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Paul McGee – The SUMO Guy: From Living With M.E. To Helping Manchester City

On this week’s episode, I’m joined by motivational speaker and best-selling author Paul McGee, known by many as ‘The SUMO Guy’. Paul’s guiding philosophy of ‘Shut up and move on’ has helped him achieve major success as a public speaker, as he has toured schools, medical institutions, Premier League football clubs, businesses and forums globally over the past few decades. Paul and I are talking about how the ‘SUMO’ mantra has allowed him to effectively connect with and motivate people from all different walks of life, as well as the lessons he’s learned from working with football clubs such as Southampton, Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester City, with a couple of special mentions for Premier League legend James Milner.

Watch the full episode now, including highlights such as:

Paul on helping others for a living…

Darren: What was it that made you realise that you wanted to help other people?
Paul: The reality is, I’d had a high-flying job with a big multinational, and after 12 months I became ill with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, sometimes known as chronic fatigue syndrome) and I lost my job. I was ill for about 3 years and was forced to become self-employed, as nobody would hire me. I’d love to give you ‘I just have a passion and a heart to help people’ story, but honestly, I was just trying to survive.
Darren: That’s brutal honesty, I love that.

…on the origins of SUMO…

Darren: What was your reason behind the philosophy of ‘shut up and move on’?
Paul: My first year as a self-employed trainer, I turned over £2,300. I paid no tax and then my accountant (technically) sacked me, I suppose. I heard this phrase ‘SUMO’ that started off simply meaning ‘shut up and move on’, and so I started weaving it into some of my talks. Over time, I started to use the phrase to describe a set of ideas, tools and principles I had. I received feedback that this phrase had an impact on people, and it started to make who I was a bit more memorable. Being the ‘SUMO guy’ makes me a bit more memorable to people than just being this bloke called Paul McGee.

…on receiving help from others…

Darren: One of your philosophies or guides that really struck me as particularly significant was ‘seeking support from others isn’t a sign of weakness’. What does that mean to you?
Paul: If you find that you’re the smartest person in the room, you need to find another room. I’ve got no problem admitting I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer – I’m really comfortable with what my weaknesses are. Some people are the James Milner of business; the Mr. Consistent, jack of all trades. I’m not the jack of all trades; I’m just your winger, or the right back. I don’t have a problem asking for help from other people who are better at certain parts of business. You can’t do everything well all of the time.

…on working with football teams…

Darren: I can see why business leaders would want change within their business to improve profitability and staff morale. How does it work with football teams? How receptive are football clubs to this?
Paul: It’s all about relationship building and getting people to trust you, knowing that you’re not going to start blabbing off to other people about what they just told you. What we could do with always appreciating is that the football club isn’t just made up of the 11 players you see on the pitch. There could be several hundred people involved depending on the size of the team, and they’re all people who’ve got mortgages, who’ve got relationships, who may have problems in their marriages or issues with their children. People are people wherever they are. A problem could occur for a premier league footballer that could occur for someone who’s working as a nurse in the NHS.

…on his preferred industries to take part in

Darren: What of company or sector do you really want to work with?
Paul: I won’t lie, the idea of being flown out to Tenerife in February to speak at a conference for three days appeals to me a great deal. However, I like working with schools and I like working with the NHS because what they do really is making a difference in people’s lives. No offence, I’ll work with you if you’re a very wealthy merchant banker, but it probably doesn’t appeal to me as much as if you’re making a genuine difference to society and people’s lives. That very much dovetails with my values.

…on his aspirations before SUMO…

Darren: When you left school, what was it that you actually dreamed of being?
Paul: I dreamed of being an actor!But, I ended up working in a bank and I never went to drama school.
Darren: Is that something you’ve ever managed to rekindle?
Paul: Well, I either wanted to be an actor or a journalist. In many ways, I am a performer. Tomorrow, there’ll be 200 people in the room, Thursday there’ll be 500 people in the room. What I’m doing, it’s almost like a one-man stage show, and sometimes I even act out certain scenarios. In some ways, the desire to act has actually been fulfilled to some extent through my work and the desire to be a journalist has been fulfilled through me writing books.

…on his biggest accomplishments as a motivational speaker…

Darren: What’s the biggest success you’ve had in terms of helping them through either change or improvement?
Paul: I definitely can’t be accused of modesty here because I’ve sold over a quarter of a million books and spoken to over half a million people, so the reality is it would be very difficult to highlight one person in particular. There was one woman who was getting married as a result of hearing me speak. She broke up with her boyfriend thinking that fate may bring them back together in the future, but she decided to not leave her life up to fate, supposedly after hearing me talk!

Paul continues to do what he does best – helping as many people as possible to adapt to change and accomplish their goals, no matter the obstacles in their way. With the school year up and running once again, the SUMO guy will be gracing many an assembly hall to inspire today’s youth to overcome life’s struggles. Paul is also active on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and, finally, TikTok, so go and check out his video content over there as well.

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