Today is a HUGE day for me because I am finally able to share the exciting news: I MADE THE TEAM that I have been training for my whole entire life!
Today I start my new journey as the CEO of EXOS, the human performance company that helps people reach higher and achieve more. It’s hard to put into words how rewarding this feels after such a long and winding road of both celebrated wins and epic setbacks — all of which were exactly what I needed to prepare for today.
For those who don’t know EXOS, it is the world leader in elite performance training. They serve everyone from aspiring NFL rookies, to people just like you and me who are driven to kick ass in work and in life. EXOS was founded by the legendary Mark Verstegen about 20 years ago when he pioneered a holistic approach to human performance by integrating the critical four pillars of mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery. In those days, the business was called Athletes’ Performance. And it was during this era that I was lucky enough to meet Mark and enjoy a brilliant partnership with his team. At the time, I was leading the big turnaround of Gatorade and our team desperately needed the collaboration of the best thinkers in the space.
So, here’s lesson number one: you NEVER know when a relationship early in your career might be “the one” that blossoms into the perfect opportunity! Quite honestly, meeting Mark and the team from Athletes’ Performance was pretty intimidating for me. Despite my obsession and ambition with my fitness, my highest athletic accomplishment to date has been making the B field hockey team at my small town high school in New Zealand… I can’t say I ever imagined that I’d get a chance to join an elite team of ass kickers such as EXOS!
Nonetheless, as luck would have it, our paths crossed again about 6 months ago through a mutual friend and investor when I reconnected with Mark and his CEO Dan Burns. And thus begun a wonderful 6-month journey of getting to know the EXOS team as I undertook a consulting project.
Dan Burns, Sarah Robb O’Hagan and Mark Verstegen discussing the future of EXOS.
And here’s how my intimidation finally melted away: I’ve simply never experienced such a powerful company culture as the one at EXOS. I’ve learned more in the last 6 months about how true elite performers roll than I have in years. This is a company that does what thousands of teenagers (like my own!) aspire to get the chance to do: drive the performance of some of the most accomplished professional athletes and high-performance leaders of our time. Yet, they walk with an astonishing humility, natural curiosity and care. I couldn’t quite understand how that was possible given their accomplishments, until I saw up close the wonderful leadership and partnership between Dan and Mark. They push for excellence while also creating an environment of complete safety to enable their teammates to really explore their own potential.
It’s an extraordinary set of circumstances that have led to me accepting this role today. Dan had the courage to openly step up and invite me to fill his shoes as their next CEO, and Mark paved the path for me to meet their team and discover exactly WHY this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for all along.
Which leads me to lesson number 2: Companies are teams, and teams are people with values. At the end of the day, the best opportunities in your life are the ones where your own values are so deeply aligned with those on your team. I’ve learned the hard way that the “hottest” looking opportunities that all your friends are buzzing about may not always be the best environments for you to thrive. When you are interviewing to join a team, remember that this decision is almost as big as getting adopted into a new family. So actually, the ONLY thing that really matters is that you feel supported, comfortable and like you can be your most extreme self. If those foundations are not there, buckle up, because it will be a tough ride no matter how intellectually exciting the work may be.
As many of you know, I’ve been spending the more recent years of my life exploring my passion for unleashing human potential through Extreme You. Little did I know that I was destined to reconnect with an entire company with that exact same passion. I am truly fired up in this next chapter to bring these two worlds together: EXOS – where Every Day is Game Day – and Extreme You – where we like to Step Up, Stand Out, Kick Ass and Repeat! (Not for nothing apparently, we BOTH love our Xs and Os!)
So, as I have written about many times before, a great fulfilling career is all about getting in position to receive the ball. Pursue the things you’re truly passionate about; get the experience, knowledge and skills in the unique combination of areas that you are good at and that you care about. Then, when the ball of opportunity is spinning through the air looking for the exact right person to catch it, you will be right there – standing strong – ready to go!
I am truly excited and honored to have this opportunity, and to begin what I know will be one of the greatest partnerships of my life. I’ve ALWAYS done my best work with the input, the support and the encouragement of a great partner, and I am truly committed to grabbing this baton and maintaining the great teamwork and leadership that Dan and Mark are so clearly known for. And, while I am at it, learning to be the best performer I can be with the help of my awesome new coach!
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