Trials Guru spent time with 1979 World Trials Champion Bernie Schreiber this month to discuss his views about sports, athletes, clubs, organizers, manufacturers, retailers and . . . the risk of resting on your laurels!
The phrase ‘Resting on your laurels’ dates back to ancient Greek and Roman traditions, where victorious Olympians or generals wore crowns made of laurel wreaths as symbols of victory, success, and status.
In this second ‘Gloves Off’ interview, Bernie talks with Trials Guru about how past successes and challenges are something to celebrate and learn from. However, they can prevent progress if not constantly and carefully developed. The only way to make progress and growth is to analyze – see what went wrong, make corrections, and improve the situation.
“There is no giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps, but if you rest… you rust!“
Trials Guru – What must be overcome to avoid basking in the memories of former glories?
Bernie Schreiber – Good is often the enemy of great! People easily fall into the trap of thinking: ‘we are quite good at what we do,’ or ‘this company is good’ or ‘this event is good.’ Good is the enemy of great because somewhere out there, a competitor has fire in their stomach and is not content with being good, they want great, excellence and first position. They push harder, innovate more, create more, execute effectively, and have clear plans over the horizon. They are ready to give up everything to reach the goal. They are investing efficiently into Research and Development or people skills, or just setting the bar much higher than the status quo. You know where this story is going . . . and to feel comfortable because you have been successful at any level in the past is a place that must be avoided for growth and meeting potential goals.
TG – Do you think that this mindset of ‘great’ is important for success?
BS – Absolutely the main hurdle for athletes, clubs, organizers, and retailers.
Most arrive in a state of complacency, pleased with what they have achieved in the past, and that could be last weekend, month, or year.
They reduce the “great” efforts because they’re already satisfied with what they’ve done.
Once you make little to no effort to further advance or improve comes the unexpected knockout moment.
You’ve been there and done that and that’s good enough is a lack of real greatness, a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. How you change and progress is how you succeed.
TG – As a past World Champion you must have had moments of reflection and adapted to change?
BS – Every day reflects how to avoid mistakes, grow, and learn from experience of others, but this process of change can beat you to the ground if you let it.
In sports we are judged not by the number of times we fail, but by the number of successes and achievements. I always keep an eye on the ratio of results. Even the best performance can be improved!
Self-confidence is what separates Champion athletes from the rest of the competitors.
Being satisfied with no change is the beginning of the end.
TG – How has sports changed for top athletes?
BS – That would depend on the sport and the level that athlete is performing. The sports industry has been hit hard over the last two years and this has changed the risk perception for long term partnerships to invest into top athletes and events.
Everyone feels the impact in the world of international sports. Agencies and promoters are facing particularly challenging times. This new environment of digital and Covid has brought manufactures and brands much closer to market realities, sales, and budgets.
The tools that worked then do not provide the same returns today. Therefore, athletes have been affected as well and many forced to reduce their budgets, change, or end careers.
Top athletes must work harder to build and keep partnerships, find budgets, and build their own brand on social media platforms.
The social media landscape has changed, and the athletes’ brand awareness process takes time to build correctly.
Athletes today must perform much more off the field than time competing. No company wants to associate their products with nobody, so brands who really don’t know who you are or how to use your brand name to promote their products are unlikely to invest in a partnership.
There are potential partners who may have interest, but this depends on the approach and deliverable assets from both sides.
Winning is not everything in the new social media entertainment world of communication.
TG – What’s your ‘Gloves Off’ advice to trials clubs and event organizers?
BS – Organizing events is not easy and building events is even more difficult. Clubs and event organizers are like riders. They all have different skill sets and personal objectives. Some ride for fun, others wish to be great or just rest on laurels.
Being good at what you do does not mean success for a club or an organizer. The approach of the “JOB” Just Over Broke club or organizer is not very promising over time and eventually reduces in size and quality.
The social club is fine, but events should offer interesting experiences with exclusive or unique attractions. How you attract consumers, riders and partners should be with unique offerings others can’t provide. Your trials events are important, but how you build the club, events and partners is the most important. Clubs and events are products, and all products need innovation, communication, and marketing to create and present the added values. My advice is a clear strategic plan whether local, national, or international and focus on quality over quantity. Less is More.
TG – So quality growth and promotion is your advice?
BS – To maintain credibility you must promote and operate in a quality way that inspires riders to return and members to join.
Building on the ongoing success of your club, business, brand, event, or product involves a cycle of activities to operate successfully. Understanding the key things that can create success, fine-tuning and building in the experience of how things worked to improve what you do next or just being conscious of how you do things as you do them and why. Monitoring the results arising from what you do, planning and acting in accordance with that is the difference between good and great.
TG – Should all events maintain a professionalism level of operation?
BS- The answer is yes. Of course there are different levels of events, competition, classes and budgets, but professionalism and uniqueness is always a must in my view. Trials club organisers can professionally focus on friendliness, brand themes and fun like the annual Highland Classic Trial in Alvie Estates and others may wish to host a World Championship.
Both build community solidarity and awareness for the sport when professionally operated. For others it may be a business opportunity or family weekend, but the pursuit of excellence and professionalism should never be forgotten. If you host events, they should be memorable experiences, provide value and benefits for everyone and there are no limits for innovation.
This year in June, I’ve been invited to Montana as a special guest for the annual Whiskey Gulch Two-Day Trial to celebrate my 40th anniversary of wins in Montana and the SSDT. The organizers have been extremely innovative in approaching their 2022 event and the gloves are off!
“It’s what you do before the season starts that makes you a Champion. So, never rest on your laurels – even the best performance really can be improved.”
COMING NEXT on ‘Gloves Off’:
In the next Gloves Off, Bernie will talk about Heroes he was able to meet and why he admired them so much:
Malcolm Smith – Gene Cernan – Greg Norman – Valentino Rossi
Article worldwide copyright: Bernard Schreiber/Trials Guru 2022
Photos: Copyright of individual photographers.