Olympian Hamish Carter talks Rod Drury, competition and surfing with the pros

Olympic gold medal-winning triathlete Hamish Carter competed on the international circuit for 15 years, showing determination and grit to stay globally ranked in his chosen sport for well over a decade.

He's won 13 World Cup races, a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics. But his sporting career hasn't been without its challenges.

Carter came a disappointing 26th in Sydney and had to change his focus and mindset to turn his loss into a gold medal winning performance at the Athens Olympics. Hamish was awarded Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours list of 2004/2005.

Hamish will be speaking at the Nurture Change Business Retreat about how to reset yourself – and your team – when things don't go to plan and will provide insights into performing under pressure.

Q. Who is a leader that you learnt something incredibly valuable from and what was the lesson you learnt from them? 

A. Graham Henry would be my pick. He is a quiet achiever who worked methodically in the background to achieve the ultimate goal in rugby despite significant setbacks along the way. But I believe his greatest achievement is reflected in Sir Graham's successor – so much so that when Graham stepped down, the already dominant All Blacks somehow improved under a change in leadership.

Q. What lesson in business do you try to pass on to others and what does it mean to you?

A. Operating in a competitive marketplace is often seen as a negative factor, with your competitor often blamed for your lack of achievement. I see it the other way round. I believe if you are in competition with a strong competitor, you stand to learn more and improve faster. It should be seen as an opportunity – to the point where you want your competitor to excel because this will undoubtedly push you to improve beyond what you thought possible

Q. Who do you think is a great innovator and why?

A. Xero's Rod Drury. I was lucky enough to join the company at the end of 2006, pre IPO (initial public offering). It was a classic NZ start-up that employed seven people at the time, all working out of an apartment in Wellington. I remember walking in on my first day with Rod and couldn't help but notice 'Accounting for Dummies' on the floor!

Rod and his accountant Hamish Edwards had an idea that would revolutionise the way a small business would operate and become a game-changer for small business and their trusted advisors. Today, that idea has become one of New Zealand's most innovative companies.     

Q. What has been your biggest learning in business to date and why? How has it affected you going forward?

A. Because business is always about people, picking the people you spend time with is critical.  

You can always find plenty of people who can give you reasons why something won't work or can't be done, but very few people will tell you it can be done and why it will work. 

Q. If you were 21 years old again and could do any career you wanted, what would you be and why?

A. I would have chosen to be a professional surfer. This year I was lucky enough to surf at Cloud Break alongside several of the world's top surfers. Seeing the level of skill and commitment and feeling the power of the waves was astounding. It was also incredible how they each celebrated each other's success. 

Q. What are you most excited about in attending the Nurture Change Business Retreat in Fiji?  

A. Nurture Change will pull together a broad range of people who won't have a lot in common other than a passion for learning and a drive for achievement. It will be exciting to hear their stories and make new connections.

The Nurture Change Business Retreat is for business owners, senior managers and entrepreneurs looking for new ideas, space to think on their business, inspiration, relaxation and connection with others from the business community. The Business Retreat runs November 2 to 6 at the 5-star InterContinental Fiji and features more than 12 incredible speakers across business, health and wellness, plus other activities. Details online at www.nurturechange.com 

Nurture Change and Fairfax are giving away four scholarships worth around $4500 each. Each scholarship covers airfares for one person, four nights accommodation, including breakfast, lunch & dinner (excluding drinks), access to the speaker, health and wellness and morning fitness sessions and question and answer sessions with business leaders. We have one scholarship in each of the following four categories: under 25s, education, innovation and general (i.e. open to any business). To enter applicants need to email businessday@fairfaxmedia.co.nz explaining in 250 words why they deserve to be awarded a scholarship. Entries close Midday, Monday, July 18, 2016. Only one entry per person. Winners must be available to depart New Zealand from either Auckland or Christchurch on November 2, 2016 and return on November 6, 2016. If you have already bought a ticket and win a scholarship, we will refund you in full. For full terms and conditions go to Stuff.co.nz.

 - As published in the Sunday Star Times and on stuff.co.nz

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