Louisa Warwick: “Work harder, smarter and more frequently than your competitors”

Work harder, smarter and more frequently than your competitors- As an athlete, (talent aside), if I trained smarter, harder and more frequently than my competitors unless I was sick or injured, I usually performed better. Those same principles I believe are in business. As a part of our interview series about “From Athlete to Entrepreneur”, […]

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Work harder, smarter and more frequently than your competitors- As an athlete, (talent aside), if I trained smarter, harder and more frequently than my competitors unless I was sick or injured, I usually performed better. Those same principles I believe are in business.

As a part of our interview series about “From Athlete to Entrepreneur”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Louisa Warwick.

Most people know of Louisa Warwick as a famous English fashion model. However many people do not know she used to be a former athlete in her youth. Having competed for Great Britain in Distance Running as a teenager and most recently running the New York Marathon for fun this past year in an impressive 3 hours 23 minutes, she opens up today about the lessons we can learn from Athletes.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you for interviewing me! I grew up in Winchester, Hampshire in the UK. In terms of sports, I started swimming regularly around the age of 9. By the age of 11, I was the youngest person from my swimming club to ever qualify to compete in the National championships. By the age of 13, I was training anywhere up to 16 hours a week in the pool- often before and after school. At the age of 14, I competed in my first Biathlon event which is running & swimming. I qualified for the National Biathlon Championship & proceeded to win the National Championship. Without any running training I noticed my abilities as a runner were far greater than as a swimmer so at the age of 15, after trying to maintain both to a national standard, I made the switch to distance running. At the age of 16, I made the England squad for the first time in cross-country running which was a big honor at the time.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete?

I have always admired British distance runner Paula Radcliffe who was until recently the Women’s world record holder in the Marathon. I read her book when I was 15, I watched her break the world record in the marathon in London & met her 6 months ago for the first time the day before I ran the New York Marathon. I think she is just amazing!

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

The most amount of help came from my parents who drove me to train at 5.30 am multiple days a week and traveled with me around the country/the World for races. Also, the coaches who pushed me trained me and believed in me over those years.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I was competing in Northern France in a cross-country race when I stupidly fell and twisted my ankle literally 3 seconds before the gun went off. It was just a blunder-I don’t even know how I fell over as I wasn’t even running at that moment in time. So, the gun goes off and there are over 300 competitors ahead of me- i’m flat on the floor so I get up and chase after the pack. I ended up comfortably winning the race with a twisted ankle. But the lesson I learned is the power of the mind is very strong. I felt no pain on my ankle during the race but it was agony as soon as I stopped and for about a month afterward!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you tell us the story of your transition from a professional athlete to a successful business person?

I decided to stop competing as an athlete at the age of 18. I had accomplished everything I had wanted to in running and decided to move to New York and attend NYU / be a fashion model and accomplish other things I wanted to achieve in life! I started my business Social Acceleration Group 2 days after graduating NYU as a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects new you are working on now?

I am continuing to expand the Social Acceleration Group’s services offered. We recently just launched customizable billboard services across the USA including in the heart of Times Square for just 400 dollars.

Do you think your experience as a professional athlete gave you skills that make you a better entrepreneur? Can you give a story or example about what you mean?

Yes, for sure. I am very calm but know when to ‘switch on’, I have great endurance, I am completely self-motivated, driven, goal-orientated and understand what hard work is. I have no problem working on my business up to 16 hours a day and at odd hours around the clock. I am the type of person that if I have set myself a particular goal I won’t stop until it is achieved.

Ok. Here is the main question of our interview. Entrepreneurs and professional athletes share a common “hustle culture”. Can you share your “5 Work Ethic Lessons That Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Athletes”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Yes, here are 6:

Success isn’t overnight — As an athlete, it takes a lot of hard work to accomplish that goal. I believe it takes 18 months to get to my personal fitness peak and to be able to perform at my best. Most people don’t get to go behind the scenes and witness the long, grueling workouts come rain, thunder, or shine. The hard work, the (what seems at the time to be) devastating failures, the hours of practice, the setbacks, the extensive travel, and more. Most people just see the end result in a competition. That concept is the same with business- it takes a lot more work and time behind the scenes than a lot of people realize.

Don’t be delusional– Set realistic goals for yourself. For example, winning the Olympics at the age of 16 without qualifying for previous International events is unrealistic. Set realistic goals, break them down into smaller goals/steps and work hard to achieve them.

Work harder, smarter and more frequently than your competitors- As an athlete, (talent aside), if I trained smarter, harder and more frequently than my competitors unless I was sick or injured, I usually performed better. Those same principles I believe are in business.

Do what you love- As an athlete I loved competing and the rush of winning. I never really enjoyed training but I did it because I loved accomplishing my set goals. I feel like it is the same in business. If you don’t love what you, if it doesn’t excite you or motivate you to get out of bed it is going to be much harder to succeed.

Ignore everyone around you- I have always believed that you are your biggest inspiration, your biggest driving force and biggest motivator.Throughout life I have always had people challenge my ability to accomplish my goals. The point is, it doesn’t matter what people say to you directly or behind your back. Thrive off the fact they are even talking about you. Stay focused and take pride in proving to yourself that you can achieve anything you realistically want in life with ruthless hard work, dedication and focus. In general, the more success you have under your belt, the more people will talk sh*t about you so learn to develop a thick skin and continue thriving!

Know when to stop- If things aren’t working out its okay to change paths! Take everything including the highs and the lows as an opportunity to learn. For example, as an athlete I started off as a swimmer. Did I finish top 20 nationally? Yes! Was a capable of competing Internationally in swimming? Unlikely! So I took a step back, readjusted, re-evaluated and made the switch to running. The same applies to business. If something isn’t working out, take the time to step back, re-evaluate, make adjustments and do what is best for you, your company and your life goals.

What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?

Don’t worry about following in anyone’s footsteps. Be the person who thought big and just decided to go for it. Create your own path and achieve everything you want to in life!

You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Through personal work and/or donations directly with several charities that strike a chord to me personally. I am also a generous person in general, I like helping out when I see someone in need.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Permanently wet meat markets in China & the consumption of Cats & Dogs. I have a cat named Ralph & I also love dogs so this issue really upsets me.

Can you share your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I don’t have any life lesson quotes but I have a few phrases I like to say:

Just go for it!

Watch what I do!

Let’s go!

Those three resonate with me because they motivate me and get me pepped up when I need to be!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

My biggest inspiration has always been Paula Radcliffe. I had always wanted to meet Paula Radcliffe & I got so lucky to fortunately meet her 6 months ago. Even though I only met her for literally 10 minutes she was very kind, down to earth and friendly- again I think she is just amazing!

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