LEADING QUESTIONS: Racing promotions require big drive

July 21, 2010

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where IBJ sits down with one of central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Zak Brown, 38, started go-kart racing at age 13 and discovered that he had a talent for going fast and making strategic decisions on the fly. Those qualities would serve him well as founder of motorsports marketing firm Just Marketing International at age 22. Brown found that winning clients in the board room was just as thrilling as passing a rival in the final turn, and further fed his competitive spirit.

Just Marketing's approach was unique for the time—helping corporate clients design and implement marketing strategies based on racing promotions. The business grew from his own need as a driver to hustle sponsorships, and it soon began to overshadow his racing career.

"I started to realize that if you are going to do Formula One, which is what I wanted to do, you need to be knocking on the door at that point," Brown said. "I started to lose some interest in my career about halfway through, because deep down inside I knew I wasn’t goingt to get to the pinnacle, so I never had 100-percent attention on my racing."

In the video below, Brown discusses how his career as a driver helped prepare him for piloting a startup.

It takes a healthy ego to succeed in motorsports. In the video below, Brown explains why big egos—including his own—are good for business. He also details qualities of those he admires in the industry, including racing magnate Roger Penske, and how he tries to keeps emotion out of such a charged atmosphere.


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