A Shared Passion for Success
There’s no better way to build a business relationship than through a shared passion away from the office – which for me is cycling. And it’s not just me who thinks that. The executive cycling community has exploded in Australia and internationally, and I’d go as far as saying that it has replaced the round of golf or Friday long lunch as a more effective business networking activity.
The relationships that you can build up through cycling and the post-ride coffee can foster both business and personal success. It’s great when you can tick just one of those boxes, but if you can achieve both, it’s fantastic.
In September, I had the privilege of competing alongside Daniel Forsythe (pictured next to me on the right in the photo above) in the Australian team at the UCI Gran Fondo World Championship in Perth. Off the bike, Daniel is the co-owner of The Missing Link, an IT solutions company based in Sydney. On the bike, he’s a fierce competitor and a great climber.
Daniel and I first met through ACE - Australian Cycling Executives. ACE, which has since evolved into ICE (International Cycling Executives), a unique business community connecting business leaders who love riding a bike. It is now active across seven cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Singapore, Hong Kong, London and San Francisco.
Daniel and I started riding together at ICE cycling events, which pretty soon led to us training together with the shared goal this year to qualify for the 155km road race at the 2016 UCI World Championships. We both succeeded in gaining selection on the Australian team in the 35-39 year-old age category, funnily enough via two different qualifying races.
As well as training for qualification, earlier this year The Missing Link’s telephony system was coming up for renewal. I was a catalyst for the company to evaluate some different options in the market and I convinced Daniel to have a serious look at deploying a ShoreTel unified communications solution. That would give the business a lot more than the basic voice services it was using, and also extend to provide contact centre functionality for the company’s help desk.
We were given the chance to present to The Missing Link’s executive team, and put together a proposal. They evaluated it as the best solution to meet their business requirements, and ShoreTel Connect was deployed for 60 users at The Missing Link in September. After using ShoreTel, The Missing Link has not only referred a number of their clients to ShoreTel, they have also signed up as a partner to re-sell our cloud solutions.
While the implementation of ShoreTel UC at The Missing Link went smoothly, I can’t say the same for my training program in the lead up to World Championships! In the last few weeks before the race, a couple of international business trips to New Zealand and the US made it hard to put some long training rides together. I jumped on a stationary bike in the hotel gym whenever I had some free time, but it’s not quite the same as getting out on the road.
That said, I was looking forward to going along and just enjoying the experience. And I’m glad I did. Arriving in Perth for the event, the atmosphere was amazing and wearing the ‘green and gold’ was a special feeling.
At the start line, there were teams from all over the world – including Italy, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand – and Daniel and I were both in the lead group until I got dropped around the 130km mark. Daniel hung on to finish less than two minutes behind the winner (Deno van Heerden from South Africa) and I came home in the middle of the field.
It was a fantastic opportunity for someone like me with a full-time career to ride in a race where I was treated like a professional cyclist, and it was great to represent Australia together with Daniel and the other members of our national team.
The good news is that next year if I qualify for the Worlds, I move up an age category – making me one of the youngest ones in my race!