Words that Work for a Living
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Fast Friends

NHKA Racing Series

First a little background… You probably have no idea that go-kart racing is actually a thing. And now that you do, you’re probably picturing bumper cars. In reality these are 130 MPH beasts set loose on real tracks. It’s bonkers. Curious? Ride along with me as I draft to the front during the last lap of a race at Daytona.

 

The NHKA Racing Series is a local karting club that I help run. I’m responsible for all the marketing. And when I say all, I do mean all: writing, design and maintenance of the website; PR and social media activities; photography and videography as well as tapping talent within the membership; design and production of all printed materials: brochures, fliers, postcards, ads, forms, banners, trophies, and apparel; assisting the race director in the development and writing of rules; conceptualization of the brand and consistent expression of its elements: logo, typography, palette, voice and photo-illustrations.

I use the club as my marketing laboratory. I test theories, experiment with channels and approaches, acquire new skills and explore emerging technologies while keeping up my design chops. At times I participate in strategic business planning, like the transformation of our relationship with our nearest competitor. With the philosophy “a rising tide lifts all ships”, we pivoted the dynamic from combative to collaborative, we synched rules and offset schedules allowing competitors to easily race when and where they wanted. This  increased attendance by 20% – 25%, transforming our arch rival into a source of new customers.

When I started sticking my nose into things nine years ago, the NHKA was on the brink of collapse with events that cost more than $10k to put on but drawing only 27 participants. Thanks the commitment of the the owners and the hard work of a solid core of volunteers, today we are one of the fastest growing clubs in the country. Our events now cost a fraction of what they did and regularly draw nearly 300 people, including 100 entries. Our fields are often larger than those of prestigious national-level events.

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Naturally, this is a very satisfying business result, one made all the more pleasing because we achieved it by focusing on providing an great experience rather than the bottom line. However, what makes me most proud is the fantastic community we built. Men, women, boys and girls of all ages and nationalities from all walks of life with a shared passion. My faith in humanity is restored at nearly every event by some act of sportsmanship, friendship or genuine caring.

A girl, who just finished on the podium for the first time, soaking in a lifetime of confidence from her normally reserved Dad who is hugging her and positively beaming with joy and pride.

A mom struggling to change her son’s tires, sweating and frustrated and determined.

A guy in his early 40s, his kids almost grown and house almost paid off. He wants to find out if there’s been a winning racecar driver buried inside. Either way, he’s having the time of his life and making new friends for the first time in years.

A son working with his dad on their kart and exchanging ideas. He’s 13 years old.Like many of the kids, he has better collaboration skills than most adults I've met.

At our last banquet, a few members organized a raffle for a fellow racer who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. They raised more than $6,000 in just a few hours.

I can't take credit for all the great things our members do. However,  atmospheres that so often bring out the best in people don't happen often, and certainly don’t  happen on their own.

Team. Mates.

Patheon

The science and manufacturing processes employed by Patheon are mind-bogglingly complex, especially to a guy with a degree in drawing naked people. So I developed a network of experts throughout the company. These were the scientists and engineers responsible for key operations at major facilities around the world. They helped me understand the material and context well enough to extract genuine business differentiations and write crisp, clear, persuasive copy for highly sophisticated audiences.

 
 

Patheon offers the global pharma and biopharma industry comprehensive contract development and manufacturing. Their capabilities span the entire lifecycle of a drug from early development through clinical trials, commercial manufacturing, and the transition into the generics market. They can make the active and other raw ingredients, put them into virtually any oral solid, sterile injectable, softgel, or topical dosage form, then package and distribute the finished product anywhere in the world. Patheon brings all these capabilities together into a single solution that delivers game-changing speed and efficiency to accelerate the path from molecule to market.

 

In my five years as a full-time contractor, Patheon exploded from $4.3B to $8.1B in annual revenue with an aggressive M&A strategy. As the company and its breadth of capabilities grew, so did my network. I soon became the marketing department’s defacto ambassador and the requests for assistance began flowing both ways.

I was glad to help all the colleagues who helped me. Some of those projects were external facing – sharpening presentations, fine tuning proposal packages, editing white papers, ghost writing articles. However, much of the work improved internal processes and communication, which were critical to the success of the company’s core single-source solution. I worked with the Voice of the Client team to increase engagement by better communicating “what’s in it for you” and clarifying calls to action in their internal newsletters and customer facing materials. I also worked with regional sales managers to develop a selling process and workbook to drive lead conversion and deeper Salesforce adoption. At the same time, this project brought a framework to my department’s Eloqua marketing automation implementation.

Even though I worked 100% off-site, and these colleagues were scattered across the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia, in very different roles throughout the organization, we had a lot of fun and worked very well as a team.

 
 
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Highlights

Here are a few key accomplishments and cool experiences I've been fortunate enough to enjoy.

I helped the Broad Institute, the lab that unlocked the human genome, to build a comprehensive online library of BioAssay research on behalf of the NIH. It has accelerated drug discovery for research programs around the world.

Quality process pioneer Pat Townsend was an early client. He and Tom Peters were among the first wave of consultants to design and implement successful company-wide quality processes. I helped him with his book Five-Star Leadership.

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SnakeCharmer – That's the business name I came up with for a guy who removed the venom glands from cobras, rattlers and other dangerous snakes so their owners could hold them without... you know... dying.

I was writing websites for the likes of GM, AT&T and Nickelodeon waaay back in the mid 1990s.

My work has been recognized with awards for creative excellence and and published by Print Magazine and Rockport Publishing.

I created the marketing for a series of events where technology entrepreneurs did dramatic six-minute pitches on stage for top VCs. This is how Palm, E-Trade, Jawbone, and others found funding. I got to play with a handmade smartphone prototype four years before the iPhone launched.

In less than four months, I did all the writing for a complete rebrand of Patheon that encompassed three websites, every brochure and sell sheet, presentations, email campaigns, and more. We estimated that I wrote about 30,000 words.

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