What's your game plan?
The 43-year-old Ethiopian was a record setter on the track and the road, winning two Olympic gold medals, four world championship titles and setting two marathon world records and he’s now bringing this winning mindset, training and discipline to the office with him every day…after his run of course.
This is Haile Gebrselassie’s game plan.
You’ve achieved everything in sport, World Championships, World Records, Olympic Golds…what’s left?
What’s left? Well I just keep on running. Running is in my blood, it’s my daily activity, it’s part of my life. Some people say running is about winning Olympic and world championship medals, breaking records but it is more than that. Why do I keep running? I’m not hungry to win a medal or break a world record anymore. But running is in my blood, it gives me everything. Running is my oxygen.
What have you taken from the world of athletics to the boardroom?
One of the biggest things I got from athletics is discipline. That helps me a lot in my business now; the discipline, the hard work, the commitment. Everything I have now in business has been influenced by my running. Sport has everything – winning, endurance, patience, training. Successful people in this world who do sport really excel.
Do you have a constant need to achieve new things?
Yes, like most people I am never satisfied. I wake up in the morning and wish to achieve things. And even if I can’t do everything I want, I still wish for it.
I like to surprise people. I like to show people how good I am in different ways. In the business world I’m like a junior now. I’m learning a lot. I keep trying new things. When you are a junior you try everything, 1,500m, 3,000m. I’m like a decathlete at the moment and showing my skills through my businesses and later on, you never know, maybe in politics…we’ll see!
Do you study your business opponents as you did your competition on the track?
Of course, you must know your competitors. If you don’t know them, it’s very difficult to win. You have to know their strengths and weaknesses. Then you try to win by exploiting their weakness, understanding your advantage and their disadvantage. That’s the same for business. If you don’t know your competitors how can you win that race? The training you undertake depends on your competitors. If you are going to run a 10,000m next month you need to know who will be there, who’s from Kenya, who’s from Europe, etc. And then you start to study alongside your training.
Are you a sprinter or a marathon runner in business meetings and why?
It depends on where you are, what tactics you use. Some business is like a sprint and you have to do it immediately. In other deals, endurance and patience is needed like in a marathon. I know how to win, how to take a defeat, how to be fit, how to prepare. I use all the tactics I’ve learned from 25 years of athletics experience.
You are the ultimate athlete and now a formidable businessman so what’s next?
I know it won’t be easy and I have to train a lot. It needs commitment, discipline, hard work but why not…it’s a matter of time and now I am starting.