What My Love for Motorcycles Taught Me About Taking Risks
How it all began
I’ve always had a passion for motorcycles – I saw my first one when I was four-years-old, and have been a biker ever since I got my license. I crave the sense of freedom and adventure you feel when riding. But more important, riding has given me a taste for risks and adventure, and makes me dream about possibilities – not just on the open road, but in my personal and professional life, too.
Nothing beats hopping on my bike to explore new places and push my boundaries, and that thrill-seeking side of me has impacted who I am in the workplace. I am a firm believer that you bring to work who you are outside, and that work is personal. The best way to fulfill yourself at work is to tap into your core values and interests to develop a strong sense of self-awareness. My passion for motorcycles has taught me a lot about myself as a professional – and has made me a better employee, and leader. Here are three things that being a biker has taught me throughout my career:
The difference between taking a risk and being reckless
I embody a ‘why not’ attitude, meaning I will typically say yes before I say no. My motorcycle fulfills this thirst to push my boundaries, take risks and try new things. However, it is crucial to recognize the difference between taking a risk and being reckless – it’s why I always wear helmet when I ride. The key is to take calculated, measured risks. It is easy to get carried away – but the higher the risk doesn’t always mean the higher the reward.
When it comes to riding a bike, reckless behavior doesn’t only put the careless rider in life-threatening danger – it also threatens the safety, well-being, and even the lives of others. In the workplace, reckless decision-making also has repercussions that can have a ripple-effect that reach beyond the individual who made the decision. Reckless calls not only cost the individual their job security (and even their entire job) – but also the job security and reputation of his or her coworkers and clients.
There is a fine line with risk-taking, but in my role as CMO of SAP Ariba, I have been able to strike a balance. Just as I don’t lose sight of the rules of the road when I’m exploring new territory on my bike – I don’t lose sight of my core values and goals, or my ability to react to my environment, when developing and executing a business strategy. As I take measured risks when it comes to SAP Ariba’s marketing strategy, the goal is to help SAP Ariba stand out from competitors and drive global expansion and ROI.
The need for a roadmap
It’s much more productive and meaningful to hop on my bike with an end destination in mind; the importance and value of outlining a roadmap before a journey is undeniable. Translating this best practice to my work – I have outlined a roadmap for SAP Ariba in 2018, with specific end goals, including:
- Elevating the brand by executing with purpose
- Developing programmatic relationships with key influencers
- Supporting global market expansion through innovation
- Supporting sales through the entire buyer’s journey
- Focusing on customer intimacy, advocacy and loyalty
I’ve also outlined a goal for my journey as CMO of SAP Ariba in the coming year, and that is to become hyper connected to our customers. Nothing will be more critical in 2018 than supporting their digital transformations. And this will require going beyond the traditional marketing funnel and gaining a deep understanding of each customer’s (and potential customer’s) unique business goals. This level of awareness is only possible through personal and targeted interactions and I am dedicated to taking a collaborative, interactive and personal approach to support each leg of our customers’ business journeys.
Being comfortable with being open
The exposed setup of a motorcycle requires bikers to get comfortable with being open. And this is critical in the workplace. Without an open mind, you won’t get very far in either your personal or professional life. You can sit in the middle of an office and talk to anyone as much as you want – but unless you actually listen to, consider, and value what others are saying in each of your interactions, it is impossible to achieve a meaningful connection. Keeping an open mind is also critical to good leadership and key component of risk taking. Without an open mind to try new things – whether it’s a new approach to marketing or new product innovation – leaders will fall victim to the status quo and be disrupted by competitors.
I use a variety of tactics to show my colleagues that I’m an open resource to them. I hold impromptu meetings, whether it is calling my team into a conference room, or taking team members out for a quick coffee or lunch. I welcome creative ideas to make the workspace warm and personal, encouraging teams to organize birthday celebrations and other key milestone events. These gestures convey to my colleagues that I’m an open person to interact with during any and all situations throughout the day. This has helped me to gain a deep understanding of the work my team does and the challenges they face, and has helped me build relationships with them as individuals and instill their trust.
My journey has proven that personal hobbies can translate into professional success. The lessons I’ve learned, and best practices I’ve developed as a biker have made me a more strategic, collaborative leader – and have allowed me to execute my role as CMO on a more personal level.
What drives you? Even if you don’t ride a bike – take a moment to reflect on the things that you are passionate about – and how they can fuel your journey. Then strap in and enjoy the ride…