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Idea: How Personal Passions Inspire Professional Insights

By Jamie Roberts, Editorial Director

It goes without saying that everyone at Hammock is passionate about his or her work, but it’s equally amazing to see how intense we are about various personal passions away from the office. From coaching Little League to international travel to gourmet cooking to weight-training to backpacking, to a wide variety of church, school and community volunteer duties, our office is full of interesting people who are passionate about making the most of their time off. Recently I’ve noticed how what we learn while involved in these personal pursuits can elevate our professional lives, helping us problem-solve and look at our responsibilities in a fresh way.

To demonstrate this connection, I asked Rex Hammock to tell me something he’s learned about our work from his zeal for bicycles. In addition to long-distance bike touring (like a 415-mile ride last November from Florence to Mobile, Alabama), Rex “bike commutes” to work several times a week year-round and serves on the Nashville Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Rex bikes so many miles on Nashville streets, it's no surprise to us he'd find a way to take a "bike view" photo of a Google Maps "street view" camera car driving around town.

Rex bikes so many miles on Nashville streets, it’s no surprise to us he’d find a way to take a “bike view” photo of a Google Maps “street view” camera car driving around town.

Rex: Recently I was on a “policy ride” in Nashville with several biking advocates, urban planners, and city public works and transportation officials. During the ride, I learned of research related to bike commuting that shows if there are three miles of dedicated bike lanes on potential riders’ commutes, they won’t bike to work if the route has a gap of three blocks with no dedicated bike lane. Yep, even if there’s smooth sailing for three miles, if they must share the road with bustling traffic for three blocks somewhere in the midst of that route, they’ll choose to drive instead. While I was wearing a bicycle helmet at the time, when I heard that nugget of research, it compelled me to suddenly put on my marketing hat. I started thinking it was a great metaphor for how companies who undertake great efforts to help customers buy or learn can’t stop when they get “most of the effort” completed. They must always be looking for the remaining barriers that have to be removed to build long-term relationships. Just like bike commuters, customers often make decisions based on the little things we’ve not done instead of the big things we have.

Jamie: I also asked John Lavey, Hammock president/COO and a competitive distance runner since he learned how to walk, to explain what running has meant to him and how new insights about the sport have transferred to his work.

At last week's inaugural Achilles Nashville Hope & Possibility 5 Miler, John (right) helped "Team Joe Shaw" bring home First Place, Visually Impaired Male.

At last week’s inaugural Achilles Nashville Hope & Possibility 5 Miler, John (right) helped “Team Joe Shaw” bring home First Place, Visually Impaired Male.

John: I started running with my father around New Hampshire’s Lake Mascoma when I was 14 years old. I joined the track and cross country teams in high school and even competed in college. By the time I was a high school senior, running was all about competition and winning, first and foremost. While I’ve raced off and on since then, it’s only a return to running with a team (like a 200-mile Ragnar Relay with 11 other runners) that I’ve rediscovered the pure joy of running. In the past year, I’ve become involved with the Nashville chapter of Achilles International, a nonprofit that teams up able-bodied runners with disabled athletes to help them participate in recreational and competitive running. While winning a race is great (and my competitive gear is never far out of reach), I’ve discovered a new kind of satisfaction in being on a team that helps guide a visually impaired teammate in reaching a shared goal. Helping someone else experience and excel at something he or she loves and wants to accomplish—whether that’s being a member of an endurance relay or guiding a disabled friend through a half-marathon—is a lot like what I enjoy most about the work we do. The more you help others (whether they’re teammates or customers), the more you discover that you’re the one who benefits most.

Jamie: That’s not to say Hammock-ites don’t take real breaks from the to-do list—we just spent our lunch hour noshing on pizza while swapping stories about our favorite new restaurants—but we’ve become more aware of how rewarding it is when we can forge meaningful connections between our work and play.

What kind of breakthrough realizations do you have when you spend a morning volunteering at a school or an afternoon golfing? How do you transfer those insights to your work?

(Photo: Thinkstock)

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