I did a seventh New York City triathlon a few weeks ago. It’s the same race that got it all started for me back when I was 40 pounds heavier and my doctor gave me the talk. I had grown up being pretty athletic, playing soccer, playing tennis, swimming, and running. And, like other entrepreneurs, I suppose it was the combination of falling in love, having successfully built & exited my first startup, living in the foodie capital of the world, buying a house and having babies that allowed me to put on the pounds with the plausible refrain that “there wasn’t enough time for getting in shape” that had my doctor concerned and proposing cholesterol drugs.
And then something happened; I hired a young whiz kid who was also a triathlete. Davie, as I affectionately call him these days had convinced Alain (our CTO) to do the NYC Triathlon and both conspired to cajole me into doing it. Relentless, Davie resorted to locker room tactics claiming (within earshot) that he wasn’t even sure that the fat guy (me) would be able to finish this race. So, I made an emotional commitment to do this thing and signed up for the race. Time ticked along and suddenly I realized I had some serious work to do. So, I got a personal trainer and hit the training sessions hard. I read books, changed my diet (and portions) and asked a bunch of questions on blogs and forums. In 3 months, I had lost 30 pounds. A week before the race I still hadn’t ridden a bicycle since I was a kid, so I borrowed Davie’s old heavy bike—he was to race on the expensive, new, lightweight bike given to him by a sponsor. In the days, months and years that followed that first triathlon, Davie, Alain and I began to spend more time together sharing training, diet, and racing stories. Our enthusiasm for the sport grew and it was infectious. We awakened the sense of possibility in everyone who would listen. Over the next few years we grew the triathlon team at TheLadders to 48 people—almost 25% of the company! In the process, we expanded the culture at TLC and helped people reconnect or intensify their inner drive for personal excellence and achievement. Healthy people make healthy organizations.
The three of us have moved on from the glory days at TheLadders. Each of us bringing a healthy athleticism and personal rigor to our new startups. As for that first NYC triathlon, I was able to finish the race safely on that tugboat of a bike that Davie lent me and as it turns out, I finished the race 5 minutes faster than Davie! Davie learned the meaning of the word respect that day. And, he reminded me that startup people can do anything. Deep down inside, we’re driven by the sentiment articulated by the late Steve Jobs: “the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” (tweet this!)
*End note: This year Davie turned up the heat and reclaimed victory by finishing 6 minutes faster than I did. He qualified for US Nationals. Good luck, Davie!