June 23, 2010
Americans are naturally skeptical of soccer. It’s too slow, it’s not physical enough, it’s too simplistic. But for Americans that watched the final U.S. match of Group Play in the 2010 World Cup, the game captured our imagination.
We saw that soccer is the world’s game. The United States, facing elimination, playing the team from Algeria. The fates of England and Slovenia hanging in the balance as well. This doesn’t happen in any other sport.
We saw that the beauty of its simplicity, the basic components of ball and players in infinite combinations as the U.S. pounded away at the Algerian defense trying to get the goal to break the nil-nil tie and allow the U.S. to survive in the tournament.
Finally, we felt the emotion that soccer so readily produces, the building of tension and anticipation for 90 minutes as our team skated ever closer to elimination, and the floodgate of emotions that is released in one amazing moment behind a beautiful goal. The U.S., through sheer perseverance, wins in the last.
Now on to the Knockout round, with lots more work to do for the U.S. team . .
You can check out the game recap, if you missed it.
Update: I like this video compilation of U.S. crowd reactions to the goal, it really captures what I’m talking about. Is there anything better than cheering for your country?
June 8, 2010
I don’t make any bones about admitting that I’m a big Apple fan. I’d be hard-pressed to name another company that I think has their approach to the marketplace and how to innovate for consumers so well thought out. I think this is particularly true in the portable device space (iPods, iPhones, iPads). I don’t own a Mac computer and still can’t make the economic argument for it, but in my opinion their portable devices rule the roost. And let’s be honest, for consumers at home, the future is devices. We are likely to find in the near future that the iPhone was never about the phone, it was about getting in your pocket.
As I followed the unveiling of their latest – the iPhone 4 – yesterday, I had to feel excited for users (despite the clear disadvantage of a remaining lock-in to AT&T) and sorry for handset competitors. I wonder what it would be like to have to compete against them in device space.
A likely comparison would be to how I feel when my dog Rio is able to escape the leash, which she has done a Houdini-like 7 or 8 times during her life (which breaks down to about once a year). Once free, she retreats to about 40 yards away and lingers, paying no apparent attention to me. This is just far enough away that if I break suddenly into a dead sprint I will get within 5 feet of catching her before she is able to escape again to another 40 yard cushion.
Over the past year or two, I feel like other manufacturers have been catching up, slowly but surely, to the iPhone. Apple, seemingly unaware, has been sniffing a few trees and loitering non-chalantly. Then the sudden leap forward comes. Competitors must again find themselves 40 yards away, out of breath, dreading the next phase of the chase.
June 7, 2010
One of my favorite excerpts from Rework, the 37Signals‘ folks latest (and potentially best) book:
Draw a line in the sand
As you get going, keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing. Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service. You have to believe in something. You need to have a backbone. You need to know what you’re willing to fight for. And then you need to show the world.
A strong stand is how you attract superfans. They point to you and defend you. And they spread the word further, wider, and more passionately than any advertising could.
Strong opinions aren’t free. You’ll turn some people off. They’ll accuse you of being arrogant and aloof. That’s life. For everyone that loves you, there will be others who hate you. If no one’s upset by what you’re saying, you’re probably not pushing hard enough. (And you’re probably boring, too)
It’s a great passage on many levels, but the thing that resonated with me is that what you believe in as a business will lose you customers, and you have to be willing to accept that . . . and maybe even embrace it.
It’s what Southwest Airlines does with it’s devotion to cheap, friendly travel and unwillingness to diversify its fleet, assign seats, or charge to check bags.
When you think about it, the companies with the most passionate fans also tend to have a healthy amount of critics. Are enough people complaining about what your company won’t do?
June 2, 2010
And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!
The above is one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and it came back to me a couple of months ago, in the week after the birth of my first child – a daughter.
I’ve found it’s the best way to sum up how I feel about fatherhood – like my heart has suddenly grown to fill my entire chest. Symptoms of this cardiac syndrome include chronic grinning-like-an-idiot, becoming suddenly obsessed with taking and displaying photos/videos of the baby, and near-catatonic staring at the little girl when she’s doing nothing but sleeping.
But mostly I feel moments of tremendous strength punctuated by moments of tremendous weakness. I suppose that’s just falling in love.