March 10, 2024


Yes, I will wander over to the topic for today in a moment. Here's the setup.

I was at the NASCAR XFINITY race in Phoenix on Saturday. This is racing's version of AAA baseball, a development series in the racing ladder system ... one step away from racing on Sundays in the Cup Series.

One of the women in the series is named Hailie Deegan. Her Dad is a famous in motocross racing, an impossibly difficult form of racing on motorcycles. Yes, there is a perception that she was born on third base and gets preferential treatment. People on Twitter will tell you so, unprompted.

Oh, she has talent. She won many late model races (racing at the "A" level in baseball terms) and took no crap from the guys she raced against. She moved up to NASCAR Trucks ("AA" level) and did not perform great. Regardless, she is signed by Toyota Racing Development, and as a result she's racing at the "AAA" level. 

Her first three races at this level were not great.

I watched her race on Saturday, in person. She was not fast, and you never know if it is the driver or the equipment (hint - it is usually the equipment). But she was not reckless - she protected her equipment, and she did not put other drivers in harm's way.

At one point, she lightly touched the wall about a quarter lap ahead of the leader (meaning she was about to be lapped and when that happens you are not having a good day). NASCAR threw a caution flag, likely unnecessary since drivers scrape the wall often. The conspiracy theorists piled on "THEY'RE PROTECTING HER, IT'S UNFAIR!", knowing the caution would bunch everybody up and protect her from being lapped. A few laps later with the field tightly bunched up post-caution, a big accident happened, and she was collected in the accident. A red flag was called ... cars must stop on the track. Her pit team told her to drive the car to the pits, she did that, NASCAR disqualified her and towed her car off the track in retaliation.

Twitter was mercilessly cruel ... , as it frequently is toward women. Men (it's mostly men) said she lacks talent, and because she was born on third base and has the backing of Toyota she gets to race in a series she isn't qualified to race in, while many other more qualified drivers can't bring sponsorship money to the sport so they cannot drive. They think her presence on a race track is inherently unfair to more talented drivers.

How does this story relate to you?

A few years ago, I told the CEO of a company that his business was struggling because he wasn't investing in new customers (have any of you ever heard me say that before?). The CEO told me that the comment was unfair ... while online startups had bottomless pockets via Silicon Valley, he had to fund customer acquisition efforts with the profit from his business, and as his business became less profitable he had less profit to invest in new customers, which caused the business to become less profitable. You see where that business is headed, right?

The CEO was grumbling because he wasn't in Hailie Deegan's shoes. He wasn't being given preferential treatment. He wasn't born on third base. To him, it wasn't fair that an online brand got VC backing that it didn't deserve and hadn't earned like his business earned.

Two things can be true at the same time.

  1. Life isn't fair, and there is not one thing you can do to fight those who may have real or perceived opportunities because of fame or money.
  2. It is your flippin' job to overcome adversity. Find a way.

If your competitor was born on third base (VC or Private Equity funding), they're lucky and you have to earn everything you're given. They're big and slow, you are small and nimble (sort of like that discussion from the movie Enemy of the State). They have to advertise in NASCAR, you get to take 1/40th the amount of the money and act immediately on the socials.

Yes, it is unfair that these well-funded online brands get opportunities you don't get. That doesn't mean you attack them ... they may be earning their opportunities, you don't know. Focus on your business. How can you be scrapy and find new customers in non-traditional ways?

How can you be scrappy and find new customers in non-traditional ways?

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