Winning the race as a freelance

Gianni Frankis knows about winning – he’s been an elite TeamGB athlete and now he’s bringing the same focus to freelance life


Gianni Frankis has faced hurdles in his freelance career. Literally.

He’s represented Team GB and raced at the Olympic stadium in London in the 110m sprint over the hurdles. Now he’s a coach in both senses of the term. He’s a sports coach helping youngsters achieve their potential in athletics. And he’s a life coach sharing the lessons he learned from a career on the track and what they can bring to freelance life. And some of those freelance tips might be particularly useful to men, including dads.

His starting point is that he’s always been freelance. “Athletes are in the same boat as Uber drivers,” he notes. “We’re part of the gig economy. It’s a fairly extreme introduction to being freelance but whenever I’ve met other freelancers I notice they have similar thought processes to athletes.”

Record breaker

At 31 Gianni describes himself as semi-retired but still open to return to the track should long term injuries heal and he can find the form once again that made him a junior record-breaker. But he’s realistic about that happening. He’s moved into a new phase of freelance life. He’s set up a sports academy with his old trainer Tony Jarrett, a one time Commonwealth gold medal winner himself. And he takes his message into schools and workplaces. He was invited to speak at the National Freelancers Day event in London earlier this year and he sits on the members forum of ‘freelancers trade union’ the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE).

“You’ve got to approach freelancing the same way you’d approach fitness,” he explained. “You have to set goals, you’ve got to do the planning, you have to be prepared to do the stuff you don’t like to achieve all you want to.

“And one of the big comparisons with freelance life is that people see you when things are going well happy and with a bit of money, what they don’t see is everything that’s gone in before to make that happen!”

All or nothing

Motivation and a competitive streak are shared attributes among athletes and freelancers. And the parallels go further.

Gianni compares walking into a stadium to race with making a pitch for business for example. “Both can be all or nothing situations, you’re nervous, but the key is to stay calm under pressure and execute your plan.” Of course no-one wins every race. “You’ve got to learn from every experience,” adds Gianni, “accept what’s happened, analyse it – athletes are really analytical people – and come up with an action plan for the next time.”

As well as planning in advance and analysing after the event Gianni has another piece of advice particularly apposite to men.

“Get help,” he states. “When an athlete gets a medal they thank their coach, their physio, their family.

“When I meet freelancers they are always talented but no-one knows everything. So when I co-founded my academy, 110 Beyond Your Limits, I did it with my coach because two heads are better than one, you get a different perspective.”

Mental health

But his advice to reach out and collaborate goes beyond the workplace. Male mental health is a live issue. Men are sometimes slow to reach out for support. All elite sportspeople have to deal with failure at points in their career and that can take a toll mentally. Compared to competing for medals, including at the world athletics championships, ‘everything feels smaller’ admits Gianni. He’s had expert help in dealing with the lows. “It’s good to hear the stories of people who’ve done well but we need to hear from people talking about the times they’ve struggled too.”

Freelance life, and the fact it so closely resembles his time as a professional sportsman, has been a huge boost to Gianni. He explains, “In sport I wasn’t able to get back up, my body hasn’t got there, but being freelance means I’m able to keep the same spirit alive.”

To find out more about Gianni or to book him to talk to your organisation visit his website

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