The Sport of Business [Flashback]

From time to time I’m going to be re-posting some of my favorite posts from the old SportsLizard Entrepreneur Blog that preceded  I was fresh out of academia and in the process of leaving corporate America.  This was the true start-up phase for myself, my sites, and later Pure Adapt.  This is one of a series of Flashback posts.

This post is from August of 2006, about six months after I quit my full time job.  It’s unique in that I feel the exact same way now. I actually had the idea today to write this post again…until I remembered I wrote it 3 years ago.

I read blog maverick religiously. I might not always agree with all of Mark Cuban’s opinions, but his desire to constantly innovate and improve, to never settle for the status quo, is a trait that I admire and hopefully embody. I save my favorite posts in a Word document and read them when I need some motivation. Without a doubt, my favorite is The Sport of Business from March of 2005.

Real competition comes from the sport of business.

In sports, you know who your opponents are. You know when you are going to play a game. You know pretty much how long the game will last. It’’s mentally and physically exhausting if you are at the top of the game, but it still pails at the effort required to be successful in business.

The sport of business isn’t divided into games. It’’s not defined by practices. It doesn’t have set rules that everyone plays by.

The sport of business is the ultimate competition. It’’s 7x24x365xforever.

I love the sport of business. I love the competition. I love the fire of it. It’’s the feeling of the clock winding down, the ball is in your hands, and if you hit the shot you win…all day, every day.

When I sit back and think about why I get a rush out of business, why I love being an entrepreneur so much, it is because of the challenge. Because of the sport. I was one of those kids who never really felt challenged in school. Even through a tough engineering program at RPI, it really wasn’t that HARD to get good grades. You study, you work hard, you get good grades. When I graduated and went into industry, it felt “too easy” and being an engineer gave me no gratification.

2009 Adam here: This is exactly what I was describing in my last post about the difference between school, work, and running a business.

I am extremely blessed to have been given the opportunities to succeed that some people don’t. I am extremely fortunate to have had the right people and mentors in my life to guide me and make things easier. That’s why I felt like I needed to CHALLENGE myself. To make the most of the abilities I have as opposed to “wasting” them in a 9-5 that I don’t believe in. To truly maximize my impact on the world.

Starting a business puts you at the bottom of the barrel. You have no money. You have no customers. It’s HARD to succeed under those constraints. You own the dream and if it dies in your head it is over. No one else will pick up the slack. Some might call that pressure, I call it a challenge, and I love it.

Whenever I wonder if I have enough to succeed, I read the rest of Mark’s post about “the edge”:

The edge is getting so jazzed about what you do, you just spent 24 hours straight working on a project and you thought it was a couple hours.

The edge is knowing that you have to be the smartest guy in the room when you have your meeting and you are going to put in the effort to learn whatever you need to learn to get there.

The edge is knowing is knowing that when the 4 girlfriends you have had in the last couple years asked you which was more important, them or your business, you gave the right answer.

The edge is knowing that you can fail and learn from it, and just get back up and in the game.

The edge is knowing that people think your crazy, and they are right, but you don’’t care what they think.

The edge is knowing how to blow off steam a couple times a week, just so you can refocus on business

The edge is knowing that you are getting to your goals and treating people right along the way because as good as you can be, you are so focused that you need regular people around you to balance you and help you.

The edge is being able to call out someone on a business issue because you know you have done your homework.

The edge is recognizing when you are wrong, and working harder to make sure it doesn’’t happen again.

The edge is being able to drill down and identify issues and problems and solve them before anyone knows they are there.

The edge is knowing that while everyone else is talking about nonsense like the will to win, and how they know they can be successful, you are preparing yourself to compete so that you will be successful.

That’’s what makes business such an amazing sport. Everyone plays it. Everyone talks about how good they are or will be at it. Just a small percentage are.

Every single day someone has an idea. Every day someone talks about some business they want to start. Every day someone is out there starting a business whose entire goal is to beat the hell out of yours. How cool is that.

Every day some stranger from any where in the world that you have never met is trying to come up with a way to put you out of business. To take everything you have worked your ass off for, and take it all away. If you are in a growing industry, there could be hundreds or thousands of strangers trying to figure out ways to put you out of business. How cool is that.

The ultimate competition. Would you like to play a game called Eat Your Lunch. We are going to face off. My ability to execute on an idea vs yours. My ability to subvert your business vs your ability to keep it going. My ability to create ways to remove any reason for your business to exist vs your ability to do the same to me. My ability to know what you are going to do, before you do it. Who gets there first? Best of all, this game doesn’’t have a time limit. It’’s forever. It never ends. It’’s the ultimate competition.

It’’s the sport of business. It’’s not for everyone, but I love it.

Me too Mark, me too.

2 comments on The Sport of Business [Flashback]

  1. Adam McFarland says:

    Craziest thing ever. About 2 hours after posting this Mark Cuban re-posted his original post weird…

  2. TIm says:

    The edge is being at least one step ahead of the best, all of the time 😉

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