Ever wondered what sports can teach a marketer? You’re about to find out... I'm Alexandre, former track & field athlete and member of the THoM family since 2018. Here’s my story, of how I moved from the running track to the marketing mill.
24/7 on the sports field
From an early age, I ate, slept and breathed sports. Soccer, surfing, running –you name it, I liked it. It didn’t matter which type of sports it was, as long as I was on the move, I was happy. Hence, it was an easy decision to pursue my high school studies at a top-level sports academy. While there, I continued to practice different kinds of sports, with soccer being my main passion. Until one day I took a running test which blew the athletics trainer away. That moment marked the discovery of my hidden talent, as well as the start of my athletics career.
The switch from soccer to athletics seemed like an easy one, but the change had a pretty big impact on me. Mainly because I wasn’t used to carrying all the performance stress on my own. As a team the pressure is divided, but as a runner, you’re on your own. Suddenly I was confronted with a huge amount of stress – quite a turnaround for the rather carefree teenager I had been. On a positive note, having been taught how to handle stress is really benefiting me in my current career as a marketer.
Head in the game, head in the books
Although sports were my main love, I didn’t want to place all my bets on the same number. In order to have a safety net for when I’d say goodbye to top-level sports, I combined my athletics career with higher studies. In the fall of 2010, I started my academic journey in sports sciences and later continued my way into marketing.
“Why marketing?” you might wonder. As an athlete, you depend on government grants and sponsoring. That kind of dependency puts you in a vulnerable position. I was determined to help athletes to become more independent and dove deeper into the how and why it’s beneficial for companies to finance top-level athletes. I wanted to learn about how to justify investments and make sponsoring a win-win investment. That way, instead of having to count on the goodwill of brands, athletes can build strong relationships and future proof their sponsoring – and their careers.
Sports vs. work
My experience on the running track taught me plenty of useful things. I actually believe businesses could learn quite a bit from the sports world. The difference between effort and relaxation, for example. In sports, it’s normal to do some ‘supercompensation’ after an intense period. This contrast is the opposite of the business world's reality, where we often tend to blur the lines between our work and private lives.
A similarity is the importance of measurable goals. People need specific and attainable objectives in order to stay motivated. This is a strategy inherent to scrumming. Based on that technique often used in marketing, projects are divided into sprints, which helps to keep track of the progress you’ve made. The process is comparable to athletes taking part in a competition to measure their personal evolution.
With a heavy heart, I had to quit my sports studies and career in the spring of 2012 due to health issues. Although I’ve said goodbye to being a professional athlete, I’m still enjoying sports as much as possible. Surfing during the weekends, cycling, running, … I keep pushing my limits. And while marketing is my current love, I hope one day I can give back to the top-level sports circuit, preferably in a marketing-oriented context. The future looks bright and promising!