US OPEN: What Start-Up CEOs Can Learn From Federer And Nadal

US OPEN: What Start-Up CEOs Can Learn From Federer And Nadal

ENTERPRISE54 – As the U.S. Open is well underway, Rafael Nadal is not participating (Oops! Is your bubble burst?) at the last Grand Slam of this year’s tennis season. Very unfortunate for the 2013 champion who fails to defend his title and for a second time, and fails to defend a Grand Slam title as

ENTERPRISE54 – As the U.S. Open is well underway, Rafael Nadal is not participating (Oops! Is your bubble burst?) at the last Grand Slam of this year’s tennis season. Very unfortunate for the 2013 champion who fails to defend his title and for a second time, and fails to defend a Grand Slam title as he misses out on his seventh Major.

On the flip side, fans of Roger Federer will be buoyed to know the Swiss is deemed favourite for the title, based on the odds stacked against him, and an opportunity to stretch his Grand Slam haul to 18; arguably an unparalleled playing profession. This totally distils the debate on who is the superior player as age, personality differences, off-the-court responsibilities as well as challenges, confirm the polar opposites of these remarkable talents.

Surely, the successes of both men aren’t exclusive of failures. We’ve all been told more often than not about the drive to succeed. But can we avoid failures? How about the attitude of start-up CEOs who brave the storms of business entry and rudder the transition period to emerge burly in their market? How does a top management leader maintain ‘good form’ in spite of the direction of the start-up?

Having different styles of play and at an age differential of +/-8, founders and CEOs of start-ups can take several cues from Federer and Nadal. Keep in mind we have used recent form of these athletes to address the following points.

VOLUNTARY Leave of Absence

Remember the saying if you don’t get enough rest and you die, someone else will do the work? The past four years has proven so for Rafael Nadal who is not dead though. Not that he has not won any trophy during the reference period; after all, he is the current title-holder of the U.S. Open 2013 as well as the French Open 2014.

Back in late 2013, Nadal was forced to take a break because of an ‘injury’. As a result, he got a forced rest. Federer on the other hand, decided back in May this year to take a major voluntary break following the delivery of his twin sons. While Nadal’s time off court was required, Federer’s was deliberate. Start-up CEOs (or founders) don’t need forced breaks to live fresh in order to steer their companies to greatness; they must deliberate.

Unfortunately, Rafael Nadal is not a part of this year’s edition of the US Open due to injury, Federer is tipped as favourite to win. You can still win, if you are not on the scene.

Council of advisors

Israel’s security intelligence outfit, The Mossad, has a provocative tagline. “Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11: 14). This is instructive. As a reader, you ask how the reference biblical verse applies to this context. May be you are more familiar with the notion of having a mentor or coach. You can relate with this, right?

Roger Federer has been able to manage his “playing schedule intelligently” which has helped him to avoid physical and mental burnout, same cannot be said of Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard known for his hard-playing style appears to be caught up by it (his playing style) in recent times according to tennis pundits/writers. For the Swiss and the Spaniard, you just cannot extricate the role of their coaches – Paul Annacone and Toni Nadal respectively (sadly, not much space to expatiate this issue).

There is extensive expectation for an entrepreneur to have mentors or at best an advisory council. Fundamentally, their role is to guide and advise founders and CEOs on making informed decisions to steer the start-up towards long-term profitability. You [probably] may be able to do without a mentor but not without a council of advisors. You need them.

How you interpret the advice you receive determines your playing style in the business world and your industry. It determines your ability to avoid physical and mental burnout in terms of how best you can limit mistakes in the course of service/product delivery.

Playing style determines performance

You wouldn’t, on any given day, want to come head-to-head with both Federer and Nadal on the court. These are arguably, the world’s best players in the men’s category. They strike well to earn a win. Don’t be fooled by the looks of the likes of Roger Federer: innocent, friendly, can’t-hurt-a-fly exterior. Looks can be deceptive, haven’t you learned? Elegance, finesse and poise, are just the right outlook for Federer. Nadal, on the other hand, has power, is tenacious and every bit tireless. Unique styles that relates closely with their personalities. Yet they aim for a similar goal – to win!

As CEOs in leading capacities, your goal remains to excel at your business regardless of your industry and your competition in the market. Your style is peculiar to your personality. You cannot assume the behavioural traits of your competition in similar capacity just for the sake of winning. There are bitter lessons, as previously mentioned, from such an experience. Stay true to yourself, improving on proven qualities. Your goal, as from the outset, should be and remain as always, to succeed!

 

Editor’s Note: This post was contributed by Tonte and Telema Davies

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