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I started a new golf challenge on the weekend - introducing the game to my seven year-old grandson.

We soon agreed that hitting balls at the driving range is not much fun.

First lesson for me: Like coaching young entrepreneurs, there is no point in doing this if it's not going to be fun because there is certainly no guarantee that you'll ever make money at it.

So let's find out how to make this fun. I'm looking for ideas and his suggestion of practicing on the soccer field sounds a little risky. Meanwhile I'm looking for whiffle balls before somebody gets hurt.

Another early challenge is which way to swing, left or right. Like many young Canadians he naturally picked up the club to smack it like a slap shot with his hockey stick - left handed. Oops, the clubs were right-handed. After debating with his father, who plays left but is right handed, we decided to keep the right handed clubs and let him start that way. He seemed to get the idea fairly quickly, including an interlocking grip, so we'll keep working at it.

I hope that first decision doesn't keep him from going pro.

Super Bowl ads are always part of the attraction for the 95 million viewers from around the world. For advertisers it was a $2.7 million decision to book 30 seconds.

A good or bad marketing decision? For Budweiser or Pepsi it's a small drop in the bucket of advertising millions they spend every week. For smaller companies it may be an all or nothing budget item and can be a risky bet. In the dot.com days there were always a few that spent their venture capital dollars on a Super Bowl ad just because the notoriety was worth the expense. This year there were still a few Internet companies in the mix.

The most controversial ad decision was the commitment to 60 seconds by Under Armour, an athletic underwear brand name that was launching its new line of training shoes. The six million dollar cost represents the equivalent of one month's net income (last quarter was about $17 million). Somebody really believes in the value of advertising.

When will they know if it was worth it?

We've already observed that Tiger Woods seems to keep improving. To the dismay of his competitors. Last week he was dissatisfied with his driving and still won the tournament at Torrey Pines by eight strokes. What if he has four good days!?

Tom Peters wrote the business classic "In Search of Excellence" that has inspired a generation of business leaders. Lexus lived up to its slogan "The relentless pursuit of perfection" and Tiger seems to be on the same path.

What if you are a competitor? Are you just playing for second place? Just trying to make a decent living? Of course not. You too want to be the best, a winner one day. Your only choice is to keep chasing the standard bearer. Tiger had Jack Nicklaus. Now we all have Tiger.

The fun is in the pursuit of being the best you can be. That is the challenge that keeps us going.

I was at a seminar recently which for some reason digressed into demonstrating how we can be so focused on a particular task that we fail to observe what is going on around us. The presenter gave a few demonstrations that we found interesting but unconvincing, then he proved it to us with a group experiment. The object was to watch a short film of students passing basketballs among themselves and count the number of passes, but only betweeen those students in white T-shirts, not those wearing black. OK, we watched closely for about 30 seconds and I counted 12, some said 16 or 17.

He asked, "Did anybody see the gorilla?" What gorilla? Most of us didn't know what he was talking about. So he showed the fim again and, to my amazement, somebody in gorilla costume walked into the middle of the scene, paused, waved at us, pounded his chest, and walked on. Wow. (It wasn't a different film because some people had seen the gorilla the first time.) I always knew I was able to concentrate and ignore the background noise, but this surprised me.

I was reminded of the story by this morning's newspaper article about Barbara Ann Scott who is celebrating the Sixtieth anniversary of her Olympic gold medal in figure skating at St. Moritz in 1948. (The first and still the only Canadian woman to do so.) Apparently in her early routine on the outdoor rink, a helicopter flew over and hovered to watch her perform. When asked if it bothered her, she said, "What helicopter?"

Being able to focus is obviously important to performing a task at our best, but occasionally we need to look up and be aware of our surroundings. Maybe the gorilla is not friendly, or the helicopter is crash landing.

Business may be like golf but the golfer is more entrepreneur than executive or CEO. No one to manage but himself or herself. No one else takes the credit or the blame. The results are up to you. Sounds like both: golfer and entrepreneur.

What about the characteristics of successful golfers and entrepreneurs? Both need to start with some natural talent or ability and then be determined, patient and persistent while building on it. Use experts, coaches, and mentors. Assess risks and rewards and make good strategic and tactical decisions. Hard-working and competitive, but also respecting the rules of the game and recognizing that luck has a lot to do with it. Best efforts don't always lead to the best results. There is no justice in day-to-day business or golf, but in the long run the best ones succeed.

Another quotable from my dad, the original Uncle Ralph, which he used a lot when he was coaching me at baseball, but also applies to business and golf.

"It's never good enough to swing and hope."

Think about it.

Many golfers have succeeded in business as well as golf and they have relevant advice for us about both. On this Blog we'll worry more about business than your golf (or mine).

First quotes are from Arnold Palmer, thanks to Rick Spence and his Canadian Entrepreneur Blog.
See: http://canentrepreneur.blogspot.com/2007/09/best-ever-entrepreneurship-quotes-week_10.html

Best-Ever Entrepreneurship Quotes: Week 49

Here is your motivational Quote of the Week, personally selected to get your week off to an inspirational start.

“Winning isn't everything, but wanting it is.”Arnold Palmer, professional golfer and living legend.Today Arnie celebrates his 78th birthday. To send him a birthday greeting, click here (registration required in “Arnie’s Army”).

And here's another great Arnold Palmer quote on competition for all entrepreneurs to chew on:“I never rooted against an opponent. But I never rooted for him, either.”

Thanks Arnold and Rick for your thoughts on golf and business.

I keep being reminded that business is like golf, so decided it's time to start a blog and website on the subject. Sorry, I just couldn't stop myself!

Several years ago at DirectTech Solutions we worked that theme into our marketing strategy.
(See: http://www.directtech.ca/business_is_like_golf.htm )

It included golf themed brochures, putting contests at trade shows, sponsoring golf tournaments, etc. It was fun and created some buzz, but we got tired of it and moved on.

However, now that I'm spending more time trying to write, teach, advise, consult and comment on management, leadership and entrepreneurship, the golf analogy keeps coming back.

Let's see how far we can take it this time.

I've just returned from an interesting trip to Sept Isles and tour of the Quebec North Shore. Sept Isles is on a large circular bay protected by seven islands (surprisingly) and is a young, prosperous industrial town. Quite unremarkable as a tourist destination.

But it has one characteristic that seems to be entirely unique to the population of Sept Isles. The town has two very popular Tim Horton's coffee shops and strangers cannot help but notice that absolutely everyone takes their coffee in the familiar "roll-up-the rim" paper cup with a plastic straw! They attempt logical explanations that it keeps the coffee from spilling out the flip top opening while driving, but there is really no explanation for it becoming unique to Sept Isles.

It seems to me a useful reminder that human behaviour cannot always be explained, predicted, understood or managed. Just accept it and work with it. Like the counter staff at Tim Horton's in Sept Isles - just punch a hole in the top and give them a straw.

After a long weekend there is extra urgency to get a week's work accomplished in the remaining four days. And this weekend I'm away for 2 weeks to enjoy Beautiful BC with friends and family so even more pressure .

It's a good time to remember the importance of maintaining the foundation - physical, financial, friends and family. Too much focus on business and career goals can easily leave no time for those other important elements of a successful life.

Weekends and holidays should be protected from work intrusions to allow quality time to be spent on those other priorities. They all add to the solid foundation that will support you through the inevitable challenges up and down the business cycle. Physical and mental strength, financial security, and the refuge and counsel of friends and family will help you weather the storms of economic adversity. If neglected, they will not be there to respond in times of need.

So take the time for maintenance. Sometimes, the work can wait.