What we can learn from the Bulldogs

October 4, 2016


MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: The Western Bulldogs pose with the Premiership Cup after winning the 2016 AFL Grand Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs at Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 1, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)A couple of years ago, I recall sitting in the Western Bulldogs boardroom overlooking the Whitten oval. A long polished table separated me and the corporate leadership team as we discussed a project BOOM! had been awarded to deliver for their membership team.

Towards the end of this conversation, I directed a question to them; ‘If you could go back in time and tell the club leaders of the day, the Bulldogs will not win a Premiership for over 60 years—would that have changed the strategy and direction of the club?’

Their response was an unreserved, ‘yes.’ We proceeded to chat about what could have been done differently over that time. While there was no one definitive answer, this is a weighty question and the answers shed light on something all businesses can benefit from. What did the Bulldogs do differently to drive them to the ultimate success?


There are variables and countless people that contribute to a Premiership winning team, yet there are a number of critical ‘rocks’ that form the bedrock of the foundation. These rocks include: Appointing a young, relevant coach who cares from rival club Hawthorn—loaded with years of success IP. Passionate board members prepared to put skin-in-the-game and invest in the club. A smart recruiting department. The culture and effort of the playing group inc on and off field leadership. Lastly, the final rock… Belief!

When you infuse a group of young men (or any group of people for that matter) with a deep sense of belief, belief in themselves, and genuine belief they are writing history (the cause) you can see how not only the club, but its members and the broader community rally around the vision.

Western Bulldogs Success Rocks:
  • A strong team vision and belief in ‘the cause’  
  • Leaders who genuinely care and invest skin-in the game
  • Success IP, embedding proven strategies and tested tools
  • The right people – the art of recruiting and developing talent
  • A strong non-negotiable culture
  • Effort and a willingness to fight to the end.

The Western Bulldogs will ride high on this success for years to come. I dare say, there may not be a need for BOOM! this coming year, I have a sneaky suspicion the membership numbers will take care of themselves. One thing we know is—success breeds success, so the kennel will be bursting in 2017. Well done Bulldogs! #YearOfTheDog

Trent Leyshan is the founder of sales training company BOOM! Sales and author of Outlaw and The Naked Salesman

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Trent Leyshan

Trent Leyshan is founder and CEO of BOOM! Sales. Sales expert, sought after speaker and facilitator. He is the author of Outlaw & The Naked Salesman.

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