Triple Crown Leadership and the horserace of a lifetime



”Triple Crown Leadership” – Gregg Vanourek, specialized in the nexus between leadership, entrepreneurship and personal development.

In todays fiercely competitive world, it takes more than ”business as usual” to become strong and stay ahead of the curve. It takes ”Triple Crown Leadership”, and for that some great leadership and wow-moments.

Secretariat and Ron Turcotte, great leadership and some wow-moments

There he was, the big, beautiful, strong and proud Secretariat with his jockey, Ron Turcotte. They were the perfect match in this very moment… June 9, 1973, was theire quest of a lifetime. No one in history had ever, even until today, felt what Turcotte felt that day. That was the day when he rode Secretariat, the 3 year old chestnut colt, to his immortal 31-length win in the Belmont Stakes.

No jockey, before or since, has ever been that far ahead in a race determining a ”Triple Crown” aboard a horse so relent-lessly dominant, in front of so many fans almonst disbelieving what they were seeing with their own eyes. That very moment, Turcotte felt the big horse heartbeat during the race, he felt the horse rhythmic breathing through his legs.

This evening Gregg Vanourek took us back to this magical moment in the annals of sports. He took us back to that horse race of a lifetime… At the very same time Gregg also showed us what Triple Crown Leadership is all about.

Secretariat and Turcotte

Secretariat and Turcotte provide a compelling metaphor for how to lead by example, and for ”Triple Crown Leadership”, which is the kind of leadership that builds organizations that are excellent, ethical, and enduring. The ”Triple Crown”, the most elusive championship in all sports, was in that very moment theirs and demonstrates the greatness of leadership in so many aspects.

What we all can learn from Secretariat and Turcotte in our own roles as leaders

Secretariat and Ron Turcotte where an unlikely pair, the last survivors of a charismatic team that included Secretariat, owner Penny Chenery, trainer Lucien Laurin, groom Eddie Sweat and exercise riders – Jim Gaffney and Charlie Davids. Their quest for the Triple Crown resulted in a big wow-moment with them shattering a record and showing the world what peak performance looks like. It was masterful teamwork in action.

  • Turcotte had a great passion for horses. He earned a reputation for an unrivaled work ethic and unimpeachable integrity while winning often.
  • This fantastic and amazing team wasn´t a success right away. They got through failures before they achieved this great success.
  • It was a hard road to take, but their vision was clear all the time. As a team they would win Triple Crown. That memorable day they succeeded.

The story about Secretariat, Turcotte and their team is about so much more than astonishing athleticism and the will to win. It´s also about teamwork, heart, character, stewardship, flow, adversity and inspired leadership. It´s about courrage to lead with what Bob and Gregg Vanourek call ”steel and velvet” – the hard and soft edges of leadership.

Using horse racing as a metaphor, Gregg took us step by step to see the potential of Triple Crown Leadership in raising organizations to new heights. Together the team accomplished three significant things:  

  • they achived extra ordinary results and impacts (excellent)
  • they achieved their results with honor and integrity (ethical)
  • and their results have stood the test of time (enduring)

So the picture starts to become clear at this point. It takes more than ”business as usual” for leaders to run their team and their business.

Inspired by the most elusive championship in sports, the ”Triple Crown” of horse racing, Gregg Vanourek and his father Bob Vanourek have created ”Triple Crown Leadership”. Their framework includes leadership pracitces, designed for leaders at all levels, from supervisors to CEOs, who are seeking a better way to lead – and who want their organization to become excellent, ethical and enduring.

Based on their own experiences and interviews with over sixty organizations in eleven countries, Vanoureks´ book ”Triple Crown Leadership” provides compelling leadership lessons from array of enterprises, including Zappos, Google, eBay, Infosys, Xerox, Spotify, Mayo Clinic, KIPP, Ashoka, and more. The book provides helpful tools for any leader to start working to be excellent, ethical and enduring, align toward peak performance, instill a culture of character, lead with both ”steel” and ”velvet”, achieve impact and sustainability while maintaining high performance and even turn a company around after a breakdown.

I don´t think I was the only one in the audience this evening that got some goosebumps. Secretariat and Turcotte are a  great rolemodel for”Triple Crown Leadership”. It´s really a great and actionable framework for any leader. Thanks, Gregg, for this big knowledge and powerful, special evening!

Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, are co-authors of and speakers on Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the 2013 International Book Award (Business: General). Web site: Twitter: @TipleCrownLead, @BobVanourek, @GVanourek

Text and photo:
Marielle Palm

– Gregg Vanourek pdf 
– See Secretariat and Turcottes horse race: Triple Crown Championship 
– You can read more about Secretariat, Turcotte and their team here