Following an inspirational presentation by Ben Hunt-Davis about making the boat go faster at the national student finals for Enactus, the executive team at Hobbycraft read the book and decided to contact the team who put the theory into action. Since then we’ve been guided by Tom Barry as we imbed the principles of goal setting, focus, good habits and teamwork across the business. The very question “Will it make the boat go faster?” quickly became part of our language in almost every conversation across the business. As a result, we waste less time and effort on things that won’t help us to achieve our goal and more time on the things that will. Our goal and the objectives that will enable us to achieve it are on the wall of every room in the Hub, stores and distribution centre. We’ve been more questioning of our performance as a team and work hard to improve it and teach our own teams to do the same. In summary, the principles are simple to adopt and powerful when consistently put into action. The team at WIMTBGF have been both challenging of us and a pleasure to work with.
Catriona Marshall, Chief Executive, Hobbycraft
Ben joined us at our HQ All Employee Meeting. His presentation was certainly inspirational and 12 years on the Eights Final was still a real thriller and both exciting and emotional to watch. A phrase he used during your presentation keeps coming back to me – ‘what’s best for the boat’. Focusing on this certainly worked for his crew and I hope it will prove equally effective for ‘One ACI’. The feedback from staff has been great and I’m told it was the best AEM we’ve ever had. Thanks to Ben for his contribution to this and for a truly inspirational speech.
Paul Thomalla, SVP & Managing Director EMEA, ACI Worldwide
Harriet’s delivery and engagement at our conference was excellent, and the messaging was simple and yet very effective.
Gary Collins, Head of UK Wholesale, Columbia Threadneedle
Ben certainly left our sales management team with plenty to reflect on in our session and there was clearly some focused thought on defining what ‘will make the boat go faster’. Thanks to Ben for adding such an inspiring and thought provoking element to our programme.
Sally Rao, British Gypsum
We easily connected to the goal of the conference. The Will It team were incredibly professional, and Tom’s expertise at driving the direction and keeping us on track was invaluable for helping us see the wood for the trees.
Alan Dutton, Dialog Semiconductor
Ben provided the perfect finishing touch for our conference. His enthusiasm was infectious and people left the room energised and excited. Even now, some weeks later, people are referencing the speech and the messages continue to positively impact our business.
Neal Misell, Managing Director, UK Military Air, Babcock International Group
I was really impressed that Ben took the time before the session to understand our business and was therefore able to relate his experiences on his journey to a gold medal in Sydney to the daily challenges we face in growing our business and keeping the team focused and motivated.
I wanted my team to leave the session believing that each small improvement they make or effect in others makes IMGROUP a better place to work and ultimately a more successful company. Ben delivered this message flawlessly. He is a highly inspirational speaker and I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone looking for a speaker to motivate their team.
Ian McHugh, Managing Director, Information Management Group Ltd
Ben’s talk was inspiring and I received loads of great feedback afterwards from many in the team. The themes Ben talked about from his professional sports experience resonated so well with many of the messages that I was trying to get across namely: making a difference, driving outstanding performance, and being a great boss. I used a number of your quotes in my wrap-up session for the conference. Your session gave a unique perspective to these themes and added real value to the day.
James Percival, Vice President Operations Finance EMEA, Hilton Worldwide
I think the key thing is, if you’ve achieved what Ben’s achieved, it’s obviously a message in itself in terms of that highest level of performance, but also Ben’s got a presence and a charisma about him that makes the message come home in a very solid way.
John Gardiner, Talent Stream
Ben spoke at our Global Senior Managers Conference and he was both inspiring and thought provoking. He truly engaged with a diverse audience and his message reinforced our Conference objective perfectly. The team at Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? were extremely professional and delivered an excellent service to our organisation.
Hilary Wright, Group HR Director, Domino Printing Sciences
Ben tells a timeless tale of daring to do things differently to succeed – a story that truly resonated with my audience of mid-senior managers. His combination of self-deprecation, humour and passion delivers a real punch and, coupled with his thorough research into my own organisation, allows him to take this tale of the extraordinary and make it accessible and relevant to the business world. I had nothing but positive feedback: I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.
Jane Sheard, Managing Director, ISS Facility Services, Integrated Solutions
Harriet is an excellent speaker and added a huge contribution to my team event with her engaging style, humour and ability to draw the audience into the heart of a very compelling ‘change’ story.
Pat Coxen, CEO, MBNL
The second you get in a rowing boat down at Dorney Lake, it changes everything. I really believe that it should be the first thing that a business does with their team before starting a programme, it was an eye-opening experience.
Colin Stevens, Founder & CEO, Better Bathrooms
Ben Hunt-Davis came to our event and ‘wowed’ everyone with his inspirational and uplifting session. Ben is living proof that the only barriers to achieving greatness are the ones we create ourselves, but not only that he helped us with tools and techniques to remove the barriers. Ben is very warm and engaging and took time to speak with people after the event finished. The time we had with Ben and what he covered will stay with us for some time, we are all in search of our equivalent question to ‘will it make the boat go faster’… a strong long lasting metaphor for us to focus on.
Andy Crook, Royal Mail
Working with the Will It? team has bought clarity of focus to our overarching ambition, as well as a focus on performance enhancement with the tools to support actions. The workshops and training are helping to build stronger trusted relationships and empowering everyone to lead more and challenge further the status quo. Having external guidance and input has been immensely valuable to support our team’s development and customer success strategy. I strongly recommend working with Ben, Tom and the team if you want to take your company to the next level.
Colin Stevens, Founder & CEO, Better Bathrooms
Working with Jon and the team at WIMTBGF has been very eye opening and of massive value not only to me as an individual, but the team I manage and the whole business. Jon’s structured approach and free speaking presentation skills made it feel like we was the workshop rather than a classroom learning environment. I strongly believe the teaching and points discussed will be talked about and used by many for the better of the business and for years to come. In the short space we spent with the Jon, I personally have seen the impact and the changes to the overall culture of our business.
Warren Edmondson, Sales and Marketing Director, Zenith Hygiene Group
Ben spoke during our Sales Excellence Awards dinner at our inaugural global sales and marketing conference in January 2012. He held 518 people in the palm of his hand as we heard about the astonishing training, discipline and fantastic team work required to win a coveted gold medal. Ben tailored his content to fit perfectly into our theme of ‘Think. Innovate. Act’. Over a week down the track sales and marketing team members across the world are still chatting about how they can make our ‘boat go faster’.
Rebecca Clayton, Marketing Director, Emap
Ben recently came to the Institute of Directors IOD Young Directors event and his session was an absolute knock out. I think it was one of the best business presentations I’ve been to – and I’ve been to a few. Ben had a simple style of delivery and couples this with his unique insights in high performance sport. If you want your team to lift their game and go for gold – a few minutes with Ben and his team at “Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?” will set you out on the right road.
David Gordon, Chairman, Institute of Directors – Young Directors Forum
The sessions we had with the Will It? team at our 2018 Conference were inspiring and the lessons from it are countless. I’ve heard the story twice now and both times I got something different from it – there were so many parallels to the journey we are on that at times I thought they had written it just for us! The whole programme didn’t feel formulaic – the team reacted to the moment and guided us through a very productive two-day conference. It was clear to me that the Will It? team truly care. They engaged with our team, and with me personally, and I could see that they really want to help us on our own journey.
Gordon MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Mabey Hire UK
The presentation from Ben was tailor-made for our meeting as he demonstrated that “how to make the boat go faster” was determined by Process, Communication and Accountability. If you want to know what success looks like then Ben is clearly an ambassador for this, all who attended are now empowering their teams to “making the boat go faster” and reaching the business goal.
Nigel Thomas, Director Sales Europe, Thermo Fisher
Thank you to Ben for his excellent speech at our event. We have received lots of encouraging feedback from the delegates and I know that everyone appreciated the time he spent talking to people individually and of course, the opportunity to have a photograph with his medal.
Mark Saunders, Group Marketing Director, Nine Group
In less than 12 hours from arriving on site we had a unifying purpose and Crazy Goal that the wider leadership team had bought into and was committed to achieving.
Richard Hanrahan, Director Of Customer Service, Agilisys
Ben has a great skill in captivating and engaging an audience at all levels and putting them at ease so that they want to actively participate. In addition, the experience that he relays, and the examples and learning that he derives along the way of his journey are all very applicable and transferable to other situations. Certainly our staff came away from this event enthused and even those with a ‘half empty glass’ are now (fortunately) able to consider it being ‘half full’! All the feedback and evaluation of the session has been very positive. We will be using the ideas discussed to approach our work with a fresh view.
Amanda Allen, Therapy Manager, Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
Harriet spoke at our annual senior management conference and made a big impact. Her presentation style is very engaging, her humour works well with the audience and she gets the message across in a way that people understand quickly. The response from the team has been very positive but more importantly, we now regularly hear people challenging what they are doing or how they are working with the question – ‘Will it make the boat go faster?’. That’s a great result from an hour-long presentation. Highly recommended!
Andrew Merrett, Marketing & Communications Director, CH&Co Group
I was extremely pleased with Ben’s contribution to my Sales Convention. His talk was most interesting and very well delivered, it was fascinating to watch the audience willing the boat on and cheering at the end when it went across the finish line. I wanted the people to leave the event saying what a good day it had been and as the last presenter Ben’s speech did just that.
Richard Derry, Development Director UK & Ireland, GDF-Suez
Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? enabled us to break down the barriers & misconceptions surrounding personal development and delivered everything that we’d hoped for in our endeavour to attaining clarity on our strategy, goals and culture. Tom’s two facilitated workshops were the highlight of our engagement and exceeded all of my expectations. Inspirational.
Marcus Whitehead, Partner at Barnett Waddingham
Everyone here is talking about ‘Will it make the boat go faster’, we were all very inspired! Great conference this year!
Leader Led Training has been truly transformational within our business. The material is simple to use and not ‘another task’. My teams have really engaged with it, and many people are saying it’s one of the best things they have done in their working career.
Ade Davies, Head Of Civil Aerospace Business Centre, Rolls-Royce
Harriet delivered a fantastic speech which really engaged our audience and challenged their thinking on teamwork, performance and reaching your goals. Harriet is highly personable and her delivery style, humour and energy created a great buzz across the room.
Julian Butler, Site General Manager, Ryvita
Ben provided an inspirational talk in which he fused the ethos of his Olympic gold medal winning team and its application in the business world. His delivery was energetic, engaging and entertaining – the audience were encouraged to participate and Ben managed to take them along with him as he recounted his Olympic story with humility. Most importantly, Ben’s message has never been more relevant in an industry where the smallest of changes can help gain the competitive edge. We all went away thinking about how we could ensure that own boats went faster.
Simon Belsham, Managing Director Grocery Home Shopping, Tesco
I first met Ben in 2014 at the annual meeting of LEAD (Leading Executives Advancing Diversity) where we had both been invited to speak. You don’t meet an Olympic gold medal winner every day and I was impressed by Ben’s down to earth and authentic style when speaking. He had the audience captivated, and generated lots of questions on a subject matter that many businesses struggle with, whether in a period of downturn or growth. How do you keep the main thing “the main thing” – to make the boat go faster and achieve your own Crazy goal?
Innocent is an entrepreneurial business focused not only on achieving its goals but embracing unforeseen opportunities as they present themselves. Knowing how to prioritise your workload is a common coaching theme at Innocent and I was struck by the synergies in Ben’s sporting world to those that we see each day in business. Our talent is young, driven and competitive and I knew that if I could persuade Ben to talk to my team at Fruit Towers, his experience and lessons learnt would resonate in a positive and engaging way.
I was right. From our first meeting to discuss our key challenges to the delivery of his talk, Ben listened, made recommendations and adapted his session to ensure that we kept our messaging simple and to the point. Ben joined the teams in their break out session and stayed around for a beer afterwards to answer many of the questions that the team wanted to ask.
This team quarterly was one of the best meetings (and most talked about) that we have had, thanks to Ben and his Olympic gold experience.
I have recommended Ben to my board colleagues at Innocent and would not hesitate to encourage you to invite Ben to join one of your team sessions.
An energising and motivating experience for all that joined.
Sam Simister, Group Supply Chain Director, Innocent Drinks
I asked Ben Hunt-Davis to do a keynote during the Sogeti Inspirational Leadership Academy which gathers together 50 international managers from our group. His story, an inspirational journey that he tells with passion to the audience, was focused on how his boat crew transformed themselves from last place finishers to gold medal winners. It has given us leadership lessons on how to improve performance when charting the waters of an Olympic lake, and which you can link easily on how to plan and win a critical business project. He knows how to deal with people and conflict, and if he strives, it is because his only objective was to go faster and win. Our participants were impressed by his story and will never forget him. It is an inspirational journey that we can apply to any kind of business or deal situation. I am really grateful that he was able to come and spend time with us, and I will truly recommend him.
Florence Assouline, Sogeti HR Executive, Cap Gemini Group
It was the best money I spent last year, the best decision I made.
Oliver Cock, Managing Director, Compass Group
The feedback we’ve had from the Crazy Goal Workshop was extremely positive – it had a massive impact on myself, our senior leadership team and the business. I’ve been told it was the best off-site we’ve ever done and so different from anything anyone had experienced before.
The process made me realise how big an opportunity there is at Matrix. I had hugely underestimated our potential as a business, which really surprised me. Everyone loved the Crazy goal language, and the joint creation of the goal really embedded our senior decision making team in the strategy of the business.
The methodology was both fresh and energising – the challenging pre-workshop interviews, combined with the Crazy Goal Workshop were both vital to reinforcing our future direction.
Charlie Bradshaw, CEO, Matrix
I first saw Ben speak a number of years ago; the way he told his story and his singular focus on ‘making the boat go faster’ became a key driver in my organisation. We recently had Ben kick-off a two day session for the senior leaders in my current organisation and it had a similar effect with this new group of people. It set up our meeting well and ensured we remained focused on the challenges ahead throughout all of our discussions.
Mark Hampton, Group Chief Financial Officer, Collinson Group
Ben came to our Leadership conference and shared his amazing story with us including the techniques he used to win Gold at the Sydney Olympics. It was truly motivational, but more importantly it showed us how as a team we could transform our business to greater things by looking at both ourselves as individuals in a different way, to how we could work as a team for the betterment of everyone. Ben’s speech was powerful and energetic and his passion for winning gold was truly inspiring – we could see that after 17 years he is passionate about his achievement as if it was that September day in 2000. We look forward to taking his key messages on our journey as a business.
Russell Ward, CEO, Aspin Group
Having Ben at our 2012 Company Kick off took our event to a different level. His personal experience demonstrated and perfectly supported our company mission to change the game, leaving staff motivated, inspired and focused on the changes ahead. His ability to relate to people from all levels and the challenges of a growing business was spot on. I would thoroughly recommend him to other business leaders looking to motivate and focus their teams.
David Rabson, CEO of Acora
Ben presented at our Annual Partners’ Conference in January 2012. He had a Friday evening after-dinner slot and his presentation went down well with everyone. Ben was entertaining, interactive and motivational and he hit exactly the right note for our event. Our partners really enjoyed the video of the rowing event and it was great to have the opportunity to see and hold an Olympic gold medal. It was a pleasure dealing with Ben and Joscelyn and the whole process from the booking and planning of our event to the actual night itself was handled in a very professional manner.
Charles Russell, LLP
I booked the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? team having read Ben’s book in late 2014. In January 2015, having done some incredibly thorough preparation Ben and Tom delivered two of the most complete team development days any of us had participated in.
In less than 12 hours from arriving on site we had a unifying purpose and Crazy goal that the wider leadership team had bought into and was committed to achieving. Three months later there is a material change in the way we work together, the questions we ask one another and the standards to which we hold each other.
The question “Will it make the boat go faster” rings out around all of the sites (and indeed from both my children when I reach for the chocolate or wine). So impressed and inspired have we been that we have committed to working with them for another year to ensure we see our Crazy goal all the way to its accomplishment.
Richard Hanrahan, Director Of Customer Service, Agilisys
Steve has worked with the very best in sport, unlocking the full potential of multiple Olympic Gold Medallists. He brings with him a measured and engaging self-assurance that creates the belief that “better is always possible”. This does not come from the hyperbole of positive thinking or the latest business buzzword, but from the diligent application of data and the proven strategies and approaches that champions apply to improve. Thought provoking and inspirational.
Richard Hanrahan, Director Of Customer Service, Agilisys
It was not hard to recognise that the goals of an ambitious company are similar to those of an Olympic athlete. Work, dedication, team spirit, humility and focus on the established goals are some of the common features. Ben was able to transmit these concepts in a simple, practical and involved way.
Miguel Portela, General Manager, BIAL
Steve was a fantastic motivational speaker. Not only has he got a great story to tell, but he does this in a very engaging and thought provoking way. He holds the attention of the audience immediately using great footage and some fun props! He also highlighted the key insights which were relevant and transferable to our business, and our challenges very clearly. He received fantastic feedback from our managers who found him really inspiring, warm and engaging. I’d thoroughly recommend him to others.
Tracey Webb, Head Of Learning & Organisational Development, Network Homes
As a team we have been struggling with momentum and Cath’s speech was a perfect injection to us. The feedback we’ve had from the team has been overwhelmingly positive. They all commented and reflected on her messaging – they thought that it was awesome and have left feeling that anything is possible and that the small things really matter – it really hit home at the right time. Cath helped to make our event a huge success.
Ade Davies, Head of Civil Aerospace Business Centre, Rolls-Royce
Ben spoke at our annual Sales Kicker to 150 key staff including our main board and simply put the feedback from everyone who attended was he was the best guest speaker we have ever had. Inspirational, confident, balanced with the right sense of humility, Ben has the unique ability to relate to his audience and our staff were completely absorbed in his every word. Ben got completely involved in the whole day arriving at the crack of dawn and leaving late at night which ensured that everyone could have a chat to him if they wished, including a photo wearing the gold medal!! Truly inspiring stuff.
Roy Wood, Sales & Marketing Director, Advanced Computer Software Plc