The prominently displayed signed copy of Steven Bradbury’s aptly titled biography ‘The Last Man Standing’ gets a lot of interest from our visitors at Tanda HQ.

For our foreign friends and local Aussies who have been living under a rock, Steven Bradbury is a legendary Australian speed skater and a household name. Bradbury rose to fame as the country’s first winter Olympic gold medal winner, accomplishing it in what has been called “the most unexpected Olympic win in history”, when all of his competitors crashed on the final lap.

Bradbury’s stunning victory etched his name in every Australian’s vocabulary, now to “do a Bradbury” or “be Bradburied,” means to achieve unexpected success.

The question on everyone’s minds is what does a story about unexpected success in the Olympics have to do with success in business. The answer is simple. It turns out that there’s more to Steven Bradbury’s unexpected success than meets the eye.

Here are some valuable business lessons we’ve taken from Bradbury.

Keep coming back until you win

Steven Bradbury’s shock victory happened on his fourth winter Olympic campaign. By that time, he had been competing as an athlete for over ten years. The untold story involves living in his parents basement, not to mention suffering a sliced femoral artery and a broken neck on separate occasions amongst many other hardships.

Bradbury admits that at age 28 he knew heading into the 2002 Olympics that he wouldn’t be the fastest, but evidently turning up is the only part of winning you can’t do without. You could be mistaken for thinking that any able bodied person with a pair of ice skates could have taken out gold, but the point is that they didn’t. They didn’t qualify for the Olympics four times.

Much like winning gold at the Olympics, business isn’t always won on the first phone call.

The fastest skater on the ice doesn’t always win

Ever come across a prospective client to find they have already purchased a less suitable product at a higher price and wondered how? There’s a cautionary tale here, and it’s called getting ‘Bradburied’.

The concept is simple and the lesson a lot harder. You can be the best skater on the rink, but you don’t win gold without execution.

The path to greatness is paved with action, aptitude means nothing without execution.

Know when to enter the race and when to stay out

Olympic short track ice skating is known for their spectacular crashes. Bradbury on going into the finals knew that as his fourth race there wasn’t much left in the tank, nor was he the fastest skater on the ice. In an interview after, Bradbury explains that attempting to keep in the pack would have been counterproductive to securing a gold medal.

Sometimes in business knowing when to sit out of a deal is going to reap larger benefit.

Don’t burn your energy on activities that are counterproductive to your larger goal.

TL;DR

  • Business isn’t done on the first phone call

  • Execution is everything.

  • Sometimes keeping out of the race is the best way to secure a win.