My Super Bowl Epilogue – Therapy for a 12 the Day After…

20140121-162057.jpgI’ve been asked my many of my faithful readers what my thoughts were on the end of the Super Bowl. They were surprised that I didn’t vent on my Extra Points, but that edition was written long before the game.

When I coached high school basketball, I had a 24-hour rule (especially after losses) on making statements to avoid allowing emotion take over. This one hurt…bad. Heartbreaking, tragic, and any other adjective on that level applies to me and my fellow 12s. There may even be a few lessons on leadership and management for all of us. You never know. So here it is…

Full disclosure…I expected and wanted Marshawn Lynch to carry the ball on 2nd down on the 1-yard line to score a go-ahead touchdown and win the Super Bowl. It’s what I (and about a gazillion other people including the Patriots) expected to happen. I still think it was a tragic error by Pete Carroll to call for a pass in that situation. But then again, I would have kicked a field goal with 6 seconds left in the first half. Which leads me to my first point…

  • You can’t have it both ways. Head Coach Pete Carroll has always been a gambler and as much as we sometimes cringe, we more often than not have ended up on the good side of the score. Have we forgotten last year’s 4th down completion to Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown against the 49’ers in the NFC Championship game that ended up being one of the critical game-changing plays? How about the fake field goal just 2 weeks ago versus Green Bay that resulted in our first touchdown? You live by the sword and you die by the sword. In truth, his instincts have been right more often than not.
  • Calling a pass in that situation (although I’m on record that I wanted the run) isn’t crazy. In fact, it’s a good option at that point with only one timeout left. My issue is the pass play itself. If you’re going to pass, put the ball in your point guard’s hands (i.e. Russell Wilson) and give him options to throw or run. Eliminate the necessity of perfect timing and a bunch of bodies clogging up the middle of the field. I watch every Seahawks game and I think they are more effective passing the ball in from the 1-yard line than running it. My issue is with the play.
  • Pete Carroll was right. The call was set up perfectly for the defense. If you watch the experts on ESPN or the NFL Network diagram it out, it was set up for success. Here’s my issue – I believe more in players than plays. If you have Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant running that route, fine. With all due respect to Ricardo Lockette, we don’t have that guy. The timing of the play requires that Wilson throw to a spot. Kearse didn’t get his job done in rubbing off the cornerback that eventually picked it off. The failure was in the execution and that happens when you put your trust on the play and not your best players. Our best players are Lynch and Wilson. We needed to give them the opportunity to win the game for us.
  • Let’s give a lot of credit to two Patriots on that last play – Malcolm Butler and Brandon Browner. Browner stood up the smaller in stature Kearse (in my opinion a coaching gaffe to have him there) and didn’t allow the legal pick. Butler, an undrafted rookie, made a brilliant move beating Lockette to the ball and then hanging on to it. That was an unbelievable play by him. Wilson’s ball was too high and needed to be in a spot that only Lockette could catch it. Give Butler credit for making him pay. Those guys on defense get paid, too. They out-executed us on that most important play and it won them a championship.
  • Pete Carroll took the blame. That’s what good leaders do. Russell Wilson took the blame, saying that he threw the pass. That’s what good leaders do. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Ricardo Lockette could have fought harder for the ball (twice). That’s bogus. While he may be entirely right, he threw his player under the bus. Lockette is a backup that makes his living as the gunner on special teams. He’s not even your best wide receiver. He’s good, but not special and that play required special. Bottom line is that even if you’re right in your assessment, you take the blame. That more than anything else can lead to dissension in the ranks. Bevell is not ready to be a head coach.
  • I read and hear people bashing the defense for their 4th quarter performance. The Seahawks were 18-0 heading into this game when leading by at least 10 points in the final quarter. Now 18-1. Here’s the deal – first of all, the Patriots are good. Really good. They have one of the best quarterbacks of all time and outstanding skill receivers. Second, I literally gulped when we lost Jeremy Lane. That was a huge loss because now the Hawks had to move Byron Maxwell into the slot and leave Therold Simon out there against these terrific wide receivers. Advantage Brady. Two of the touchdown passes (including he final one) were thrown against Simon. Third, losing Cliff Avril to a concussion was brutal. We lost our outside speed rusher and from that moment on, we never put the same pressure on Brady.
  • Injuries are part of the game, but let’s be candid here. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor were all banged up and not nearly close to 100%. You lose Lane and Avril during the game. The guys coming in are doing the best they can but it’s not the same. Brady will find weaknesses and exploit them. It’s not dissimilar to benefiting two weeks earlier from a gimpy Aaron Rodgers. The defense wasn’t the same because, well…it wasn’t the same.
  • I was asked about the mêlée at the end and must admit I wasn’t watching it live because I was off in the corner throwing my own little private tantrum. Let’s face it, highly charged guys in the heat of the moment can get into very emotional states at the worst time and that is unfortunate. For his part, Bruce Irvin issued an apology. What Doug Baldwin did earlier was indefensible. I like Baldwin a lot and have every time come to his defense, but on his touchdown celebration antic, I can’t. It hurt his team and it was embarrassing to the organization and the city. Knowing him to be a smart guy, I doubt it will happen again.
  • I look back at how close Marshawn was to scoring on the play before the interception. When he hit the 3-yard line, I thought he was in. Someone made a great tackle and isn’t getting credit for saving the game for the Pats. Damn.
  • If I hear one more knucklehead conspiracy theorist imply that the coaches actually decided to not give the ball to Lynch because they didn’t want him to be the MVP, then I might actually internally combust. These people are either still drunk, ignorant, or need concussion testing. C’mon, man.
  • To a fan with no dog in the hunt, it may have been the best Super Bowl of all time. That is of no solace to us on the losing end; in fact it makes it worse. This loss doesn’t sting. It hurts like a Kam Chancellor hit to the gut. You don’t get chances to make history all the time. It may never happen again. The NFL is set up for “anti-dynasties.” It will be hard to get back here again next year. I think I now know how Boston fans felt when the ball went through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series or Buffalo fans when Scott Norwood’s game-winning FG strayed to the right in Super Bowl XXV.
  • I’m now way past “dazed and confused.” I’m getting over the “really, really angry” stage. Now, I’m just trying to gain perspective. All that within 24 hours shows some maturity and growth from me. Maybe that’s what happens when you get your AARP card in the mail.

My final thoughts – The coaching staff made the same mistake that many business people make. They were guilty of “over-thinking.” It’s always best to “stay in your lane” and do what you do best. The Monday Morning QB in me says you err on the side of winning or losing with your best players. With 26 seconds and one timeout left, you lean on Wilson and/or Lynch. If you’re going to pass, then give Russell options and outs, not precise timing patterns. That’s when he’s at his best. Damn again.

I know how much I am still hurting. As a former coach, I know it’s exponentially more painful for the players, coaches, and organization. It’s probably time for us soon to be part of the team and show them our support. You win and lose as a team. And we fancy ourselves part of the team, so time to act the part.

But (as a good colleague of mine always signs off with), that’s just me…

The Retirement Myth

This is from my monthly column for the Kitsap Business Journal. This is the March edition and I’ve received many comments regarding this particular one. I welcome yours….Weedin Place image

The Retirement Myth

 “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

My wife Barb and I went to see Paul McCartney perform live at Safeco Field last year. I can honestly say it was one of the highlights of my life. I knew that this was probably the last time I would have a chance to watch a former Beatles member perform live. McCartney was 71 years old at the time and I doubted Seattle was going to be a destination spot for future events. Barb and I enjoyed watching Sir Paul regale a packed house on a beautiful summer night for nearly three hours without a break. Three hours! This included three encore performances alongside former members of Nirvana, all easily half his age. Just a few weeks ago, I watched the CBS special of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. McCartney was there with the other living member of the band, Ringo Starr (who is older than him.) They put on an amazing show. At 72, McCartney probably can’t even spell “retirement,” nor does he want to.

The Retirement Myth is that we all yearn to save boatloads of money through prudent investments so that when we reach somewhere around 65 years old, we can kick back in our Bermuda shorts, relax, play golf, and sip lemonade by the pool in the evening. At least that was the thought when I was a kid in the 1970s as to what the goal was for adults. At that time, most people spent a lifetime of work at one place (many had a first career in the military.) They stayed there, working with heads down to earn a living and put money aside, with that hope of having enough at the end of their careers to live long and prosper in the golden years.

A study conducted by Boeing and Lockheed Martin shows that on average, retirees lived about 17-18 months after retirement. I understand there are numerous factors to consider, yet other studies by major corporations and universities point to a similar conclusion. “Retire” and die.

Before you jump all over me about not prudently investing, relax. I’m all for saving money wisely to have enough to live on for the rest of your life. However, what I am saying is that you should have enough to live on AND keep “working” because you need a purpose and it’s good for your health.

I believe too many people scrimp and save to a degree that is purely overkill. Let’s be honest, we only come around this way once. Making wise investments, buying proper insurance policies, and having contingent plans that have been considered through planning with a professional adviser is smart. But so is investing money into your life’s experience. That means little things like taking that cruise while you’re young and can enjoy it most. That means paying more for better seats at the symphony or theatre. That means living life now because tomorrow is not promised.

That’s Part 1. Part 2 looks something like this…

Keep working into your golden years. Not because you have to in an effort to avoid poverty (see my comments on wise investing.) Do so because it adds value to others and fulfillment to you. Paul McCartney doesn’t need the money. Neither does Bill Cosby, who we saw kill at Benaroya Hall a few years ago at the youthful age of 69 years old. These guys perform and “work” because they love it. What are you doing that you love?

Well, that leads to Part 3.

Just like you need to make wise choices and plan for your financial future, you need to do the same for what you want your future to look like. It’s not human nature to sit around and do nothing. If you’re reading this column, you are probably a successful businessperson who got to where you are through your passion and activity. Find something that you will be passionate about later in life. To help you get started, allow me to offer my 5 Tips to Avoiding “Retirement”:

  1. Stay healthy. That means eat better and exercise smarter as you get older.
  2. Volunteer. Find some charity or worthwhile venture where you can volunteer. It might mean rolling up your sleeves, or perhaps a board position. There are plenty of places that need you.
  3. Find a way to keep income flowing. Seriously. You can tell me all you want to about wanting to just volunteer, but for most of us it’s fun to make a little extra money. Especially if you’re using your talents and skills to do it!
  4. Ideas to accomplish. Speak, write, publish, teach or consult. Heck, you undoubtedly are full of intellectual capital borne put of years of working in your profession. How valuable is that intellectual capital to others? The answer is it’s HUGE. Find a way to manifest those “smarts” into value to others.
  5. Have fun. Take trips, live in the moment, take risks, and reap rewards.

The bottom line is that the myth about retirement is that it even exists. In today’s ever-changing world, technology and other innovations are allowing us to live longer. You need to be prepared to not only pay for it, but to find ways to maximize it. Then you can really proclaim that you’ve unleashed your life’s potential!

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Objects of Interest

Seahawks parade

A couple of days ago, I made my way to Seattle with a friend to join in the celebration of the Seattle Seahawks victory parade after the Super Bowl. In excess of what was anticipated, over 700,000 people crammed into about a 3-mile space to greet the returning heroes. It was an amazing scene. People ditched work, school, and other obligations to spend the day celebrating as a region. One of the remarkable things was that in all the turmoil of transportation woes, and other “challenges,” there wasn’t one arrest made. Talk about a peaceful party! (See photo you see is looking up from 4th Avenue to 5th Avenue. Believe it or not, there is supposed to be an actual road there. The street is packed with people for a block up and down. This was consistent with every block in the 3-mile route).

How do you draw interest to your work, to your company, to the services and products that you offer?

The Seahawks are an object of interest for many reasons. They are champions of the NFL, which is this nation’s national sport (drawing a record 110 million viewers). They have unique characters on the team that turn them from a “vanilla”to a “tootie fruity” brand of team. Their style of play appeals to most fans. And they have a coach that is emotionally charged and is romping up and down the sideline like he’s coaching a JV football team (which in and of itself is refreshing).

What do you do that makes you or your company an object of interest? Do you write books on your expertise? Are you a dynamic speaker? Are you cited in interviews and publications? Do you write fascinating blogs, articles, E-books, or columns? Do you offer contrarian viewpoints rather than be part of the noise? What do you do to offer instant value to people and organizations?

People flock to interesting people, teams, bands, and politicians. They also flock to those that aren’t “vanilla;” that are provoking and humorous; and that challenge and influence. If that doesn’t sound lie you yet, what are you waiting for?

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Affordable Health Care Act Woes

The Affordable Health Care Act (aka ObamaCare) is wreaking havoc on small businesses, and especially solo practitioners. Here is an excellent video on the issue by Seattle-based NBC affiliate KING TV.

Here is the problem…

Insurance companies are making changes to their current programs to react to ObamaCare in January of 2014. They are ditching plans and programs they had in place, which were perfectly fine for many. Now those policies will not be around anymore, throwing thousands of people into a quandary of what to do. The options are bad – higher premiums, higher deductibles, and less coverage.

Health care has small business owners and entrepreneurs scrambling. The end of the year is coming up quickly and many problems need to be resolved. Unfortunately, too many politicians are using health care in a tug of war with you in the middle. The best thing you can do is continue to stay informed and keep your options open. Stay tuned and hang on!

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

May Day Precautions and Prevention Lessons

umbrella_riskI will never forget last year’s May Day protests. My wife Barb and I were in New York City and sat in Bryant Park watching protesters peacefully march with signs around the Big Apple. The New York City Police were out in force, looked serious about their jobs, and everyone stayed cool, calm, and collected. We never felt like we were in danger, nor felt fearful. Imagine our surprise when we returned to our hotel and saw our very own Seattle on the news. May Day riots were out of control in the downtown area with protesters smashing windows and setting cars on fires. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Here I was safe and sound in one of the biggest cities in the world, and my relatively small hometown was being ravaged.

This year, things are different. The police have already started preparations and are sure not to be caught flat-footed again. In addition, businesses are being much smarter. I just saw a push notification on my phone indicating that US Bank in downtown Seattle was closing up shop at 3 pm due to the expected protests. They made a decision in the best interest of their customers and employees. While they might not be able to prevent damage to their building, they do have control over the people  they serve and employ. While it might be a slight disruption for customers, my guess is that it pales in comparison to anyone being injured.

The lesson for you as a business owner is this…

You need to learn from history. I can’t tell you how many times in my years as an insurance agent and consultant, where I have seen business owners ignore history and trends to their detriment. For example, if you have a fleet of cars that continually racks up rear-end accidents, and you take no preventative action to educate and/or discipline your drivers, you will fall victim to larger self insurance costs, higher premiums, and loss of production and revenue. In this case today, US bank knows it’s located right in the heart of the rally. They know that banks are a target. They saw what happened last year. They made a decision to avoid calamity in the places they can control. Kudos to them.

You need to be skilled at spotting trends. If you have a strong, professional relationship with your insurance agent, they should help you. This is an area that consultants are invaluable. The net result of learning from history is that you don’t repeat the bad stuff; only the good stuff! At least one business in downtown Seattle has figured it out. Have you in your business?

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Announcing Alan Weiss Visit to the Pacific Northwest!

My professional mentor, Alan Weiss, will be conducting one of his Almost Free events here in Seattle on May 2nd. Registration is now online and ready to roll! Register by clicking here

Alan is the author of well over 40 books related to solo practitioner consulting, most notably Million Dollar Consulting. His events are full of tremendous value for consultants. Here is a sneak peak of what you will walk away from this “almost fee” event with…

Whether you are beginning in the profession or a veteran needing a boost, you’ll find a fast-paced, entertaining, and pragmatic session that will include:

  • Finding buyers in times of volatility.
  • Framing buyers’ issues quickly.
  • Isolating your highest potential constituency and achieving high penetration.
  • Creating a fast track to your highest fees for clients.
  • Improving self-esteem.
  • Improving use of time.
  • Overcoming the four primary objections.
  • Improving the “language of the sale.”
  • Creating “bullet proof” proposals, based on my new book Million Dollar Proposals.

To register and reserve your spot, click here. The events I’ve gone to in Boston and Los Angeles have sold out. Space is limited, so don’t delay. Your investment of $125 will be returned to you exponentially. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Lessons from a Starbucks Store

Yesterday, I visited the original Starbucks store in Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. This was the first store set up by founder Howard Schultz back in the 1970s. It’s really small. I mean really tiny. I bet there’s not 1000 square feet. There are no chairs, but one small standing bar that faces out to the market. Two people can comfortably stand there and three would be tight. This was the first time that there was no line. Normally, the place is overflowing. It probably helped that it was late October and rainy.

I chatted with one of the employees who mentioned that my friend and I were fortunate to be there with nobody there. I said that I had never seen it so sparse and that this was rare. He went on to tell me that this little Starbucks store was in the top 5 stores in sales in the world for the company. The top 5 in the world!

It really hit me that such a tiny store could compete in volume with their larger counterparts. So what does that mean for you? Consider these 5 lessons when thinking about your own business…

1. Be unique. This store would be dead if it weren’t for the fact it is the original and can lay claim to a uniqueness that nobody else can own. You are unique. Your methodology may be similar or even the same to others. But no one else can be you! When you are in competition and someone asks you what makes you different, the answer is easy. It’s YOU. Make yourself a unique differentiator.

2. Offer unbeatable service and value. I dealt with three people there. Katie, who took my order (I still remember her name), was the perfect “front of the house” person for the store. The girl who made our drinks chatted with us and shared stories. The guy who told us about the statistics was warm and friendly. How do clients and prospects view you and/or your employees? Do they gain value from your work? Are you a problem solver, or merely a hired hand? Offer unbeatable value and you will never be wanting for clients.

3.Understand small can be good. Size doesn’t always matter! In fact, sometimes it can be a burden. Monolithic corporations can get bogged down in bureaucracy, committees, red tape, and politics. You can maneuver quickly and nimbly. That benefits you and your clients and makes you valuable to others.

4. Create brand. Regardless of whether you like them or not, you can’t argue that Starbucks doesn’t have a powerful brand. They have one of the strongest in the world. How strong is your brand? Are you recognizable in the arena you play in? Do people often say, “I’ve heard about you?” If not, you have some brand awareness to work on.

5. Create evangelists. There are Starbucks on virtually every corner of every major city in the world. Why do they come to this one when they are in Seattle? Because others tell them they have to. Heck, I’m evangelizing for them right now. People talk about how great the experience is, how wonderful the people are, and how they love the ambiance of the marketplace. You need people telling others, “You need Jane for that project,” or “Jim can solve that problem for you quickly.” This tiny little store has created evangelists. Where are yours and are they telling others about you?

As we were leaving, the store was picking up people. When we came in, there were only a couple other people. By the time we left, there were almost 20. Business as usual!

 

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Staying Power

I visited the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle this weekend. It’s the Paul Allen tribute to music, and I can’t believe this was my first visit, because I’m a rock and roll guy.

The big attractions currently in the EMP are exhibits featuring Nirvana, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and my personal favorite, AC/DC. All these bands and acts have staying power. The Stones are still popular 50 years after they got started. AC/DC is well into 40 years and two lead singers into their journey, and all ages still love them. Hendrix and Nirvana founder and lead singer, Kurt Cobain are both dead, yet their legend lives on to new generations. Why?

The music industry is hard. Terrific talent has come and gone and never made it, or lasted. Yet acts like the ones mentioned have. The reason? Engagement that leads to evangelism. These entertainers had charisma, engaged their audiences, touched their souls, and were characters that transcend time.

How do you transcend time and have staying power in business? You stand out in a crowd; you build loyalty; you create unique intellectual property (in music terms – songs and albums); you offer unbelievable value; and you leave them wanting more AND seeking you out. In music and business, there are rock stars and one-hit wonders.

Build your “fans” and a lifetime of evangelists by being a rock star!

This week’s quote – “All the world’s indeed be a stage, we all merely players; Performers and portrayers; Each another’s audience outside the guilded cage. ”  
~Lyrics from the Rush song, “Limelight.”

Standing in Line

I am always intrigued by lines out the door.

Last week, I took my family to Pike Place market in Seattle. There are several small, hole-in-the-wall type restaurants and cafes that literally had Disneyland-style lines waiting to get in. Contrary to what you might think, I develop a great desire to go stand in line and buy something! Why? There is a reason for the long line!

Mercedes-Benz is not even close to inexpensive, yet people with the means to pay for them do so in droves. Apple is more expensive than it’s PC competitors, but Apple stores are always packed and the evangelists are all over the place singing their praises.  Nordstrom is not known for cheap suits and purses, but it’s built a clothing empire.

You know the reasons as well as I do. Quality trumps price all the time. You gotta’ have it. The best is worth the wait and the price. The return on investment is great.

How do people view your business, and most specifically you? No matter what you do, you are the brand. Will people ask for you, stand in line for you, and pay more for you? What is the image you want?

It still amazes me. We all know this to be a reality. Yet so many still try to build a business based on cheapest price. When you have tremendous quality; great service; and become an object of interest, you will be sought out. Once you are sought out your value increases and people are willing to compensate you well for that. Why? Because they view their return on investing in you worth it!

Business is about relationships. Period. Do you think people standing outside the door at Starbucks are all about a cheap cup of coffee? Nobody wants cheap. They want value; they want to feel good; they want to be taken care of; they want to shine. Do you do that for your customers and clients?

Once you do, you will soon find the line out your door, too!

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved