This book summary and review of Come to Win was prepared by Mihaela Hagiu while an Accounting student in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University.
The author of this book, Venus Williams, is a professional tennis player that won multiple Grand Slam titles and a three time Olympic gold medalist. She is still ranked in the top of the professional rankings today. She also got a degree in fashion design and launched a clothing line. While working outside the tennis court, she realized that she was bringing lessons learned from playing tennis into her everyday business activities. She asked many famous people that were athletes at some point in time and write her their stories and how they think sports helped them throughout their careers outside athletic life.
Every single story in this book is very motivating. Sports give you knowledge that you can take with you and apply into other fields. Many people do not realize the benefits of playing a sport. The lessons that could be learned are too valuable. The best feeling is when you win. Nothing compares to when you know you are the best and you look back at how hard you have worked to achieve where you are today. As Thomas Barrack, Jr says “success is based on pushing through comfort barriers and shattering fear of failure and fear of success”. You have to push yourself until you think you have reached your limit, but then it occurs to you that you could do more than you are capable of.
Probably the lesson that is present in most of the stories is the concept of teamwork. You, as the member of a team, are supposed to do your job and gain the trust of your teammates that they could rely on you. Collaboration is key to harmony in a group. Through sports, you learn how to compete, and most athletes love competition more than anything, but being part of a team is above every individual. William S. Cohen says “If you’re playing with a team, everybody has got to participate, and you don’t win unless they do”.
Preparation, effort and motivation are all factors that are present in both business and sports. Before going on the court or into a meeting, you want to make sure you are prepared. You have done your homework, you have practiced and you have faith in your own capabilities. If you have the passion for what you want to do with your life then you will not be afraid to put in the effort necessary to achieve what you want. Motivation is what you are about to do when challenges face you, as Condoleezza Rice says “When times get tough, even for me now, I draw on the fact that you can always get up on the next day and things will get better, or you will go back to work and try to make it work again the next day”.
Playing sports for pleasure or professionally, everybody remembers some key lessons from them. Never giving up, learning how to win and how to lose, these concepts are applied to out everyday lives. Maybe people could learn these lessons by doing other things, like playing a musical instrument, but sports are a fun way of getting tougher physical and mental.
The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from Come to Win
1. Managers should have a long-term vision of their company, but have small goals that their employees should achieve every day. They need to have a balance between strengths and weaknesses, and try to work on fixing the weak points, while maintaining your strengths.
2. A manager should earn the respect and trust of his or her employees, thus becoming a leader and having the responsibility that comes with that. Then, employees will look up to them, and follow them; therefore they need to lead by example.
3. Know how to get a group of people to work together. Understand people’s motivations, their weak and strong points. Know how to organize people, to motivate them, and get them to work towards a common goal of winning. Businesses that are most successful find the best talent that works together well.
4. It is better to surround oneself with the best people because they will challenge you. Always try to give your best because this way you will become the best you could be.
5. Collaboration is key to managers. Managers should not be too controlling because they will not see the weaknesses and strengths of their employees. They have to trust, to some extent, their employees because if not, their performance will suffer.
6. Managers should always spend a significant amount of time with their employees of every level and any age. Staying connected with only people on the same ladder should make them realize how much they need to stay connected especially with the young people. This could be helpful because they are keeping up with the current trends and technology.
7. Playing safe is not going to grow a business. Managers should know how to have a balance between taking risks and playing it safe. This way, they improve themselves and the company by constantly trying do become better and better.
8. Take into consideration emotional intelligence. In organizations, people that do not know how to control their emotions could affect others with their ups and downs. Therefore, just take them out of their role because in the end they might affect the whole organization.
9. Keeping harmony in a team is very important both for the company and the members. High functioning teams actually get along and have fun together. Everybody should have a clear role and understand that it is all for one and one for all.
10. Do not ever give up. If problems come up, always stay focused, think it through and a solution will eventually come up. Staying rational and collected will help tremendously in many problem-solving situations.
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Full Summary of “Come to Win”
This book is mainly written by Venus Williams, who is a professional tennis player that won multiple grand slam titles and now she has her own business. She wrote this book with the help of Kelly E. Carter, who is the co-author. This is not your standard book; it is a combination of different people’s stories where they describe how sports helped their business, as well as their life, which is the main idea throughout the lecture. Venus talks in the preface about herself and how she was inspired to write this book. Then the people that share their stories throughout the book are from many fields like actors, designers, CEO’s, chefs, doctors, editors, financiers.
Venus Williams started to play tennis at a very young age. Her mother and father always told her to think entrepreneurially. Besides always training on the court, she got a degree in interior design and launched her own business called V-Starr which is a commercial and residential interior design company. After launching her business, she realized that she was bringing many lessons that she learned throughout the years that she spent on the tennis court. That is how she came up with the idea of asking former athletes who are very successful today in their business careers if their sports background helped them somehow to be where they are today. The essays written in the book motivated, inspired and moved her deeply.
The business executives – part I
The first story shared in this book is the one of Thomas Barrack, Jr, the founder, chairman and CEO of Colony Capital LLC. His mother wanted him to be part of a team because she thought that they produced great human beings, unlike individual sports. He was the kind of person that was good at many sports, but not great at any. What he learned from playing four years of rugby and from his coach was to push through comfort barriers. He also realized that there is no “I” in team and as well as in business. His coach always knew where to place his players on the field and knew who had to play what position. In business, he applies the same concept. It is very important for him to have on his staff people that have a sports background because usually those people know how to be team players. There is also a difference between winning a battle and winning the war. In sports, as in it is in business, you need to know how to lose one battle and take everything you can from it in order to win the war. You cannot think of the goal line because you will drop the ball. He also says that ninety percent of the work is done off the field. Discipline, perseverance, commitment, teamwork, and pushing through pain are attributes that he trained for all his life and helped him tremendously in the success he has today.
Betsy Bernard is a former AT&T president. Her passion is skiing. She is a very competitive person and believes in just getting out there and do it. She did not care if she came in last as long as she had fun. As she is saying in the book, the confidence to be able to fail, to fall, to trip, and to know you are human and will pick yourself up and learn from the experience and get on with it is invaluable. Everything that drove her business success she thanks to her skiing experience. She says that luck is an intersection of a lot of hard work and opportunity. Sports gave her the confidence as being a female in the workplace. She made it so comfortable for her to be out of her comfort zone that everything she set her mind to do, she just did it without fear of failure or success.
Sir Richard Branson is a British entrepreneur and the founder of Virgin Group. He played football and rugby when he was in high school and was a great athlete. He could compete in any sport he wanted until he tore his ligaments in his knee. While the Vietnam War was going on, he lunched the Student magazine, which was pretty much a campaign to help stop the war. This way, he started Virgin Mail Order, and later he founded Virgin Atlantic, a small airline company that operated with only one plane. He had to advertise the company somehow, so he was always looking at what other people never accomplished. He tried to sail a boat over Atlantic in the quickest way possible, which he failed, but he was the first one to cross the Pacific in a hot air balloon. He had amazing experiences trying to achieve what he wanted and realized that is more fun in saying yes than saying no. Throughout all the adventures he tried, he got his company advertised. Adventure sports became his passion and every time he tried to do something new, he had to think of everything that could go wrong. Same applies to starting a new business. Everything could go wrong because of one stupid mistake, and that is why careful training and planning is necessary. As a manager, he always praises the people that work for him. He is a firm believer in the fact that praise gets the best out of people.
Sarina Bratton is founder and managing director of Orion Expedition Cruises, a five-star, Australian-based cruise line. She took up diving, and in high school she was doing gymnastics as well. While at the New South Wales gymnastics championships game in Australia, she badly damaged her left ankle and even after a lot of physiotherapy, she could never be the same again. What she learned from her sports career was that if she wanted something really badly and the opportunity was there, do not be afraid to put extreme effort in what you want to be. When she started her own business, she had to be available to five hundred people, which was very demanding. Sports helped her realize that it does not matter what you are doing, all of the training, the discipline, the determination, the good attitude and hard work that you are putting into your sport now are inherent values that you will carry with you through life, and you can apply those same values and disciplines to anything that you choose in your life.
Ken Chenault is the chairman and CEO of American Express. He developed at track, which he played all the way through college, and he also played basketball, baseball and soccer. A few lessons he remembers is to not take winning for granted, and if you want to build a team, you want its members to share in the successes and to take blame for failures. Also, it is not always enough to just rely on your talent, you have to work hard and to continue to improve. It is the same in business, as Ken Chenault says, “if you stand still, you are going to fall behind”. He also believes that being a leader means having integrity. How you win, how you behave, and how you deal with adversity can be applied both in business and in sports. Lynn Elsenhans is the chairman, CEO, and president of Sunoco, Inc. She started to play softball and she used to be a really poor hitter until she had a breakthrough and ended up becoming really good through perseverance and continually improving her skills. She never gave up and even when she had success she did not sit on it.
Brian P Kelley is president and general manager of the Still Beverages. He writes about five important key things he believes a person can take from sports and apply into business. First, somebody needs to learn how to lead and how to follow, and know when to apply each one. Then, competition and collaboration are very important especially when you need to be part of a team. Strategy and execution are valuable key points that you learn from playing sports. The ability to win and to lose is probably the most important asset you will ge gt from competing in sports. The final one is the balance of confidence and humility. As Jack Welch says, “confidence always wins”, but it has to be laced with enough humility.
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The creative executives
Hill Harper is an award winning film, television, and stage actor, and bestselling author. In high school, he was captain of the track team and also played basketball. His favorite sport, and true love, was football. His dream was to get a full ride scholarship to University of California, Berkeley. He ended up going to BroHe wn University because the coaches at Berkeley thought that he was too small for their team. At the time, he was disappointed, but then he realized that in the long run, it was for the best. He was thinking “ No matter what your goals and dreams are, sometimes rejection is God’s protection”. The similarity between acting and athletics is that every day your work hard, and when it comes the time to show what you can do, then all the work will pay off.
Richie Rich is fashion designer that recently launched his own clothing line with Pamela Anderson and Tabloid Hero. He used to ice-skate from the age of two. He had the opportunity to have a great coach that he learned a lot from. When he had to find sponsors so he could launch his clothing line, the people that wanted to help him had faith in him because he was an athlete. They knew his discipline and knew he did not do drugs. It takes a lot of somebody to make things look smooth and effortless and fun, but behind the scenes they know how much goes into everything. Discipline comes when you have a goal that you want to accomplish and you do everything you need to get there. Marcus Samuelsson is a chef-restaurateur with restaurants in New York, Chicago, Tokyo, and Stockholm. He will always see himself as a failed soccer player, but he is a great chef today. A lot of his work ethic came from his soccer coach who taught him life skills through the sport he loved the most. He uses the same principles he was taught as a young boy: to be a good guy, to give a lot, how to treat people and how to relate to them. Soccer is also like cooking because when you are in a team and if you work together, then amazing things could happen.
Vera Wang is a fashion designer. Her parents wanted her to skate and worked really hard to keep her skating. Her mother had blood cancer, and she believes that her skating career kept her alive for as long as she did. Sense of discipline, responsibility, wisdom, and good sportsmanship are all gained from skating. Later on, she became the youngest editor in history at Vogue magazine. When her father realized that she has a realistic view of what it takes to start a company he helped her start it. She stresses the fact that people need to be passionate about what they want to do because it is about how much they love it, the discipline, the desire, and the hard work that will bring success.
Denzel Washington is a two time Academy Award-winning actor. Looking up to his coach and learning not to give up, to work harder and go further than the limit is something he will never forget. He did not make it as a professional football player, but he never quit. He just focused on something that was good at. Through a lot of hard work, determination and always wanting to get better and continue to grow, at some point in time he became the best actor in the world, just as he wished to be.
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The media executives
Lucy Danziger is editor-in-chief of Self magazine. Understanding how attitude changes how you think and how you compete, she stopped defeating herself with negative thoughts. Taking that lesson from sports into business, she is an optimist and keeps people on track. You need to try the hardest, to go for it and take a chance even if you win or fail big. Donny Deutsch is a television host and the chairman of Deutsch, Inc., a multibillion dollar advertising agency. Believing in growing more from the defeats than from the wins, a loss will eventually turn into a win. You need to take something from the defeat and learn from it. He also learned from sports to be an organizer, to know how to get people to work together. He achieved what he wanted with his company and he feels he is a winner.
Debra Lee is the chairman and CEO of BET Networks. When Viacom bought BET, there were also other television companies that they started to compete against. It was a hard time in the beginning because they were the only black television entertainment, but they did not give up. They had to come back and redefine where they were going and their goals. In the end, that gave the company the chance to be open to more possibilities and Debra applied what she learned in sports which is the discipline of practicing, being prepared, and getting ready to tackle a goal, which was the track meet itself when she was in high school.
Soledad O’Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for CNN. Teamwork, hard work, and the effort you put in are the results you get. Sports helped her being focused and knew how to get stuff done. The end result is not that important as the road, the journey. Sports teach how to self-critique, how to treat people, how to push yourself to get better and how to lose and stick a smile on your face and think that you will work harder to win next time. Robin Roberts is a co-anchor at Good Morning America. Besides the fact that you get many chances to prove yourself, the way to handle pressure you learn from sports is a great asset to have. Robin never thought of herself that she was not good enough or that she was rejected. She always figured out how to improve and become better. Sports shaped her attitude she has towards everything she does in her life. Jeff Zucker is president and CEO of NBC Universal. On the tennis court or in a corporate office, the desire to be better and never give up is always there. Play smart, but balance it with taking risks. Do a good job, grow the business, but try to be better than yesterday and improve.
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The business executives – part II
Philip Knight is the chairman of the board of directors of NIKE. Besides his parents, his coach, Bill Bowerman had the most impact on Philip’s life. He taught him that even if you work really hard and you are fully prepared, you could still get beat. His coach always said he was not just a simple coach; he was a coach of competitive response, therefore he learned to compete well in life. They ended up becoming partners mostly because of Bill’s attitude towards innovation. Scott McNealy is the co-founder and former chairman of Sun Microsystems. Most people do not realize that being a CEO, entrepreneur and head of his own company requires as much physical toughness as well as mental. Sports helped him tremendously because they kept him in good physical condition. Integrity, focus on hard work, and mental toughness were learned through playing golf. He is a firm believer in practice makes perfect and that you should only compete against the best.
Susan Mersereau is former CEO of Weyerhaeuser. In sports, as well as in business, you want to play the way you want. Play hard, and take calculated risks and play at your full potential. Also, make sure the way you play brings out good results and not failure, although failing is feedback; it lets you know that you are making mistakes and you need to work on something and change your game. Robert Mincheff is senior vice president of branded entertainment at Fox Filmed Entertainment. Sports make a person realize what their capabilities and thresholds are. Also, there is nothing better to teach the concept of teamwork. He learned how to create a team, to capitalize on someone’s strengths and minimize weaknesses to win in the end. Every day when someone challenges you, the spirit and the competitiveness that you learn from competing for so long come back to you and you respond in a way that could probably bring only victory.
Melissa Payner is president and CEP of Bluefly Inc. Among several sports she has tried, she chose to excel in gymnastics. She was always focused and never affected by the external environment. Always on track, calm and collected allowed her to be rational about what the next steps are; giving up was never an option either. Her philosophy is that if she is learning something new every day and she could contribute in a positive way to the team, then she is in the right place. Irene Rosenfeld is the chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods.
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The former pros
This part of the book talks about several professional players and how they used their sports to get into the business world. For some of them, it was actually pretty hard to be taken serious and to be looked at beyond just a famous player. There is a common trait in all the stories and that is practice and preparation; there is no such thing as over preparation.
Bill Bradley, an Olympic gold medalist, a professional basketball player and a U.S. Senator, always says that “if you’re not practicing, somebody somewhere is practicing.” The more you practice, the better you get and the more you achieve. His High School coach taught him how to handle success by telling him “When you win, don’t crow. When you lose don’t cry.” Dylan Casey, a former U.S Postal Service Pro Cycling Team member, and now a product manager at Google, chose to go into cycling after he graduated college. His coach was good at keeping him focused not just on the big picture, but on the objective in front of him. He won races just because of more work he had done through discipline and preparation. He took the same positive things he learned from his cycling career and applied them to his work ethic at Google. They do not fixate on what their competitors are doing, but what they want to do for their users.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, besides being a National Basketball Association legend, he is also founder and chairman of Magic Johnson Foundation which focuses on educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse urban communities. While taking a while until executives took him seriously, he worked hard and it was always about homework, research and execution. Going with his instinct and having a good reputation, he is able to have now the number one brand on the basketball court and in urban America. The high that he used to get from winning on the court is pretty different from the one he gets now, but it is very meaningful as he says “touching and saving communities and putting people to work is a high I never got from sports.” Billie Jean King, the great champion on the tennis court, is also a champion of change in the society. From a young age she realized the society’s inequalities. From an early age she knew she was going to be the number one in the world. Besides many lessons she took with her from playing tennis, the most important one that she applies in her everyday life is that she does not live for yesterday, she lives for today and tomorrow. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama last August which to her it means way more than all her tennis victories. Daniel Villanueva, professional football player, thinks that it is how you use sports in life that matters and “it is not how much capital you can accumulate, but how much you give away that will determine your life.”
The doctors and scientists
The fours stories that are told by these four amazing people who are three doctors and one astronaut talk about different challenges that each face by doing their jobs every day. Sports helped them tremendously by preparing them how to deal with these challenges. Dr James Andrews is an orthopedic surgeon. The main lesson that stayed with him from being a pole vaulter is the way he deals with losses. He feels that wins pass through the mind quickly, but losses stay there forever. Therefore, do not think what you did yesterday, focus what you need to do today and tomorrow and do not float on your past laurels. Dr Keith L. Black is a neurosurgeon that talks mostly about achieving balance. Athletics, besides preparing him for the physical demands of his studies, also taught him that when he was winning, he tried to keep his emotions even because next time he might lose. Also, keeping a balance between academics and sports in college is the best way because in today’s society, there is not just only one way to the top. Leland Melvin is a NASA astronaut who played in the NFL for a while. Visualizing a particular move or certain steps it takes to get wherever he needed to do helped him tremendously in sports and in his career. Dr Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa is also a neurosurgeon. The knowledge he gained from athletics is to never give up, finish what you started, never underestimate your opponent and how to handle pressure.
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The former politicians
Bill Clinton, the forty-second president of the US ran twenty miles a week for twenty four years. He also plays golf. The difference between athletics and politics is that if you lose a match or a game, you can play another one tomorrow or next week. In politics, defeats last longer; you have to wait two, four or even ten years to get another chance. Therefore, you should never give up on your dreams and never quit. William Cohen, former U.S Secretary of Defense, played basketball and went to law school. Athletics helped him in the practice of law, where he had to be disciplined, because he had to fight with the opposing counsel or even the court itself, by teaching him mental toughness. Condoleezza Rice, former U.S Secretary of State, used to figure skate. She loved that because of the hard work and the discipline needed to even get mediocre results. She learned from it that even when times get tough, she could always get up the next day and make it work.
The business executives – part III
Glen Senk, CEO of Urban Outfitters, loved riding horses. He trained with the best coaches in the US. He loves perfection, but he knows he cannot be perfect at all times and should not set an unforgiving bar for himself. Pursuing perfection could have a very negative effect on oneself because people would become so worried to have something done perfectly that they will do nothing at all. Isadore Sharp, founder and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels, Inc., learned from sports that we all have limitations and to play by the rules. She always wanted to win the right way, not at every cost. She applies that in business today, and she accepts the fact that other people are better and that is not that bad, it is just the way life is. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric Company, really gained his self-confidence from sports. Sue Wellington, former president of Gatorade, learned from sports to imagine a goal that was not a direct line from where she was starting out. The company is so successful today because people there imagine big things, and when they achieve those, they dream bigger. Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, shares her knowledge about how important it is in sports, as well as in business, to learn what your position is and doing what you are supposed to do so your teammates or your colleagues will trust in you. Things will work so much better as a whole.
The Video Lounge
This video is an interview of Venus Williams with Julie Chen about her book. Venus talks about some of the people that shared their stories in the book, like President Bill Clinton, and the hard work and discipline they put into playing sports, but now applying it into their lives.
Why I think:
· The author is one of the most brilliant people around because her book is full of stories from many influential people that share some of their sports experiences and how they changed their life. Many people give many thanks to the fact that they played a sport and their life is shaped differently and helped them achieve what they are today.
· If I were the author of the book, I would have done these three things differently:
1. I would have written more about myself. Venus Williams is such a great person and athlete and I would have liked to read more about her.
2. The majority of the stories shared are about people that succeeded mostly in business. I would have tried to get stories from a more diversified group.
3. There are three parts of the book that focus on business executives, and only one section with former pros that achieved success in business. I would have tried to write more about other athletes that found success.
· Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:
1. Sports really have an impact in people’s lives. I just never actually realized how much they could help a person.
2. I gained a lot of knowledge about many important people that achieved the success they wanted by hard work, discipline and the right opportunities.
3. I respect everybody who plays a sport even if they do not achieve what they wanted in that particular sport. The most important thing is to take what you learned through that sport and apply it to other areas in your life.
· I’ll apply what I’ve learned in this book in my career by:
1. Realizing how much of the discipline and hard work that it takes to play sports I am applying to my everyday life. I have been playing tennis since I was six years old, but after reading all these stories I know how much determination I have from athletics.
2. Making sure that I will always look for something I love to do and work really hard until I achieve what I set my mind to. I am a very competitive person and I always try to do my best and, of course, win.
3. Knowing how to learn from my mistakes. Losing and learning something from them is better than losing and not knowing why. I will make sure I will improve myself all the time.
· Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:
Sean Rudolph, from tennisnow.com, wrote an article about Venus Williams and her book. He briefly explained that this book is about many famous people whom Venus got to interview to see how much sports helped them throughout their lives and especially in their careers.
Lynia White praises the book in her book review. She believes that it is an amazing book, not only for athletes, but for everyone who wants to inspire somebody. It is an amazing collection of stories from people that other look up to.
Rudolph, S. (2010, May 26). Come to win: the book on Venus Williams. Retrieved November 7, 2010, from //http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Come-To-Win--The-Book-On-Venus-Williams.aspx
White, L. (n.d.). Book review: "Come to Win" by Venus Williams. Retrieved November 7, 2010, from
Venus Williams’ success story [Video file]. (2010, July 12). Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6670246n
Contact Info: To contact the author of this “Summary and Review of Come to Win,” please email Mihaela.firstname.lastname@example.org.
David C. Wyld (email@example.com) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (http://reverseauctionresearch.blogspot.com/), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. Dr. Wyld also maintains compilations of works he has helped his students to turn into editorially-reviewed publications at the following sites:
· Management Concepts (http://toptenmanagement.blogspot.com/)
· Book Reviews (http://wyld-about-books.blogspot.com/) and
· Travel and International Foods (http://wyld-about-food.blogspot.com/).