I found myself alone in a room on Sunday giving a standing ovation to a multi-millionaire playing sport on the other side of the world.

Roger Federer overcame his nemesis Rafael Nadal in another epic five-setter to win the Australian Open and his 18th Grand Slam title. It was sport of the edge-of-seat, tears-in-the-eyes variety.

He is the grand old age of 35 but when technology confirmed he had hit the winning shot he smiled like a kid winning his very first tennis match at school.

On the surface, an inspirational athlete achieving something unique in sport probably doesn't seem closely connected to the pub trade.

And it isn't really, apart from the fact that it shows how you never stop learning or striving to achieve.

Federer hadn't won a Grand Slam for five years and had been out injured for the previous six months. Lesser mortals would have hung their tennis racquet up for good and retired to enjoy all of the luxuries that come with such rare success.

But if he was a lesser mortal he wouldn't have had that success in the first place. You also get the distinct impression that Federer and high achievers in various fields are driven by being the best they can be and not by the rewards that come their way.

In a rather large kangaroo leap from Melbourne to Liverpool, we held our most recent Next Generation event last week.



These are designed to bring together new licensees and managers with ambitions of running their own businesses so they can share experiences and learn from the senior figures who speak at the events.

It is encouraging to see new entrants to the trade coming along to learn and to forge long-term careers, but what really inspires me is the attitude of the speakers.

Many of these run multi-million pound businesses and have cabinets so full of awards that even Federer might feel a little envious. They have nothing to prove to anyone yet they are often the ones you can spy scribbling down notes.

Most stick around to listen to other speakers and to network with newcomers and experienced operators alike. When they leave, they normally tell me that they have taken at least one idea that they will be able to implement in their own businesses.

Whether it is improving your backhand or creating a better margin on a dish, you are never too old to learn – that even applies to the very best. In fact, that attitude is probably what makes them the best in the first place.