It’s not difficult to pinpoint the reason people warm to Kriss Akabusi; his familiar laugh, energy, enthusiasm and openness come at you in waves when you’re talking to him. It’s over 25 years since he won Gold in the 400m hurdles, at the European Championships in 1990. Since then, the athlete has gone on to study for an MBA, become a sought after Keynote Speaker and Training Facilitator, working with business leaders across the country.
Kriss, what do the business leaders you now work with have in common?
Whether they’re a CEO of a FTSE 100, or an Entrepreneur at the beginning of their business journey, it can be lonely. I like to find out who the 5 people are, that have made a difference in their lives. Raised the bar for them and had an impact on where they’re going. It doesn’t mean (those mentors are) not still out there, and you shouldn’t stop looking for them. You might even have a younger mentor, I can imagine someone who’s been in business for 20-25 years for example, who’s looking for someone to guide them through the digital age.
I also look for the people who can pick themselves up when they’re in the doldrums and have kept going and learnt from their lows. For example, I think we’re on the precipice of something in 2017 with Brexit. The people who will succeed through Brexit are the people who learnt from 1992 and 2008, and use that as a strength, not a weakness.
As a former athlete how important do you think health and well-being are, to success in the business world?
Health of mind, body and spirit is fundamental. If you haven’t got a healthy mind and body, it’s very highly unlikely you’re going to be successful in work. Each to their own of course, you have to define that for yourself but I’m 58 years of age, I’ve lived two thirds of my life and I still want to have a good go at my last third.
Do you notice a difference exercising brings to your life?
You feel good about yourself, you feel good about the world around you. Funnily enough I sleep better now. I sleep better than when I was young. I used to sleep four or five hours a night. Oh gosh! I used to be one of these Maggie Thatcher types, after four hours, let’s get up and go. But now I get a good six, or seven, hours kip. I’ve also got an Apple watch so I make sure I do my steps, my hour workouts. The adrenalin and the endorphins that flood through my body, I feel great!
Finally, how important is it to keep moving the goalposts and challenging yourself if you are at the top of your industry or business?
Einstein once said, “A mind, once expanded, can never go back to its original dimensions”. You’ve got to keep on moving, keep on learning, keep on expanding. Every year you’ve got to ask yourself: “What am I going to let go of? What in my life that was ok for the 20th Century, ok for the noughties, ok for 2016, is no longer serving me for this year and beyond? What sort of things do I need to let go of? What sort of things do I need to hold on to? What are my key talents, essence and skills that my customer, my client and my colleagues buy?” For me, it’s my energy, my enthusiasm, my motivational and inspirational attitude, the key things that people buy. And whether it’s soldier, sportsman, television personality or businessman, they remain. BUT you have to ask yourself in this year, in this moment, what new things do I have to take on? New experiences, new learnings, in order to be the better version of myself.