Freedom and soccer

In the the land of the free of the U.S., soccer operates more like the regime that inspired colonists to declare independence from Great Britain in 1776.

It amazes me that in a free country, youth soccer clubs can’t receive solidarity payments, which are the norm in most of the rest of the soccer world and are supported by soccer’s world governing body, FIFA.

For example, when English Premier side Chelsea recently paid German first league side Borussia Dortmund to transfer American Pulisic to their team, Pulisic’s youth squad, PA Classics didn’t receive a solidarity payment.

Whatever the merit of US Soccer’s stance against solidarity payments, it amazes me that they actually have a say in transactions between private parties.

As Larry the Cable Guy might say, “What is this Rushie (i.e. Russia)?” Oh wait. Probably a bad example. I believe youth soccer clubs in Russia are allowed to receive solidarity payments.


Storybook managers

Powerpoint presentations are the norm in business today.

Folks good at telling stories in presentations have become useful.

The trick is to follow the format of a children’s book. Don’t make more than two points per page and have a simple and nice looking graphic to illustrate those points.

The downside is that organizations need these folks at all. They’re needed because people find their way to high positions who don’t understand the basics of the business or of business, so having the business explained to them in a children’s book format is helpful.

Things that make you go hmmm…

The NFL playoff games yesterday.

Those were two close games where a few questionable calls/no calls made a difference in the outcome.

End result: Two big market teams make it to the SB.

When are TV contract negotiations coming up? Seems like maybe soon for beyond 2022.

Three Rules for Business Success

In 2017, I wrote my Business Rule #1.

Here’s a more complete list.

#1: Have what customers want. Corollary: They don’t know what they want.

#2: Have it where they want it.

#3: Have it when they want it.

They sound simple. Most laugh when they hear them.

But, businesses too often violate these rules.

Sometimes they violate these rules because they miscalculated.

Coke’s New Coke disaster is a ‘classic’ example of that. A key mistake Coke managers made was to assume the results of blind taste tests represented how customers would behave in the real world. One difference, for example, was that while a sweeter drink fared better without food, lots of folks preferred Coke Classic with food.

Sometimes it’s a conscious trade-off.

The chef in the linked post closes the kitchen in her restaurant when the last person who’d like to eat there finishes ordering. Most other restaurants, however, make the conscious trade-off to close the kitchen at a set time every night, because keeping it open later doesn’t pay off. They don’t get enough extra customers after that time to make it worth their while or cover their costs.

Sometimes they simply don’t understand what their customers want. There’s a shocking number of folks in business in this camp.

In the early 2000s, Walmart became so singularly focused on low prices — what they thought their customers wanted — that they let the client experience slip. Stores got sloppy and checkout lines were long as they tightly managed their cashier labor.

Even price sensitive customers, like myself, got turned off and discovered that you ‘get what you pay for.’ I found myself frequenting Target more. The prices were higher, but the stores were well kept and the checkout lines were short.

It turns out that while price matters, so does convenience and experience.

To Walmart’s credit, they noticed and responded by investing in client experience by cleaning up their stores and shortening the checkout lines, just as they are now responding to the new conveniences innovated by Amazon.

The best businesses over the long haul tend to do the best job at developing a deep understanding of these simple rules.

I should mention that when I discuss these rules, folks tend to agree and say it’s as simple as asking customers what they want.

That’s where the corollary to the first rule comes into play. Customers really don’t know what they want.

Most don’t or can’t articulate it well. If they could business would be easy.

Finding out what customers want is more of an iterative, trial-and-error discovery process than a task to be completed.