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When Careers & Lifestyles Fail To Diverge…

March 22nd, 2013

No big messages here this morning, only a little break from the usual Finance-laden topics and a self-reflection on career. Everyone I talk with seems to strive for that balance between their career and their personal life. Much of this has to do with the lifestyle they lead outside of the office. In my case, I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with a number of companies that were actually lifestyle drive companies. DC Shoes, O’Neill Wetsuits, and GT Bicycles to name a few.  What was different about those companies is that emphasis was on Lifestyle as opposed to running the business and having the lifestyle be a fantastic complement to the results being achieved. I’ve been fortunate enough to develop a career that seems to aligned with the lifestyle that I lead outside the office….Cycling.

Huge difference you say? How can you even begin to compare Cycling with the CFO roles that you have held? That’s all finance-related, accounting driven, with some boring operational elements mix in…right? Pretty much the case with my cycling. If you take my approach to cycling, it typically is not about getting out for a little ride on the weekends and enjoying the sunshine. It’s a nice derivative, but it’s not the goal. My goal has always been the pursuit of relentless progression and seeing improvements in my performance. There’s a “P&L” to manage when it comes to my cycling. There’s “inputs” and “market conditions” that will affect my performance and I need to take those into consideration when preparing for a ride or analyzing the results.

Revenue. My revenue equivalent is my wattage number. This is the power that I am able to generate during a training ride or race. There’s no altering this number…you either deliver or you don’t. Ever since I was introduced to my first power meter 5 or 6 years ago I’ve been hooked on the data it provides and putting my efforts into perspective. Just like revenues, not all power figures are created equal. There’s the sub-measurements that include power:weight ratios, average wattages, normalized wattages, and your breakouts at specific time increments. All monitored over time and taking into account key events. Sound familiar?

Cost of Goods.  As I monitor my cost of goods with my P&L at work, I have to monitor my “inputs” in the same way. The obvious, and primary input, is nutrition. Are you “building your product” with B-grade quality and not eating appropriately or are you using good quality so as to avoid issues down the line? Have you made adjustments to your positioning? Have you completed the necessary pre-race preparations? If you have a crappy Quarter of results due to mismanagement of your inputs you can’t get that Quarter back…it’s gone. As in business, you need to maintain your momentum and capitalize on the results.

Operating Expenses. There are countless other “expenses” that need to be managed if your to achieve the results that you want. In my case, since I’m obviously not a full-time athlete, I need to deliver on the expected results in the office. There’s no compromising this. That’s why I’m up at 4a for my trainer workouts so I can still be in the office by 7.15a. Sleep…another expense that needs to be managed, which perhaps is also an input. There’s give and take…I’m up at 4a…but lights out by 9p and with as little deviation as possible.

Capital Expenditures.  Let’s not go there. Carbon is not cheap, but it’s a consideration to the results. As in business, if you’re not prepared to make the necessary equipment investment, then you’re not going to achieve optimal results. At the level I’m trying to race at, you can improve your wattage figures, but without the right equipment, you’re simply not going to win or have a top result for the day.

Net Profit. What was my actual wattage achieved? In consideration to my forecast, the “market conditions”, and my “inputs”, did I achieve the expected outcome? Last night I did a time trial at the Great Park here in Irvine. My previous wattage PR for the course was 309w. I was looking to improve this by 1% to 312w. At the end of the day I missed it by 1% and achieved only 306w. However, I also set a new time PR by 1% due to adjustments I had made in my fit and maintaining more discipline on positioning during the race. At the end of the “Quarter”, I hit my “Net Profit” figures, albeit with some consideration in the mix getting there.

When you boil it all down, the elements of my lifestyle outside of work really aren’t all that different from what I do in the office. I’m fortunate enough to love the career I’ve fallen into, which shadows the lifestyle I lead out of the office. While I look at my cycling as my “out of office therapy”, it’s only an additional reinforcement of the disciplines of striving for continual performance improvements.

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

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