A few years ago during a period of challenge and change in my personal life, I spent a week staying with a friend of mine in Cape Town, South Africa. He had urged me to get away from everything for a few days to take in the fresh air, the mountains and the vineyards of the Western Cape.
The friend in question was Scott Gibbs, the three-time British & Irish Lion and a dual Welsh international rugby player in both Union and League. At the time, Scott was a Director of a business that I was involved with.
Out early for our morning walks, we would talk about our business interests, about rugby (especially rugby league in the mid 90s), about life, the world and anything else that captured our imagination.
Credit: Getty Images
Scott is a life-long learner and has lived and worked in many places around the world which makes him a great source of advice and guidance. He has successfully transferred many of his rugby traits and beliefs into his business career. The thing that stuck with me most was his mantra of ‘Finish Strong’. He would tell of the challenge of taking on some of the finest rugby players on the planet and the difference between winning and losing often being decided by tiny margins. Towards the end of a game when the teams are evenly matched, when the players are exhausted, who is going to step up to make the difference? He would look at his opposite man and he’d know that he was stronger mentally, stronger physically and would rally his fellow players to keep going, to believe and to take the spoils.
As a proud Englishman, I had the misfortune of watching Scott demonstrate exactly this psychology at Wembley in 1999, scoring a typical block-busting try in the final minutes and in doing so ruined England’s grand slam in the last ever Five Nations game before the tournament expanded to include Italy in the Six Nations.
So Scott’s ‘Finish Strong’ mantra has become my mantra. There have been many a business trip where I’ve been away from the family for a week or two and as it gets to the last couple of days, when I’m missing being at home with my wife and my kids, I find myself having a little pep talk with myself to ensure I keep going until the last meeting is done to make the most of the time away.
On the last Friday of every month I address my colleagues for half an hour to sign off the month, recognise individual and business achievements, update them on the progress we’re making and areas we need to focus on for the month ahead. My theme this month was ‘Finish Strong’. With only 38 working days to go until Christmas, we’re into the final stretch to achieve the things we set out to in 2018 at both a business and a personal level. We’ve set some truly ambitious and transformational goals over the past few years at Capital International. We’ve doubled the size of the business in the last five years, set up an office in Cape Town which now has around 27 staff and applied for a banking licence in the Isle of Man under the island’s Alternative Banking Regime. With a huge body of work already behind us at Capital in 2018, we shall be working hard to finish this year strongly and come back refreshed and ready to go again for what will be a truly historic year for the Group in 2019.