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Trailblazer Mike McIntyre in the iconic black hoodie
Discover how you, like Trailblazer Mike McIntyre, can learn new technology to find success with Salesforce.
Trailblazer Story

This Olympic Gold Medalist Used Continuous Learning To Change His Business

Now Trailblazer Mike McIntyre is sharing tips that’ll help you learn new skills and grab new opportunities.

The best business lessons Trailblazer Mike McIntyre ever learned came while he was on a 22-foot sailboat.

Ten months before the 1988 Olympic Games, he got a call inviting him to partner with another British sailor and compete in the Star class, a boat that is among the most complicated in the world to learn how to race. It was very different from the smaller boat class Mike had competed in for most of his life and was supposed to take 10 years to learn.

Mike not only embraced the challenge – he won a gold medal for Team GB.

From gold medalist to Salesforce Partner

All these years later, he’s still talking about seizing opportunities and learning new skills quickly, only now it’s as a Salesforce Partner. Mike is managing director and co-founder of Xenogenix, a highly-rated Salesforce consultancy based in southern England.

The company launched in 2002 doing general business-process consulting but reinvented itself 5 years later after becoming a Salesforce customer. Mike saw the potential of the platform then – and the need for companies to learn how to tailor it to their needs.

That is probably the biggest single opportunity I’ve ever seen and grabbed with both hands. It was a complete change of the business.

Learning how to use new technology, Mike realized, can feel as daunting to some people as trying to master the Star class. By continuing to add to his skill set with Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, and by becoming multiple Salesforce-certified, Mike is able to show other companies how to make Salesforce work for them.

It all starts with opening their eyes to the potential of the technology. The most successful clients Mike serves take an end-to-end view of their companies and use Salesforce to break down barriers between departments. “There’s a big opportunity for a lot of businesses to embrace that approach more,” he said.

Want to learn more from Mike? Here are a few lessons from his Team GB experience that you can apply to your Salesforce success today.

Be ready to grab opportunities

Mike, who competed in a different boat at the 1984 Olympic Games, likened the lesson to the one he imparted on his daughter, Eilidh, shortly before she left to compete for Team GB in sailing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

“When you’re out there in the regatta, there are going to be opportunities coming your way and you need to be open to them, looking for them, and you need to grab them with both hands,” he said. “And that’s quite a good thing to carry into business as well. The businesses need to be continually looking for ways to do things better.”

Eilidh McIntyre went on to win a gold medal in the 470 class

Embrace continuous learning

By 1987, it would have been easy for Mike to consider the learning phase of his sailing career finished. He had won multiple national championships in the Finn class and could have simply focused on competing in what he already knew. It took a learner’s mindset to win gold – which Mike believes is even more important when working with technology.

Particularly with the Salesforce Platform, there’s always a better way. The platform’s changing all the time.

He cited Salesforce Flow – an application that helps users automate business processes – as one example of a product he thought he knew, only to see its capabilities expand dramatically.

Focus on what matters

The biggest lesson Mike took from his sailing experience was the value of identifying and prioritizing which learning tasks are truly essential. He didn’t know everything about the Star boat in 10 months – but he mastered the aspects of it he needed to win a race. Today, he tells employees to apply that idea on Trailhead.

You can definitely speed up and slow down your learning process on Trailhead, depending on how familiar you already are with the subject.

He shared, “So I think the important thing is to really identify the key things that you need to learn and find the right modules and trailmixes to actually just learn that information.”

Leverage your network

To learn new skills quickly, everyone needs a little help sometimes. 

In 1988, Mike found it by leaning on his teammate’s network within the sailing community. They enlisted a Dutch training partner who was good at sailing in heavy winds and a German who excelled in light winds to prepare for different weather conditions. “They didn’t really see us as a threat, so they would tell us things they wouldn’t tell anyone else,” he said.

The dynamic is similar within the Trailblazer Community, only you don’t need to lean on existing relationships. Trailblazers provide a built-in support network for each other, often helping strangers with questions large and small.


Follow Mike on the Trailblazer Community at trailblazer.me/id/mmcintyre8.

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