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You Gotta Go Through the Storm to Get To the Sun

7 min to read
You Gotta Go Through the Storm to Get To the Sun

At this year’s PMGO 6.0 virtual event, our CEO Sergey Portnov sat down with Conor McGregor, MMA legend and Parimatch ambassador, to find out more about the man outside the UFC Octagon – the entrepreneur, the family man, the human being. Conor gave insights into his personal life which he rarely shares with the public, and showed us the mindset which makes him a champion.

Without question, this year has brought significant difficulty on many levels. Lives have been changed, businesses have shut down and human connection has been replaced by online conversations as the coronavirus pandemic has turned the world we once knew on its head. When faced with his own challenges, whether in sport or in business, Conor maintains that he is an optimist, and that opportunity can be found even when faced with the toughest adversity.

There’s always an opportunity to adapt. All business sectors are being forced to look at their ways and evolve, and that’s only a good thing. I look at this year as an opportunistic year, there’s a lot of things moving and shaking, and you best believe that through this situation we are faced with, you will see some amazing, highly intuitive things take place.

Conor McGregor

As prominent businessmen in their fields, Sergey and Conor share the belief that it’s impossible to achieve true success without a tenacious, adaptable mindset. The next generation of leaders will need this positive mental attitude to dismantle the barriers presented before them. Everything starts with the mind, and as Conor explains – “the rest of it comes through work ethic, through fighting through the doubts and the storm, so to speak, and other people’s doubts upon you. This strengthens your own mind and then you’ll break through and succeed.”

However, big achievements don’t just come down to your psychological approach to them. Positive self-affirmation and being honest with yourself, like acknowledging your weaknesses and making plans to improve on them, will ultimately make you stronger. Conor’s all about simplifying it down – not overcomplicating or overthinking the process. He told Sergey how he practices self-control and discipline as powerful tools towards conquering the challenges which have previously caused him defeat in the UFC ring or personal issues elsewhere – “I must bring it back to the basics. I must look after my rest. I must look after my nutrition. I must treat my body and my mind like a temple, and then everything else falls into place.” Both men agree that healthy routines and consistent self-development can boost both athletic ability and business acumen.

With any career path chosen, it is important to have a solid starting point before working your way to the top. Conor accepts that “you can’t build something on an unstable foundation… it’s a hard fall when things start to crumble.” Likewise, in sport as in business, one knock-out does not always mean that you’re out for the count. You can’t give up and be passive in the pursuit of excellence, you’ve got to work for success and sustain your focus - “I’m fully committed to being the best version of myself – onwards and upwards we go”, explained Conor.

As CEO of Parimatch, Sergey appreciates the importance of surrounding yourself with a team of people who share your values and won’t distract you from reaching your full potential. As an athlete and a boss himself, Conor’s faith is that despite the coming-and-going of colleagues with the passing of time, “the cream always rises to the top.” Both men believe that leaders must lead by example, allowing their attitude and work ethic to filter through the team that surrounds them, and that dwelling on sources of negative energy is a waste of valuable time. Conor’s mother is a key source of inspiration for his own resilience, explaining how her strength and leadership within their family is something that he truly admires – “I saw my mother in this great light and I was in awe of it. I thought, I want to do that. That motivated me to go and correct myself.” As long as you can stay on top of your game, those around you will follow. As Sergey maintains – “don’t let others deflect their own insecurities onto you and get caught out by the external forces trying to throw you off-course. Indifference is a powerful as defensiveness.”

Despite their consensus on the role of a leader, Sergey and Conor acknowledged the duty of modern leaders to not be ruled by ego, and to be open-minded individuals. Whether it’s a karate coach disrespecting another practice in Conor’s sport of mixed martial arts, or members of a company’s leadership team not cooperating with their colleagues in Sergey’s area of business, “we must all keep that beginner’s mindset” explains Conor, as “to be a leader, you must be an amazing student.” Our commitment to constant learning will only benefit us in the long term.

PM GO 6.0 Join the Fight

PM GO 6.0 Join the Fight

PM GO 6.0 Join the Fight. Backstage

PM GO 6.0 Join the Fight. Backstage

Using the PMGO 6.0 interview as an opportunity to ask the questions we all want to know, Sergey pressed Conor on his investment ventures, aside from his co-ownership of Proper No.12 Whiskey. Alongside The Mac Life Media and his McGregor FAST coaching business, Conor is involved in property development initiatives and has several others in his investment portfolio. However, much like his attitude to life, Conor has no care for anything which he doesn’t excite him - “As far as stocks and bonds, I don’t engage in any of that…it’s not really related to me to be honest, to be putting my money into things that I’m not interested in or that I have no passion towards.” With Parimatch having transformed from physical bookmakers’ shops to a cutting-edge online betting platform, Sergey and Conor are firm believers that tech is the future. Conor is working with experts in America to scale-up his fitness business and tap into consumer patterns and preferences through data analytics, as Sergey looks to the future of the betting industry with AI and blockchain technologies at the top of the agenda. Investment in tech is a focus area shared by both business leaders, looking to keep up with their customers’ evolving needs.

Although Conor retired from UFC earlier this year, it’s clear he has no plans to slow down. As a father-of-two, an owner of multiple businesses and a Parimatch ambassador, he chooses to only give his energy to the things which really mean something to him. As PMGO 6.0 drew to a close, Conor told Sergey: “I highly admire Parimatch. I’ve had great work with yourself, I have a very close relationship with yourself and it’s beyond anything, even business. I admire how you carry yourself and I admire the traits you have within yourself. I admire your empathy, your calmness and your passion.”

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