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Mark Hurd Talks Tennis with Sports Illustrated

Mark Hurd joined Beyond the Baseline host Jon Wertheim to talk tennis, business, and how they’re not so different. Recorded just after the U.S. Open, Mark and Jon opened the conversation discussing Serena Williams’ loss and the quality play they saw from Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Drawing comparisons between athletes and CEOs, Mark noted how the skills he developed as a college athlete at Baylor University have helped him as a CEO.

Time management was a key discussion component: managing schoolwork, additional leadership roles (Mark was president of Delta Phi Theta), and the travel schedule of tennis season required self-imposed structure. Mark also mentioned the similarities between how tennis and modern business are organized–described as “an individual sport in a team format,” tennis players perform individually but are part of a larger team.  They are trusted to own their role and execute accordingly. Mark emphasized the intensity and pacing needed to win when it’s just you out there.

If you’re not losing, you’re not playing.

Mark Hurd also asserted that no one wins all the time. Bringing a tough mental game and handling obstacles at a high level of competition are critical components of being a successful CEO:

The ability to deal with losing, with setbacks, and being able to turn those into opportunities for further victories… I mean that’s the key to successful athletes, it’s the key to successful businesspeople, all of us are dealing with the issues of continual challenges, and the ability to deal with those is what differentiates the great ones from the good ones.

Another topic that came up was Oracle’s contributions to collegiate tennis, something that Mark is proud to support. Referencing Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s support for the Indian Wells Masters tournament, Mark describes a “continuum of opportunity to build the sport” and points out how vital college tennis is to the broader tennis ecosystem as a means of developing talent. Similar to Oracle’s recruitment of college students, Mark states that there is good alignment of Oracle’s need for talented graduates and tennis’ need for dedicated athletes.

Visit Sports Illustrated to listen to the full interview

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