2022 was the end of an era, and 2023 will be the start of many more.
One which ended but will continue to influence was of the Williams sisters, and if you watched 'King Richard' (the movie about their amazing story) you may have noticed an important event that acted as the catalyst to their incredible lives. Their father Richard Williams's plan for his daughter's world domination was sparked by an influential event the 1978 French Open, where, as the famous story goes, after watching the winner Virginia Ruzici pick up a $40 grand cheque for '2 weeks' work' (more than Williams Snr had earned all year), he famously came home to tell Mrs Williams “we need to make two more kids and make them into tennis superstars”.
Image: Getty Images
The influence that that event had on the William sisters lives was immense, but even more significant are the ripple effects – not just on the sporting world, but more broadly on people around the world.
Interestingly the story of another highly influential tennis player, Naomi Osaka was actually also sparked by the William's sisters themselves.
"I wouldn’t be here without her. She’s introduced people that have never heard of tennis into the sport” - Naomi on Serena.
Naomi has talked about an event that sparked her career, when her father was also inspired to teach her how to play tennis, after he watched the Williams sisters at the 1999 French Open when she was just 3 years old.
And now Naomi has started to influence many others in many meaningful ways, and I'm sure the ripple effects will continue.
But it doesn’t in there...
If we look around us there are many many other stories, and you may have some yourself, of where people have been influenced by the events you have provided, and what they have experienced.
And while they might be some debate in terms of the influence and legacy of major events in the past, there can be no denying this powerful opportunity that events provide.
I’ve been full circle in recent weeks, having overseen the Comm Games in 2006 and FINA Worlds swim events in 2007, I've just been working with Swimming Australia on leveraging the 2022 version, a big moment in the spotlight for the sport, in a small window of opportunity that opens around these major events.
The current Junior Excellence program swimmers are being inspired by these 2022 Dolphins, many of whom were inspired by the 2006 Comm Games Dolphins.
Sports can and must leverage these moments, for positive impact, history has provided proof in the past, and there are so many opportunities on the way.
Influence at scale
There are many examples of these events influencing people, across generations, and at scale. Many of us are interested to see how we can encourage young women into a sport, and this was for a whole generation of girls in South Korea, where over a 10-year period, these young women went from having very little involvement in golf, let alone a winning pro tournament, to dominance in the game (winning 1/3rd of all tournaments!).
Daniel Coyle gives this fascinating example in his book 'Talent Code'), where he gives examples of events being the catalyst to growth and achievement, not just in individual cases, but across nations, and generations.
The event pinpointed for this massive influence on Korean girls was on May 18, 1998, when a young Korean woman Se Ri Pak won the McDonalds LPGA Championship.
What happened next was that Se Ri Pak became a national icon, and caused many to believe "if she can do it, why can't I".
Creating a chain reaction in young Korean women, to believe they too could be golfers, and, world-class golfers.
Which brings us back to the question, what influence will we see from the many events that will occur over the coming years?
And, what about your influence and the legacies of your events?
We can all see the influence that the experiences we provide can have. You will see it in your audiences, where a previous event has been the reason why they are showing up for your event. And where your event will influence them to do something afterwards.
But we need a plan
Many of us are looking to create leverage and develop legacies from the events we provide, but like anything that we want to occur, it takes some intention from us, for it to materialise.
"The legacy needs to be the first thought, not an afterthought…"
As COO of the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup Jane Fernandez has called out, that planning for a legacy needs to start right at the start of planning the event, not afterwards, and it needs some careful thought and effort for it to have any chance of happening.
All the leading sports and event owners have realised that legacy is where the untapped opportunity is. But it cannot be an afterthought, as it has so often been in the past. The legacy is more likely to happen, and can actually have a greater impact the earlier you start to plan it, it can define how successful the event is, and it may even be the reason the event exists.
Big events can have a global impact, but small events can also have a big impact.
As I wrote in my book, small but meaningful events can encourage people to participate in sports for a lifetime. There are many many examples, and the opportunity is in our hands.
"Plant trees you will never see grow"
Organising a simple gala day at a football club can influence a large number of girls from the local community to play. Thousands of women can be motivated to take up running from a fun run. A cycling event can get a whole family on bikes. The great Australian Paralympic athlete Kurt Fearnley was inspired by seeing a local wheelchair road race. You may not see the influence of your events, but it will be there.
So we ALL need a plan, to influence as much as we can.
As we’ve called out before, our opportunity is immense, but it just doesn’t happen by chance. We will need to have some intention about the legacy we want to create.
You might have that plan in place, or don’t see the need for it, but if you do, I'd love to help you make the most of the opportunities that you have. Because who knows whose lives you may change, and the ripple effects that may have on many others around them. Take care, Andrew
Do you have a missing link?
Many people like the idea of impact and legacy, but sometimes we aren’t necessarily thinking about this strategically. The events occur, but there is no real vision, plan, or follow-through to create a true legacy.
So, while we will always have an Event Plan, naturally, sometimes there is a gap.
STRATEGIC EVENT PLAN
STRATEGIC LEGACY PLAN
Tools you can use!
I talk a lot about the influence of events in my new book. I think we've all seen the impact or legacy our work can have, in small ways, and in big ways, and perhaps you've even experienced it yourself.
If you'd like to read more about how this occurs, and how you can use it, please check out a free chapter of my book here.
Do you find yourself attending events but planning their next one??? Then this is for you! Join the Event Club! We visit events and share our thoughts on them afterwards - and we are in demand! We have been asked to attend upcoming events are share our thoughts, and we'd welcome yours. If you want to join us, or have an event we should visit, please let me know.
Check out the fun new way to design events with your team.
More tools you can use!
Take 30 seconds to take a quick pulse check on your current state.
The results will give you a good guide on where to spend your time and energy next.