What Can We Learn From The Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is called the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.

What Can We Learn From The Kentucky DerbyIt is steeped in history and traditions. Since 1875 the event has been held on the first Saturday in May. Female spectators wear unique and colorful hats. Men may enjoy their Bourbon and fire up a fine cigar or two. The Mint Julep is the drink of the day. The song “My Old Kentucky Home” is played as the horses are presented to the track. After all it is a horse race.

Yes there is a training regimen. Yes there is a huge amount of money at stake for the owners and breeders. It is a horse race. Each horse is going to race against every single other horse. There is one objective – beat all of the other horses on the track.

There are numerous business lessons to be learned from The Kentucky Derby. Let’s explore three here. First is the main event is a horse race which will last a few minutes. Each entrant has qualified to participate in the race itself. An entire team is involved to support each horse and the race team. For example there is a trainer and often more than one, a groomer and again potentially more than one and there may be a marketing person or PR person for the race team as well.

Second is the horse actually runs the race. Each horse has a jockey who choreographs the strategy and the tempo based upon the field and the specific attributes of the horse. From the training regimen the attributes of the horse are refined and tested.

Third is the performance on the big day. In front of a large crowd with sounds, smells and an energy not able to be replicated in the training efforts or even at other races participated in before how will the horse and the jockey actually perform?

From the first point we might consider how a short period of time may be able to define everything that happens next for us in our business. It is not to say that an extreme amount of work and effort did not take place for this short period of time to take place. This is why the well known quote exists “Yes, I am described as an overnight success which took me twenty years in the making.”

From the first point and through to the second is it takes a team to create a successful business. Every member of the team contributes in some way based upon their role and their area of expertise. The need for a coach or an experienced person to advise and offer guidance is one of the wisest and most valuable investments.

From the third point is what happens when you roll everything out and it is show time? The point to be taken from here is to test – test – test. Run your idea or your product by your ideal audience and obtain feedback. Then implement the changes and do it again. The one thing you do not want to ever do is step out on stage for the first time never having practiced your speech at the very least one time.

Mitch Tublin is a business consultant, a certified executive coach and professional speaker who resides in Stamford, CT.

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