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Lessons from a Team GB dragon boat racer on business ethos

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Business ethos is your company’s character. It’s how you are perceived – and how you will be remembered – by your customers. It’s a distillation of culture and core values that inform all aspects of your business practices and guide your employees at decision-making crossroads.

More importantly, it’s a valuable branding tool that can also make your workplace more congenial – and it can be inspired by a great number of moments in your life.

For Anthony Peake, managing director of MSM Software Solved, dragon boat racing offered some advice on the subject. Dragon boats require everyone to operate as one team in the most efficient way possible. This, he maintained, required everyone to understand their roles and how they individually contributed to success. He also highlighted the importance of teams sharing the responsibility for achieving goals, and that this should be inspired through trust. 

After being selected for the Team GB dragon boat squad set to race in the European Championships, in Rome, 27-31 July 2016, he further told Real Business how Team GB’s success is informing and improving his business ethos.

(1) What got you interested in dragon boat racing?

I was looking for a team sport and always liked water. I was not into going to the gym as it was too easy to “take it light” and I like to be driven. A training session for dragon boat racing is intense. There are 20 of you in the boat and you are there for at least an hour. You have to put everything in to every session to keep time and distance of each stroke with the rest of the team – otherwise paddles clash – so there is no where to hide and no way to take it light. A bit like how I am in business.

(2) How did you find yourself on the Team GB team?

My partner Sue joined the GB team last year, went out to Canada and won three gold medals. At weekends I had accompanied Sue on most of the GB Training sessions around the UK last year. Whilst Sue was training, I was always busy in the team room on my laptop doing powerpoint and spreadsheets ready for the next week of work. However, when Sue went out to Canada, I had to stay in the UK to work and so watched over 40 hours of live streaming video of the event and realised that I should have been there and should have been on the podium earning a medal. 

When Sue came back I made a vow to myself that next year I would lose a couple of stone, go to the gym and get fitter and then in March I would try out for the team. Here I am almost a year later and I have earned my seat in the boat and will fly out to Rome to hopefully earn my own gold medal.

(3) What has your schedule been like in terms of balancing training for the championships and work?

We aim for a productive work/life balance at MSM Software Solved. It’s important for attracting and retaining the best talent. I work from 7:30am to 5pm, usually just eating porridge as a healthy breakfast and then lots of fruit throughout the day and some salmon before training. At 5pm on the dot I leave the office to either go to the gym or to dragon boat Training. There have also been no weekends for the last six months, as I have either been on two day GB training camps or one day GB and one day racing with my local dragon boat team Exe-Calibre based in Exeter. 

Once every two weeks Sue and I have a personal trainer, who I can only describe as evil, and even though we think we are working 200 per cent at every gym and dragon boat session, he manages to get an extra 100 per cent out of each of us. In total I have lost over 2.5 stone over the last seven months, hurt in new places every session, but have never felt so positive and alive. My work gives me energy to train and my training gives me energy to work and both show me what can be achieved if you apply yourself and if you are surrounded by great people on the journey. 

Read on to find out how it is informing his business ethos.

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