I worked at an art museum. Now I work at a race track and for a racing series. They seem very opposite and I catch people off guard when I reveal anything about my career. There are many differences. There are many similarities. But all in all, it’s incredibly different.
I loved my time in the museum field. I will always look back with fond memories and understand that it was a critical period of my professional life. It was a time to make mistakes, learn, take risks and importantly, deliver success. But I don’t miss it. I left at the perfect time.
There are considerable differences between the museum field and the for-profit racing industry. In my current role, ‘more’ comes to mind. More projects, more content, more deadlines, more expectations, more opportunities and so on. These are all good challenges. I’m in a smaller team but with more resources. More/larger departments to interact with, across more companies and stakeholders, more collaborative relationships with drivers, teams, race tracks and sponsors. More. In fact, I’ve never seen so much content in my life. Speed comes to mind too – which is an obvious parallel to draw, but it’s true. Everything happens in a New York Minute. In the museum field, I remember working with exhibition calendars planned 3 years out. In racing, we have that kind of planning, but there’s also intermediate, current, pressing and last minute schedules. It’s an amazing juggling act that is sometimes smooth as glass and sometimes rough as sandpaper.And when you work online, you have to respond instantly. I’ve never worked so many hours in my life, or been awake and such strange times. I’ve slept with my laptop countless times, sat in a million meetings, traveled at the drop of a hat, over committed, barely hit (and missed) deadlines, consumed lots of energy drinks and so on.
The bigger the challenge the greater the reward. That’s what I love about this job. As a museum professional, I felt a similar objective – be the best, be innovative, develop projects that would change the field, be immensely proud. I did all of these things. Which is why I can look back with no regrets. It was an incredible career.
Racing presented all of the same challenges and a higher peak. It was also an opportunity to follow in my father’s footsteps (albeit, in my own way).It was the chance to challenge myself in new (masochistic) ways, develop huge projects, trail blaze, test myself and so on. So far so good.
My approach to new media or technology hasn’t changed. I’m geeky but not a full geek. I’m not terribly technical. I believe in the experience over the technology. I believe in providing a real personality through a digital experience. Content and design should be simple. Storytelling is key. And, it’s always about the visitor or customer or fan. I’ll never budge from these beliefs.
The job has been a 15 month challenge, involving almost every conceivable emotion. I’m tougher, smarter, more strategic, more willing to take a risk, more productive, and a business person. It’s exactly what I needed.
I’m proud of lots of projects already. The work we’re doing on Flickr is outstanding. The Greatest 33 was a perfect example of engaging an online community and challenging them to feed the site’s supplemental content. Analytics (kind of boring) has been fascinating, and our web numbers are through the roof. Producing video content, determining new approaches to our video distribution and rethinking what fans want to see has also been a positive transformation. Social Media has grown over 300% in just over a year – damn impressive (and I don’t even really like social media). Photography has changed a lot in the past year, and it now features edgier, diverse imagery for our sites and fans. I could also discuss our WAP successes, new approaches to our Verizon IndyCar Mobile App, a QR Code program and influencing public relations and publications. A lot to celebrate.
I won’t be in racing forever. I’ll move into another job/field at some point. That part is hard to predict. Is there an equation or algorithm? Art museum + racing industry = ___________. Either way, I’ll be ready for the next big challenge. And I’ll be sure to look back on what I accomplish in racing with pride.
In the meantime, I’m going to continue putting my creativity and motivation into creating the next big project. I wouldn’t have it any other way.