Tag Archives: Motivation

Business (and Life) Lessons from the World Cup (and my Dad & Son)

Art Brown, captain and goalie of the West Point soccer team, in 1961.

Art Brown, my father, and captain and goalie of the West Point soccer team, in 1961.

In watching the World Cup and my son’s traveling soccer games, I’ve come to realize that a look at the basic differences between offense and defense gives insight on human behavior and personalities that we can all use in business, as well as life in general. In this exercise, players on offense might be executives, marketers, salespeople, creatives or anyone with a higher profile role and/or more extroverted personality. Players on defense might be accountants, HR staff, production, engineers, or anyone with a more back office role or more introverted personality.

As you read these simple observations, be thinking of your own behavior and how you interact with your colleagues, clients, vendors, family and friends:

  • Offense requires inventiveness whereas defense is preventive — Those traits are typically not equally strong in the same personality
  • Inventiveness in its nature is improvisational, and yet defense requires impromptu responses
  • Offense is creative and opportunistic–you only have to be “on” when you have the ball
  • Defense is high-stress and requires keen alertness at all times*
  • Offense is easily measured and recognized by what happens (goooooaaaaalllls!), so those on offense get a lot of credit and recognition
  • Defense is measured by stats such as saves, but the vast majority of people don’t look for that data
  • Offense is high-profile and every time someone scores, there is massive celebration
  • Defense is, for the most part, only noticed when they make a mistake
  • The camera always follows the ball which is 100% of the time with the offense

Offense requires inventiveness whereas defense is preventive
Those traits are typically not equally strong in the same personality

For what it’s worth, here’s some personal context. I played soccer growing up and was half-back. Kind of half offense and half defense, but colleagues of mine would probably tell you I mostly play offense. That said, I do come from a good “defense” bloodline. My dad was an all American goalkeeper and captain of the West Point team during college, and he later became a coach and the officer in charge of the West Point soccer team. So, he must have been very trained and groomed for this, right? Not. On his first day of soccer ever, when he tried out for his high school soccer team, the coach asked, “Who here plays basketball?” My dad raised his hand. Without yet seeing any athletic endeavor from my father, the coach said, “You’re goal keeper.”

So, here are some takeaways from my perspective:

  • Neither offense or defense is better than the other
  • It takes both good offense and good defense to win
  • The goalkeeper is the ultimate defender–and during the game is more important than the coach–seeing the whole game and interconnecting the team’s individual players via strategy, coordination and communication
  • Maybe we could all stand to look for and celebrate the metrics of our colleagues on defense (If a defender’s goal is to stop goals, then they “score” goals when they stop them)
  • Everybody on the team is on both offense and defense, they are just on different places of the field
  • Offense and defense are on the same team (Don’t fall into the trap of seeing someone with a different personality or role than you as your opponent)

Everybody on the team is on both offense and defense,
they are just on different places of the field

Did this help you? What insights do you have from this, or from any sport?

*Since Germany whipped Brazil 7-1, I’m mindful how german shepherds trained for protection sometimes get severe anxiety due to their feeling of responsibility to allow nothing to happen. The anxiety comes from having to be always ready, always on.

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Bootstrapping Your Content

In the post “Is Content King?” I posited that content is in fact king, citing the ultimate “content-monetization” example of the very rich NFL and NBA broadcast licensing deals. But what about content with less demand? Surely there are diminishing returns, at least from the networks and distributors’ perspective, right? Let’s look at some smaller fish…

The NCAA of course has the pro leagues’ play book (eg: the ACC’s $1.9 billion 12 year deal), but it’s hard to get the attention of even ESPN 17 or Fox Sports South-SouthWest (I made up both of those networks) for the left-handed, red-haired women’s softmoor curling team’s pre-season games (also made up). Even so, media-savvy minds know that content is king and they will find a way to monetize it, with some even “self-broadcasting” their assets.

Oklahoma University’s DIY attitude has them recently completing a $5 million high def video production and broadcasting upgrade that lets them broadcast from any venue on campus, leveraging 60 production personnel (mostly students who need to master the gear anyway, plus some freelance pros). OU has already produced and broadcasted 60+ sporting events (baseball, softball and even track & field) on Cox Cable’s CST network in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. They’re smart to bootstrap the monetization of their content, and we know big media comes calling sooner or later.

In this case, it makes sense that the production costs are covered by the school’s investment, so ‘for-profit’ media companies can easily pick up the feed for sporting events they might otherwise qualify as not worth the investment. In OU’s model, students learn, freelancers get work, audiences see content they wouldn’t otherwise see, and the school and the media company makes money (both of which in turn employ people, keeping the economy moving). And, that’s how America is supposed to work, right?

PS. To see the ultimate in monetizing content, read “Is Content King?”

New New Years Resolutions

to do listMaybe Bono said it best when he penned the couplet, “All is quiet on New Year’s Day, nothing changes on New Year’s Day.” He knows people for the most part don’t really change on January first, which is saying a lot because Bono is an optimist. I think it was Mark Twain who said with a more jaded bent, “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions; Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Whether you’re cynical or not, most of us don’t follow through on our best intentions, regardless of whether they happen at the beginning of the year, or whether we have declared them out loud or not.

I don’t know if this is so much a resolution, but several of my friends and colleagues have been encouraging me to blog, so this cluster of words is the beginning of me giving it a go. These friends seem to think some of my observations about business, technology, design, marketing, media, publishing, etc are unique insights, and I’ve occasionally been labeled one of those “connectors” of people, culture and ideas. So, I think this blog will have a broad focus–at least at first–then I will seek to categorize postings and let you self-select the content that most catches your eye. That’s how most of us are reading these days anyway–we scan first and then go deeper into the items that interest us. So, I’ll write about 300 words in any given blog post, and I’ll call the blog “About 300 Words About ____” (the underline will be the topic of the blog entry). But I digress.

Because New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday this year, our office is closed today, Jan. 2, effectively granting me a second New Year’s Day. So I suppose it’s not too late to start a resolution, and because just like one can give flowers to one’s beloved on the 364 days a year that are not Valentine’s Day, one can also resolve to start a new thing on a day that is not January first. And, I suppose the first day of a new behavior is really not as important as the one-hundred first day or any other day for that matter. So please check in on this blog and feel free to prod me (via the comments field) to write more. Or less. Or differently.

And that’s about 300 words about New Year’s resolutions.