By Derek Neighbors, Published on May 6, 2022
Running in the mountains today. I’ve really been struggling. I’ve had a bad upper respiratory infection. I just returned to Arizona from Tennessee. It’s a bit hotter and I haven’t been running for the last month. So, just getting back to hitting the mountain every day.
Start out and a younger couple is in front of me in full top of the line trail gear. I hit the trail and they start jogging. My first thought was “Do I want to chase them?”. After a minute, I decide that it’s not worth chasing them. They will just crush me and I will feel defeated. So I just speed hike up
As I approach the summit and am a few hundred yards out, I see them at the top. I wonder if they are gonna stop and wait at the top or if they are going to start jogging once they get over the summit. I tell myself, “If I catch them at the top or close to the top, I’ll go ahead and put some juice on going down and see I can pull ahead and take it from there.”
I can’t help but turn everything into a competition. So I get to teh top and they are at the top. They have a dog with them and they are adjusting its collar and then start jogging again as I approach. I decide I will let my heart rate get back to where it needs to be. I am going to play the heart rate game instead.
So down we go. From summit to the first saddle I noticed that on the technical bits, they are really struggling. They slow to a jog at each technical section. The next quarter mile is pretty technical. It is the stuff I love to run. So I decide, I don’t even care, I’m going to blow the doors off this shit for the next quarter mile and have a good time.
So I fly down this quarter mile. I’m bouncing off the terrain in my element. I am having a great time. I remind myself this is why I run trails. This is why I do it. I’m so in love with this fantastic desert. I look back and they are way behind me. So I pull my heart rate back down under 160 and go into a jog.
So we jog a good mile along a flat and we are getting ready to climb again. I start feeling them right on my heels. I know I have slowed considerably and they were jogging at a good pace. I make the decision to just speed walk the up. I don’t care if they pass me. I will keep them in my sights and after the next summit I will chase them down.
We get about halfway up the climb and they still haven’t passed me. I can see in their body language and see them talk. Then they both start a mild sprint to pass me. It is clear they have picked up the pace and are ready to bury me. This pace much faster than the last climb. I am able to stay disciplined and don’t take the bait.
I let them pass and, and in fact I slow down. I figure let them burn some energy. We’ll get to the top of the next summit and then we’ll just have a race down. That’s where I love to be. So, I’m gonna have a two mile downhill race on my favorite downhill ride. Right. It’s gonna be great. I’m feeling good and why I do this.
As we get towards the top of the summit, they are starting to pull away quite a bit. Then I cross the summit and come around the bend. I noticed they’re walking. They seem to be gassed, but as descent starts they pick back up to a jog.
I tell myself, I’m not gonna purposely blow myself out. I’m pulling up behind them. I’m gonna let them go at whatever pace they want to go and I’m just gonna ride their tail. I know my pace is gonna be able to be faster than whatever pace they put out in a final stretch. Based on what I’ve seen so far.
I assumed they don’t have much left in the tank. As soon as we get to the first technical down, I’m just gonna turn on the turbos. We get to the first technical and they start walking, they’re done. They’re completely tanked. So I turn it on full blast and have a great finish. Put a half mile between us by the end of it.
The whole time down, I’m sitting here thinking this is kind of a life lesson for business. . When you’re in business it’s really easy, early stage, early market companies that are vying for a market to push too hard, too early, and the reality is that is when the market is the roughest and the hardest and the most competitive. It probably is not when you want to push the hardest or when you want to use your most resources.
Everybody is gunning and when you start to run out of resources, you have nothing left. Even if you’re at the top of the summit, if you can’t finish it out, it doesn’t matter. This is why some of the, the best companies, they stay in the game and make sure they’re relevant. They make sure they’re learning. They keep somebody in their sights and they wait for the right time to attack. They wait for when there is a hole in the strategy of the leader. That’s when they go for it. That’s when, they jump. If you look at Netflix, for example, with Blockbuster.
They went and they went and they were climbing the same hill. They were doing DVD sales, they were doing different distribution models, but they were still waiting. They had a grander scheme. They waited until Blockbuster saturated. The market had tons of capital put out in leases and other things to the point where they were over extended and couldn’t really compete when Netflix pivoted without having to kill their existing model.
That’s when Netflix went for the juggler. Look at Apple and what they did with the iPhone.Compared to Blackberry and Nokia. So timing the market is a big part of it. A business is not a sprint and this is the bullshit the venture capitalist have brought to the mindset. Is the VCs are looking for an exit. They’re looking for a three to seven year exit. That’s not how a company is built.
Usually a market’s not won in three to seven years. I think the companies that understand that they’re building a long-term business and can outweigh that and can do strategic maneuvers to wait for those downhills have the real advantage.
This principles lives in a lot places. Look at stage races like Baja or LeMans or Tour de France. It’s not a single segment or a single stage that determines the winner. Often times the best strategy is to keep the vehicle or participant in the race for the duration of the race to give them the best chance of winning.
Keep yourself in the top three until the end of the race. That’s a life metaphor.