The Long Way Up: Lessons from An Impossible Journey for Business

If you are a fan of Star Wars, Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman, motorcycles, or technology in general, I would highly recommend the new Apple TV series entitled ‘Long Way Up’. This is a chronicled journey of two friends, Ewan and Charley, starting at the Southernmost tip of South America and covering 13,000 miles to Los Angeles on electric Harley Davidson Livewire motorcycles and leveraging a support crew in Rivian R1T electric trucks. Some reference links follow:

Initially I was interested in ‘Long Way Up’ because it features two friends on an extended motorcycle journey. While friends and I have never travelled 13,000 miles over 3 months, we have had some great adventures covering up to 4,000 miles over the course of a few weeks. We’ve journeyed from here in North Texas to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, and many more locations on two wheels. More interesting though as this series has progressed are the lessons that emerge and how they relate to those running a business and trying develop a competitive advantage in arguably some of the most difficult times imaginable.

TECHNOLOGY AND A BRIGHTER FUTURE

I’m always so grateful to be alive in these times as we see exponential growth in technology, and so many emerging possibilities for the future. Earlier this year in a tech talk that we have weekly with our teams, we discussed emerging technologies and trends for the future, and it may have been one of my favorite tech talks in years. The predictions for the next five years, and the impact that technology may have on so many facets of life from climate change to wealth management to medical care is just incredible. One of the goals in ‘Long Way Up’ was to reduce the carbon footprint of the two journeymen and their crew. The electric bikes and cars were only the start of this, as the team visits with so many people throughout their journey that have implement self-sustaining electricity and food sources and lends a hand to help raise awareness as well.

Often technology is seen as a cost center in business, just some necessary evil that must be procured because it’s a must have in business. With the right team and the right planning, these technology purchases can be leveraged as investments to build competitive advantage that results in better products, better service, and ultimately a better result for your team and your client base. At Axxys we focus on these core values that help deliver on this message.

Empathy | Integrity | Passion | Innovation | Engaged

RIGHT PEOPLE, RIGHT TEAM

‘Long Way Up’ follows the journey of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman over 13,000 miles on their motorcycles. Across some of the most scenic terrain on our planet, amongst some of the most interesting and diverse cultures in the Americas. As you can imagine, this requires more than just the two riders. Calling on the expertise of over sixty professionals in production, cinematography, editing, sound, editing, drones, local cultures, travel, etc. is a key factor in the success of the journey and this series.

It’s no secret that business and technology are complicated considering all the many facets from research & design, to product/service development, to human resource management, to marketing & sales, to support, to supply chain management, to cybersecurity, to technology, and so on. Like the movie’s team and crew, at Axxys we can help you with your journey ahead by being an integral part of your team. We aren’t looking to be just another provider of products or services, but truly a partner that you can lean on to help you succeed. Our mission is to build long lasting relationships by leveraging technology, services, and experience to help our clients achieve success.

HANDS-ON STRATEGIC PLANNING

One of the first things that became apparent in watching along as the journey started unfolding for McGregor/Boorman and crew is the incredible amount of personal research, and hands-on involvement they had in evaluating options and platforms for the journey ahead. The team had completed two considerable journeys over a decade before on traditional motorcycles powered by fossil fuels. And while normal petrol motorcycles were on the possibilities list for this journey, they wanted to reduce their carbon footprint, and sort of prove out this concept that electric vehicles are possible even in remote areas. With that in mind, they visited multiple designers and manufacturers working on electric vehicles that would meet the demands of the trip including not on the miles, but also the terrain, cargo capacity, and so forth. Drawing from past experiences and knowledge of such an endeavor meant the team was keenly aware of hurdles and obstacles to look out for.

This is something that we should seek to take in to our strategic and planning sessions in business too. We have a vast knowledge bank at our disposal usually in our teams, and through due care and diligent planning can identify and forecast some of what is to come in the future, and build a plan that will help ensure the most positive successful outcomes.

At Axxys we are better able to help you succeed if we are “at the table” for the planning of your future. It’s crucial that we work hands-on with each other to ensure we understand the intricacies of your vision and the importance of each initiative. Sometimes technology is just an afterthought, when it can have such a positive impact if it is leveraged as a strategic accelerator.

BE FLEXIBLE AND ADAPTIVE TO SOLVE PROBLEMS

Even with all the best planning, and most careful forethought, sometimes things just go sideways and ultimately are out of our control. A few items that were planned out for the journey in ‘Long Way Up’ was that Rivian would help build charging infrastructure in some of the remote areas of South America. With a range of around 100 miles per charge on the Livewire motorcycles this would be a crucial success criterion. Two things that created challenges early on for the riders were miscalculations on range distance of the motorcycles during winter in South America, as well as the inability to use the Stage 1 chargers in all scenarios. So on multiple occasions the team was stranded without a “Juice Box” charger, and found themselves in locations where the electrical infrastructure didn’t allow them to utilize the more traditional wall plugin charger provided by Harley Davidson. In remote areas where its common for persons to live “off grid” with solar arrays, batteries, and other electricity generation solutions, these often were not capable of charging the motorcycles. And in the freezing temperatures, at times the bikes simply would not take a charge and would have to be brought inside to maintain a reasonable temperature while charging. When all else failed, the team brought in a diesel generator to the motorcycles to get them charged. As the initial legs of the journey progressed, the daily tactics for ensuring success were constantly being adjusted. Careful consideration of waypoints and side journeys were weighed in relation to total daily distances resulting each day in fewer challenges more successful journeys. Oddly enough, the Rivian trucks were not impervious to these challenges, and had some interesting ways of dealing with low batteries. The Rivian can be towed if needed to generate power back into the battery pack allowing for extended distances until the next charger is located.

Life and business are both challenging to say the least, even when things are going well. But when we hit challenges and roadblocks, being flexible and adaptive and keeping focus on the ultimate goal of success will help ensure things stay on track. It’s easy to get flustered, even angry at situations that derail progress and/or cause challenges leading to higher costs, lower margin, etc. But there is always value in learning, and success is never cheap. It takes a lot of failures to reach your goal.

At Axxys we take great pride in learning how our clients operate, understanding their strategic vision, adapting our operational support to those guidelines, and ultimately working alongside our clients to provide solutions to the daily challenges faced by end users. Ultimately if our clients are successful, we will be successful. Our mission continues to be building long lasting relationships by leveraging technology, services, and experience to help our clients achieve success. We might not be in a position to give your truck a tow, but you can contact us to get your company’s tech headed in the right direction.