This post is the first of many categorized as “Leadership and Popcorn Lessons” that I’ll share business and leadership takeaways from movies. I love going to movies and watching great stories unfold on the big screen, and felt it would help you, my readers, in your career & life if you had additional insights into the film and key lessons to look out for if you were to see the film.
I’ve been excited to see Ford v. Ferrari since I watched its trailer release on YouTube. I’m a fan of both Matt Damon & Christian Bale, and was excited to see how they would bring this story to life. The film highlights the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s “oldest, active sports car endurance race.”
Ford Motor Company’s sales were struggling during the 1960’s. Desperate for a change, Henry Ford II hired a team of engineers, led by automotive legend Carroll Shelby (Damon) and his British driver (Bale) to design a Ford racing car capable of beating Ferrari in the world’ biggest race. It was a move the company was banking on changing their brand image from an “old man’s car” to a new generation’s fast, sexy car.
Ford v. Ferrari is a fast-paced racing movie, full of ego, arrogance, and the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s also filled with key lessons for succeeding in business and life.
1. What’s Worked In the Past Doesn’t Guarantee It Will in the Future
Ford had built a large company on the backs of their early models, but during the 1960s, saw their market share slip due to a younger generation aligning Ford with their parents – and like all teenagers & young adults, they wanted to distance themselves from anything that made them look like their parents. James Bond, the image of sexy & strong, drove an Ashton Martin. Other brands stepped ahead of Ford until they turned to Carroll Shelby and unveiled the Ford Mustang in 1964.
As detailed in the movie, Ford had to change their brand image & product line from what “was” in order to rise back ontop for what it “could be.”
It’s easy for us to rely on the way “things have always been” in business. We grow comfortable and complacent sticking with what’s always worked instead of continually evaluating our systems, products, and customer experience – until one day we look up and realize we’ve lost ground in the market. “What got you here won’t get you there” is a phrase I’ve kept in the forefront of my mind during my own entrepreneurial journey so that I was constantly focusing on how we can innovate and continue growing instead of being caught complacent.
2. Sometimes You Have to Look Outside of Your Industry for Game-Winning Ideas
Ford’s team looked beyond the American consumer market for ideas on how to rebrand themselves and create a new product (insert Ferrari & the 24 Hours of Le Mans). Most companies succeed with innovation with they look outside of their own industry and direct competitors for fresh ideas in other industries altogether.
We get stuck in a habit only reviewing our space when many great ideas can be found by looking at the processes & systems of other industries. Just look at how companies like Uber & AirBnB have changed the transportation & travel industries. If you’re ever feeling stuck, challenge yourself to look at how successful companies in entirely different spaces are working for a fresh perspective.
3. Be Willing to Experiment and Test with the Continuous Focus of “How Can We Get Better Today?”
Shelby’s team was relentless testing Miles’ race cars to create the most efficient & powerful machine so he had the best opportunity to win at Le Mans. Just the same, successful organizations encourage a culture of asking “how can we get better today?” It’s a simple question, that if integrated into all levels of a company, can create powerful results.
This simple question encourages every position within a company to evaluate their own workday, communication lines, customer-engagement, and more for opportunities to streamline and improve the workflow & experience. The tests to improve the workflow only benefit the company’s productivity and – just as important – the customer experience.
Be less concerned about something “not working” and more concerned with testing different ideas for improvement. You won’t bat 1.000% on new ideas – but you will bat 0% if you never attempt to test them.
4. Someone Will Always Criticize You – Even Try to Bring You Down – Ignore Them To Focus on What You Control.
Throughout the entire movie, Damon & Bale’s characters faced challenges – both from external teams & influences as well as internal at Ford. It reminded me of one key truth we forget when pursuing something great – not everyone is going to like it or you. It doesn’t matter if they do, it only matters what you continue to do.
You can’t control how someone else treats you (or tries to sabotage you) but you 100% control how you respond in your attitude, effort, & actions. You can waste precious time worrying about what someone else will say or do – or you can invest that time in getting better with your product and service. Even if you do a flawless job, someone will have something negative to say – so it’s a more effective use of your time to ignore outside critics and instead focus on what you control.
Ford v. Ferrari is a great film on the importance of thinking creatively outside of the box, believing in your ability to win, and hiring people you believe in — and then getting out of their way to let them do their job effectively.
How you start your day sets the tone you carry throughout the day.
I loved to sleep in growing up. I could sleep until 10-11am if my parents would have let me (they didn’t). I’d be ok rolling out of bed and eating lunch. I enjoyed sleeping that much.
As I got older, I didn’t have the luxury to sleep all day. I had to jump up, head out the door to start work, and get a move on my day. Most mornings, I would simply roll out of bed, shower, and then grab something to eat on my way out the door. Some days I’d stop at get coffee and then start my work day.
The only intentional action I had was to get clean, consume caffeine, and get through the day. And my productivity throughout the day showed this.(more…)
I remember being made fun of during middle school for “flooding.” The “cool” girl who sat behind me reminded me daily that it wasn’t raining ?
(Thank you growth spurt).
I remember that also being a big turning point in my life where I suddenly became super self-conscious of what I wore and incredibly concerned with what everyone else thought of me.
And more so, concerned with doing what I could to be liked by them.
This negative mindset (trying to win others’ approval and care what they thought) carried itself with me throughout most of my young adulthood. And it was DRAINING.
You’ll never be enough (cool, fit, stylish, rich, etc…) for some people.(more…)
Hope isn’t a winning strategy when it comes to making this year better than last. You need to take action, with a big picture plan – and a daily process to get there.
Here’s a formula I use to get crucial WINS each year and if applied, can make 2019 your best year yet.
“Compete every day? No, that’s not me. I don’t like to compete.”
Does that response sound like something you’d say? I used to hear it quite often at tradeshows with the Compete Every Day team. Visitors would be walking the expo floor, stop in the booth to shop the apparel and then see the brand name and give me that line.
They believed that if they didn’t join a fitness competition or play competitive sports that they, in fact, weren’t ever competing.
It’s not that they weren’t competing against something, it’s just that they didn’t realize they were.
What will define your 2017?
Each year, I anxiously anticipate Chris Brogan’s “My 3 Words..” blog post. It’s become tradition to read the post, meditate, and set the theme for my own key words of 2017. It also become my annual challenge to live outside of my comfort zone because these three words are to hold me accountable for the next 365 days.
How do you maintain a positive attitude when everything around you is negative or going to shit? How do you get past the bad situations in life that occur and focus on the good? I share some tips on how I work to shift my mindset from disappointment to future success. (more…)