Each one of us has the capacity to be extraordinary. So do our teams. And companies.
What can we all learn from a local ultra-endurance athlete, entrepreneur and coach, who ran 628 miles across England in less than a month, about unlocking that potential?
We recently hosted a special evening at PLATF9RM with guest speaker Matt Bagwell, inspiring us to think differently and perform better.
Matt is a Performance Coach, Endurance Athlete and Advanced Oxygen Advantage™ Breathwork Instructor. His career spans Executive-level creative leadership, driving high-performance team cultures, working for companies including Dell EMC, AKQA, Barclays, Salesforce, B&Q, Virgin Atlantic and Zego. Simply put, Matt helps people to perform as well as they can; to realise their full potential through conversation and practical exercises.
The night saw over 160 businesses and individuals from the local digital and tech community come together, both online and in-person, to hear Matt’s extraordinary story about running 22 consecutive ultra-marathons in under a month, all to raise money and awareness for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), as well as his battles with mental health, what helped him change his outlook, and the learnings he now uses to help others.
We caught up with Matt following the event to learn a little more about him…
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the work you do?
I am a coach. There’s lots of words that people use to prefix “coach”, like Business, Performance, Transformational… I combine many of these areas to support people who want to optimise their professional and personal life. I’m also an Advanced Oxygen Advantage Breathwork Instructor, teaching people how to breathe better, from everyday individuals like myself, to elite athletes to huge teams and companies.
How and why did you become a fundraiser for CALM?
I started with a virtual run during lockdown. I had had discussions with CALM about marketing in my role as a agency leader, so I knew how important activations are to them. After that first 10km, I decided to dedicate my running activities to helping them raise as much money and awareness as possible. I have had struggles with my mental health in the past, planning to take my own life on two occasions. In fact, suicide is one of the biggest causes of death in the UK, especially in young men. I wanted to use my story to help others.
Tell us about Run The Country, plus your best and worst bits?
Run the County was one of those crazy ideas that you have, that I actually went on to do! 22 consecutive ultramarathons across every county of England, covering 1012 kilometres in less than a month. It was an adventure, with months of preparation and planning. The lockdown meant it was moved twice so I spent nearly two years ready to run! The worst part. Ah, there were a few occasions where my spirits were low. I remember one 8-hour stretch in the pouring rain that nearly broke me. The best bit? Meeting new people who joined me along the way; I loved the conversations and getting to watch people smash their own personal goals.
Can you tell us about a moment that helped define your career?
At my age, there’s been so many. However, I can remember my first professional interview very clearly. I’d been asked to show how I would complete a simple task on a Mac. I wasn’t an expert, so I really struggled. I turned to the interviewer and said “if you hire me, in six weeks I will be faster than anyone else in this studio.” Cocky? Maybe but I got the job. Six weeks later? That would be telling…
Coaches talk a lot about goal setting – how do suggest people go about doing that?
Goal setting can be made more complicated than it should be. You need to really question what you want to achieve and why. You need to know yourself. Then it’s three easy steps. Keep it simple. Make it matter. Tell other people what it is.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Have faith and follow you heart. I am blessed with a wonderful family, friends, and a job that I love. It works for me.
We all have mental health – good or bad. What things can we all do to better maintain good mental health?
Gosh, that’s a simple question with a lifetime of answers. Breathe well, meditation (quiet thinking), eat good food, hydrate, spend time loving yourself, spend time with friends, look up, look out. Run, walk, cycle, swim. Laugh, dance, shout. Don’t forget to have fun. Put your phone down. Say yes. Say no.
Honestly, my life is pretty much dedicated to this now. Make your mental health – if fact, just think of it as health – a priority.
So…what’s next for you?
496 kilometres, running the equivalent distance to the date every day in March. And yes, it’s to continue my fundraising for CALM.
How can people get in touch with you?
We want to support you! How can we do that?
Please donate generously here.
And finally, Silicon Brighton wouldn’t be here without people like you giving back to the community so… what does the word community mean to you?
Community is to share time and space with other humans, wherever. Yes, it’s where I live, and networks such as Silicon Brighton too. But it extends further than this, across boundaries. A community is wherever I give my attention and consciousness.
Highlights of Matt’s talk will soon be up on our YouTube channel in case you missed it or would like to watch it again, so be sure to subscribe to be notified when it goes live!
Working hand-in-hand with Brighton’s tech community, we run a range of free meetup groups that cover a broad spectrum of specialist areas; from marketing to programming, product design to data. Check out what’s coming up here and join our community of like-minded individuals in the local tech scene.