Dee Caffari – Top of Her Game Launch Transcript

00:00 Christina Ioannidis: So, thanks so much for joining us, Dee, on our inaugural Top of Her Game. It’s really, really difficult to summarize your career having been so varied and so interesting. Can you instead tell us your three biggest high points or achievements?

00:20 Dee Caffari: Well, as you say, I’ve been very fortunate to have some pretty cool things happen, but I guess what really launched my recent activities is probably the highlight of completing my first solo circumnavigation, which happened to be what’s regarded as the runway around the world, and as a result of doing something kind of a little bit far field, I was then led me to my second achievement, which was to go to Buckingham Palace and receive an MBE in recognition of my services for sailing, and then as far as a competitor and on a professional level was taking on the highly competitive Vendée Globe which is like the pinnacle of solo nonstop sailing. I think they’re my three highlights to date, but I’m hoping to add to them.

01:12 CI: That’s fantastic. Hoping to that you add to them too. Wow! How can anyone top that? [chuckle] So, now turning it to a slightly different question. What have been the most challenging experiences you have experienced in your solo sailing being so long, so far away, on your own?

01:33 DC: Well, I think I’ve been more the case is when you set off for a new adventure and you have an idea, it’s actually making it happen, getting to the start line. And in my case, a lot of that is finding the sponsorship and the support to make it happen, and then of course we all know that process of getting to that start line on that first day or that opening of the door, is quite emotionally and financially difficult and can be quite tiring, and for me, I put myself out of my comfort zone, out there being quite firm and that time away from loved ones and from immediate support is quite challenging. But I know that on the periphery, you’ve got people massively supporting you, and I think the other thing that is sometimes hard is continuing to push hard for what you want to achieve when you see other’s suffering along the way and see that fellow competitors, other businesses or people in a similar environment to you that things aren’t going too well for, it’s so hard to make yourself jump and push as hard as you can to do what you want to do because that could have been you.

02:47 CI: So, then how do you manage to kind of build resilience or endurance to withstand such challenges?

02:57 DC: It’s always the hardest thing I think to build that resilience and endurance. I think those two words are just amazing and cover so many aspects be it emotional, physical, psychological, and certainly, it’s definitely all about the training, putting in the hard work beforehand and taking advice. Just working with experts in the relevant areas, so not expecting any individual to have all the answers, but you need to be prepared to go and listen to those whose advice you value and seek knowledge from elsewhere. And for me, it’s always the case I try and get to that start line having trained a greater distance than for what I’m about to race for. So, it’s all about going through the what if scenarios, preparing for the worst, that you train hard and then race easy. That’s a good philosophy to follow.

03:54 CI: Wow. That’s a fantastic philosophy. I think that will be one of our hashtags as a result of this chat. So, you’ve gone through major transitions in your career and you had a very different career path before becoming a solo sailor. What are the key success factors for you in going through such major transitions?

04:21 DC: I often talk about my decision to change careers and for me, it was all about making the most of opportunity, and I think the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is opportunities come along all the time, and the biggest decision you have to make is deciding which ones to take. And so, if an opportunity arises, focus on it. For me, also I think the biggest impact on my success has been finding the right team to help make it happen, and it’s not just about getting people good at their jobs, but getting the right team around you and then trusting them to do their job. So, hiring the people around you, see what they’re good at, so that then you can get on with the job you want to do. So, I’m a solo sailor, but I couldn’t have done it without the team of support and the people around me that have helped make it happen, that’s for sure.

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