That's an unofficial personal best for...
Best pitch presenter you’ve ever seen:
Sam Renouf, the PTO’s CEO, is seriously impressive. His PTO ‘sales pitch’ to investors, host cities and sponsors wins me over every time. But in the interests of impartiality, I’ll go for Simon Sinek - the leadership & management writer - his work has helped me define my own leadership approach focussing on putting the team first and empowering them.
Best sports marketing campaign (that wasn’t yours):
I will have to go with Nike and Phil Knight on this one - “just do it” is incredibly simple but also removes all excuses that could prevent someone from embracing the awesome world of sports.
Best agency (that isn’t yours):
Digital transformation agency WeAreSweet - we have been working with their developers and designers for just over a year and they are a standout partner to help us deliver true technical & consumer centric innovation in triathlon. They focus on truly understanding their customers needs and developing a joint vision of the future. Their execution and professional integrity is second to none.
Best young industry talent:
At the risk of sounding cheesy, the PTO’s product manager - Tom Ballard and the PTO’s Marketing manager - Jess Belcher (below) are incredible and will go a long way in the industry - one of them has boundless energy and passion the other hand is wise beyond their years and incredibly strategic. I will let them figure out who is who. They are also both combining training for Challenge Roth (legendary triathlon event in Germany) this year, alongside crushing it at work.
Best sporting event attended:
The Berlin Marathon with Eliud Kipchoge setting a new World record - the energy, the crowd support and the athletics are unmatched.
Best sporting event on TV:
NBA playoffs - specifically the 2011 finals with Dirk and the Mavs beating the Heat.
Best brand ambassador:
Eliud Kipchoge - for his humility, his positivity and his genuine desire to positively impact all of humanity.
Best industry event or conference:
I’ve not been to many sports industry events yet, given I pivoted my career from Finance / Investment Banking. But in my previous line of work, the best conferences I went to either posed, and then tried to answer, a specific question the industry was wrestling with. For example: ‘What’s the regulatory take on how fintechs are disrupting the big banks?’ Or they brought in someone from outside the industry to get their fresh perspective - often professional athletes focusing on resilience, discipline and execution.
Best film containing a scene depicting the sports business:
Prefontaine - I loved Prefontaine’s style of running and leaving it all out there - not a story with a happy ending sadly, but undoubtedly another great addition to the dinner table discussion.
Best book recommendation:
Mindset by Carol Dweck - discussing the importance of hard work and the right attitude vs ‘talent’.
Best bar or pub:
Hofbräuhaus München (Munich) - order a few Mass and some Weisswurst.
Il Bordello in East London - despite the name, this Italian serves incredibly tasty pasta - try four cheese gnocchis.
Best holiday resort:
Club Med; if you are married to a french person, that is the only answer allowed - and actually super good for an active and sports-centric holiday.
Best box set:
Jurassic Park - no doubt - incredible theme song as well.
Best influence on your career:
Three distinct experiences:
1. Working in Investment Banking
2. Doing an MBA and meeting tons of interesting people and then most importantly
3. My time at iwoca (a FinTech startup) - between having an incredibly smart and an ambitious manager (Oliver Schmid) and an amazingly sharp and empathetic role model (Seema Desai - below). It was an unforgettable learning experience.
Best dinner companions (min 4, max 6):
Kobe Bryant (rest in peace); I would love to learn more about Mamba mentality.
Elon Musk and Steve Jobs and learning more about their ability to create and follow a vision for a future that does not exist yet.
Barack Obama - to talk about his ability to lead with integrity, humour and clarity - no matter the circumstances.
Best job in the sports biz:
Aside from looking after finance and business operations at the PTO... Sporting Director at Borussia Dortmund. Working for the best fans in the country and finally standing up to Bayern’s dominance feel worthwhile and rewarding.
Best professional regret:
Having stayed too long in jobs / industries that do not value their people and culture; playing the ‘face time game’ for a number of years.
Best skill you most covet:
Resilience and having a growth mindset -> knowing that whatever the task ahead is, we will figure it out.
Best trait you admire in others:
Boundless optimism; being a realist myself I find it incredibly valuable to work with visionaries and dreamers and create something new together.
Best overrated virtue:
Form / Etiquette - too many people think in hierarchical levels or outdated / inappropriate ‘norms’ - this can hold back your best people and thereby your organisation.
To continue working on being the best version of yourself everyday. This is why endurance sports are so awesome - there is no-one stopping you from setting personal bests throughout your entire life. I fully intend on keeping improving my 10k pace while eventually trying to win Gold in the 80+ age group in the marathon!