Monday, February 21, 2011

Keep Your Chin Up, Kid

I'm in the Badger state two weeks after the Packers won the Super Bowl and I find the whole experience difficult. 

I was born in Chicago and am a lifelong Bears fan.  They’re my favorite team in all of sport.  And, even passive football fans know that the Bears and Packers are bitter rivals.

MKE is littered with banners.  So are the storefronts, freeway signs … reminders of it are everywhere.  It seems like everyone wears either a Packers jacket or cap, or both.  And, every logo screams at me: “The Packers won two of their final five games against Da Bears – including the NFC Championship Game on your home turf.”

It’s times like these when I’m happy to be a golfer.  I’ve spent several days at my in-laws house in Beaver Dam, which is filled with people I love tremendously.  And they are Packer fans.  But learning golf at a young age taught me about sportsmanship and respect.  It taught me that you never root against others … and most of all, you should never let internal disappointment lead to external aggression. 

This psychological process reminds me being an entrepreneur.  I recall the early days with TGA, the junior golf company I’ve lived and breathed for 7+ years, when franchise candidates, schools, courses, suppliers, partners, etc. turned us down regularly.  The rejections seemed personal.  They still occur, and they still sting. 

However, being an entrepreneur has taught me a lot.  Cockiness has turned to humility.  Rejection has turned to determination.  Entitlement has turned to gratitude.  Golf prepared me for these lessons.

My advice for current or aspiring entrepreneurs is this – expect disappointment and take it in stride.  Do not take it personal and maintain relationships with the naysayers, whether they’re potential customers, suppliers or investors. 

Consider it like this – you’re a QB who just missed a touchdown pass in the first quarter of a 16 game season.  That’s okay.  And the receiver who dropped the pass – he may ultimately become the Robin to your Batman.  Thus, do not discard or alienate him … stay in touch and keep him close, because you never know when he may score the winning touchdown for you in the Super Bowl after dropping three critical passes.  Think Jordy Nelson.

Finally, to all of my Packer friends, I say “congratulations.” Enjoy the ride and please keep our trophy safe and unscathed until it returns to its rightful place in Halas Hall next year.

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