Venus Williams on how to smash your career
➤ 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 getting out there and 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’ livelihoods. 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. Say over and over that you can do it. 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 what went wrong. And there’s no one else you can blame. You can fail at something over and over again, in a different way, and that’s acceptable. But only if you’re learning from it. After a game, I evaluate everything: what my mindset was, whether it was [due to] technical mistakes, and 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 In reality, 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 emails. 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. And 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.