One-Zero In Your Eyes

This week we will run a short series of reflections from among our members who attended last week’s One-Zero Sports and Leadership Conference at Croke Park. Universally regarded by those who attended as a real winner the work has already begun to look at where to next with this exciting mix of content, future forecasting and networking across the sporting and business crossover.

Today we recount through Jenny Kelly, a consultant with our partners Teneo some of the moments that stood out from the two stages…

Last week’s One-Zero Conference was a melting pot for game changers, seasoned experts and future leaders to come together to tell their stories to sport and business professionals.

Top-class speakers from the worlds of horse-racing to boxing to soccer, coupled with engaging panel discussions made for an incredibly valuable sporting event.

As a sports fan, sponsorship professional and GAA player, I felt encouraged, motivated and excited for what is to come in the future of the sports industry.

I also took away some valuable life lessons which can be brought into personal and professional life.

1) You have to break the mould to be heard

‘You can’t ask for power from your federation. You have to take it. Silence will not change the world’ – Hope Solo

Hope Solo, former American soccer goalkeeper, two-time Olympic gold medallist and World Cup champion delivered a raw, unfiltered and passionate account about equality of women in sports.

Through speaking about the inequality that she and her teammates experienced, Hope risked losing everything. Ultimately, this came at a high cost financially and professionally; Solo lost of all of her endorsement deals as a result of speaking out including Nike.

For Hope, the question remains, was speaking out against the powers that be worth losing it all?

2) Bouncebackability is a crucial ingredient for success

‘The more you win, the more you want to win. The need becomes a greed.’ – AP McCoy

We heard 20-time Champion jockey AP McCoy openly discuss his career. Whilst many believe that success came easy for one of the greatest sportspeople Ireland has ever produced, the reality for McCoy was that success didn’t come easy.

He was told by Jim Bolger that he wasn’t good enough but this proved to be the ultimate motivation for him to go on and ride over 4,000 winners.

During the discussion, McCoy made the admission that he sees himself as a good sportsman rather than a great. AP bounced back continuously during his career having broken every bone in his body.

Dublin Ladies footballer and 2014 captain, Sinéad Goldrick spoke on the ‘Leadership in the GAA panel’ and discussed the ability of the Dublin Ladies team to bounce back after three All-Ireland Final defeats to ‘The Rebellettes’.

These losses encouraged her and her team to re-group, discuss what went wrong, set new goals and strive for the Brendan Martin cup. Three consecutive defeats didn’t deter the team from reaching their goal, the Dublin ladies team won their first All-Ireland in seven years last month.

The consistent message is that everyone will fail at one point in their life – it’s not about your ability to fail, it’s your ability to bounce back that shows the type of person or team that you are.

3) A good support network is key

‘All that matters is your performance and how that contributes to the team’ – Brendan Maher

Some natural leaders like to take on all of the responsibility themselves and this can be related to both the sporting and business world. Tipperary hurler Brendan Maher gave an insight into how he dealt with his responsibility of being captain on the Tipperary panel.

When he was first given the captaincy, he originally thought that he could take on all the responsibility that being a modern-day captain entails, as well as still being ‘one of the lads’.

Brendan quickly realised that he couldn’t do it all, asked for help from his peers and allowed the team voice to be shared. He and others on the day referred to the fact that a good support network around you is a key contributor to success.

4) Coping with pressure in sport

‘I left my bedroom twice in five days’ – Cian O’Neill

As I listened to the range of speakers throughout the day, most of them touched on the pressures of being a modern-day sportsperson.

Whether it happens to be performance related, more intense media scrutiny or fans accessibility, the pressures are consistently increasing.

Former world heavyweight champion, Frank Bruno articulated the highs and lows of his career and how he ‘ducked and dived’ his way through life.

Kildare GAA manager Cian O’Neill reflected on the 2016 Leinster semi-final loss to Westmeath and how it was the worst feeling he’s had since the passing of his mother in 2007.

Cian expressed the importance of not getting too bogged down about sport and to remember that when the curtain closes on your career or when things don’t go to plan that there is life beyond the dressing room.

5) Fans are getting smarter

‘Fans organically become communication vehicles in promoting the stadium with which they’re enjoying the event, conference, match or concert’ – Peter McKenna

The Smart Stadia panel MC’d by Teneo PSG’s Mick O’Keeffe included Peter McKenna, Stadium Director of Croke Park and Katie McIntrye, Founder and CEO of Sports Venue Business.

The panel described the live sporting experience as a doorway to doorway journey. From the moment you leave your home, the drive to the venue, the game itself, the trip back, it is becoming an inclusive and connected experience.

The game and the stadium has become the epicentre of the experience and stadium managers are investing in enhancing technology to help accommodate, monitor and provide for their attendees.

Fans are getting smarter so there is for venues and brands need to develop more engaging, creative and targeted content to attract and retain supporters. For stadiums, it’s all about connection and understanding the needs of the fans and this, in turn, can act a promotional tool for sponsorship.

Written by Jenny Kelly, Associate Consultant with Teneo Sports.


Sport for Business will host over 20 events with our members in 2018 providing exclusive insight on the relationships that work best for sport and business.

What could we do together for your organisation?

Image Credits: Paddy Bolger Getty Images

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