I was recently asked to give a speech to the current incumbents and alumni of Lancaster University's MBA program on the subject of 'Is there life after Nike?'.
It's a fair question - having chosen to leave after 17 years many people questioned my sanity. What was I going to do next? It's better to get a job from a job! What brand could you possibly want to work for that beats Nike? You only get to play your Nike trump-card once so you better use it well! And on it went…
So what did I do? Nothing. I just left. I decided to a) take the summer off and b) refuse to answer any of the 'big questions' that kept coming my way. Instead I made one rule and that was that was to say 'yes' to any opportunity or idea that came my way. For the first time in a long time (or possibly ever) I created the space to let destiny unfold.
Within days I was asked to coach some of the smartest people I had come across whilst working at the Nike Foundation. Amazingly bright, talented individuals from all corners of the earth. Each one striving to make a better world. I'm constantly in awe of their energy, their drive, their ability to balance crazy ambition to create change with swathes of compassion. So I said yes.
Three weeks later, whilst sitting in Sussex doing a silly-strict detox retreat, I got a call from my great friend, mentor and creative guru Chris Baréz Brown saying that his equally talented wife, Anna was looking for a partner to create a new coaching-based programme for women. I had no idea what it was or what I could do to help but I said 'yes', rerouted to Lyme Regis for a decent meal and got to work. 6 months later we launched Shine, a workshop for women to build a bigger vision and plan that gives renewed energy and focus to their professional and personal lives. Shine is now firmly established with our 4th workshop this week, we've made it into the illustrious pages of the Sunday Times and I now get to belly-laugh at least twice a week with my very shiny co-founder Anna.
A month after that, Tiger for a Day Ltd. opened it's doors for business and I now work with extraordinary individuals and teams across the world. I'm attracted to people who are basically restless. People who want more, expect more, will put in everything to achieve more. Running Tiger for a Day is fun, thrilling, creative and at times, massively challenging.
This all came about for two reasons. Firstly, I did nothing. When I left Nike I literally left a huge gaping space and didn't try to fill it. When we allow that to happen, we find out what our true value is in the world. What others really wanted from us. We end up doing what we're good at and what we love and as many of us discover to our surprise, that doesn't always come from a 'sensible' plan based on our CVs. How often do we allow that to happen in our lives?
Secondly, I said 'yes'. Saying yes opens up avenues and presents experiences that we just don't seek out otherwise. It creates some fear for sure but the kind of fear that comes when we're moving out of our comfort zones and growing. Just like the 'doing nothing' approach, it also creates the environment for happy accidents to happen, to meet people you wouldn't usually meet, work with people you wouldn't usually work with, do things that you discover you enjoy. Now I’m giving speeches, running workshops for some of the highest performing teams in the world, putting more women in the limelight, coaching cellists, social entrepreneurs and future presidents. How did that happen?
Seems there is life after Nike...