I recently watched a great TED talk from David Epstein asking “Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?

Jesse Owens vs Usain Bolt

Jesse OwensFrom Epstein’s talk:

In 1936, Jesse Owens held the world record in the 100 meters (10.2 seconds).

Had Jesse Owens been racing last year in the world championships of the 100 meters, when Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt finished (9.77 seconds), Owens would have still had 14 feet to go. That’s a lot in sprinter land.

Picture the stadium last year at the world championships of the 100 meters: thousands of fans waiting with bated breath to see Usain Bolt, the fastest man in history; flashbulbs popping as the nine fastest men in the world coil themselves into their blocks. I want you to pretend that Jesse Owens is in that race. Bang! The gun goes off. An American sprinter jumps out to the front. Usain Bolt starts to catch him. Usain Bolt passes him, and as the runners come to the finish.

The first runner was Usain Bolt. The last one was Jesse Owens, but they all cross within 1/2 second of each other.


When you think of it like that – a half second, it’s not that big a difference, is it?

Then consider that Usain Bolt started by propelling himself out of blocks down a specially fabricated carpet designed to allow him to travel as fast as humanly possible.

Jesse Owens, on the other hand, ran on cinders, the ash from burnt wood, and that soft surface stole far more energy from his legs as he ran. Rather than blocks, Jesse Owens had a gardening trowel that he had to use to dig holes in the cinders to start from.

Biomechanical analysis of the speed of Owens’ joints shows that had he been running on the same surface as Bolt, he wouldn’t have been 14 feet behind, he would have been within one stride. Rather than last, Owens would have been second. That’s the difference track surface technology has made, and it’s done it throughout the running world.

Technology Is Winning

David Epstein proves over and over again that technology is what’s helping athletes break records. Better tracks, better shoes, better training, performance enhancing drugs, full body swimsuits, bicycles, and even the specialized body types coaches now search for in athletes.

Now the question becomes, “How are you leveraging technology to win?

If Jesse Owens were around today, he wouldn’t be digging holes in the track and running in gym shorts and a t-shirt. He would be using every piece of technology available to him to win.

If you’re the type of lender that’s always looking for an edge, and being able to make smarter deals for you, your bank, and your borrowers is what drives you, then we share a common purpose.

When we talk to bankers at events all over the country, we hear every type of story imaginable. The most common is the “this is how we’ve always done it” lament. In the 20th century, you could still get away with that. Here in the 21st century, technology is still producing the winners.

The only question remaining: are you betting on Jesse Owens or Usain Bolt?

Watch the whole 18 minutes and find your inspiration.