Shipwrecked? Or Smooth Sailing?

Happy Easter everyone!  Although for those of us in the ‘burg it still feels more like hockey weather than baseball weather.  In any case spring is just around the corner – although that prognosticator from Punxsutawney should be sent back to training!

The business side of sports – why some teams will never actually win a championship.

For those of you who love sports, especially in a town like Pittsburgh where we’re just one play away from being rabid about all sports, our beloved Pirates are about to start their first home game of the season.  Not without  controversy, the owners there have one thing they know better than most.  Baseball in Pittsburgh is never going to be a championship contender.  They know multiple things about owning a professional sports team in Pittsburgh.  First, with revenue sharing they’re automatically going to make money owning the team.  As such they don’t really have to put a championship team on the field, they can be content to generate revenue simply having a team on the field.  Truth is they’ve got a great coaching staff – so, like any company, they’ll be fairly competitive, because this coaching staff will keep them on the winning side of the ledger.  And, the city built one of the most beautiful parks in the country.  Very easily as nice, if not nicer than almost any of the others in the league – smart business move back then.  What’s that line – if you build it they will come.  Hmm???  Has some truth to it doesn’t it.  As such, the fans are going to come to watch a game or possibly several during a typical 80+ game home season.  It’s a night out or an afternoon away to do something different with your friends or family.  You hope they win, but if they don’t you’re really going to go about your life, job, school, activities tomorrow just the same as yesterday.

Truth is the owners are approaching this team like most owners approach their business.  We need to do things right, put a decent product out for our customers, and continue to be innovative.  To them it’s just a business – it’s never going to be a championship team.  They are never going to make the kind of investment necessary, or spend the money to bring the top talent to this team that will win a championship.   They don’t need to.  They just have to be good enough.

Perhaps that’s the challenge with a lot of businesses today.  Is it ok to be good enough?  As many of you know I spent almost eight years of my career leading the human capital practice for one of the largest venture capital firms in the country.  We never looked for talent that was good enough – only the best in their field got through our screening methods.  But our interest was very high risk – only investing in disruptive technology.  Something that would be so revolutionary customers would beat a path to get to your door.  That world is always high risk, as only one in ten is lucky enough to make it.  But the ones that do become the next Amazon, Facebook, or Google of the world.  The key to success – having really smart and motivated people as part of your team – being patient and persistent – and most importantly – knowing your market.  You can have the greatest product in the world – but without a market it won’t make a difference.  Ever here of the Qube?  Brilliant innovation in the early days of cable television.  Two way interactive technology – but the problem – it was 10 years ahead of it’s time.  Time Warner bet the house on it – and lost a lot because of it – not because it didn’t work – it did – it was just way ahead of it’s time.  Every once in a while an innovator comes along that is ahead of the curve – Think Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Bezos, and Elon Musk.  Considerably ahead of their time, but committed to innovation and success.  Not the first to do what they’ve done – but disruptive enough to make a difference.

We’re blessed here where we are.  Thank goodness for the innovators who never accepted ‘good enough’ as their operating mantra.

Remember – it’s the Power of People Realized that really makes the difference!

I wish you well,


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