Five Business Lessons from the Monaco Grand Prix

With only 15 laps to go and a 20-second lead, there was no way Lewis Hamilton could lose the Monaco Grand Prix. But something happened on Hamilton’s way to winning the most prestigious Formula 1 race. After a crash on the 63rd lap, Hamilton’s crew felt there was time for a quick pit stop. Problem is, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, the number two and three drivers behind Hamilton, didn’t stop. Neither of their crews felt they had a second to give.

The next scene was dramatic. Hamilton pulled out of his pit stop, only to see Rosberg and Vettel speed past him. With no room and no chance to pass, Hamilton came in third behind Rosberg and Vettel. During that time span, you can hear Hamilton radio his crew, “I’ve lost the race, haven’t I?”

It struck me that this event has lessons for us in business, well away from the Formula 1 world:

1. Don’t let up. Ever.
Your competitors aren’t taking it easy when the game is on the line. Should you? As good as you did today, you can do better.

2. Sometimes opportunities just aren’t.
It’s easy to see that the opportunity Hamilton’s team saw wasn’t an opportunity at all. It was a cul-de-sac that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
3. Work with what you have.
The Hamilton pit stop was a luxury, not a necessity. His tires, fuel and everything else were enough to finish the race without stopping. Rosberg and Vettel knew they couldn’t stop for anything if they had a prayer of winning. What they had was enough to finish, and Rosberg finished first.

4. Mistakes are the best teachers.
f1Nobody has analyzed Hamilton’s slip more than Hamilton and his team. They won’t make the mistake again. The pain of losing will fade. There are lots of F1 races between now and next year’s Monaco GP. The mistake you may make today will sting. But the pain will go and you’ll be the wiser.

5. Grace is most visible under pressure.
Kudos to Hamilton and his team for chalking up the error for what it was. He was gracious in defeat and gave the right public praise for Rosberg. In so doing, Hamilton kept his team together and lives to race another day. Move fast and move on.


The Second-Best Advice I Ever Received

My new creative director called me into his office, and I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I had just uprooted my family and moved a thousand miles away to start my dream job. The only problem was, my dream job was anything but and everything that could be going wrong was going wrong.

After I took a seat, my creative director leaned back in his chair and said two words, “Do better.” That was it. No anger on one hand or words of encouragement on the other. Just: do better. Meeting over. In advertising, simple is always better. This advice is no exception. No matter your job, you can always do better. Creatives can always push to do better work. Account people can always find ways to better serve their clients. And agencies can always build better cultures.

“Do better” distinguishes the remarkable agencies from the good ones. But what I like best about these words is that they go beyond the office. In life, we can all do better. We can be better husbands and wives, parents and children, neighbors and friends. It takes effort, but the results are worth it.

The Best Advice I Ever Received

The traffic manager at my first agency job was a true advertising veteran. She had worked at some of the biggest agencies in New York, and I was fortunate to be working with her at a small agency in southern California. I can’t remember the specific incident – it may have been as simple as asking if I could eat the donuts in the break room. But the gist of what I asked her was if I was allowed to do something.

She responded, “Unless you’re told otherwise, assume it’s so.”

Those few words did more than answer my specific question; they made me realize I could come up with any creative idea I wanted. Want to shoot a commercial with wild animals? Why not? Nobody told me otherwise. Develop a scholarship program instead of an ad? Great. Assume it’s so. Those few words have stuck with me for years, and they continue to guide my thinking today.

Client mandatories and scaled-back budgets put enough restrictions on advertising creatives. The last thing we need to do is put limits on our own thinking. Have a great, crazy, audacious idea? Go for it. Unless you’re told otherwise, assume it’s so.

Lucy & Ruby’s Brainy Day 2015

One of my client’s annual fundraising events is just one day away. It’s a draining, stressful and overwhelming project, requiring branding, design, interactive, video, PR, event planning and social media. I’m also working with both the easiest and hardest clients – myself. Along with my 8- and 10-year-old daughters.

blog_article_image-1For Lucy & Ruby’s Brainy Day, I am client, mom-of-the-client(s), account executive, account director, producer and publicist, while also doing my job as director of client service for o2ideas. The stress may be high, but the reward is worth it.

As the third annual Lucy & Ruby’s Brainy Day approaches, I’ve been reflecting on three things every project needs to succeed.

A Great Idea

I’m surrounded by great ideas on a daily basis. At o2ideas, it’s what we do and who we are. I’m not typically the idea person, though. I’m the make-it-happen and make-sure-everyone-is-happy person. But Lucy & Ruby’s Brainy Day is different. The idea initially came from my then 6-year-old daughter, Ruby. Her daddy had brain cancer and she wanted to do something to help, so she asked if she and her sister could have a lemonade-and-cookie stand to raise money for his hospital. Ruby didn’t think about where the cookies or lemonade would come from, where the stand would be, how we would advertise it or any other detail. She just had an idea and it was a really great one.

The core idea determines the success or failure of a brand, campaign or project.


After I pointed out some of the logistics involved in creating their lemonade-and-cookie stand, Lucy and Ruby recognized the importance of not just having a great idea, but also following through. They made posters, asked Publix to donate cookies and lemonade (another great idea) and asked me to post about it on Facebook so my friends would come. They took three relatively small steps and raised $3,000 that first year.

A great idea remains just an idea until action is taken to bring it to life.


Now that Lucy & Ruby’s Brainy Day has grown beyond a child’s lemonade stand, it takes a team of people who are a lot better at a lot of different things than I am to make it happen. o2’s culture has always been one of teamwork and selflessness, and I’ve been reminded of how special that is through Brainy Day. A team works together. They care about a project’s success as much as the client. And they challenge each other to make it better. You can count on them day in and day out. And that’s a great thing, especially when your event strives to make life better for people affected by brain tumors.

Teamwork makes it all possible.

So, here’s to great ideas, taking action to execute them and to the best team in the business. Oh, and of course, to great clients, if I do say so myself.

To learn more about Lucy & Ruby’s Brainy Day, visit

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