August 4, 2007 – As another fiery Tour de France winds down, Bruno Rodi, 52, is preparing to cycle 3,425 km in 22 days, following the 20 stages of the Tour de France 2003. Rodi is not a cyclist driven by competition or prize money, but rather a successful businessman with a desire to achieve.
This is not surprising to Dr. Robert Udewitz, founder of Behavior Therapy of New York, and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Clinical Psychology at Fordham University, who treats athletes at all levels, both in and out of the boardroom. “It isn’t a great leap to go from a type-A executive lifestyle to participating in races once reserved for the super-elite. Executives are high stimulus seekers, with a powerful determination and the ability to get a team around them to support them. A lot of business executives see themselves as athletes in the workplace, talking about peak performance, quieting negative voices, staying focused, being goal oriented, and dealing with time management.”
Rodi was traveling in France last year when he thought of riding the Tour de France, “I thought – how hard can it be?” He sought out the best mentors to coach him to success and found Steve Bauer, an Olympic and world championship medalist known as the greatest Canadian road racer of our times. Bauer, who rode in the Tour de France for 11 consecutive years, recalls his first conversation with Rodi, “I told him to get himself and his bike over to the training camp immediately. When he responded with ‘I don’t have a bike’ – I thought we were in trouble,” says Bauer. “But he shipped a new bike over, we put it together, and he practiced riding it in the parking lot. Within two days he was training on mountains — I knew then that he had the mental perseverance it takes for anyone, amateur or professional, to do the Tour.”
The trend is not limited to North America. Last April, Stephane Lesoin, a senior manager at BearingPoint France, participated in the Marathon of the Sands, a 6-day, 156 mile ultra-marathon across the Sahara dessert. Lesoin said, “The Marathon of Sands is a true management race, not unlike the retail management projects I have overseen for the past 20 years. It combines a number of parameters: the foot race, orientation, stock management, and a meticulous preparation both physically and mentally. To manage one’s race is to make it successful.”
Born in a small Italian village, Rodi has always had a voracious appetite for exploring the world and pushing his limits. Starting in 1995, he climbed the seven highest summits of the world together with his son, Jason. The journey is captured in the documentary The Eye of the Son, which features a telling quote. When Jason tries to ponder with his father about why they are doing this, what motivates them, what is their internal drive, Rodi responds, “I don’t care about the reasons. I just want to achieve my goal – even if I need to crawl up to the top.”