Sunday, June 13, 2010

The 2010 World Cup: What Can Business Learn?

With the FIFA World Cup starting last Friday, 11th June, we conducted a small survey of 100 young adults between the ages of 16 and 18 and asked them two questions; (1) who is your favourite football player?; and (2) who is your favourite business leader? 97 were able to tell us their favourite football player and only 5 their favourite business leader, (which included their dad and Colonel Sanders).

What was particularly interesting was that all 100 were happy to discuss football, talking about teams, players and showed real excitement about the World Cup. When we discussed business and leadership, it was as if they were being starved of oxygen (you know the look) and either, their eyes glazed over or their mouths hung open, or both – there was little, to no, interest.

It shouldn’t be surprising that so many youngsters don't have any business ambition, when there are so few role models from business for them to be inspired by. Where are the inspirational leaders and why aren’t they being branded effectively to inspire the youth of today to take an interest in business.

Even forgetting the leadership aspect, where are the younger generation being inspired by business at any level – where is the branding, the attraction, the inspiration.

Football creates an interest in children at such a young age, where many aspire to compete at the highest level and some just enjoy the team involvement and the occasional successes. They become ‘fans’ at a young age, supporting their side and idolising their favourite players, being inspired by what they say and do - (the good and the bad).

Is there any similarity in business? Well, yes, there should be. Isn’t the ‘fan’ the potential customer, investor and/or employee of the future, someone who is inspired by an organisation, their products and services, at a young age; interested in what they do; and inspired by their leaders. Isn’t this the kind of branding a company wants to develop with the youth of today – creating a pool of potential ‘fans’ and ‘players’ for the future?

Organisations need to re-engage with the youth of today to inspire them; showing them that there are interesting careers and phenomenal people in business that have stimulating and interesting careers comparable with any football star. Also with the business career that you love, you don’t have to retire around 35, because you’re too old.

Pele, possibly the best football player of all time, reminds us all that “success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

So let the inspirational leaders of today put the passion back into business and reignite the ambition of our youth and actively build a better business community that attracts back the ‘fans’ and creates the ‘players’ of tomorrow.

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