“It’s all about believing in what you can do”

Ironman World Championship winner & entrepreneur Jan Frodeno about how he turned the worst year for athletes around at #bits20

When Jan Frodeno realized that the Ironman World Championships would probably not take place due to Covid-19 this year, he simply decided to just go ahead and complete an Ironman inside his house in Spain. He asked himself before starting: “Who wants to see a guy sweat it up for nine hours?” Well, it turned out that actually 320 million people do. And by the way, he raised over 200.000 Euros for charity by that! At the Bits & Pretzels Networking Week he shared how his career in sports helped him to navigate the entrepreneurial world because according to him “sport is so extremely parallel to business”. 

With opportunities for athletes to showcase their abilities being almost non-existent this year, his Ironman@home brought him more reach and press value than his victories at the world championship ever did. One of his biggest learnings from this situation is that “the world is changing all the time and the biggest asset you can have is to be flexible, react to a situation and apply yourself to it.” 

The three times Ironman World Championship winner also shared with our Editor-In-Chief Britta Weddeling his mantra “I want, I will, I can'', that helps him to stay focused and build up the mental strength that is needed both in sports and in business. He also repeats it to himself during a race about 250 times, he admits. Jan believes that with a positive mindset everything is possible: “The mind is the most important thing in Ironman racing for sure, but in business without a doubt.

And losing from time to time in ordner to learn is something that was unavoidable but much needed, admits Jan. It’s an outlook that he had to learn himself first and took a lot of practise as he absolutely hates losing: “If you are just winning and everything is just going super smooth, you can ask yourself the question if you are challenging yourself enough.” 

It’s almost as important as having a goal to work towards. For his Ironman@home, it was the charity aspect to raise money and contribute from his position. But founders and athletes shouldn’t make the mistake of making that goal too big, but rather break it down into small steps and then achieve them bit by bit, he advises. 

The famous saying to never give up is something that Jan Frodeno doesn't find very easily to act on. For him it’s about being drawn to the challenge and the curiosity about what he can achieve next: “What keeps me glued to sport but also to business is that I don’t know if it’s going to work out”, he explains. But in the end, “it’s all about believing in what you can do”, he says. That’s one of the reasons why he recently ventured even further into the business and entrepreneurial world. He uses his longtime expertise to apply it to the products he is creating in partnership with different startups, for example the active wear startup Ryzon.