Sometimes, You Just Have To Drive Shuttle

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Last Thursday afternoon, I was finishing work from a coffee shop in Big Sky when our Operations Manager, Dan, burst through the door in full mountain bike gear, took his helmet off, and said, “That trail was awesome. Like AWESOME.”

He had just ridden the new Mountain to Meadow trail that stretches from Big Sky Mountain Resort pretty much all the way into town, and he was very happy.

We were both on the clock, working on a project where Wheelie is making new signs and maps for the mountain bike trails throughout Spanish Peaks and Moonlight Basin.

It’s kind of the perfect project for us. We’ve created hundreds of trail signs and several maps over the past three years, so we feel grateful and megastoked to work on signing these trails, too. Pete Costain from Terraflow spent Wednesday morning giving us the grand tour of the trails he has been building all summer. We rode around with our GPS unit, dropping pins in places we noted needed signage, like intersections, road crossings, and extra sharp turns while Pete told us about the plans for the next few years. Big Sky could very well become the next big spot for mountain biking.

Dan and I biked all over Moonlight Basin on Thursday morning, getting lost more than once, since there aren’t a ton of signs right now. We had a great time exploring new terrain, and we got a lot of trails recorded in a short time.

We needed to get back to Whitefish, which is about six hours northwest, but we hadn’t recorded the Mountain to Meadow trail. It’s kind of the crown jewel trail up there right now, with a long, fast, descent, so we were saving the best for last. We needed to record it, and we were running out of time, so we weighed our options:

  1. 1.We could both ride the trail to town and take the bus up if the timing was perfect. It wasn’t.
  2. 2.We could both ride the trail to town and hitchhike back up to my truck. But I’m pretty sure my business insurance agent would rip me a new one for hitchhiking with an employee.
  3. 3. One of us could ride the trail while the other one drove the truck into town and we could hit the road immediately.

I told Dan to shred it and that I’d wait for him at Blue Moon Bakery.

He looked at me incredulously, and asked, “Really? Are you sure?”

I nodded and told him to rip it!

The thing is, sometimes when you own a business, you have to drive shuttle.

Sometimes, it’s your job to drive shuttle to make sure your business runs smoothly. It’s your responsibility to your employees and your clients to run support crew when you need to.

Dan is a really good mountain biker, and he’s way faster than me, so it was more efficient to send him. He’s also a champ with the GPS, and much better than me at not getting lost. Even though I wanted to go, letting Dan ride it was the better choice for the business.

And he had successfully put up with me for three straight days, so I figured he’d earned it.

Sometimes I have to drive shuttle creatively, too. Often, we land projects that are straightforward and really, really fun simply because of the subject matter, like designing fly rods or snowboards or whiskey labels. Sometimes I want to design them instead of delegating them to my creative crew, just because they’re extra cool projects. But I realize that Amanda would be thrilled to design color schemes and graphics for fly rods, and she has the skills to do a great job, so I hook her up with a creative brief and some art direction, and let her go nuts. She’s earned it.

Even though I’d like to pull the boss card and ride instead of drive or design the projects I feel a personal connection with, I know that part of owning a business is doing what is right for the quality of work we produce as well as the humans producing it.

Owning a business is fun and challenging, and to a degree, you do get to pick and choose how you spend your time and who you spend it with. You get to call the shots.

Sometimes, you drive shuttle.

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