Tag Archives: World Cup

Playing Defense

There was a valuable business lesson to be learned from yesterday’s Mexico/Netherlands game.


(Photo credit: colin.merkert)

I don’t know if you watched it, but the Mexicans took a lead early in the second half. This was more than a bit of a surprise – the Dutch are one of the favorites in the World Cup and the Team Mexico had barely qualified. El Tri have rarely made it past the round of 16, the stage of the tournament in which this game was played.  They didn’t make it this time either and we can learn from what they did.

After a quiet start, Mexico dominated the first half and scored early in the second.  They played attacking football.  Once they scored, however, the went into a shell and were content to sit back on defense, making the occasional counter-attack but mostly allowing the Dutch to come at them.  Holland is one of the best teams in the world and features three of the best players in the world in the attacking end.  It was only a matter of time before they tied the game given many chances to do so.  yet Mexico played defense.  Sure enough, the game was tied after a corner kick (Mexico had kicked the ball out defensively) and lost when a Mexican defender gave the ref a reason to call a penalty on a (perhaps phantom) trip.

Why the sports report today?  Because we often make the same mistake in business.  We get to a point where we’re happy with what we’ve got and then we play defense.  We don’t develop new products or services.  We don’t encourage our people to advance their skill set.  We sit back and allow the competition to come at us and put all of our resources into defending or delaying their attacks instead of making them wonder how to defend ours.

The time to play defense in business is when there are overwhelmingly negative forces in the market and not when you have a lead.  There will always be other companies attacking you and playing defense is part of any business plan.  However, building a small advantage and then expending all your resources to defend it usually puts you out of the tournament.  Thoughts?

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Filed under Consulting, What's Going On


The World Cup is my favorite sporting event and one of the more interesting parts of it relates directly to our TunesDay theme.

Español: Equipos de Paraguay e Italia en el mo...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every match is preceded by the national anthems of the teams involved and those are our topic today.  Why I think this event is so great is, in part, due to the national fervor it stimulates.  Here in the U.S., I think it’s doubly so for those who are following it.  After all, in addition to rooting for team USA, nearly all of us are from somewhere – we’re a nation of immigrants, right? – so there are at least a couple of teams we’re following.  For those of us who love the game, we pay attention to the best teams in the world as well – Spain, Germany – actually, I won’t miss watching ANY game if I can help it. We hear a lot of anthems – more so than at the Olympics where we only hear those of the gold medalists.

Putting on our marketing hats for a second, national anthems are a form of audio branding.  In commercial terms, audio branding is supposed to unify an identity (think NBC’s chimes, Intel’s audio tags, McDonald’s jingles, etc.) as well as bring certain brand attributes to mind.  I think the better anthems do that as well.

One of the best is that of France – La Marseillaise.  Its lyrics evoke revolution, conflict, taking up arms against tyranny, preparing for a fight – pretty good in a sports context – set to one of the world’s great tunes.  By contrast, the Spanish anthem is a march that has no words and which isn’t in my mind particularly Spanish-sounding.  Some – like Germany’s – were songs written by famous composers (Haydn) to which nationalistic lyrics were later added.  Others (like the USA) were poems first that were sung to popular songs (“To Anacreon in Heaven” in this case, a popular British song).

There are songs about the monarch, the countryside, the strong will of the people and yes, even about a flag.  The business point today is that obviously an anthem – audio branding of a people – can relate to almost anything.  It’s meant to be a signature and perhaps to inspire.  So ask yourself this:  what’s my business anthem?  What does my brand sound like?  As my team lined up before a crucial meeting, what song would we write or use to represent us?  What message would it send out to those standing (it is an anthem, after all) and listening?  Give that some thought as you get ready for the next match.

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Filed under Music, Thinking Aloud

Winning Fair

I’m really sorry the World Cup is over. It’s amazing to me how the intensity of the event starts out at a high level and just keep growing, reaching its apex during the final, as it did yesterday. Two sides determined to win at all costs and bring home glory. Ah, competition!
Any yet, in every World Cup game we get a business lesson when someone gets hurt. Continue reading

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Business Language

Like some of you, I watch a lot of sports on TV.  I listen to sports when I’m in the car.  I’m kind of obsessed, I know.   Because of this, I hear a lot of different announcers – good ones, bad ones, smart ones, dumb ones.  But it’s only over the last couple of weeks – yep, World Cup again – that I’ve come to appreciate how the careful, clever use of language can enhance the event experience much as food is enhanced by the cook who knows how to season it properly.  And that’s something to keep in mind for business as well! Continue reading

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An Understanding

Sport in childhood. Association football, show...

Like many of you I’m glued to the World Cup. Despite some horrible officiating and the US’ exit over the weekend, I still think it’s the greatest sporting event on the planet.  It’s great to see that others around the last great nation to get on the football train are waking up to the world’s game.

As with any sports, soccer has its own language which may be a bit indecipherable to the new audience.  Touch line, bi-line, a clock that’s not really the clock – all of these things may take a bit of translation.  There’s also a term you may have heard in passing and it’s that one from which we get today’s business lesson. Continue reading

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Lessons from The Midfield and The Back

Chertsey Town FC vs Bookham FC

A week in and I hope you’ve had some time to check out the World Cup. Aside from the constant droning of those horrible vuvuzelas, it’s been pretty good so far.
As I was watching a game, I had a couple of thoughts about what was going on the pitch and how it related to business. I know – only me, right?  But at some point in almost every  game you see the ball being passed back and forth without it being advanced.  Generally this occurs in the defensive end or maybe in the defensive midfield.  Lots of activity, very little being accomplished.  Sound like any offices you’ve seen? Continue reading

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

The World Cup and Your Style

Wembley Stadium, London England

I love the World Cup.  Besides being a month-long celebration of the world’s most popular sport, it’s always great to watch any sport being contested at the highest levels (as an aside, this is also my favorite sports week since the U.S. Open happens on one of my favorite golf courses but more about that later in the week).

What’s really intriguing, especially for the millions of Americans who don’t watch soccer on a regular basis, is how you can really tell the different teams by their styles.  In fact, if there is anything really noticeable about the US team, aside from how good we’ve become, it is that I don’t think we have a real distinctive style which, in itself is our style.  In a way, that totally makes sense.  After all, we are a nation of immigrants playing a game invented elsewhere and we’re amalgamating the styles from all those nations.  But there are some business lessons here as well. Continue reading

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud