I have always thought that we can learn a lot from sports strategies, behaviors and practices, and most of the actions and activities we do in our professional and everyday life are clearly comparable, or parallel, to what team coaches and players have been teaching and putting into practice during their whole lives and careers.
I played soccer for a number of years and was also the coach of a team of "five-a-side". When I look back to those years and think about my work experience in the exhibition industry, I realize the important lesson I learned from being a sports-addicted: there is nothing good or great you can achieve without grit, passion, and enthusiasm. This is applicable during good and bad times.
And that was the message delivered by Pat Riley, the famous and numerous times winning head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, in the opening keynote speech of an HBA - Health & Beauty America show in New York City, that I was attending.
I will never forget the impact his words and charisma had on the audience and on myself. I was really fascinated with the way he explained what it takes to coach a successful team and the parallels on how to manage a team of professionals who plan and run an exhibition.
Pat Riley was clear on the fact that sustaining efforts is key for any enterprise. Here is an extract of his philosophy and strategy:
“Sustaining an effort is the most important thing for any enterprise. The way to be successful is to learn how to do things right, then do them the same way every time. Players can’t excel in every area, but they can strive to better themselves in the areas that we value most for each individual. Then we can show them what they need to do to have their Career Best Effort. Over the length of a season, a correlation always appears between great effort and great overall numbers. It may not show from one game to the next, but in the long run superior effort is reflected in the win column.”
One of the things the exhibition, as well as other industries, and sports events have in common is the plan that the ancient Romans resumed in one sentence: "amat victoria curam", that could be rendered in English with victory favors those who take pains, meaning that success requires attention and preparation. Nothing can be left to improvisation and superficiality.
Then, there are a number of ingredients which are necessary for managing and motivating business, as well as sporting teams. Just to mention some: shared goals to give teams a common vision of what they have to achieve. Positive thinking: happier organizations are more efficient and can make significant improvements on the way that leads to the final goal. Flexibility, leadership, communication, and confidence: every single member of the team has to know that they are equally important.
In the Information Age, we are living, it is not the quantity, but the quality that matters. The challenge nowadays is to attract and retain talent by creating an environment supportive of fresh ideas and innovative thinking.
After the encounter with Pat Riley, I promised to myself that I would learn how to motivate people, inspire them and work together with them to achieve amazing results. As an entrepreneur, I can never forget, like many sports coaches have said, that "we win as a team and we lose as a team".
And something I accomplished over the years and today, with my staff, we put our experience and expertise at the service of sales and marketing teams and of our clients: exhibitors and visitors of the shows we promote around the world, small and medium-sized enterprises interested in penetrating foreign markets.
There is a nice quote by Saint Francis of Assisi that I have made mine and passed on to my teams: "Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible".
About the author:
Marco Barozzi is the founder and Managing Director of Expo Consulting, a company servicing the exhibition and conference industries located in Bologna (Italy). Prior to “Expo Consulting”, he spent many years at key positions in prestigious exhibition companies such as the Blenheim Group, Miller Freeman, and Reed Exhibitions.
Specialties: exhibition management, organization of events, marketing strategy, exhibition planning, exhibitor training, international sales, PR, communications, networking, trade show marketing training, government/institutional bodies liaison, high level sales, management, recruitment, negotiation and coaching skills, sales and team management, business development, social media marketing.
Consultancy and collaboration for B2B meetings and for SME's export and internationalization projects.
CREATING AND DOING WORK THAT MATTERS is his motto.