I asked my friend at gyro, Daniel Lally, what I should write about for my second post as I’d shot my bolt a little on the first.
He suggested that I write about the two things I obsessed about, sport and business. More specifically football (soccer to many of you) and marketing communications. Between them they’ve so far cost me one marriage and seven serious operations, with the eighth looming.
Now I know that sports/business analogies have been done to death (I guess stateside it’s yardage, huddles, time outs, etc.), but I did think there was something in this and wanted to draw on my one single source of inspiration on both for the past 25 years, my father. He knows quite a bit about football and also marketing as he is a professor in it (and did spend some time teaching it at Penn State).
In fact I remind myself every day of the two gems of wisdom he gave me on my first day at work:
- “Never fiddle your expenses;” and
- “You can really stand out in B2B.”
He was right on both.
We can instantly dispense with some of his classics like “Take all the throw-ins and corners and at the end people will think you ran the game” as I’m not sure how that translates to the business world. However, I am reminded of some absolutely critical advice he once gave me about when things aren’t going your way in a game.
To paraphrase, he said that you can’t change what’s happened so put out of your mind that you may be two goals down. Focus on the now, that’s the only thing you can change. That’s the reason why even experienced golfers often go to pieces on the back nine in major tournaments: they try to make back shot deficits. So deconstruct and simplify your game. Focus on what you are good at; win the tackle, move the ball short and simple, and repeat, and repeat.
That’s how halves are recovered, and these halves turn into games, and so on. That’s how winning streaks are built.
Of course, in the business world we face adversity every day. We are operating in austere times and I believe that advice holds true: Don’t lose the faith. Stick to the plan. Focus at what you’re good at.
Some bloke wrote a book about it once and called it “Sticking to the Knitting.”
Sometimes to do that you need to leave egos behind. My team in Manchester had a player who is the most successful club captain they have ever had. He wrote in his bestselling autobiography that his first manager (many argue one of the greatest ever) told him when he first broke into the first team at Notts Forest, that his job was to win the ball and give it to a man in red.
So that’s what he did for more than ten years. And he won everything there is to win, and he earned tens of millions.
by Danny Turnbull
General Manager, Manchester
Cross-posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network