Olympic Gold

by Michael Mazzaferro on January 25, 2014


                                                                                                                                                         Dusty J @ flickr


As the 2014 Winter Games approach, I look back and reflect upon the accomplishments of one outstanding athlete, Peggy Fleming, who, for me, defines Olympic Gold.

For those of you who did not experience in real time the 1968 Olympic Games in Grenoble, France, it was a thrilling and inspiring Winter Olympics.  What I remember most of all about these Games was Peggy Fleming winning the Gold medal in Ladies’ singles figure skating.

Back in the 60’s, the American story line on Olympic Athletes was that US athletes were “true” amateurs who trained on their own and (along with their families) made incredible personal sacrifices to be a US Olympiad.  The USSR and other Eastern bloc countries had state-sponsored “training camps” for their Olympic hopefuls built in to their societies that gave their Olympic athletes a distinct competitive advantage over the US amateurs.

At the 1968 Winter Olympics, Peggy Fleming brought home the ONLY Gold Medal for the United States Olympic Team.  Not just for Figure Skating, but for the entire US Olympic Team.

Today, this seems oddly incredible.

Back then, I remember two things standing out for me.

First, I was captivated by color TV.  We had just purchased our first color television days before, and this was the first Olympic Games to be broadcast in color.

Second, I was mesmerized by Peggy Fleming.  She had such style, such grace.  She made excellence look effortless. (OK, maybe I am starting to sound a little too much like Dick Button – I will stop).

What I also remember is her path to success.  Peggy Fleming’s “compulsories” were so strong.  She had amassed a commanding lead going in to the freeskate and was practically unbeatable.   She had taken care of business by excelling in the fundamentals.  Here she was, the leader in her field, and she had practically guaranteed her success by focusing on the fundamentals.  She skated her freestyle program from a position of strength, avoided taking unnecessary risks, and achieved greatness.

This is a lesson I have carried with me throughout my life.

Fundamentals.  Compulsories.  Not very sexy or flashy concepts.  Yet focusing on the fundamentals is fundamental to long term success.

Our focus here at Saatchi & Saatchi S is “to make sustainability irresistible,” and to make it stick.  A short term splash that does not reflect one’s fundamentals will not stand the test of time.

Peggy Fleming and her strategy to “Go for the Gold” have endured the test of time.

Whether you are developing your company’s Strategy for Sustainability or mapping out your own personal path to the 2016/18 Olympics, focus on the fundamentals.

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