Growth & Customers

From GB bobsleigh to small business star

The CEO of RaceNation talks about how he went from having a bobsleigh career to running a company that's helped to save the events industry.

Will Golder

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Following a potentially career-ending injury just before the Sochi Olympics, GB bobsleigh athlete Will Golder decided to switch lanes and follow a new track.

In this inspiring episode of Sound Advice, Will explains how he funnelled his passion for sport into helping set up RaceNation, an events technology business.

Here’s what he talks about:

A career pivot from bobsleigh to business

There’s no nursery slope in bobsleigh, or business

Re-adjusting athlete focus into business drive

From a salesman to the CEO

Proof-of-concept can raise significant investment

Support your industry by helping struggling customers

Invest in your industry— it doesn’t have to be financial

How the event industry has adapted to overcome its obstacles

If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry— develop a thick skin

Don’t dwell over knockbacks, instead remember the bigger picture

Viva Las Vegas: Marathon dreams

Finding a healthy balance when juggling a love of sports and a business

Adapt and overcome: You will thrive from it

Bex Burn-Callander:

Will, I should point out for our listeners because usually we only have founders on the show and you mentioned that this business was founded by two other people, but you came on board really early.

You were joining at quite a pivotal point.

Do you want to tell us a bit about how you got involved with this business?

Will Golder:

Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Yes. You’re right, I didn’t ‘found it’, but I was essentially the third in the door. There were two founders and then I came in to help them grow.

My background prior to RaceNation, I was a full-time athlete with GB Bobsleigh. I had eight years full time, competing all over the world, I had a fantastic life as an athlete.

In the run up to the Sochi 2014 Olympics, I broke my heel. I had a stress fracture on my heel, which put me out of the Games, I was 26 and I had to make a decision.

Luckily, I grew up in Jersey, so I went back there.

Classic athlete, retires and goes back home to mum and dad because you’re not quite sure what you’re going to do.

My education, if you like, was maths, computing and sports science as A Levels. My degree was in sports business.

Jersey is a small place, and again for listeners that don’t know it, it’s only nine by five as a small little island, and it’s one of those things where everybody knows everybody, to a degree.

I got talking to the founder of RaceNation, and he said, “Look, I’ve got this idea, but I need somebody to help me grow that’s sporty, likes technology, knows technology and do you know anyone?”

I said, “I do know some people that would be very good at doing that for you, but would you consider me applying for the role?”

It was essentially a case of, “We hoped you were going to say that. Yeah. The job’s yours. This is what we want to do.”

So although I didn’t ‘found it’, they were probably less than four or five months old and it had a proof of concept, it had a couple of clients using it.

Once they had the ideas, and this is the beauty of a lot of founders, they have such amazing ideas, they then surround themselves with the right people to help them grow their business.

And that’s exactly what we set about doing, and now since 2014 that’s what we’ve been doing.

We’ve worked with over 3,000 events across the UK now, and we’re just growing out this technology and scaling it across the UK and then looking internationally.

Bex Burn-Callander:

I just need to know, how did you get into bobsleigh? I mean, and where does one even pick that up in the United Kingdom?

Will Golder:

It’s an interesting journey. I was a sprinter, classic Cool Runnings. I was a sprinter who wasn’t quite going to make it.

I got seen by GB Bobsleigh through some of their talent ID processes and I went to some trials, did quite well and that’s where I started my journey into bobsleigh.

The first conversation of bobsleigh for me started by the fact I was approached by a Lieutenant General from the army. So a massively senior ranking officer came up to me and said, “I’m in charge of army bobsleigh.”

He represented the Queen in Jersey, he was the Lieutenant Governor in Jersey, so he represented the Queen there. He said, “I’m trying to create a Jersey bobsleigh team to feed into the GB team if you’re any good. Do you fancy a go?”

I was at school at the time, and I was just one of those kids at school that I was quite fortunate, I was good at sport. I love my football, my rugby, my cricket, my golf, athletics. I loved everything, and I was relatively good at it.

He said, “Look, you’re this sporty guy. The school has told me that you’re sporty. Do you fancy a go at bobsleigh? You can sprint.”

I said, “Absolutely no way. I’m very happy, thank you.”

Anyway, long story short, he said, “Oh, that’s a shame. I’ve got a trip going to Calgary in Canada in eight weeks’ time. I could’ve got you on that trip.”

I said, “Well, I’ve never been to Canada before.”

So I ended up going and booking a meeting, going to have a chat with him at his house.

I walked into the room and as you would imagine someone that represents the Queen on the island, lives in a lovely house, he was a lovely guy but surrounded by staff and people that all look after them very well.

As I walk into this room for this meeting I get announced as, “Here’s the new Jersey bobsleigh team.” I’m thinking, “Wow, okay. This has escalated quite quickly.”

Anyway, there’s the local paper, radio, ITV, they’re saying, “This is the new Jersey bobsleigh team that’s going to Calgary in Canada.”

So unbeknown to me, my commitment to going for a meeting to find out a bit more, actually turned into me being put on that plane up to Calgary.

And I’m so glad I did because it was an opportunity I very, very nearly turned down.

In fact, I did turn down until I had a chat with my parents and friends around me who said, “Look, this is such a good opportunity.”

From there, I went up to Canada, learned how to drive a bobsleigh. It was with the British Army, actually, funnily enough with Sir Andrew being the Lieutenant General. I learned how to drive a bobsleigh, fell in love with the sport and then just worked and worked and worked so hard, because at the time I was small, I was skinny.

I wasn’t a bobsleigh shape, but I loved the sport.

I could run quickly, and I could drive a sled, so the coaching team got hold of me, the strength and conditioning coaches got hold of me and made me into a bobsleigher and that sent me on my career.

Bex Burn-Callander:

You could knock me down with a feather, there’s an army bobsleigh team. Things that I suppose you just don’t know what you don’t know, do you?

But was it kind of like being dropped in the deep end because you just said, “Yeah, I’ll think about it.”

And then suddenly you were in the fast lane to sort of represent your country. That must’ve been enormous pressure to be amazing at this sport, that you probably hadn’t even heard of a few weeks prior.

Will Golder:

Yeah. I genuinely was a fan of Cool Runnings. That was it, but at no point did I ever say, “I’m going to be a bobsleigher. I’m going to be a sprinter.” I never even thought I’d be a professional athlete.

I was just Will Golder from Jersey.

Went to school, loved my sport, worked hard. But yeah, I got dropped in at the deep end, and I think that has just set me up so well for the career that I’ve gone on to have within sport.

But then, post sports as well, because, my God, do things get thrown at you thick and fast in the corporate world, in the business world, and you have to learn fast.

And even learning to drive a bobsleigh, there’s no nursery slope.

You get put in a bobsleigh, told how it goes left, told how it goes right, and you sit in a court of four, and they give you a push off, and they say, “I hope you remember where you’re going,” but I thrive off that, to be honest.

I enjoy that, and actually solving those problems and actually being in that deep end, certainly for me, it’s good for me.

Bex Burn-Callander:

That’s the name of your autobiography, by the way: There Is No Nursery Slope. That’s definitely the title right there.

And then, how long had you been competing before you had that injury that basically killed that career for you?

Will Golder:

I joined the squad in 2010, but I was already bobsleighing before that, but for the Jersey part of this team, so essentially, I joined the GB squad in 2010.

So I did four years of full-time sport funded by UK sport in the lottery. I did eight years of bobsleighing. I’d essentially gone through the whole Olympic cycle.

2010 was the Vancouver Games, so I didn’t compete there. I’d only just joined the squad and I had a lot to learn.

I then worked hard and got myself a place in the squad, became a driver of a two and a four-man sled, and then, like I said, went through.

Bobsleigh works just a bit like the Formula 1 does.

So it has a season every year and you go country to country, track to track, around the world to compete, and then obviously that culminates in an Olympic Games every four years, and it has a World Championships every year.

I did that certainly for GB for four years full time, and then, two weeks before the Games, stress fractured my heel.

I was out of the Olympics, and it was a tough decision, because at that point, like I said, I was 26. What do I do? Do I retire, or… I was only 26. It’s still young.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Too young to retire. 26, it sounds crazy when coming out your mouth.

Will Golder:

Do I look at doing another four years, going towards what was Pyeongchang 2018 to then compete there?

And in all honesty, that was going to be my plan.

My sponsors were on board. The team were on board. Coaches were all on board.

And then on Boxing Day, I tore my hamstring training. After coming back, after breaking my heel just before the Olympics, missing out on the Games, I was absolutely gutted.

Then obviously I went through a whole healing process, recovery process.

I actually came back fitter and stronger post that injury than I was pre-Olympics, and I was in good shape pre-Olympics.

So again, the future was looking good. And then I tore my hamstring.

And at that point, I just thought, do you know what? It looks like my body isn’t on the same page as my mind.

That’s where, by sheer coincidence, I started having a chat with Andrew, who founded RaceNation, who said, “Look, we’ve got this idea, but it’s nothing more than an idea and a proof of concept, bit of technology, what do you think?”

And I instantly got it.

I instantly went home to start researching events and charities that all needed it, because for a charity that puts on their own event, it’s an absolute no-brainer.

They can get everything on one platform rather than requiring everything all over the place. So instantly, I went away and started to just research, is this actually viable? Is this good?

And very quickly came to conclusion that it was.

I retired in January, and within four weeks, I had a job in a new world, and I set about learning everything that I know, and we do today.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Do you feel like you were able to just refocus that energy and drive that you’d put in over the eight years into bobsleigh just into business?

Were you just able to switch lane and be ploughing all of that enthusiasm into something new?

Will Golder:

In all honesty, I struggled initially. I came out of this world-class performance environment that really looked after me, but also, I had a very clear focus journey, and that’s one thing that I think we’ll come onto in a bit, is focus.

And for all founders and pieces of technology, focus is so key.

And I had that focus as an athlete, and I came into the corporate commercial world, and all of a sudden, I realised that I had all this drive.

But actually, there were some people that were very happy to come to work, do their job, get paid and go home.

And I struggled initially to understand that because I was all day and all night. I was fully in, but I actually quickly realised, you can’t do that forever as well.

So initially, the transition was okay.

I struggled to leave and finish sport. Whereas I would normally be training throughout the day as an athlete, I actually still continued to train, weirdly.

I would actually start my training at six in the morning, finish my training before work, go to work, and then probably do a session in the evening as well, just because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know.

They teach you a lot of things in sport, and they look after you quite well in that sense of how to perform, obviously all physical, mental preparation.

But what they don’t really teach you to do, or didn’t at the time, and I think they’re a lot better at it now, is teaching you how to stop, or not even how to fail, but how to retire.

So the transition for me was actually okay, because I was given a lot of freedom by the founders.

Again, being such a small business concept, they needed to grow. It was a case of, I had so much energy and ideas, they just said, “Do you know what? Let’s just let this guy go. Let’s let him go and see what we do.”

And we started having conversations with clients quite quickly.

Certainly we took over all the events in Jersey, and then we also started getting contact from the UK.

And so we opened up an office in the UK, in Brighton, and we just started to grow the business out as where we’ve got it today.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Well, tell me more about that.

So you came in and the business was at proof-of-concept stage, but very small, and today you have some incredible events under your belt. You’ve expanded enormously.

Can you just take us through some of the milestones that you’ve hit and just tell us about how you executed and strategised to get there, as CEO of this business?

Will Golder:

So in my early capacity, I actually started as the business development guy. I was head of sales, head of business development, primed amongst the board to grow this business.

So we started on that.

Bex Burn-Callander:

But wait, wait, wait. Are you a natural salesman then?

Have you done sales roles before, or were you just like, “I’ll give it a go”?

Will Golder:

I was just like, “I’ll give it a go,” because I knew and believed in the products. I think sales has such a bad name, even to the point of titles, where you look at it, you say, “Head of sales? Oh, does he sell cars? Does he do this?” No.

The reality is sales is actually just introducing.

Again, through sport, I had to get a lot of sponsorship and be able to speak to sponsors and look after sponsors of many different sizes. And so I knew I could talk to people.

I think we all probably worked that out quite quickly.

So from there, I just had to introduce the concept, to organise, to say, “Look, this is your problem. This is the solution. What do you think?”

If we can solve problems, that’s the genius of being able to introduce and grow your business. And investment has been a massive stage in that.

Bex Burn-Callander:

And when you say significant investment, can you tell us how much it’s taken to get you where you are today as a business?

Will Golder:

Sure, yeah. I think some high-level figures, we’ve received probably just within and around £3m of investment over time.

So it is taken a lot.

Now, I think you can do it, and a lot of technology companies do it differently.

It’s a fascinating world, the investment world, especially in the technology sector, and that’s what we are. Although we work in the event space and charity space, we’re a technology business.

And it’s a fascinating world in there, whereas a proof-of-concept, you’ll see a lot of technology companies with an idea, maybe a little piece of technology that has that proof, they can raise significant investment, significant.

Way more than we did.

I think probably our early round was £100,000 or £150,000 from friends and family.

And then you go into this… I almost refer to it as a black hole.

Once you go past the proof of concept, but you don’t raise significant investment, you go into this world of graft.

The challenge comes if you need to raise more investment in that stage, that black-hole stage. Investors look at you quite differently.

Investors look at you as if to say, “Ah, this is a good business. What’s your revenues? What’s your multiples. Where’s your journey? What’s going on?”

Whereas at the proof-of-concept phase, they say, “Wow, that’s a good idea. I get it.”

Bex Burn-Callander:

“Let me throw money at you.”

Will Golder:

“Let me throw money and let you go for it.” Whereas once you step over that line of actually earning £1, it almost becomes slightly more difficult to raise investment.

And then you get to the tipping point of the stage towards the end of the black hole.

You are earning significant revenue or turning over significant revenue, processing lots of data and money. And again, investors come back, and they’re looking to be really interested in it and involved again.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Well, it definitely can’t hurt to have loads of amazing headlines about how you’ve basically saved the Ealing Marathon and all these other things.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Why don’t you tell me a bit about being in the depth of a pandemic and seeing your customers struggling, and rather than being like, “Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do,” thinking, “Actually, we’re going to step up to the plate and help these guys out.”

Tell me about that strategy.

Will Golder:

So yeah, you’re absolutely right on the headlines, and as much as we don’t do this for headlines, they do help in a story of a business.

Internally, when you see things like that, they do help, because again, it almost validates your decisions.

What we did, in the midst of the pandemic, there were a lot of event organisers. The events were the first to go and the last to come back, and what happens is their livelihoods get impacted.

Event organisers and event directors that are organising all these events, as a commercial venture for them had no events. Separately, all the charities involved in all those events didn’t get any charity fundraising.

The suppliers, the coffee shops, the hotels, the transport system, everything.

Long story short, we created a separate company called RaceNation Events, which essentially allowed us to go to these events organisers.

Let’s take Ealing Half as one.

There’s another company called Immortal Sport, who had 15 events within them. And we went to them and said, “Look, we understand you guys are at risk of not coming back next year. Our industry is very important to us. What can we do to look to support that industry?”

We had some initial conversations, and then RaceNation Events existed, where we bought in those events to a much bigger picture.

So we arranged some cash flow financing for them. We actually gave the race directors a wage.

So, rather than them being self-employed and having to pay suppliers and see what’s left at the end of it, we gave them a wage.

We could look at, based on our expertise from looking at businesses and looking at the spreadsheets, we could see that the events were viable.

They just had horrific cash flow issues based on sometimes you have to order your toilets and your T-shirts and your medals early, before you’ve sold many tickets, and so it was always just a cash flow issue.

So if we, as part of a bigger group, could provide some central management, central finance, central control, it allowed the organisers to continue doing exactly what they did.

But, as a central business, it allowed us to really support events and save those events from not coming back.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Did these teams see you as like the white knight riding in to save the day, or was it quite difficult for them to lose autonomy?

How did you manage that? Because that must be quite complicated.

Will Golder:

It was one of those things where it was a very open and honest conversation, where I just came to them and said, “Look, this is my idea.”

I’ll be honest, we’ve got two directors that run RaceNation Events, a guy called Jody and his business partner, Lucy. They ran Immortal Sport.

I went to them and said, “Look, I know you guys have said to me you might not come back. Here’s my idea. What do you think?”

They said, “You’re mad. Hang on. So, what are you saying here, Will? You’re saying that you’re going to create an events business that…”

I explained that what we do is, we ring-fence all of the bubbles, if you like, that we bring in.

So Immortal Sport, for example, is a bubble. Ealing Half is a bubble. So they’re completely independent, but they work under one big brand.

He then said, “So you want to give me and Lucy a wage to do what we currently do, but also you’re going to arrange some cash flow financing, so that I never have a sleepless night again about being able to pay my suppliers.”

I said, “Yeah, that’s the idea. And, at the end of it, we all share in the success of the profits.”

When it’s their own business, of course it makes a profit, they get it.

We actually have full journeys through. So the event directors still get a share of that profit. We just split it all 50/50 down the line.

The transition for them wasn’t difficult. It’s been so well-received by all the events that we’ve brought in.

Bex Burn-Callander:

So how do we translate your approach to rescuing the Ealing Half, and other events for other business owners, who might be struggling to come out of the quagmire that’s been this pandemic?

Is it to then look at your customers and work out how you can be an agent in their own success?

How would you create a template that you could give to another business owner and say, “Why don’t you try this?”

Will Golder:

I think, from our side, it was investing in our industry was the key. We know that as a piece of technology, as an online entry and fundraising platform, we have all the features organisers need.

It’s an awesome platform and it can scale and grow and really help make a change.

But we also know that without that, without an industry to deploy this technology, our technology is worthless. So, actually we very quickly realised that if we invest in our industry, in supporting it, then we can make it work.

So, to other listeners that might be struggling to come through a lockdown, thinking, “Where do we go? What do we do?”, it’s all about, I’d say, investing in the industry, or looking at customers and supporting them.

It doesn’t have to be financial. A lot of what we might do within RaceNation Events could be just from a consultation point of view.

Even during Covid, during lockdown, I said to all organisers, whether they’re clients of ours or not, we put out a big public statement to say, “Look, we’re not furloughing any staff. We’re not making anybody redundant.

“Our investors are completely behind us, and we’ve got years ahead of us for growth and plan. We absolutely haven’t planned for this, but we can adjust our plan to do this.”

So, I put out a statement that said, “Any organiser that wants a chat, come and speak to me. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere. So, if you want to discuss a problem, let’s do it.”

I did have a few organisers reach out to me that said, “Look, this is what I’m doing. I’m in contact with this. I know I don’t use RaceNation because I’m in a long contract, but what would you do here?”

That very quickly is where, from a technology business, we developed all our virtual features during lockdown as well, where we realised our organiser’s physical events had gone.

The number of registrations dropped from tens and hundreds of thousands, down to literally hundreds per day and obviously that has a big impact.

So we had to realise and pivot ourselves in what do we do, to support our industry, and that was to create full virtual event features.

We integrated with Strava and, all of a sudden, within weeks, we managed to launch all of this technology, and it’s all credit to our development team, working day and night to really power through.

Bex Burn-Callander:

But wait, how do you do a virtual marathon?

Is it just people on their own just running on their own but still feeling like they’re contributing to an event?

Will Golder:

Yeah. The whole event industry had to adjust and had to change. It was exactly that.

A virtual marathon, a virtual half-marathon. We were restricted at times of how much we could go outside.

In that time of going outside, we had an integration with Strava, and we built a full results service, so that people could go off and just run their marathon, and they would run it.

Because of our integrations, because of our app, our event day app, it allowed them to submit their time.

Then all of a sudden they weren’t just competing against, I don’t know, a local marathon, they’re actually competing against people all over the country.

That then extended on. We’ve had a race to the moon. We’ve had races round the world. We’ve had all sorts of amazing virtual events that, again, organisers have been able to actually survive a little bit by saying, “I can’t put my event on.”

A virtual event, what do you get for a virtual event?

Well you get the kudos of completing a marathon, you get the community aspect of being involved in this, being able to complete it and you get your T-shirt and medal in the post.

We facilitate, as organisers, being able to have some element of revenue coming in between them.

It wasn’t the massive event that they would have, but it was actually a pretty cost-effective way of them putting on an event.

But also engaging their community and their entrants that they have, so that now they’re coming back, they can say, “We put on this virtual event. Now the actual event’s back.”

Bex Burn-Callander:

Wow. In so many ways, this pandemic really has been the mother of invention, just the ways that people have had to innovate to stay alive and keep giving their customers something that they want.

It’s just incredible.

Bex Burn-Callander:

I’d like to talk to you a bit about resilience because we’ve spoken about it a bit on the show before, but you do need an awful lot of resilience to survive as a business builder, as an entrepreneur, and it’s clear from your story that you’ve had to build a lot of resilience.

Even though you play it down when you said, “Oh, I was gutted when I had my injuries,” but in that word I felt a whole wealth of just pain, basically.

So, can you tell me about how you’ve learned to be resilient, how you’ve taken that from your journey as an athlete into that of a CEO?

Will Golder:

Sure. Yeah. You’re right.

Resilience is something that we all work out at some point how we feel, where that sits within us.

From sport, you’ve got to have a thick skin and you’ve got to grow up fast, and you’ve got to be prepared to take some knocks.

Believe it or not, I always believed as a youngster in sport, the higher up the chain you got, the more into professional sport you got, the easier it would get.

Actually, it was the complete opposite.

Sport’s brutal and it’s political, and you’re competing against people that are and were your friends, but actually you’re competing for a spot in the Olympic Games. So you have to have a thick skin.

For us, certainly, we did our racing on the track, we did our training in the gym, and then we all had a pretty good balance as a squad to be able to separate that.

That’s important in business because you can’t go at this alone.

You have to surround yourself with teams and you have to build teams around you.

At times, members of that team move on. Similarly, people within your sector and your industry, you have to get to know them.

As much as we like to think that we’ve found this amazing piece, this amazing idea in something that no one’s ever done, there is other competitors out there, and there will be, and you do get to know them.

So, resilience when you hear of people looking at your clients and that side of things, or when you get knockbacks, where you go for a bit of business and you don’t win it, it’s important to think of the bigger picture.

I think that’s one thing I always like to remind myself of and our board of, because our board is made up of some significant directors, successful business people and shareholders.

It’s very easy to think, “Right. Now let’s focus on this small aspect,” but when we actually think of the bigger picture, actually it’s okay.

We don’t fail, we just have to move on from something that we didn’t win, or we didn’t quite do. That’s important.

But resilience is one of those things that you have to deal with and sometimes, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. So, being able to develop that thick skin is very important.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Is that what you do? Because you make it sound almost easy to just try and remember the bigger picture when you have a knockback, if you don’t win a contract or whatever.

Just take me through your process then.

How do you not take it personally? How do you make sure that the next day you wake up and you attack whatever problem you’ve got afresh, basically?

Will Golder:

A lot of it comes down to having a plan, and your plan, our plan, any plan, can never be centred around one thing because if it is, then when that one thing doesn’t happen, it’s very, very difficult to think outside of “What do we do next?”

What we do is, we have a very clear plan.

We know our market size, and we know the route that we need to go in, which is a percentage of market share in order to achieve success.

So, therefore, if we don’t win a contract, it’s okay because our market size is X, and we need Y.

Breaking it down into really quite simplistic facts is very important.

Now, of course you do take it personally. Of course, you do get a bit grumpy, and you do get a bit annoyed, but actually just being able to go back to the plan and saying, right, what is this big picture?

And certainly for us as RaceNation, as SportsGiving, there’re hundreds of millions of pounds raised for charitable giving over the UK.

There’re millions and millions and millions of pounds of tickets sold for events all over the UK.

And so, if we don’t win one contract, that might be £500,000 of ticket sales or £10,000 of ticket sales. It does matter because we have to understand why we didn’t win it because then we can look to evaluate that, see what they needed differently, either build it, or explain it better.

Sometimes, the complexity of business, it’s so easy to explain what RaceNation SportsGiving does.

We’re an online entry platform that sells all the entries for events, and we integrate the charitable fundraising.

Behind the scenes, the technology is a massive complex beast where, for some organisers, we have to explain, well, you can do this, this, and this.

For others, they need to be described how to do this, this, and this.

And actually, sometimes we just haven’t explained the right bit of the technology and an organiser might go to someone else that does what we do, but not even as good.

And so, we just have to just evaluate why we lost it and then move on.

Having a very clear play plan that you’re all comfortable with, that is achievable and measurable, is a very, very important aspect of that plan. Because when we are all comfortable with an achievable plan, it allows you to wake up in the morning and say, “You know what? Let’s look at deploying that plan again.”

Bex Burn-Callander:

I love that approach to look at why we didn’t win it.

That, to me, was like something that you probably honed in your sporting days. Because there’s all these, I don’t know, you watch films about athletes, and they’re constantly watching videos of their performance to see where they went wrong and basically kind of looking back and thinking, “How can I improve? How can I improve?”

That’s something that you are doing in business.

Will Golder:

I think the crossover from sport to business is actually massive.

It’s bigger than even I expected it to be. I knew that I’d be dedicated. I knew that I’d be driven.

But actually, the crossover of some of the intricate details is massive.

Coming from sports, you’re right, we do. After every session, be it in the gym, sprint track, or on the bobsled track, and particularly in the bobsled track.

You’re going down a track at 140km, 150km an hour. You have cameras and feedback the whole way down.

And so, you review and you work out what you did well, what you did differently, and what you want to change.

If you can bring that into business, it does help, because like I said, we don’t kick, scream, and shout. We don’t do any of that.

We just look at why we didn’t win it and what we might need to do differently.

We polish what needs polishing. We build what needs building, and we move on.

Bex Burn-Callander:

What is the one massive international event that you would love to have on your books?

If we were speaking in a few years’ time when you were like, “I’ve got that”? I don’t know what it is.

The Vegas Marathon. What is the one? The one.

Will Golder:

You mentioned the Vegas Marathon. I don’t know if that’s just through pure chance. The Vegas Marathon is fascinating because they have the world’s biggest or, I can’t remember what they said, but it’s essentially the world’s biggest wedding.

Where they actually have a lane on the Vegas Marathon where you’re running the Vegas Marathon, you’ve just got lots of regular runners, but then they have this lane where you do a run-through-wedding.

You actually get married whilst running through, because obviously Vegas being Vegas, you can do that.

That would be quite cool.

But in all honesty, our goals sit on scale.

Where we sit as a company, is there are big city marathons that come with their own complex onboarding, legal data issues, where RaceNation has a sweet spot, is we can work from entries from 10 people up to 10, 20, 50,000 people. It doesn’t matter.

Of course, I think, rather than one event, it would actually be having a successful global business, because it doesn’t matter whether organisers have got 10 people or 10,000. They still get the same technology with us. They still get the same service.

And so by actually having those, the business deployed in Europe, America, Australia. Australia’s an interesting one because it allows us to potentially flip to being almost 24/7, or 24 hours certainly with time zones.

Vegas would be cool, though, I think. Just being able to put a business trip out there to see the world’s biggest mass wedding with them, would be quite cool.

Bex Burn-Callander:

I can’t believe I just pulled that out of thin air. I must be a mind reader. I’m tuning into your little grey cells.

Bex Burn-Callander:

And you mentioned, when you first made the transition to go to RaceNation, you were still training, you were getting up at six in the morning.

Are you still training? Do you still have one foot in that world?

Will Golder:

Yeah, you have to.

I think if you live as an athlete and you eat like an athlete, if you stop, you’re going to struggle, I think. Certainly for me, I did continue to eat like an athlete, and so I absolutely have to keep myself fit.

But the beauty of it now is, I don’t have to worry. If I don’t want to go, I don’t go. And on the transition there, you’re right. I was training.

Then, I went through this, not a revelation, but I sat there, and I said, “Why am I here? No, one is paying me to be here at six in the morning. I’m tired, I’m hungry. It’s miserable. I’ve got a day of work to come. What do I do?”

So, actually I then stopped. I’ve now found a really nice balance.

I’ve got myself a bike. I enjoy the gym. I play a bit of sport and I just enjoy what I do.

I try and keep myself fit and active. Probably not as much as I should. Life and business and corporate entertainment, all takes over a little bit of that.

But yeah, I do try and just keep myself at least fit, or in the gym a couple of times a week, because otherwise it wouldn’t be so great for my health.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Maybe that slightly obsessive training morning and evening was almost like part of your grieving process, for saying goodbye to eight years of hard graft.

Because you have to go through that, don’t you, and it’s important that the listeners know as well. If you’re going to do a massive career change, you’re going to have to say goodbye to what came before.

Will Golder:

You’re right.

And in business, sometimes not even career changes, but even changes within your business and your strategy and your plan.

Sometimes, based on the idea, the concept, or even the early stage business, laws change. Sometimes things happen where it’s just not possible anymore.

Therefore, you have to adapt to your business.

And adapt and overcome is a big phrase in my world that I live by as well. Because if you can adapt and overcome, you will thrive.

You’ve just got to be able to do that with a clear and level head.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Adapt and overcome. I love it.

I think that’s probably a good place to stop.

Well, it’s been a joy to chat to you and hear about all your experiences and your amazing life. Thank you so much for coming and talking to me today.

Will Golder:

You’re very kind. You’re very welcome. It’s been great talking.

Bex Burn-Callander:

I think we can all channel Will’s advice on thinking more like an athlete in business and in life. What an interesting and wise guest.

Will is on Twitter @willgolder1 and on LinkedIn too. And why not sign up for a marathon or half-marathon if you’re feeling inspired.

If you enjoyed the show, tell us on Twitter @SageUK or Instagram @SageOfficial. And please use the #soundadvicepodcast.

See you real soon.

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