Season 1,

Your first strategic vision quest – MOD003

October 25, 2016
Show Notes

Welcome to the Merchants of Dirt Podcast Episode #3, hosted by founder Kyle M. Bondo. This is your insider’s guide to practical recreational engineering where I teach you the art and science of building, promoting, and directing off-road races. In this episode, I am going to guide you through the creation of something every race promoter needs before they decide to go into business and how to create your strategic vision of the future!

In This Episode
  • 0:01

    Podcast Intro

  • 0:20


  • 0:55

    Strategic Vision

  • 5:43

    Step 1 — See It

  • 10:34

    Step 2 — Believe It

  • 16:55

    Step 3 — Achieve It

  • 23:19

    Step 4 — Discovering Your Mission

  • 28:12

    Step 5 — Understanding It

  • 33:41

    Announcements and Conclusion

  • 34:30

    Podcast Outro

Strategic Vision

The simplest definition for a strategic vision is: A specific view of the future used to inform and guide your goals and objectives in the present. It is how and where you see yourself — and your race — when it is completed. It is also the connection you have to your event that will allow you to visualize what kind of experience you want someone to have when they encounter it. Be it a physical, emotional, or spiritual one, your challenge is to understand that connection, and build a race that will achieve that experience.

But how do you go from visualizing the experience you want your racers to have, to actually creating a strategic vision to guide you? The creation of your strategic vision comes in three steps that is captured perfectly in this neat little sports psychology saying:

If you can see it, and you can believe it, you can achieve it.

Step 1 — See It

I want to to take this next few minutes to find a quiet place, shut off all the distractions, and just be still. If you need to, put on some mellow music, or go to your happy place, whatever it takes to have a minute to yourself. Take yourself into the future. Take yourself to one-year after your first race and ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do you want to produce off-road races?
  • What does that look like?
  • What does success in one year look like to you?
  • Can you see your first year of successful races already under your belt?
  • Why are you doing this?
  • Why do you want to put on a race in the first place?
  • Why do you want to build a race promotion company?
  • What is driving you down the race promotion path?

For some of you this might be a bit uncomfortable. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of you could see your race promotion business in one year. Maybe even as far out as three (3) years, or even five (5). Taking a long look inside your own desire for why you want to create events, will help you begin to conceptualize the path you will need to take to get there. Take a few moments to work on this step. Explore what you want people to experience when they come to your race. Once you have an idea of what that is, you’re going to need to write it down. If you can visualize those things, you’re one step closer to building something that can achieve those reactions.

Examples of this might be:

  • I want to challenge mountain bike riders to see how many laps they can do in 12-hours.
  • I want to create a course that takes racers up and over a mountain.
  • I want to have a festival that takes up the whole weekend with both casual activities and stage races.
  • I want to be the host to the best of the best in a championship event I create.
  • I want to establish a annual picnic where folks from all around come and explore the trails as a group.

All of these are valid, but they have nothing to do with YOUR vision. Your vision is just that, YOURS! It is something only you can have. It is personal to you, and no one else can take it away from you. But you have to conceptualize it, then you have to write it down. Because if you don’t give your vision form, it will be difficult to share it with those willing to help you realize it.

Step 2 — Believe It

Now let’s put some structure around your vision. Look back to what you wrote down and break your vision down your into believable chunks. Your BIG VISION is too big to believe in right now. You need just a little part of the BIG VISION to work with. Just a chunk of it. Then another chunk. Then two chunks that fit together to make a bigger chunk. Until you have enough chunks of your BIG VISION in place that makes your BIG VISION now seem so big anymore.

Now think about your vision again. Working backwards ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the chunks — that you think are between you and your BIG VISION?
  • What do you think are necessary events that need to happen before you can call that BIG VISION completed?
  • Where do you see it all beginning?
  • Does it start with your first race?
  • What does that first race look like?

Can you see it? Can you see that first step? If you can, then write it down! Then think of the next chuck. What comes next? What would you like to come next? Write that one down after the first one, and so on. It is important to work through these questions when you want to see your BIG VISION come true.

You could put down “one year” as the time goal that spans between your first step and the completion of your BIG VISION. However, that might not be a realistic amount of time. You might discover 6-months down the path that your BIG VISION will actually take multiple years to achieve. That’s okay. The path to your Vision might have steps along the way that take longer than others. You can’t know what the future will hold making each step is an educated guess on what it will take to reach your BIG VISION.

Work backwards from your BIG VISION’S goal, to where YOU think it should begin. Plenty of visions in other industries — or with other promoters — spans 3-5 years. Your goal is to HAVE a vision you can believe in, and be organizing yourself towards achieving it.

Your vision NEEDS to be believable. A vision that is not believable, is certain to fail. Don’t sabotage your efforts before you have even begun. Give yourself enough time to complete each step towards your BIG VISION, and layout a believable plan that you think that you can achieve. Remember, YOU have to believe it, so make it something that YOU believe in.

Step 3 — Achieve It

With your believable vision before you, you now have the formula for creating the specific goals that will make it all achievable. It is your job now to define what those goal are. Once you have a defined your goals, they should layout your path to your vision. Some goals can be grouped together into milestones.

Like “hosting your first race” — there are all sorts of goals in that milestone. But once your race is “finished”, you have achieved that milestone. Lay enough milestones out, and it will form a path. This path has a destination — Your VISION! Remember that your vision is where you are going. Like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz following the Yellow Brick Road to Oz, your road is made of milestones. If you were to lay all those milestones out on a piece of paper, they would from a map — a roadmap — and this Roadmap would have an arrow on it that said “YOU ARE HERE”.

On the the other side of the roadmap would be another arrow that said “VISION ACHIEVED”. In between those two arrows? You guessed it — milestones full of goals and objectives you need to complete to get from YOU ARE HERE to VISION ACHIEVED. So where is your YOU ARE HERE arrow? What do YOU think your first milestone is? Your first goal? How about just your first step? If you know what that is — Start there! You’ve already come up with a vision, know where you think you want to go, what you want to do, and how you want to do it. And you have the beginnings of a roadmap to how you will get to where you want to go. The only thing left is to articulate what each of those milestones are that you need to create to get there, and roughly when those events need to happen.

Unless you don’t know where START.

Step 4 — Discovering Your Mission

Plenty of first-time race promoters have a difficult time finding the beginning. That first stone in your roadmap is hard to set. Which is one of the main reasons I founded Reckoneer and started doing the Merchants of Dirt Podcast. I want to help you to Achieve your vision. Are you ready to know where to begin? Like Lewis Carroll recommends, let’s “Begin at the beginning” by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of off-road racing are you in to?
  • What kind of off-road racing company do you want to build?
  • What is YOUR discipline of choice when it comes to off-road racing?

Picking what kind of race discipline you want to base your entire off-road racing company on can be tricky. Mostly because your passion for wanting to do it is based upon a combination of factors that are hard to explain.Those elements of your desire, love, or attraction to a sport discipline that makes you enjoy it, obsess over it, and fixate on it, before any other. Simply put, it is the sport discipline you identify with the most. Whatever your passion, it’s YOUR passion.

You have very personal reasons for why you enjoy the races you enjoy. But can you build a race, or race promotion company, off of your passion? The short answer is: ABSOLUTELY! In fact, it is your passion for that kind of racing that will help you build races that you would want to race yourself. You have all the intimate knowledge of why you like that particular race discipline. And that knowledge gives you an edge over other race promoters when it comes to course design and marketing. Why does it give you an edge? By being a fan of your own race discipline, you already know what other racers expect in a good course, and where to find them when you need to sell it. Make no mistake, your passion is an advantage, and a great advantage to have! It will help you keep going when building races gets hard, and be the main reason you go from a racing hobby, to race promotion business.

THAT is where you start!

You start with YOUR passion. The racing discipline that gets you excited about racing! If you have passion behind your vision, then you have a huge advantage when it comes to achieving it. Your passion will push you towards a primary discipline, making your starting point the off-road racing discipline that you love! When you know that — what discipline you are going to focus on — it frees you to do all sorts of new things.

It is a launching point for discovering your MISSION. It is WHY you are in business in the first place. To build the kind of race you would love to race. The realization of your MISSION — your reason for being in business — is where you start.

If you can see it, and you can believe it, you can achieve it.

Step 5 — Understanding It

Using what you’ve already learned — let’s do one last thought exercise to see how it all fits together:

You can see a trail running event in the distant future. It’s a big one — I mean BIG — Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run big. It is being held at one of the biggest parks in your State. It sold out in 45-minutes when pre-registration opened online. And has over 500 runners from all over the country in attendance. You’re standing at the starting line looking at a sea of excited trail runners.

Can you see it? Can you imagine this as a possible vision? Let’s transition to what comes next. To believe that you can build that kind of event, we work backwards from our BIG EVENT.

What would be half that? 100-mile endurance run divided by half is 50-miles. That’s seems big too. But if we cut 50-miles half — we get 25-miles. Now we’re talking close enough for a Trail Marathon, right? Marathons are BIG for road running, but what is half of that? The Half-Marathon? 13.1 miles seems very manageable when compared to 100-miles. What is half of 13.1 miles? 6.5-miles. How about 5-miles? 5-miles is a good distance. Not too short, not too long. Plenty of local parks have enough trail to weave a 5-mile course out of. So to make our 100-mile BIG ENDURANCE RUN vision believable, we decide that our very first milestone — our first goal — will be to design, plan, and direct a 5-mile trail run. A 5-mile trail run is very achievable.

That’s where your START would be — deciding that you are going to promote a 5-mile trail run.

From that first 5-mile trail race, you will have a second race. And a third, fourth, tenth, etc. You start working the other direction and decide you will promote ten (10) 5-mile trail runs in your first major season. Five in the spring, and five in the fall. Maybe you decide to add a 10-mile trail run course option to your existing 5-mile runs to gauge your customers and see if there is interest in long distances.

Then in your second year, you start hosting half-marathon distances. And end your season with your BIG race for the season — Your first Trail Marathon. If all goes will with those events, you choose to use your third year to promote your first 50-mile race. You keep all the 5, 10, Half, and Full Marathon courses, but add in the 50-mile endurance run as your new addition. Your fourth year is spent adding a second or even a third 50-mile trail running course. Maybe you use each 50-mile run as part of a three-race series with the last run as the “championship event”. Then in your fifth year of trail run race promotion, you pull out the crown jewel of your vision: Your first 100-mile endurance race.

Your vision completed.

By SEEING yourself doing your first 100-mile endurance race in the future, you have a target to base your milestone work on. It is as simple as taking your vision, and working backwards until you find your starting point. Then from that point, you start working forwards in believable chunks until you arrive at your vision again.

Now You Know

I have a few things I want you to do right now:

Action #1 — Join
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Action #2 — Feedback
Did you learn something useful? Is there something I can do to make them better? I would certainly like to hear about other race promotion pains you might have. If there is a topic you would like me to cover, I am @MerchantsofDirt on Twitter, or you can contact me through my blog at

Action #3 — Review
If you liked this episode, I would love if you would go to the Merchants of Dirt podcast page on iTunes and gives me a quick review and a 5-star rating.


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