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Google’s Johnson On Having A Vision And Being Relentless

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In this edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast hosted by Don Yaeger, Google Marketing Executive Kate Johnson shares how the technique of visualization earned her a seat on the medal-winning U.S. Olympic Women’s Crew Team—and a seat at the table of Visa and Google.

Elite rower Kate Johnson, fighting injuries sustained months earlier, was competing for a spot on the 2004 Olympic Women’s Eight crew team when her coach asked her whether she saw herself making the squad. She took a deep breath, answered yes and then asked the coach’s opinion. “It doesn’t matter what I think,” he replied, “Only what you think.” So Kate went back to her room at the training complex, took paper from a notebook and made signs reading, “I am in the 2004 Olympic Women’s Eight” and “Relentless.” She then plastered them all over the room so they’d be the first and last things she saw every day.

She spent the ensuing weeks “visualizing” herself as a member of the team, which included acting the part of a leader who was totally committed to her team’s success. “I made the team, and in the Olympics, my coach went down the boat and shook everyone’s hand before he launched us off,” recalled Kate. “When he got to me, he shook my hand and said, ‘Kate, you’ve earned every square inch of the seat you’re sitting on. You were absolutely relentless this year!’ He used my word ‘relentless’ without ever knowing that was something I had put on my wall all year!”

Kate’s boat went on to win a silver medal, and after retiring from competitive crew, Johnson applied her mental toughness and style of personal brand building to an elite business career that has included the vice presidency of global marketing at Visa and, currently, the directorship of Google’s global marketing for sports, media and entertainment.

In this episode, Kate explains how to apply the techniques of visualization to live your day in the service of the person you want to become, “If you want to be CEO, then start figuring out the habits they have.” For example, how does the CEO go about her day, not just in the business practice, but also in her life? What is her routine in the morning? Does she practice meditation? Does she get a workout in before going into the office? And once you’ve learned the habits of those you seek to model, develop your own routine.


11:30  How to make your team feel part of the mission.

16:15  How to set a pace that brings the best out of everyone.

26:30  Why action should accompany visualization.

30:00   How to focus your team on the big picture.

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive and subscribe to new episodes.


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