Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

Inches Make Champions

Al Pacino’s epic speech in “Any Given Sunday,” combined with an archived blog of serial entrepreneur and VC guru Brad Feld, will set the tone for any day.  Throw in a little Ari Gold and you’re ready to conquer the world.

"Knock off the hippie shit, strap on a helmet, and start shooting."

The back of my iPod is inscribed with the phrase “Inches Make Champions.”  As Pacino said, “We claw with our fingernails for that inch, because we know, when we add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the fuckin’ difference between winning and losing.”

I enjoy running ultramarathons (LT100, SilverRush 50, Annapurna 100) and to date have DNF’d far more than I have finished.  Yet the mantra of ultras, “constant forward motion,” holds.  Often, this constant forward movement occurs in centimeters.

Life is a game of movement, of inches.  In the moment, consequences, odds, and scenarios do not matter.  To the competitor, focus sharpens to the inch at hand, to the next step, to the next action required to execute.

Feld’s blog reflects this mindset eloquently.  To paraphrase, one must play the point rather than the score, which is irrelevant to the point being contested.  The focus is on competing as intensely as possible and performing as perfectly as possible in favor of the point–the moment–compounding small victories to result in big ones.

Living is the inch in front of your face that you either sacrifice or stretch for 100 miles.  Inches, rather than metric measurements, are malleable, contingent largely upon ambition, work ethic, and will.

And “those inches we need are all around us,” waiting to be focused upon, fought for, and seized.

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The Honor System

According to the 2007 white paper “What’s Next?” published by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in Colorado Springs, CO, only 8% of responding professionals believed “Ethical Decision Making” was an essential leadership skill of the future. And yet, several visionaries, from Radiohead to restaurant entrepreneurs, are making headlines by betting on personal ethics, creating systems in which consumers determine the value of the good or service purchased.

For specific examples, check out the following websites:

Radiohead Bypasses Labels/Piracy, Trusts Consumers

One World Everybody Eats

Terra Bite Lounge

Is such a social experiment profitable? To see the results of one such endeavor, read the following excerpt from the 2005 book Freakonomics, profiled in the New York Times: Bagel Man\’s Honor System

REFLECTIONS:

1. Are such seemingly extreme examples utopian and easily dismissible? Allow yourself to imagine a world that operated on the Honor System. What would it look like? What would be your role? The role of your company?

2. At their core, all human interactions–business, social, or personal–revolve around relationships. As social creatures, human beings form friendships, select partners, and do businesses with individuals whom we trust. What is your business doing to inspire trust in its consumer base? What more can you do?

3. Do most businesses treat customers as cohorts or culprits? What effect does this have on consumer psyche? On profit margins? How does your business treat customers?

ACTION: Consider the reciprocal implications of businesses actively demonstrating trust in their consumer base.

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