OR when women entrepreneurs of Scotland met the Queen of British tennis, Judy Murray.
The time? International Women’s Day 2016. The place? Cromlix House in Perthshire, Andy Murray’s country house hotel, where 20 very honoured BAWE members had a delicious meal, served by attentive people in warm, gracious surroundings.
And we listened to Judy Murray as she shared her stories with us.
As Judy spoke it became very clear that she is also an entrepreneur in all senses of the word. She has laid her own money on the line in order to pay for opportunities for her sons, with no guarantee of success. Judy continues to have exciting ideas that expand the life chances for others. She grasps these ideas, turns them into “to-do” list and works hard and imaginatively to make them reality. These are the skills of a true entrepreneur; someone who by risk or initiative attempts to make profit.
BAWE Scotland events are designed to inspire our members and this evening exceeded that target, as Judy herself consistently does.
There were several key themes to Judy’s stories, that really struck home as worth sharing with all entrepreneurs.
Judy told us of how, if she could not do something herself, she researched into who was the “greatest at doing something”. Then she would watch them, follow them and talk with them in order to thoroughly understand the gap between the norm and the best, in whatever area it may be. She would then make a decision as to whether or not to hire them or learn how to do it herself or even do both!
A perfect example of this is the story she told about Jamie, “the other son”, who, although a very talented tennis player, “did not have what it takes to be a successful singles player”. Judy knew that Jamie could flourish as a doubles player, and she knew that there were no suitable tennis doubles coaches in the UK, at that time. When Andy was playing in a European tournament, Judy went for a walk and ended up watching an Israeli coach, for a long while. He seemed to have her values; caring for his charges, communicating clearly and effectively, and wanting to succeed not just with athleticism and technical skill, but also with guile, Judy defined that as“knowing how to be sneaky”. Later she invited this man to coach Jamie. He named his price. “I could only afford him for 6 weeks but I invested in him” and at the 8 week mark Jamie got to the finals of a professional tournament. What I especially loved about Judy’s story was that she got best possible value from her risky investment. She sent a young coach along with Jamie so that she had someone to continue the work with him “after the 6 weeks was up!”
The talent that all entrepreneurs need is the ability to trust their own intuition. Judy has that in spades. She trusted her own gut instinct in order to find the resources, training and support for all of the young tennis players in her charge. She believed in her gut instinct rather than bow down to what the various sporting authorities told her. However, as usual for this very un-usual lady, she exceeds expectations; Judy has shown her sons and her students the value of self-belief and has encouraged that. Judy told of how Andy decided to go to a tennis school other than the one she favoured, and she supported his wish. Judy smiled when she told us the story of Cromlix; that when Andy said he would like to buy it and run it as a country house hotel she didn’t say no but looked into what needed doing, found the best team to do the work, “and then trusted them to do it”.
Although Judy displays so many talents, including a delightful self effacing sense of humour, the final entrepreneurial learning I took away was that of her determination to learn, get qualified, to do things that she recognised she could do herself. “I got a sports massage qualification, that saved me 25 euros a go”! As Judy started her, initially unpaid, coaching she consistently sought out training courses in order to keep that little bit ahead of those she was guiding. Throughout her life though Judy has recognised what she can learn to do, and when she needed to bring in an expert. And then she looks for the best “and pays them what they deserve”.
In summary, the evening with Judy Murray was a grand slam. She served us fascinating stories with fun and finesse and, for those of us listening, there were sound coaching lessons within inspiring us to improve our business game.
It is the opportunity of evenings with inspirational people such as Judy, in beautiful places such as Cromlix, together with positive, energetic interesting women that keeps me loving my BAWE membership. It’s an extraordinary network, for extraordinary people and extraordinary experiences.
By Sue Vizard, Committee.