Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
TV doesn't tell the whole story.
No, not even with Charles Barkley talking gnarly nonsense.
Going to a game that matters -- really matters -- confronts you with certain things about success. And it sprinkles in a lively frisson of immediacy.
You're not just watching it. You're feeling what the arena is feeling. And you're seeing things they simply don't show you on TV.
I've just come back from the Golden State Warriors' slightly insane victory against the Oklahoma Thunder in Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference finals.
As you drift in from your Memorial Day vacations, here are a few things from this glorious Game 7 (Disclosure: Warriors fan) that might help you focus this week.
1. Complacency Kills.
During a regular season game, a fan might stand once or twice for the big plays. But you spend a lot of your time sitting. During a Game 7, you stand up most of the time. Every play, every move, every referee's awful call must be scrutinized to the point of dissection. Because everything matters. You can't take a play off. This is the playoffs. So you watch everything with twice the focus. You believe the players actually need you, so you're there for them at all times with a shout of encouragement or a whine of despair. If you run a business, you know when you can relax. That would be never. It's easy to coast. Go to a Game 7 to remind yourself that coasting doesn't cut it.
2. Customer Experience Is An Art.
The Warriors knew they wanted to get the fans in early. The players had noticed in previous home games that people were finding it hard to get through the traffic and arrive on time. So the team spent money to get people to think about coming to the game hours earlier. The Warriors organized a tailgate party, featuring food trucks and various activities -- such as 30 seconds of free-throw shooting, face-painting and silly-picture taking for your plastic season ticket holder sleeve. You could even get your picture taken with Adonal Foyle. He used to play for the Warriors when they were terrible. (Yes, of course I had my picture taken with him. He told me he hadn't slept for two days.) The Warriors wanted the fans to get to the arena early. But in order to do it, they gave the fans something different. They gave the fans something they didn't expect. It's amazing what thinking about your customers and what might make them happy can do.
3. Sex Doesn't Always Sell.
There's a theory that cheerleaders are sexy. There's a theory that the male-dominated sports audience loves that. You'd expect, then, that during Game 7 the cheerleaders would get huge, well, cheers. Perhaps times are changing, because they only garnered lukewarm applause. However, when a bunch of kids, some of whom looked no more than 8 years old, came on to dance their thing, they got rapturous applause. Why? They're simply better dancers. Sometimes, people really do just appreciate a product that is excellent.
4. You Can't Beat Having Everyone Pulling In The Same Direction.
Few companies truly have this. But at a Game 7, you can see it in action. Everyone is involved in every play. Everyone chants the same short refrains: "WA-RRRiors!!" or "REF YOU SUCK!!" But the most heartening is the chant that exists deep in the bowels of section 109. It doesn't come out when the home team scores. Oh, no. This is when the opposition scores. A woman shouts: "SO WHAT?" and everyone else knows what their part is. It's to add: "WE DON'T CARE!" If you can build a team that faces adversity with that kind of resilient confidence, you just might build a good business.