Skip to content

Top 5 Business Lessons I Learned from Training & Racing Sled-Dogs for 12 years

1st Place in the 1992 Empire 130 6-Dog Class in Wisconsin

1) Money Doesn’t Win, Becoming a Student Does

When I got involved in sled-dog racing, without a penny to my name, I had no choice but to become a student of caring, training and racing sled-dogs. I needed to learn every detail if I was going to win.  Many people who get involved in sled-dog racing already have successful careers and are able to buy trained, experienced dogs as they put together their “dream team”. For me that wasn’t an option so I set up to learn from the best and learn from everyone I could. My first team was made up of “rejects” from the “money racers”. A Hollywood movie in the making, I entered my first race with dogs that other racers had given me because they weren’t “good enough” for their team of purchased dogs from the best teams from around the country. Before the two-day race was over, not only did I pass every team that had given me their “reject” dogs but also I found myself in 2nd place amongst the best racers in the country.

When I stumbled into the car business like so many of us have, I knew that I had to become a student of the business. I knew I needed to work on perfecting my sales process, I knew I had to learn and perfect closing and I knew that I had to develop and execute a stellar follow up system with my sold and unsold customers to maximize the car business opportunity. By doing this, I was able to become the top salesperson at the dealerships where I worked, breaking all the sales records and even receiving recognition from Chrysler as one of the top salespeople in the country. Moving forward, I have approached everything I do this same way.

Are you a student of the car business?

2) Consistent Training Always Beats the Fastest Team

There were always teams that thought they could fly through races and win by shear speed without proper training. The problem was that focusing just on speed and not backing that without proper training never prepares the team for the challenges ahead.

I knew that factors like how big the city I was in (small town Northern Minnesota), what brand I sold and how many years I was in the business wouldn’t determine if I succeeded but instead, if I learned the business, developed a process and worked the process, I would excel.  So with my own money, I went to workshops, I bought CD’s, DVD’s and books to constantly train myself. Not only would I excel, but I would preform at the top of my field as a Salesperson, a Manager, a Digital Strategist and a Business Owner.

Are you always learning by reading articles and going to training?

3) Success is Always Top Down

In the world of sled-dog racing, it’s all about the musher (sled-dog trainer), his/her lead dogs and having solid team dogs. Many a musher who has purchased the best of dogs has failed miserably, they had money, but as we have learned, money doesn’t win. Success was determined by the trainer, his leadership, preparing his team for what was ahead and respect that the team had for the musher.

How many Dealers or GMs have said “You will do this” only to find, his team didn’t follow through. In fact, they didn’t care so they did whatever they wanted to. Over and over, all of the individual team members seemed to do whatever they wanted.

Are you a leader that your team respects and enjoys working for?

4) Equipment is Important but Training Strategy Always Wins

Having the decked out truck to travel in, the lightest sled, newest winter gear to stay warm and all the coolest odds and ends that make racing much more enjoyable doesn’t win races. But with a great training schedule, racing strategy, leaders and team, you can win with almost any type of equipment.

The latest greatest Website, CRM, Email Newsletter and the Newest Cool Digital Widgets have never sold more cars. I’m sure you know dealers that are always switching to the next thing that comes along only to find out it wasn’t any “good”. It’s because the best equipment, doesn’t win races.

Pick solid tools and technologies, lead from top down and provide the training for your team to succeed with those tools.

5) The Scenery Never Changes Unless You’re the Lead Dog

I’ve traveled thousands of miles by dogsled, I’ve won many races, but through all of it, I was merely a small piece of the journey and success. If focused on the craft by becoming a student of the sport, by focusing on a winning strategy, putting the time in training them right, I would spend my time in the back guiding the way and letting my team do what we have spent so much time preparing for. Winning.

Leave a Comment