All Things Must Pass

Terrence Burns ©2015 I heard a podcast the other day by an esteemed economics professor in the US, stating that the President Bach’s Agenda 2020 reforms seem to “lack substance”. Perhaps his views are skewed towards the launch of his new book, but I will give him the benefit of doubt and assume his comments are his true perspective. He certainly did his homework, and then some, and a healthy debate benefits everyone.

I’d like to offer, however, another, more personal perspective.

The first time I set foot in the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland was in early September, 1996. I’d just joined a new company, Meridian Management SA, which was the then new marketing agency for the IOC, charged with managing the global TOP Sponsorship Program. It was a heady moment and a heady time.

I stayed with Meridian for almost five years, and I must say, it was probably the best job I ever had. Why did I leave? I get asked that a lot. At the time, I felt that the organization (the IOC) was structured in such a way that I could not be as effective as I wanted to be – or needed to be – in order to really make a positive difference assisting the IOC’s TOP Partners in their Olympic marketing efforts. In those days, the speed of decision making at the IOC was as slow as the Rhone Glacier that feeds the magnificent Lac Léman.

Fast-forward fifteen years. This week I attended two days of client meetings at the very same IOC headquarters. Nostalgia is a funny thing: it’s often well-intentioned but usually disappointing. This time, it did not disappoint – it blew me away.

The IOC headquarters and offices I visited were literally bursting with energy, momentum and a zeal for change that frankly, astonished me. Everyone looked under 30. Everyone was focused. Everyone was doing something else I’d never seen at the IOC headquarters – they were having fun. And, everyone was quoting president Bach and how telling us how each of their roles and responsibilities specifically tied to the Agenda 2020 reforms. I can assure the good professor, there is form AND substance going on at Chateau Vidy.

I left the meetings with my head spinning for a few reasons. One, it appears I was about 19 years too early when I first joined the IOC marketing team; timing, as they say, is everything (yes, I miss it). Second, if desire, activity and action are progress, then Agenda 2020 is well on its way. And lastly, I really, really envy those smiling, earnest, happy young faces working for the greatest brand in the world. I know how you feel, still.

I have no doubt they will get it right. Godspeed.