5 business lessons to learn from Lance Armstrong

lance armstrong

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While you might not think that Lance Armstrong is a good business model after last week’s final confession, there are some lessons that business owners can take away from his example. Read on for what you should, and should not do in business.

Honesty is the best policy– For almost ten years Lance Armstrong was involved in doping in cycling but it took years for him to admit his guilt. Instead, he often lied about his involvement with drugs. When it comes to doing business, honesty is always the best policy. There’s no point lying about something- including services or expected wait times. It will inevitably come back to haunt you later, so tell the truth from the beginning.

How to handle a crisis- Hopefully you won’t have to face international ridicule on the scale Armstrong did, but one thing you can learn from his final, orchestrated admission with Oprah is to take control. Step back from a situation when it looks like it’s spiralling and regain the reigns. Facing a customer backlash over a faulty product? Issue a mea culpa immediately and get on the PR frontfoot. Dealing with a sudden loss of supplier? Tap into your contacts and stretch yourself with research. You may find a better deal than you previously had.

Nothing’s worth sacrificing everything- While it often feels like spending your weekend dealing with your business is a good idea, there are other things in life to be enjoyed. Your friends and family for example. Sure, it’s ok to take a risk, and starting your own small business often is, but don’t lose sight of what you might lose if you put everything on the line.

When in doubt, seek help- Talking to Oprah was one of the best decisions that Armstrong made throughout this crisis. It immediately calmed down media speculation and offered him a caring shoulder to talk to (Oprah was never going to be as hard hitting as other US TV show hosts could have been). So learn to ask the professionals: whether it’s in marketing, website creation, accounting, PR, social media- there’s no shame in turning to someone who knows what they’re doing and asking for help.

Don’t do drugs- While this may be good general life advice rather than specific business advice, the means to the end is the point. Skipping important steps, cutting corners or generally being careless in how you achieve your business goals will be the first steps to seeing your business fall over. Always be diligent in how you treat your business, and you’ll make sure you never see yourself on Oprah’s couch for the wrong reasons.

  • Riz

    Please note that Lance didn’t do drugs alone. He intimidated and bullied those who chose to question him, he trashed their reputation in public, he bribed or attempted to bribe his way out of troubles, and he completely distorted and exploited a particular sport to the extent he nearly destroyed it from the competitive sporting landscape thereby denying honest sportsmen the opportunity to pursue a full time career. The loss of major sponsors tour de france has suffered in recent years goes to expose the ‘Lance effect’. In the business context we can only expect such a behavior and outcomes from a Russian Oligarch or a mafia boss.

    You also talked about PR. Lance’s misuse of PR is at the heart of his strategy of prolonged manipulation of his fan base, cancer survivors and sections of the media. Given Lance’s conniving and unscrupulous ways, those who still have their critical mental faculties in working order chose not to fall for Lance’s ‘Truth shall set you free’ spin on Oprah. A person who has engaged in criminal conduct, be it in business, private or sporting life, must chose to face the law of the land rather than spin their way out using PR. James Hardy or Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) cannot be allowed to spin their way out of their questionable legacies!. So to put it bluntly in Business context, innovation is fine. But innovation bordering on criminality is not. Conduct your business within the moral, ethical and legal framework. Do not run your business hoping to spin your way out of troubles using PR. Instead run it in such a way you never need PR. Take some lessons from Buffett.

  • mrsfox

    I am a fan of Lance Armstrong and I am indeed disappointed about the incident. But still, it’s a good thing that he finally gave up and admits his fault. Lesson learned to all the employers and athletes. Nobody becomes successful with cheating!

  • dk

    According to Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, Lance is an American Psychopath.