Say what you will about Bernie Sanders, the guy knows how to inspire, and he sure knows how to take something and make it bigger. No, not THAT Bernie. The other one. Bernie Ecclestone. The context? Not a presidential race. We’re talking about Bernie’s impact on Formula One auto racing.
Ecclestone, in case you were wondering, is the guy at the wheel of the open wheel series. In his three decades driving America’s second favorite motorsport, Bernie landed deals in excess of $23 billion.
According to just about everyone with a calculator and access to the numbers, Ecclestone generated more cash for a pro sport than any other individual. That’s right. More than anyone in the NFL. More than anyone in Major League Baseball. And much, much more than any single individual in America’s number one motorsport, NASCAR.
How does he do it? How can the 85-year-old phenom generate such a stroke as to elicit so many expensive signatures?
First, he negotiates long-term deals paying off for clients in ways that get them reinvesting in him. In any endeavor, reinvestment is huge. In media, if your advertisers re-up without much of a fight, you are doing something right. When they do so with vigor and enthusiasm, you can charge whatever you like.
Here’s a Bernie example: German broadcaster RTL wanted a spot in the series. Ecclestone needed a big-ticket sponsor. The result was a massive contract extension and a single business relationship generating F1 more than $1.4 billion.
But that’s just one of the many ways Ecclestone made mad cash for Formula One Racing. Brand sponsorships, race hosting, TV deals and junior circuits all pay off for the company. And every single one of those deals also feature Ecclestone’s prints on them.
Bottom line, Bernie knows how to bring multiple streams of income into his business. He doesn’t limit his cash flow to one or two well-paying deals. He’s always on the lookout for more, for better, and longer. Never satisfied.
And therein lies the secret. The moment you feel satisfied with yourself, you’ve become too comfortable. CEOs should feel free to enjoy their successes. But never, never fall asleep at the wheel. As any racer can tell you, that’s when bad things happen.