Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

With all the hyped and real charisma that can be mustered concerning a NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement, two of my favorites were inducted last week.   Yes, some of the presentations were better than others but it may be that way based on which player was your favorite person to follow or scorn.   You saw it all on TV.  You were treated to the stories, the emotions, the commitments and sometimes the confessions that came forth.  Almost to a person, each claimed that they were who was now standing in front of that elite group, family, friends and invited quests due to the hardships they experienced and overcame along the way.

Here are some of the statements from Deion Sanders:

“I made a pledge to myself.  I don’t care what it takes.  I’m not going to do anything illegal.  But my mama is never going to have to work another day of her life someday.”

“When you told me what I couldn’t do; when you told me what I didn’t do; when you told me what I’d never be, I saw …”

There were equally compelling statements by Shannon Sharp and sometimes even poetic descriptions of living in poverty in a leaking cinderblock house in Glennville, Georgia, where his existence was hard, unforgiving and marginalized:

“I didn’t want my kids to live one hour in the life that I had, let alone a day.  … [I] got them to a life they never would’ve enjoyed had it not been for that” [the costs to his family…]

No, there was going to be no country cooked raccoon, opossum, squirrel and turtle. He committed then and there that…

“I’m not gonna have to eat that when I become an adult.”

And he didn’t.  He committed at an early age that his family would never have a reason to endure that level of despair and poverty.  And they didn’t ever have to.  Both these heroes of mine made millions and provided for mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, brothers and friends in ways that made certain those individuals would not have to do what he did… to experience the elevated status that both were now experiencing.

But the power of consequences of those commitments was lost on their self-congratulation and entitlement.  I was hoping they heard their own voices but the lights were bright and those sitting there on folding chairs may not have sensed their missed opportunity, not of experiencing poverty but of commitment and dedication.

Each person in the audience that was provided for by these athletes would never know the thrill of victory or the despair from a loss.  No one wants to have that poverty and no one wants their children or family to struggle against all odds.
They hadn’t been ‘robbed’ by being provided for but in most ways their chance at learning and achieving great success was ‘short-circuited’.    There they were, Deion and Shannon, the pillars of self-reliance and perseverance having learned, struggled, and found success now entitling others to watch rather than start doing early and do what they did to succeed. Not necessarily football but anything…

Experiencing the consequences of commitment, focus and dedication is what the Hall of Fame members in all sports share.  Deion got the closest to describing the formula for his success by providing the components for “Prime.”  But, the $1500 plane ride to hear someone talk about how they prevailed is transitory and is known to induce a stupor similar to that of being stoned.

It was how Deion and Shannon handled the consequences of their struggles, their focus and their perseverance that got them there and nothing else.  It is what they did…  It would have been nice to know both understood that and to hear them say it loud so the fans that idolize them could hear it clearly that nothing is free and everything each of us values comes with a price.     Maybe next year.


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I had a great weekend with my family in Chicago. It’s always enjoyable to haunt your old stomping grounds and relive the old stories, hopes, heartbreaks, jobs, dinners, and strolls.

For this trip I really want to soak in a lot of the experience even though our time was limited. This post is a little brain dump of things I found amusing, interesting or otherwise notable.

American airlines at ohare is way more enjoyable than the united airlines experience.

A city with abundant taxis is a luxury I really appreciate.

Holy cow is there a big difference between 33 degrees in Austin,Tx and 15 degrees in Chicago wind!

It’s amazing when a restaurant you used to love is as good as you remember it almost a decade later.

It seems 8 years is the limit at which 90% of your old social circle moves on or moves away. 4 years ago a visit to Chicago was filled with visits to parties and friends still in the area. Only a handful this time around.

Kids go with snow way better than adults.

Downtown Chicago on a Sunday morning is so quiet. You can own the place. It’s great.

Why does a town always build the awesome stuff after you leave? Hahahah

Man is it great to talk math and the business of math with my pal John Boller. He’s got a deep knowledge of math and is such a great communicator!

Watching kids at a great museum demonstrates the value of these cultural institutions. Also, it’s hard to create a great museum. The field museum is one of the best.

I spoke to at least 5 guys at the bears game that came alone, travelled hundreds of miles for this really big game. One guy taking pictures of the old soldier field structure almost teared up. He’d driven himself in from s. Carolina and had just enough money for one ticket. Ya, it’s just football, right? I spent the first part of a day with a gentleman from Eugene, oregon. His family sent him solo because they could only afford one ticket and this was something they really wanted for him. He showed me the texts and pics of his family prepping for the game. We took pictures with him and the Chicago police and outside of all the soldier field displays. Ya, its clearly just football.

Heavily marketing beer cutoff at end of third quarter seems to encourage fans to pound beers at halftime. Stadium folks might consider changing that marketing a bit depending on their objectives. As for me, it was so freaking cold pounding beers seemed more like punishment than the normal enjoyment it might bring. I actually drank a coffee and ate nachos cause cheese was warm.

I laughed so hard when I went to the bathroom cause there was a beer man selling.

I did order an Mgd in the stands and the guy next to me asked if I was still in college. He was drinking a miller lite. What am I missing?

The national anthem and jet flyover was quite possibly one of the coolest things ive ever experienced.

There was a moment in the third quarter when I was so cold and dejected for a brief moment I considered leaving. I fought myself back up to my seat and pulled a haine! Glad I did. That was about to an epic comeback.

Several people yelled at me via txt that I stopped txting. My hands outside of gloves could not operate these stinking phones. Sorry folks, I’m a good txter, but I couldn’t do it!

Anticipation is the best state to be in. Once the adrenaline fades you get very cold. Lucky for me after the game all I had to do was walk ocer to the she’d aquarium to meet my family. That was awesome.

Chicago is the kind of place where you don’t need a plan before wandering the streets for some decent food. Had to the feed the family after the game and all the obvious places were jammed. Found some pizza and wings on state.

Who’s idea was it to order all that food at seven at night?

Indoor swimming pools on a cold night in Chicago are awesome for kids.

Dani and i feel asleep last night watching “inside 9/11” on nat geo. Um, wow. Almost ten years ago we were living in Chicago down the street from our hotel. Watching that show brought my 25th birthday to the forefront of my memories. What a day. Hard to remember all that unfolding in real time. That show plus all the sausage and pizza during the day generated some strange dreams indeed.

Note to self, never ever stick your hand into cab seat looking for the belt connector the morning after a city hosts a big event. I do not know what got on my hand but the fistful of baby wipes did not clean my hand and brain to my satisfaction.

Traveling with our girls is getting more fun as they age. They really get excited by trips now and seem to appreciate “cool” things.

Reese said she was mad the packers won and all those people were shouting go pack go. But she wanted to know how to spell packers. Bella called me a wolf because I howl at football games. I think they have the basics of bears packers down.

Thanks to dani for doing this ! Man, what a weekend!

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Da Bears had a great, exciting season.  The team wasn’t supposed to compete for a division title, a playoff win, nor even a winning record.

A yet here we are – complaining about The Bears losing the NFC championship to a dominating Packers team that’s clearly ready for the big game.   Take a deep breath and reflect on where the Bears really are.

The 2010 season was going to end this week or two weeks from now and no matter how it ended the Bears would have plenty to work on to build a dominant franchise.   The Bears were about to sneak into the Superbowl on a string of ridiculous calls (Calvin Johnson catch), “lucky” match ups (Seahawks in first round), and very improbable health (almost no major injuries all season???).  Perhaps they could have won it all.   It wouldn’t change the fact that they aren’t done building something really impressive and that can last for several seasons.

So… take a deep breath and DO NOT BLOW THIS TEAM AND STAFF UP.   Having witnessed the dismantling of the Broncos as a life long bronco nation member… I can tell you it’s a major mistake to blow it all up when you really just have a few personnel moves to make, another off season of scheme improvements and some winning routines to cement.   And yes, YOU, the FAN BASE, can blow this team up… by burning jerseys, writing lame blog posts, drawing up Fire Lovie signs, not going to the games, and yes, QUITTING ON YOUR TEAM DURING THE GAME.

That’s right… fans, you quit on your team.  This was the quietest playoff game I’ve ever been to.  and that’s on YOU.   For the most part you were more concerned with Miller Lite than the comeback that almost became legend.  In the third deck north end zone I started not less than 30 DE-FENSE chants, and I’m a transplant fan who doesn’t own season tickets.   While the bears D was bringing the bears back you were WHINING ABOUT CUTLER.   Gimme a break.   We generated only 2 false starts in the “biggest rivalry” in the NFL.  Puhlease.

If you don’t support your team in their biggest game… then you’re going to get a team that doesn’t build on a remarkable year.   So take a deep breath, reflect on how far the bears have come and get back to helping this team build something that’s worthy of the history.  How can you help build?   Buy the tickets, keep your jerseys, bring young people to the game, keep your cursing to a minimum in the stands and CHEER.  Don’t call for Cutler to go away… my goodness, the guy took hundreds of hits while the offensive line learned how to block and the receivers learned routes.   Instead build him up.   That’s how greatness comes about… not by crushing a guys spirit.

I’ve been to many college and pro games.   The teams winning the most games and championships are the ones where the fans aren’t angry, are loud, and proud.

Last but not least.   Don’t forget this is JUST FOOTBALL.   And when I say that understand that i’m die-hard.  I really really really love football, The Bears, Cutler, rivarlies…. This season delivered the goods.  The playoffs are a celebration of all the ups and downs and work of the regular season.   The playoffs are a remarkable experience to take in with your neighbors, friends, family, community.

I can’t wait to see what the Bears do in 2011.


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The 5th in a 5-Part Series…

To start, the goal is not to be an ‘elite’ athlete…

(5)   Your actions are the consequences of – and an impetus for – action

When a golfer golfs, there is an intention that is enacted by the hitter when the club makes contact with the ball. To the frustration of all levels of golfers, it is not directly related to the trajectory of the ball.  Such is it for a lot of business as well.  Intention only ‘seems’ related to action… but that is an illusion. Cognitive gymnastics are NOT related to the physics involved in action.  Intention is inferred, and the physics of the ball, in this case, is tangibly real.  A history of training practice, trial and error, and mirror neurons interacting with consequences has guided the body to perform. As an elite athlete has said over and over,

It’s not the racquet. It’s not the shoes.  It’s not the ball, the court or the noise.  It’s the mechanics and muscle memory – that’s means ‘me’.”

The result:

The golfer is left with any delta between their inferences and their behavior to rationalize his or her actions.  Good or bad results (both relative terms) contribute to adjustments that confirm or frustrate the golfer’s next set of actions. Don’t make adjustment, don’t whine about the shots you take.  Same for business, isn’t it!

When you want something in business life or in sport, recognize that successive approximations is the mode… the adaptation, the mobility, that exists to allow you to get closer to your goals or escape from a not-so-good conditions. It is NEVER EVER about some binary event. IT IS about hundreds of thousands of intricate, small tacitly known events leading up to some specific execution of an action.  Business success is NEVER EVER about making ‘THE deal.’  IT IS about the millions of tacitly known events that put one in position to execute some specific actions you are focused on.

Isn’t competition great!

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To start, the goal is not to be an ‘elite’ athlete…

(1)   Sports, like businesses or social movements have goals and costs. In sport, the goal is to win. Thus, the most skilled movement (plan) is one that accomplishes the goal at the lowest cost.

We tend to think more of just getting something rather than the cost of getting it. That is, we tend to think less about getting what we want efficiently in terms of material, time and effort.   If that is the case, our ‘response cost’ is probably much more than that it should be to get what we want.  The same Response Cost framing can be used in assessing your work in business.

Signs that you may not be working efficiently are:

  1. you spend little time thinking about what the heck you are doing and just “do”
  2. you make immediacy and avoidance of not looking busy more valuable than expertise
  3. you work extremely hard every day for social or financial benefit not knowing exactly why

If you do any of these things, then you have not been spending enough time thinking about efficiency in your life.

So, that is one of five connections between Business People and Elite Athletes for consideration…

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Hi all,

Rather than write generally about online communities I figured I’d blog from the inside about one community building effort in particular, Weplay.  A couple of posts ago I talked about my experience and belief that real world structures for the best basis for a successful online community.   We’re putting that theory to the test in a real way on Weplay.

Very soon Weplayers will see much more neighborhood information and features. We all play, practice, shop, study, eat… ya know, LIVE, in the real world.  We believe Weplay should fit as naturally into your offline life as much as possible.   Soon you’ll be able to see what’s happening in your neighborhood, city, county, state and region like never before.  Get the latest news on who’s playing each other (and everything else that’s fit to print!), get the latest scores, find directions to those soccer fields you’ve never heard of, see who else hit a homerun on the local baseball diamond, ask and answer questions of people right in your own backyard.

Of course we’ll make it EASY and FUN to contribute to the Weplay neighborhood experience. We’ve been quietly working on an iPhone application (and figuring out Android, Blackberry!).   We’re being very careful to make sure it’s easy and fast to snap a picture or video and get it up to your group or profile page.  We know when you guys are in the dugout, in the stands, on the team mini van speed is of the essence!  Oh yeah, we also want to make it easy for moms and dads to share pics and keep up to date on where and when to be!

In addition to using a mobile device to update profiles and contribute to the local experiences, we’re opening up the platform for Weplayers to contribute news, venue information, ask and answer questions, tag content and so on.

Read the rest of the post on Weplay >

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This is a really neat, quick piece about Usain Bolt’s impact on sports writers and their comments about humanity and sport.

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt

A good example of our unexpected things can shape thinking and approaches.  My favorite take on this so far is over at ScienceBlogs.  I love it that someone plotted the model of 100m times to see how far out Bolt is on the predicted trajectory of speed improvements.

Maybe we’ve got the model wrong.  Maybe he’s an outlier and the model is right.

I have a prediction of my own:  after the fun of this track event is over… somebody is going to argue he’s doping.

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In case yer wondering… Tiger is still talking and the PGA is not fining.  Perhaps they learned from the past that fining Tiger gets no where, despite written rules it’s the environment that sets the real rules we play by.

So, whoops, maybe the PGA does understand behavior a bit more than I thought.

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The PGA tour sets to fine Tiger Woods for his comments about officials rushing Harrington’s play at the latest tournament.

The PGA wants to suppress this type of behavior:

Section VI-D in the PGA Tour’s player handbook says, “It is an obligation of membership to refrain from comments to the news media that unreasonably attack or disparage tournaments, sponsors, fellow members, players, or PGA Tour.”

The officials correctly put Woods and Harrington on the clock, they were way behind the other groups.  No issue there.  Woods complains, doesn’t exactly attack or disparage anyone.  Not really a big issue.  However, the PGA wants to make sure that the #1 golfer in the world (money, fame, skill) doesn’t get to bend the rules.  Again, not really an issue.  The issue is… you can’t punish Tiger Woods with a FINE.  He’s one of the richest guys on the planet.  The fine won’t bother him.  And, instead of punishing the bending of the “obligation of membership”, the PGA is likely reinforcing speaking out because the price is now set.  A fine. whoopee.  If speaking out gets a player a few extra minutes on the final day in the last holes, isn’t a fine worth it?  Speaking out against an official is pretty powerful and likely would cause an official to think twice before issuing the speed it up command.

What the PGA Tour should do is… nothing… and continue to speed up play.  Make sure that Tiger Woods is always running on time.  Review is last 50 tournaments to see whether he constantly lags.  You have to condition Tiger Woods and the others to speed up play.  the PGA Tour would then find, low and behold, they won’t complain publicly.  My suspicion is that Tiger Woods is usually slower than the normal pace and is usually allowed to take whatever pace he wants.  (I recall that there have been rumblings of his slow play before without official speed ups).  Thus, why would Tiger Woods respond well to a speed up request in this in-between-majors tournament?

We’ll see how this plays out.

For the record, I still think Harrington would have lost anyway.

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Across all mediums, advertising $$$ is off 2.8%.

Of course, this is in line with the overall economy so it’s not totally surprising.  Advertising typically lags because the budgets go in so early into the spending season.

A recession in ad spending that goes well into 2009 is going to crush many an Internet company, more than a few agencies, and a lot of traditional media companies.  Oh, by crush, I mean put them out of business for good.

Unless you work on the ground in the advertising world it’s hard to understand just how devestating the recession is especially when consumption of media will always be going up.  That means there will always be more supply of advertising impressions and the cost of media businesses are NOT coming down.  With the ad spend so far down, the prices on this oversupply of inventory is highly depressed further adding pressure to a broken model.

Many people ask me what I think then is going to work with media companies… well, I’ve said it before… media companies have to SELL SOMETHING REAL, not just ads.  Not just an impression.  Sell DVDs, sell shoes, sell licenses, sell special events… anything.  The ad rates simply will not cover the costs of running these media companies.

Oh, and if we thought 08 numbers were bad, just wait for q1 2009 when we will see the real effect of ad budget cuts.

Yes, I’m being a bit DoomsDayish.  Because there’s not a lot of runway left for folks and if they aren’t finding a strategy to cope by now, game over.

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