active CEO Podcast #38 Chris McCormack Transforming The Business of Triathlon

Chris McCormack – 4x World Triathlon Champion / Co-Founder Super League Triathlon

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns speaks with four-time World Triathlon Champion, Chris McCormack about ceo performance; growing up in Sydney; lessons learnt in triathlon and business; balancing patience with commercial decisions; winning on a world stage; and transitioning from sportsperson to businessperson. We also delve into what makes a high performance CEO; thinking anything is possible; and his successful team approach that has led to IRONMAN Hawaii World Championship titles as well as leading MaccaX, MaccaNow, Thanyapura, Bahrain Endurance 13, Super League Triathlon and MINC Group.

Chris McCormack

Chris McCormack is a four-time world triathlon champion, successful entrepreneur and one of the smartest brains in the sport industry. Born in Cronulla, Sydney, Australia, Chris graduated from the University of New South Wales, Australia, with a Bachelors degree in Economics.

With a win rate of greater than 76%, he has won more than 250 triathlon events around the globe, since 1993 when he switched from running to triathlon. Chris won the coveted Hawaii Ironman World Championships in 2007 and 2010, as well as the 1997 ITU World Triathlon Champs and 2012 ITU World Long Distance Triathlon Championships.

Alongside his phenomenal sporting career, he has also led some of the world’s most exciting sport projects including Thanyapura, Bahrain Endurance 13 and most recently co-founded the game-changing Super League Triathlon. Macca, as he is more commonly known, is a pioneer in the sports industry, with a New York best-selling book “I’m Here to Win’.

The MaccaNow Foundation was established, in honor of his mother Theresa McCormack, to help the fight against Breast Cancer. As an entrepreneur he established MaccaX, an integrative platform to give athletes of all abilities the chance to learn from the world’s best, and also MINC Group where he consults on world-leading integrative projects.

Chris talks about:

  • Why his father was so determined that his three boys got the start in life that he didn’t have.
  • Getting into triathlon with Sean Maroney, while on a University of NSW run scholarship.
  • Quitting his professional triathlete dream to finish university and get a job at Bankers Trust.
  • Wanting to pursue a dream in seeing the world and through the eyes of a triathlete.
  • Naivety, freedom of belief and the non-pollution of focusing on what is possible.
  • Living the golden era of triathlon by chance, by birth year and by falling into the sport.
  • Idolising Rob De Castella, Mark Occhilupo, Steve Moneghetti and Sebastian Coe as a child.
  • The influence that successful businessmen, Tony Pritzker and Chris Parker had on his career.
  • Being let down by his triathlon friends who didn’t believe in Super League Triathlon
  • The transition from athlete to businessmen.
  • Surrounding himself with a team of specialists Mark Allen and Stuart O’Grady.
  • Applying the team approach at Thanyapura, with the Royal Family of Bahrain and Super
  • His Ironman triathlon rivalries, with Norman Stadler and Craig Alexander.
  • Confidence is important in business, but you realise you are not the champion in the room.
  • You have to pick your fights, as business is strategy more than competitiveness.
  • Why athletes struggle with managing energy in business because they always had triggers.
  • A high performing CEO is an amazing communicator, therapist and vision creator.
  • The courage to identify with his daughter and say that I am very proud of what you do and I think you are remarkable and how can I be a part of that.
  • Why isn’t life fair?
  • His dad, Michael Gilliam, Susan Kraeftner & Andrew Murphy having influence on his life
  • Creating the MaccaNow Foundation in memory of his mother who had breast cancer.

Active CEO Wellness Tip                                                       

Leaders Are Teachers – It’s important that we continue to evolve both ourselves, from a learning point of view, and those around us. The best leaders continue to teach as it not only is good stewardship, but it also challenges them to learn more. Never let the music die inside of you.


“People may think that it’s a stupid idea, but I think I am going to do it anyway. Someone’s got to do it. If it is a stupid idea, who cares, as there’s no punishment for it. You don’t get whipped and go to jail for the rest of your life. I don’t know why you wouldn’t make that step, why you wouldn’t try.” Chris McCormack isn’t afraid of giving something a try, on the active CEO Podcast.

“In any start-up the work ethic is out of this world, however the flexibility is exciting. Some people can exist in a start-up and some can’t. I thrive in them and love them. I love the dynamic nature, flexibility and the decisions that you can make that can take you from left to right in an instant, the downs, the highs and I think that comes from sport.” The beauty of start-ups with Chris McCormack, on the active CEO Podcast.

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Chris McCormack
Chris McCormack LinkedIn
Chris McCormack Instagram
MX Endurance (MaccaX)
Super League Triathlon
Bahrain Endurance 13
Craig Johns
Craig Johns LinkedIn
Ben Gathercole LinkedIn
Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching

Recommended Reading:

I’m Here to Win – Chris McCormack
Better Than Winning – Ben Gathercole

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