I am thrilled to be publishing Winners And How They Succeed in the United States. To be honest, there are so many great American winners, past and present, I imagine some U.S. readers will wonder what on earth they have to learn from some Brit who only made his name because he used to hang out with Tony Blair and had someone play him in that movie with Helen Mirren as the Queen?
Well, of course, Tony is part of the answer. So is the Queen, and my chapter on how she steered the monarchy through very rocky and unhappy waters. As for Tony, he was my party’s most successful ever election winning leader, I was there every step of the way, contributed a lot, and learned a lot from him and the many political winners around the world we met and worked with; Bill Clinton to name but one, and one of the best. But this book is not a book primarily about politics, though my thoughts and experiences weave their way through most chapters. Nor is it a book about me. It is a book that seeks to distill the stories of the names on the front, the vast bulk of whom I have worked with or interviewed specifically for Winners. More than that it seeks to apply lessons from them in such a way that all of us might learn something. Finally, to the more parochial minded among you, there are a fair few Americans dotted around the place. How could a book about winners not have a rich vein running through it from the most winning country for much of our lifetime?
This is my eleventh book, and it is never clear to me why a particular idea for a book falls into one’s head at a particular time. This one has been percolating away for a long time, possibly since childhood, when I grew up wanting to be the first person ever to win international caps at football (oh, OK, soccer), rugby league (most of you have never heard of that one) and cricket (you may have heard of it but you don’t understand it any more than I fully understand baseball.) These ambitions were never fulfilled because of a lack of basic talent, and I have taken it out on politics ever since!
Most of my adult life has been devoted to the Labour Party in the U.K., first covering successive defeats as a totally biased journalist and commentator, then deciding to help turn this losing organization into a winning one under Tony Blair. Tony gets a rough press these days, particularly at home. But the guy is a winner and I was proud to play a part in helping Labour win three big majorities in the U.K. Parliament.
Outside family and politics—and frankly most days now it comes ahead of politics—the big passion in my life is sport. I have been blessed to know some of the greatest sports people of all time—through friendships with football’s greatest ever club manager, Sir Alex Ferguson; Sir Clive Woodward, the only man ever to lead England to a Rugby World Cup; Lord Sebastian Coe, a great Olympic champion and the man who later presided over the London Games in 2012; the U.K.’s most decorated Paralympian Tanni Gray-Thompson; or Sir Dave Brailsford, the first man to deliver a British winner in the Tour de France, and to do it clean in the post-Armstrong era.
Actually Lance Armstrong is another sportsman I know well and have interviewed three times. He is one of two “winners” who are in the book, but not on the cover, for what we might call editorial/ethical reasons. The other is Vladimir Putin. My sense is Americans don’t like the Russian president too much so might have taken offense. But if leadership is about making the weather, winning power, and generating fear—which is how he seems to judge it—he is a modern, and resolutely Russian, winner.
As for Lance—a man I grew to like, admire, and respect, as did so many others, before the scales were dragged from our eyes—I felt I had to include him in the book because of his record as a winner, but exclude him from the front because how you win can be as important as whether you win. See Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie on the Lance question in the final chapter.
How the Putin story ends is anyone’s guess, but my guess is either it will have a bad ending for him, or a lot of bad chapters for the world. As for Lance, try though he might, it is hard to see a route map back to reputational strength. If you lose your good reputation, you lose everything. Oh, actually, there is a third winner in the book who is not on the cover, but for very different reasons. I feared it might look a little weird to have the Queen sandwiched in between swimmers and surfers and the like.
So now back to the question, “Why write this book? And why bother you Americans with it?” I think part of the motivation—and part of the pleasure at it coming out in the States—is to reflect on the similarities and also the differences I sense between our two countries. I worry that my own country is somewhat losing the winning mindset. We have some great business and sports people and probably more cultural icons per capita than any country on Earth, but politically and diplomatically we are in decline, and psychologically and educationally I think we are, too. I think there is a real danger that we are lapsing into a mindset prepared to settle for mediocrity. And it fires me up.
America has massive challenges of its own, not easily met by your own horribly tribal and narrow brand of politics, the tribalism in particular that is fuelled by the “Fox-ization” of news and the swamping of your political campaigns with sums of money considered obscene in most democracies. But I do think you still have—and I know it is ridiculous to generalize about a country the size of the U.K., let alone the vastly more complex U.S.—a spunkier approach to life and a real passion for, and respect for, winners. We are much more in the “build ’em up to knock them down mode.” It harms us. Your love of winners is good for the American soul, and your future.
So this is a celebration of winners and a study in their mindsets and modus operandi and how we can learn from them. I should warn you that it is not a book about happiness. Indeed there are a fair few tortured souls in here. But that is partly what gives them their special hyper achieving qualities, which they then put to greater use in their chosen field.
I have traveled far and wide to get these people and their stories. From India to Ireland, from Albania to Addis Ababa, from the west coast of America to the east coast of Australia. I was very lucky, blessed even, with the kind of people I managed to reach. That being said, it is without doubt easier to get through the door if your pitch is, “I am writing a book about the greatest winners on the planet and would you like to be in it.” I have pondered a follow-up.: “Oh, hi, it’s Alastair Campbell here, I’m writing a book called Losers And How They Fail and I’d love you to be in it.” I fear the roster would not be so large.
Mind you, failure is an important teacher and many of my Winners cite a particular defeat or setback as their most important turning point, and fear of failure as their biggest driver to success. The only interviewee who told me he simply never ever thinks about defeat—and who am I to argue looking at that body?—was the boxer Floyd Mayweather. Forty-nine fights. Forty-nine wins. The richest athlete of all time. Some may not like him. But none can dispute that he is a winner.
One of my rules of life is that we are never too old to learn, and I have learned something from all the names on the front cover. Some of them are household names around the entire world, others little known outside their own land or their own sector or sport. I have yet to meet anyone else who knows who all of them are until they have read the book.
For example, outside the Balkans, people are often stumped by Edi Rama. I’ll tell you why he is there. He is the prime minister of Albania; more relevantly he is the only current head of government in the world to have played sport for his country. He was on Albania’s national basketball team, so a good man to talk to about one of the central themes of the book—what can sport teach us for politics? Answer, as I know from my own experience trying to hold a political team of competing egos, agendas, and ambitions: a lot.
There are some people on the cover I had not heard of until I started my research. Two of my favourite interviews were with Australian world champion surfer Layne Beachley and U.S. baseball legend Joe Torre. Until I started writing the book, I had not heard of either of them. Baseball fans, please don’t shout. I know this is absurd for someone who is a self-confessed sports nut. But baseball is not a big sport where I come from. Can you name a cricket legend?
In the acknowledgements, you will see that I thank Jean Afterman of the New York Yankees, both for giving me the title of the book and for introducing me to lots of U.S. sports people. I still don’t get baseball or American football totally any more than she really gets cricket (though she thinks she does) or rugby league (no chance) but I really was grateful she put me in touch with Joe. “Legend” is one of the most overused words in sport. But he is just that, this much I now know. Billy Beane told me so. He is a legend, too. I had at least heard of him, not least thanks to Brad Pitt playing him in Moneyball, but also because my son Rory, who worked with me on the book and who is now employed as a data analyst with an English Premier League football club, worships him.
Luck is of course a factor in most winners’ stories—my favorite in the book being from Sir Richard Branson who wanted to call his first big business venture, a record store, “Slipped Disc Records” until a young woman whose name he cannot remember said, “What about Virgin—because we are all Virgins at business?” I don’t think Slipped Disc Airlines or Slipped Disc Space Travel would have been so effective. Lucky break, Richard.
I, too, had plenty of luck in writing this book. I only got Jose Mourinho because Chelsea’s director of communications Steve Atkins was a government ex-colleague, our spokesman at the U.K. embassy in Washington when I was U.K. government director of communications and strategy. I was lucky, when deciding to write about the brilliant Obama 2008 campaign, that his digital architect Joe Rospars was working for Labour in the U.K. and able to vouch for me with David Plouffe and David Axelrod and the like. I only got Anna Wintour because her brother, political journalist Patrick, told her that for all my reputation as some kind of cross between Machiavelli and Thomas Cromwell (copyright historian David Starkey), she could trust me.
Perhaps the greatest stroke of luck came as a result of that interview, which led me inadvertently to Mayweather, high on my list of desired interviewees because he didn’t actually know what professional defeat felt like. I came to New York to see Wintour. I was paying my own way, so put out a few feelers to see if I could get a couple of paid speaking gigs, the ludicrously lucrative world that opens up for those who leave frontline politics. Was it Al Gore or Madeleine Albright who once called it “white collar crime?” I landed one at a conference on sport and social media held at Yankee Stadium. I had to speak at a dinner in the evening and a seminar the following morning. It is where I met Jean Afterman. But it is also where I met another feisty American woman who in the post-dinner Q&A session asked me a really detailed and highly personal question—she had done her research—about how I had psychologically handled the transition from being someone with a full-on role in life and a clear mission, to the odd life I had now which, “come on, looks like fun but is surely meaningless compared with what you did before.” Given this dilemma is one that has troubled me on and off ever since I left Downing Street in 2003, as the fallout from the Iraq war took its political toll, and my partner Fiona’s hatred of the job I was doing took a personal toll, her question kept me awake all night, tossing and turning in my bed in the Grand Central Hyatt.
Exhausted, I saw her at the conference the next morning and asked her how she had managed to get right into the inner wirings of my psyche, and trouble me as she did? I asked—it is often the case when people ask really deep and personal questions—“Was it really about something to do with you?” She smiled, shook her head, and said, “No, not me, my boss. I am worried what he does and how he will fare after he stops doing what he does.” Her name was Kelly Swanson, the most powerful woman in boxing. Her boss is Floyd Mayweather. I said, “The least you can do for keeping me awake all night is get me an interview with him.” She did. Luck.
Mayweather. Mourinho. It is amazing how many winners’ names begin with M. Angela Merkel features in this book as, in my view based on seeing a lot of world leaders close up, the best of the current crop. The three people I have ever met who have made my hair stand to attention on my neck when I met them are Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, and Diego Maradona. M & Ms. I want a cut of their next ad campaign of all the Ms in this book eating M & Ms candy, as I believe you call “sweets.” Which brings me the piece of luck that leads me to be able to say, as I do to someone literally every day, “I am the only person you will ever meet who has played football with Pele and Maradona.” Strange. But true. And of Maradona, the best ever footballer to my mind, much more later…
When I first decided to write this new introduction for this American edition, I feared I would have to begin with something I am never keen on giving—an apology to a Conservative politician. As you will see in the chapter on strategy, I see U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron as a leader we should study for how not to do strategy. I explain why in my assessment he failed to win a majority in 2010 when frankly victory was laid out on a plate for him. So I spent much of the 2015 campaign labeling him a loser and warning he could become a historical footnote as the only prime minister never to win an election. Then, against the odds, he won an unexpected parliamentary majority. “So will you apologize?” I hear you ask. Well, no, I have decided not to.
Why, other than naked tribalism and sour grapes? He did indeed win five years after becoming PM despite failing to secure a majority. But he is never, and even his best friends would agree, going to be in the same league as three-time election winners like Tony Blair or Margaret Thatcher, or a Merkel or Mandela, let alone the historic giants who figure in these pages like Winston Churchill or, my all-time campaigning hero and my all-time political hero respectively, Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln.
Also, having spent some time analyzing the last U.K. election, my belief is that it was less a case of Cameron winning than his main opponents, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the U.K. Independence Party, losing. Yes, he won power, this time with a majority, and fair play to him, I guess. Also, though Tony kept his counsel during the campaign, he did warn me often that we were underestimating Cameron. He would call and email me in the final days and weeks, and say, “Am I losing my judgment here? Why is everyone saying Cameron is on his way out?” I also know that another former member of the TB inner circle made a lot of money betting on a Tory majority when the odds were in double figures, more than 10-1.
So Cameron “won.” But as I explain later, winning sometimes requires definition, and if there was one winner in our election, seen through the prism of the rules of winning I set out ahead, it was Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon—and she was not even standing herself. She was leading her party from Edinburgh to one the most remarkable Westminster election stories of my lifetime—a once-tiny rump party taking 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats. It was a tsunami that may yet lead to the breakup of the U.K. And it was in part fueled by the prime minister’s response to the independence referendum of September 2014.
For weeks he had been taking advice from us in the Labour Party, and other non-Tories involved in the “Better Together” campaign to save the Union. He is not stupid and he knew both that as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party he had to get involved but also that he and his Party were so toxic in Scotland that there was a danger any appearance would lose more support than it gained. So his team asked for, and took, advice from political enemies—I found myself at one point drafting a section of a speech I later saw him deliver word for word. Also, it ultimately took one of his biggest enemies, his predecessor as PM, Gordon Brown, to stem the independence flow with the speech of his life. So Cameron was grateful and asking for advice to the end. When it was clear we would win, and independence would lose, we suggested to Cameron that his response should be as follows: A dignified statement outside Number 10. No triumphalism. A message to the effect that 55-45, just a year after polls suggested the “No” campaign would win by at least 70-30, was too close for comfort. Followed by quote, which I drafted, on the following lines:
“I do not think it is healthy for our country that such an important part of the U.K. has so many people who wish to leave and go their own way. We may have won the vote. But we have lost something very precious when so many of our people feel their own country is not for them. The campaign has been hard, the arguments passionate. Some brutal things have been said on all sides. And now is the time for healing. But for me, as the leader of the country whose unity we have saved, it is also a time for listening. I want to know why we have gone so wrong, not us the Conservatives alone but us the country, the U.K., us Westminster, us a Union that we cherish because it has served us so well for so long, made us better culturally, stronger economically and diplomatically. We must not put that at risk. So I intend to start by traveling north in the next few days and talking not just to the SNP leaders who ran us so close, and whose analysis I want to hear, but above all those who shifted from No to Yes. We need to find out why they deserted us and learn from that how we win the back.”
That is the advice we fed in. And what did he do? Without so much as a word of consultation with Gordon Brown, or Alistair Darling, who had headed up the “No” campaign, or any of his Scottish Tory colleagues so far as I could tell, he went out with the basic message—“Right, you have had your fun, we have promised you a few new powers up there to swing last minute waverers, but actually because there are more seats to win down here than up there, the big issue now is ‘English votes for English laws.”’ It became known as EVEL. Change the second vowel from E to I and you’ve got the measure of how awful that was.
Now it may be that Tony is right, that I have underestimated Cameron and in fact he is a modern-day Machiavelli, deliberately fueling Scottish anger that would be turned less against his own party which barely exists up there, and more against ours for fighting alongside them in the campaign. And perhaps he is a man of such foresight that he could see that come the election the polls would show the likeliest outcome as being a Labour minority government kept on life support by the SNP, and he wanted to shape the politics of that accordingly so that once it happened undecided voters would shift to the Tories in their droves for fear of these Scottish barbarians piling over the border to drive up taxes and steal the proceeds.
Then again it might have been another internal party management tactic which served only to help the SNP strategy, which is the long game to independence.
Back to luck, though. Just as Tony Blair was lucky in some of his opponents, so was Cameron. Because for all the many fine qualities he had, Ed Miliband played into the two main planks of the Tories’ election strategy devised by Australian Lynton Crosby—and on this they did have clarity, to be fair—namely the economy and leadership.
On the economy, we took so long to elect a new leader after Gordon Brown left office that the newly elected coalition government had months in which to hammer home the message—unrebutted by leadership candidates fighting to project themselves as something different to what went before—that the economic mess causing them to make difficult tax and spending decisions was all Labour’s fault. Once Ed was leader, partly because he saw himself as having won as the discontinuity candidate, partly because he felt he had to focus on the future not the past, and partly because he and his team were actually undecided about what they actually thought and how to express it, he never properly rebutted the charge. Here, the advice I gave was a message that people were better off under Labour than the Tories, who always looked after their own. That for ten years we had a good economic record delivering rising growth and prosperity. That it all ended badly because of a bunch of largely American shysters who have taken the world and its leaders and economic systems for a ride. And now it is going to take progressive leadership to fix it.
Instead, Ed emphasized the acceptance of the charge that we under-regulated the banks, seeming to echo the charge it was all our fault. He did not adequately point out that the Tories had backed our spending pre the crash, and actually called for even less regulation of the banks. Nor did he adequately defend the great things the New Labour government had done because he felt Gordon was seen as tainted by the crash and the election defeat, and because Tony’s reputation had taken a hammering over Iraq.
They also felt that in the wake of the crash the world and the country had moved left. That was a strategic misjudgment. Added to which some of his more influential advisers were desperate to show that they could win without having to rely on what they saw as the New Labour playbook. It was as though our greatest winner was like a virus, and it continues to harm Labour’s prospects of recovery. Until we grow out of it, in my view, there will be no way back. This is not about a return to New Labour or Blairism, because we are in a different age already, with new challenges calling for new ideas. But it is a call to stop harping on about the lessons of defeat and learn a few simple, basic, timeless lessons from winners.
As to why we ended up thinking we might win, here I urge you to study the chapter on Formula One. In F1 they use data to drive performance and innovation, from the perspective that no matter how fast the car went, it can always go faster. You can look at the record books to show the success of that approach. In politics there is a tendency to look for the data that fits the view of the world as we want it to be, not the world as it is. There was a lot of that in the last two Labour election campaigns and it helped Cameron to a decade in power that I am not convinced he fully deserved. So when Ed’s ratings rose a little, his team would be happy. But what was the base? And was he ever going to catch Cameron?
Elections—cliché alert—are won in years, not weeks. Ed campaigned well in the closing weeks. But we never properly fought back on the economy and we never truly recovered from the moment the public felt the party had picked the wrong leader. That is not to deny Ed Miliband had strengths. But the non-politically active public couldn’t really understand why we didn’t elect his brother David, more experienced, more centrist, more charismatic.
We then spent five years in strategic no man’s land, the party in a never-ending dialogue with a public who kept saying we had chosen the wrong one and we were reduced to saying he is not as bad as the media say. The Tories, the media, and eventually the public saying we had crashed the economic car and our failure to fight back resulted in a key moment, a high-profile TV grilling by the public, with Ed being asked if we had spent too much. He gave, to my mind, a reasonable reply—No—but the framework for that debate was built so poorly that it led to the audience groan and Ed could not get to the second part of what would have been a good answer: namely, that the reasons for excessive spending towards the end were because we had to bail out banks who even now were screaming that they want a Tory government because that way they can continue to make sure that they get away with their crimes and catastrophic greed, with people on low and middle incomes paying the price. I honestly do hate saying, “I told you so,” but I have a drawer full of memos to this effect spanning five years. To this day I don’t know why he wouldn’t listen.
So the Tories had their two strategic planks well hewn: leadership—Cameron does at least look and sound the part (and never forget his Eton school for toffs has produced more prime ministers than the Labour Party)—and the economy. So strongly did the myth develop that Labour had caused the crash that, as again I and others warned many times, the Tories would only need a small level of growth to be able to claim ownership of the politics of the economy.
If you have economy and leadership in your favor, then you really have to be bad to screw it all up. Crosby and former Obama aide Jim Messina—I still can’t get my head around someone helping the Democrats and then the Tories, but hey ho—gave them a strategic discipline they had lacked in 2010 when Cameron flitted around as a strategic butterfly. We were all shocked when the exit poll showed the Tories doing better than expected. But only because of expectations. It didn’t take me long to get over the shock. Five years of hearing people echo the Tory message about the economy and leadership made it obvious looking back what was going to happen.
As I write this, Labour are in the midst of a leadership election campaign to elect Ed’s successor. It will be settled before the book is published. I would rather we had the election at the end of a debate about defeat rather than as a substitute for one.
I hear a lot from senior Labour figures about learning the lessons of defeat. I want to scream sometimes, “Why not learn the lessons of victory?” Instead of inhaling and digesting the media and public negativity about Tony Blair, why not learn some simple lessons?
You have a chance of winning if you have a good, strong leader capable of appealing to people from the top of the economic ladder to the bottom, and from every region, too; a good team around the leader—and you have to make sure you get the best you can get or else, as Jack Welch puts it, you shortchange yourself. You need a clear and compelling strategy that shows an understanding of the world and of the lives of people who live in your part of it. You need a mindset that hates the comfort zone and is always restless, challenging and innovative, open to new ideas and new people. You need resilience and the ability not just to endure setback but to emerge stronger from it. We had all of that, and there are lessons for tomorrow’s Labour leaders to take on board.
Sounds easy but of course it isn’t. Also there are not many Blairs or Clintons or Merkels who come along with their very special qualities so self-evident. But the charisma and the star quality is the cream on top. The things I described make up the core. The Tories were not that great at them. But they were better in 2015 than in 2010. And we were if anything worse in 2015 than 2010. Harsh but true. And it has to be said because if we make the same mistakes next time we will lose again next time, and possibly the time after that, too.
And if we keep on losing one day we will be gone. To anyone who thinks that is over the top, look at Scotland and ask yourself why, on a recent visit to my brother in Glasgow, a council traffic warden shook me by the hand and said, calmly but politely, that he had voted Labour all his life but “you lot are finished up here.” He said it would happen in England, too, if a real alternative could be found. “We have one and we will stick with it.”
Writing all this reminds me of so many conversations I had with Dave Brailsford, the man who transformed British cycling from also-rans to best in the world. He is not overly political, but during the last Parliament used to start virtually every conversation with the words, “Have you changed your leader and your strategy yet?” I would say politics is more complicated than running a bike team. He would say, “Maybe, but one thing is the same. If you know someone can’t win, you get someone else.” Wise words. Next time round, if we are limping towards another defeat, then we should heed them with action.
As to why I am saying all this now it is because if we elect a leader who, in two or three years, turns out not to be up to it, then I for one will not bite my tongue as over the past decade but will instead try to help force a process to change them. I have always been a big believer in unity. But it has to be unity of purpose around big goals and ideas not unity around a collectively induced delusion that we are heading for victory when any cool calm analysis would take you to a different view. We said it to each other again and again. I said it sometimes, often in fact, including to Ed Miliband. But he had been elected leader and entitled to stay his course and to pursue the strategy he thought best. I am a Labour loyalist and so I went to help, as I had with Gordon. This time I will keep my counsel as to who I will back. I will wish the winner well. But if it becomes clear they can win the leadership but have no chance of taking the country then I will not hesitate to speak and act upon that insight.
I had a similar failing—too many wishes and desires trumping strategic thought—in my analysis when Hillary Clinton stood against Barack Obama. I think her team made the same mistake. I wanted her to win because I knew her, liked her, respected her and, as athlete Haile Gebrselassie says in the final chapter, “It would be great to have women leaders in charge in America and Europe.” I think Team Hillary ended believing their own propaganda—that Obama was too inexperienced, too elitist, not the man to trust in a crisis and let’s be frank—Hillary knew all about those! I talk to her husband about the worst of them, personally at least, in the chapter on crisis management.
What they didn’t realize quickly enough as they trashed Obama in the primaries was that he was coming over to the public as something very special. By the time they woke up to that, and sought to adapt, it was too late. He was on a roll and they were catching up as he—my favorite phrase when it comes to describing strategy—made the weather on his terms.
For the chapter on innovation I talked to cinema and theater legend Kevin Spacey, a winner not least because of the role Netflix and especially his House of Cards sensation have played in transforming entertainment and how we consume it. I have known Spacey since the mid ’90s and have loved seeing his rise and rise, including the brilliant job he did reviving the Old Vic theatre in London, for which he has been made an honorary “Sir.” I have talked with him often about politics—including on a bizarre visit to McDonald’s in the English coastal town of Blackpool with Bill Clinton, who was over for our Party conference.
I said to him when we were in Boston discussing House of Cards last year, “Have you ever Googled Obama and the word disappointment?” He countered with, “Have you ever Googled Obama and achievement?” He went on to explain that in his view Obama had not been a disappointment but that the Republicans, having lost the White House, were determined to make sure he enjoyed no bipartisan success whatsoever. He sees any disappointment in Obama as a disappointment in the political system. Maybe he has a point. Most democracies are struggling right now to maintain support for and effectiveness in their politics.
Viewed from the U.K., where politics is in a mess of its own, American politics looks to be in a bigger mess, too. It is hard to see where the change and the churn will come from but surely come it must. To coin a phrase, “You cannot go on like this,” not as China and India position themselves to be the real geostrategic winners in history’s next chapters.
Meanwhile, a Britain emerging from the most parochial election campaign I can remember, with a government taking us to the margins of Europe and cutting defense spending to the bone, helps its own continuing losing curve. It makes my blood boil.
In the meantime the reason I wanted people in politics to read this book is to learn from the best of business and the best of sport. One of the motivations was the hope Labour politicians would not just read it but absorb it in time for the election. I guess they were too busy.
Politics has a superiority complex it needs to come to terms with. So does business. Businessmen and -women look at elite sport as something from which to make money and with which to be associated through marketing and sponsorship. Politicians tend to look at sport as something that can make people healthy, make a country or a town feel good, and make them look good when they get to pitch a ball or invite a winning team to the White House or Downing Street.
But what few people in business and politics ever do is really try to learn from how the best in sport get to be the best and stay the best. That is what I have tried to do in traveling the world to research Winners And How They Succeed. I have been lucky in the people I have worked with in all three spheres. I have been lucky in the people who have talked to me for this book. I have learned so much. I hope that others do, too. To be brutally frank, as the waves of change lap around us, and the lapping feels like it may turn to a lashing and then a hurricane, I think we need to.
Alastair Campbell was the press secretary under Tony Blair and was his official spokesman and director of communications from 1994 to 2003. A graduate of Cambridge University, Campbell continued to act as an adviser to Blair and the Labour Party through the 2005 election campaign. Campbell is the author of The Blair Years. He lives in London.