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BLC speaker: Industry needs leadership to reverse decline in ridership

Published April 18, 2018

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Mike Tyson is Robert Stevenson’s favorite philosopher. Or so he says. But why? It was Tyson who said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

With that one liner, Stevenson continued to suggest to a packed room of industry executives at the Bicycle Leadership Conference Wednesday that business is tough and leaders need to focus.

“Competition is doing everything they (leaders) can to beat you, destroy you, shut you down,” he said. But as Stevenson continued with his talk he turned to the issue that continues to roil the industry—declining ridership.

Stevenson, who kicked off the annual industry meeting with his talk, pulled up a variety of ridership numbers from several organizations and all were different. 

But, he noted, the industry would rather talk about which number is correct. Instead, forget the number. The issue is a negative trend line as ridership declines. Don’t quibble over the numbers, he said.

“Everyone wants their piece of the pie. Some even want a bigger piece of the pie,” said Stevenson, adding that the industry’s pie is declining. “You need to work collectively as a team to fix the declining rider base,” he said.

Stevenson is a speaker and bestselling author. He’s owned five companies with sales in more than 20 countries. Stevenson has spoken to executives at more than 2,500 companies worldwide and has done extensive research in corporate and entrepreneurial behavior interviewing more than 10,000 employees, manager, and senior executives in 250 industries.

He also sprinkled his speech with examples of how major companies — Kodak, Sears and others — have virtually disappeared because they failed to look at a changing marketplace. “Bad leadership kills companies,” he said.  

He cited how Uber is now the largest taxi company in the world yet doesn’t own a single taxi. Airbnb is the largest property rental company in the world and doesn’t own a single rental. 

The founders brought a different perspective to thinking about the business. And that is what the bicycle industry needs to do.

The industry needs to come together if it is to spur growth and put more people on bikes. And to do that requires leadership. If the industry has any hopes of reversing current trends and leaders will need to break with the old and focus on new directions, he said.


Topics associated with this article: Bicycle Leadership Conference, Sea Otter Classic

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