Tiger Beat

As a former sports television producer, I pay close attention to the talent who provide play-by-play and commentary on the airwaves. In my opinion, the smoothest voice belongs to Jim Nantz of CBS – who in the last nine weeks hosted the Super Bowl, NCAA Basketball Championship and The Masters… all from the best seat in the house. He’s rock-solid, friendly and knows exactly when to raise his calm voice to a crescendo of excitement. My wife and I met him a couple of years ago and he was kind and engaging, with his ego solidly in check.

Which is why I am disappointed he chose to weigh in, after the fact, on Tiger Wood’s slips of the tongue at Augusta last weekend:

“If I said what he said on the air, I would be fired. I read in the USA Today and it was called ‘mild language.’ Someone on my broadcast team dismissed it as him having a camera in his face. Well, guess what? Phil Mickelson had a camera in his face all week and did you ever hear him come close to approaching that? He didn’t hit every shot the way he wanted. Have you ever heard Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus use that kind of language? What are the parameters between what’s right and wrong?”

My disappointment is Nantz went beyond the role CBS pays him millions to fulfill. He’s supposed to be Switzerland and remain neutral on and off the air so his journalistic credentials remain solid. Yes, television is entertainment; however, in my perhaps antiquated viewpoint, the role of the play-by-play person is to set the stage, call the action and ask hard questions of the commentators.

Think about the next time CBS airs a golf tournament and Nantz asks Nick Faldo about Phil Mickelson. Will you think, “You know, he’s a Phil fan; doesn’t like Tiger.” By inserting himself into the story,  Nantz lost an important piece of what makes him outstanding: objectivity.

By the way, I’m no Tiger apologist. Yes, I think he’s the greatest golfer. Off the course, Tiger messed up big time with his family. His public persona, which made him wealthy, was far from his personal actions. That said, as all business leaders know, change is a work in progress… two steps up and one step back. Hopefully, Tiger corrected his sexual misconduct. He’s clearly still struggling with salty language. Let’s see how he adapts over the next few tournaments before piling on again.

Share

It’s A Thriller

Butler’s run to the Championship game of the NCAA Basketball tournament – a reel-life “Hoosiers” sequel – captured the nation’s hearts. Although Gordon Heyward’s last-second launch from half-court bounced out and the Duke Blue Devils escaped with the title, the Bulldogs proved little guys can compete with the big boys.

Yes, America still loves an underdog… and that’s good to know during these times of fledgling economic recovery. While bailouts and government programs seem to be helping Wall Street and other giants, Main Street and small entrepreneurs continue to struggle. That makes it tough to get up in the morning and keep a positive attitude… tough to continue believing a new day is around the corner.

In the locker room minutes before the opening tip last night, Butler’s youthful coach Brad Stevens, calmly said these words to his would-be giant killers: “It’s about being a great teammate and being accountable. If you do tough things, if you stay together, you’ll not only attract that what you want, you’ll attract that what you are.”

As an advocate of the Law of Attraction, I’m convinced great results arise from great attitude. Regardless of how difficult things appear right now, your positive vision of believing you will be the David that overcomes Goliath is essential.

Thank you, Butler and Duke, for a great game. Thank you for reminding us great things happen when you believe.

Share

Momentary Pause

Thirty years.

Can it really be that long since ‘Miracle on Ice’ when the United States Olympic hockey team – a group of amateur and college athletes – beat those big bad nasty Russians who were 27-1-1 in the previous four Olympic tournaments?

Mike Eruzione. Jim Craig. Herb Brooks. Those legendary names are synonymous with the pursuit and achievement of excellence for those of us old enough to remember the original tape-delayed broadcast. A then unknown Al Michaels counted down the seconds and said, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” (The hair on the back of my neck still rises whenever I see or hear that dramatic highlight.)

Things have changed a lot since then… most notably the greatest athletes are professionals – including those who participated in yesterday’s U.S. upset of the highly favored Canadian hockey team. The Olympic credo “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Swifter, Higher, Stronger) needs to add “Profitus” as a fourth value.

As a capitalist nation, there’s nothing wrong with that transformation. Heck, when USA basketball fell to Bronze medal status in 1988, our solution was to assemble the Dream Team to win back Gold. Take that world. It’s all about the Benjamins… which means we’ll never again see a bunch of 20-something amateurs endure a grueling seven-month training regimen like the one Brooks put his team through and create an ending only Hollywood could produce.

So we’ll just have to enjoy the memories of three decades ago and celebrate today where we watched USA 4, Russia 3.

Share

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Many smaller communities – even those in the suburbs of a big city like Houston – have weekly newspapers that cover the local scene…from new business openings, to city council updates, to high school sports. As major dailies across the country struggle for survival, local weeklies continue to arrive in mailboxes with pictures of the latest Rotary luncheon speakers or features on the latest resident to turn 100.

One reason the local angle resonates with readers is there’s something special about seeing a story on a restaurant you frequent or recognizing the photo of your fifth grader’s friend who finished as runner-up in the spelling bee. That’s much more personable than traveling on business and picking up the Omaha World-Herald or Memphis Commercial Appeal – or even reading about the politics of your nearest metropolitan area.

Residents of a community share a bond – a oneness – that’s somewhat like supporting a high school football team. All week long kids separate into smaller social groups and pursue individual interests, but starting with the Friday afternoon pep rally, they join together in a unified front aimed squarely at defeating their archrivals on the other side of the field.

There is an opportunity in your business to capitalize on that same camaraderie. Becoming the local expert positions you in a unique way to stand out from competitors. Identifying the bullet points of your unique knowledge base and communicating it in written pieces and speaking platforms positions you for success. When people think, “Wow, she really knows her stuff,” you’re building a relationship of trust that exceeds even a glowing front page article. (If your company is global, you would do well to think of situations where you can act local!)

Share

Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah!

The college football season kicks off tonight, which means it’s only two days until my beloved Texas Longhorns – yes, I bleed Burnt Orange – take the field against Louisiana-Monroe. Now before you laugh at the Warhawks chances against the preseason #2 team in the nation, remember it was just two years ago they upset Alabama, and the Crimson Tide’s head coach is the highest paid in the game.

One trait Mack Brown, Nick Saban and other mega-millionaire coaches share is the ability to observe players, determine what each does best, and place them in positions to succeed. When Mack had Ricky Williams running to the Heisman, Texas was a power-I team. A few years later, they instituted the zone read to take advantage of Vince Young’s speed at quarterback. Last year, Colt McCoy set an all-time record for percentage completion. Three different superstars; three different approaches. Lots of wins.

Business leaders would do well to take a lesson from college football coaches. Instead of struggling to fit your team members into your preconceived views/job descriptoins of what they need to be doing, look at their talents and figure out what they would be best at doing. Then go and recruit others to fill in the gaps.

At Texas, the best athletes also perform on special teams. Thus, Sergio Kindle, a preseason All-America lineman, is on the punt block unit, and Jordan Shipley, who has 132 career pass receptions, returns punts and kickoffs. When you have talented people, find a way to keep them on the field doing what they do better than anyone else.

Share