Mike Davie, CEO and Founder of Quadrant, a data and technology company, on how pushing himself to the extreme in sporting fields outside the office increases his resilience at work.
For entrepreneur Mike Davie, each challenge he encounters on one of his Xterra (off-road triathlon) races offers something new in terms of perspective. “It’s never the same race twice,” he explains. “I’ve competed everywhere from Malaysia to the Philippines and Taiwan. Each race uncovers new avenues for improvement and new perspectives on life, which benefit me professionally.” Mike is CEO and Founder of Quadrant, a data and technology company that aims to make mobile location data easier to buy, sell and map through blockchain-enabled data authentication technology. “I established Quadrant back in 2014, and while we’ve come a long way since then from a start-up to working from some of the largest companies in the world, it’s been far from smooth sailing. There have been exhilarating times when we have made a big tech breakthrough or signed a big client, but also more challenging times where nothing seems to go our way.” He talked to us about how a side hustle running triathlons has been the best thing he could do for his resilience in the business world.
“I was never a sporty kid, so picking up extreme sports like snowboarding as a teenager was a challenge in itself. I started running as a means to quit smoking, then moved onto a half marathon across the Korean demilitarised zone.” The continued escalation of challenges led Mike to Xterra, where he discovered the world of off-road racing and the opportunity to push his boundaries even further. “In many ways, running a startup is a year-long extreme sport. It’s about solving problems under duress. Time pressure is useful both as a sportsman and an entrepreneur. In the process of both, you learn to regulate your emotions. You can encounter competitors who seem much more capable than you; you can’t let that affect you. Take each challenge as it comes. If you race off ahead to get a headstart, you might not be able to finish the rest of the race!”
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Mike says he sees the benefits of his dedication to extreme levels of physical fitness as beneficial in two ways. “I have more energy. The exercise helps improve both my mind and body. It mentally prepares me for the grind both on the course and when dealing with deadlines.” Yet, on balance, it’s the mental strength required for off-track marathons he really cherishes. “Both the track and the workplace involve arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going, and the adrenaline you get from finishing a race or closing a deal has a feel-good factor that’s hard to top. The more triathlons I had under my belt, the more headway I was making as a businessman.”
Beyond that, a hobby that constantly requires him to rely on an outward support network has provided vital insights into team building. “I would not have managed to bring Quadrant to where it is today without a team of people across different countries, ages, ethnicities and genders. Quadrant has seen some very young people developing sophisticated solutions around blockchain and data authentication that have gone on to significantly impact major corporations. To me, that’s immensely satisfying.” Moreover, the benefits of having a communal outlook extend beyond Quadrant itself, to its competition. “It is no secret that some of the worst-performing, least innovative organisations are those that lack competition. If you do not have a competitor nipping at your heels then you won’t be forced to push yourself. This is the same for Xterra – if this was a one-man race then I probably wouldn’t even finish the course!”