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I’m not a diehard car-racing fan, but the unlikely win of rookie Alexander Rossi in the recent Indy 500 certainly captivated me.
Rossi sputtered across the finish line in first place, literally driving on fumes. His gas tank was so empty he had to be towed into the winners circle.
How did a 24-year old American, a 66-1 long shot, outsmart a handful of drivers who had far more dominant cars and years of experience? According to ESPN, “Rossi stretched his final tank of gas 90 miles to cycle into the lead as others had to duck into the pits for a splash of fuel in the waning laps.” I got to thinking about Rossi’s win and what it can teach us here at BATC.
Throw Off the Expectations
As a rookie with little experience on the course, there were certainly no expectations of Rossi. This freed him to make decisions without the burden of criticism. It gets harder to do this once you’ve had wins. But the lesson is clear. Keep an open mind. Don’t get trapped by the pressure to win. Be willing to take risks. You will win some, and lose some, but it’s vital to create a culture where experimentation and innovation are valued.
BATC has been fortunate to enjoy several wins over the past few years – awards from NAHB; the sprinkler victory; Housing First victories in 2014. But it’s important to recognize that we will also have losses, and to be open to those as well. Otherwise, we’ll fail to take the kinds of risks that Rossi did and lose opportunities in the process.
Have a Strategy
As the race wound down, Rossi and his team in the pit assessed the situation and confirmed their strategy – don’t stop for fuel. Take the risk and employ the strategy to the finish. Even had he lost, Rossi could take comfort in knowing he employed sound thinking and carried out a plan effectively. Team Co-Owner Bryan Herta decided to gamble with Rossi on fuel strategy, and “Rossi understood full well that it was strategy that got him this win,” reported ESPN.
We have a powerful three-year Strategic Plan at BATC that we follow. It may not be perfect (our Board and Staff review it every year to see if adjustments need to be made), but it provides the roadmap for our actions and focuses our efforts.
Prune and Focus
“I really was focused on taking it one lap at a time,” Rossi told ESPN. It is so easy to get distracted in any endeavor. For BATC, there are so many needs our industry faces, it’s vital that we prioritize. We need strong advocacy representation.
We need marketing for our members. We need opportunities for our members to connect and grow their businesses. We need to recruit young people into our industry. We need a green building program. We need to showcase the great charitable work of our BATC Foundation. We work very hard at establishing priorities through our Strategic Plan and following those priorities. We simply don’t have the resources to be and do
everything. Rossi focused and won. BATC seeks to do the same.
Work as a Team
Many people probably don’t realize the degree to which auto racing is a team sport. Rossi may have been driving, but for those 500 laps, (and even before the race itself) he was part of a sophisticated team that made good decisions. We work very hard here at BATC to build a powerful team of staff and volunteers, working in concert for the good of our industry. I’ve never worked with a better team in my career and I’m incredibly proud to be part of BATC.
We’re not rookies here at BATC, but we can nonetheless learn from Alexander Rossi. We won’t win them all, but if we throw off expectations, employ good strategy, focus our energy and work as a team, we stand a pretty good shot.
A Letter From Our EO | Inside the BATC Digest J-A-S Issue
David Siegel, BATC Executive Director