three plastic toy animals standing on an Olympic podium with trophies against a vibrant orange background.

65: How to Unlock the Champion Mindset

In this episode, we dive deep into the world of sports, leadership, and the critical aspect of mental health.

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In this episode, we dive deep into the world of sports, leadership, and the critical aspect of mental health.

Our guests include former Premier League Football, Clarke Carlisle, and his wife, Carrie. England Rugby International, Shaunagh Brown, and Single Handed Ocean Racing Sailor, Pip Hare.

Each brings a wealth of experience in elite environments and how training a champion mindset is critical to success – in sports, leadership and life.

Join the conversation as we explore various facets of the champion mindset, covering topics such as building resilience and the telltale signs that indicate when you might be struggling.

Our conversation al delves into the differences in communication styles, particularly when transitioning from the sports field to leadership roles in the workplace.

Finally, our discussion centers around the crucial issue of women in sports and the ongoing journey towards equality in the field, before examining what it means to be a leader, drawing from our guest’s extensive experience and knowledge.

Join us in this engaging conversation as we uncover the keys to unlocking the champion mindset, all while emphasising the vital importance of mental health in sports, leadership, and life.


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Follow Shaunagh Brown:



Follow Pip Hare



Listen back to more Elite Athletes on Truth & Lies, including

Former Premier League Footballer, Ryan Briggs, chatting Financial Well-being

7-time Dublin GAA Winner, Bernard Brogan, on Founding PepTalk

How Sports Psychology Coined The Superstar Effect:

You’ll find all our past episodes on our website:

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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Clarke & Carrie Carlisle 0:00
Prior to 2017 Five suicide attempts, you know, bring me to that point. And people say that men are poor communicators or you know, general society, we’re not great communicators. My actions were screaming

Leanne Elliott 0:21
Hello, and welcome to the truth lies and workplace culture podcast brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist.

Al Elliott 0:30
My name is Al I’m a business owner,

Leanne Elliott 0:32
we are here to help you simplify the science of people and create amazing workplace cultures.

Al Elliott 0:37
Yeah, I’m saying to people and interesting one, when we talk about the mindset of sports, people of champions, a lot of people use that analogy to kind of link it to the workplace. We will really want to dig into that. So we wanted to find out what separates champions from everyone else. And then what are the commonalities between champions and great leaders. So today, we’ve got three bonafide champions that we want to introduce to you and we want to really dig into the mindset that sets them apart from people like me who sit in my chair and don’t really do anything we

Leanne Elliott 1:09
do. We want to find out if great sports people and great leaders have anything in common. So we are joined by three incredible guests, dare I say celebrities? I

Al Elliott 1:20
think you dare. I think you’re there. The first one is a lady who’s not only a professional sailing coach. She’s a regular writer for yachting world back in 2013 She released a YouTube series called sail faster sail safer. She is a seasoned competitor having taken on the international yacht races like and I’m going to have a go at this. I think it’s French translator Jeff Varvara apologies to any French speaking peoples listening and the Rolex Fastnet race ship. This is basically just your showcases how amazing she is and she’s at the highest highest level. In 2017. She can beat in the three peaks yacht race, and completed it came third despite breaking her ankle six miles from the finish line. Pretty amazing. So now, let’s go meet the incredible PIP hair.

Pip Hare 2:08
My name is Pip hair. I am the CEO and Skipper at PIP hair ocean racing, which is Britain’s premier ocean racing team.

Leanne Elliott 2:19
Our next guest is an ex premiership footballer. This one’s for you dad. He played for teams such as Blackpool and Queen’s Park rages he has been awarded the title of Britain’s brainiest footballer, and along with his wife, Carrie Carlyle has written a number one bestseller called Shut up alcohol. Carrie and Clark are mental health advocates who bravely share their own experiences with clocks multiple suicide attempts. They boast clients such as Asda, HSBC and the BBC. They travel the country obliterating the stigma that surrounds adverse mental health, especially within the workplace. Clark has appeared much of the day Sky Sports ITV sport and surely the pinnacle of both Clark and Kerry’s media career. They are now on the truth lies and workplace culture podcast. Welcome Carrie and Clark Carlisle,

Clarke & Carrie Carlisle 3:13
Carlisle, just to arbitrarily selected Zed list ex footballer who is rubbish. And this is my best selling author why number one, number one best selling author wife,

Al Elliott 3:26
our third amazing guest has been a competitor entire adult life. Whether she’s throwing hammers at the Commonwealth I guessing that sport rather than throwing judges, she’s representing England at Rugby. She is a self confessed winning addict. She has been a firefighter a boxer, a gas engineer, an international speaker, a coach, she played for harlequins, and she’s also been nominated as lon Evening Standard, most influential Londoner.

Leanne Elliott 3:51
That’s quite a lot of him there.

Al Elliott 3:53
There are a few there are a few issues the most influential so despite starting to play rugby only at the age of 25 She went on to play for the 2019 Women’s six nations which they won the Grand Slam don’t follow rugby but I reckon a Grand Slam is a win and that’s a good thing. I’m guessing it is I’m the worst of the worst supposed to be doing an episode on sports because I don’t know anything about sports. She appeared in the Amazon Prime documentary no woman no try not seen it yet. But I want to say just on the title though, whoever came up with that valid Bravo. Absolutely brilliant. Welcome the amazing Shona brown.

Shaunagh Brown 4:30
So my name is Shaunagh Brown. I currently play rugby for harlequins and I used to play rugby for England as well. I retired in December of 2023.

Leanne Elliott 4:42
To three incredible guests today, Sean Clark and Carrie we did meet at the Mad World Summit in October. If you want to learn more about that go back a few episodes will leave a link incredible event. It’s stippling event the podcast is coming up in April so go check that out at Well, but enough of that we have a lot to get through. The main questions that we’ll be asking are how does failure affect you when you’re a champion? What are the signs that you’re struggling? How does communication differ between the sports field and the workplace? And what can those leaders learn from the fight for equality in sports? And finally, of course, I think it goes without saying, we have to ask the question, what makes a great leader.

Al Elliott 5:27
But before we get into all of that, I wanted to really get into the mindset of each of our guests, I wanted to find out what made them want to compete. How does the sports differ? I know that Shawn has that done individual and team sports. And what’s it like having so much pressure to perform let’s start with PIP hare, our amazing sailor.

Pip Hare 5:43
When I got to my teens, when I started to do my A levels, I kind of realized that I needed, I needed to be challenged, I needed adventure, I needed to be passionate. I was desperately driven to see the world but also see what I could do as a human being. And one day I was flicking through a sailing magazine, and I came across the Vonda globe race, which was you know, single handed nonstop around the world in a 60 foot boat. And I just looked at it and thought that looks like the hardest thing a human being could even think about doing you know, it’s four months alone on your own in a boat that big. And I just thought that’s what I’m gonna do. I want to do that. Yeah, took me 30 years. But I made it. Shaunagh

Leanne Elliott 6:35
has competed at international level, and both individual and team sports, she’s had to learn to embrace the differences. Actually.

Shaunagh Brown 6:42
Another thing that I was different in my initial Club was ambition and ability. So I come from I was an international athlete, competed at a Commonwealth Games, I’ve competed at a World Juniors a World Youth Games. And I really like winning, I, there’s no better joy in life than to win. In fact, there is better joy, because there’s happiness, but it is up there. When you when when you’re good at something, the feeling endorphins, or hormones really should get you thinking, wow, this is great. But then you’re around a set of people who are not there to win. They’re there to have a good time. And, and I had to realize that that’s okay. You don’t have to want to win everything. Competition

Al Elliott 7:26
obviously brings pressure. But it’s important to understand yourself well enough to understand how you’re going to deal with that pressure, you need to find your own ways to thrive in this kind of environment with PIP that manifests as a single minded focus on solving problems.

Pip Hare 7:43
So you are in the moment 100% focused 100% and it is one of the few times in my life where I have permission to be like that no one expects anything else off of me. And I love what I do. There’s always an opportunity to kind of make ground to do better to push yourself a little bit harder. And it’s like when I’m on the water because no one will help me or support me, I have to do every single thing, whether it’s rewiring electronics, whether it’s downloading weather information, repairing sales, boat building, I have to do everything I have to be the solution to every single problem. And I have to be the strategist that is going to get me to the finish. And it’s like I just step out of my normal skin and I become the person that I always wanted to be my whole life. But you have to put me in that environment to make me step up in that way.

Al Elliott 8:55
I asked PIP that despite her brilliance, but she was magnanimous to kind of look down when I told her she was amazing. But despite her brace, Does she ever feel that she’s let herself down?

Pip Hare 9:04
I feel like I let myself down. I feel like I passed opportunities over you know, I do. I I just there’s something inside me that just really believes that I have more to give and I could I just could be better and I want to be better because I just feel so lucky to be a human being and a human being where I am doing what I’m doing. I know I’m lucky. I mean no holy smoke, I am lucky. And And the worst thing in my in my opinion, the worst thing in the world is a wasted opportunity because opportunities are the hardest things to come by.

Leanne Elliott 9:47
Having so much pressure to perform can start to take its toll. Here’s Clark and carry it to talk about their experience. My

Clarke & Carrie Carlisle 9:54
personal journey is a recurrent complex depressive disorder that led to multiple suicide attempts. We share that. But most importantly, we share from both sides of that lived experience. So Carrie shares the impact that it had on her and our family. And along that, you know, going along with the brutal honesty that we share around the journey, it’s not a sensationalized you know, conversation or delivery, we talk about the practical implications, and the practical applications of what we’ve learned. So nice.

Speaker 4 10:31
Basically, all the stuff we did wrong. Really wrong. We got it so wrong, we got it wrong, and cop was depressed, we got it wrong, and Clark was suicidal, and we got it wrong more times. And then we got maybe like, the ratio changed. Then we do one thing, right, and three things wrong. And we learned and we practiced, and we got really good at getting it wrong, and we didn’t care and then we got it. Right. And now we’re well,

Leanne Elliott 10:53
I think there are there are three really key takeaways there for me, and I think that all leaders should, should try and take with them too. First, even successful people can feel inadequate. You know, it’s it’s not to say that success means 100% Confidence all the time, doesn’t really work like that. Secondly, the superstar fact you know, superstars can sometimes struggle in teams. The difference is superstars that thrive in teams are coachable. If you want to learn more about that, do go back to our episode, the superstar effect, we will leave a link in the show notes. And finally, I think, you know, Clark and Carrie talk so openly and candidly about their experiences about the mistakes that they made. I think it really highlights the, you know, the pressure to be the best can lead to adverse mental health.

Al Elliott 11:45
regular listeners will know that we used to be Samaritans in the UK. So if you are feeling distress or despair, then that’s exactly what they’re there for, you will find them in the phonebook. Totally non judgmental, amazing service that we were part of, for very proud to partner for about five or six years. So as we’ve pointed out with stress, pressure, competition comes adversity comes failure, it’s kind of natural

Leanne Elliott 12:08
it is. So let’s talk about adversity. You can’t have a win without a few losses. How do professional sports people deal with this?

Al Elliott 12:19
Back in the day when I was a kid, I went to a Tony Robbins event where I walked on fire, I’m sure you know them. And despite kinda like, there was a bit of cheesiness about it, he did say something quite profound. He said that success brings, it doesn’t eliminate problems, it just brings a better quality problem to solve. However, they are still problems to solve. I want to know how Shaunagh dealt with adversity and failure. He

Shaunagh Brown 12:42
had the biggest message I would always want to relay is that failure is a huge part of success, you have to fail again, and again and again, before you succeed and keep succeeding. And then you might get good at one area in your life. But then you’re failing and nine others, that’s fine, because let’s concentrate on your super strength, let’s concentrate on what you’re good at. And we can work on your other stuff in the background. But let’s celebrate your super strength, celebrate what makes you special, what makes you unique, and not being so in a sport setting. It’s the easy one is not being picked for a team. And there has been times where I haven’t been in my early days, like I wasn’t being picked for club. And then going on to when I was in an international not being picked for England. And that’s hard. Because it was the first time I remember the first time was 2021 autumns and it was the first time I hadn’t been picked to fully fit and just not selected because I’m not good enough. And I made a conscious decision when when the coach said to me your shoulder like you’re not you’re not coming with us. And I was like, right. Don’t really know what to do here. Because I’ve never been in this situation before. But he gave me a direct action, something to be better on pitch that I could work on. And so I straight got in contact with my club, and we’re club coaches and like, I need to get better at this. Let’s go. I’m coming to train. And right now,

Leanne Elliott 14:06
Pip had a similar situation. She was so honest about how the failure made her feel. But she found that taking time to digest and accept the failure was cathartic, kinda like the five stages of

Pip Hare 14:19
grief. Just my last race was the worst race I’ve ever had ever. And we’d just done a massive refit on the boat. So we’d spent a significant amount of money upgrading the boat to big foils. So we flew you know, I’ve now got you know, my boat now is kind of one of the top 20 performance Ocean Race boats in our class in the world. You know, such a huge investment that me and my team worked really hard to achieve. And I went out on my first race and just messed it all up through human error just an ice it still hurts I mean, it really, really hurts. I was just, I was ashamed, I was disappointed. I just felt like I’d let everyone down. I felt like maybe I’d pushed myself finally pushed myself that step too far. So the first thing kind of was just a process of acknowledgment. You know, I just had to draw a line under it, you know, I kind of, you know, acknowledged everything that had not gone well. And just kind of looked it in the face and just said, I can’t change this. Now. This has happened, this is where I am. This is why I think it happened. Now I need to stop dwelling on it. That’s the hardest bit. And then actually, I gave me and my whole team a break, we were all exhausted. So everyone had a two week holiday, which was, you know, at my leisure to do because of the way we run the team. But it was definitely the right thing to do. We need

Leanne Elliott 16:06
to psychologically move on from the setbacks. That’s how we are we keep ourselves mentally fit. That’s how we bounce back. That is literally the definition of resilience. But to move on, we do need to process the adversity as Pip says we need to process that change that failure. The thing about sports is sports people have access to great coaches, and that is fundamental to success. And it’s also a widely accepted and expected practice sports people have coaches. And that’s because coaches support people through more than just the technical aspects of the game or the sport. They also support sports people mentally, psychologically, socially. In the late 1990s, positive psychology burst onto the scene, and it was quickly picked up by the sports world. Why? Well, because positive psychology focuses on thriving on being a champion. And when it comes to the science, positive psychology explores neuroplasticity. So how can we retrain our brains to be more positive, more resilient, positive psychology? If you want to know anything about it? Check out a psychologist called Martin Seligman. He is the OG positive psychologist, he talks about learned optimism, you can learn to think like a champion. When you’re reflecting on adversity on adversity. When you’re psychologically processing that challenge. There’s only really four things that you need to do. One, look for the good in the situation, to seek the valuable lessons in a setback or difficulty. Three, if it’s possible, explore solutions to the problem or adversity you’re facing. And finally, think about your goals. Talk about your goals, how’s the adversity change them? Optimism is a key aspect of what we call psychological capital, which is basically our internal resources, or the armor that we use to manage tough situations psychologically, champions invest time and effort in building their psychological capital. And like any muscle, the stronger it gets, the more weight it can bear. Shorter narrows, that internalizing and processing failure is as important as internalizing and processing success. In other words, deal with failure and success in the same way.

Shaunagh Brown 18:30
Especially in a team sport. It’s someone’s opinion, and it’s athletics and for me and throw in, you either make the distance or you don’t, it’s very black and white, you either throw the qualifying distance, or you don’t you either come first, second, or third, or you don’t, there’s no opinion involved. But then you come to a lot of team sports, and even I think of like a gymnastics or a trampoline and, and that is about opinion, it is exactly that it’s someone’s opinion. And in that moment in time, it was someone’s opinion that I wasn’t good enough to play in that position. And that can’t, I couldn’t let that dictate my value to myself in life. Because that person could be gone tomorrow, someone else could come in, and I could be exactly the same person, and they decide that I’m good enough. But equally, even if someone is picking me, again, I can’t. I can’t see that as a source of my happiness because the person who’s picking me and making me happy, could be gone tomorrow as well. So it’s not letting somebody else’s opinion, reflect who you are and your value as a person. But actually, what what value is it within you?

Al Elliott 19:38
It found that dealing with adversity and learning how to deal with adversity in sports actually helped her when she started her business?

Pip Hare 19:44
And actually one of the interesting things that’s happened to me is, I’ve gone from kind of being a one woman sailing campaign, to now being the CEO of a British based team and everything that that entails, which effectively is a business that manages, you know, staff sponsors, fairly extensive refit and maintenance programs around our boats, you know, driving the program forward all of those sorts of things. And I never imagined myself as a business owner. But what I’ve learned about managing myself at Sea has directly transferred over to running the business and, and I think one of the skills that I’ve learnt is an ability to recover from setbacks very, very quickly, because of the mindset that I learned on on the boat recently, kind of one of our sponsors made the decision not to continue with their contract. And I think as a business, we were able to react to that very, very quickly, we were able to tailor our program, we were able to model what that looked like going forward, we kind of almost straight away, change tack to kind of increase the fundraising area of our business and decrease the kind of, I guess, the performance area to to allow that balance, and kind of turning all of that around really in a matter of weeks or less. Because, you know, we knew we needed to react quickly. And I think that’s, that’s been directly from my experience of a setback on the water. It’s kind of like, okay, well, you cannot wallow in this, you can’t wallow in it. This is what’s happened. This is where you are now model it out, move forward. Let’s get this going again.

Leanne Elliott 21:46
So we know at this point that great sports people and great leaders have a specific mindset and deal with adversity well. But like anything in life balance is important. Positive thinking can become toxic. If we try to blindly spin failures into something positive. Without internalizing that adversity without processing that emotion. It doesn’t validate that experience that we’ve been to what it is to be, be human. And that can lead to trauma, it can lead to isolation, it can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Carrie talks about the signs they missed when Clark started having some dark

Speaker 4 22:24
thoughts, I clocks really good communicators, super clever man, and in my totally unbiased opinion. And so I knew he was depressed. We’re going to take about probably, well, this is a cycle. But let’s take it back to 2017 Clark’s last suicide attempt. And I knew it was poorly. But I thought he was depressed because he was telling me he was depressed. And he was telling me so succinctly and like the whole world on the news and stuff that I thought he was telling me the whole story. But he was just telling me the bits, he was comfortable it. So actually Clark was equally depressed and suicidal, but wasn’t comfortable. So he just shut that bit off. And I was like, well, he’s communicating, right? He’s communicating all the time. No, he’s not. He’s been selective. So I got that wrong. I took his symptoms personally, called wanted to sleep all the time, instead of addressing that, oh, this is a medical thing. I took it as this is a personal thing. This is a relationship thing. I took it personally. And I didn’t confront I dismissed and justified and stuff like he didn’t want to sit with me in the same room him want to make eye contact. And of course, then he disappeared and left me a suicide note. And that was when I had to start saying to myself, I can’t handle this, in

Leanne Elliott 23:27
retrospect, Clark can see that treating the symptoms, rather than looking at the possible underlying reasons, can have catastrophic effects.

Clarke & Carrie Carlisle 23:36
Um, for me on a personal level, you know, prior to 2017, five suicide attempts, you know, bring me to that point. And people say that men are poor communicators, or you know, general society, we’re not great communicators, my actions were screaming, that there was something that warranted attention. But because I didn’t know that there was something to be looking for, we dealt with each x action individually, as though that was the root of the problem. For example, then, you know, I was cyclically going a massive self sabotage self destruct. benders for want of a better word, you know, big drinking benders, 345 days going missing, turn my phone off, and we looked straight at the alcohol or alcohol is a problem. So I go to the clinic, I come out of there, I’m sober. But just because there’s no alcohol anymore, it doesn’t mean I’m not still exploding in these, you know, self sabotage behaviors. Now, what I didn’t know was that that was me in a position of overwhelm where I couldn’t manage the emotions that I was trying to suppress. And what I was doing was just expertly avoiding or distracting. So that’s what all my maladaptive coping mechanisms and behaviors were whether it was drinking or gambling or playing computer games, or like Carrie said when I was in those deep throes of depression. If I was hypersomnia, I’d sleep for 30 or 40 hours straight. But we’d look at me as though you’re not caught. What are you doing these four, as opposed to looking at the symptoms and saying, Oh, what are they showing us?

Al Elliott 25:15
There is a danger. If you’re not careful of assuming just because someone’s happy, then everything is cool. You should probably ask them if they’re okay. You

Shaunagh Brown 25:22
can’t be happier. Sometimes you’ve got to be your face, like slapped off, and you’ve just got to be angry. And even someone said to me said, Shaunagh, you’re always happy. I said, Well, no, no, no, no, no, I’m not always happy. And you know that I’m normally having a moment unit. Oh, yeah. I just because when you’re happy, you’re really happy. So I sort of forget the other bits, and I go, Well, that’s me, you’ve got if you want me, you’ve got to have the whole package. So it’s yes, it’s a strong, it’s a strong part of our identity within our team is that it’s about giving what you have that day, and that’s okay.

Al Elliott 25:55
Luckily, these days acknowledging you’re not okay, is actually becoming a lot more acceptable in the sports world, as Sean explains. So

Shaunagh Brown 26:03
I think it’s becoming more and more common that it’s perfectly acceptable to, to speak to the sport psychologist, it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss your emotional mental well being and how a situation makes you feel, where, even as again, the beauty of a team is that you have other people who can relate to what you’re going through with an individual sport, it’s kind of hard to speak to people who have no idea what it’s like to, you know, not make a distance not make a team. But within within rugby, you’ve got others who potentially not made a team with you, you’ve got others who are injured and get it. And it’s a lot more every day to just say to someone like how, how are you feeling? Not not a blase. Oh, how are you? And everyone goes, yep, and fine. Yeah, right. You’re right. Yeah. Like none of that. You sit down one to one. And you say, like, where are you? Where are you sitting on a scale of one to 10 and a Quinn’s, we talk a lot about, it’s not about giving 100% Every day, 100 of you everyday, actually, if you’ve only got 60% to give you give 100% of that 60% acknowledging that you’re not you can’t be your whole self every day. Because it’s not it’s not for me, it’s not possible. And if you are and someone is happy, buzzing every single day, I would suggest there’s other issues that they need to talk about, because without appearing horrible that a right,

Leanne Elliott 27:25
Clark and Carrie are so honest and open about their struggles. Carrie explains that there’s a weird sort of paradox in the way you respond to individuals in crisis compared to those who may be showing early signs of struggling. What if we went a different way? What if we could help individuals feel valued, feel heard and supported before their struggles escalated to the point of

Speaker 4 27:49
crisis, we seem to be so nice about people after they kill themselves. We write lovely things about them. And we remember them so fondly, and we share. But we’re not very nice about people when they’re displaying these behaviors. If we can apply the same understanding and the same empathy and the same. Look how much I love you look how much I appreciate you. Even though the symptoms are quite disruptive, let’s be honest, and like disruptive, they’re emotive, they affect other people’s lives. That’s not being selfish. That is an alarm going off that we’ve got to deal with. One of the questions we get asked so much as well, how do we spot who’s ill without being hyper vigilant? Because my god, I became hyper vigilant, like it wasn’t a Olympic sport, worrying was like the only form of exercise I ever got. And I did it all of the time. So we don’t want to go into how the village of Gelatt hit your lungs. But how do we spot if somebody is suffering from adverse mental health, not mental illness, we’re not doctors, adverse mental health. And the catch all is so simple. You treat every single person you meet, like they may be suffering from adverse mental health, because what’s the alternative, you wait until they get sick, or you push them on until they do get sick, because we all get there, just treat everyone as if they might be suffering from an adverse mental health condition and you catch everyone, you open the door for that conversation, you know, talking

Al Elliott 29:04
of having conversations, imagine coming from a sports world, particularly somewhere like sailing or rugby, where directness is what you need to be, you need to be straight to the point and that’s kind of the norm. Now you go into a business setting where you’re leading people, and they’re filled with like a diverse communication styles. PYP has learned a lot about communication, especially when she’s in a dangerous environment of being on the sea in a boat traveling, God knows how quickly so she understands that it’s was it’s required to be direct and to be open when communication? Yes, she discovered it in a business world. Sometimes that doesn’t always work.

Pip Hare 29:41
When you expand when you expand to a team both on the boat and in the business. You have to trust people. If you don’t trust people, then it’s never going to work. And for me, you know, that was a question of Finding, it’s not just about experience, it’s about people who, who fit into the program with their own philosophy as well, you know, a shared philosophy. And, and then kind of allowing, in the same way that I expect to be allowed to own my mistakes, I have to allow other people to do that as well. We got there in the end, but that was a difficult thing for me. And then I think in terms of kind of leadership, it again, it’s something that I’ve had I’ve had to develop because on a boat, you have permission to be very straight with people. Yeah, there is no niceties almost, yeah, when we are, when you have a well tuned crew on a boat, you will just kind of say to people, you give them the knowledge, they need to do the job well. So you know, if I’m navigating, I’ll just kind of say 10 port, you know, up five, trim the job in it direct pieces, either requests or direct pieces of information, but with no fluff around. And because we’re all working to the same goal, if something isn’t quite right, you can say that’s not right, we need to do that. We need to do that. But everybody has a common goal. So it’s accepted that you don’t need the pleases, and thank yous. And I think we can’t always translate that into the business world. Because it is a very direct way of speaking and and can upset people. But I think what I try to do with each of my business conversations, is almost kind of frame the objectives of a conversation before we go into it. To allow a certain type of communication, it’s kind of I guess, managing expectations pre conversation, or that it’s the same as on the boat if everyone on the boat has the same goal. And that’s to trim the sails well and sell the right course, then they accept a flow of information in a certain way. And if you can kind of translate that to a business meeting, you know, sit down this meeting is for this, this, this and this, you know, we need to speak in this way, then actually, that makes it a lot easier to be direct, but also to make sure that everybody has understood the conversation that you’ve had. Shaunagh

Leanne Elliott 32:50
agrees she’s against the idea of enforced equality. Instead, she advocates tailoring your communication style to the people you’re talking to you and the situation you’re

Shaunagh Brown 33:02
in. We don’t treat people equally. And even with me, the main thing I noticed, because I used to say that I used to say, treat people how you ought to be treated and treat people equally. But I’ve sat through quite a few different sort of personality tests and understanding getting to know teammates and getting to know how they, how they learn how they operate, how to get the best out of other people. And actually, I realize if you’ve got a, you’ve got a message of work on for me on the pitch and say, say surround tackling, I need to tackle better. If a coach says to me, well, Shona, you’re pretty good at tackling. But sometimes if you could maybe sort of think about getting your foot in a bid. And I’m like, What are you trying to say, spit it out, hurry up. And some people go. So what I need is Shaunagh, you’re talking about good enough, get your foot closer, get lower, hit harder, cool, I’m done. If I then speak to other people, the way I like to be spoken to, which is very direct, I was getting a bad reaction and people sort of crying or like being upset and sad. And then that get me I’m completely crying for I’ve just told you to hit lower and harder, what’s the problem, and then that just spirals downhill. And then you sit through tests about your teammates and listen to how they need to learn. And actually, some people do need a different approach to how you get the same message across.

Leanne Elliott 34:23
And in the modern workplace. ambiguity is so common. What’s

Pip Hare 34:27
difficult is ambiguity isn’t is that’s what people struggle with. And actually, you know, if, if we’re all brave enough to have open, open verbal transactions that come under the umbrella of, you know, no one, no one needs to get offended by this. We just need to talk about it so that we can do it in the right way moving forwards. That’s something I actually quite enjoy because I like straight forward. And I guess it’s about, you know, it’s about respect, maybe at the end of the day and, and I think throughout my whole career, I’ve had to absolutely battle every single second of every single day to get where I am. Because I did not fit in, and I still don’t fit in. I’m still an oddity. And actually, now, you know, I’m not only to see female CEO of a sports team, and an ocean racing Skipper, but I’m going to be 50 next year. And then all of a sudden, you know, I don’t fit in again, either. So I, you know, if somebody feels like I’m, you know, making them feel like they don’t fit in, I would never want to project that on someone. But I need to have an open conversation about it. women’s

Leanne Elliott 35:54
roles in traditionally male dominated sports have often been underestimated. I saw a headline the other day that, you know, any year now we’re going to have a women, a woman, manager in Premier League and men’s football, it’s kind of like, and here now really, Shaunagh has helped massively with this inequity by appearing in no woman, no try on Amazon Prime discussing how perceptions around women’s participation in the sports has evolved. Here’s what happened after the documentary aired. One

Shaunagh Brown 36:27
of the most powerful things from documentary after was having men message me on social media, saying thank you, like, Thank you for being so honest, thank you for having those conversations. Because I either have a daughter who plays rugby, or I coach women’s rugby, and I had no idea, I have never even thought about what the girls need. In a changing room. I’ve never even thought about what the sanitary situation is in a toilet and getting those changed. And just, there’s so many issues around kit was a big one as well, and how it fits and how it makes you feel. And the difference between, like the sense of belonging, and you think it’s just a pair of shorts, or it’s just a t shirt. But if you all of a sudden got your own kit, and it fits, you just feel a sense of belonging, you’re like, Ah, I’m actually not just classed as a small man. Pip

Leanne Elliott 37:18
also explained how the role of women in sailing has changed over the years. And

Pip Hare 37:22
at that time participation was less than 3%. Women. They it just wasn’t something that they did, it was a very adventurous sport, considered extreme, very macho. And I think that, you know, the general impression was that women couldn’t possibly be strong enough or hard enough to take on sailing across an ocean. And it’s just taken a really long time to break down those barriers. And that really odd thing is that actually, as the boats have become more powerful, so it’s given more opportunities for women to move into the sport because the boat I sail is 60 foot long, the mast is 30 meters high. At full, at full sail, the Full Sail cover is 600 square meters. So that’s enough sail to cover three tennis courts. And because the boat is so big and so powerful, one person alone, it doesn’t matter how big and strong you are, one person alone cannot possibly manage that boat by just muscling it around. So it becomes a lot more about technique, it becomes about brain not brawn. And that has opened our sport up to allow women to compete. And we’re one of the very few sports in the world where men and women compete on equal terms. It’s

Al Elliott 39:10
so cool. And one of the things and so single minded as well. And one of the things that she told me about was that she found it quite difficult as a woman to break into the world of sailing. So she just basically created her own team.

Pip Hare 39:22
You know, it had been so difficult for me to break into professional sailing as a woman. And I suddenly realized, one of the things I valued the most. The way I got into it was just to create my own team, basically create my own team, raise my own funds. And if I’ve created my own team, then I can be the skipper of my own team and no one’s going to kick me off. And once I’d kind of done that and got out on the water, I actually realized one of the things I valued the most about that was being allowed to fail. And I think I think that is the genuine In a definition of equality, it’s allowing people to fail and own their failure. Because it’s so important. And, and, and, and I, you know, if I own my failure, then I’m now responsible for turning it around and doing something about it. And as much as it hurts, and as much as I, you know, I don’t like looking at it. I also know that I’m the one that knows all the details, and I’m the one that can dig around in it. And that’s a really powerful thing. Whilst

Leanne Elliott 40:44
women in sports is thankfully becoming more mainstream, there is a long way to go. But we, you know, we’re making progress, thanks to the likes of people like PIP and Shaunagh. But of course, the male sports environment also needs to evolve. Clark found that that traditionally masculine environment of a premiership football team wasn’t always conducive to showing emotions.

Clarke & Carrie Carlisle 41:07
So what I actively encourage people to do now is become consciously self aware, especially if your thinking patterns and your thought processes, you’re not have a look at dysfunctional thinking patterns, I think the core cognitive distortions, academically, they’re listed somewhere between nine and 12, depending on the source, play bingo, with these thinking patterns, you’ll be amazed at how many of them you use by rote without even thinking about it. And until we take the time to understand what our thinking patterns are, but more importantly, how and why we came to thinking like that, you know, and for guys of my generation, we’re talking about the generational and societal conditioning, about what it is to be a man and the identity around masculinity, you know, it’s back straight head down, crack on don’t show emotion, you have got answer for all problems, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So I get to my first instance of significant trauma in my life. And my thought processes in that moment are that I have to have the answer. I don’t share with anyone that there’s a problem, I don’t display any emotions. And that in and of itself is an incredibly detrimental thought process. I get through to 3738 years of age, and all of these thoughts cycles have gotten progressively more detrimental and dysfunctional, but because I’ve never shared them, I’ve no objectivity on it. They’re my fact.

Al Elliott 42:36
Shaunagh goes on to explain that. Yes, it’s great to ask people if they’re okay, but you should actually hang around to find out what they say and find out what the answer is.

Shaunagh Brown 42:46
And that comes down to relationships and understand in someone, and whether you’re in a workplace or on a rugby pitch, it’s very easy to just get caught up in Ohio. Okay, yep. Okay. Good weekend. Yep. Okay, get on with work. Bye. I’ll see you tomorrow. Okay. Hi. Oh, good. You’ve had a good night. Yep. Okay, and know nothing about each other. But what does take the effort is to speak. So was telling me something great in your life at the moment? Or tell me if there’s one thing in your life that you could change? What would it be like, have a conversation with someone get to know someone, and you think, Oh, I can’t be bothered, because you know, I’ve got 25 other teammates, or has 50 people that work in this office, I can’t possibly get to know all 50 of them, get to know five of them, get to know 10 of them. And they if they then get to know another 10. And they get to know another 10. All of a sudden, you’ve got an office that understands each other. And someone I don’t know might make the same mistake every week. And instead of just getting angry at them, like, how can you get that sheet wrong? Like we do the same spreadsheet every week, and you get it wrong? Like what’s wrong with you actually go? Is there something I can do to help? Because I’ve noticed you get that wrong every week? And we’ve corrected every week? Is there anything I can do? Is there something that we can change as as an office as a community as a team to make that easier for you? And go? Or do you know what? I’m actually colorblind. And so I don’t really know which box I’m second because it’s all in colors. And so I wasn’t sure if there was a space I could tell anyone. So I just guess and hopes nobody knows. And you go, Oh, blimey, why do you just say that’s an easy fix. We can just make everything black and white or whatever the fix is. So yes, this power of relationships and getting to know people and who then have an empathy for them when they mess up or get something wrong or you just go just need a bit help with that. And I can definitely help you. The

Al Elliott 44:40
commonality between sports and business is that great leaders make or break a team. If

Leanne Elliott 44:46
you do one thing. If you do one thing, invest in your managers. I often challenge leaders that I work with to think about the amount of time they’re spending on the people aspect of their role. If you Are people manager, the majority of your time shockingly, should be spent managing people, or at the very least, you know, 50% of your time, half of your time should be on managing your people. It is that cliche that you know, you should be working on your business, not in it. And again, when it comes to sports, this is absolutely the case. Nobody would ever dream of doing it differently. You’re never gonna see or you never saw Alex Ferguson throwing a football shirt and sobbing in the second half. Did you know Alex Ferguson, Ferguson, as much as it pains me as a Liverpool supporter was a fabulous manager because he was the manager. You watch that David Beckham Netflix documentary recently, you would have noted that you didn’t refer to him as Alex Ferguson. He referred to him as the manager. Alex Ferguson was extraordinary because he plans the long term future of money knighted. And that meant selling superstars like David Beckham when it was needed. And there are so many different examples, I think, in football or sorry, in soccer for our American listeners in soccer management. You take Carlo Ancelotti, less bullish than Alex Ferguson, equally effective he is known as the quiet leader. And he’s led teams like Real Madrid, a slam Chelsea, two huge, huge successes. His philosophy is actually to speak to your players, your workers, first and foremost as people Pep Guardiola Man City bane of my life, great manager, you know, he made he is the guy that literally made the fans that have the dreams of all Man City fans come true. He has a similar philosophy, he kind of goes with the thought of you know, I’m not dealing with footballers, I’m dealing with people. And then of course, we have the you know, the greatest manager of the game, currently, Juergen Klopp, he completely transformed the coach at Liverpool. He has created a team of champions who let’s be honest, a team that when we started winning had no right to be champions, they weren’t good enough. But in three years, he led them to win the Champions League, the English Premier League, the FIFA Club World Cup, the FA Cup, the League Cup, amongst what is his approach, he celebrates success as a collective. As a manager, he knows that his team’s successes are his successes. So he knows that he can spend the majority of time on his team because they do well. He’ll do well. He’s actually quote, you said something I thought was really nice. He said, We all win for each other. What makes it Oh, that makes it more valuable, more worthy. If you have a bigger group to do it for it feels better for yourself. So many awesome lessons. And I think this is a really accessible place for any accidental MD, accidental people, leader entrepreneur, to look at the lessons of great management and think about how to apply those principles that philosophy into your business leaders really do make or break a team and going back to the football thing. That’s why managers get sacked before players do. That’s why players transfer out while the manager stays is all about the manager and sports. It’s all about the manager in business.

Al Elliott 48:06
And what Leon says, which is, by the way, brilliant what Leon just said there is it seems it’s all about the vision of the leader. They’re like take Gareth Southgate, who, by his own admission is is not he’s not got the strongest squad, but they still have the vision, they still have the cohesion and the leadership to do phenomenally well, better than I think we’ve done for years and probably scores of years, Shawn has worked under many leaders, and I want to know what she thought made a great leader. For

Shaunagh Brown 48:38
me, a great leader is someone who understands their people who has a relationship away from the Professional bit. So for us, it’s away from the pitch for an office, it might be away from the office, if it’s a person who works in the leisure center is have a relationship away from the leisure center. And that’s not to say you have to be best mates for everyone. You have to get along with everyone. Absolutely not. It’s just to have an understanding, have an empathy for their lives and for them and to make them feel good sometimes. And sometimes just give them good jobs, give them jobs that they’re really good at. So you can bring the person up and then you go. Now here’s a challenge as well. So yeah, a leader for me is someone who puts people first and if you put people first encourage them to be better than performance targets soon get reached. And for us, you get better rugby players, you get better colleagues, you get better workplaces and happy people make great workers I’ve heard there

Al Elliott 49:36
are so many things that leaders can learn from professional sports. And actually, it’s no coincidence that a lot of our previous guests and experts have actually come from the sports world. For example, HubSpot Kyle den Hoff, I think was lacrosse in Episode 23. Rhyme Briggs. The financial whiz. He was a football for Chelsea I think I’m gonna hope I’ve got that right. That’s probably The worst thing I can say, sorry, but go back to Episode 55. I told you I knew nothing about sports. Bernard Brogan was a Gaelic football I go back to Episode 48. Listen to him and how he’s just revolutionizing the world of culture. Kevin Dahlstrom is a professional rock climber, Episode 44, Susan and Rob going way back to Episode 30, early this year, both professional sports people. And

Leanne Elliott 50:22
of course, if you want to hear more about the psychology of sports people go back to our episode with Ryan Sherman from Hogan assessments. He took some through some really cool examples. In the worlds of golf and chess,

Al Elliott 50:33
you’ll find all those episodes on our website or if in your app, just scroll back, you’ll find them.

Leanne Elliott 50:37
Yeah, you will. You will. But also, you know, I think there’s also a lot of things that the world of sport can learn from the world of work. And I think this is definitely things that are starting to be more part of the conversation, I think in terms of career progression, you know, we see a lot of sports, people really struggle with their mental health, once they retire at the age of 30. Something if they you know, if they’re late in their career, yet, we also see, you know, a lot of exports, people go into commentating or coaching or management or something else, I can’t help but think that there’s, you know, there needs to be more of a wraparound support for people who retire either in terms of career progression, or continuing to support the club that they’ve dedicated years to around their well being, you know, it’s kind of like they’ve been made redundant, you know, they’re not, they’re not needed anymore. We see a lot of wraparound support from organizations that will help people through that transition, and will support their well being will again, support that career progression, I think there needs to be needs to be something there perhaps for sports people to more effectively navigate what is a very, very difficult transition at an age that is very young, in in their lifestyle, particularly when we think you know, we’re going to start living until we’re kind of 100. If you’re retiring at 30, that’s a lot of years, you’ve got to find something to do. So I think that’s one thing. And I’m sure this happens, but I think just you know, in terms of the positive psychology, the coaching the psychological and emotional support that sports people get, it’s also just making sure that they’re being told and advised and educated on how to apply these positive coping mechanisms, these positive strength mental fitness building exercises, into a world that is beyond sport, a world that’s beyond football, or rugby, or whatever it is, because if you can transfer that mindset transfer those, that discipline and those coping mechanisms to that in inverted commas, real world, you know, once you retire, then I think we would see a lot more resilience and a lot more sports people flourish and thrive post career. So a really interesting episode there. I think some incredible sports people some incredible advice and cautionary tales, around thinking like a champion. I really enjoyed that one. Oh, yeah, me

Al Elliott 53:00
too. And I think we’re all the links particularly to Carrie and Clark’s book, which is amazing. I believe that Carrie who’s from Dance say it might be Middlesboro Newcastle, Sunderland. I know you get annoyed if I get the wrong, but with their lovely Geordie accent, then she narrates the book on Audible. So definitely go and check that out. Next week well, was when approaching what you Americans say or North American sales, the holiday season. What we proper British say is Christmas.

Leanne Elliott 53:30
We do but I think that’s problematic in these times. Christmas Christian holiday. The Americans had it right from the start.

Al Elliott 53:39
But as we often do, but we do not know Kim joking, we’ve just We’ve just lost about 43% of our audience. But now as we’re approaching holiday season, I know you’ve got Thanksgiving coming up, we have got obviously lead up to Christmas, we’re going to be spending more and more time in bars and restaurants. Generally, what we do is

Leanne Elliott 54:01
we personally, this is absurd. Until January, we’ll actually be spending our time in bars and restaurants. Thank you so much. We’ll see you in 2021.

Al Elliott 54:10
What I meant was generally as a population as a populace. We’ll be spending more time eating out drinking out. And so I really wanted to find out what the what the workplace culture was like in the hospitality industry. I started off in the hospitality industry in Port management. That was what was was my degree was in Port management. I know that’s a weird degree to do, but that’s what I did. And so we have got an amazing guest for you next week to tell us all about that. Yeah,

Leanne Elliott 54:36
we do we have a special Thanksgiving ish episode. I say yes, because it will try but ultimately, we’re British and we might get some of the things wrong, but we’ll try. So yes, Thanksgiving episode for our US listeners. Next week, we will be welcoming the Chief Administrative Officer of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. I think you’re really gonna like it. Definitely.

Al Elliott 54:57
So tune in next week. If you’re not subscribed, click subs. gripe say goodbye Leanne by the by by

Al Elliott 55:11
our third competitor, she’s not a competitor on my first

Al Elliott 55:22
Okay, let’s do that again.

Leanne Elliott 55:24
The pinnacle of bloat both caught up a little

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