Hospitality Financial Leadership - NASCAR

We are all familiar with the American Sunday ritual of turning left several hundred times, cold beer, BBQ and t-shirts. I have long been a big fan and there is a great story and parallel to financial leadership I want to tell you about. It relates to one of my favorite drivers, Mark Martin.

It has just been announced that he will be inducted into the short list NASCAR Hall of Fame recipients in 2017. Funny thing: He has never won the super bowl of the sport, The Daytona 500, and he has never won a season championship either. So, why the Hall of Fame?

“To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.” ~ Angela Duckworth from her book Grit.
Mark’s NASCAR career started in 1981 when he participated in only five races, won two poles (qualified fastest and started first) and had one top 5 finish. Pretty good for a rookie in an incredibly competitive sport. The next season he started 30 times had two top 5 finishes. His third season he started 16 times and had one top 5 finish, fourth season: five starts and no top 5’s or poles, fifth season: only one start and no results. Things were not looking so good. Five years of going backwards on a young career would be enough to pull the plug, but not for Mark. If there is or will ever be a driver with GRIT it is Mark.

For 33 seasons (years) he battled it out. 882 races. 255,000 laps. 40 wins. 271 top 5 finishes. 453 top 10 finishes. 56 poles. Yet no championship and no Daytona 500 win. He finished in second place for the season championship five times. How does someone keep going? Well, he looked at it this way.

How can I get a little better with one small accomplishment at a time?

That’s Mark’s motto. He would think all night long before a race: what about the shocks, what about the carbs, the tires, every part of that car. That is a great way to look at anything you are trying to accomplish. What is the next thing—the next little thing—I need to do? Do not be waiting for the BIG thing—look for all the little things—they matter and they produce the big thing. The same is true with your financial leadership, do not look for the magic solution; look to make lots and lots of continuous adjustments.

“I’m not good at looking in the rearview mirror, I like the windshield.”

Mark Martin

“How would it change my life?” he was asked in a recent interview, if he had won the 500 or a championship.

He replied, “I’m not bitter, I’m proud of my accomplishments and my career. I worked hard and that’s what mattered, I didn’t ever stop being a winner.”

This is it. What has happened in our past is history, it is not an indication of what is ahead. We do ourselves no favor by regurgitating our first 5 seasons.

What are you looking at? The rear-view mirror or your windshield. So what if the events of your past are not victories. Don’t go there.

Keep moving forward and you will find your hall of fame.

If you would like a copy of any of the following send me an email at

  • Hotel Financial Policy Manual – Inventory of “Sections”
  • Hotel Financial Coach “Services Sheet”
  • F&B Productivity Spreadsheet
  • Rooms Productivity Spreadsheet
  • Financial Leadership Recipe F TAR W
  • Flow Thru Cheat Sheet

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The Seven Secrets to Create a Financially Engaged Leadership Team in Your Hotel

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Contact David at (415) 696-9593.

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