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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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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