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Inspiration From Unlikely Places: What Can Sports Teach Us About Driving Successful Tech Businesses?

By Dan Ilett with Dean Curtis


The latest episode of Programmable World, hosted by Dan Ilett, managing partner at Tollejo, features Dean Curtis, CEO of data services at LexisNexis, which helps businesses predict risk and enhance operational efficiency.


Dean has a wealth of experience in the data industry, but his journey began in an unlikely place: professional sports. He spoke about the inspiration we can take from professional sports when it comes to leadership in tech businesses, emphasising the value of performance. “What you tend to find in the world of business, sport, and life in general, is that excellence isn’t magic,” says Dean. “For me, the best people in any field can simply do the mundane things consistently better than everybody else.”


Performance and results are often mixed up in the business world. Business leaders might be judged on financial results, but an obsession with these metrics isn’t a great basis for leadership. A great coach isn’t likely to stand in front of his team of professional football players and tell them they need to win. They focus on the performance and let the result take care of itself. “A true performance focus really translates itself into a growth mindset – how do you turn up today and be better than you were yesterday?”


A crucial element of what makes a professional sports team so successful is the idea of mutual accountability. In the same light, a successful business leader will build teams that are mutually accountable, wherein everyone sees their role as an important part of a whole, like a football team in a locker room. Dean says, “The saying that I use is ‘performance is doing the things you need to do to get the results you want.'”


For more in-depth access to Dean’s insight, listen to the full episode here.

We dive into a whole bunch of other topics around tech including:

  • The future of AI 
  • The importance of the story behind tech businesses
  • What makes a successful tech venture 


For more like this, the Programmable World podcast is now available on all podcast directories and on YouTube

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