Speakers that inspired me: a CEO’s tale
Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. I draw much of mine from sport – I believe sport can teach business much about performance and leadership. Sporting analogies make perfect metaphors for ambition, achievement, success and teamwork.
That’s why they’re so insightful and valuable, particularly when it comes to speaking to businesses.
I’ve been lucky to hear many sports stars speak about their careers, the highs and lows, the triumphs against the odds. But some of the best I’ve heard – and there have been a lot – were not big name stars.
I recently attended a leadership conference organised by a private equity firm for an audience of around 100 CEOs and Chairman, past and present.
Of all the speakers I heard that day, the most practical examples from a business perspective came from former England Cricket Team and Team GB psychologist, Steve Bull. He describes himself as part psychologist, part leadership coach, part change management consultant.
His website features a testimonial from former England Cricket captain, Michael Vaughan; “Steve Bull’s ideas and techniques will equip anyone in business with a game plan for acquiring the winning edge.”
A large part of the England Cricket Team’s winning edge in the 2000’s, that Vaughan refers to, was delivered by learning how to manage individuals, as well as the team. That starts with understanding the individual and finding the right place for them in the team, playing to their strengths and neutralising their weaknesses.
“A large part of the England Cricket Team’s winning edge was
learning how to manage individuals, as well as the team”
That sounds obvious but in teams of the past, there was no place for introverts; they were seen as weak minded and uncompetitive. The reality is that some of the best performers, and indeed recent captains, have not been the extroverts of old. They have been thinkers, who can bring a team together to outperform through management and leadership on and off the field.
Business is no different, and Steve Bull taught me to first understand the individual before I think about the team.
Think expedition and adventure
I draw my main inspiration from the spirit of expedition and adventure – pioneers forging their way to the ends, depths and heights of the planet to challenge themselves.
I’m lucky to have heard a few of them speak, of whom Chris Bonington was one of the most inspiring. His career has included nineteen expeditions to the Himalayas, including four to Mount Everest and the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna.
“Decisions in the workplace rarely include
such high stakes as surviving Everest but making and taking
decisions as a leader can be equally stressful”
I heard him speak some years ago at the London Business Forum about “leadership at 27,000ft” – how to manage a bunch of prima donna climbers, all desperate to reach the top and achieve personal goals.
How do you turn around and tell them they can’t because the weather window has closed, or they haven’t got enough oxygen, or they physically won’t make it? That is tough, and it means life or death.
Decisions in the workplace rarely include such high stakes but making and taking decisions as a leader can be equally stressful, and bringing the team with you can be tough. Establishing clear guidelines up front is critical for success.
The positive impact that these sort of speakers had on my professional career – and the businesses I was involved in – was part of the inspiration behind caytoo.
Indeed, our company name pays homage to the toughest of all mountains and many of our most inspiring athletes are mountaineers and adventurers.
caytoo for you
We’ve put together a platform of athletes from a wide range of sports and endeavours to help your business be more successful, specifically through bespoke packages to help you solve particular business needs.
Whether you are looking for talent to inspire an internal audience as part of your employee engagement programme, or to entertain clients enjoying your hospitality. Perhaps it’s attract and influence customers through brand ambassadors and content creation, caytoo gives you access to a unique range of qualified talent designed to inspire.
This includes Olympic and Paralympic athletes, world record holders, MBEs, world cup winners, legends, rising stars, all of whom caytoo guarantee will inspire your audience.
We’re happy to offer a free consultation on your requirements, so call the team on 020 3176 8135 or drop us a line.
We look forward to helping you and your business find its inspiration.
Jeremy is a co-founder and CEO of caytoo. He was formerly CEO of Gorkana Group and Cision EMEA and has a wealth of experience in building, growing and leading successful businesses.