Ten years ago next week, I was lucky enough to spend a week inside Dale Earnhardt, Inc., about a year after Dale Sr. died. Everyone called him Big E., but not in a way that sounds like Biggie. It was a distinct “Big. E.” with a little pause in between. Big E.’s office was still as he had left it in February of 2001 and a lot of the decisions he had made about where to place little mundane things within the office, like a soda machine or a sign, were pointed out to me (“Big E. said put it there because the way the light hits it, so we did.”) throughout the entire, massive complex. I got the sense that Big E. had, in fact, designed the entire experience in mind because he did, down to the typefaces and numbers on the cars (“We were looking at the numbers on the cars and Big E. came in and said ‘Now which way should that number be slanting? Toward the front of the car as if it’s trying to get over the finish line.’”). Most of the aphorisms were really simple and direct, like Big E. himself.
When people talk about Steve Jobs and the complete control he had over his experiences and culture, I often think of Big E. He had his hand on the tiller in much the same way as Jobs, just in a completely different universe. Plus, just like Jobs, he had ‘that stare.’
- Thursday March 29, 2012
- Posted at 8:30 pm
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- Notes: 74