That catch. That call. That half-time show.
This year's Super Bowl was truly a classic, complete with a major pregame controversy, two evenly matched teams, and a greatly played game that went back and forth. So what lessons can we learn from such a great game?
I picked out five.
1. Strike first.
Going into last night's game, the team scoring first in the Super Bowl had won 66.7 percent of the time. Despite a fierce battle that could have gone either way (and almost did go the opposite way), the Patriots' ability to score first proved to be invaluable.
Think about historic products such as the birth of the automobile, invented by Karl (Carl) Benz (father of Daimler and Mercedes), or more recently, the release of the iPhone, which changed the smart phone market. If you're working on a revolutionary product or service, don't wait for it to be perfect. Just get it out there.
As Guy Kawasaki put it, "Real entrepreneurs ship. I am not saying ship a piece of crap. I'm saying ship something that has jumped curves that has elements of crappiness to it. Big difference."
2. Adapt quickly.
Seahawks defensive back Jeremy Lane came up with the biggest play of the first quarter with his interception of a Tom Brady pass in the end zone. Unfortunately, he was injured on the play and the Seahawks were forced to change their lineup, inserting Tharold Simon. The Patriots took advantage of the change, going after Simon repeatedly and beating him again and again. (Three touchdowns were thrown to receivers being defended by Simon.)
When a glaring weakness is exposed in your business plan, there may not be much time to adapt. It's irrelevant how well your strategy has worked in the past; when the market changes, you have to change with it. (Think of how far once mighty juggernauts Kmart, JCPenney, and Blockbuster have fallen.)
Learn to identify your weaknesses and adapt accordingly--as quickly as possible.
3. Look for talent in unusual places.
One of the feel-good stories of Super Bowl LXIX was Seattle wide receiver Chris Matthews. Cut by the Cleveland Browns in 2011, Matthews gave up on the NFL, spending a couple of years playing football in Canada. More recently you could find him at his new job--working at Foot Locker.
That's right, that Foot Locker. The one that sells shoes endorsed by famous football players. Not employs soon-to-be famous football players.
Sports Illustrated reported that the Seahawks contacted Matthews for a tryout last year. Twelve months later, he saved the Seahawks season by recovering an onside kick in the NFC championship game, and last night was the front-runner for winning the Super Bowl MVP award (had the Seahawks won).
How about in business? Silicon Valley legend Nolan Bushnell, who co-founded Atari and was Steve Jobs's first boss, said the following in an interview with Fast Company:
"I think the insistence on credentials at companies is such a huge mistake. I believe you should hire people based on who they are and what they've done, not because of something like what college they went to--or even whether they went to college. It turns out, the rigor that college requires often screens out the most creative people anyway."
Bushnell says that at times, he's hired people who have approached him for a chat, or even based on a particularly good impression given by a waiter's service in a restaurant.
Where do you do your recruiting?
4. Know your strengths.
Truth be told, for all intents and purposes the Seahawks should have won this game. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Seattle found themselves in the situation of first and goal on the one-yard line, with possibly the best running back in the game at their disposal. Many felt a victory for Seattle at this point was a lock.
But instead of giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called for a pass, quarterback Russell Wilson was intercepted, and the rest is history. Former star running back Emmitt Smith tweeted: "That was the worst play call I've seen in the history of football."
We've seen smart companies make similar mistakes. In 1998 Lego suffered its first loss in company history due to too much innovation. (Wharton professor David Roberston's book, Brick by Brick, breaks down the history.)
Remember: Getting away from your core values can lead to disaster.
5. Don't give up.
The goal-line situation described above was a formidable challenge for the New England defense, and was definitely stacked in the Seahawks favor. But the Patriots weren't ready to throw in the towel just yet.
In what turned out to be the most critical play of the game, undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler (please see point 3 above), with great instincts and athleticism, correctly read the developing play and intercepted Russell Wilson's pass at the goal line.
When facing a discouraging situation, it can be tempting to just sit back and let things play out. But the key might be to do something about it: If you feel like you're going to lose out on a tender, send one final email explaining why you're perfect for this job. If your potential investor is waffling, make one final call to prove why you're really the next best thing.
In other words, be proactive. It worked for Malcolm Butler. And for the New England Patriots.
Congratulations to both teams for a hard-fought game. It was truly enjoyable to watch--and reminded us of a few classic lessons to boot.
What lessons did you spot in last night's thriller? Be sure to comment below or share the conversation.