The Prophets of Profit: The Concept of Olympism with Mary Andrews by Brian CalifanoWe had the privilege to speak with Olympic Athlete Mary Andrews. Mary is the president of Andrews Performance Corporation and is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation. Her clients include small to mid-size businesses who are committed to deliberate success through work on their culture, leadership, and bold declarations of results. Individual clients include entrepreneurs and people from all walks of life wanting to break up anything that gets in the way of generating success and satisfaction by playing well.

To listen to the entire conversation with Mary Andrews, click here.

Choosing to Be an Olympian

Mary Andrews’ career path was inspired by the manner she made the Olympic team in 1980. She was competing as a javelin thrower and, in fourth place, she had one throw left. She had to be in third place to make the team and needed to meet the target distance for the javelin throw — 180 feet and 5 inches. Before she made the throw, she made the choice that she was an Olympian. She threw the javelin and exceeded the target at 181 feet and 3 inches, took 3rd place, and made the team. That was the beginning of Mary making a career out of looking at performance — particularly how to improve performance. Today, as a business coach and consultant, she applies the lessons of Olympians to help people individually and as business owners to create success and personal satisfaction.

Obstacles to Breakthrough Results

There are three common obstacles that Mary has identified when business owners try to take their companies to the next level:

  1. Believing what made them personally successful as individuals will apply to their employees.
  2. Treating employees as a group of individuals rather than as a team — not understanding what it means to develop and make decisions as a cohesive unit.
  3. Growing a company without being deliberate about organizational elements, such as culture and compensation, and aligning those elements with the business growth plans.

Listening and Reflecting

Mary has a different approach for every client she works with to fit their individual needs. She learned an invaluable lesson from her first client that has informed her approach to coaching and consulting ever since. The client told her that out of all the things she does for him, the most valuable to him was listening to him speak about his plans for an hour, and then reflecting back to him what he needed to be clear on. Today, Mary’s main tool is listening and reflecting back to her clients on what they need to figure out in terms of clarity of where they want to go and breaking up whatever gets in their way. Mary also helps her clients identify their “overwhelm pattern.” Once identified, you can eliminate the many pitfalls that you would otherwise go through.

Being Olympic

There are different approaches to working with companies in their early stages and companies that are more seasoned with years of operation. In the early stages, it’s about Being Olympic — naming and claiming what you really want. Believing what’s possible. Early stage business owners are excited about serving their clients. It’s often a Disneyland statement of a dream, and Mary helps them get clear and specific — to think deliberately on what exactly they really want out of the business and how they’re going to get there. None of this is based on what’s predictable, guaranteed, or likely. We’re stretching into the Being Olympic part of the brain: “I think this is possible, but I don’t know how to do it.” Mary encourages early stage business owners to pursue all of their aspirations.

What Is a Company’s Culture?

It’s easier for a smaller company to have a defined culture and to have everybody buy into that culture. The larger a company gets, the harder it is to have everyone participate. The leader of a large or growing company has to be more deliberate in what the desired culture is and how to create a culture change.

Mary ensures the understanding of the true definition of company culture: The actual experience of the company’s employees and customers. It’s not the vision statement. It’s not what you say the culture is. It’s what the people involved with your company experience.

If a culture change is needed, it’s not going to happen overnight. It takes a lot of work to have people think, act, and respond in a way that’s aligned with the stated culture. Mary sees the best way to achieve a desired culture change is with a coach — someone who is outside the organization without any preconceived bias or personal stake. Someone who can hold a picture of your ideal culture in front of you as you go about your business.

Achieving the Perfect Work-Life Balance

There was a question from a small business owner who eats and sleeps his business. He’s satisfied that he’s providing a good life for his family, but he wants to see them more. How can he spend less time with his business and more time with his family without letting the business suffer?

Mary says that you’ll never truly experience success if you are choosing one thing over another. She advises you to zoom out and ask yourself, “What is the umbrella commitment? Why do you do what you do?” Mary advises to create limits and stick with them. Declare a close of business time that works for you and stick with it. In order for your business to be successful, you have to be successful with your family.

Passing the Baton of Communication

The final question came from two brothers who own a growing construction company. They were having difficulty staying organized and communicating effectively with recent hires.

Mary immediately identified this issue as one of the common obstacles she had addressed earlier in the podcast. As this construction company grows, the brothers shouldn’t expect success to be achieved in the same manner it was when it was just them. The path to success for these employees is inevitably going to be different.

Communication and organization are generic issues. Mary advises to focus on one of them. She returns to the Olympic analogy and likens internal communication to passing the baton in a relay race. You don’t throw the baton and hope the receiving person catches it. You don’t lay it in the person’s hand and walk away. You only take your hand away when you’re sure the person has the baton.

When you’re communicating within a company, there’s a lot of information going back and forth. If you’re not making sure the person you’re communicating with has actually received the message, the communication is incomplete. You have to follow-up to confirm the message was delivered and accepted, and you have to do so within a short period of time. You must make sure that what you said has been heard, and that the employee can take action based on that communication.

To listen to the entire conversation with Mary Andrews, click here.

To contact Mary Andrews and stay updated on her happenings:

Go to Mary’s website:

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Brian Califano & Scott MargolinBrian Califano

Scott Margolin

Co-founders & Managing Partners


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