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Ben Ikin is a former professional rugby league footballer who played 150 games in the NRL with the Gold Coast Seagulls, North Sydney Bears and Brisbane Broncos. Ben represented QLD 17 times and played 2 tests for Australia and still holds the record as the youngest player ever to play State of Origin football. Ben was also lucky enough to win a premiership with the Brisbane Broncos in the 2000 season.


Following a triumphant playing career, Ikin spent 5 years with the Nine Network working as a rugby league commentator and co-host of The Sunday Footy Show. Ben also worked for 10 years in various senior commercial roles in the property and construction industry but now works full time in the media with Foxsports and Crocmedia; he is also a director of the North QLD Cowboys and the Men of League Foundation.

In addition, he delivers a presentation with Robert Ford, State Director – Queensland, Corporate & Specialised Banking at Bankwest. Robert has 20 years experience as a senior executive of the banking industry and together Ben and Robert speak on “high performance teams and individuals”.

Ben is married to Beth and has four children.

 

In this episode we talk about:

  • Ben Ikin’s football career
  • The importance of loving what you do no matter what you do in life
  • How to deal with adversity
  • How injury and setbacks can become a challenge and a life lesson
  • How he began his media career
  • The importance of trust, alignment, and certainty when working in a team
  • The character traits of effective leaders
  • The power of self-believe
  • The power of hard work and a willingness to learn and improve
  • Learnings from sport that benefit business
  • The feedback loop to help you get you better
  • How he balances his personal life, business demands and commitments
  • The importance of balancing and scheduling a diary

 

Where to find Ben Ikin

 

Resources

Website: http://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nrl-on-fox/ben-ikin/story-fn5k30ac-1226284205628

 

Linkedin:   https://au.linkedin.com/in/ben-ikin-97936082

Transcript

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Jesse Green:      

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show. Today is an exciting day. We have a bona fide Rugby League legend with us, talking to us today. Very excited to hear Ben’s views on the world.

Ben Ikin is a football great. He’s been playing … Probably born with a football, I reckon because he played so much. He played first for three clubs, the Gold Coast Seagulls, of course, North Sydney Bears, my favourite team. My second favourite team is the mighty Brisbane Broncos. Not only that, Ben’s a Queensland State of Origin Player, with 17 starts for Queensland, and of course a couple of tests. Ben, welcome to this show, mate.

Ben Ikin:

Thanks, Jesse.

Jesse Green:

Mate, that’s a pretty impressive CV, I might add. I’ve never met anyone with a football pedigree like that before.

Ben Ikin:               

I have.

Jesse Green:      

I’m sure you’ve met a few, mate.

Ben Ikin:               

Some good mates, a lot of blokes who’ve got better numbers than I have. In fact, I joke with them sometimes. We’ll go down and do a public speaking engagement together, and I have to jump on Wikipedia and edit my numbers, just so I can sort of respectfully stand on the same stage.

Jesse Green:      

That’s fabulous, mate. Even with that, there’s some pretty impressive numbers. I’m just curious mate, you must’ve been born with a footy in your hand. You’ve been playing all your life? Did you start as a whippersnapper?

Ben Ikin:               

I started young, but it wasn’t my first sport, Rugby League. I started in IFL, actually here on the Gold Coast. I played for Palm Beach Currumbin, which is a side, a proud club it’s still in existence. I think Wayne Carey, the king, actually went and had a season for Palm Beach, at one point after he retired from the IFL. Then, after IFL I got into hockey. That was my winter sport of choice for a few years. My last year of primary school, at Currumbin State School, they started inter-school sport, and they only gave us the two options. One was Rugby League, and one was Netball.

Jesse Green:      

So Netball didn’t get a looking then?

Ben Ikin:               

No, my hand was kind of forced. It just so happened that particularly year, 1988, was the same year that the Gold Coast Giants, as they were back then, got introduced into the New South Wales Rugby League. So too, the Brisbane Broncos. I’m living in southeast Queensland on the Gold Coast, and there was much excitement around Rugby League. I had one season for the school. I went and joined the local footy club, the Seahawks and never looked back. I think I was 11 then, and played right through the age of 27, so I had much fun.

Jesse Green:      

That’s a fabulously long career. We’ll get into the path that you took throughout all that, but from the age of 11 to 27, that’s 16 years of playing footy. I guess, you know, in a way mate, you’ve been really lucky to make a career out of something that you obviously truly love. There’s not many people I know that get to do that. I think that’s a bloody good thing to be able to do, mate.

Ben Ikin:               

I feel really lucky and honoured to have something that I love doing, that I was passionate about, turn into a career for me. Of course, it doesn’t matter what you do in life, whether you love what you do or not, by the time you get into it, and start to do it professionally, it has its hairs on it. There’s things involved with going a professional athlete that make it tough. There’s a lot of public expectation. It’s a high risk career. It doesn’t go for a long time.

I was certainly one of those guys that got shot down early in his career, having retired at 27 off the back of three reconstructions on my left knee, certainly made it difficult, but can I say with all the broken bones and injuries and you know, lost games and disappointing moments, I wouldn’t have changed it for one moment. It was an opportunity for me to learn a lot about myself. I set myself and my family up for a brighter future. I can honestly say, all those wonderful lessons that I learned through my time as a professional rugby league player, I’ve been able to take into life after Rugby League.

Jesse Green:      

That’s a really key point, and I’m super keen to drill down into that, which is fantastic. One of the things though, because I did read up abut your career, in preparation for today. I tend to be a bit of a researcher, and the injuries that you mentioned just then, they did cut your career short, and clearly that would’ve been quite heartbreaking in many ways. What I’m really interested to know, Ben, is when you deal with adversity like that, and you literally are thinking “this is the end of my footy career, what’s next?” I’m assuming you come to this kind of crossroads, a bit of fork in the road.

                 

Firstly, I’m curious to ask how did you deal with that adversity? What got you through that? When you got to that fork in the road, what was the decision making process that you went through?

Ben Ikin:               

You learn certainly learn that life’s not linear, as we’d like it to be. In hindsight, today’s always better than yesterday, and tomorrow isn’t necessarily always going to be better than today. You have good years and bad years, and good months and bad months. You have good games and bad games, and you’ve just got to be able to adapt to both, and take both in your stride.

I kind of, I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it that way back when I was playing, so probably too young. For some reason inside me, when the set back struck, particularly with my left knee, and those three knee reconstructions, I started to get excitement about life after Rugby League. I didn’t sort of wallow in self pity. That’s not going to be the same for everybody. There’s guys that I with played getting really down in the mouth about injuries, and handled it a different way. For me, I probably started about the age of 24 and I had these major injury set backs, my mind just starred to think forward.

I started to prepare for life after football. While I’d like to sit here and tell you that it felt like some great big adversity at the time, and I had to fight my way back on the field, and they’re all these wonderful lessons that I learnt from it, I really didn’t. I just sort of adapted, and I think that’s a skill that’s kind of innate in me. I’m glad I’ve got it, because it means that I can sort of push my way through any set backs that happen along the way. I guess the downside of it is that I’m easily distracted. I’m always looking sideways for the next challenge. It’s just kind of who I am.

At the time, as I say, while from the outside looking in, it might’ve seemed like I was doing it really tough. It certainly wasn’t the case for me, personally.

Jesse Green:      

You had that first knee injury when, it started going about wonky, about 24 you’re saying. I guess what I’m hearing is that at particular moment, you had the presence of mind to go, “well hang on, it could be an issue here. Better start thinking about my post footy career. I guess that’s when you started that mental process to, you know, plan for your next adventure.

Ben Ikin:

That’s right. I just had to get busy learning, because you know, while there’s a lot of character traits and behaviours that you pick up in life as a professional athlete, it certainly doesn’t equip you with the knowledge to go on and do a trade, or fill a role anywhere else. Except for perhaps coaching and the media, and the media weren’t that readily available to me, at the time I was ready to retire.

I went and studied. I was doing some work experience with the Broncos. For me, sales and marketing was kind of the area where I ended up. I schooled myself up. By the time I realized it was time for me to move on, cut my ties with professional Rugby League, and the Brisbane Broncos, I had a couple of opportunities. Ever since then, I’ve kind of applied the same philosophy. I’ve been through a few different jobs, but the moment I get the sense that it’s time for a change or I start looking for a new challenge, I start that learning process over, and know that if I’ve any chance of kind of being the best that I can be, in whatever role it is I take on, I’ve got to have the knowledge, and the know how to make sure I get it right.

Jesse Green:      

Fabulous, mate, and clearly, that’s been a success. We’ve seen your face on all sorts of media over the years, and every time I turn on the footie, there you are, which is just fabulous. Clearly, all that hard work and learning has paid off.

I just want to go back to your early days for a moment, Ben. When you thought about playing football. Obviously, you started at 11, and you went your way through for 16 years, at what point did you kind of have the inkling that you know, this is something that I’d like to do forever? Did it just continue on, playing one game to the next, and it kind of evolved without any master plan, or did it just evolve?

Ben Ikin:               

It came very late for me. I had a moment in my last couple of years at high school, where I actually went through high school pretty young, so I finished my first year of grade 12 at 16. I was lucky enough to get an OP who let me go off and do a science degree, environmental science degree, I should say. I’d locked that down. Going through high school young, also meant that in my final year, I wasn’t old enough, so to speak, to compete against the 17 and 18 year olds who were all vying for those Queensland and Australia School Boys spots in my chosen sport, Rugby League. What I did was I made a decision to repeat grade 12, and instead of sort of focusing on my school work, I got up to that point, I went back and chose a few easy subjects, and really worked hard at my Rugby League, and ended up making the Australian School Boys side.

I wanted to have that 12 months in 1994 to figure out whether or not I had what it took to be a professional Rugby League player. Come the end, having made the Queensland and Australian School Boys teams, I had the opportunity and offers from a couple of NRL clubs. That’s when I knew, only then, that this was a dream that could perhaps turn into reality.

Of course then, history will tell you, it became really fast tracked for me, because my first year out of high school, in 1995, I was selected to play in the Queensland State of Origin Team. By the time I kind of hit that point, the environmental science degree, very much got put on the back turner.

Jesse Green:      

Yeah, mate, I read that you were adding years in something like 83 days. The youngest ever player to play Origin. That’s correct, right?

Ben Ikin:               

That’s right.

Jesse Green:      

Mate, that must’ve been for a young boy, walking into that Queensland team, which were full of probably people that we all, as spectators idolized, but you, as a player, you would’ve certainly looked up to, as well. What was it like, walking into that dressing room for the first time?

Ben Ikin:               

It was surreal. It’s the only way I could describe it. I’d like to sit here and probably recount what I learned, and the enormity of what I was going through, but sort of six weeks, my head was just spinning. I was 18 years of age. I didn’t have the life experience, the emotional experience, to kind of properly handle what was going on. I guess make a … What would you say, a contribution of any sort of profoundness except to jump on the bus and go for the ride. I was playing off the bench. I was sort of, I think in the course of three games, I played for 25 or 30 minutes on the wing. So Fatty Vautin was the coach back then. He was doing his best to make sure I was getting on the field.

I was that young, and that inexperienced, but we were so short on numbers, they really had no other choice than to select someone like me. Truth be told, it was just so, six to eight weeks of just something that I’ve never experienced up to that point in my life. I just went for the ride, and what a ride it was. Coming to camp, as you rightly pointed out, I had some of the guys that I’d grown up watching on TV, idolizing. I was rooming with Mark Coyne, and eight weeks later, we won a State of Origin series 3-0 when just about everybody on the planet was saying we couldn’t win one game, so, I mean, what a story.

Jesse Green:      

Mate, that’s a fabulous story. What a … For a young boy of 18, what a massive shot of confidence that must’ve given you, because even though you’d had that second year of year 12, to really put into your Rugby League, and obviously NRL offers, to be thrust into that, onto that enormous stage so early in your career. That’s just absolutely breathtaking, really.

Ben Ikin:               

It was spinner. If you can imagine yourself coming out of university, having done your degree, and being handed the keys to a highly successful dental practice, first year, out of university, you can’t have, you just finding your way to success, because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Everything from there was new, I’d not experienced before. I was just lucky that I had good people around me. Wonderful parents, who’ve been hugely supportive, pretty much allowed me to achieve everything that I have in life. I was at a good club, with the Gold Coast Seagulls, with some guys, you know, clubs that were contacting me, making sure I had my head right, and likewise, by the time I arrived in the State of Origin camp, as I’ve already mentioned, I was rooming with Mark Coyne. Freddy Horton was the coach. He was fantastic.

He’s bit of a joker but let me tell you, this is a very, very smart man that knew exactly what I was going to experience, and how to sell it to me. When it comes to the ferocity of State of Origin football, and Chris Choppy Close who the academy bleeds maroon, was the team manger that year, and my father actually moved him a couple times in the Gold Coast. He stuck solo with me, right the way through that first Origin series, and every series thereafter, so it was important for me that I had those great people around me. They ultimately allowed me not, to bugger it up, let’s put it that way.

Jesse Green:      

That’s fabulous mate. Obviously, being part of many of teams over the years, Club Footy, Rep Footy, State of Origin, and the Australian team, of course, and not to mention your broadcasting teams that you currently work with, and all that sort of stuff, as well. One of the things I’d really love your perspective on is you know, when you walk into a team, are there some teams that just feel like they’ve got a better vibe than others, in terms of you know, you can feel this is a great team, or we’re really going to kick some goals here, or is it you’ve got to take it as it comes?

Ben Ikin:               

At the time, you’ve got a sense of that. You’ve got to be put in the pressure cooker environment to find out how functional you are as a unit, who lines up, who doesn’t. These are things, I mean that can be learned by playing a number of games together. You’d like to think that you can simulate that sort of sort in the training environment, but it’s really hard. I mean, that’s why you probably hear all those stories about coaches taking their players off to these army camps, for three and five days. What they’re trying to do is testing them as a group, trying to break them down. See who breaks, see who stays strong, see who the leaders are, see who the worker bees are, and you know, the really experienced coaches, they get a sense for that quicker than the younger coaches.

I don’t think it can be spotted in an instant. You can’t walk into a business at least, I don’t know a hell of a lot of people who can, and go that’s wrong, that’s wrong, that’s wrong. This is how long it’s going to take to fix it. He needs to go, she can stay. It’s just not how it happens. Anything rushed like that, what I think’s going to bring long term success and my time involved with high performance teams, be it in sport or business, you know, there’s kind of three things that I land on that run common through all of them, and that is trust.

You trust the person beside you can deliver, and has got your back. Alignment, so you’re all on the same page, hitting in the same direction, and certainty, which is something that great leaders do well. They help people understand where they sit in the organization, what their role is, and this where we’re heading, and this is how we’re going to do it.

Trust, alignment and certainty. As I say, it takes a bit of time to understand whether or not you’ve got the right team to deliver that mix.

Jesse Green:      

That’s fabulous advice. I’m sure anyone listening to the show today is going to be writing that down, trust, alignment and certainty, because that is just absolute wisdom, that cuts through everything. You spoke about the great coaches identifying the leaders and the worker bees fairly quickly. In terms of some of the leaders that you’ve been fortunate enough to associate with in your footy career, and your business career as well, is there anyone who comes to mind as someone you think wow, they were just one of the best of the best?

Ben Ikin:               

I think – look, there’s plenty. I’ve been involved in some great businesses and great sporting teams, and more than anything, this is what I can say for great leaders, is that they’re all authentic. They’re not pretending to be someone. It’s not like they’ve read the leadership book, and they’ve sort of borrowed, you know well, I’ve got no idea that they’ve picked up some good habits, and some good leadership traits along the way. At the end of the day, their person, their character is authentic to them. It’s like they’re really comfortable in their own skin. I’ve been coached by Wayne Bennett, one of the greatest of all time. I’ve had a couple CEOs that I would put somewhere up on the same level, but they all do it different. They all treat people differently. At their core is a few things, I think that they have in common, you know like, that they all care.

Wayne Bennett from the outside, and I love this story because it’s so personal for me, together with my mother growing up, we didn’t like Wayne Bennett, because that was the bloke who sacked Wiley Lewis and never smiled on TV. You kind of get this feeling about Wayne, that he’s cold and calculating. People now know, having watched that Australian story, and any number of interviews that he’s done over the years, that’s not who he is at all. I think all the great leaders, be they players or CEOs, or coaches, or chairman of the board, that they care. They care for their people. They’ve got great empathy.

Second to that, I think I’ve already mentioned this earlier on, is that they’ve got the knowledge that the know how. It’s all good and well to have visions and give great speeches, and care for your people, but if you don’t know how to take an organization and the people that work in it forward, because you don’t have the know how, well then no one’s going to be following.

Jesse Green:      

Yeah, absolutely. Again, that authenticity that you spoke of earlier, that really feeds into the trust thing, as well, because you know, what’s the famous saying, that you know, Australians can spot a phony a mile off. It’s true, once you’re not being true to yourself, it does tend to undermine the credibility and trust you have in that leader.

Just on Wayne Bennett and I know clearly, you have a relationship that extends into your personal life, which we won’t go into too much, but I just want to share one little kicky story about Wayne Bennett that I experienced, and this is going to sound so trivial to you, perhaps, because you’ve had so many of them, but as you know, where I used to live in Brisbane, down at the local shops sales, walking my kids home from school, and we needed to cross at the shops, and the pedestrian crossing was no where to be seen, and anyway, as I was walking across the crossing, I had school bags and one child on one arm, and on the other end of that child was my second child, and Wayne walked out of the local barber shop, and Ben you’ve met me, I’m quite a short guy, and Wayne’s quite a tall guy.

What I noticed with Ben is he visibly changed his stride to bookend my other daughter as we crossed the road. I’ve never forgotten it. I don’t know Wayne from a bar of soap, but it’s something that’s just always stuck with me, and I really appreciated it at the time. He seems like a really genuinely, good guy.

Ben Ikin:               

He is yeah, and the bigger question on that is what was he doing in the barber?

Jesse Green:      

He’s got no hair! You can make that joke, mate. I’ll give that one to you to take home, and share with him.

Ben Ikin:               

Thank you.

Jesse Green:      

Mate, I just wanted to touch on a day in the life of a pro footballer. We spoke about some of the things that you’ve been through, and all the rest of it, but what are some of the habits you get into? You mentioned that the know how is not necessarily transferable into business because some of those skills, but some wont’ be, those habits that you developed at a young age, developing as a football, obviously and then into the club setting and then later into the State of Origin Australian teams, and beyond, what would be some of those habits that you think a professional footballer would pick up that they might not necessarily realize they’re picking up, but hold them in good stead as they go through.

Ben Ikin:               

There’s a few, I’d start with self belief, because the life of a professional sportsman is so public, so many people watching, and having an opinion about who you are, and what you do, not to mention the media and the slicing and the dicing of what you do on the field, that happens every other week of the footy season. Self belief is key. It can’t be false, you know what I mean? You can’t live in a fool’s paradise. You need to believe what the coaches ask you to do, the challenge that lies in front of you, you absolutely, are able to achieve it, because if you don’t, it’s too tough a contest. It’s too tough a competition to survive in if you start second guessing yourself.

When I rolled out of professional sport, the one thing I took with me was that just about anything that I was asked to do, I would say “yes, I’ll give it a crack,” because I was so used to building an armoury of self belief to get through the kind, the pressure and the expectation of the NRL season.

The other thing that underpins everything you do as a professional athlete, is hard work. It’s so totally effort for reward. You can’t take short cuts. I think in business, perhaps I’ve noticed that you can, and a lot of people do, but in sport, you just get found out. There’s too many eyes, there’s too many people watching. You’ve got multiple coaches, and again, a competition too tough that if you are taking short cuts, you will get found out. You’ve got to build that habit of continued hard work.

A willingness to learn and improve, you know. We always want to be better tomorrow, than we are today. That’s the other thing that professional sport does really well, is that we’re surrounded by mentors. That’s not something that business does all that well. Which I hope, which you’ll hopefully achieve through this podcast, is that the managers and the leaders in business, are generally focused on the doing of things, and getting other people to do things, whereas in professional sport, you get coached and mentored every week, you get feedback on what you did well, and what you didn’t do so well. You’ve got this team of people helping you improve, because the coach knows that he is no more than the sum total of the efforts of his players.

You’ve got a long way to find leaders and managers, senior executives in business, that wholly embrace that philosophy. For me, getting out of sport into business, what I learned was the feedback loop, was nowhere near as comprehensive. Most of the time in business, no news is good news. I kind of had to generate, wherever I went, my own feedback loop, because I was continually asking questions about how I could be better. You don’t get that sort of information.

There are probably the three things – self belief, hard work, and a willingness to learn and improve.

Jesse Green:      

Mate, they’re fabulous lessons for life, and clearly again, they’ve held you in good stead. As you transitioned out of playing footy and into your other roles, you for a period time, were one of the, I think you were a board member of the cowboys up in North Queensland, and what sort of transition was that like? You spoke about the habits that stood you in good stead throughout life in general, but what was it like stepping onto the other side, the corporate side I suppose of footy, if you will, or the business decision making behind footy, how did that go?

Ben Ikin:               

It was fantastic, I loved it. You know, I’ve had a fair bit of corporate experience by the time I jumped on board at the Cowboys, but the thing I liked about my 2 1/2 years up there in North Queensland, was being involved in that process of planning for success. We had this conversation started not long sort of before I arrived, but they were certainly getting it going, about who we wanted to be and how we were going to get there. You know, in broader terms, there was this kind of goal that we wanted to be the best rugby league club in the country, and if we weren’t prepared to put that up as their goal, then what were we doing? That ultimately meant, win a comp! To go through that process, with some very smart people, so figure out where we were, where we wanted to be, and how we were going to get there, who we needed to take on the journey, how we engaged them, was something that I’ll never forget. I guess it’s a process that’s now ingrained in me, that I can not only take to the next organization that I work for, but I can also apply to my person life. That is again, planning for success. Where am I now? Where do I want to be? What do I need to do to get there?

Jesse Green:      

Mate, that’s just fabulous, and as you’ve gone through your career, clearly, that’s the thing that’s running through. What’s the next adventure for Ben Ikin, do you think?

Ben Ikin:               

I’m raising a family at the moment, as you know. I’ve got a lovely wife and four kids, who are all sort of hitting middle school, they need me to be around and present, which is important to me, at the moment I’m just trying to strike my balance. I’ve got a wonderful job at Fox Sports. I host a show called NRL 360. Fox Sports, magnificent employees. I fly down from Brisbane, so they’re very accommodating in that way, at present, all I really want to do is produce quality TV, so make NRL 360 the best show it can be. When I’m not at work, just make sure I’m at home and ticking all the boxes. That’s about as exciting as it gets for me at the moment, Jesse, which I must say is pretty fun.

Jesse Green:      

It is fun, mate, and it’s about success for that fulfilment is probably a bit of failure in a sense, really, because that whole family life is so critical.

As you were playing footy, I know you’ve probably had your kinds post footy or towards the end of your footie career, were you aware of the competing demands of footy and your personal life at any point, or indeed your business demands and your personal life, and how did you manage those things?

Ben Ikin:               

Not such much Rugby League, I mean it’s you get a lot of down time, as a professional league player, which affords you a whole stack of time to spend with your family. By the time I retired, I only had the one son, I’ve got two sons and two daughters, I guess the balancing act became more important for me when I pushed into corporate life. I ended up in a couple of national sales roles, in the construction industry, doing a lot of travel and doing my media commitments on the side. I could work sometimes up to 50-60 hours a week when you throw in the travel. At some point, something was going to give. I’ve just sort of scaled back now. I’ve been lucky enough not to have to work corporately anymore. I work for Fox Sports full time. It’s a sort of seven month a year gig. I’ve got a lot of time off. The balance has come, just by virtue of the fact of the job that I do. Look, I’m absolutely certain that I’m in the tiniest of minorities, when I look at my work schedule.

For you to strike a balance, and this is the point I got to when I was working 50-60 hours a week, it needs to be important to you. You can’t have half a crack at it. If you decide you want to spend more time with your family, then you almost, it sounds silly, but you almost need to diarize it, otherwise, if you’re not scheduling family the same way you’re scheduling meetings or work commitments, then they end up becoming secondary, because if you diary, if you allow your diary to be filled with work, it can happen real easily. That’s the thing I found out, so I have to make a really stern commitment that I was going to change. I was going to strike some sort of balance, and then go after it with as much rigor as I did everything in my professional life.

Jesse Green:      

Mate, that’s a fabulous point, and any of the guys that I work with who are listening will know that that’s the drum that I beat pretty loudly, that scheduling family time, and making it part of your routine. It’s sort critical to take charge of your time. It’s so easy for time to be frittered away on things that are not always of the highest importance in terms of your highest values, and what not.

Just a little story, I did actually schedule some time with Miranda, my wife, and I have learned the lesson then, I learned that it is good to schedule the time with my wife, it’s probably just not helpful for me to tell her that I have scheduled the time. It didn’t go so well. Anyway, that’s good, so yes, definitely.

Ben Ikin:               

Your wife’s got to be more than just a diary entry, doesn’t’ she, Jesse?

Jesse Green:      

She really does, and for my darling wife who might be listening tonight, that’s fabulous, we’ll get that sorted. Mate, I wanted to, as we’re wrapping up our interview today, and firstly, thank you for taking the time to come and have a talk to us, wanted to talk to you about one or two little things, just outside of footy for a second, just a bit of general info, about Ben Ikin, mate if you were hosting a barbecue, or a dinner party, or getting a group of people around for a meal, who would be the half a dozen of people or so, that you’d most like to have around your table, that you don’t already get an opportunity to see on a day to day basis?

Ben Ikin:               

That’s a big question, so dead or alive?

Jesse Green:      

Yeah, dead or alive.

Ben Ikin:               

OK, well, I’m fascinated with religious history, fascinated. I’d have to say maybe, Jesus Christ. Is that too big? Can I hare him along?

Jesse Green:      

You can have him along.

Ben Ikin:               

I’m non-religious, but I would just love to know what was going on back then. Who else?

Jesse Green:      

You can have his 12 apostles too if you like.

Ben Ikin:               

Yeah, right, I’m a massive Richie Benaud fan, he’s also leftist. I’ve never got the chance to meet Richie, but I’ve been a great admirer of his work. I’d love to sit down and say “listen, I’d love to have a career like yours. What were the things that you got right, to have the career that you did.”

Love my golf, I am a golf tragic. I would say, it would be an equal split between Greg Norman and Adam Scott and Jason Day. They all count as one person by the way. I’m not losing seats.

Jesse Green:      

That’s all right, you can have as many seats as you want, mate.

Ben Ikin:               

I also love my Rugby League history. I know and understand how much the game has given me, and that there was many people go before me that made the game as great as it was, so I’d have to go back to 1907/1908 when the game was founded, and invite along the great Delly Messenger.

Jesse Green:      

Wow, that’s cool.

Ben Ikin:               

He was the key to Rugby League in this country, and I … there’s probably a stack of Rugby League fans out there, but if the people who set up Rugby League in Australia, don’t sign Delly Messenger, then we’re probably not having this conversation.

Jesse Green:      

Wow, OK, that’s phenomenal.

Ben Ikin:               

Is that good list?

Jesse Green:      

That’s a great list, that’s an interesting list. I’d love to hear the dinner conversation with that group of guys. That would be really, really interesting.

Quick question for you, around that group of guys, going back to your golf, you said you’re golf tragic. What do you play off these days, mate? How’s the handicap going?

Ben Ikin:               

I’m playing off 9, I have been lower and I have been higher. I’ll put it this way. The amount of golf I play, I should be much, much better. I think if you go and ask most golfers around the world, they’d say exactly the same thing. No matter how good you get at golf, you always want to be better. It’s my great frustration.

Jesse Green:      

It’s interesting, I’m always invited along to the golf course just to make everyone else look good, mate. That’s my role on the golf course.

Another quick question for you mate, if you had a favourite book, you’re allowed to take a handful of books, one or two books with you wherever you go, what they be? What books have moved you or inspired you most?

Ben Ikin:               

Look, again I’m a lover of religious history, so I’ve read a lot of books. I love the Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tsu, which was the text that sort of underpinned Taoism. I love business literature. My favourite business book is GOOD TO GROW, by Jim Collins.

Jesse Green:      

Great book.

Ben Ikin:               

Something that I’ve read recently … I’ll tell you what I’ve read recently, that I could not put down. It was Vladimir Putin’s biography.

Jesse Green:      

Really?

Ben Ikin:               

What I understand of European politics or communist politics, and to look at Russia and the Soviet Union, through the life of Vladimir Putin, was just awakening for me, and just goes to the point that there are so many different people around the world, that see the world so differently, from the way we do. There’s some lessons in there on leadership of what to do and what not to do. I found that intriguing.

I just got for Christmas, which I’m enjoying as well, the book that Paul Keating did with Kerry O’Brien, it’s fantastic.

Jesse Green:      

I will have to duck out and get that. This is going to sound like a book club review, isn’t it? I’ll have to tell you, mate, my favourite book in the last couple of weeks has been TEAMS OF TEAMS by General Stanley McCrystal. It’s a cracking read. Put that on your shopping list, for your books. It’s an awesome read.

Ben Ikin:               

Absolutely.

Jesse Green:      

Cool, Ben thanks so much for taking the time to come on the show today. I really enjoyed having a conversation with you. Mate, your story and your history, your knowledge of the game is obviously outstanding. What I’ve really enjoyed listening to I think more than anything is the little nuggets that ring true for all of us. Not all of us, very few of us, play footy for a career, but everything you’ve spoken to us is so relevant and pertinent to life, mate. I really thank you for taking the time out of your day to come and speak to us. It’s been great.

Ben Ikin:               

My pleasure Jesse.

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