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Paddy Upton: People Centred Coaching

Paddy Upton has worn numerous ‘labels’ in his career, such as Business coach, Cricket coach, Mental conditioning coach, and High-performance coach.

Dirk Coetsee




Paddy Upton has worn numerous ‘labels’ in his career, such as Business coach, Cricket coach, Mental conditioning coach, and High-performance coach. Despite all the various titles bestowed upon him, he simply has found a way to weave Leadership skills, entrepreneurial skills, management skills, and various philosophies into one approach that he’s pretty much made his own.

The main component of Paddys’ way is to get out of the way, in other words to not focus on coaching by applying and handing down autocratic rules, but instead to create a coaching environment wherein peer management is the focal point.

Related: Sorbet’s Ian Fuhr: Servant Leadership Personified

The author approached Paddy to test the hypothesis that the very same principles that apply to Entrepreneurs also applies to high level performers within the professional sports arena, albeit that the environments within which they apply their respective skill sets may differ vastly.

The reader, as an entrepreneur is likely to find synergy between the leadership and entrepreneurial principles that they should apply to be a sustainable success and the principles unfolding from within this writing.

In unison with Gary Kirsten as head coach, Paddy took the Indian national cricket team to the pinnacle of the sport which seemed to be, at that point in time, a very unlikely feat. As he coached teams in various country’s’ with a diverse make-up his coaching style became malleable as both internal and external circumstances demanded.

As a coach with international acclaim he firmly believes in applying the principle of “Authenticity” wherever he coaches.

In essence, this means to create an environment from within it is perfectly ok to admit your fears and short comings, for only then, the team is put into a position where collectively they can do something about developing countermeasures for their potential shortfalls.

When individual and collective fears and shortcomings are hidden within a team environment, nothing is done to eradicate them, and as a result, negative and hidden forces fester until the spotlight is cast upon them as they become transparent within the context of very poor performances.


Within the team environment that Paddy continues to foster, a platform is created for every player to admit, for example, that they are fearful of short and fast pitched bowling. Once that level of Authenticity is reached it then becomes relatively simple to find solutions collectively as peers for issues such as portrayed by this example.

Related: How To Be A Great Leader When Leadership Doesn’t Come Naturally To You

Similarly, as Entrepreneurs we are encouraged by this illustration to be guided by the principle of authenticity. When we as business owners and leaders exhibit the behaviour of hiding our feelings and fears we make it ok for our team members to emulate that very same behaviour to the detriment of our businesses or organisations.

A critical factor in being authentic, according to Paddy is to be acutely aware of your own intentions as a coach or team member. Our intention plugs into ego and it is crucial for the sake of the team culture to assess whether I am, as an individual team member, acting to serve only myself or others. As Entrepreneurs, we will do well to learn from “Paddys’ way” and introspectively assess our intentions before we engage our stakeholders.

When our intention is to serve others rather than purely ourselves we are much more likely to create a positive environment for all stakeholders as opposed to an environment where negative labelling and blame-shifting forms part of the collective culture.

From vast experience in establishing a high-performance team culture Paddy advises to not have one on one sessions purely to reprimand players for their misconduct or failures. Instead he advocates “Non-judgemental Learning discussions” which creates the opportunity for the player to apply the lessons learnt from past ‘failures’ in a positive way rather than being judged and his self-esteem being decimated.

He does this by stating that ‘its’ totally ok to make an error’, and then asking, ‘ if the same situation comes up again in the future, which is likely to happen, what will you do differently next time?’ The focus of this discussion is on a future solution, which is a creative confidence building exercise, rather than harping on past problems, which undermines confidence and learning, and can even undermine the relationship between employee and the employer.

paddy-upton coach

Paddy coaches in the prestigious Indian Premier League (IPL) and only has five to eight weeks to spend with his team. “What can we do as coaching team to make this the most enjoyable time of your life”, is an honest question that Paddy poses to all his team members at the beginning of their time together which reflects his sincere commitment to create a wonderful team environment.

Another aim of his is to have at least a 10% more aspirational culture than other teams – this way there is a higher likelihood of having more engaged players enduring longer through inevitable challenging times.

The Authors’ interaction with Paddy reminded him of the vast leadership potential within all individuals and that by creating a positive and engaging culture, every leader can assist in unleashing the potential of others, should they desire to, and when they have the intention of serving others.


Although the respective environments may differ the principles to high performance as an Entrepreneur, Leader, or professional sports person remain the same. To purposefully create a positive environment for your team wherein they have a voice and can enjoy what they do with a sense of freedom, is a leap forward in establishing a high and sustainable performance culture. Paddy is a forward-thinking individual whom finds ways to learn constantly. As a leader, he is happy to share what he has learnt and what he has learnt is priceless.

Dirk Coetsee is the president of Curator South-East Asia a consulting firm that has a proud twenty year history in scaling businesses through franchising or other vehicles. Curator helps entrepreneurs to ‘Survive and thrive’ by scaling their businesses through franchising or securing funding and sales channels for them. You can contact Dirk at: or browse through @ curators’ website:

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Lessons Learnt

Here’s What Jeff Bezos Prefers To Work-Life Balance And Why You Should Live By It

Work-life balance naively suggests working and non-working hours should be evenly apportioned.

John Boitnott



jeff bezos

Amazon is known for building a culture that values hard work. So much so that the organisation has received criticism from current and former employees for having to work on Thanksgiving, or even when ill.

When asked about Amazon’s work-life balance, Jeff Bezos remarked that he ascribed to the phrase “work-life harmony” instead.

Here’s how hard-charging businesspeople can maintain energy at home and at work without burning out by finding work-life harmony in place of work-life balance.

Measure work and home focus as a matter of energy instead of time

It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the energy you bring to both parts of your life. If you enjoy working long hours, and that helps you to feel present while at home, then by all means continue.

This is a fundamental principle in Bezos’s theory of dividing one’s time between work and life. Because Bezos loves what he does, he finds energy from accomplishing his work in a manner that works well with his notoriously high standards.

As many can attest, our emotions bleed into all areas of our life. When you can gain energy from doing good work, it can help to propel you to be more successful in your life outside of work. Conversely, when things aren’t right at home, it can be difficult to find the energy to do your best work in the office. A central precept of work-life harmony is living such that both the professional and personal aspects of our life energise us to be our best at home and in the office.

This does not necessarily mean that we should spend our time in a balanced way, as the phrase “work-life balance” implies. Rather, we should spend our time in such a way that we are our best selves. In so doing, we will be better people on the whole.

Related: Jeff Bezos: 9 Remarkable Choices That Shaped The Richest Man In The World

Build a flexible work-life schedule

Just as different people will amass different levels of energy from work and life outside of work, different people will find they are most productive at different times of the day. The 9-5 work culture that has existed for decades is really shifting now. Most modern offices allow some form of flexible work, which means you have the ability to set your own hours to some degree.

Experiment with working at different times of the day to find the schedule the helps you to be most productive. In so doing, you’ll have more time to do your best work, and more energy to spend with loved ones as a result of increased productivity.

Know when to say “no”

We tend to think that taking on as many projects as possible is a sign of a good professional. But being busy is not the same as making an impact. To do your best work, you’ll need to prioritise projects that you know you can add value to.

Spinning your wheels is demoralising. Look for projects in which you can easily enter a “flow state” where hours melt away. This is the environment in which you are doing your best work, and are happy to be doing the work itself. It is in moments of flow that we often feel most productive, and even fulfilled. Therefore, it is after moments of flow that we tend to feel guilt-free about enjoying quality time with loved ones while unplugging from work.

Related: Jeff Bezos Reveals 3 Strategies for Amazon’s Success

Communicate commitments

If you’re approaching a time-consuming work project, communicate that to the important people in your life. Otherwise, they may think you are avoiding them due to a more insidious reason.

Providing those you love with a glimpse into your professional commitments can also help them to help you. If a good friend knows it will be difficult for you to communicate for a few weeks, they will know to pause conversations so as not to burden you with having to reply to texts or emails.

Similarly, a partner who knows that you are responsible for delivering an important project may be able to rearrange their schedule in order to better support you in the short term.

Conversely, if family commitments will prevent you from working at full capacity for a certain period of time, set the right expectations with colleagues. A good workplace is one that is flexible to the realities of employees’ personal lives. Managers who care about the well-being of their people are usually willing to help employees take care of personal commitments.

Adapting to a changing work life

Work no longer happens between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM, Monday to Friday. Work happens Saturday mornings, and late Friday nights. It happens on vacation, and during graduations. The idea of work-life balance suggests that there should be an even split between working and non-working hours.

Related: Why It Pays To Be A Jerk Like Jeff Bezos

In reality, those who have undertaken ambitious careers should aim for work-life harmony, a lifestyle in which both aspects of life give you the energy to be your best self as frequently as possible.

This article was originally posted here on

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Lessons Learnt

Give Your Business The Best Chance Of Success

For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.

Gil Sperling




In my capacity as a business owner and venture capitalist, one of the questions I get asked most often by entrepreneurs is, “how do I ensure my business succeeds?” While there’s no straightforward answer, there are important elements that I believe every entrepreneur must consider to ensure the greatest probability of success.

Firstly, no business will succeed if it doesn’t solve a unique pain point or problem for modern consumers or businesses. However, even if a business is able to carve out that niche, there’s no guarantee that growth will follow. For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.

North Star metric

This principle of having a clear business vision guides all my decisions. Whenever I need to validate a choice or a change in strategic direction, or if I’m trying to determine what to focus on, I always refer back to my vision. If the two are incongruent, then I know I need to change tack.

Elon Musk is a great example of a successful entrepreneur who is guided by his grand vision. Everything he does, from Tesla to SpaceX, pertains to sustainability, both for the planet and the human race. It might be hard to make the connection when you consider his various businesses out of context, but everything he creates fits into a broader ecosystem that in some way moves the needle towards his ultimate objective. Developing Tesla cars that run on renewable energy is but a small, short-term plan that feeds into his grand vision, yet it’s also been the catalyst for the evolution of the motoring industry.

Related: The Popimedia (Mega) Success Story

Be clear, concise

In the same way, every decision an entrepreneur makes should in some way take them a step closer to realising their vision. In this regard, it is also vital that your vision is crystal clear – a murky or undefined vision will divert you off your path to success.

That’s because you’ll tend to focus on the wrong things, especially when scaling rapidly, or when running bigger organisations, because there are many tasks to complete every day. A lack of clarity also leads to poor decision-making, or, worse, decision paralysis, and that’s business suicide – I’d rather make a bad decision than no decision at all, because it prompts action. However, with a clear vision, more often than not, those decisions will be correct.

Defining your vision

So, how do you know if your vision is clear and, more importantly, relevant and consequential? The way I stress test my vision is to evaluate it every day against the decisions I take, and the direction of the business. This daily process helps to sharpen my decisions over time.

The other step is to remain open-minded enough to accept and acknowledge criticism, and take on board advice from trusted confidants and impartial experts. This is important, because you need to craft your vision based on as much information as possible, including valid criticism.

Ultimately, though, your vision for the business should align with your purpose. Forget about money and turnover as points of departure when defining your vision. These are merely metrics that can determine the strength and effectiveness of your business strategy.

For each of my several business interests, be it VC funding or ad-tech innovation, I have different visions. Each are meaningful to me, but in every instance, I don’t wake up every day with the sole ambition of making money.

While I need to make money to grow these businesses, or build something new, having purpose and vision are the ways I pull through those inevitable challenging situations. Having your vision front of mind in everything you do helps you make better decisions, and makes the hardships easier to endure. It helps you see through the turmoil, because you know where the process will lead, and you always know where the ultimate objective lies.

Read next: A Comprehensive List Of Angel Investors That Fund South African Start-Ups

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Lessons Learnt

Jimmy Choo’s Co-Founder Explains Why There Are No Small Jobs

Tamara Mellon shares the strategy that has helped her find new opportunities throughout her career.

Nina Zipkin




The co-founder of Jimmy Choo, Tamara Mellon, believes that you can find inspiration and opportunity anywhere. All it takes is determination to keep going and a keen eye for observation.

Mellon began her career in the early 1990s working as an accessories editor for British Vogue. Always on the hunt for up-and-coming designers, she came across Jimmy Choo, a cobbler working in London’s East End.

She would commission him to create shoes for fashion shoots. They were so well received by readers that the pair realised they could expand beyond one-of-kind pieces for the pages of the magazine.

This article was originally posted here on

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