About LeaderSurf

LeaderSurf was founded by Brian Formato a seasoned organizational development and leadership development expert.  Brian believes firmly in action and experiential learning.  His LeaderSurf program is the outgrowth of having designed and facilitated executive development programs throughout his career.  According to Brian,  “People learn best when they are in a safe, yet foreign, environment.  Classroom based leadership development programs that are run within an organization have very little impact on driving new leadership behaviors.  Public programs that are experiential and learner centered, versus lecture based, have the biggest impact on sustainable behavior change.”

This is the basis for LeaderSurf.

Brian leadersurf headshot

Brian Formato


Brian is the founder and lead facilitator for LeaderSurf.  When not running leadership retreats, Brian Formato is President and Principal consultant at Groove Management, a strength focused consulting firm.  Brian is a certified executive coach who has developed and led leadership development programs for several global organizations including the AARP, Time Warner Cable, The Motley Fool, Land O’Lakes, Doosan and Ingersoll Rand.  As a seasoned organizational development practitioner Brian’s firm serves as an advisor, coach and facilitator to a diverse group of client companies.

Erol Lopez LeaderSurf Headshot

Erol Lopez

Lead Surf Instructor

Erol is a professional surf instructor.  He is a native of Nicaragua who has spent the past 10+ years teaching people to surf.  Erol is an ISA (International Surfing Association) certified surf instructor. He teaches surfing to people from all over the world.  Erol is an engaging instructor who knows how to bring out the best in his students.  He understands the link between surfing and leadership.  Erol reminds his students that "surfing is not about luck it is about hard work".  As a native Nica Erol has a wealth of knowledge about his country and more specifically about the Playa Santana area. Erol is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Isabelle Delfosse LeaderSurf Headshot

Isabelle Delfosse

Lead Surf Instructor

Isabelle "Bella" is an ISA (International Surfing Association) certified surf instructor.  She is originally from Belgium and has been living and teaching surfing in Nicaragua for the past five years. She lived and taught surfing in Costa Rica prior to her move to Nicaragua.  Bella is an amazing teacher who brings her positive energy and passion for teaching to her office "the ocean" everyday.  Bella is an inspiration to all of those who she teaches.  Bella teaches people to reach deep inside themselves and to power through.  She understand the connection between surfing and leadership.Her motto "Paddle, Paddle, Paddle" sticks with her students even when they return home from LeaderSurf and are faced with new challenges. Bellas speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and French.


Gilles Rusca

Buena Onda Resort Manager

Gilles is the hotel co-manager at the Buena Onda Beach Resort.  He has been very instrumental in the setup and coordination of the LeaderSurf program.  Gilles is originally from Switzerland where he studied at the Swiss School of Tourism.  Gilles has managed properties in both Switzerland and Nicaragua.  He brings his positive customer focused approach to running the hotel.  Gilles has been a great partner for LeaderSurf coordinating the program to insure that all participants have a great experience.  Gilles speaks French, German, English and Spanish.


Aurelie Dafflon

Buena Onda Resort Manager

Aurélie is the co-manager at Buena Onda Beach Resort.  She brings her customer focus to her work and makes certain that all hotel guest enjoy a positive and memorable experience. Aurélie is originally from Switzerland where she graduated from School of Management. She has been working in the hospitality business in Switzerland, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Aurélie makes it a point to check in with her guest daily to insure that the hotel is meeting or exceeding their expectations.  She speaks French, German, English and Spanish.




+1 704-966-9819

LeaderSurf Program Partners