retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The New York Times offers a business lesson in the guise of an extraordinary story about a 40-year-old fellow named Tim Don, a world record-holding Ironman athlete and Boston Marathon runner, who last October was hit by a car and suffered what is called a hangman’s fracture - it is what happens when a person gets hung.

In order to get back to competitive athletics as soon as possible, Don opted for something called a halo - “You take titanium pins and screw them into your skull, two in front and two in back, and attach them to metal bars, which attach to a bust that you wear for three months and that you can’t take off.” It is agony, but it works.

And it did work - Don will run the Boston Marathon on Monday, and expects to finish “in about 2 hours 50 minutes — about the same time he ran last May when he set the Ironman world record, 7:40:23, which included five hours of swimming and biking beforehand.”

I cannot do the story justice here, and I recommend that you read the entire piece here.

An then, there’s the business lesson.

At one point, Don talks about his limited shelf life as a competitive athlete.

“At age 40, Don has a finite window for his body to withstand peak performance,” the Times writes. “There is the looming need to support himself through sponsors, who tend to compensate wins, not effort. And aside from childhood jobs as a paperboy and a lifeguard, he has single-mindedly devoted his life to reaching the pinnacle of his sport.

“I have no idea if this is going to work,” Don says. “I just know I need to give it a go because we’re all trying to be faster than each other, and while I’m here, they’re trying to beat my world record. I just don’t want to be second in the world. I want to be the best-best, no matter what, and I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Here’s the thing. Every business model has a finite window for peak performance, a limited shelf life, and that’s the way every businessperson has to operate.

To operate in any other way is to embrace complacency. Which isn’t any sort of a business model at all.

Tim Don, to my mind, is an Eye-Opener.
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