We all make adjustments for the long haul.
Just look at me—a high energy entrepreneur and avid mountain biker, who enjoyed the thrills and chills of the trail for over 20 years.
And while I wouldn’t say I’ve mellowed a lot since then, I will admit a big shift.
These days my mountain bike hangs in the garage while I take out my road bike for close formation distance rides with a dozen or more other cyclists.
Why is this group a better fit for me now? Paceline cycling, as it’s called, reminds me first and foremost to FOCUS.
It’s a difficult lesson—one that I face every day as new opportunities arise for my startup, PRSONAS. But startups have very limited resources. It’s critical to focus solely on the highest priority objectives and keep to the course. Distractions can be killers.
Here are seven more truths learned from paceline cycling that have made me a better CEO this year:
Define the expected pace.
Group rides make this very clear by announcing the level of difficulty, pace and distance before the ride on community websites. If only it were that easy at work. Start-ups are unpredictable and that yo-yo effect can wreck companies, health and marriages. Set a pace you can keep for the long haul and stick to it.
Communication is critical.
It must be succinct and ongoing, constantly passing down the line. One of my favorite MBA professors had an acronym for this: BLOT, bottom line on top communication. Riders never waste words on preamble. “Car-right.” “Hole.” “Dog.”
The group is a meritocracy.
Everyone is equally invested in the effort, expected to contribute and pull their weight regardless of age, gender or how much their bike costs. Natural leaders will emerge along the route.
This is a serious effort with real consequences.
Start-up cultures are known for their playful perks. But never forget you can get hurt out there. Mortgages, college funds and grocery bills are at stake. Remember, there are no pads to cushion the fall, no golden parachutes.
Individual superstars provide little value.
No one can outpace the group. You move as one.
Measure results and rank performance.
You can’t move to the next level if you don’t know where you are now. Many cyclists use an app called Strava for measuring their results. Start-up companies have lots of key performance indicators. Evaluate often and keep an eye on your competition. Know where you stack.
Remember, this is your time and time is a precious commodity. So whether you’re launching a new product or biking down back roads on a Sunday afternoon, make sure you enjoy the ride!