Date posted: 28/04/2017 3 min read

Lisa Tamati: Ultra-marathon effort in business

In between running ultra marathons, New Zealander Lisa Tamati has successfully built six companies from the ground up.

In brief

  • Lisa Tamati is a successful New Zealand businesswoman who also competes in ultra marathons.
  • Much of Tamati’s success in business comes from having a firm belief in her own self-worth.
  • Tamati is speaking at CA ANZ’s Women in Business conference in May and June.

Ultra marathon running has set  Lisa Tamati, from Taranaki, New Zealand, on a path filled with both failures and disappointments.   

Overcoming fears and self-doubt while pushing her mind and body to extreme limits has provided Tamati with skills that have proven easily transferable to the world of business.  

Tamati is the owner and director of six companies. She has owned retail and wholesale operations in Austria and New Zealand, written two books, and continues to draw upon her experiences as an elite endurance athlete to manage her businesses.  

Much of Tamati’s success in business comes from having a firm belief in her own self-worth.  

“It is valuing yourself first and foremost and knowing what you are worth; the problems come when you don’t value yourself,” she says.  “It’s overcoming that inner voice first and being able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I do have those values and I do have the skill set and this is worth that much’.”

Rising to the challenge

Tamati is always keen to test her limits, which is why she continues to place herself in extraordinary situations. She says life is “manic”, but that isn’t her long-term plan.  

“I have to work until sometimes two in the morning, and get up early and train,” she says.  

“I try to fit in everything, and that is not ideal and not something that I hope I will be doing in five years’ time.  

"Break everything down into small steps that you can manage in your head. Your horizon lifts with the challenge."
Name Lisa Tamati, entrepreneur and ultra-marathon runnner

“This won’t be sustainable long-term, but I’m hoping to get some of the businesses up to a level where I can start passing them on and delegating duties and easing the workload that way.”   

Much of what gives Tamati the stamina to succeed in business stems from what she puts herself through as an ultra marathon runner. Tamati sees these experiences as analogous to the preparation, research and planning required to run a successful business.   

“It’s all about conditioning,” Tamati says. “If I’m running a 200km race, then I know months out, ahead of time, that this is what I’m preparing for. I know the work that I have to do to get there and I have this bigger goal and this bigger purpose. 

“You have to break everything down into small steps that you can manage in your head. Your horizon lifts with the challenge.”

CA ANZ Women in Business conference

In May and June, Tamati is touring New Zealand as a key speaker at the Women in Business conference sponsored by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. At the event, taking place in Christchurch (May 16), Auckland (May 23) and Wellington (June 13), Tamati will detail how her lessons learned from competing in ultra marathons can be applied in a business context.  

“They are the same principles,” she says. “Doing a little bit every day on everything: consistency, persistence, risk-taking. When I’m in tough times, I look at just getting myself through the next five minutes. You have to be brave and you have to be courageous and you have to really, really want whatever it is you are going after. If you’ve got that passion, you will find a way.”

Just do it

Tamati says being a female athlete and businesswoman in a male dominated world has not fazed her. 

“It’s never entered my mind that I cannot do something because I’m a woman,” she says. “I have that attitude when I go in there and sometimes you do have to fight harder to get heard. You just cannot let that be an issue.”  

And her one piece of advice for women in business?  

“Live life your way. If you have an undying passion to do something, to go out on your own in business, do it.   

“Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. We get one shot at this and I’d rather go down fighting than give in to mediocrity. I’d rather spectacularly succeed or spectacularly fail.”  

This article is part of an ongoing Women In Business column. More information on CA ANZ’s Women in Business conference can be found here.