Takeaways from the Dirty Kanza Drama
Before I outline some lessons that we should take away from the social media aftermath of the 2016 Dirty Kanza, I want to lay some information out there.
First, if you’re not aware of what’s happening, you might want to read up on it. My point of this post is not to take any sides and I don’t really want to rehash the details of the disqualification, because the rules have been tossed all over the internet and written about enough. I’ve seen enough and spent enough time on it. Have a read of the following and you make your own judgements:
Second, I’m pretty interested in this entire situation for two reasons. I’m half of RidingGravel.com (Guitar Ted is the other half) and I like to learn from different situations. Plus, at this point, it’s been hard to not follow along. It’s a runaway train wreck.
I feel that it’s also important to note that I’ve spent my 15 years post-college working life in all client relations type jobs. I’ve done everything from provide international tax advice and daily work to multi-million dollar clients to change flat tires on kids bikes in front of anxious customers to putting myself out there via Mountain Bike Radio. I’ve done several other client service type projects along the way as well. I’m also a parent of two young children – our girl is 2.5 years and our boy is 4 years old.
The continued discussion seems to mainly focus on the bottle hand ups and the rules. Let’s not get bogged down by the noise. I’m going to go into the weekend with some lessons that I’ve been reminded of by the situation. This definitely isn’t a complete list of all of my takeaways, but some things are best left to private discussions and in my own head to contemplate after a few beers.
1) People are treated differently. There are many instances in life that people are treated differently. A CEO carries the responsibility of the entire company on his/her back, while employees carry the responsibility of their day-to-day tasks. A CEO is required to live by a different set of standards and everything they do is going to be open to harsh criticism and analyzed under a microscope. Therefore, everyone from the person sweeping the floor to the vice president is watching.
Is it fair to be living a different set of standards for the CEO? Maybe not. But, remember, we all make sacrifices in our lives to be in our current position and we know what we’re getting in to. I can point to many other examples – presidents (minus the current political situation…that’s questionable whether either candidate can act with any sort of professionalism…), teachers, company owners, quarterbacks, cycling pros, parents, etc. Don’t you think the IRS has a closer eye on the billionaires in the country than they do the rest of us? In the case of the Dirty Kanza, if you’re a 6th place finisher who is the owner of a cycling business, you automatically are living under more scrutiny and are more likely to be singled out. Are you in 852nd place and an accountant at Joe & Joe Tax Firm (I can joke about accountants because I was one at one point and my wife is one)? You’re not likely to be singled out if that’s the case. It’s part of being a leader – whether you lead the pack, a company, your kids, or some other group. It’s not unfair, it’s part of being a leader.
2) Kids can teach you a lot. Having kids accelerates your learning of many life lessons. One of the most important is that you need to step away and learn how to think about other people first. It’s easy, with children or not, to be in our own heads and not realize that one of life’s greatest gifts is to give to others – give time, knowledge, trust, love, laughs, whatever you do and/or whatever your talent is. Give first. The rest should fall into place and be a satisfying and uplifting experience for everyone involved, past, present, and future. Mostly, kids just give you perspective on everything.
3) 95% of us don’t care about the winners. Why do companies, inside as well as outside of the cycling industry, feel like having an athlete at the front of any race or doing some wild, crazy adventure is the best way to sell their brand? One top finish only affects one person. Being a volunteer of a race can affect 1000’s of people in some small way. The 1000’s of people affected in some small way likely don’t result in likes, shares, trackable website stats, and product sales. However, the goodwill (and sales) that a business can gain from actually being involved and giving value in some way is the key to long-term success.
4) Know your customers. This one seems pretty obvious, huh? It’s hard to remember sometimes. It’s easy to get wrapped up in creating, producing, bookkeeping, marketing, invoicing, and all the other tasks that go into running any business. But at the end of the day, it’s essential to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and how you can provide value to your current and future customers. With this situation, it appears that they were out there trying to promote the Boo brand (logo magnet on the car at the event, their Facebook page header picture is their gravel bike, and for about a day they had a pinned post on Facebook with a review to their gravel bike). But the follow up blog post and Facebook discussions made it publicly clear that they didn’t know their customer.
5) If everything around you is dumb… You are the common denominator. I’ve seen some negative comments being tossed around by people following along – the racers are lame for telling, racing is dumb, promoting races is dumb, the rules are dumb, people commenting are dumb. If you look around and see everything as dumb, well, you’re in the middle. I’ve also had conversations with some incredibly positive people and I’m thankful there are so many out there.
It’s been an interesting couple days in the gravel cycling world. I’ve been reminded of some important lessons and I hope we can all get something from this. I’m not sure how Nick, his wife, and Boo will fare in the short term, but I’m sure they’ve learned many things and it’ll all be fine in the long term. It seems that we’re all pretty forgiving for the most part and there is always a good solution for everyone. As far as the Dirty Kanza, it’s in the hands of some great people who are keenly aware of their customers and do whatever they can to provide the experience they think people deserve.
Have a great weekend!
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