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What I Learnt From Dean Mumm

When I first met Dean Mumm I couldn’t believe his size. He would be a good foot taller me he’s probably 6 foot 6.

I had the privilege of getting to know Dean over our chat on the podcast and it was evident he was more than a giant footy player.

His personal story of losing two children to premature birth is a touching one that shows his true nature to rebound from heart break. The courage that he and his wife have shown to continue to try to have a family despite their tragedy is both inspirational and shows the true love of a family. Fortunately they have been blessed with the health of their third child Alfie in a true story of heart and perseverance.

I haven’t even touched on his amazing footy career yet. Dean’s is a NSW Waratahs through and through. He's a Wallaby and even had the honour of captaining his country at the 2015 World Cup, then there is a stint in the UK for Exeter. Did I mention he thought he thought he would never play for his country again after missing the 2011 World Cup?

Seems perseverance and the will to fight for what he believes in is a strong character trait that has done him much good.

I had a great conversation with Dean on a range of topics from life to his career. I pulled out 4 key learning principals but there was much more. I thank Dean for his openness to share about such a sensitive topic. I think the chat will help others who are going through a struggle or maybe faced in the same situation as Dean and his wife.

Listen to the entire episode on the player below or continue to find the learning points.


I've explained the family tragedy that the Mumm’s have faced. His advice to dealing with tough times:

“Everyone has shit in their life no one escapes free without having some rough times. If you keep looking backwards you’re going to trip in front of something in front of you. So you got to keep going. It’s not easy, you get through one day then the next one”


Dean from his youth all the way through the rep squads and senior teams has always been rated highly by his coaches in terms of leadership. He would constantly find himself amongst the leadership group so it was intriguing to get is opinion on key traits of a strong leader:

“I think an important trait of a good leader is the ability to communicate your thoughts and have a basic understanding of the game strategically. There are two elements that are important as you get older which are the cultural side of things and also be a reasonable and disciplined trainer. If you gain respect on the training field this would naturally come on the playing field”


“I’d been in the Wallabies camp in the lead up to the World Cup and from 2008 to 2011 I was part of the squad. I just had a shit year and it wasn’t good enough. Deep down I knew it, so it was easier to deal with. I wasn’t disheartened because I just wasn’t good enough”

How many times do we blame others for this or that not going right? Do we have the courage to look ourselves in the eye and know that we are being truthful with our self? The ability to be accountable for our performance or actions for mine is a key learning opportunity.


“In the UK I actually decided to retire. I spoke to coaches in the UK to tell them I was going to hang up the boots. It was coming up to a World Cup year and I thought why not find out if there is something there. So I emailed Michael Cheika and asked if he would be interested in me coming back. It was more having a go. I went back and things just worked really well. Sadly Willie Skelton got suspended and couldn’t go to Africa and that opened up a spot and ironically back at Ellis Park for my first game back where I made my debut. It was nice coming back with nothing to lose”

Sometimes it’s just not our time but you never know when that might be. Control the controllable as most elite athletes tell me. We can control our preparation & patience and when the right time knocks we are able to grab it with two hands.

To summarise the key learning point from Dean:

1. Keep moving forward through Adversity

2. Communication and Discipline are two key traits of good leadership

3. Be truthful with yourself in set backs

4. Be ready when opportunity knocks from unlikely scenarios

Some powerful messages in the chat that we can try to see if it may be a fit in what we are trying to achieve. While it is always interesting to find the routines and tactics that top flight athletes use at the highest level the human element for mine is far more important. At the end of the day Dean is a human like all of us and has to deal with volatile life moments and unexpected situations.

I urge you to support Dean on his trip to the North Pole. It’s going to be quite the challenge but such an amazing cause of raising funds for awareness and research. Every dollar could be vital to continuing to lower the rates of pre mature birth and hopefully one day having an answer.

Support Dean by visiting his Just Giving page -

Also be sure to follow Dean on his incredible journey:

Be the first to listen to future episodes as well as catch up on previous episodes of the show. One on one conversation’s with legends like Steve Waugh, Greg Chappell, Wayne Gardner, David Reynolds, Kieren Perkins, Mark Occhilupo, Michael Klim, Andrew Ettingshausen, Paul Harragon, David Campese, Bradley Clyde, Karmichael Hunt, Matt Toomua, Mark Hunt, & Robbie Maddison

You can find all of these episodes online or subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you listen to your podcast.

For show notes, athletes lists and more learning articles, please visit

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