The Art of Race Car Driving and Business – Post Pandemic
What do race car driving and business have in common?
A lot says Edward Adato, Partner at Downtown Works, WL Investments, and Performance Wealth Investments. Entrepreneurship and race car driving both require taking calculated risks, a lot of luck, and a good pit crew for support says Adato. Over 35 years he has built a successful career by embracing risk, working hard, and helping to create spaces for teams to build, collaborate, and thrive.
We interviewed Adato to see what he thinks are the keys to success when driving cars and running a business.
Adato grew up in Los Angeles, dropped out of college to travel, and spent a year in a kibbutz in Israel until being called on to help run the family leather business in Mexico that was experiencing some challenges. Adato soon realized their customers were shifting to importing cheaper goods from China and recognized the need to pivot – fast. He started an online electronics business, growing the startup from $0 to $2M in only a few years. He then founded WL Investments, a real estate building and management business with properties in the US & Mexico, where he remains today as a partner, though he has also expanded to other roles.
Adato is also portfolio administrator for PWI, a four-family partnership, with 20+ properties in Mexico and the US totaling over 400,000sf, that also offers construction management and state-of-the-art software and tenant, vendor, and owner portals for management and reporting. And he is co-founder of Downtown Works, building on PWI’s desire to create hospitality-inspired, tech-rich work environments that are flexible and provide all the amenities teams need to succeed – such as collaborative and inspiring spaces, a video/podcast studio, work/life balance classes such as yoga, an open kitchen for a community feel, outdoor workstations, and more.
Adato says true leadership and success comes with the ability to first listen to others’ ideas and opinions objectively without the impulse to “be right” or hold out for complete agreement. “We may not always agree, and I don’t have to take your suggestion. But if I don’t listen, I might miss something that could make all the difference to my success as a leader. If we listen and respect each other’s position, we might just find the best possible solutions to challenges – big and small.”
“In racing, for me, it’s the same situation. I listen to all the risks and opportunities that could lead to winning. Listening is the first strategy, not pressing the pedal to the floor,” says Adato.
Be Open to Mentoring
Adato says the best way to learn anything is to observe successful people and ask questions. “You might hear feedback and advice you don’t agree with, but a mentor who has had success and has no financial stake in your business other than wanting you to succeed is invaluable. Seek out a mentor you respect and trust. It might be the best thing you do for your career,” says Adato. “Just as I do with looking to other successful people in business, when it comes to my favorite pastime of racing, I’ll take driving advice from any senior racecar drivers. If they have won many races and are still standing, that’s someone you want to coach you.”
Adato gives back by mentoring and guiding entrepreneurs at Downtown Works, helping them to form thriving enterprises that take their idea to market, and support communities and families. “We make a real effort to support early-stage businesses, even hosting StartUp Week and networking events to help entrepreneurs make valuable connections to further their ventures,” says Adato about Downtown Works. “We personally mentor startups, make introductions to investors and offer services to accountants, attorneys, banks, and other professionals we trust to help them. The idea is they come here in their early days, and then they go. We see them off like our kids. And it’s nice to see them succeed.”
He encourages other successful businesspeople to mentor younger generations as often as they can. “We have an obligation to help the generation behind us, just as the generation before us lifted us up.”
You're Tougher Than You Think
Adato says he has seen people bounce back from the hardest of times to realize their goals and entrepreneurial dreams. The key, he said, is to realize that you and the people around you are capable of getting up quickly from any setbacks. It’s important to trust that you can weather hard times to be successful.
“Covid taught us that we are all more resilient than we think,” he says “It’s been a tough time for all of us – especially service-based businesses or startups building a new concept and needing feedback to innovate and develop truly novel solutions. Many struggled this past year without interaction with their teams. And now they are getting back to work without missing a beat as things open up. It’s really great to see the resiliency of these teams. That’s what entrepreneurism takes – never giving up, and the confidence to know your situation today can be different tomorrow.”
Adato says it’s a good thing that people are finally getting back to the office with the vaccine rollout and people feeling safer. “I feel strongly that people need human interaction to do their best work,” he says. “Each person brings a different perspective; there is nothing better than collaboration like that to grow an idea, a business. There’s definitely reasons to have a home office, but in-person collaboration – at least a few days a week – is really powerful.”
He says that’s the reason they created the Flex+ program at Downtown Works.
“Flex+ offers rotating office space for individuals and automated reservations for an almost limitless number of company employees to rotate at one or more private offices at a fraction of the cost of commercial office rental. This helps young companies to afford an office where they can meet and collaborate in a tech-rich environment,” he says. “Some employees work from home, while others meet at Downtown Works and use a meeting room for brainstorming or a remote presentation where they interact and present together.”
Adato says, “I like to take risks, but discounting the ability of collaboration to find the absolute best solution isn’t a risk I’m willing to take. In racing or business.”