Business lessons from a racecar driver

“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough”

This is one of my favorite quotes from by Mario Andretti

As relevant as this may seem to Business, Mario was actually a Racecar driver ( with an incredible track record, and hundreds of wins) but I realised many racing techniques are relevant in the business world as well.

I clearly remember at a Porsche Cars North America driving event at Monticello Motor Club , Sean Israel then an instructor at the Porsche Driving Experience was going over some techniques for driving on a track, and I think about them a lot today as they resonate in the tech world as well.

The first is, when you’re driving, you need to keep your eyes on the farthest point on the track that you can see. Even if the path isn’t straight, your eyes should stay on the destination, and your peripheral vision will help you instinctively correct track. If you’re looking at the street right in front of you, you won’t know what to expect and are much more likely to lose control. Similarly in the tech world, you shouldn’t be looking at tomorrow. You should plan for the future, and keep your eyes on the ultimate goal. Your day to day may be a winding path that you need to navigate, but if you only plan for the short term, you wont see what’s coming up and crash.

The second is, in racing your goal is speed. In order to maintain that speed, before a tight turn you hit the brakes hard, turn the wheel and then floor the pedal. The key here is the hard brakes BEFORE turning the wheel. Why ? Because the wheels were designed to roll forward and therefore have better traction when rolling. If you break in a turn the weight and momentum of the car ar pushing the wheel at an angle, and so the breaking force is not optimal. Similarly, as a tech company chances are you will HAVE to pivot. Multiple times. That’s fine, and even a positive thing to do, however, before making that pivot, take a moment to decide on a new direction before you ramp up activities. It’s better to loose momentum for a moment to regroup and jump back in full force, than to have a team each pulling in a different direction and getting nowhere.

If you’re in the tech world, I highly suggest you try racing. It’s a great way to unwind, and you might learn a thing or 2 that you can apply to your business.

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