Nov 11, 2017
In this episode you’ll hear from Daniel Herbert, CEO of
We are going to be covering some powerful strategies that he
learnt through 67 tests for the Wallabies. He was apart of the
glory era of Australian Rugby, won the RWC in 1999, the Bledisloe
Cup and beat the British and Irish Lions in 2001. He Captained the
QLD Reds and was world player of the year in 1999.
Critically he has now gone to a successful corporate career with
the commercial side of the QLD Reds and is now CEO of SSKB.
We cover what executives can learn from elite sport (and what
doesn’t translate), about what made him stand out from the pack and
how to be indispensible to an organisation. The lessons here are
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“My only message to the next generation is, you have to impress.
You have to still do the work, you have to still stand out from the
crowd because there is a lot more people coming around, there is
lots of competition, don't rest on your laurels. By in large, I
think they are smarter than what we were at that age.”
Daniel’s top messages include:
- I think you have to go through some lows to get the highs
- What people forget is the great era of Australian rugby came
from something that wasn't so great.
- I think I made the most of what I had. I look back and I think,
I played with numerous people who were more talented than me. I got
to where I got from graft and I had to look for opportunities, take
the opportunities and I had to work harder than others did to get
there. So that became part of my mantra, I would work when I knew
people weren't working. I would deliberately go running at midnight
when I knew everyone else would be in bed. I would go on Christmas
and kick some goals down the local park because I knew everyone
else was sitting at the dinner table and that gave me this
confidence that I know no one else is out there working today, I'm
out here working, that's going to put me in a good place.
- Hard work will beat talent when talent doesn't work hard.
- I've seen a lot of people who were far better, were more
talented, had natural abilities that I didn't have. And the only
way I could convince myself that I had the right to actually be on
the field or in the team ahead of these people was by working
harder than them.
- There will always be weaknesses and yes, you try to improve
your weaknesses but I tend to spend more time on my strengths than
I do on fixing up the weaknesses, because what I would take into
the business environment now is I can get people to fill in my
weaknesses but, I can't necessarily get people who have better
strengths than me where I think I'm particularly good.
- Don't be threatened by people who are really good, you've just
got to get the best people around you and as long as they are not a
real cultural risk to it
- As a CEO or a senior manager, you have to be a generalist, so
you have to be across a lot of different things, but you still have
to have something that you focus on, that's my unique point.
- I worked on the fact that, what I did as a rugby player, I love
contact, I love the aggression, I love breaking a line and I love
the physical side of it and that was going into the way that Rod
MacQueen wanted to play the game when he came in. I knew that he
wanted a line-breaking centre, somewhere and he needed someone who
could bend the line, break the line. So I got in the gym, I got
bigger, I worked on my footwork to get through a tackle and I
thought, if I can be that guy, where he builds his game around me,
or builds a certain element of his game around me, then that's a
little bit unique, because I don't think anyone else necessarily
has, in Australia right now, has that skill set.
- The chairman of the Australian Rugby Union at the time, a guy
called Dick McGruther, to John O'Neil the CEO, to Rod McQueen the
coach, to John Eales the captain, all four of those guys always
seemed to be aligned. They got on well, you knew they got on well,
they always seemed to be on the same page and in the team
environment, same thing, the leadership group, which I was part of
for most of the time there, were always on the same page, and when
you walk out of the room, no matter whether you lost your debate or
not, you lost your way, you're on the same page. And that was
always, and I think, is a really important thing I see in business
places where you see general mangers undermining the CEOs or
general managers undermining each other because I didn't vote for
that and it's always just to win a bit of favour but it's dangerous
and that was something, that is one of those analogies that I would
take from the sporting world into the business world.
- So that was probably for me, the most important and harrowing
experience that I had because I now am a different person because
not only do I know that you're never in control, it's just an
illusion but I don't fear things. Even in this job, in my previous
job, people threaten you with legal action all of the time, it's
used as a bullying tactic. I now don't fear, I've been through it
personally where it was a really tough thing for me to go through
and for my family to go through, but I don't fear it anymore.
- What I enjoyed was the business of sport. And it's changing
very quickly with all of the things we are seeing, tech and media
and sport was starting to become a very professionalised industry
and in my job, the teams job was to maximise the commerciality of
- You need an opportunity but you've also got to make your
opportunity. I don't think you can just sit there and wait and
someone is going to come and tap you on the shoulder one day.
You've got to make your own opportunity or seize it when you see
it. Then you just have to make every post a winner if you can,
you've got to work hard. People have to see that you're going to
put the shoulder to the wheel and you're not one of these clock in,
clock out people.
- You need to influence the right people. You're never going to
please everyone and wherever I have been, I've never pleased all
ends of the spectrum and I don't lose sleep about that. But the
ones that I need to influence, the ones that I need to be on page
with, I need to make sure I spend the time with them. I don't worry
about people who are critical or small-minded who aren't going to
influence anything anyway. I spend my time on those who are
positive and can influence and shape the direction that we are
going so they are probably the three things that come to mind
- They have got to have skills, but you can teach skills as long
as they have got the right make up, they are honest and they are
hard working and they are loyal, then that would be how I would
like to be perceived by people who have been my leaders.
- What drives me and why I think I am here on this earth is to be
a father and to provide
- I used to make the mistake of putting 20 things down a day,
this is what I am going to get through today. And you would get to
the end of the day and you've got two of them done and then you
work through the night trying to get the others and it's just not
sustainable because the work never goes away, it's always there,
it's not going to go anywhere. So I have come to the point now
where it's two or three things. And even yesterday, I wrote down
two things, I didn't do either of them
- I also have thinking time, I need to think. I think that's one
of the other things where you just become so busy that you're not
actually thinking about, should we be doing this at all?
- I think that is the value of networking, is you have got to
make sure you offer them something, there has got to be a value,
there is a trade there. You bring people into your network, what
are you going to give them and what are they going to give
- When it comes to hiring people, it's not always the most
talented, it's not always the most educated, it might be someone
who just demonstrates resilience and perseverance and grit.
Good to Great – Jim Collins
Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari
Grit – Angela-Lee Duckworth