May 31, 2022

#45 - The Indy 500 episode: Founders are like race car drivers???

Brendan is just back from the Indy 500...and it was awesome!

In this quick ~7 minute chat, Brendan and Bob talk about the parallels between being a race car driver and a startup founder. And there are a few.

Brendan is just back from the Indy 500...and it was awesome!

In this quick ~7 minute chat, Brendan and Bob talk about the parallels between being a race car driver and a startup founder. And there are a few.

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Okay. So it's another episode of Let's Chat Sales. And this time a little bit of a different one. We are talking about the Indy 500. And how being a race car driver is similar to being a founder. It's kind of an interesting little thought experiment. I hope you find it useful. 

And interesting and, um,  let's get started. Thanks.  

Okay, Bob. So you know what? This is, it's another edition of Let's Chat, Sales, Let's Chat Sales. 

I've been missing you, Brendan. You know, we were supposed to do this a couple of days ago. We 

didn't get to.

You know, why? Cause I was at the Indianapolis 500. 

Unbelievable, unbelievable. It was a bucket 

list item, right.

It's a bucket list and it's quite awesome. It's an amazing thing. I dunno. Have. More than once, but it's, it's an amazing sort of event.  The funny thing about it is... because the cars get faster and faster, the race gets shorter over the


Yeah. I was thinking that because I used to watch it as a kid taped on ABC's wide world of sports. It would take like five hours and take about two and a half. 

Yeah, a little over two. 

I watched the race hoping I see you. You know, I was there, I was out there hundreds of thousands of people, 

300,000 in the stands.

 There were a couple people that looked like you on TV, but I wasn't 

sure I was in a white shirt if that helps. 

but I, I think there's a parallel between. Being an Indy race car driver and being a founder, especially when it comes to sales. Do you want to talk through 


That's kind of a funny, that's a very interesting sort of a, you mean like just be having to make quick decisions and that sort of thing. Yeah. 

Yeah, exactly. So walk through it because I think it's a great way to make it come to life. 

You certainly are the, as the race car driver and as the founder... you are the center of attention in a way.

I mean, everything kind of pivots off of you as an individual. Right. So there's certainly that. You're also 

forced all the pressure that goes on with 

that. Yeah. All the pressure that comes with it. You're the person that's ultimately, you're making the decisions. Everyone else around you is in support of you making certain decisions because when you're on the track, as it were, you're the one that decides to do this and, and thus put the car at risk of going right into the wall, which several did on Sunday.

Several did. 

So, so that's certainly one element of it. It's kind of an interesting way to look at it. The other is, at the same time you're relying on so many other people around you. As the driver, as the founder, you're still dependent upon a lot of other people to do their jobs.

And ultimately you ought to be good at that thing. in the case of a race car driver, it's driving. In the case of a founder, it's leading the company. It's having the vision. It's being the face of the company. 

Knowing what you're trying to 

accomplish. Yeah, exactly. You're steering the ship.

You're the one that can make the decisions at that point in time. Ultimately you you're the one that gets to make those decisions.  

You're also the face of the company. You're kind of a sales guy. You're the product... you and the car. So in the same way, the product is the product, but you're also the product. People are buying the founder.

So in a very real sense, you're the marketing person. You're the sales person for the car company, right?  They don't put the mechanics pictures out on these big banners. Probably the guy standing next to the car... it's the race car driver.

And the same way the founders... it's Elon Musk and Tesla. It's not the engineers behind the scenes.  Facebook... it's Zuckerberg.  So it's kind of interesting. little parallel.  

I think there's another avenue of it that strikes me, which is the idea that as a race car driver, you're making very quick decisions.

I was watching the race on TV... and they kept talking about the wind speed was growing and as the wind speed got higher and higher, it forced them to adapt their cars in different ways and to adapt their driving because of a whole bunch of aerodynamics.

So that's one of those variables that you can't control. We do not have the ability to control wind. And I think as a founder, there are a lot of variables outside your control. 

You can't control the economy, you can't control the supply chain. You can't control global politics. You can't control a customer's overall views of technology.

Yeah. But you've got to move within those as they come at you and make snap decisions sometimes to protect and preserve what you're trying to do. Race cars drivers do it all the time. 

Or that wind example, they're feeling it happening in the turn, which is evidently where it was catching these drivers. 

From three to five. Turn three. Thank you 

for our listeners.


There's someone out there going, wow... he really is like into this 

right.  And they're in there. They're probably radioing back to their teammates, their crew... hey, this is what's happening in turn Three and when they next come in,  it's adjusting the product. Someone comes... in tunes the wing then they're, they're back in competitive. And if you can do it better than somebody else, then you're going to come out ahead.  So the quick decision making, I think, yeah, I think that's a good one.

I think also recovering from mistakes. I remember one of the race cars did something and they'd go back into the pits.

I think they exited to too quickly go back. So they got a penalty.  Yeah. Yeah. And so there's one of those mistakes where they said, that's basically a mess them up for the 

whole race. He was, he was in first place and ended up at the back of the pack.

That was Dixon. And his penalty cost him. Yeah. 

And that happens in life. But he still finished the race.  He could have had a fit and said, well, you know what, I'm out. Right. The odds are stacked against me. I'm going to give up.

And I think for founders, there are days where you want to do that. You just want to say I'm done, but you still run the race. Imagine running the race when you were favored. And now you're the guy in the back of the pack for whose good, 70, 80 laps, if I recall, correct? 

Yeah... it was basically he done.

Yeah. But you, you still do it. You still keep driving. Right. Because you've got an obligation to your investors, to your team, to your customers. You don't just give up in the same way he didn't give up. That's a good way to think about. I think we beat it up.

I think we'd beat it up. Yeah. Very on-point. You're very topical given the Indianapolis 500. If you're out there and curious about it, I'll tell you, quite an event. But I would say if you have a chance to do it, watch from a box .

That's the way to do it. All right. 

 All right, Bob, talk to you soon, man. Bye. 

Okay. So that was another... a little bit different, right episode...     Thanks for listening. And please, as always liking subscribe or share with your friends or making comment. Uh, we'll talk to you soon.