I recently read a book about BMW (recommended by the Executive VP of Marketing at Chick-fil-A). While technical details were included, it was mostly about their brand strategy–the thinking behind the choices they made, from the technical choices to the marketing and leadership decisions.
I’ve always thought highly of BMW in general (who doesn’t?), but the more I learned the more I’ve come to see their approach as a great metaphor for living well–at least the way I’d like to define a great life for me.
1. BMW is audacious in their aspiration. (BMW calls their cars the Ultimate Driving Machine.) I think an audacious approach to life helps me keep reaching and growing. I’d love to an Ultimate Living Machine.
2. BMW aims for both understated exterior appearance and best in the world actual performance (in their main line of cars, not the roadsters like the Z4 where they add the razzle-dazzle). Their cars have smooth lines, but not a flashy look. I love the idea of building world class internal elements (my thinking, attitude, character, skills, etc) and yet exercising restraint in my “exterior style” (dressing in the latest fashions or trying to impress people with my grown-up toys). There are many cars who have all the latest bells and whistles in the extra features, but whose engines are unreliable . I’d like to be the opposite of that.
3. BMW defines car performance different than a typical American car company (BMW comes from Germany). Most American car companies value how fast you can go from 0-60 mph in a straight line. BMW more cares about how fast you can go from 60-0 mph, or how fast you can go around a corner and keep the car low and tight on the road. Oh, and they’re designed so the car feels smooth and as easy to control at 60 mph and at 160 mph (they do have the autobahn in Germany, remember). They even have an algorithm in the car computer that changes how much the steering wheel turns the tires the faster you go so your feeling of control stays constant. In my life, I don’t want to merely run fast and hard–charging at the world. I’d love to live a life that is more responsive to change. I want to be as mature and gently responsive whether the pressure on me is low or very, very high.
In short, I’d like to drive he road of life as a BMW.
What kind of car are you more like? What kind of car would you like to build towards becoming? Why?
Oh, and the book is called Driven: Inside BMW, the Most Admired Car Company in the World by David Kiley.
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