You may be surprised to learn that Andre Agassi hates tennis and has hated it every day since he was seven years-old.
Surprising because he was the first male player to win the Golden Slam of all four major tournaments plus an Olympic gold medal.
Agassi’s career is a breathtaking rollercoaster from teen prodigy to drug-taker to a renaissance in his 30s.
His career has taken a trajectory that will be all too familiar to those in the mortgage market from wild success and excess to a crash.
But if sport is something to draw inspiration from then Agassi is the perfect example with his reinvention and recovery.
His story begins with the dragon, a tennis ball machine his father made him use every day as a child.
The monotony of this goes some way to explaining his hatred of tennis and an insight into a brutal father with huge ambitions for his talented son.
It all came so easy to Agassi and by his late teens he was beating some of the world’s best players.
In 1992 he won his first major title at Wimbledon, which was quickly followed by the US Open in 1994, Australian Open in 1995 and an Olympic gold in 1996.
And at one point Agassi achieved his father’s ultimate ambition by being ranked the number one player in the world.
By 1997 he was still one of the best players in the world, an Olympic gold medallist and married to a beautiful film star, Brooke Shields.
But as the mortgage industry knows only too well, when things are too good to be true they usually are and Agassi suffered a rapid downfall.
By the end of 1997 multiple injuries, a controversial failed drug test that was later rescinded and an admission that he took crystal meth meant he dropped to 141st in the world tennis rankings.
In 1998 his marriage was in trouble and he was divorced the following year.
Agassi could just have given up but to cement his place as a sporting great he picked himself up and carried on.
Agassi writes: “We start from the beginning, as if I’m a teenager, as if I’ve never worked out, because that’s how I look. I’m slow, fat, frail as a kitten.”
His rehabilitation wasn’t easy and it took huge reserves of motivation and perseverance to start over. At 27 the consensus suggested his best days were behind him.
A similar argument has been made about the mortgage market but it too must pick itself up.
Success came with two Grand Slam titles in 1999 at the US and French Opens to complete the Golden Slam, the most successful year in his career.
But he didn’t stop there and won three Australian Opens in four years before retiring at the 2006 US Open as a living legend.
Agassi shows that talent can get you so far but his real place and affection comes from his comeback.
For many in the mortgage industry the wreckage of the financial crisis has left them desperately picking up the pieces of their careers.
Working in financial services has taken huge resilience in recent years. Many have felt like giving up but they have just kept going.
This book gives hope to the idea that dogged persistence can eventually lead to success and it is those great survivors who will reap the rewards.
Review by SAMUEL DAKE