When I was 6 and learning butterfly with the 9 and 10 year-olds, I couldn’t keep my feet together so the coach duct-taped my legs together and had me swim the workout duct-tape butterfly against the older kids with un-taped legs swimming freestyle. My first lesson in obsession toward perfection. When I was 11, my coach Karen told us that we would have to start the workout over if anyone “broke streamline” off any wall in the workout. She said that everything had to be perfect all of the time or that we shouldn’t come. Girls like me who wanted to be fast at the shortest events could not afford a single error and every movement and positioning of my body, mind, and spirit had to be in flow and perfect. We had to Streamline. When I was 19, after a successful first year swimming at Yale, coach Dudley Duncan, told me we’d swim all night if I couldn’t make the interval the team was swimming at 50X100s on the 1:10 while keeping my stroke count at 12 per lap, breathing bi-laterally and never missing a turn. This kind of repetitive discipline and painstaking focus is what has stuck with me throughout my career and in my daily activities.
We may never be perfect, even when we have succeeded in being the “best to become the best we are capable of becoming” (John Wooden, Spieker Aquatic Center at UCLA) – there will always be more we could have done. Reaching that potential starts with the details and a “focused passion” for the details (Phil Jamison, GRB). The best memories of my athletic career are learning the details. Becoming great at the shortest event in competitive swimming meant no detail could be left uncovered. I think there’s a similar unique position to be had at Golden Road. We aren’t trying to be a theme or serve the nation or take over a category; we are intently focused on one thing – growing craft share and culture in Los Angeles. The first few years of building Golden Road, lots of what we have been doing is “building” and I have been less focused on details than when I was training for the 50 freestyle. It’s been a cycle of infrastructure, hiring, construction, securing distribution, more construction, hiring, brand releases, increased distribution, new recipes, more construction and more hiring.
Golden Road doesn’t appear to be slowing down in these cycles, but we are now ready to focus on Streamlining, like Karen taught me nearly 20 years ago as a young sprinter. We have built amazing beers, packaging, events, food, culture, fans, and team-members. Now we will be able to focus this base and work on the programming details to support our distributors, retailers, and ultimately our fans.
Athletics and business has not been about a swimming time or a number, but about constant improvement of life’s journey. We now have 15 distributors and 4,000 accounts that have supported us with very few resources in our startup first two years. We couldn’t have done it without them. I am so excited to have the resources in place to focus on the details and improve how we support our community as we “focus our passion” heading into 2014.