Podcasts, Paul and Me – a reminder about the importance of listening.

Quite recently I have started listening to podcasts – I know, I’m pretty late to the game here (you can see the theme of late adopter shining through as my second blog is being written) but I’m not ashamed to say I am hooked… they had me at “Hello”. Podcasts have made the 30-minute Northern Line squeeze-fest a bit more pleasurable (though we were coming from a low base!) The Jerry Maguire link doesn’t end with the line above as the podcasts I have most enjoyed thus far are with great sportsmen and women who are both articulate and informative, intertwining amusing anecdotes about their life in sport and how this resonates with their new careers, often in business.

Amusing anecdotes about their life in sport and how this resonates with their new careers, often in business.

This has struck a chord with me as they combine my love of sport and business – something I know is not uncommon. At present I have listened to about 20 of these from Brian O’Driscoll to Peter Beardsley but the one that I have really identified with most was an interview with Paul McGinley (The Irishman Abroad podcast), European captain of the 2014 Ryder Cup winning team. McGinley was a good pro who had to work hard at his game and has some great stories of how he became a professional golfer arising from a Gaelic Football injury. However, there were three fundamental areas he touched upon with great eloquence that I have taken from his career to date:

1. Seeking Advice
Surround yourself with mentors and always look for opportunities to learn more from others. McGinley’s great success in winning the Ryder Cup as captain was meticulously planned but he attributes a great degree of his success to those he has had around him. I have always found in my recruitment career, I have performed best when having somebody to learn from, bounce ideas off and give me perspective… Tell me I’m being an idiot, pat me on the back when it’s going well and so on – all these things really help. There are so many owner managers in recruitment but from what I can see, most forge ahead alone without help from the outside, which, I believe, is an error.Â

2. Careers Trees
McGinley gives a great analogy on careers and likens them to climbing a tree in that you start at the bottom, think you know the way to the top but stepping onto a particular branch can take you in a completely different direction. Often you need to go back to the bottom of the tree and find another way… Very few people climb the (career) tree in a straight line and for me, it really hit home. The point here is to keep learning, every wrong step or broken branch is a learning curve and going back to the start is never easy but once you come out the other end and have taken something from it, then the journey hasn’t been wasted. This makes far more sense to me than the out-dated career ‘ladder’ which assumes people will go straight up – nowadays, people gain experience by working in different areas / markets, by making mistakes and through building experience.

3. Planning in detail
There were some great references in this podcast around the planning for the Ryder Cup a long time in advance of the actual event. And as the it got closer, some of those plans were chrystalised and some were discarded, with McGinley going into huge amounts of detail with some of the smallest factors effecting the teams overall performance. When this strategy was applied as whole, there is no doubt this level of planning gave his team the edge when it came to the big occasion . My belief is that we (I absolutely include myself!) – the owner managers of SME recruitment companies – are very short term in our planning. We often have long term goals and ideals but the pathway to these goals is driven by gut instinct, current market conditions or being in the right place at the right time… we have all had the opportunity at one point or another to diversify into a new market (‘the next big thing’) or hire a superstar that can take you there – often we take that chance but rarely does it end up being a success.

Was I aware of these points before? Yes.

Is there anything new and ground breaking in the points I have made? No.

However, hearing those points applied in a different setting by somebody I admire through the medium of sport, was incredibly powerful and enjoyable at the same time.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience with podcasts and would have any recommendations for me to listen to – my email is