Just Like Family
Just Like Family
Greg Pickett’s Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team is one of the most popular, respected teams in the ALMS paddock, and clearly carries its leader’s name, style, and culture.
A native of Santa Monica, California, Pickett exudes the California style that once made “California dreaming” the national pastime.
The Alley sat down with Greg Pickett at Mid-Ohio, where the family man, executive and racer shared some of his secrets to success:
The Racers’ Bond:
We like competition. We go at it hard and with some passion. We like to be with others with the same interests. It is a different bond. It’s rare in life.
When you see soldiers coming home, they have that bond. Racing is a lot that same way.
The Muscle Milk Approach:
We try to be a little bit like old time and “do unto others as we would have others do unto you.” It is hard to live up to that all the time.
We try to have a simple approach. I like to stop and talk to people in the paddock. We care about them and I hope that everyone in this paddock knows that if they need something to make the race that we are one of the first places to stop.
There is probably some California style in our team and in our company. We can be a little laid back and more casual than some.
I let other people run our Muscle Milk business. We have 350 employees now, and I still know most of them. I am the biggest cheerleader.
The Muscle Milk Culture:
You can’t create a culture just by paying people. You have to live it. They have to see it or it is just talk. Everyone on our team knows that I have their back.
The way people approach going to work makes a difference. People come to appreciate an ambiance, friendship, and the ability to talk openly. They have each other’s back. People that like that approach gravitate to the team.
The Muscle Milk Team:
We can’t pay enough to repay for their personal commitments, the time away from their families, and being on the road.
It’s a tough assignment; you go from one challenge to the next. That is why we try to keep relaxed. You cannot grind on people or let them grind on each other.
When we make a mistake, we say, “You’ve passed the human test.” It takes the pressure off.
Racing has momentum, both positive and negative. You can get into a cascade of events.
On a race weekend, time is golden. On test day or practice, we tell the drivers to run hard, but bring the car back.
Our crew believes in Klaus and Lucas. When they ask for a small change, it shows up in the lap times. That reinforces the crew.
Learning From the Best:
The best teams minimize problems. They regulate themselves to improve and reduce problems.
We approach every race with a plan. Our decision-making is very matter-of-fact. We make decisions based on what is the right thing to do at this time.
Our engineers prepare a pre-race report that is 15-18 pages long. It sets out our major objectives, covers the past, what we have learned, and what we want to accomplish each session. When the drivers arrive for the first meeting they already know the plan.
Any organization faces changes. We try to be smooth and ready to change. If you believe in technology, the pace of change is always greater than today. You have to look ahead and be proactive not reactive.
People don’t like change. I don’t like change. I have been married to Penny for 45 years, but our company and our team are not afraid of change.
Problems only become big if they are not addressed proactively.
Penny and I have 11 grandkids. We try to teach them to address problems early and it’s fun to watch them learn to do that.
We don’t think we know everything. We listen to our key partners. The advantage is in knowing where to get the answers. The answers are in your partners’ knowledge and expertise.
We want HPD and Honda, and Michelin, and Wirth, to tell us what we need to do and we will follow. We tell them, “These calls are yours.”
My most important jobs are to nurture creativity and to tamp down the “not invented here” syndrome whenever we sniff it or see it in our company or in our team.
Last year, we put the Porsche book on the shelf. This year we put the Aston Martin book on the shelf. We put those books away when we started with HPD. We race by the HPD book.
We don’t have a big organization. We want to be nimble and quick to respond.
I do this to have fun and enjoy it, and more success means more fun if you do it for the right reasons.
The Muscle Milk Honda team enters Road America having won the last five consecutive races. The drivers and team have momentum and most of all; they know that Greg Pickett has got their back.