MyPeople Meets is a series of articles featuring influential business people answering questions about what motivates them, their views on organisational values and high performance cultures along with personal insights on why they do what they do. This month, we meet ex England Rugby player Simon Shaw who now runs a business selling professional rugby balls as well as being a motivational speaker on subjects such as setting and achieving goals and drive and determination in the workplace.
Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do…
I am a former international rugby player and, since my retirement from the sport in 2013, have subsequently been involved in a variety of industries and roles gaining a wider perspective on how organisations and teams operate.
What have been the main drivers that have contributed to your career journey?
The main drivers during my career as a professional athlete have been insecurity and fear! It sounds odd but it’s the truth. I started playing rugby late and never really felt I was worthy of my status. I spent my entire career trying to avoid being found out!
How did you find the transition after retiring from professional sport?
Transition is never easy, whether it’s from sport to industry, simply a change in career path or even roles within an organisation. The important thing is to be comfortable in the knowledge that we all have things we can learn from one another. Even if you are new to something, you always have something to add and this alternative perspective can often be a competitive advantage.
Looking back, is there anything you would change about your career journey?
I never look back with regret and so the answer is no. However, I do think you should look back to relearn lessons from the past.
In your opinion, what are the key requirements and differences between success and failure?
Success or failure is the result of a combination of how much you work towards your goals, talent and luck. The split however is probably 80%, 15%, 5%.
You’re very fortunate to have built such a diverse portfolio of opportunities, from events, hospitality, charity work and property – Are these areas you had a passion for and wanted to explore?
Everything I am involved with must be a passion or at the very least an interest as I can’t imagine working in a field that I was apathetic about. The common theme with everything I am involved with is people. I am interested in meeting, understanding and getting to know people, what makes them tick, their individual motivation and how hidden talents can be unearthed through opportunity.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
In a game that has changed immeasurably over the past 30 odd years, remaining at the highest level throughout my career and adapting to all the changes have been my greatest achievements. It is too easy to make excuses as to why circumstances led to your downfall instead of embracing change and working towards improving and adapting.
Are you more productive at night or in the morning and do you think it’s possible to change and get used to another schedule?
I’m definitely more productive in the morning – anything past 4pm and I’m essentially dormant! I have always been an early bird and 23 years as a professional athlete, starting every day at the crack of dawn, has set that routine in stone.
What does High-Performance Culture mean for you?
It represents a collective and individual responsibility for achieving a common goal or objective and includes mutual respect, idea sharing and trust.
At the end of a busy day, what do you do to unwind?
Food! I love food. I don’t eat uncontrollably, but when I eat, I want to eat well. For 25 years I ate for fuel, now I eat for pleasure.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met and talked with?
I met and chatted at length with one of the Uruguayan rugby player that survived the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crash in the Andes Mountains in 1972.
What rule do you wish would be introduced into your favourite sport?
Whoever scores the try, takes the conversion. Now that really would be entertaining!!
To download a PDF of this interview click here