Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger Woods' train wreck

Personal life can affect your business (and your golf).

That is the painful and expensive lesson that the one-man industry known as Tiger Woods is learning the hard way.

Interestingly, in my recent discussions on the "Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make", that was No. 7: Letting Personal Issues Affect Your Business.

Tiger already knew that his personal image and reputation for integrity as an athlete, a man, husband and father were allowing him to earn sponsorships worth ten times his golf prize money . He worked hard to protect and maintain that image, which makes it even more astonishing that he would be so stupid and careless as to allow himself the bad choices he has apparently made. The attractiveness of his image and the public fascination with Tiger has now become an ongoing train wreck that he has managed badly and completely lost control of the media circus around it.

Disappointing for all of his fans and admirers, me included. But a high profile reminder that your personal life can intrude anytime into your business. Best to follow my mother's good advice, "Don't do anything that you wouldn't do if I were there."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Three good stories this weekend

Stephen Ames won the Children's Miracle Network Classic at Disney World accompanied by his son for the tournament. How special is that?

Michelle Wie wins her first LPGA Tour event - finally! The biggest sideshow in women's golf since she was 12 years old, the "next one" has finally arrived at age 20, beating a quality field by two strokes at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara.

And of course, Tiger Woods proved he was worth the $3 million appearance fee by winning the Australian Masters. As he put it "I can now say I've won tournaments on every continent except Antarctica." He's waiting for the invitation. The fee may have to compensate for the challenging "conditions". But he's worth it.

(Thanks to National Post Sports for the original articles. )

Monday, November 9, 2009

Competition is good

So Tiger and Phil meet again in Shanghai and the winner is... Phil again!

Should Tiger be worried? The analysts will be talking of a slump, end of his reign, the new Phil becoming number 1. It all adds to the excitement and attraction for fans and golfers everywhere.

No competition is no fun for anybody, and certainly doesn't inspire the players to try harder or do better. Competition is good. It forces us to be wary and keep learning and improving in order to keep winning.

Just like in business, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And the winner is ....

Tiger and Phil? Why not?

Phil wins the Tour Championship and Tiger wins the FedEx Cup. Or Phil wins a battle, but Tiger won the war - this year, again.

It all seems to make sense that consistency is worth $10 million and a few wins are worth only about $4 million.

Sure beats my summer of golf though, how about you?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekend plans?

Tiger and friends are playing for $10 milllion and the FedEx Cup this weekend. What are you doing?
The so-called playoff series for the PGA Tour is finally getting interesting. The winner of this event is likely the winner of the series. It isn't necessarily Tiger or Vijay just for showing up. That's the way a playoff series should be - the favourites and top dogs fighting off the contenders.
Sort of like business competition for the big customer everybody wants.
Or maybe not. Am I overstretching the "business is like golf" concept? Help me out here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Even bad golf is good

Sometimes you just have to learn to enjoy it in spite of the disappointments.

It has been a slow summer for golf for me. Just 10 rounds, so that means the results are inconsistent. Well, not totally inconsistent, mostly bad - not breaking 100 and very few good shots or good holes. It's easy to get discouraged and decide, again, to give it up.

But then, ... it's a beautiful day on a beautiful course and two consecutive days with a few good shots and some pars, even a birdie or two, and "I love this game, even if it doesn't always love me back!"

So where's the business lesson in that? Probably just a reminder not to let it go. Find the good spots, remind yourself of the long-term rewards and enjoy.
Doing what you like and getting better at it is reward enough.

Keep on swinging.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A little means a lot

"The difference between first and second is getting bigger, the difference between first and last is horrendous". He was speaking of CEO salaries versus second-in-command and the lowest on the scale, but it's also true for the PGA tour.

Consider the recent US Open.

Winner Lucas Glover walked away with $1,350,000. Falling just two strokes behind after five long days was Ricky Barnes at $559, 830, tied with Phil Mickelson and David Duval. Tiger was fourth at $233,350 and first round leader Mike Weir was down to $154,600. In last place was Fred Funk at $19, 921. Still better than most of us for a week's work, but far from the $1.3 million first prize.

The difference might be just one too many drives into the long rough, or a missed short putt or the approach shot that rolled off the green into the water. And it cannot be explained by a little bad luck. The number one performers are consistently just a little better every day and keep on winning.

Think about it. Focus and be better.

Tools and technique

In business and in golf , buying better tools doesn't immediately improve your results. (In spite of the advertising promises.) It's never that simple. Sometimes a new driver or a new ERP system just gets you into trouble faster and deeper.

It is important to have good tools. And newer technology can lead to better results. But every tool needs to be combined with good technique if you really want to achieve new levels of success. In golf that means ensuring you have good fundamentals and then build consistency through practice.

In business, that means managing the change process well, supporting it with training and assigning the right staff to get performance improvements.

Now go ahead and make the investment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Recession hits golf too

In spite of declarations to the contrary, I think the recession is hitting the golf business too.

Some golf equipment manufacturers and course owners are bravely stating (or wishfully hoping) that golfers are too dedicated to their passionate pastime to be affected by the current setbacks to their business or portfolios.

I think the truth is evident right outside my window. I have been following progress on the new 9-hole executive course under construction in near my condo on Nun's Island in Montreal. Recent press reports have it opening "by end of this summer", but activity has completed stopped. I'm guessing the financing dried up and everything is on hold. The same is probably true elsewhere for equipment sales and for green fees.

Are you buying that new driver or playing more this year? I'm not.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Maybe hockey should be more like golf.

I was reading recently a commentary that the new rules in the NHL to avoid a tie are not true to the principles of sport. That is, forcing overtime and then a shootout to determine a winner for every game is simply not right. In real life, great effort, blood, sweat and tears can still result in no clear winner. It's an important lesson of life that we need to learn to accept. Why not in a hockey game?

In business and in golf it also happens that a great effort/shot do not always lead to great results. We've all had great drives off the tee, long and straight, but just ran a little too far into the water or under the lip in a trap. Dammit!

Very much like finally winning a big order from that customer you've been working on for so long - just before he goes bankrupt.
And how about that long, double breaking putt that stops, somehow, just behind the the hole. I think all those short tap-ins from inside 6-inches should just count for 1/2 a stroke. No gimmes, but not a full stroke! Just doesn't seem fair.
And that's the lesson for today. Life, business and golf are not fair. Get over it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Golf is not like hockey

It's hockey playoff season ( and the Canadiens are already gone!) but I'm reminded that golf is not like hockey.
A recently retired hockey player (or one recently knocked out of the playoffs) was quoted as saying, "What I really like about golf is that after I make a great putt, I don't have to worry about somebody rushing across the green and cross-checking me in the head!" Now there's a difference you can appreciate.

Imagine hockey played by the same gentlemanly etiquette that is expected in golf.
  • No blocking the shot, let me give you a clear line to the goalie.

  • Excuse me, don't count that goal, I accidently kicked it in.

  • You're up, so you go first from the face-off.

  • Helmets off, shake hands and have a beer together after the game.

Somehow it just wouldn't be hockey.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tiger's back

Now that he's completed the family foursome and rehabilitated his knee, Tiger has announced he'll be back on tour this week. (Added incentive for Phil Mickelson to win one on the weekend before the Tiger attacks again?)

The happy family-man will, I'm sure, return to competition with his usual Tiger-like determination and talent to put everyone else off their game. He's worth watching anytime.

Also worth mentioning that his class and character show off the course as well. A role model for us all - from his sense of social responsibility to his family values. Much more than just a great golfer.

Welcome back Tiger.

Roller coaster ride

I was reminded while watching the weekend golf that success in business and golf seems to require the tenacity and focus to survive the occasional rides up and down that seem to be out of our control. Hang on and ride it out!

Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Fred Couples battled at Pacific Palisades over four rounds to finish one, two, and three for winnings of $1.1 million, $680,000 and $327,000. Stricker went a very steady and impressive 68-66-69-67. But Mickelson and Couples took the roller coaster rides of 63-72-62-72 and 67-70-65-69. Hole by hole was even more stressful as they went from flying off the fairway into the trees to sticking it by the pin for birdie putts.

A great reminder that success at the end of the day can still follow some pretty discouraging results along the way.

Monday, January 12, 2009

7-year old World Champion golfer

In Las Vegas there is a family dedicated to their young golfer and they seem to be getting it right.

Last year at age six, (Yes there is a Kids World Championship for 6-year olds) he won at 7-under-par on 9-hole 1300 yard courses against 82 other kids from 12 different countries. (New York Times and Montreal Gazette, January 7, 2009.)

OK, where's the lesson here?

First for parents: his parents are dedicated to developing their son's talent and moved to Las Vegas to give him a better chance than in Chicago. But they are not obsessed or pushing their son against his will to fulfill their dreams. He is happy, enthusiastic and well-rounded; including other sports and guitar lessons in his life. Other kids are not so fortunate with parents that have to be removed from the course for berating and belittling their young golfers.

And for business: You too can be a World Champion if you choose the right place to compete. No, I don't mean against 6-year olds on a shortened course! But compare your results to a competitor in your industry that is about the same size and sells to the same markets. Now are you doing better than you thought? Is it clearer what you need to do to be the World Champion in that division? Now go for it.

Happy New Year!