Quitter to Winner

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

INTERVIEW: The Robin Hood Rally's Michael Ferrier

Michael Ferrier took a break from corporate consulting to pursue his passion: cars. Now it's his second career. Michael is now the Vice President of Financial Operations with the new race car reality TV show The Robin Hood Rally. Here's how he landed the new gig.

What were you doing before you helped start The Robin Hood Rally?

I spent about 20 years in the financial services industry. I worked for several major organizations, my last being a contract gig for MassMutual. When I finished my project ahead of schedule, the economy broke loose. They wanted to keep me on but couldn’t afford me at the time, so I said thanks but no thanks. It was a good time to explore something different. I was burned out on the corporate culture.

What did you do during your career break?

Racing and collecting cars has been a long-time passion and hobby. A friend of mine races down in Connecticut. I started hanging out with him at the track racing Ferraris. This was September 2009. That’s when I was introduced to my current business partner. We started hanging out at the track. One day he invited me to lunch and pitched me the idea of The Robin Hood Rally. He wanted me to help build the company, the show and be the Vice President of Finance. I didn’t hesitate to jump on board. He started several successful entrepreneurial ventures, so I was confident he could pull it off. Plus, how could I turn down an opportunity to work with cars and finances. It was a dream situation that fell right into my lap.

Tell us a little more about The Robin Hood Rally

We’re a production company that puts on a reality TV racing show. We race legally on public roads across the country. The large part of the show is the back stories on the racers and some on the town. Another large part is the charity aspect. We attempt to raise as much money as we can. At the end of show we present a check to an individual in need or a local charity. This year we’re filming races on 10 roads in 10 states. The series will air in late Fall of 2010 through the Spring of 2011.

We’re purchasing the time to air the series, and are independently producing it. We want to maintain control of the content to focus on the cars, drivers, and charity versus manufactured reality TV. We want it be remain a competition for individuals that are interested in showing, not telling, everyone what they are made of behind the wheel. The show will run on closed scenic public roads. People won’t know the course until they arrive at the venue. This makes it a true test of driver skill.

What’s it like going from the corporate world to a reality TV production start-up?

Exciting, nerve wracking, fun, tiring, scary, and anything but boring. I love it. It’s great because we’re breaking industry records. When shopping around the essence of the show to potential investors and producers, everyone is shocked by our well thought out our concept. It normally takes people years to get the where we’ve gotten in months. Of course, we’re still learning as we go. None of us have ever worked in the TV or film industry. We’ve hit some roadblocks but it has not deterred us.

How have you generated buzz without a big budget?

We’ve gotten a lot of momentum from our website and just from word of mouth within the passionate racing community. We get some good turnouts in the towns we race in. Plus some fans have been posting clips on YouTube, which has also helped get the word out. The local media has also covered our races.

How have you navigated the drastic income shift?

It’s not easy but I’m managing. I’m on a very lean budget. I went from a comfortable job with a steady income to putting everything I have into this venture with virtually no income. I’m not going to lie. It’s scary. But I haven’t once thought about going back to a corporate job. Despite the drawbacks, I have freedom in my job. I can work from home. I get to meet new and interesting people. And I’m following my passion. The image of success isn’t important to me. When you do what you love, success will follow and everything else falls into place. I’m also doing something good for others. We’ve helped out some people in need in the towns that hosted our races.

What would you have done differently?

It’s hard to say. When I left my consulting job I wasn’t out looking for another job. I was just enjoying myself, then one thing led to another. I’m very lucky to play with cars and money for a living. I will say that it’s a good thing I’m good with money. If you’re going to get into an entrepreneurial venture, you need to budget your finances very well. You can’t spend like you did when you had a steady paycheck, especially when you’re first starting out.

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