I like mental and physical pain that’s good for you; grinding up a peak and pushing your absolute limit.
I love being in that sector of your brain. I love the physicality and mentality of being in that zone, because I think you learn so much in that zone, being pushed to the very limits. Really that’s escaping from what you’ve just gone through. Maybe you’ve had a really gnarly day but swinging a leg over a push bike, paddling out into the surf, going on a mission into the hills on the dirt bike; it’s really helped me to get out there and clear the head.
After those missions, I’m back home and I feel completely fine. I understand not everyone’s into action sports, but definitely activity. Whether it’s getting out there going for a walk with your dogs, or going for a run, or picking up your guitar or playing piano; whatever that is. That place that makes you happy, that gives you fulfillment in your soul, I think is so important to really get to.
People get so lost, especially with their devices. People get so lost nowadays because they’re just scrolling through s**t that’s false. It shapes insecurity and that’s what’s really scary about these young people coming through and being so exposed to that. That’s what’s drilling these young people into having mental health issues, because they’re constantly comparing themselves to someone else. It’s so important to turn that phone off, put a beat on and just get out there.
People are getting so caught up in the future, which sparks anxiety; and in the past, which sparks depression. It’s really getting back to the basics of really living in the moment and appreciating the day-to-day things.
I’ve got a book that’s really shaped me that I’ve read four times. It’s called The Ultimate Gift. It’s about these 12 gifts through stages of life. For example, the gift of work, the gift of problems, the gift of friends. A real big one for me was the gift of gratitude. It’s called The Golden List and I have it on my wall and that’s what I look at if I’m feeling like s**t. I look at that list and it really gets back to basics and brings you down to levels.
Talking openly and emotionally is not really something that Kiwi males are renowned for.
You’ve got that right. There’s a whole stigma around this Hard Man Syndrome, that opening up and talking about the way you feel is weak. But I completely want to flip that on its head because it’s so backwards and that is what’s taking these legends’ lives.
There’s a stigma that it’s not okay to open up because you’re a man. I think it’s absolute garbage. That’s where I’m coming in and utilising my platform. With action sports, you have to strap the balls on when you’re sitting on a hill, looking at a 30 metre face and about to jump 160 foot and get upside down on that dirt bike. That element of fear in your soul correlates straight across to the same feeling of your fear of opening up to your mates and being vulnerable to people.
It’s saying, ‘This conversation is going to be gnarly. I don’t necessarily want to have it, but at the end I’m going to feel so much better.’ You get gratitude from that. That’s the same thing you do when you’ve jumped 160 foot on a dirt bike. It’s that same mentality, it’s pulling the same wires in your brain.
It’s flipping that stigma around and saying, ‘I’m actually going to embrace the way I feel and open up to those people I trust.’ I think it is so important and that’s why I’m doing what I can to break that stigma.
We look at this hard s**t and we just immediately think that you need to strap some balls to do it, but isn’t there some times where a softer humbler experience is needed?
The wording I use around ‘strapping the balls on’ is because it’s the way I feel. But again, surrendering yourself and taking the risk but in a more mellow way. It’s exactly the same as strapping the balls on, but with a completely different language, which relates to another group of people, which I think is so important.
You’ve spoken about wanting to have that full gratitude towards the gift of life, and really embrace it. But why is it, do you think, that there is the element of dancing with danger?
I think that fear factor of you being in control. Because naturally as a person, your brain is wired to keep you safe. Your brain is wired to do what it can to keep you alive. But when you take full control of doing the opposite of what it’s telling you to do, that’s truly powerful.
You’re taking control and you’re controlling your own destiny and that’s really empowering, by doing things that take you outside your comfort zone. That’s the feeling of living. Just like paddling out for a surf or packing your stuff and knowing you’re on a mission up the mountain. That sense of living, of taking the reins on your life, is so powerful.
Is there a danger that we take life for granted then, if we don’t get that real sense of the fragile nature of it?
I think people are getting lost. I think people are getting lost because of the connection and how easy it is. Everything’s getting made easy for humans, but really it’s counteracting the human race in that way, because it’s disconnecting us from our roots and what we know and how we’re wired.
We are hunter-gatherers, we’ve got to where we are by the development of getting out there in nature, being a part of it and doing what we can to survive. I’m a fan of Joe Rogan and there is one episode where he’s talking about people getting mentally sick because they’re getting so disconnected away from what we’re rooted in and what’s in our veins.
Many of us are living an existence that’s pretty much like a hamster wheel. What is your antidote to that? We don’t want to give up everything and live in the bush, but what is the in-between?
I think taking the reins on your attitude. Choosing your attitude is such an important thing. It can start by getting out of bed and seeing the glass half full or half empty. Because like I said, it’s all about people losing the connection of what it is or their meaning of life.
It’s about bringing that right back and understanding, taking the reins on your mind and deciding to see that glass half full, instead of half empty. I think day to day, if it starts there, you build momentum. There’s good momentum, there’s bad momentum. So as soon as you see that, you see your change in the way you are.
After work, maybe you’re feeling busy and sluggish, you’re too busy to do exercise. You’re never too busy to do exercise. It’s making that decision of getting to the gym. It’s going to be hard for two to three weeks, but once you’ve got that in your system, you’ve got the routine.
As humans, we are rolled into routine, so our brands pick up on that and then it becomes normal, just like brushing your teeth. It’s such a powerful thing, controlling the controllables and choosing your attitude.
What’s your experience been with Tall Poppy Syndrome?
It is out there, man. I think if you talk to anyone that has put themselves out there or wears their heart on their sleeve or branched away from the ordinary. I think here in New Zealand, especially, you get judged a lot and people live in jealousy and judge because they don’t understand. It’s easier to talk about someone and bring someone down than it is to talk positively about it.
But then again, choosing your attitude and your perspective, that is so important. I’ve gone through it big time and still do. I can tell you right now, anyone could say anything and I’m not going to change the way I am or my outlook or my mission while I’m here on this planet. I see the bigger picture stuff.
You can’t really take that on board. What you’ve got to really understand is that that stems from insecurities in themselves and misunderstanding of the big picture because you can’t be rational with an irrational thinker.
How is it manifesting itself? Is it happening to face-to-face or via social media?
Sadly, it’s mates. I’ve been really good mates with people, and doing what I’ve done and going out on my own and really charged and been so strong minded, it can be tough for people to relate to. As I grow fast as a person, I can understand that can be tough for people.
I didn’t think some of my best mates would turn on me and start talking about things and be really unsupportive. I’ve lived it firsthand and have grown away from people that aren’t on the same wavelength. You grow up and grow away from some people, but then you gravitate towards others and there’s people on the same wavelength. Your vibe attracts your tribe.
I’ve really learnt a lot about people, that mentality and how people can’t deal with things. Everyone else out there from all lengths of the country have been super supportive, but then you’ve got those people that are just stuck in their ways and don’t understand you and how you operate.
I’m this super vibrant, energetic dude, that’s super passionate about exactly what I want and what I’m out there to get, and people can’t really hack that and therefore they don’t understand. That’s what I need to bring back to myself, when going through this gnarly stuff, really remembering that stuff and not getting caught up on the bullsh*t because there’s no time for it.
Emotionally, it still must be tough to make that transition, right?
Yeah, it’s super tough. I’m also very lucky to have the parents I do to be able to help me navigate through it mentally. My dad’s an extraordinary person and he’s very knowledgeable in the way of living and outlook on life.
Something that’s really stuck with me is, ‘Don’t flatter yourself. Someone is talking for more than five minutes about you. Everyone has their own opinion and they’re completely entitled to it. So just let them be.’ That’s really helped me in that aspect. It’s never nice, but again, in that way of growing and moving forward, I thank them.
I thank them for teaching me this and the super gnarly parts. These curve balls that get thrown at you and which way you’re going to handle it. I’ve learned to be able to navigate through that and look at it in a certain way that’s helped me move forward as a person and learn so much about myself in that way. We do gnarly and we do it well. That’s how I roll.
Speaking of your parents and in your childhood, have you looked at where this drive and then this the same ambition came from?
My parents are extraordinary people. I see my life as a gift and I’m so grateful for that. During school holidays back in the day, when my mates were out there playing, I was on the farm working. I thank him so much for that stuff, because I think the gift of work ethic from a young age has helped me to where I get to today.
Hard work gets you what you want and what you dream of having is through hard work and dedication. I’ve grown up with people around me that have done it. I have been so fortunate to have parents and family that have taught me the ropes, but also allowed me to be a big dreamer. That combination of big dreams and hard work has got me to where I am.
The people that wear your merch, is it like a club or a tribe?
It’s a family. It’s about representing something that’s so much bigger than just a brand, it’s a way of living. With the MSFT Productions merch and the brand on their back and chest, people can wear it like club rugby jerseys, or soccer jerseys. They’re so proud to be a part of that team. I see MSFT Productions as a team.
You have this big vision, do you find that sometimes it goes outside of you as an individual? Has it left you and has it become, as you say, this family thing? People are responding to that dream.
It’s so much bigger than me. MSFT and the way we’re carving life and what it means is so much bigger than me. It’s changing people’s lives, as individuals of what we represent and what they’re becoming and shaping.
Just like I’ve talked about with the way you look at life and being optimistic and choosing your attitude. I’m just here as the platform and doing what I can to reach as many people as I can. At the end of the day, it’s their decision to take that onboard and do it themselves. What I’m doing is far bigger than just me.
Speaking of collaborators, like how you’re working alongside Adashiko, do you see that there’s going to be more of that where we’ve got really kick-ass New Zealand brands working together and creating this collaborative ecosystem?
Yeah, definitely. I’m more than open to being aligned with companies, brands and people that live along the same lines and morals of what MSFT is. That way, we’ll never sell out. We’re very privileged that we can pick and choose who we align ourselves with.
We definitely look in depth about who they are, what their mission is and where they want to go and to be able to be on the same mission, to see their optimism and hard work and the ‘why’ of their business is so important. It’s aligning and being a part of something big and aiming for that similar goal. It’s just going to grow and I look forward to meeting more and more people that are key.
How does that relationship work with a brand like Adashiko?
Their product is outstanding collagen and actually how it can help you on a day to day. As an extreme sports athlete, who has broken 14 bones, if people are reaching out to genuinely help me and help what we set out to be, I’m more than happy to work with them.
For Adashiko to hit me up and want to work together in a way to help each other, I’m more than open. They seem like such a legendary team and passionate about what they do, but also passionate about what we’re doing at MSFT and the bigger picture stuff. To align and utilise their product, I’m more than stoked to work with them.
In all of your extreme sporting career, is there one moment that stands out, where you were thinking at the time, ‘I think I’ve pushed this too far’? Is there one moment that haunts you?
Not necessarily haunts me, but a moment that was a real eye opener of pushing the limits and decision-making, was when I was a dumb 15 year old on a dirt bike and we were racing at Woodville GP.
It was qualifying and the track was wet, it’s renowned for being wet in the morning. It’s the biggest race of the year and it kicks every year off of racing. I was set on this jump and I was overthinking it. It’s the finish line jump. It’s no biggie. I’ve always been a big jumper on the dirt bike and always loved air time across the board.
This really got drilled in my head, I remember and I overcompensated everything. It took the vision away of what I was there to do. I rushed it and it blurred the mind. I hit it in the first lap and it was real sketchy, I was lucky not to crash.
Then the next lap around, I hit it and I got squarely up the ramp and came out of the corner fully wound and then hit these ruts and I ended up out of control, coming down onto the down ramp and I landed really hard and cartwheeled. I fractured and compressed the vertebrae in my back and tore my groin.
That was the gutting times when I look back. Everything that dad put into me and I do dumb things like that. It shaped the career essentially. It shaped me to who I am. I was lying there in the paramedic tent, as the ambulance was coming to pick me up and I was skipping breaths and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’
My breath was out of beat. It was scary and couldn’t be any more scary for a parent. It was a huge crash, but I could move my legs, so that was outstanding. But with the back and ribs and lungs, I was short of breath the whole time. It was pretty gnarly.
The ambulance turned up and I went to go from one paramedic to the other. I went to put weight on one of my legs and completely collapsed, not knowing that I tore my groin at the same time, which was even more gnarly. I went to hospital and got scans and was told of the compressed and cracked vertebrae.
The next day, I got sent on the way to school on a zimmer frame. Dad had some sympathy for me, but we talked about it and I was the one that made that decision. So I had to live with the repercussions of it.