Optus’ ‘Chief Of Optimism’ & F1 Racer Daniel Ricciardo Talks About His B&T Best Of The Best Nomination

Optus Shoot 22nd. London. Thursday, 22 April 2021. Ian Walton

B&T’s Best of The Best finalists were announced yesterday and you can recap all the nominees that make up adland’s superstars in all the categories right here.

[Looking for the live stream of B&T’s Best of the Best awards? You’ve found it – click here!]

But as eagle-eyed readers would’ve spotted, there was definitely a left-of-field nomination in the ‘executive leader’ category – none other than the coolest dude on an F1 racetrack, Aussie ace Daniel Ricciardo.

Sure, the Perth-born, 32-year-old is better known for his racing feats than his media ones; however, he does also lay claim to being Optus’ very own ‘chief of optimism’, which is what’s snared him a Best of the Best nomination.

And how will Ricciardo fare when the gongs are handed out? There’s only one way to find out and that’s tuning in to the virtual ceremony that kicks off on Friday 10 September at 4pm (AEST). Register HERE now to secure your spot and, better still, it’s all for free.

Meanwhile, B&T’s managed to jag some time from Ricciardo’s undoubtedly busy and fast schedule to chat about being perennially optimistic, F1 egos and his favourite ads…

Can we just say, being Optus’ ‘chief of optimism’ sounds like an exhausting/daunting role. What actually does the role entail?

I was immediately interested when Optus first approached me with the opportunity to be their chief of optimism. It’s a really interesting and novel way to partner with a brand, and I love what Optus is about. The role is all about creating a positive atmosphere and fostering an attitude of optimism within the company, plus being a role model for the broader community. For me, I consider optimism as an active quality, so I channel my efforts in engaging with employees and helping them see how they can apply it and use its power to problem solve – as a way of looking at the world.

Are we all optimistic? It can be hard in times of a global pandemic!

And that’s exactly why I’m here to help. At Optus, we talk a lot about ‘pragmatic optimism’. It’s not about grandeur, but about believing in the power of making small tweaks here and there.

It’s definitely hard to be optimistic when you’re battling loads of challenges in your work and life. We’ve all had a full-on year, both throughout 2020 and 2021. We’ve all had to navigate changes we never thought possible, and it’s in these times that it’s most important to support each other and find the happy moments. I like to give myself no more than a day to be sad or frustrated about something that didn’t go to plan, then I move on. And I share those stories with my family, friends and even fans so they know they’re not alone in feeling frustrated, and then they can start to find their own ways to deal with circumstances that make a positive outlook tricky.

Boring question, but what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your career on the racetrack that translates to the office for the rest of us?

Ah, so many… I guess one of the main ones is that you can’t become complacent. You have to keep finding creative ways to move forward and challenge yourself. So, changing circumstances can actually be a good thing.

Also, bring fresh perspectives and fresh minds into the workplace – it’ll help to keep the team inspired. We all need a bit of a shake up sometimes when our routine gets a bit monotonous, so don’t be afraid to work with someone you don’t usually work with and to try and test new things. It’s ok to be a bit uncomfortable – it’s how we grow and evolve.

You do appear upbeat all the time. Can that be frustrating when you have the shits? It can’t be healthy not to let the anger out?

Haha, good point. I have strategies I use to deal with frustration. I think I mentioned earlier that I tend to give myself a time frame of how long I’ll be down about something. Then I do what I need to move on. One thing I find super helpful is to get some ‘me time’. Sometimes by stepping back and away from a situation and doing something totally different, you give yourself the space you need to find a way to overcome a challenge. So, I love being alone in nature, I find that really powerful. If the track or a race is consuming me too much, I actually get away from it for a bit – go for a hike or a mountain bike and then come back refreshed and peaceful.

You show your Aussie larrikinism on the track, do you think that can upset some of the more stuffy elements in F1? Your famous ‘shoey’, as an example.

Well, if I do, nobody has said anything to me about it yet, haha. You gotta do a shoey if you get a podium. It’s my thing. Everyone knows how important it is to me, haha.

During your racing career, there’s been criticism of you for some of the moves you’ve made in terms of drives/teams. How do you deal with that?

I think that no matter what industry you’re in, there are always going to be people who would do things differently to you. You have to just totally back yourself and know you made that decision in that moment based on a lot of training and knowledge, and if maybe it wasn’t the right one, well you’ll at least learn from it. 

How frustrating can it be that in your sport, the better team wins not necessarily the better driver?

It’s just the way the sport works and not much I can do about it. I actually like that it’s a team effort – it sort of makes you feel like you’re really a part of something and you want everyone to do well, so it creates a good team mentality.

F1, like everything, is becoming increasingly tech-focused. Is that detracting from the thrill of the sport? Do you ever see F1 becoming so technical that is no longer needs race drivers?

Not at all. The innovation in the industry is something that really inspires me. The cars will go two seconds faster, but the rules won’t change, so you have to have a creative mind to figure out ways to work with changes like that. I think there will always be space for the human element in racing – it’s what makes it exciting.

B&T goes to the advertising industry. What’s been one of your favourite ads of recent times (and you can’t say Optus!)? Why?

There has been loads of cool ads released in time for the Olympics. A recent favourite would be the “Super. Human.” ad that Channel 4 in the UK recently released. They always do a good job. I particularly like it because it’s a fresh take on an age-old story… athletes and their journey to the games. Hopefully, it helps people appreciate the mental battles athletes face and challenge some of the enduring prejudices towards people with disabilities.





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