This is the first article in the Leadership Lessons series.

Ruchdi Hajjar used to be a racer, so he definitely knows a thing or two about fast cars. We take a ride in the new Ferrari Roma with the founder of The Ring Boxing Community and ask him about the leadership and business lessons he’s learned in the past year.

Building a long-lasting brand like Ferrari

“There is something so special about Ferrari. It’s not just about being profitable or selling a million cars. Everyone who touches a Ferrari will become a Tifosi (the name given to Ferrari fans). The branding and the values that Ferrari has are priceless.”

“I don’t know if I can build such a brand in my lifetime. It takes generations. And the key is to stay true to your values. When you do that, then the community will build and gather around you. If you change your values every year because of trends, then you’re no longer authentic and true.”

“Ferrari almost went bankrupt, but it continued to take risks. If you don’t dare or take these risks, you won’t lose a lot. But you won’t win a lot either.”

(Related: A Ferrari fan reflects on Lego’s latest Technic set, the 488 GTE)

Drive and decision making during a pandemic

“What drives me? It’s funny. I become more driven when I’m faced with challenges and adversity, as opposed to when I have success… the thrill of success evaporates rapidly. But the challenges, it’s always going to push me. If success came too easily, then it wouldn’t be valuable right?”

“When you’re making a tough decision, you have to think with your head, your heart and your stomach [laughs]. Balance the business rationale with the emotions and then, listen to your gut too.”

“When you’re agile, you can anticipate everything, including the pandemic. It was tough for us last year during the lockdown when we were closed for three months, but we anticipated it and were ready. We used the time to look at all the aspects of our boxing gym. It made the team feel connected and alive even when we were at home. At the end, we survived.”

“We just continue fighting, even now. I feel like we are in the championship rounds, but the 11th round keeps repeating itself! [laughs] But we are prepared. I think the impact of this pandemic will be felt long after it’s gone.”

(Related: Leadership during a crisis with Wee Teng Wen of The Lo & Behold Group)

A return to racing

“I plan to go back to racing five years from now. I love endurance racing. It’s beautiful, challenging and pushes you to your limits.”

“I once drove a Formula One car for 10 laps around a track. There were no other cars, so it was safe. After I finished, the engineer came to me and said, ‘Imagine that you have 19 guys just as crazy as you and you are in the tight Monaco track in the rain. And I’m talking to you about how to set up your car on the curves and on the straight lines while you’re jousting with the rest.’ It was an unbelievable experience.”