Boilermaker Blog

Two Tribes

Perhaps the biggest change I experienced taking over the Boilermaker was the joining a new ‘tribe’. For my previous 27 years in the corporate world I was a member of the ‘Have- to’ tribe. I ‘have to’ get this report done for Bill, I ‘have to’ get this truck unloaded, I ‘have to’ go to Kalamazoo to do a presentation; you get the picture.
I now find myself ‘in charge of’ (a really lousy phrase) 6,500 volunteers; this is the other tribe, the ‘Want-Tos’. This tribe is very different than the Have-Tos! These are people who ‘want to’ hand out water to the runners, ‘want to’ put together the goody bags, ‘want to’ help pick up the post-Boilermaker trash. In short, as I have said in the past, these people do for free what we could not afford to pay!
Clearly the ‘care and feeding’ of a volunteer is quite different than an employee. If a volunteer doesn’t enjoy what they are doing it’s much easier leaving than deciding to chuck your 40 hour job. The challenge I can encounter is trying to implement a change that the volunteers aren’t real keen on. Remember, they are doing it because they want to so one would assume they are happy with the way things are. This means that changes that occur are often incremental rather than transformational. Make the wrong changes and people ‘vote with their feet!
Do I miss my old tribe; sometimes, I miss the office camaraderie and friendships forged over decades and while I still see many of these people it is clearly different. Do I like my new tribe; absolutely. I am blessed to have the job I have with a whole new group of tribe mates working to make that one week in July special. To make our community a better one. To work with the Have-To tribe (the sponsors) to keep this event as the gold standard of racing.

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