Sunday, August 21, 2011

Standing at the Crossroads

It was spring of 1999 that I decided to get a mountain bike and begin a new journey. I had a bike, but it was old.  I had been running for a while and my knees hurt all of the time from pounding the sidewalks. I had a stress fracture in my pelvic area too, so my doctor recommended I stop while it healed. It was an over training issue that came about after I had gotten fit due to a life changing event. I just couldn't get enough cardio. Later I would have two knee surgeries to correct cartilage damage from playing football in high school, two shoulder surgeries from bike race crashes, a cast here or there, other injuries from all sorts of "situations", while doing my sport. I wouldn't change a damn thing.

I bought my first mountain bike at Touring Cyclist on Manchester Road, from a shithead of a little guy who made the bike purchase experience seem like I was applying for a job at an Apple Store. It was the usual Euber Roadie thing that I would come to know; part of the sport of cycling that would creep into my life for the next 13 years. The bike snob geek and the knowledge that they behold.

While I have never been a bike snob, I did become familiar with the components, the frames, the sizes, the wheels, the maintenance necessary to keep things rolling optimally, even though bike maintenance has never been my thing. Most people know this. The long story short is that the sport of cycling, along with the equipment, the people, and the physical fitness buzz that comes along with it, became part of who I am. I don't know how many bikes I have, some are up at the Wolf, others are hidden around the house so my wife doesn't think that they exist, because they are scattered, dismantled and stacked in various places around the house. I need to get this stuff figured out soon as not to get busted.

In the first couple of years of cycling, I started studying how races were promoted and learned a thing or two from guys like Rich Pierce and Mike Weiss. They had it down pretty good and I liked the idea of creating a festival atmosphere, pageantry, advocacy, to promote active living as a choice of lifestyle. By the way, Active Living was a term coined by my friend Ann Mack, the Executive Director of Trailnet, right here in the LOU. Trailnet is an advocacy for active living in our community, and does amazing work getting the word out on the benefits of Living Well. Active Living was who I had become and I began the process of advocating the concept myself, through my own methods; promoting all sorts of events where people come together for sport, and socialize after.

This has been the purpose of the Alpine Shop Short Track Races, The Wolf Howl Runs, Ballwin Days, our involvement and supporting the Bubba Cyclocross Races, Trailnet, MS Society, Ronald Mcdonald House, Arthritis Foundation and so many other events that I can't even remember. We have been giving and advocating Active Living for 13 years and whats most interesting; the amount of charitable and/or "cause" marketing dollars that I have spent doing so. Somewhere around $300,000 is about right. Not kidding.

My focus on active living events, charitable events most of them, has indeed been part of my marketing strategy. Word, there has to be a commodity at the end of the day. I sell food. I use charitable and/or strategic philanthropy as a method to gain attention, loyalty and confidence...and then I sell food, a direct connection. There has to be a commodity at the end of the experience. I figured that, if I plant the seed in to the minds of those enjoying the events that I sponsor or promote, perhaps they would patronize me and/or help create a buzz about the business. The renaissance of social media and my use of this blog and other techniques to chronicle my experience has been my ticket to getting noticed. It has been fun.

This has been the case at the Wolf and for Pfoodman, and I am pretty darned glad about that, because in addition to laying out 300,000 grand in community event stuff for the past 13 years, these businesses have required investment far beyond that; stabilizing dollars spent as part of the plan to gain attention, get noticed, have people patronize and eventually put a buck on the bottom line for a return on investment. It has been a journey and an experiment that led me to who I am. The funny thing is, people ask for help, there is no shortage of events to contribute. We have provided in-kind donations, cash, labor, anything we could do to help market active living events for the purpose of promoting an authentic presence in the marketplace. My food is a tad on the healthier side, makes sense, huh?

My point to this whole thing is that, in addition to stepping down from my promotional stuff in the active living tribe; what has been a journey that helped me gain the skill and mindset for all sorts of outdoor things, I will be packaging up the use of my philosophy on charitable giving to help other entreprenuers change the world for the better. If I can do it others can.

By investing in my community through charitable giving, my businesses have become sustainable. It would be great if others were to get on board with this.

As a tribe of Active Living folks, it appears that racing our bikes, running in our shoes, cheering on the kids doing the things that we love to do, catches on. We have created a standard that, in my opinion, changed the world a bit for the better. We should be proud of ourselves, all of us Active Living tribe folk. Every person who sets an example of "Living Well" is part of the story that I will tell on my speaker series next year. Perhaps I will get that book done too. Of course I will.

So this is a crossroads for me and I am excited. I can't wait to start being a little more competitive in the sports that I have promoted, stepping down from a thing or two will allow for the time to focus You will likely see Jimmyleg Presents promoting art and culture events of all kinds, a new journey, a new brand centered on promoting cultural events; something that I have already embarked upon with assorted "gigs" around town. A different tribe, with loyal people too.

Oh, it will be necessary for me not to turn my back on the Active Living community, because this is largely who I am, who I have become, and I need these people to remind me of where I started; 45 pounds heavier, a smoker and indulgent. One thing is for sure, I will always be Pfoodman, ifyouknowhatimtalkinbout!

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