May 01 2018

Striking Ahead Of The Competition

He recently completed one of the best seasons in the history of New York State high school bowling. As a junior, Nick Perrone recorded the highest average, broke a tournament record and was named the top bowler at the state’s public high school tournament. Next on Nick’s checklist – establish dominance. He wants to be consistent and prove to everyone that the first three years were not a fluke.

Nick finished this past season with a 234.94 average. This topped all high school state bowlers for the second straight season. He also finished first at the state tournament among his section’s individual bowlers.

But, with three years of increasing success, Nick still hears the skeptics, because he is a two-handed bowler—a delivery shunned by many old-school bowlers. His numbers, though, repeatedly have dampened the naysayers.

Two-handed bowling is a style that has developed within the last few years, and it has become a common choice for young bowlers looking to gain more power in their stroke. Some of the top bowlers in the country, including Walter Ray Williams, Jr. (47 professional titles), and 2014 Professional Bowlers Association rookie of the year Marshall Kent, have experimented with the two-handed delivery.

As for Nick, he plans to build upon his success. Already, he has set loftier goals for his senior year. At the top of his list are a league title for his high school and an unprecedented 240 average for himself. Hard work, he feels, will get him there.

According to Nick, the key to the next level is honing the essential skills of high-level bowling. This includes regular practice, remaining informed about the latest ball technology, and closely monitoring lane oil patterns and breakdowns that affect the ball as it travels toward the pins.

Another key skill that Nick is seeking to improve is his understanding of the competition. Other solid players are chasing him. By studying them, Nick feels he will be pushed ahead to break the next boundary.

Jun 16 2015

Legacies Easily Can Take A Huge Hit

Tom Brady is a four-time Super Bowl champion. He is a three-time Super Bowl MVP. He is a two-time NFL MVP. He is one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. He also is a liar and a cheat.

That’s what will be written about him and said about him until the end of time. Similar references permanently have attached themselves to Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Alex Rodriguez and others. They all have denied wrongdoing. They all have agents, supporters and fans who back them. None of it will matter.

In our age of the internet, blogs, YouTube, Twitter and more, the liar and cheater tags already are synonymous with their names. The stigma never will be removed.

When I hear about the large number of recent sports scandals, I often think about poor Shoeless Joe Jackson. He stands pretty much alone among athletes involved in any of the older scandals, remaining infamously connected with and the prominent face of baseball’s 1919 Black Sox Scandal. Though the evidence against Jackson is slim at best, his association with the tainted World Series has, for almost 100 years, outweighed his record as an excellent ballplayer.

During his playing days, Jackson only had to deal with the articles about the scandal that appeared in newspapers, and he still found it difficult to restore his reputation during his lifetime. Athletes involved with the dark side of today’s games face daily viral bombardment. They never will clear their names. Their legacies are beyond recovery.

When we were kids, many of us played fantasy games in the backyard. We created our own rules and we changed them at will so we could dream about hitting that World Series home run or scoring the winning goal. That was okay. What isn’t acceptable is “Deflategate,” the use of performance enhancement drugs and the skirting of the rules that has infiltrated some of our youth leagues across the country.

For the rest of us, we easily can find ways to lie and cheat in our jobs and in the companies we manage. If we choose that path, our integrities and our legacies certainly will suffer at some unforeseen time. Whether we are involved with sports or business, we all have choices to make, and I’ll leave you with one piece of advice to ponder—think seriously before you decide upon any course of action and make sure the result will not inflict damage to your reputation and legacy. It is not worth embarrassing yourself, your colleagues and, most important, your family until the end of time.

- Jim

Aug 16 2014

Diamond Shifts And Paradigm Shifts

Watching a baseball game has become a bit confusing. With some exceptions, the game has not changed for more than 150 years. But, now, I can’t always find the third baseman!

If you are having the same trouble, then you will need to adjust how you watch the game. Sometimes I have found the third baseman in shallow right field. The second baseman has moved, too. He frequently appears on the left side of the infield, closer to the shortstop, whom, by the way, has moved deeper into the hole on some batters.

This new infield alignment developed gradually over the last few years but it has exploded across the diamond this season. The strategy is based on statistical analysis of where batted balls are put into play. Now, players often are repositioned far from familiar territory. Shifting also is a little psychological game that opposing teams impose on batters—that game within a game competition.

Last season in Major League Baseball, 8,134 shifts were recorded when balls were hit into play. Already through mid-May, teams had shifted 3,213 times. If this keeps up, MLB will implement about 14,000 shifts this season. Many batters will see their season averages plummet 30 or 40 points.

While everyone is chatting about the effects of the infield shift, the concept really is not new. When looking back at baseball’s infancy and then its dead ball era and its golden years, the game’s historians found evidence that extreme shifts, at times, had been used by teams. Baseball artwork from the 1880s indicates that basemen stood on top of their respective bases. During more modern times, but still before many of us were fans, teams shifted drastically for Ted Williams.

“Shifting” travels farther back in time for business, occurring long before it became fashionable for a baseball player from Cincinnati to wear a red stocking. More recently, though, we have become accustomed to hearing about the latest version of the business plan in the form of the “paradigm shift.” That phrase is just a contemporary term for looking at something from a different angle, or obtaining new information to create a successful strategy. Put simply, it is no different than “thinking outside the box” or implementing best practices.

At the end of each day, whether we are involved in business or baseball, results often get summarized in quick recaps. Diamond shifts, paradigm shifts and other plans and strategies are not included in the box scores reserved to report just the wins and losses. So, should you decide to implement a “shift” or another plan from your business strategy that cuts against conventional thinking, be sure that it is well researched and strategically managed. When it is, you will enjoy reading your business box scores again on the following morning.

- Jim

Jun 02 2014

Unorthodox Style Can Be Effective

Not much about Abby Squirrell’s game stands out to a spectator. A six-foot one-inch junior forward for Ossining High School’s basketball team in Westchester County, she is a solid rebounder and puts points on the board.

But, when Abby stands at the free-throw line, everyone in the stands notices her. She uses only one hand for her routine—bouncing the ball, putting it in position and then taking the shot. She certainly has one of the most unorthodox foul shooting techniques anywhere in the game. She also is second on the team in free-throw percentage, making seven out of 10 shots.

Abby’s coach explains that the basketball is supposed to be shot with one hand. The other hand serves as the guide. She just took it one step farther. It works for her and as they say, “no harm, no foul.”

But, what would happen, if during a huge regular season or playoff game, the margin of victory came down to an Abby Squirrell foul shot? A lot of people—teammates, the coach, the fans—would cringe, right?

The coach does not give it any thought. She is the team’s second-best foul shooter. They want her at the line.

Just as with sports, a person always can try something a little different, or unorthodox, in business. Others first may look on with puzzlement. But if successful, they will soon mimic or adapt it.

Do you have an idea or tactic that is a little unorthodox? Give it a try. You never know where it may lead.

Oh, and one more thing—I knew I liked Abby when I first heard about her foul shooting. She also happens to be one of her school’s best lacrosse players!