Ironman and Business

Ironman and Business

A friend recently asked me to write a Blog for their newsletter. I was told that only entertaining and humorous blogs are read by their clients. As an accountant, I have never fancied myself as a comedian, so I will just try to do something a bit different.

For those who don’t know me, I write a regular blog about family, religion, life, fitness & health. So, I thought I would try to combine business and accounting with my regular themes.

If you want to be a top athlete, you have to be a little bit wild, not be an accountant” – Renato Canova[1]

As someone who has done a few Ironman events, ultra-marathons and marathons, I do think that I am a bit crazy or wild! Training for long-distance racing is a ‘big job’. Long hours of pushing your body further and faster, not to mention the drive, ambition, stamina, and pure focus you need to have on your end goal.

Does this sound similar to running or starting a business?

Making the decision

Before embarking on a training regime to do an Ironman, there are decisions to be made, plans to make and of course approval from your wife & family. Starting a business also means taking a leap of faith into the unknown. But with both, if you get too caught up in the ‘planning’ you will never get to the start line.

In a Podcast with an ex-Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink he made the following observation, “…stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it. JUST. START. DOING. IT. Take that first step and make it happen. Get after it. And get after it here and now.” Jocko does not mince his words, but I think that he does get the point across.

“You are an Ironman”

I noticed in an article the following statement “It’s the only race I can think of where you don’t just do something, you become something.”

It’s the culmination of all that effort into a single moment when you pass the finishing line; the people behind IM really make you feel unique, even special…[2]

Qualifying to become a chartered accountant, no one announced that I was a CA, but I believe that I earned my stripes passing the Board Exam. I think that starting a business gives you this opportunity to ‘become something’. You are an entrepreneur.

One of the amazing things about Ironman is that they have created a brand that makes the competitor feel special. After paying nearly $1,000 entry and training for a good few months, I suppose you expect to feel special. But in simple terms, Ironman means a quality event, reward, recognition, respect and a massive sense of achievement for the competitors. That’s why triathletes enter IRONMAN above other similar events.

The key factors that we can all learn from the Ironman corporation:

  • They have created a very strong brand;
  • They communicate effectively with their customers;
  • They are customer focused and the competitors feel unique from the outset. Nothing is too big a problem unless you want to cancel (don’t expect too much of your entry fee back if you do!)
  • They manage everything to perfection. The attention to detail, the slick routines, the branding, the music, the DJ style compere etc. On the day of the event, the competitors are put on centre stage and everyone is treated like a champion.

Passions on the side

We all need to find a work-life balance, training and exercise is definitely a way to get away from the stresses of work. With Ironman training, there is also the problem of turning one obsession into another. So that is where ‘balance’, whatever that means, is so important.

While your start-up might be your true passion, you need to have other passions that are smaller and allow for you to take breaks. When you become too focused you often become narrow-minded, burn out, and do not reflect.” – Brendan Barbato[3] 

Is Ironman 3 disciplines?

The question is often asked, is Ironman 3 disciplines? Most people agree that there is a 4th discipline. This 4th disciple is nutrition. When you are on the road for up to 16 hours you need to eat, but eating may cause complications and then there is trying to get the balance of carbs, electrolytes and fluids right. You need a degree to understand the science behind nutrition. The 5th discipline is ‘race day’.

From a business perspective, there is so much you can learn from race day:

  • Planning for the event and the day, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”;
  • Setting goals, just like in business, goals have to have timelines and objectives;

“If you want to achieve a high goal, you’re going to have to take some chances.” – Marathon runner, Alberto Salazar[4]

  • Having a race plan (or business plan) and having trust in your planning. Hopefully, all the hard work does pay off, similarly in business, you need to consistently dedicate yourself towards reaching your target.
  • Dealing with adversity: On race day so much can go wrong, but it is how you deal with it that matters, successful business leaders and people embrace adversity and see it as an opportunity.

Try thinking about how you would prepare for a race the next time you’re asked to step into a business planning or strategy session.” – 6 x Ironman Champion, Dave Scott[5]

The importance of “investing” in yourself[6]

On her quest to becoming an Olympic champion, triathlete Gwen Jorgensen said that she never ‘made sacrifices’ while training, she ‘made investments’.

What does this mean? Jorgensen answers this from a sporting perspective, but her answer can just as easily be applied to business. She says “The quest for achieving your ultimate goals means letting other stuff go. Instead of looking at those missed opportunities as something you’re sacrificing, focus on how the work you’re putting in sets you up well for the future. Staying present in each training session and never losing sight of the end goal helps with this.” 

Enjoy the Process and The Results Will Follow

Ironman training takes a lot of time and effort. You’ll spend countless hours in the pool and on the road. While the ultimate goal is to finish and become an Ironman, the process is just as uplifting and rewarding.

Focus on the positive while training. Take in the beauty of the natural world around you and the health benefits that come with training. Marvel at how you can balance your work, life, and relationships all while training for one of the most challenging endurance events ever created.

Seek out others that share your passion so you can support each other.

“…. Having a good network is always a great idea as it is often through one’s network that the solution presents itself.”— Maureen Mulligan, Elan Learning Institute

Meeting new people and building a network reaps rewards. Networking is one of the most essential EQ skills for business people and the benefits include:

  • Generation of referrals/increased business;
  • Opportunities, like joint ventures, client leads, partnerships, speaking and writing, business or asset sales… the list goes on;
  • Connections – “It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know”;
  • Advice;
  • Raising your profile – Being visible and getting noticed;
  • Positive Influence on who you are and what you do;
  • Increased confidence – business growth is very dependent on talking to people and making connections;
  • Satisfaction from helping others;
  • Friendship;

If you set goals, follow a plan and put the work in, you’ll benefit. You may not win the race or even realize the exact goal, but the experience of trying to get there can sometimes be more valuable and rewarding than the goal itself.

The journey to Ironman is more than just crossing that finish line—it’s a lifelong adventure in improving yourself.”  – Tyler Tervooren[7]

About the Author:
Ian Pamensky is the principal of CFO 2 Grow, a boutique Virtual CFO, accounting and company secretarial service provider.
Ian is a Chartered Accountant and member of FinSIA, with over 22 years of experience working across a wide range of industries, from audit and funds management to mining. His large and diverse set of financial, commercial and company secretarial skills has armed him with the knowledge and desire to help businesses boost their success. No matter what the challenge, how small the question, or how complex the numbers Ian dedicates himself to guidance and support, always with the view to grow and keep growing.
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