The weekend so many Formula 1 fans have waited for and wished for is finally here. Not just American fans but fans throughout the world. It’s the United States Grand Prix at the brand-new, purpose-built Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Formula 1’s first visit to American soil in five years.
The event opens so many questions: Will US motorsport fans embrace Formula 1? Will the sport depend on the American economy and fan base to sustain its schedule in future years? What about future US-based teams and drivers? What about this? What about that?
The effort to bring Formula 1 back to the States has been interesting to follow as has the marketing effort to fill the grandstands and the grassy banks at Circuit of the Americas. So far so good. The circuit looks great, the race is “all but a sell out” and so far so good this morning: the transportation plan for fans is working well.
Good or bad, hiccups or not, championship decision or a wait until Brazil, it will be analyzed in so many ways next week. But for today, tomorrow and Sunday, let’s enjoy a bit of fun. And international friendship.
Formula 1 is clearly glad to be here … and Americans are glad to welcome it back! Bring it on … and yeehaw!
All the world could say was “Wow”.
In the midst of the excitement and trepidation of Felix’s ascent, I heard a very interesting fact shared by the commentator: The balloon carrying Felix aloft was 10 times thinner than a sandwich bag. I had to stop and think about that for a moment. As an engineer for Red Bull Stratos — the engineering team behind the mission — explained, it was equivalent to the thinness and fragility of a dry cleaner bag. He went on to explain that, while very fragile on Earth, the balloon was indeed very flexible and powerful to withstand the changes in wind, air pressure and air density at higher elevations.
As we all witnessed yesterday, that truly was the case. Something tissue-thin yet resilient met every expectation. Something tissue-thin yet strong, predictable — and manageable through cross currents and the jet stream — did its job, the key to a successful mission and epic achievement.
Many of us would likely agree that the term “transparency” has become yet another overused bit of “corporate speak”. I, for one, had begun to laugh — if I didn’t cringe! — each time I heard the word in a presentation or read it in a blog post or tweet. But after seeing and learning more about Red Bull Stratos’s amazing creation, I appreciate the true power of transparency.
In business, transparency is not about being vulnerable. It’s not about sharing so much that you share too much. It’s not about being too available.
Instead, it’s about being strong, reliable and in control when it counts. It’s about adjusting to changing currents and realizing that sometimes “ballasts” are needed to keep you on course. And, as you ascend, it’s simply about doing your part — keeping your focus — and uplifting others with you.
Next time you hear the word “transparency” don’t roll your eyes. Stop and remember what just learned from a pretty amazing balloon.
Last week, Formula 1 lost one of its most treasured personalities: Dr. Sid Watkins, affectionately known as Professor Sid or “Prof”, died at the age of 84. The long-time medical chief of the sport, Professor Sid treated many drivers and team personnel injured on the circuit — and worked tirelessly off the circuit to improve safety within motorsport. There is no telling how many lives he saved through his efforts and all of motorsport owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
In the midst of many heroic trackside efforts, one seems to stand out from the others. Professor Sid resuscitated but knew he could not save his friend and fellow safety champion Ayrton Senna. Senna, a driver for the Williams F1 team, died from head injuries sustained in a crash during the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994. Through the movie “Senna” released last year, many throughout the world came to know Professor Sid as he shared memories of his friendship with Ayrton and also his experiences during the tragic afternoon at Imola. For many of us fans, losing Professor Sid last week was like living the loss of Senna all over again.
Professor Sid will be honored in ceremonies during this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. In addition there have been thousands of tributes through Formula 1 management, team personnel, drivers, journalists — and, of course, fans. Once again the huge community that is F1 has come together to mourn and to celebrate the life of a legend.
Yes, Professor Sid was a legend. His love for Formula 1 and for all of motorsport was legendary. And his contributions to them will live forever.
Rest in peace, dear friend, and thank you.
Once again the world is swept up in Olympics fever. All eyes are on London as we are in the midst of the Summer Games. As an avid sports fan, I find myself following competition results throughout the day and have found this edition of the Olympics one of the best, if not THE best ever. Amazingly fast, skilled and dedicated athletes competing in such beautiful and impressive venues has truly been something to watch.
Yes, London, you are doing yourself proud. Even the British weather has taken note and cooperated (at least most of the time — ha!). Behind the scenes of the spectacle we fans are enjoying either in person or on our TVs, laptops and phones is an equally amazing skilled and dedicated team — London’s “Games Makers”.
The Games Makers are the scores of volunteers assisting fans from the airports to the Olympic Park to each venue. The head of London’s Olympic organizing committee, Sir Sebastian Coe, explained that they were given that title because they will “make” the Games happen. Along with making the Games happen, I can imagine there will be many occasions when they will “make” a fan’s day — from assisting someone on arrival at Heathrow, offering directions to a wayward family or providing special accomodations to an older or disabled fan at a venue. Then again, it’s reported that they “make” everyone’s day by greeting each person with a smile or a laugh with true British style and warmth. They may be Britain’s best goodwill ambassadors ever.
Are you and your staff warm, friendly, welcoming and helpful “Games Makers” for your company? What can you and your staff do to “make” someone’s day today? Just as the welcome begins at Heathrow, the welcome to your company begins when someone walks in the door or picks up the phone. From front desk to loading dock, there should be amazing skill and dedication to providing the very best for each and every customer.
When the Olympics are over and in the record books, there are many fans who will most remember their encounter with a friendly, knowledgeable Games Maker who saved the day — and their Olympic experience. In your company, when the sale is made and the product is delivered, may your customer most remember the friendly, knowledgeable service that came along with it.
Always remember that “Games Makers” can be game changers.
As we have seen time and again, good can come from tragedy. Gain from loss. New beginnings from heartbreaking endings. We in America experienced this as we came together in the days and months after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Rather than cowering in fear we showed strength and determination like never before.
My home city of Atlanta, Georgia, has experienced two great losses over the years. During the Civil War, the city was virtually burned to the ground by the Union Army as they marched through the state toward the coastal city of Savannah and its crucial port. Atlanta rebuilt and re-emerged as a vital regional — and ultimately international — center for transportation and commerce, at the crossroads of interstate highways and railroads and as home of the world’s busiest airport.
With its thriving businesses and growing population, Atlanta is also home to a wonderful arts community. This is in many ways due to another deep tragedy that struck the city 50 years ago this weekend. On June 3, 1962, an Air France jet carrying 133 people, including over 100 of Atlanta’s most prominent citizens of the time, crashed on takeoff in Paris.
If you can imagine over 100 of your city’s leaders and greatest benefactors being taken in a moment ….
That’s what happened to Atlanta.
The group had traveled to Paris to tour museums and meet with members of France’s and Europe’s art and music community, forming relationships and discovering ways to enhance arts in Atlanta. I was only two years old and, of course, have no memory of that day. However I have heard the story through the years as the city has marked the sad anniversary each year. My parents vividly remember the tragic news. An aunt and uncle of my mother’s best friend were among the victims.
In the aftermath, the city and a new arts community immediately came together to pick up the pieces and launch a massive fundraising effort to memorialize those lost. Within four years the beautiful Memorial Arts Center was built. In addition, contributions brought the High Museum of Art, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Ballet, among other arts groups, that have gained worldwide acclaim.
Atlanta’s symbol is the phoenix, the mythological bird. According to legend among several cultures, a phoenix would live for 500 to 1000 years then would ignite, being destroyed by fire and reduced to ashes. From the ashes a young phoenix would emerge and the cycle of life to death to life would begin again. It’s the perfect symbol. As Atlantans, Americans, and world citizens we have witnessed local and national tragedy, experienced the pain of loss among families and friends. And, as we have seen time and again, we emerge stronger, more united, more committed.
With the Paris crash, Atlanta experienced the greatest loss and yet received the greatest gifts. Not only gifts of art, music and dance but more importantly the gift of renewed community. A true gift of life begun again.
I love retail. I’m fascinated by it. It all began with my first job at a drugstore in my hometown. Once in college, I chose a major in retail advertising and marketing to launch my career. After several years as an advertising copywriter for a popular regional department store chain I moved into advertising sales and my love for the world of the merchant continued. Now I appreciate the opportunity to advise several independent restaurants and shops here in the Atlanta area.
From the glitz and glam of fashion shows, to the mad dashes of shoppers early on the morning after Thanksgiving, to the arrival of the Internet, I’ve seen much during my career. Along with seeing names such as Amazon appear, I’ve seen names such as Rich’s and Marshall Field disappear.
As I’ve watched retail through the years, some things have become apparent. They are not only key to success in retail — They are key to success in every business … and in every life. First, stay true to yourself and have confidence in who you are. Second, the winds may blow but you should never bend to their every whim. Third, remember where you came from and who and what brought you to where you are.
Among my work in retail was a part-time job as a sales associate for JC Penney. I came to admire the company as well as the local management team and appreciated their consistent quality of merchandise and wonderful customer service. After leaving the job I continued to shop at the store for a while … then began to see the changes. Yes, some were due to the economy but I sensed — and could see — something deeper. It was not just at that particular store but other locations as well. A lapse in merchandise selection. And more importantly, a lapse in caring, concern and service. From locked dressing rooms to cluttered racks to unmanned registers to confusing floor layouts to aging interiors. It was clear they didn’t care anymore.
After giving JC Penney every benefit of the doubt — and every opportunity to keep my business — I walked away.
After the holiday season in late 2011, they chose to re-emerge as a strangely rebranded “JCP”. No more coupons. No more “inflated pricing”. A new model. And, at least by today’s Wall Street reports, it’s a model that’s fallen as flat as the JCP brand. A $163 million net loss in the last quarter and the talk of more stores being shuttered.
There is the argument that coupons are the “bait” to attract consistent traffic that results in additional purchases. But I tend to disagree. I’ve come to think of them as a “one time thing” for the retailer — or that particular brand of pizza in the grocery store freezer. That is, unless you win me over with a tasty high-quality product, and in the case of a retailer, “tasty” high-quality service. I appreciate a valuable coupon as much as the next person. But I no longer would see “value” — in its truest sense — in a JCP coupon. They lost the deepest, most important “value” to me a long time ago.
Yes, they are JCP. And if they go away, yes I’ll be sad and I’ll be concerned for lost jobs and the loss of any remaining economic impact they have in the communities they serve.
But I won’t miss JCP. Because JCP is not JC Penney. They have lost James Cash Penney’s vision. As it stands now the chain should hide behind initials — and not carry his name until they regain it.
It will be wonderful if they can do so. And become a true quality and service-minded retailer once again. It’s happened before.
Once again, here I go giving them the benefit of the doubt!
Formula 1’s Most Magnificent Machine
It is an honor to contribute to MarshallGP’s salute to Ayrton Senna and “Senna Week” on their blog. As I write this, the foundation that Ayrton established in his native Brazil, Instituto Ayrton Senna, is marking the twentieth anniversary of his third – and sadly – final Formula 1 Driver’s Championship today, October 20.
Wow. Where does time go? Twenty years.
And as I write this, we motorsport fans are still coming around from and trying to comprehend the tragic weekend that just went by, where we lost yet another young talent in Dan Wheldon. I sit here with my original ideas for this post clouded by that reality. What do you say?
Then I think: wait. Go back. Capture that moment in time. What you wanted to originally write about. Oh yes, the car ………
I take you to early spring 1988. Reluctant teammates, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, arms around each other, smiles for the camera. Upstart Senna had been warned, rather frankly, that Prost was first driver and he should not upset the status quo.
Yeah, right. That and putting the Honda V6 turbo-powered McLaren through its final paces before its debut in Brazil that April. The battle between the two began, Ayrton on pole only to be disqualified, Ayrton on pole but Alain wins. Ayrton. Then Alain. Back and forth, back and forth.
One of Formula 1’s most epic seasons played out by two amazing guys, each at the wheel of their edition of one amazing car:
The McLaren 4/4.
Originally this post was going to celebrate the car. But instead I choose to celebrate the men and their storied relationship that, in the end, became a close friendship. In the midst of Senna Week, I salute Alain Prost along with Ayrton Senna.
For those of you who may not know, Ayrton and Alain made amends in the last days and weeks of Ayrton’s life. Alain was a pallbearer at Ayrton’s funeral. And Alain is a trustee of Instituto Ayrton Senna.
Together they drove their McLaren 4/4s into Formula 1 history.
When you think about it, the 4/4 was indeed one magnificent machine.
This morning, as I was reviewing sites, blogs and social media posts for a client, I ran across news that a recent survey among 18- to 34-year-olds found that they didn’t mind “double dipping” at a party. Hey now. That’s innocent — or rather innocent among younger party goers. It means dipping a chip into salsa or dip, taking a bite, then re-dipping the bitten chip into the same salsa or dip.
“Ugh!”, most of us say. But apparently it’s acceptable among the younger set.
Oh wow, I just called them that. On purpose. *smile*
This caused me to consider something. Are those active in social media sharing a bit too much these days? Losing connection with real life? With friends and family? Relaxation and double-dipping in a salsa bowl with close buds is one thing … but what about posting status updates and immediate responses to life events in social media? Without thinking twice? What about our blogs? Are we too quick and too free with what we are sharing, posting … venting … on Facebook or Twitter? Is it time to re-think our thinking?
Is it time to dial back? And stop that comfortable double-dipping? Online and in real life?