Business tips from Olympian Natalie Cook
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Business Tips from an Olympian - Natalie Cook

October 23, 2013

Business Tips from an Olympian - Natalie Cook
Natalie Cook - is on passion - not steroids! by Chris Green 

I don’t think I have met someone as switched to ‘ON’ as Olympian Natalie Cook. During her gold medal
winning reign, volleyball went from a low ranking Olympic sport to the top 4. She competed in 5 Olympic games and collected a swag of gold, silver and bronze. 

Set at the Beach House at the Sandstorm sand volleyball courts in Brisbane I had an up close and
personal evening with Natalie. Here is what I learnt. It may help you in your food business. 

Be number one:
There is an ‘I’ in team and ‘me’ in team. I need to be number one to achieve. People don’t remember bronze or silver. When you treat yourself as number one you can support your team. Not many know that Natalie is familiar with being number 1 in multiple achievements. She is also academically elite, was accepted into medicine, an accomplished golfer and swimmer and holds a black belt in taekwondo.
Everything is gold:
Positive affirmations and visual reminders all work to keeping you focused on your goals. To win a gold medal Natalie surrounded herself in gold. She wore gold shoes, clothes, and painted the refrigerator gold. Touch it, feel it, see it, believe it.

Work the room and be in it: 
Natalie ambled up to my group before the seminar, shook hands and enquired about us and our businesses with genuine enthusiasm. She shakes hands, hugs, gives penetrating eye contact and hangs on your every word. She was working the room before the event and we didn't even realise
it. I couldn't stop looking at her. Her face is beaming, her smile is infectious, her skin is glowing, her words are succinct, her physique is lithe and strong. I instantly felt older than my years yet immediately inspired. Share your enthusiasm.

Strategy & Systems: 
After a court side ‘wake up’ chat, volunteers were called up for a training session and game of ‘last man standing’ volleyball in the sand. After a few pointers on technique and rules volunteers were pitted
against the Olympian. The last person to touch the ball on a losing point had to leave the court. My strategy was to ‘fly under the radar’ of my competitors - by touching the ball as little as possible but when I did I was sure I would score a safe point. It worked. I won.
Choose your strategy to suit the conditions.

Do 'The Bradbury':
Natalie shared many tactics and strategies to achieve Olympic gold. One is known as doing the “Steven Bradbury” . When you see your competitors fall or falter, go in for the kill and stay on your skates. Google it or watch the spectacular Bradbury race here:

Choose a business partner wisely: 
Natalie had to make choices. She based her decisions on who would be her best partners to achieve her winning gold not on friendships.

Discipline and try other things: 
We were having a quiet chat alone at end of the evening. I mentioned my appreciation of martial arts and my attempt to learn ‘a bit’ and get more discipline. She casually said that she’s also a black belt at
Taekwondo and accomplished golfer. She’s academically excelled and was accepted
into medicine. 

It’s easy:
The 'Easy' button. During her most grueling training sessions Natalie would tape a red ‘Easy’
buzzer to a pole nearby. When she had reached her limits, brimming with tears and about to vomit, she would run over to the buzzer and thump it hard. The buzzer repeated a monotone message she committed to live by “That was easy”. It impressed on her brain to endure and celebrate getting to the other side. Embrace the challenge.

‘No’ is never an option:
Getting to the Olympics is a financial challenge for most athletes and their families. The Cooks were no different. As a teenager she sold meat pies from a local manufacturer to raise money. Her business brain was calculating the return on investment. It was character building to cold call and not take no for an answer. She would sell door to door and leave orders for people who weren't even home.  Selling pies got her to her first international tournament.

Positive thinking: 
She asked her coach - if you walked in the park and there was only one beautiful tree but you could see thousands of cigarette butts on the ground. What would you do?  His answer “Scoop them up, make a mound, then climb the mound to get a better look at the tree”. If it seems tough, adopt a superhero and get empowered. Natalie visualises her favourite superhero and leaps tall buildings in a single bound to get to the next goal. She even has a costume to bound around her office in. Keep perspective and a positive outlook.

Share the gold:
Natalie shares her inspiration with others: If you want to hold Natalie’s medals you can. They’re not hidden away in a safe. Natalie totes them with her on her travels and shares them with everyone with pride. They are scratched and showing signs of wear. That’s all part of sharing the joy and inspiration with others. 

Education is power:
Surely a young woman so dedicated to multiple sports would have pushed scholastic commitments to the side. So I asked her “In case of needing plan B what were your school results like Nat?” Nat: “I achieved OP1 and studied hard”. I was left flabbergasted. She had the choice of any plan she desired.  

As I’m the mum of an aspiring teenage athlete I asked Natalie for her best advice - quick as a flash
she said “tell him to go sell pies”. Food advice we can all live by! 

PS: as for those gold medals - they’re really heavy and feel divine!Volleyball Olympian Natalie Cook


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