The “Winning Expert”: How To Become The Best You Can Be: Sir David Brailsford | E115 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "The “Winning Expert”: How To Become The Best You Can Be: Sir David Brailsford | E115".

1970-01-02T10:45:17.000Z

Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Introduction

Intro (00:00)

I'm very, very lucky that I get to help other people be the best version of themselves. Sir David Brausford, to many, he's one of the greatest winners of our generation. If you can get a little bit of insight, why do I feel how I'm feeling? Why do I respond like I do? And then you realize, I think, wow, a lot of my behaviour, a lot of my life was driven by emotion. It wasn't driven by the real me. The best thing ever if it happens, and if it doesn't, then you might be absolutely devastated. But you've got to leave it as a dream, and you've got to understand that actually worrying about the consequence of an event is detrimental to the process and the performance and the chances of you achieving that event. Perfection, perfection is so far away that there's no point in it because we're going to fail every day. So let's have a little progression. It's right then, what could we do by next week that we're not doing this week? What little things could we do? There's a million things that could impact the performance. And it works. It works 100% it works. We look 20 years. Quick one, can you do me a favour if you're listening to this? And hit the subscribe button, the follow button, wherever you're listening to this podcast. Thank you so much. Sir David Brelsford. I've tried since this podcast began to get Sir David Brelsford to come here and have a conversation with me. So having this conversation today and being able to share it with you is one of the highlights all time in this podcast history. I don't think it's an understatement to say that he has worked miracles with teams, taking teams in cycling that were underachieving and making them undeniably the greatest team in their world. And maybe of the generation. He's famous for this concept of marginal gains. It's a concept which I speak to my team about every single day. Maybe that's why I wanted to sit here with him. Today you will understand without a shadow of a doubt how to build a successful team. That's what you'll come away with. You'll understand how to be successful personally. You'll understand how to inspire those around you to be successful. But the surprising thing, which I think you'll also take away from this, is the cost of success. And we don't often take enough time to ask ourselves that very honest question. Is the climb worth the view? But by the end of this podcast, I think you'll be closer in your life to having an answer for that question. So without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett and this is the Dirova CEO. I hope nobody's listening. But if you are, then please keep this to yourself. A conscious sense of outsideness from a very early age.


Your Journey And Philosophy Towards Life And Sport

Your early years (02:37)

You said that once upon a time and it rang very true to me as well and I found it to be a very relatable thing. Where did that come from? Where did your conscious sense of outsideness come from? It's funny when you say that because it resonates. It really does. So I was very young, just been born and my parents and my dad really decided to move from Derby where I was born to North Wales and by house in Snowdonia. Very keen climber and he wanted to go to the proximity of the mountains. So we moved over there and I grew up. It was a very, very Welsh, dominated, Welsh-speaking little village called Deignon. I went to primary school there and grew up speaking first language Welsh or my friends or Welsh. Everybody was Welsh, pretty much apart from my parents. And I had this sort of conundrum then. I didn't probably realise it at a time but I certainly on reflection. You know, look back and you know, I very, very much in this Welsh community, very, very tight community. And I'd go home and my parents were obviously English parents and I felt, you know, my dad didn't really conform. He was there to climb. He was there as one of these outside. He was a come in there to get up into the mountains and I think that left me challenged, I think, because I was so wanted to be the same as all my mates, the same as everybody else. Part the tribe, part the gang. And yet somewhere inside I felt maybe I wasn't quite, you know, it wasn't fully immersed in it, you know, it wasn't quite there. And don't get me wrong, I loved it and I still, I go back then, I love it. I've got, you know, great friends there. My mum still lives there. But I've never actually quite, quite got that full sense of, I belong there, you know, so I always felt that a little bit on the outside, I guess. You went on to be a great anomaly in what you've achieved in your life and success. And I look, I always, I'm always, I guess I'm a bit nosy, but I'm, and I did a little bit childhood psychology when I was in school. So I try and look at like, which, what the parental dynamics were that might have made someone that little bit more relentless and that little bit more hard working. And I sat here with Eddie Hahn and I go, Oh, your dad, I can tell the way his dad was that ruthless intensity clearly rubbed off on him at a young age. I was reading about how you described your dad. And it seemed to be there, I said, a little bit similar to, yeah, he was orphaned when he was very young. So he lost his mum when he was five, lost his dad when he was seven. And of course, for anybody that's going to have a big, big impact. And I think he had a, you know, life changing impact on him. And I think he, he was then fostered. And, you know, he tells the story when he was, he was growing up in a foster family, foster family together and they'd make him eat in another room. And, you know, no, it was tough enough, I guess. And I think that's had a profound effect on who he was. And, and he became somebody who was very much, you know, driven to, to make his own way. And I think, you know, that was one of his core, core, sort of deep seated drives and values is that he, he post hard and he was always about being professionals or about working hard, make your own way. You know, don't rely on anybody else to do anything for you, do it for yourself. And, and he, he drilled that into us. And I think we just lived it really. And cycling, you were very into cycling from a young age. I had used to wait on Thursdays for their sort of cycling newspaper to arrive. Yeah, that's cycling weekly. Yeah. Cycling weekly. Yeah. Little magazine, which is a bit of a cult magazine, you know, quite niche magazine. And that used to arrive, get delivered on a Thursday and I had to wait with great anticipation. And, you know, it was one of those when the, the newspapers came around, you get your cycling weekly, and then you'd sit there and read about all the results and who'd done what. And, of course, there was nothing on internet. There was no, there's no other way of getting the news, you know. And, and, you know, in the back, there was all these little sections where all the results were, all the race results. And he looked to see you'd done what and study all, it was, it was like a real, yeah, it's a real part of the cycling culture. And still it's to be fair, so I can weekly still go in. There's my talk of the changes in sort of media and everything else. But some, for me, it's a real cornerstone of my growing up with the sport, that's for sure. You, you then go to school. You go to university. Did you go to university? No, no, I didn't enjoy school at all. Didn't apprenticeship? No, no, no. Well, no, I'd last school when I was 16. Yeah. First I could leave school. I was out. I was done. Yeah. I didn't enjoy school. Why? I just, I didn't like being confined. I didn't like having to sit in chemistry lessons. And I just didn't, I, it wasn't for me, you know, I just didn't enjoy it. And it wasn't, I couldn't do it. So I don't think I just didn't enjoy the environment. I enjoyed the, the pee and I enjoyed being with my friends and all that kind of stuff. But I didn't, I don't know, I just didn't enjoy that educational. I felt trapped. I felt enclosed and, and I don't know. I wasn't really motivated to, to learn at that time. You know, I was off to another things really. Do you think because you had so much freedom in your, in your childhood home, you then struggled going to places where you didn't have that, that same level of freedom? Yeah. Well, I certainly like autonomy. There's no doubt about that. You know, and I think it's probably there since childhood, you know, because I did, I did. I enjoyed quite a lot of freedom going up. But I think it's quite interesting because somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew at some point I was going to have to go and, you know, I have to get a learn or yeah, felt this kind of responsibility for an education somewhere. But I just wasn't ready, you know, and, and so I thought there was the, there's what I should do and what I wanted to do, I think. And there's a little bit what I should do kind of came along. And then in the end, that's sort of thought, well, actually, I want some freedom, want to explore, I want to go on an adventure, I want to do something different. And so, yeah, so many of the guests that sit here including Jimmy Carr, was very reminded me of him have that moment, usually in their early 20s, where they, as you've perfectly described it, there's the thing they should do.


Getting into cycling (08:43)

Usually what their parents want them to do. What societies taught them to do and what they want to do. And in Jimmy's case, it was like, quit everything and go and be a comedian, get paid no money. Because that's what he wanted to do. And take all those unpaid gigs for you. You set off on a bike. Yeah, to France. That's all breaking out of Wales, the moment, right? Yeah, and I kind of got this, you didn't have an overnight, but slowly but surely I started to really, really get passionate about cycling. Like really, the sport of cycling kind of, they had the freedom maybe, but it was a sport of suffering, it was a sport of sacrifice. It was a tough sport and I liked that. And I liked the idea that you were, it was only you, you know, this, if you could, you know, it's like the head and heart really, if you, if you're intelligent and you could figure out how to train and then you had the heart and the commitment and the desire and the passion to suffer a little bit and how deep could you go? You know, that attracted me to cycling. So if you were good, you were good. And if you weren't good, you weren't good. And then you went and played a lot of football and in all the little junior teams, then with our school growing up. And there you could, you could have a great game and lose or you could be, you know, terrible and win. The team could win. And I kind of like the, you know, this idea that if what you do really counted in terms of your own performance as it were, that sort of chined me. Anyway, I kind of got this passion for the Tour of France and this sort of thing that was kind of happening somewhere in the world. And the more I looked at it, sort of felt quite, quite gladiatorial and the mountains and that, you know, it felt just epic, a three week race and all I wanted to do was go and see if I can watch this race. And I got the chance to go and I stood there and I got this passion for it. And in the end, I thought, right, I want to go and try and win that thing. And so I sort of said to my mum that, right, I'm going to, I'm just going to jack everything in. I'm going to go and go to France and see if I can become a professional scientist. And she was mortified, horrified actually. But you can't, you know, what you think, you know, all this kind of stuff. And I said to my dad, listen, I'm going to jack it all in. I'm going to go and he went, yes. I loved it. Yeah, that's all I needed to hear, you know, once I heard that, then I was like, that, right, it's okay, I'm going. And so I got a single ticket to Grenoble and got my bike in a carpool box, Rucksack, 700 quid and got a ticket on to Bangor station and North Wales and off I went. I don't think I'd ever really kind of had to cross, remember I went across London on the tube with my bike in a box and Rucksack. That was a real ordeal for me. Got down to Dover, crossed on a ferry, got to Calais and now sitting there and somebody came along said, you know, do you want a coffee or whatever or drinking, you know, on the train? And it kind of dawned on me then. I thought, I'm very clue what's going on here. I was trying to find out. I wanted to go to a place called Ajonsie. That was my destination. And I didn't know there was two. So there's two Ajonsie as it turns out. So I went, I was trying to ask this guy to buy a ticket to Ajonsie and he was, he's just been awkward. You know, you could see I couldn't speak French and obviously he wasn't making much of an effort either. And then these two young guys came along and they said, how can we help you? You know, we speak French and English and I thought, thanks. So they helped out. It turned out they were Polish and they were too like trying to defect from Poland because we're still communist. And they were trying to get into university in Grenoble. And so the very first night I had in France, we slept head to toe sleeping bikes on this thing. And these two poets like they were petrified. And he kind of steps or something coming footsteps. They jump up right. We're going to get caught. Anyway, so I jumped on a train six o'clock in the morning, jumped on a train to where I thought I was going. I actually ended up in Switzerland. I was like, well, by which time the fun had worn off. So I got the same train back, sugar over again, spent my second night on the same platform, the same bench. And then eventually the next day got to where I wanted to go in Ajonsie and I was a bit of an ordeal. But why were you going there? What was the aim of when you arrived at that destination? Well, I wanted to be a professional cyclist, you know, I wanted to find a way of getting into a professional cycling team. And you know, I think there's no, how do you do that? You know, I mean, back in the day when cycles are very much a niche sport in Britain, there wasn't any obvious kind of route. So the club structure, the amateur club structure in France was very, very strong. And they were like feed the teams to the professional teams. So if you get over there, get yourself in an amateur team and if any good, you'd work your way up. You know, so I thought, right, so I'm going to do. Did you have a meeting arranged with an amateur team? No, no. So you just showed up. So I just went, yeah. And then I, so I looked for the end of, I looked for, went to the end of a race, which is until everybody arrived, you know, finished the race and they were all, there's like, car, didn't have the buses back in those days. So the cars were there and they came and so I looked around and chosen the nicest kits as you would. Just the nicest kit. It seemed like a good start. And I went up to them and asked if I could race and they kind of, what? They were like, what? And kind of chuckled and they thought it was a bit hard. And then he sort of passed me on to the next team and the next team and next team and eventually I spoke to one like little group and a guy came over and he said, Oh, look, we're, he spoke English and he said, we're from St. Tatien. And if you can get yourself over to St. Tatien, we trained as a whole team together on a Wednesday. He wrote me down at the address and said, right, come near at nine o'clock on a Wednesday, he'd come train with us. So I started training with them and that was it. I lived there for three years then. Three years. And eventually, you know, you admit that you realized at some point you weren't going to make it. You weren't going to win it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That was a shame. But then I look back on it now and I think if I didn't know now, what, you know, people say, what would you change? You know, if I could go back in time, I think if I knew what I know now in terms of training and nutrition and everything else, you know, I'm pretty sure I could have done a much better job. But I decided for some bizarre reason I decided I didn't want to particularly didn't want to really reduce my fat intake and just the carbide and hardly any protein. And so I stopped, I stopped each of me to became, you know, vegetarian. And then I realized now, I was just nailed all the time. So I never really optimized the chance that I had. Which kind of makes me think now when I get younger, you know, young, talented athletes or people want to try out and you can't just leave them alone, you know, just talent alone. Not always going to get you there. Is it, you know, and then you need to be in the right environment. Same as my education. When I was younger, you know, I'm, you know, I'm a bright of guy. I think I just wasn't ready to learn. I wasn't in the right environment to learn. I could have learned, but I didn't learn at the time. And that kind of reflect quite a lot on that really now in terms of creating the right environments, but to people to be able to just progress, you know, what's it take for a human being to progress. And, you know, I think my roles to try and create those environments and support people to do that really. And I think it's take a lot of learnings from that, you know, when I want to get to some of those key learnings that you've had, to take a step forward in your story, you then off go to university, which is actually quite surprising. You do a sports science degree for a couple of years. Yeah, it was early years of sports science. It was kind of developing, you know, and the idea of sports nutrition was developing. The idea of sports psychology was just developing. And I started to read around this. I thought, I love this stuff. I absolutely, I couldn't get enough. I couldn't get enough. So the idea of, eventually when I realized I wasn't going to be good enough to, you know, make the top end of professional cycling, I thought, right, well, I'll go back now because I will really want to learn. And so I went back to university and I was just absolutely wasn't interested in anything to do with like fresh as we go now. I just wanted to learn and that was it. So I met every every one of the lectures I could have a meeting and said, right, I want you to tell me how are you going to teach me, I want to make sure that I learn as much as possible. How are you going to do that? And of course, I got back since then. You're a bit full on. You're a bit full on. I got there. And so I came out of that. And I loved, I absolutely loved every minute of being at university. I loved meeting other people. I loved people that got the same passion. It was a topic that I just couldn't get enough of. I loved the psychology and the sports psychology. And I came out of all of that and really wanted to go into sort of pursue the sports psychology area. But it just felt at the time, it was too fluffy. It was, you know, the top pro teams weren't really, but it's too, like all too macho to talk about, you know, psychology. And so it wasn't an interaction at the time. So I thought, God, I'm not sure if I could make a career out of this. So I ended up like, I worked a bit longer in, I went back in and worked in the cycle industry. And then I decided to go and do an MBA. I thought, I don't know anything about business. I really don't know anything about business. I thought, I'd like to know about that. So I'm back to Sheffield Business School and did an MBA and saying there, I just wanted to learn. So I think if you're motivated to learn and want to learn, it changes something changes in your mind. It's amazing to hear that. Yeah, like absolutely something changed. If you can, I don't know, if you unlock the desire, you're not learning because it's, not learning because you have to, or it's not learning because it's a must do kind of thing, but you learn because you want to. And then it, the whole process life's learning, isn't it? I've thought about learning really. And so I think if you're going to unlock that, then then you're onto something and luckily I think, I think it did. And then eventually the first contact I had with the British Olympic program was back in 1997 with a guy called Peter Keene and Atlanta, Britain won one gold medal, I think, in the entire Olympic Games, which is ridiculously bad. I mean, it's so bad. It's like, I can't even imagine how that happened. But they did anyway. And at that point, John Major bought in the National Lottery with a view that half of the money, half of the profit was going to go into culture and the arts and the rest was going to go into sports and the real kind of gold of sports to get the country up the Olympic table, which was unheard of. It's like they were all hammered to governing bodies. It was like a dream scenario. And cycling was very, very fortunate that they had a guy at the time called Peter Keene, very, very bright guy, a visionary guy. And he wrote a beautiful plan, an amazing, amazing plan. And I kind of met him in, in and around 1997. And I got my own consultancy business at the time. And we started to help out and got more engaged. And I thought, God, this is, this is a combination of everything I've done sort of in my life, really, you know, got the sporting side, the performance planning side, you've got the psychology of it all. It's new. It's like could be a first time ever kind of scenario. The ambition is amazing. And there's a bit of business wrapped in there as well. You know, so I just saw that. I thought, right, I'm getting my elbows out. And I'm not missing that chance. You know, it's like, I thought, right, this is my calling and I'm going for it. I love, I so much of that I wanted to pick up on the point you made first about learning.


Helping people find their motivation (20:24)

It resonates so strongly with me again. I was kicked out of school, but just exceptionally obsessed with learning as an adult. And it goes to speaks to the fact that the reason my attendance was 30% in school was I was being pushed to walk down an alley. I didn't want to walk down. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You know what I mean? Yeah. And everyone's unmotivated when you try and get them to do something that they intrinsically don't want to do, right? And this is, I think a lot of the problem with the schooling system. But when I, as you were talking, I was reflecting all of these messages I get from kids who like label themselves as unmotivated, but in whose eyes, right, in the eyes of their parents who want them to be a doctor, or in the eyes of society that wants them to do a nine to five. But I reject the idea that they are unmotivated. You know, a million percent, I couldn't agree more. You know, I've worked with a lot of people over the years. And I think you've got to find out what's, what's an individual's intrinsic motivate, what's driving somebody inside, what they really want to do. And you've got to unleash that in the end. You know, that's what life's about, isn't it? Really? There's nobody, there shouldn't be any, we shouldn't be pigeonholed. And there shouldn't be lines and lanes. And I'm very, very, very lucky that I try and get to help other people be the best version of themselves, basically. And you think, you know, it, when you, when you no longer compete for yourself, and you think, right, I'm going to be judged on somebody else's performance. And that's what people judge me on. They go like, well, did somebody else win a race? Not me. I can't, you know, I'm never going to win a race. But that it's like, did somebody else win a race? And then you realize, well, if I'm going to be judged on somebody else's performance, I better get pretty good at understanding how to optimize and help somebody be the best they could possibly be. And then you think, well, what does that look like? How do you, that what? Where's the, where's, what is that? You know, and that's where you think, well, let's take the human being as a, as a thing. You think, how do you get help a human being be the best they could possibly be? Are there certain things that if you can generally get those things right, it helps an individual in the main be the best version themselves. But the first thing you're asked is, like, is that person, what is that person's internal intrinsic drive? Because if it's not aligned, it's not really committed and really driven and excited to what you'd like them to be. It doesn't matter how much you'd like them to be if they're not, they're not. And there's nothing you can do about that. You know, but if there's a little bit of a flicker of the light burning, they can turn that up. I think you can turn it down. You can very easily turn it off by mistake, or deliberately, if you're not that way minded. But I think you do the very essence of people achieving things is, is they got to be driven or they got this, there's got to be a reward. I mean, avoiding avoidance is a very, very strong motivator as well, I think. And maybe I'd argue that maybe in my life, I was avoiding failure or that rather than being dragged towards the positive emotion of winning. The positive emotion of winning for me, isn't that great, unfortunately, I wish it was. But avoiding failure is massive driver for me. So, and so either way, you figure out what somebody's drive is, and then you help. Then you think about what you need to do to create the environment around somebody to optimize what they're doing. And then, and then you really got to put yourself in somebody else's shoes and forget yourself, forget your precepts, really genuinely saying, I say, right, I'm going to stand in this person's shoes. I'm going to try and see what life looks like for them and feel what life looks like for them and really understand regardless of what any preconceptions I might have, what does that feel and look like and what do they need? What would the best thing I could do? What do they need to help or support? The more you go through that, the more you kind of recognize there's, we're all different, but there are some common denominators deep down inside, I think. And if you take the time to listen to people, they might not want to tell you first and foremost, but if you dig away at it, eventually people will tell you what works for them, what they like, what they don't like. And if you listen carefully, people get a bit, give them a bit of ownership and they'll tell you, and that is probably one of the most powerful drivers, I think that exists, really. You can put a gun to somebody's head, ask them to jump up and down, they'll jump up and down, your cock is trigger and say, jump higher, they'll jump higher, or they'll try to anyway, and then you pull it away and you walk away and that is not a pleasant experience, it's used a lot, and it's used a lot in sport actually, and so less so now, but certainly has been in the past. But your performance is going to be inconsistent, I think, through that, and it's certainly not going to be a very pleasurable experience. And I think by going down the route of trying to find people's characters, it were. I mean, you've been to you, Steve, I mean, Steve, you've been a amazing guy. I am believable. And his work, I think, is just phenomenal and something I buy into, but I do believe that it's carrot not stick. On that point of finding out what their true motivation is, what they truly want and checking that it's aligned with yours as a coach or as a team, if you ask somebody, they'll typically give you the what they think you want to hear on. So if I was sat in front of you and you asked me and I was new to your team, I'd say, I want to be a world champion, because I think that's what you want to hear. How do you see past that? I'm asking this because a lot of people have people in their lives, whether it's a friend or a sibling or son or a daughter who they're trying to motivate to be something and often failing, because they want it more than that person wants it for themselves. How do you see past that? Is there a technique? Is it just intuitive? Well, I think you've got to, as soon as I sit down and some in front of somebody and they think, "Okay, this guy's got some kind of influence over what happens to me," then it's biased immediately. And of course, if you don't recognise that, if I just take it face value of what people are telling me now, then it's naive, I think, really. And I think you've got to go beyond that, like you say, and I think most people will have a network. You can identify if you watch the spheres of influence or the kind of who's influencing, who and who has good relationships with, who. And if I ask you now what your drivers are, in this scenario, in this scenario, we're currently in, you'll kind of think about what you're going to say, really. Whereas I think if you give me a couple of weeks, I think I could piece together slowly but surely by chatting to you, chatting to other people, asking the right questions, giving you some time, different kind of environments and some informal, some informal, slowly but surely you could piece together a relatively good picture of where you think somebody's at. Is it a person who's driven by an order and discipline and process or is it somebody who wants harmony? Is it somebody who wants to be life and soul of the party and out there and express themselves? Or is it equally somebody who wants to please others? And if it is, please, and others, and who is it? Is the parents? Quite often I see that really. And then, you just piece it all together and once you have that, then you're armed with information, you're armed with something which is you should really then respond and think carefully about, what's this person all about? Can you draw a map of somebody? Can you really map out some of these drivers, who they are, what do you think their influences are, what they really want, what's there, what's pulling them and what's pushing them? And I think when you get into that kind of realm of high performers and people who are really pushing themselves to extreme levels, there's something pulling or pushing them pretty hard normally. And trying to just understand that and dig a little bit around that, at least like I say, it gives you the, I think it's an obligation for somebody in our kind of roles as it were to make that effort to make sure you do take the time to fully understand somebody. Have you encountered instances in your career where someone's got so much talent but they're just lacking in drive and no matter what you've done? 100%. And what do you do in those situations? Well, in our world, you wouldn't work with them. I'd support them and be very, very, not unpleasant or unkind or everything else but it's not going to work. That's the, you have to have that commitment and that drive and that's got to be there. If that's not there, then don't go past square one really. When you're young, you can perform and get to a very high standard on your talent. But then when you get to the top of the top, as it were, and there's maybe five or six people who have this similar level of talent and some can get the best out of themselves and get that little bit, it's like you can get a normal kind of high level of performance. And then every now and again, you get this like discretionary level of performance, that little bit on top thinking, "Wow, that was absolutely me or you at your best." And we're not in the business of that high level performance. We're in the business of trying to get that discretionary performance as often as possible when it really matters. And that's what we really got to think about. And it's unlikely that you'll get there on talent alone and even in the most sort of out there, sort of talents, who can be flamboyant or do the unexpected, etc. They've nearly all, they're all committed and very, very, very bought into and driven by what they're doing. Quick one. 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If you're going to try any of the new flavors, please do try the cinnamon swale and let me know what you think. It's an absolutely unexpected champion of the new flavors. That word commitment is the first letter in your acronym, core, which is a philosophy you're known for.


C.O.R.E (31:14)

What is this core philosophy? What is that acronym and what is it stand for? To be fair to, I just mentioned Steve Peters. I think one of the great things I think I've been very, very fortunate to have happened in my life was that we met Steve back in, I think it was 2002, something around that. I was always into, I'd like the psychology, obviously I studied psychology, but I couldn't quite, it wasn't quite input output. It didn't feel quite solid enough at times. And then we had an athlete who had a bit of an issue and somebody within our medical team had been a student of Steve's, the school medicine in Sheffield. And they said, "Well, we've got this guy to come across." And he did. And he did this amazing piece of work with this athlete. He said, "Wow, I've really got to meet this guy." And so I sat down with Steve and his psychiatrist, not a psychologist, obviously a forensic psychiatrist. And he sat down and he said, "Right, well, here's my mental kind of map as it were. And this is how your brain works. And this is the different parts of your brain. Think differently. And you do realize that this different blood goes to different areas. And that's all you'll be driven by emotion or logic or past experiences, etc. And I was like, "Well, okay, this is really interesting." And that's what I liked about it. And he was like, "If you do this, then that, and you should do this, not that." And he's quite prescriptive in a very neutral way, but quite strong. And I really liked that, really, really liked that. So I thought, "Wow, this guy would be absolutely dynamite in sport." And so Steve was still working in the NHS. And he was actually working at Rumpton at the time as well with the mass movement, with the psychopaths and all that. And so I tried to persuade him, "S and how do we create the best possible environment for people to perform?" And that's where the core principle came from with Steve in the first instance. And so it was like, the C was commitment. So let's screen these people for commitment and do a commitment screen. And then he'd ask people about their homework and how they did their homework and what that was. When people had to do something deliver on something, he'd interrogate them a little bit about that. And then the O of the core was for ownership and the idea that we were human will perform better and respond better with a little bit of ownership over what they're doing. So sport was very much dictating control, kind of coaching model, really, and management model. And he was very much of the very, very strong that as a human, we like to have a little bit of control of what's happening to us. We like to negotiate or have a little say, "This works, that works." And that's a very powerful kind of construct to work with. The R was for responsibility and accountability. And of course, we've all worked in professional jobs in the end and we've all got accountability and responsibility in life. And so people need to be held accountable and responsible. And then the E was for excellence, but it's personal excellence. And as he used to joke about how to, it should have been personal excellence, but it sounded a bit like corpse. So we stuck with core. And so we got all the coaches in and said, "I bought this 100% really, really thought right. We're going to do this." And then we'll use cycling as the opportunity to do something different. And I was absolutely sure, really, really sure it was the right thing to be doing. And of course, he was there to coach and help and support. And so we've got coaches in and said, "Right guys, we're going to change the way we're working here. We're going to put the tie in. Actually, we turned it. I'm going to take the crown off the heads of the coaches and put them onto the heads of the riders. And they're going to be the kings and queens of their own world, their own destiny. And we're going to support them in that. And it was just that slight change of emphasis, which a lot of the coaches threw at Hans and Jan were, "Wow, they would never be out of control. They wouldn't turn up the training." And it was kind of an emotional response, really. And of course, Chris Hoey and Vicky Pendleton, and all of the athletes who were with us at the time, they wanted to perform for themselves. They weren't performed for a coach. They might have a brilliant relationship with a coach. But they were after their own performance or a team performance. It wasn't done for the coach. And it was a real... I mean, it sounds a bit obvious now, I guess, but at the time, it felt like a quite a big deal to be really empowering a group of athletes. And Janoff, we went with that, really. And it was an exciting time. One of the things that I've taken from that, many things, but one of the things that I've taken from that, which is, again, feels really consistent throughout lots of things I read about you, is this idea of going back to first principles, to create better solutions.


First principles (36:32)

And I'll tell you the three touch points where I've kind of... I've seen that in your philosophy. The first is you basically went down to the first principles of the human brain there. And so how does the human brain work? And let's treat the human brain in a better way outside of the conventional way of treating the human brain to get a better outcome. That's like, again, with first principles, it's a lot of work and all wants to do it. Conventions must be much easier. The second thing is just generally your attitude to breaking down what you were trying to achieve as a team into small sections. That's where I see the first principles thing. And the third thing was I read that you hired younger coaches into a team that weren't tainted with convention. And again, they're much easier to train in new ways. Is that? Yes, I think in the making, I think I do like to break things down into the smallest component part of all first principles. Anyway, it's not copy and paste. Yeah. And I read a lot and I'm constantly reading and listening to podcasts. I'm constantly taking information in. And I'll use some of the information, but I won't just copy and paste it. I won't just apply it. It's contextual. I'd like to understand what's going on behind it. It's like to understand the theory and the thinking. It drives people mad actually because I can talk about methods and models all day long. But fundamentally, it's how I like to work. And I think it's like the true tickets down to its deepest sort of simplest level of understanding and then constructed relative to the context of a situation, how it could best apply to what you're doing and take the time and effort and the energy and the, I'd like to think about it, and I'll draw it. I'll draw nonstop by it. So I don't write so much I draw. And then I cover my office wall in my sticky plastic stuff. I'll draw over the walls. It looks like a mudman's in there. It must admit. But it's what I like to do. And it's how I work. I've tried a couple of people. I work a bit crazy, but I think they used to bow now. But I do like to do that. And then if you get a real understanding for something, then you can see whether you really agree with the fundamental principles and either go with that or question it and develop your own ideas. And if you're going to develop your own ideas, do it originally as it were, rather than necessarily just kind of taking something as when just applying it. I'm not going to be a bit uncomfortable with it, I think. One of the things that definitely felt very original when I was reading about your philosophy is this idea of forgetting about the results.


Forgetting about the result (39:15)

Because thinking about the results or the outcome of your performance can reduce the chances of success in that performance. That's very unusual because in teams, in competition, in business, we think about the result. We think about closing the deal. And what that will mean. And we kind of imagine ourselves in that moment of getting the medal around our neck or that business deal one. Why is that not a good idea? Well, if an event happens or something happens, the first thing that's going to happen to you, without you even knowing is you're going to have an unconscious emotional reaction to it. And it's emotion. You're not thinking it through. It's just purely emotion. And that's going to be either a fight, fight, freeze, response, really. But that emotional response will happen quicker than you know it before you can go in and get any logic or get any rationale into it. And of course, in any kind of situation like what could be perceived as a threat state where you're putting yourself in some kind of threatening scenario, a bit of damage, my pride or what happens to people, they start thinking, well, what happens if I win? Why I'm so loose? Why I'm so I've looked ridiculous. I don't look ridiculous. I'm under threat. And that then becomes very easy to get emotionally hijacked by that. So then you're purely running on emotion, which is inconsistent. It's illogical. It's not a good way for you to be basing. It's not a good place for you to be basing your behavior. But if you understand that and you think, OK, well, look, I understand that it's normal that I'm going to put myself in a threatening scenario. So if I worry about let my emotion take over and I worry about what happens if I succeed, what happens if I fail, what happens if this, what happens if that's, then it's actually pointless exercise. And if you can train slowly, recognize and train your mind to go, OK, I know what's happening here. This is just emotion. I'm going to put it to one side now then. Let me separate this, whatever I'm doing out into two things. We can have a dream. I want to win the Tour de France is a dream. My ability to win it or our ability or everybody else is to win it is I'm going to do my absolute best to try and win it. But other people are going to try and stop me and other people are going to try and do something. It's stuff beyond our control that can impact on that. So if you set your goal as I'm going to win, you're going to agitate nonstop because it acts out of your control. Whereas if you set your dream as saying, this is what I really, really like to happen, I'll go all in, I'll do everything I can. I'm fully committed to that. But let me break it down into targets, which is, well, I could get to the ideal weight. I could do the proper training. I could do the follow a nutritional plan that's going to give me the optimal energy. And I can train my tactics. I can be really work hard to get a fantastic team around me, build good rapport, build confidence in my teammates. These are all things that you can do. And so if you say, okay, let's leave the dream over there for a while, but I'm going to go after the things I can do. And you base your plan around the things that you can actually control and do. You'll be on fire. You'll be on fire. You'll be absolutely on fire. And the dream might happen. And it might not. And you'll be absolutely delighted and betting over if it happens. And if it doesn't, then you might be absolutely devastated. But you've got to leave it as a dream. And you've got to understand that actually worrying about the consequence of an event is detrimental to the process and the performance and the chances of you achieving that event. So you park that, go after your targets and go, right, I'm going process not outcome. And we talked a lot about process not outcome. And when you catch yourselves, you know, it's emotion in the end. So of course, we do get hijacked. And of course, we do get fearful or, you know, a bit panicked. And you've got to have a system whereby you can talk to yourself a little bit, you can bring yourself background and focus on the now and the process of now, rather than worrying about the future. And then you can come back and concentrate on the process, get back into the now. And you know, some of the athletes would have a routine where they'd tie the slu- undo and tie the shoelaces again. Or they do, they'd have a little, you know, a little process that they'd tap into and they'd go into that, into that and bring their mind back into the present and stop worrying about the future. And of course, the penalty kicks the besties. Yeah, that's what I was thinking about. When Aldis did, yeah, I'm sure they bag 100% in training. Yeah, exactly. In the Euro's final. Exactly. You know, if you take the crowd out and take a penalty, those guys are so accurate. And the, you know, signal from the brain down into the muscle to contract in a certain way, that happens and the accuracy and the repeatability of that is absolutely massive. Put a crowd in there and what changes, nothing changes physically. It's all between your ears. And so how can you train that? You know, and the mental skills can be trained just as much as you, you know, we all know that, but we want to get fit and strong and you go to the gym and you know that you're going to overload your body and you give it time to adapt and it's adaptation that's going to make it a little bit stronger. And it's the same with the mind, you know, you can train your mind. And I think that's what certainly working with Steve was an eye out now, as well as, I think probably the biggest eye out now for most people is it gives you, once you realize you've got like an emotional brain and a logical brain and, you know, a bit of a memory computer side going on, then then it gives you insight into yourself and why you are behaving and feeling like you are. And some of the assumptions you're making about other people that you've got to start with yourself first. If you can get that little bit of insight, why do I feel how I'm feeling? Why do I respond like I do? What triggers me? What's my best self look like? And what's my sort of, you know, not the best self look at why, why I'm a different, why, sometimes I might behave in this kind of, you know, the second or the shadow version of myself, and why was someone so much in my best self? What's happening there? Why can't I just be my best self all the time? Surely that must be doable. So take a bit of time to understand it, and pick it. And some people just maybe that haven't been educated. I certainly wasn't until really I thought, so it stopped, such as a look at his stuff. And then you realize, I think, wow, a lot of my behavior, a lot of my life was driven by emotion. It wasn't driven by the real me who could be calm and logical and think things through and quite, you know, a lot of passion and feelings and caring. And yet at times I could be something else, you know, and I think understanding that's fundamental, I think, I don't think there's any excuse for that. No, both points sounded very similar in fact, because on one hand, you're saying with your goals, only go after the things you can control, like really focus on those things. And in the same way when we're talking about personal responsibility of self, you're saying, you can't control other people. So yeah, but the thing that, you know, maybe you do have control over in your life is your behavior, how you act, how you conduct yourself and then leave the rest. Well, I think you understand how other people are responding and how they're feeling. So you can accept that if somebody's, you know, somebody's in a very, well, there's two things really I think first and foremost, ambition is a big thing not to forget, you know, what's your level? You can be incredibly ambitious. Why can't we be the best in the world at something? Why can't we be the first to do something? What's stopping us doing something that nobody else in the human race has ever done before? Nothing as far as I can see. You know, so I think it's got to have that ambition, enthusiasm, the belief we can do whatever we want to do, you know, and really stretch that. And then I think the next bit really, the target is more like the how to get there. It's more like the boring stuff to get there, you know, so it's like head and heart really. And I think that if you understand yourself, then you should be able to put yourself in somebody else's shoes and if they're having a tough time or if somebody else is angry or there's something else going on with them, you know, rather than just diving and respond to the behavior, seeing a face value, why not stop and think about a little bit? And is this person in trouble? What's causing this? Where are they coming from? What's going on? You know, try and understand it. And if they're just responding emotionally to something and you allow yourself to immediately respond emotionally back, doesn't really get anywhere, you know, so so better hold back and wait and find out and try anyway, not always easy, but sometimes I know. I struggle with that. Yeah. I struggle with that, especially being in an environment where my time is so feel so precious, right? It's always there's so many things I could be doing and you're exactly you're exactly the same. I know people that work with you. I know you're a very, very busy person. So it's tough in the moment to stop and pause and to have patience when the rest of my life is running like efficiency. Yeah. Yeah. You know what I mean? It's difficult. Yeah. I guess in my world, you know, I'm out trying to help people and I do push people. I mean, we've got high standards. You know, you do want to level commit. I don't like laziness, for example. I just can't, that would really hurt. That gets me, you know, but then after manager, think, OK, well, if that's what they want, there's no problem. This just isn't the environment for them, you know. But in the main, I think understanding challenges and setting standards and boundaries and working to all of that is important. You built teams and developed teams that won over and over and over again in the same way that Sir Alex Ferguson did.


How to build motivation after victory? (48:34)

I'm a Manchester United fan. So I was lucky enough to be, you know, not going so well lately, but in that era to watch our team win over and over again. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And the thing that really I find, because I just thought that was normal growing up, that my team wins all the time. Yeah. The thing I find amazing now when I look back on it is how he managed to reinvent those teams, but also to get the same team to win again. And I, this idea of like, where is your motivation after victory? And how do you get a team that's just one? And then they win again, and I win again, to win again. Yeah. Where do they find the motivation? They've stood on the podium, they've had the moment. Where does that come from? Yeah, it's a great question, at one. And I think, and I think credit Sir Alex and the work that he did, I mean, you know, I think now looking back, there are those long serving successful managers who like to say, why is it happening? It's an era where nobody really kind of thinks too much, it's just the norm. But then when you realize it's not actually the norm at all, you know, it's something very, very special going on. And I think the, I think success is interesting in terms of what it does to people. And, you know, I think in sport, we're kind of more geared to failure, really, you lose more than you win normally. And, you know, we kind of recalibrate the goals, does yourself down and redo your plan and off you go again. But when you succeed, all of a sudden, not many people have a plan for success. You know what I mean? So you succeed. Nobody wants to tempt fate, I guess. But not many people have a plan for success. And it does impact on people massively, in terms of their expectation on themselves, on their, in terms of their hunger, going forward. You know, it does impact people in different ways. And of course, you get more. You probably get financially better off. You're, your position in society changes, you know, who you are, celebrity, whatever, whatever, whatever. And of course, all that, all that can change an impact on your drive and your hunger. And I think fundamentally, that's the bit that's incredible about the people who stay at the top for a long time. It's not really the reward, you know, what they're getting sort of financially, you know, all of those are the kind of sort of trappings of success. I don't think that's what driving them. You know, there's something else deeper down driving those people forward and they'll just keep going and going and going. And now that what Alex Ferguson did ever so well was he, there's always a challenge with teams when you've got a generation who grow together and they come together and you'll have a two, three, four years of amazing success with a group who've bonded and they're on a journey together. And of course, then he starts getting towards the end of that. And at what point you bring young talent in and let some of the more established talent go, you know, and there's a transition. And he did that ever so well. He really did that ever so well. And we met and cut and chatted a couple of times about that is when, when I was younger, up in the velodrome in Manchester, he'd pop over to the velodrome and we sit there and chat and that was always one of the big things I once asked him, you know, it was like, okay, what are you watching? What are you seeing? Why are you doing this? What, you know, what have you seen there? That makes you think that's the right time to change and you're bringing this youngster in here, you know, and he'd say, you know, he'd quite often say that, you know, people get a bigger voice, they get a bigger stand in the dressing room. They might start to second, you know, I'm not so sure about like, you know, they and they'd have an influence and, you know, there'd be the celebrity, the media and other things going on, etc, etc. And definitely sooner rather than later, that would be right. Okay. Off we go. We'd, and he changed it. Listening to him talk about it, he knew exactly what he's doing to be fair to him and he was a master at it. You've got to have had moments like that in your career where you see that culture at threat or at risk because of an individual I've had them in my business too.


How to make tough decisions (52:18)

And in those moments, very early in my career, I would try and, I guess, look past when I was a bit more naive in business, look past it or put things in place to try and mitigate the impact that one individual, the negative impact that one individual was having on the overall culture. And as I got older, I realized that I just needed to address the situation ASAP before it becomes like a virus and spread, right? Yeah, yeah. What do you do in that situation where you see an individual in your company? It's a tough one. It really is. I mean, it's an easy one to talk about. It's a very difficult one to do, particularly when that might be your best player, your best rider, your best performer, and all of a sudden you've got the hitting the numbers and the behavior is not great. And then you've got to ask yourself, well, we have to just win in and it doesn't really matter. Just win. And you kind of manage the impact of that across everybody. Order's behavior and conduct with the culture matter. And you want to make sure that you actually got some cultural values that you're going to stand by come what may. And of course, those real moments when they do arrive and you've got to address it, they're very, very stressful. I can't get very introspective and look at myself in the mirror and think it through and think it through. And everybody works with me and say it takes me time to make a decision. And I think it's because I think of every permutation and I think it through so much. Emotionally, I'm fully in. I don't think I can't actually. I'm just so engaged with those things that I've really, really got to think carefully about them and I'm about to make a couple of really big decisions along those lines. And in the end, I thought, right, what do I believe in? Is it a popular decision? Is it a performance decision? In my world, there's like, we're trying to win here or do we want to keep people happy or where do we go? And you need to establish your own, right, what do I believe in? And without really figuring out what you believe in, you're always going to be caught in a storm otherwise. And it's always going to be mentally excruciating, I think, because you're never quite sure. So I like to like to anchor myself in, right, what are my values? What I believe in and how does that apply to this situation? And then, okay, well, that's it. And if it goes wrong, I always want to be able to look back and say, okay, well, I make decisions based on my principles. I didn't make decisions based on that particular moment, doesn't matter how difficult it was. And I'll stick to that. And I've had one quite recently, actually, or two, actually, in the last two to three months, which were pretty challenging, this decisions like that. And on both occasions, I'm right back. And I tend to, I don't know, it's a good thing, probably not a good thing for people around me, but I've got a few people, I really value their opinion. And they're sort of like, I'll chat away to them and I'll ask them questions. And I think sometimes they think, okay, I'm going to make that decision, or he's asking me to make this decision. And what I'm trying to do is just kind of run through my thought processes and sound it out, sound it out, sound it out, sound it out, until I get really pre-anchored onto, no, I know what I really feel now. And then I'll make the decision immediately. I won't hesitate then. But to get to that point takes me a bit of time. I need to talk about it to somebody. I need to express it vocally, I think, to really make sure I understand what I'm thinking, because if I can't explain it to somebody, I'm maybe not quite there. So just thinking about it in my own head, or even writing it down for myself, on big stuff, I like to try and be able to explain it to somebody, to then understand fully that I really, if I can explain it to somebody, I think I've pretty much got it. Whereas if I just, in my head, explain it to myself, it's what the hell I'm talking about. So yeah, it's quite an agonizing process. But you just need the principles in the end. You need the decision making framework. Yeah, based on the problem. It's so fair, because everyone can relate to that, even if they've not been in your position. I mean, we all face really tough moments, but we kind of arrive at that. That past and we have to decide if we're going left or right. And the worst possible thing is often making no decision, right? Making no decision or making a decision that you thought was the right decision, because you thought it was the right thing to do. But it wasn't actually what you thought. And I think we're always fearful of the consequences of our decision. So I think quite often, and I say to our guys sometimes, OK, imagine, let's imagine we've got a problem and take away, you know, we're going to have a group discussion about something. And imagine that all of our riders didn't have emotions. They were just robots. And what would you do? And they got a simple, you just do this, this, this. OK, so now we put the emotions back in. And then that's, that's what's that doing to you? Why is that changing your thinking? And then, of course, you don't, you know, got people's feelings and you might have conflict, you might somebody might not be happy. And you know, that then impacts because we're trying to second guess the emotional response of a group, or he's trying to second guess how somebody might feel or whether he's going to come at you or it creates conflict or, you know, and so I think it's every now and again, I go, right, OK, let's just have the robots. What would we do? What would we do the best thing to do? And they go simple, we'll just do this. And so that's, that's one thing. I think if you think that right, the consequence of whatever we'll decide about, nothing bad happens. Nothing bad happens. Absolutely. There is, so you can make any decision you want, and nothing happens. Nothing bad happens. What would you do? And people's mind freed up immediately, they'll make a good decision probably. But it's fear or it's the, it's the, it's the consequence of this might happen or that might happen or it might go wrong or this or that or the other. They might not be happy or they might, and it impacts your decision making really. So you get all these biases, these emotional biases all the time. And don't get me wrong. Sometimes I've got, got feelers, good thing, you know, so, but on the other hand, I think if you strip out the consequence of like nothing bad would happen. And also people's other people's emotions, what would you do? Most people get pretty quickly to where they'd want to be, you know. I just looked at that in my head about some of the big decisions I have in my life. I thought, if I was dealing with robots and I could just shuffle things without consequence, what would I do? Exactly. And the answer you're seeing there is probably the right thing for the objective. Exactly. But maybe, well, you could also say, well, there are emotion, there's emotional consequences, which might hinder the objective. So if I really annoy this person or if I upset the balance here, then the objective compromise. So yeah, exactly. Yeah. It just helps a little bit. I don't think it's in the end, you know, it's like, it's like taking out if you've got bad tooth, you've got to take it out. I must want to take it out quick. Yeah, exactly. You're just going to hurt just as much in a couple of months time. You know, so might as well take it out now. Yeah. Quick one. 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Marginal gains (01:00:17)

I think it's maybe number one in Europe now, but I have to give you a lot of credit for that. Because I think my team are sick and tired. I can see them laughing over there. A sick and tired of me saying this phrase, we've got to find the 1%. And for us in what we do with this podcast, I mean, it's in my businesses as well. But in this podcast, it means like really giving a f about everything from the audio to these eight cameras that are on our snip. Does it like we do it with eight cameras and the robots and the thumbnail, the title, the way you were picked up today to really make even when you walk in that we were a little bit slow on it today. But the music to create the right atmosphere, the lighting, we've installed these blinds here because we're trying to we want you looking at me because it's medical all of these small things. And I never heard that directly from you, but I heard it indirectly by you as if my friends would tell me about this thing called marginal gains from this guy called David, David Brelswood. And I like adopted it as a personal philosophy. Maybe I adopted it as a personal philosophy or it made my existing philosophy make sense. Okay, yeah. Yeah. Either one, you know, sometimes you hear an idea and you get that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's a great way to articulate it. Exactly. You have to play it for me. And so thank you for that. But I guess my question because that has genuinely really helped me communicate and why small things are so important. But as it relates to marginal gains, how marginal? Huh, good question. And how marginal was my miles marginal? Sorry, smiles marginal. Yeah. Okay. I like probably your best marginal gain ever. Smiler people more often cheapest and easiest. Yeah, exactly. People like it. People smile back. I wonder what the trajectory how that impacts your trajectory through life if you just smiled more. A lot. Yeah. I thought so. You know, we get to be approachable. People think it was a friendly person, you know, just in the main, you know, smile at people, smile each other, say hello, and walk past, you know, don't you're not so that you can't be also consumed in your head that you're walking around with your head down and ignoring people, which was very easy to do. You know, somebody says, oh, hello. That's a marginal gain right there. People don't find the small stuff. They focus too much on the big stuff, right? Well, I think you've got to get the basics right. You know, I think the marginal gains concept came about originally is when we started out with the Olympic program and the Olympic kind of medals were so far away. You know, it seemed like such a mountain and they were so so in the distance and untouchable. They think, like, wow, how on earth, what are we going to do to get from where we are now to get up there? And as we kind of as we started working through, you know, what are we how we're going to approach this, it occurred to me that there was a couple of things really. One was there's obviously the the fundamentals, the basics of any kind of performance, really, when if you get the fundamentals right for a consistent period of time, it's going to get you a long way there. It really is. So that there's no, you know, that that's important. But the the whole idea of marginal gains really starts to start to think, right, okay, so we're pretty long way off up there. But so what can we do? What can we believe in? How do we get some momentum? How do we get some contagious enthusiasm? Of course, people like a little bit of progression. You know, and if we just aim for perfection, perfection was so far away that there's no point in because we're going to fail every day. So that well, let's have a little progression, just a little, little bit of progression. And that makes you feel good, you know, so it's like, that's identified where we go and we're doing the basics, right? Then what could we do by next week that we're not doing this week? What little things could we do? There's a million things that could impact the exciting performance. Could we, could we, I don't know, change our diet to be slightly more optimal than it is this week and do that by next week? And everybody goes, yeah, we could do that. Okay, what else could we do? Could we do more in the gym? Could we do? Could you change your attitude slightly? Could we really kind of think about just even gauge with thinking about your attitude once a day? Could you do that? Yeah, we could do that. Okay, so off we go. And then you get to next week. And did we do all that stuff? Yeah, we did actually. We haven't moved it a long way, but I'll tell you what, it felt pretty good. What are you doing? I did this. What are you doing? I did this. And all of a sudden you can't start from getting this idea of you make you're on the move. And one of the things about marginal gains is you're on the move. And we like progression. We like to feel, well, I've got to go about myself today. I did X probably means nothing to anybody else. And probably, you know, very, you know, unique to me, but it meant something to me, you know, and I feel quite good about that. And so I can do that again tomorrow and small, small steps stick. Whereas you're trying to do something big, you can go something big for a little while. We all go to the gym in January now in a couple of weeks time. We'll go full gas in the gym and then caused by February or mid-February, we will stop again. Oh, you know, generalization, but you know what I mean. And why is that, you know, whereas we're trying to make too big a change that's not sustainable. And it's quite rare that you can make major change and make it sustainable. It's quite easy to make small, incremental change and make them stick. And it's the stickability over time, I think, which makes the big difference. And it's as much psychological as it's anything else. And if there's a group who buy into, right, let's look at the little things, you know, let's look at the difference. Let's look at the, you know, your setup in here, like the music and everything else. Once you start doing that, everybody's on the, you know, getting quite excited. Yeah, that's what makes us different. And then somebody's going to go, we could have that picture instead of that picture, or we could do this instead of that. And it feels good. And by virtue of the fact that you're all going, you're on it and you're enjoying it and there's a bit of energy about it, then other ideas will come to the surface and you'd be more open to adopting them. And people talk about it, you know, we're on the move, we're changing, we're doing all these little things because we can be asked to do the little things that other people can't be asked to do. And that makes a difference. I'll make you a winner, in my opinion. And I say that quite often in our team, you know, we'll be working late and I say, right guys, let's just all get together for a minute. The reason we've been good, the reason we're good is we can be asked to do all these little things that all these other teams are now locked up. They've gone to bed. They're in the hotel. They can't be bothered to do this. We can. And it matters to us. That's what we're all about now. Let's keep going. And it works, you know, it works 100%. It works. We've been in 20 years. And it's as much about that kind of enthusiasm and a positivity about embracing the change isn't a chore, improving isn't a chore. If it's a chore, it's a bit like I was saying about education, you know, if what you're trying to achieve is a chore, then that's a challenge. How do you make something? How do you change something, you reframe something into a little bit, that's not a chore or something that actually went over there in the gamma, you can reframe that into a positive and then you stick with it, you know, feel good about yourself. In the end, if we feel good about ourselves, we're going to be happier. We're going to be more engaged and be more willing to make more change if we feel good about ourselves. And that was where sort of marginal games going from. And I was lying on my floor, I said, when I really have to think of this crazy thing where I used to do my homework, lying on the floor as a kid. And now when I really, really want to think, sort of really think about something, get big shoots of paper, tend to lie on the floor and write on that. And marginal games came from economics, really, with marginal costing. That's where sort of I was reading all about that. And about little kind of incremental gains. And I thought, actually, if you aggregate all of these marginal gains, maybe get a big gain. But conceptually, it's kind of like, yeah, this is worth a go. And off we went. I was at a reference to compounding interest as well. Yeah, exactly. It's the same thing, right? Exactly. Exactly. You get 1% more a year. Look, I say for us, I often whip out the compounding interest calculator on Google. And I'm like, just change it by 1% and see what it looks like in 20 years. And the graph is just in a completely different place. And that's another really good way to get people to believe in this invisible force that is compounding for or against you. These 1% really time. Because getting 10% interest on a million for 30 years versus getting 11% is ridiculously different at the end of that compounding cycle. You sound like, I mean, you've described yourself as being obsessed.


The cost of your obsession (01:08:33)

You sound like you're pretty obsessed with what you do. Yeah, I suppose I am. Yeah. What's the cost of that obsession? Well, I think, you know, I pretty much kind of put everything I've gotten to what I do, really. And that means currently I spend 220 days a year at races and a long time on the road. And that does come at a cost, I guess. Yeah. It's hard to get out of it, I think. I don't know if I'm obsessive or not. I suppose, you know, I've obviously got a milli-mid-order who I love absolutely adore, love it a bit. You know, we've spent aspect, I guess, since she's born, I've always been, you know, involved in sport. And at some point soon, I'd like to think, right, I'm going to stop and really spend time, more time together. That'll be nice. And yet, I think if I was thinking of why am I doing all of this, I think a lot would be, you know, I'd like her to be happy, I'd like her to have whatever she can have, really. And yeah, it's a tough balance to act. That one doesn't come easy to me. Like in, like in Tower, I was just trying to visualize you sat on a beach with your cigar with no work, no sports. Yeah. It sounds like a bit of a struggle. Yeah. I think I would, I think I would like to just, I think, have a period where I just maybe just switch off, you know, I've had a holiday for a long time and I've had a few health issues, obviously, you know, who's an issue of my heart this year and I have a cancer. And that kind of forced me to stop a little bit. But then I got back as soon as I called and carried on. So I think I'd like, yeah, I would like to just at some point learn to maybe take time out and enjoy the colour of life a little bit more and the various things in life. But so, yeah. You mentioned that getting, getting news that, I mean, we all hope to never get up about ourselves or I love the ones which is that you had cancer.


Your cancer scare (01:10:52)

Now that's something you can't control. No, that was a shock. I must say. That was a, that was a real shock. I wasn't expecting it at all. I'm a bike, you know, a train hard and I'm a bike a lot, look after myself and that's very fit. And then I started to get these bouts of fatigue more than anything. And it was a really weird kind of, you know, we race every day, you're moving every day. And I think people see the sport on telly. They don't see the rigour of all the travel and all the movement and the early mornings of late nights and, you know, you've got race for a month, a three week race, you go there a week early and you nail, you know, halfway through. And of course, then you go really digging. So, you're tired a lot of time, but that's not getting these bouts of fatigue, which just like somebody pulled literally taking my battery out and I, I could feel it coming on and then that's, I just couldn't function and then I went for a check and I did a blood test and then, you know, my PSA gone up and, and so it was an hour, I'd better go for another check and I'll be all right and then didn't bother and then eventually I did. And then they said, yeah, so around, I said, right, better come see me straight away. And that was it. I thought it was quite a big deal at the time, but then I moved on. I don't dwell on it. I don't think about it much. I, I like the sort of tough times don't last, last tough people do, you know, and I just thought, right, that's it done. I'm not going to dwell on this. I'm going to move on. And that's what I did really as quick as I could. But those moments give you a different type of perspective on what matters, right? Where you have like kind of an existential moment of, yeah, you think about, oh my God, my, the tectonic plate of my health is something that can. Yeah, very much so, yeah. You would even consider the thought of it. No, no, 100% and I absolutely, you're spot on with that, you know, it, it, you realize, right, okay, we're not here forever. 100% you know, it was just true for everybody, isn't it? You know, and they come when you're younger, it's one of those say, you have here older people say and whatever, but, but then you have the dawning of the realization, right? I'm not here forever. So then you think, okay, what's important? What, what, you know, is it like to come back? Because you know, what time we've got left and all that kind of stuff. And then he starts to think about that. And so then you start to think even more, you know, a lot of people talk to you about, you know, living in the moment, of course, you've got a plan for the future. You can't just ignore the future because we're all, we're all paying the future, are we, you know, we're trying to get fitter or whatever, whatever. And that's, of course, today, thinking about doing something today for your current self, but for your future self, you're thinking you if future self, when we die, it's all trade, you know, it's not going to happen now. So your, your mind is on your future self. And to what extent you worried about your future self and the consequences of things happening rather than enjoying the here and now. And I think that really does bring it home in terms of, to what extent am I enjoying the present and living in the present and what it stands, I'm just going to keep on going and sort of sacrificing for my future self, when the future self is never going to arrive. You know, and that's a bit of an odd question to sit and come to break for a while. It's a reality check to spend any time in hospitals, isn't it? You know, but equally, there's some amazing people working in there. And it's just, yeah, I was blown away by that, actually. Did Steve Peters speak to you through this period at all? Oh, yeah, I speak to Steve. I just think, I mean, I love Steve. I must say, I think you had Fran Miller on as well, and she's just said the same, I'm sure. And, and a lot of people who we worked with, with Steve would say, you know, he's been a, he's a game changer for us. And whenever I'm worried, I'm not sure about something, I'm kind of know what he's going to tell me, but I still like to hear anyway, you know, so, so I chatted to him then and, um, about how to, you know, what, what to deal with. I was, it's upset. I didn't like it that it was set. It's upset Millie, I think. And I didn't like that. You know, I didn't like the idea that she was worried and, and, and, and, so that was quite, I want, I wanted to make sure I dealt with that properly, but, but then, equally, last for living, you know, anything. Okay. Well, here I am, I'm still here. And, I'm going to make the most of this, you know, and I'm going to enjoy a little bit more and stop, you know, worrying and thinking and, you know, constantly this, this idea of chasing and doing something for the next event and it's like, boys chill out a little bit and enjoy the things that you like doing. And in the end, like most people, there were things I liked the most, the simple things and I like on my bike. I liked, liked, liked being out and beautiful roads on my bike. I like, I like socializing the people and I'm not a big, kind of big gathering person. I'm a, you know, smaller group of people and I've got some amazing, you know, people and friends and I don't know, I just like the simple things in life really, but really, really taking them in. Acceptance. I would, when reading and hearing how you dealt with that situation, I think the, the really powerful thing that I kind of got from that was getting to that point of accepting the situation as fast as you can. Yeah, good point. Yeah. And I know it's a bit cheesy as well, but we talk about, yeah, it's a bit of a cheesy phrase, but the whole idea of, you know, when you're in the pressure and you're really in a moment of real, you know, okay, that the heat's on here, you know, the idea of instead of sort of trying to resist and be like a stick and kind of bending, bending and snapping, just think of yourself as bamboo and just bend. And you know, for well, that once that once is moments past, you're going to snap back up, you're going to be okay. And so we talk a lot about bending like bamboo, not, not bending like a stick, you know, not snapping and just just bend like, and we're in a bit, when we're in difficult moments, we go, it's just bent, we're just bending like bamboo, a pass, he'll pass. And sure enough, most times it does. We worry about stuff that never happens, don't we? Always. We worry about massively about stuff that never actually happens. And, and they're also sort of, it brings all of that kind of stuff home, you know, resonates after. But it's still so much joy from our present, right? When we're thinking about all that, all that could go wrong. And then as you've highlighted with your theory of focusing on the controllables, it hinders performance, which is, which is incredibly detrimental to one of the things when I, when I start reading about your future now looking for you, then also got the news a couple years later, this year, I believe, that you had, you had to have heart surgery. That's a bit of a shock as well. Yeah. So, so I was some, so after the pandemic, I was riding my bike a lot.


Undergoing Heart surgery (01:17:20)

And my, my dad actually was, was, was very ill. So I went down to, as soon as we could travel after the pandemic, I went down to work to France to the Alps. And I was there, visiting the hospital, rode my bike. And as I was riding uphill, I was getting his kind of, I thought it was a pain and throat or something to do with my breathing or the dry air, maybe the altitude. And as, when I was trying pretty hard, pushing myself to, I was really starting to, to hurt quite a lot. And then if I slow down his subside, then off he went, so I thought, okay, it was just going to pass, as you do. I went out for a ride with a, a friend of mine, the guy called Nikki Craig, and we were out riding and he, and I really, what a rider said, bla bla bla bla. I think I'm going to have to stop here because it's, you know, this pain was getting really bad. So I thought in the end, I thought, well, I'm going to have it, I'm going to have it, I'm going to check it out, you know, just in case. It went for a CT scan at my heart. And the guy came out, it was a German guy said, David, you have a big problem. And my, my left descending artery was totally blocked. And I was literally kind of, you know, they wouldn't let me, that was it. They kept me there, put me on medication straight away. And I pretty much operated on him, you know, to avoid a heart attack, basically. And that was a shock. That was, that was pretty full on, really. Yeah. That was more of a shock than a cancer was. I don't know why your heart feels worse than, I don't know, but it was a different, it was a different sensation. That one, I must admit, that had me worried. And that's another set of uncomfortable conversations with Millie. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And then now to go in. And so the doctor, again, doctors brilliant went in. And then I thought, God, I've done a typical bloke thing here where I ignored all these symptoms for, you know, eight months, nine months, just ignored it, didn't go on a bit checked properly. And then in the end, of course, I could have done it sooner. And I went in, and they went in with a wire and a camera to have a look how badly it was blocked. You know, the artery, and they had the open heart surgeon there, and the guy put a stent in like a plumber. And they were going to decide whether they could stent in and open up the artery, or they were going to go and do a bike pass, basically, and take a bit of rain and stitch it in. And then I came out and I felt like 10 men. Yeah, really? Yeah, yeah, amazing. Amazing. Went out of a bike. It's like a gained 50 watts. It was brilliant. And then I haven't had any pain since, and I still had a six and a half hours day before yesterday with a lot of milk. I was so yeah, yeah, yeah. Thinking of progress then, one of the things that I, we were kind of talking about before we started chatting, but also I really wanted to ask you about kind of the last point I was really curious about regarding the team, was that your philosophy towards the team is evolving with time, and how you get the best out of the people.


Strategies For Dealing With Success And Failure

Individual approach vs team approach (01:20:13)

People are typically quite rigid in their philosophy in the way they think. But I read that you're now taking a individual first approach, not a team first approach. Is that accurate and why? Well, I think there's the individual behind the performer. Right. And I think everybody is. So I don't think he's individualized in terms of the team still is still absolutely the fundamental kind of tenets of what we do. But there is an individual behind the performer, and that's worth exploring and maybe being expressing more. We've been tremendously successful and with Team Sky, we had a brilliant run and one, you know, a lot of back-to-back Tour de France's and other grand tours. However, over that time, you know, there's like, you know, you can, when you become serial winners, it becomes predictable. And of course, some people like that. If you're a supporter, some people don't like that, it becomes predictable. And you know, the interest and the sort of the emotional response that it generates, the performance generates, is an interesting thing to contemplate. You know, we've just seen the Formula One at the weekend and everybody's gripped by it because it was just unpredictable. Nobody's going to happen. There was suspense. There was an emotional roller coaster along with the actual performance. And I think when you look at sports, if you look at, you know, if you think you can perform on a vertical axis, performance goes up and up and up and up until you become serial winners. But then across the bottom, you think, actually, what kind of emotional response, what kind of feelings, what kind of style, you know, how are you making people feel? And you can have a team like German, let's say, who's a serial winner and think, "Mm, people are, yeah, okay." But the Germans love it, obviously, but obviously, okay. But a team like who achieved the same, like Brazil, big guy love Brazil. Everybody loves Brazil. Why is that? What's the difference? You know, they still perform, they're still winning. So the metric, if you like, the winning is still similar. But the way that they're going about winning seems to be slightly different. And Sena, let's say, the motor racing scenario, or Schumacher maybe, or, you know, some of the, and you think, I don't know, you're saying bolt or maybe the all-blacks or, you know, Manchester United. Manchester United. Yeah, injury time, yeah. And there are certain teams or that, I think, "I don't really want that." Not feeling that, but this one over there, doing the same thing, I love them. And what is it about those teams? And is that something you can, is it just happens? Or is it something that you can actually work towards? So, for example, when I first went left home to go to France to be a professional cyclist, there was something in that sport that chined with me so much and got me so passionate that I left everything behind a left home, I went to a foreign country, I couldn't speak the language, didn't know what I was going to do. But I still did it, I still went because something was pulling me. So, and it was something about that sport at that time that I just adored. And when I think now, and think, right, when I was at age, what kind of team, if you'd have told me then that age, I could be running one of the world's biggest cycling teams and had the success that we've had and still be running one, I think, what kind of team would I'd have loved to have seen? What kind of flair, what kind of, how are they erased? That would have been, you know, would have been very much part of us. Or would it have been like, you know, just ball those your way through, or would it be a bit of panache and flair? And cool, you know, excitement, excitement. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And so can you, where does style, you know, and that sort of emotion fit in terms of performance? And you can go after performance clinically, you know, and can style ever be a performance attribute? And if you think about that, you know, you say, so is that something you can go after? Or is it something that you just have? Is it just something that happens in the chemistry of a team? Or is it the way that you are? So for us, we obviously, you raise the bikes, but what about off the bike and the way you speak, and the way you do your social media, and the way you are with people, and the way you are with fans, and who you are, the colors, and everything else that goes on? Is there something in there which actually can bring out the individual? And you get to know the individual. So they're not just kind of guys with sunglasses on with helmets on, and kind of like sort of faceless, you know, warriors, as it were. Where's the person? You know, we've got guys from Ecuador, and, you know, come from, you know, unbelievable backgrounds in Ecuador, and the stories of how they found themselves in our team, it's just incredible. And the guys from Colombia, and the guys from Britain, the guys from everywhere, they've all got their journeys, they've all got personalities, they've all got the humans, you know, their interest in a back story is interesting. And it's like, where does that all kind of come together in a team? And how does that get? How do you, how do you watch that performance and see all of that? Is it possible? And I'm really interested in that in a minute. This is such a, this is such a conversation that someone who is one a lot would have. They're now thinking about the way they want to win. And it's interesting, because when you were saying that I was thinking about different teams in Jose Mourinho and Klopp, and then the one that I really stumbled on was boxing, where you could have Vladimir Klitschko, who holds the throne for a decade, but then everybody turns off the sport. And then you get an Anthony Joshua and a Tyson Fury, that comable. They're still champions, but they're doing it in a way that's captivating the public. So my question and my mind then became, well, you have to ask yourself, is the objective just to win? Or is it to win and make loads of money and inspire a generation? Because people are flooding into boxing now because of Fury and AJ. And the money those guys are making is way more than Klitschko was making. So I guess it's the case of the victory. I think it's like the old, it's the, we've been talking about it. It's like, if you win a lot, you can be respected. You'd be respected, but can you be respected and loved? Can you be respected for your victories, but loved for a way that you achieved them? And that's where that's the Holy Grail. Why is being loved? What does that matter? I'd love them get passion from people and just generate emotion. And that's what sports about. That's what really, I think in the end, there's something about sports that is inspired and it can move people. And I think the whole emotion of sport is something that's why we love it. In the end, you can take part in it or you can watch it. Why is everybody watching a Formula One at the weekend? Because it's so inspiring and emotional. It's just, "Wow, you've got to see it." And the same with Klitschko or Tyson Fury, when he's got that knockout punch and he was out. And then he gets back up again. That is insane. It's just insane. I can feel myself now. It's just that those moments in sport are what sports all about. And I think that's what, if you're involved in sport and you've been most of my life involved in sport, of course, you've got to try out winning first and foremost. And winning itself isn't easy. And of course, that's got to be the first kind of absolutely. You would never go off the style if it wasn't intelligent, but some people have got intelligence and style and the flair and the cantonars or the centers. It'll be a race. I guess for me, I know this sounds maybe a bit bonkers, but we're in the business of thoroughbreds, really, if you think about it. The top of the top where the guys work with it, they're all thoroughbreds. But I want a thoroughbred racer. Somebody can race. Can't sport isn't a team sport, it's a race. We're racing one another. You're trying to outwit your opponent and try to out maneuver. It's not just a physical endeavor, it's a race. And there's something very, very cool about the guy, the great racers. And there's something about that, which I just adore. He's sort of a weekend with Hamilton and the Stapp and Warra. I mean, unbelievable. I admire those guys so much. I really do. And I think most people would admire Hamilton now, maybe even a little bit more, because we've seen a different dimension of his character. He was amazing after that. In that short period, after that, when the Stapp and Warra managed himself, when the way he handles himself, was just unbelievable. And I think everybody saw a different view or looked at loose Hamilton through a different lens, and they saw a very different person than what they would normally maybe see. And therein lies the magic of sports, I think. My last question for you. Again, I asked this question from a very personal, personally curious space, because it's a problem I've not figured out for myself, which is we talked a little bit about sacrifice there is about romantic relationships.


Struggling with failure (01:29:17)

And the struggle of being a great and winning and sacrificing and doing 200 days a year at races, while also trying to meet these goals of romantic relationships, I've struggled with it pretty much my whole life. Have you struggled with it? Do you have any answers for me? No, I don't. I'm not your man here. Unfortunately, no, that's something that I wouldn't say that I'm not good at, if I'm honest, if I'm really honest. And I think I'd like to be your self-is, do you think? Self-is, you're probably or sort of concerned, really? Like, so driven, I can't fail at this. And that sort of fear of, and it is, there's something inside of me that worries about failing so much that I can't switch off from it in a way. In 2014, you struggled with that, right? That was the, you didn't win the Tour de France. Big time, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. What do you mean by big time, giving me the specifics? Yeah, I just, I just, at the time, I was embarrassed and not about the team I was in, I just felt this in queue of, "Oh, God, I couldn't go out, I couldn't go out, I couldn't leave the garden." I remember speaking, I called Steve Peters from my garden and said, "God, I'll let everybody down, I've failed." And it was, yeah, quite winning for me doesn't actually, sounds terrible, but I mean, I get the exhilaration from the moment that you win, obviously. It's great to win. But the emotion, the depth or the amount of emotion it gives me to win is nowhere near the amount of emotion I get from losing. So the negative emotion from losing is massive for me, whereas the positive of winning is okay, it's done the job part of the journey. Great, fantastic, let's keep on going. And so I think this kind of the avoidance, but not wanting to lose and really trying to help people to win. Do you know where that comes from? I don't know. Intense. Yeah, I don't know, but I've always had it all, I've been the same. You know, I get super excited by wanting to do big, bold, ambitious things and then going out and say, "Right, we're going to do X." And then afterwards, I think, "Oh, what have I done?" And then, of course, then I've got to make it happen. And I get after making it happen. And I think that's where I've got this kind of dichotomy, really, if there's part of me, which is probably my heart, which is the crazy ambition of wanting to do things that have never been done before and helping people go after stuff and all that kind of, you know, nothing's impossible. Nothing's impossible. If anybody says it's impossible, we'll prove you're wrong. And then you've got to get after it. And I think the getting after it's where I go back into more of this whole detail, the more, that's the doing of it. And this is as if my head, my heart sort of sets these wild kind of ambitions and then I got to switch out of that into the right, let's get after it. And then they're not wanting to not succeed of whatever it was drives me then, you know. We have a tradition on this podcast, which is the previous guest writes a question for the next guest.


Last Segment: Audience Questions

The last guests question (01:32:43)

And I don't actually get to see it until I open this book. So you will also be writing a question for my next guest. If you could turn back the clock on one day this year and do it differently, what would it be and why? This year, wow. There's a lot gone on for me this year, that's for sure. I think I'd like to go back. So Millie's just had her 17th birthday. And on the 29th of November, the driving car test, etc. And I wouldn't go back and change it necessarily, but I just go back and really leave it because I loved that. And rather than something that I'd change, I'd just go back and do it again. Yeah, you know, big deals, you know, get your car and yeah, so I'd like to come spend that whole day again. That's what I'd like to do. Amazing. Well, thank you so much for coming here because as I've said, you know, it's so funny that I've never met you, but you've had such a big influence on me and my philosophy in helping me articulate that. And you know, Sophie, who's my assistant once upon a time worked with you and she has always spoken well about you, which is actually really remarkable because people often don't leave a job and speak so highly in the person they worked with. But even, you know, since we started doing this podcast, she was telling me you've got to get you've got to get the everyone you've got to get the everyone. And she's always just sung your praises. And your philosophy, the way you articulate it, I think it's helped more people than you'll probably ever realize. But it's and I consider this to be a huge honor having you here today. As did my friends when I told them you were coming. And that's for very, very good reason because everybody thinks you're a bit of a legend. So thank you so much for your honesty and your attention. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you for what you guys do, you know. Oh, thank you. I think you bring a lot of happiness and joy and inspiration to a lot of people. People just and what you've got to say, you know, which is remarkable. And I think, and I think you, you know, when you got when you get the sense of responsibility in a way, isn't there by the time, you know, by the level of the platform that you built for yourself and you do an amazing job with it. So thank you. Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thanks a lot.


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