What can business learn from the Olympics? Part Two …


To be successful in business – play sport!

In the second part of a two part series, Choix Consultant Adrian Rattenbury looks at key aspects to being a ‘Corporate Athlete’, what Business can learn from sport and to be successful in business – play sport!

Here is a list of skills generally accepted as being important to be successful in business or the work environment.
• Team work
• Leadership
• Strategy
• Tactics
• Communication
• Learning to win
• Learning to lose
• Commitment
• Discipline
• Dedication
• Vision
• Self-Motivation
• Stress Management
• Decision making
• Etc…

Yet how do we learn these skills? quite simple – play sport. Irrespective of the level at which you play, you will learn most of these skills. Most people who do not play sport do not start to learn many of these skills until they start work for the 1st time. How many businesses, office environments and daily work routines require a team effort from the cleaner to the CEO everyone is part of the team. Yet for many people the work place is their first experience of this whereas those people who grow up playing and participating in sport have many years’ experience of these skills before the first day at work.

From a sports point of view, we have many young athletes and many more parents ‘sacrificing’ their education to pursue a life in professional sport either for the fame and glory or the financial gains which can accompany success. But consider this, more than 50% of the players playing on the professional Tennis Tour never win any prize money, none, zilch, de nada! on the other hand to play on the professional tour costs a minimum of £25,000 a year even at the basic level. So yes, you may win $3.5million for winning Wimbledon but there are thousands of people that don’t!

The chances of becoming professional in any sport are slim, yet, anyone who has that dream must try to achieve it, there is no worse question to have to ask yourself “I wonder if”? or “if only”? but this motivation has to be levelled with realism. I made this kind of presentation recently to a large group of parents who were all considering ‘sacrificing ‘their child’s education for their pursuit of their sporting dream (not sure if it was the child’s dream or their parents!) by the end of the discussion the vast majority of parents had realised that they had to be realistic in their dreams and on the other hand look at all the positives which their child is gaining and benefitting from through being involved in sport.

I then repeated the presentation to a number of parents who were pursuing a life of academia, career and business goals for their children (again not really sure whose dreams these were) This presentation addressed the skills needed to have a successful career or business and by the end of this presentation the vast majority of parents were going to look for a sport for their child to participate in. Why? They realised and were shown the skills that a young person can learn through sport which equips them for life, skills that are almost impossible to learn in virtually any other environment.

So what can business learn from sport or what can sport learn from business? There are so many skills we learn through sport that we use in business. Professional sports clubs have highly developed and structure scouting systems trying to find the next ‘talented’ athletes. Business also looks for the gifted and talented. Business is also a major player in sport at all levels through sponsorship but when is the last time a sponsor of a junior team, league or event went to watch the event? When did they go and look for the next leaders, the great communicators, the motivators, the tacticians etc… maybe this is where the next business leader is to be found, the next entrepreneur, the next CEO developing their ‘business’ skills at an early age through sport!

If you need help or advice with your approach to people management, making a positive impact or are interested in being a Corporate Athlete, speak to Adrian Rattenbury or one of the Choix Team.

Adrian Rattenbury – Sports Consultant and Head of the European Registry of Tennis Professionals (RPT)


What can business learn from the Olympics?


Plan for success, work for success, achieve success.

In a two part series, Choix Consultant Adrian Rattenbury looks at what being a ‘Corporate Athlete’ can learn from the Olympics, what Business can learn from the Olympics and to be successful in business – play sport!

The Olympics once again demonstrated the ability of athletes to be able to peak at the right time to achieve the ultimate success – Olympic Gold, yet it is not only those who walked away with gold medals that walk away as being ultimately successful there were many athletes who produced PB’s (personal bests) which confirmed that they too managed to peak their personal performance at the right time.

Is this just luck? Absolutely not! There are many people involved in the development, management and coaching of the athlete, all working together with one goal in mind, performing to their best ability at the right time in the right place. Winning a Gold Medal, a League Championship or a World Cup takes a great deal of planning, management and the total commitment of a team.

So what can business learn from the Olympics. First of all, let’s look back at the history of coaching. Business coaches are the new kids on the block. The idea of a business coach really only came into pay in the early to mid-90’s giving the most experience business coach just over 25 years of experience. The modern Olympics have been in place for almost 110 years and the ancient Olympics many years before that. Most sports coaches have participated in the sport and learned the different techniques, strategies, tactics, mental skills etc. required of an athlete. Most business coaches entered the coaching world as coaches. Sports people generally start learning their skills from the age of around 7 yet most people do not go into business until they are at least 18 giving sports people at least 11 years of experience before the business even starts.

What we also learn from sports science is something which is critical to peak performance. We know it is very difficult to actually be able to peak more than around 6 times per year and to hold that peak for more than 3 weeks at one time. Therefore, we are only at our peak around 18 weeks a year meaning an athlete has to learn to compete most of the year not at their best. More importantly they have to manage this situation so they are at their peak at the right time and the right place – the Olympic final, but in business are you expected to be at your best every minute of every day? Do you expect your staff to be at their best every minute of every day? more than likely, yet we know this is impossible. We expect all athletes to give 100% everyday but we understand and appreciate that the effort will not always lead to the same result. It is quite simply impossible to peak all day every day – yet this is what business expects.

If we can see how an athlete is able to train and perform and achieve the highest level of success can we not input the same ethos into our management and business operations. If you have a team when is the last time you had a squad rotation? when did you ‘rest’ your best players? When did you let the ‘youngsters’ have a go? When did you change your tactics or strategy based on the current performance levels of your staff? maybe never? yet a Premier League team will do this on a regular basis. Why? Because we know it is impossible to be at your best all day every day?
This peaking for performance or periodisation as we call it in sport is what enables an athlete to be able to plan their training, manage their time effectively and efficiently, reduce the risk of burn out, stress, and injury (illness) yet at the same time keep their eye firmly on the task or goal they are working towards and highly motivated to achieve, they understand how to peak at the right time in the right place.

In over 35 years of being involved in professional sport I have been able to manage players and teams to achieve things way beyond their own personal expectations. From junior footballers to full England International, playing tennis in the park to achieving world rankings, from academy teams to first team regulars, not by chance but by planning. I am also the Director and shareholder in 5 companies in different continents and have managed some of these business for almost 30 years which considering only around 1% of businesses word wide last more than 20 years is quite an achievement even if I say so myself. One thing I do know is that I firmly believe that without my knowledge of coaching, and peaking for performance I do not think this would have been possible.
So what can business learn from the Olympics, planning + commitment + belief + 100% effort and application = peak performance = personal best whatever that level maybe it is your best!

If you need help with your approach to people management, making a positive impact or are interested in being a Corporate Athlete, speak to Adrian Rattenbury or one of the Choix Team.

Adrian Rattenbury – Sports Consultant and Head of the European Registry of Tennis Professionals (RPT)


Why has the Rio Olympics struck a chord…?

My Choix colleagues would be the first to agree with me that I’m not the sporty type!

Helen StrawIt’s a little known fact that when I was younger I was a gymnast and competed at regional level (and came away with a silver medal – once!) I like swimming and am quite good at it, but I don’t do it regularly. So, why have I got so caught up in the Rio Olympics?

My family and HR are my first loves and I can see so much correlation with the Olympics and both of those.

First of all my family – we have a 6 year old son who plays football, tennis and swims. He also plays a wide variety of sport at school, participates in many sporting extra-curricular activities and has recently run a 5.2k Race for Life. He was mesmerised by the Olympics, our enthusiasm swept him up into a frenzy and he loved watching many different events, he especially loved the diving. He then declared he is going to be an Olympic swimmer – he has a mean back stroke. One of our very good friends completed in the Seoul and Barcelona Paralympics and won various Gold and Silver medals in athletics – our son got to try some of those on over the weekend – cue more ohhing and ahhing and declarations of his Olympic dream.

Secondly – HR, well, how many similarities can we draw between Team GB’s fantastic achievements and how we all go about our daily working lives. We all know that everyone in Team GB will have worked incredibly hard, we probably can’t comprehend how hard, to achieve what they have done. The sacrifices they will have made, the early starts, the relentless training regimes, the right nutrition, not seeing much of their family and friends. That is without question.

How did Team GB do all that and keep going? The desire to achieve the targets they had set themselves? The feeling they knew they would have of a great personal sense of pride and achievement of a job well done? Knowing that they trained and prepared so hard for something that they knew they could achieve if all went well on the day.

Don’t forget the coaching, guidance and mentoring they will have all received. Encouragement goes a long way to helping us achieve our goals. We can also never underestimate how working together with colleagues can sometimes make a project work better.

How many similarities can you see with Team GB’s success and either yourself as an individual or as a Manager of a team or Director of a business? I always say to clients that effective people management isn’t rocket science. Take a leaf out of Team GB’s amazing success story and see what principles you can either apply yourself or within your business.

If you need help with your approach to people management, making a positive impact or are interested in being a Corporate Athlete, speak to one of the Choix Team.

Helen Straw, Director of The Personnel Partnership


T: 0330 321 1460