Why didn’t I become a professional football player?

…Or soccer player for those of you in some parts of the world.

So, why didn’t I become a professional?

Well, when I was young, I wanted to play football every day, during a break at school there would always be a game of football taking place in one of the playgrounds. We played with a tennis ball. And being small it helped us hone our skills and playing on a hard surface – we learned to keep our feet. Something the pros of today could learn.

As I got older and the distractions grew – I was in a school of 1,800 pupils and although I was in the last intake of the all-boys section of the school – the adjoining girl’s school building was the root of the head turning. The playground matches became more sporadic although there was a group that continued playing, every day without fail.

In my latter years of study, I had stopped playing for the school team and was turning out for a team that was in a youth league – which was a higher age group and by the time I was 16/17 I was playing in a men’s league. And that’s how life continued, albeit along the way there were a couple of gaps – one when I was living two minutes away from the City of London and life revolved around West End restaurants and weekends away. However, I would still represent the company or turn out for 5-a-side tournaments when needed.

All told, I was playing football until the result of many injuries forced me to stop. I was 44 and took having to quit very badly.

Back to the title of this article – when I was young, I wanted to play football every day – I didn’t have the chance of becoming a pro because I didn’t play football every day.

I was talking to someone yesterday about what it takes to be really good on social media, how to tap into the vast number of opportunities that are out there, how to build a strong and credible network and how to become a ‘go to’ person. You need it to be part of your everyday life. You can’t dip in and out in those early stages as I did with football in mid-teens and early twenties. Adam Gray, someone who I’m lucky enough to have as a mentor, mentioned ‘regularity’ to me this week. I realized that I had been thinking of ‘frequency’.

What’s the difference? Well to be a pro footballer a player would be required to regularly turn up for training at a specific time on days when there wasn’t a match. That’s what enables them to improve and create muscle memory and have the chance to become a true great. If a player turned up on 75% of those days at a time that suited them, then although they were frequently training, they wouldn’t achieve the levels of performance as those that were regularly at the training ground. Those that the coaches could engage and work with.

So, if you are ‘active’ on social media, make sure there’s a regularity about it – rather than just being somewhat frequent.

Old school v new school CEOs – which are more likely to have a decent personal brand?

I make no secret of the fact I believe too many CEOs are ignoring the ‘elephant in the room’, social media presence – and need to work on their personal branding. If I had a pound (£), for every poor attempt at a LinkedIn profile by a CEO I find – I could make that a full-time job and do nothing else!

Actually, ‘attempt’ is being too kind – they resort to the minimum – name, rank and number. When I ask many of them why they haven’t added detail to their profiles or at least try and make themselves seem interesting – the excuses I’m given are more akin to when a teacher asks you why you didn’t do your homework. To be honest it’s embarrassing. Not just to them but to me too, having to review such poor work – people entrusted with the future of a business and the careers and wellbeing of their employees – are cheating.

Is that harsh? Not at all. When I played football (soccer) if a player was ‘cheating’ it meant they weren’t putting in a decent shift, they were being lazy and doing the bare minimum.

I recently found 92% out of 175 ‘active’ LinkedIn profiles, I reviewed, of CEOs from businesses with in excess of 10,000 employees – were, and I’m being kind, very poor. You would probably think that new school CEOs were the 8% that had made the effort – alas, that’s not the case. They are as bad as each other. ‘New school’ tend to think they have a decent personal brand but don’t, whereas ‘old school’ are more likely to make the changes required and are more open to help once they understand the impact. However, with CMOs also failing, you can understand how deep the problem goes.

Regardless of who’s best – it’s a shocking statistic and if I reviewed more profiles, the numbers could be worse. Makes you wonder what happens in the board meetings……….