How Canadian athletes win friends and influence people

Even Olympians can benefit from personal development, Dale Carnegie-style

June 27th, 2019 by | Posted in The Scene | Tags: , , , , ,

As most elite track athletes know, careers don’t last forever, and many are cut short by injury or dwindling success. Still, trying to prepare for life after the track can be daunting for those who spend most of their time training. The folks at AthletesCAN, the independent Canadian organization that represents and advocates for athletes, know this better than anyone, which is why they’ve made it possible for athletes to get a little help from Dale Carnegie.

That’s right–the guy who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People, which was first published in 1936. Carnegie died in 1955, but his name lives on in some of the most popular and effective human development courses in the world. Last weekend in Toronto, 13 Canadian athletes, including sprinter and two-time Olympian Segun Makinde, took advantage of the opportunity to learn some important personal skills that they can carry into their post-athletic careers, with a Dale Carnegie course entitled Effective Communications and Human Relations.

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Makinde, who is 27, was born in Nigeria but emigrated to Canada with his parents when he was a baby, and grew up in Ottawa, where he went to university and still lives. He was on the Canadian men’s 4x100m relay team that went to London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, and he’s hoping to make his third Olympic team and go to Tokyo in 2020. He also won gold in the 200m at the 2013 Jeux de la Francophonie.

“Track and field has been a really big part of my life up til now, and will continue to be,” Makinde told us in a phone interview today, “but thinking ahead, I know I can’t run forever.” He was surfing AthletesCAN’s programs on its website, and when he saw the Dale Carnegie course, he remembered having heard about it from fellow Canadian sprinter, Sam Effah.

“He really enjoyed it,” Makinde says. “It really helped him, so I decided to check it out.” He was selected to participate, and spent an intensive three-day weekend learning and practising principles of leadership and breaking the barriers to communication that typically prevent people, including athletes, from realizing their potential.

“The course pushes you out of your comfort zone in what you believe about yourself and how you think,” says Makinde. “I learned that everyone is a leader, and it’s about finding your leadership and pushing the boundaries of what you think you can do.”

Makinde has an entrepreneurial bent, and hopes to start a business helping people tap into their inner Olympian, once his days on the track are done.

“Going to the Olympics is way more than just going to the Olympic Games,” he adds. “You still have to compete–you have to go to another level, and sometimes it’s tough to figure out how to go to that next level within yourself. It applies across the board, to everybody in whatever type of profession or job they’re in, going to that next level in terms of being leaders. The people who participated, we thought we communicated pretty well, but we can always go a bit deeper.”