You Don’t Have to Ride to B Strong

It’s 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday, and I’m up making coffee. My spirit is still asleep but I’m moving. I’m rarely up this early and never on a Saturday, because it’s really hard for me to wake up. If I were queen, no day would start until 10:00 a.m. But today I’m motivated to be up because I’m volunteering at an aid station for the B Strong Ride in Boulder, and the riders need helpers to prepare and hand out snacks and drinks. About 50 of my colleagues, including CEO Kevin O’Hara, are riding one of the two loops (a 69-mile Mountain Loop and a 24-mile Countryside Loop) on an Integra team and the least I can do is volunteer. 

I fantasized about riding in the race–I had my outfit picked out from the window of Title 9–but having not ridden my bike further than the park and back this summer, I would likely faint by mile 10. Many people have trained for it, however, and I truly admire their strength. I believe there are about 800 riders today to raise money for cancer patient care for Boulder Community Hospital Center for Integrative Care and support for the George Karl Foundation (this year’s event raised more than $336,000 to date).

Every Role Counts

My role at Integra, a job I truly enjoy, is similar to my role in the event. As the director of internal communications, I’m not a core function of the business. I’m not a network engineer, a circuit designer or a service delivery manager. You don’t need me to physically provide communication and networking services to businesses in the western U.S. But you do need me to motivate employees toward one goal, set role expectations and recognize people for their daily, hard work. At Integra, we measure our value and success through the eyes of our customers. The more the employees with their various roles are connected to each other and to the organization, the easier it is to work in concert to serve our customers well. Companies need the behind the scenes functions just as much as bike rides need volunteers and sponsors to produce a successful event. I’m happy with my “volunteer” T-shirt. 

Personal Motivation

Evidenced by my willingness to volunteer on a Saturday, I’m motivated to work hard for Integra. It matches almost squarely up with Daniel Pink’s principles of motivation: autonomy, mastery and purpose. I’m re-reading his book called Drive that presents motivation as a result of autonomy, or the freedom to achieve your goals your way; mastery, the idea that you can continually strive to get better to be a master at your craft; and purpose, whereby you believe what you are doing has a greater meaning or purpose in your life. I’m extremely fortunate to have all three in my work at the moment, and I strive to infuse these concepts into the internal communications as our culture continues to evolve. Motivation is individual, of course, and what drives me to work hard or volunteer is not necessarily transferable. But to the degree I can make an impact to motivate employees through communications or messaging, I will try. 

It’s 9:45 a.m. and all the mountain racers have passed our aid station—sooner than I thought. The six of us have cut up fruit, bagels and muffins and supplied a few hundred riders with water and Skratch, an exercise hydration mix made locally with all-natural ingredients. What started as a box of food became an appealing and healthful grab-and-go picnic through teamwork. I even replenished the port-o-potty with toilet paper as part of my duty. A highlight of the morning was seeing the camaraderie between the riders and knowing they each had their own reason to support the cause of the ride. Integra employees Thom Birich and Brian Kelsey, both in the Operations department, drove from Utah to ride with their colleagues. By the end, I realize this event is about celebrating the human spirit on many levels. 

I can clean up now, go home and take a nap. I’ll rally to take a bike ride with my family later—I’m inspired. If I start now, I can be in shape enough by this time next year to ride in the B Strong event; the Countryside Loop, anyway. 

 

Photos taken by Ani Vattano

 

 

  • Kris

    Very well written!

    • Ani Vattano

      Thanks, Kris, for reading the post. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Next year we’ll get you out there too!

  • coachberv@gmail.com

    This is wonderful. As Ani put it, we all know in our mind what the right thing to do is, but putting it into action is where most of us fall short. What an inspiration she is! If we all could learn to get out of our own head and give more to our communities this world can be a much better place for everybody. Way to go!

    • Ani Vattano

      Thanks, coachberv! The volunteer event definitely gave me perspective and I appreciate your kind words on the post. Here’s to bringing the outside in!