James Cluskey is the founder of Give Learn – a high performance e-learning platform with live and on demand classes and courses with global experts around the areas of soft skills and developing EQ. The platform increases employee engagement, motivation and profitability.
James and spent his life as a high performer and is a former professional tennis player ranked 145 in the world, Guinness World Record holder, author of the goal setting book Advantage and a private tennis coach to Sir Richard Branson.
Give Learn is working with several companies across industries which include SAP, Ornua and Leman Solicitors. Cluskey has an eye on the UK market and is looking to work with companies who are looking to develop its people.
What makes your business unique?
We bring a perspective from professional sport into business. Our course leaders are global experts ranging from rocket scientists and Olympians to successful entrepreneurs. We reward engagement and when users attend live classes they can donate to several social causes with our platform.
What energises you?
Building the Give Learn platform energises me. I feel like a tennis player again climbing a mountain. I believe that if companies, people and communities had the opportunity to live their full potential, think of what we could do as a country, society and world. This is our purpose.
I believe that business should be a force for good and people are searching for “meaning” and we see that with things like the “Great Resignation”. Our users have supported several social causes as do we.
What were the best and worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?
The best advice was probably during my tennis career: Never get too high or too low – meaning when you’re winning and playing well never get too high and when you’re losing then never get too down. Nothing really stands out as the worst piece of advice but it’s probably around not believing in myself and taking advice from someone who doesn’t understand my business.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
Covid was extremely difficult. We had all of our programmes cancelled. However I’d had the idea for Give Learn pre Covid around where I saw the learning market going and I’d wanted to build a community of people passionate about high performance. Covid gave me the opportunity to finish my book and build the initial platform.
How did you end up coaching Sir Richard Branson tennis?
I actually ended up playing an ATP 250 event in Bastad Sweden and being at the players party and hearing about this tennis event that Richard hosts on his island every year called the Necker Cup. I had a loose connection to the guy who ran the event and said I’d love to come and would be an extra person to play tennis with the business people there. Luckily he agreed and I went to Necker. I met Richard and he ended up inviting me to come back and coach him tennis. It’s amazing where one phone call can take you!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from Sir Richard Branson?
It’s hard for me to summarize this in one word or sentence but It would be around his curiosity and positivity. He asks questions about all different topics, is genuinely curious and is very encouraging and positive with people.
What is your greatest sporting and business achievement to date?
When I look back on my tennis career there’s a few I’m proud of. Winning the Irish Open in 2010 was special, playing Davis Cup for Ireland was always a dream and I was lucky enough to do that for 9 years and then winning two ATP Challengers in Turkey and Portugal was also special.
In business I’m proud of what we are building with the Give Learn platform and having a positive impact on people’s personal and professional lives.