‘Don’t Just Show Up – Compete’
She’s won ive Wimbledon singles and six doubles titles, and runs two successful businesses. Venus Williams, 38, shows us how it’s done
Learn fast, move faster.
Starting a business from the ground up [Venus owns fitness-wear brand EleVen and design firm V Starr Interiors], there’s nothing that you don’t do. So you have to learn quickly. And educating yourself doesn’t have to mean university. It’s about meeting people, reading all you can, and understanding how other CEOs run their businesses.
With a tennis game, if I lose, it’s on me – but in business, it’s my employees’ livelihood. Now I always have a back-up option, and move forward as soon as I notice something isn’t working.
You can always find a way.
When I was growing up, there was no fooling around. There was no being lazy – and that’s down to my parents. I know the power of hard work. My father’s philosophy was ‘always find a way’. When you begin something, you might not know how you’ll finish it – but just start and believe that you will.
I was taught confidence as a child. My parents told me I could do anything, so I believed them. You have to be your biggest cheerleader – and even if you aren’t, you have to fake it. To do that, you have to change the way you talk to yourself. Out loud. Everyone should talk themselves up in bathroom cubicles!
Failure is your personal fuel.
Failure isn’t a bad thing: it’s a chance to look at yourself, and at what went wrong. There’s no-one else you can blame. You can fail at something over and over again, in different ways, and that’s acceptable – but only if you’re learning from it.
Venus’s Business Essentials BOOK
Originals – How Non-Comformists Move The World by Adam Grant. It looks into how to change the status quo and experiment in business.
‘The Business Of Fashion’. But I struggle to sit still even when I’m listening to something. I always want to be working.
Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest, which encourages women to invest. She’s grown her irm exponentially in the past few years, which I ind inspirational. After a game, I evaluate everything: what my mind-set was, whether it was a result of technical mistakes. From there, I work even harder. I use it as fuel – because
[if I lose] I’m really upset.
Don’t just show up – compete.
You have to wake up and get out of bed, so why not make the best of it? My sister Serena always says you can’t just show up – you have to compete. I hate meetings and I hate e-mails. I don’t even like cardio that much; it hurts in the butt! But we all have to do stuff we don’t like – and once it’s done, you feel amazing. At least if I put the work in, I can look in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, I didn’t succeed but I gave it my all.’ It’s not about always being comfortable. If you’re comfortable, you’re a couch potato. Uncomfortable is Olympic-gold level. ■