The cute shit does not work

Bear with me, this is not a post about soccer.

The most common problem among good soccer players is that they try cute shit far too often.

You know, that backheel trick, that special flick, that dribbling attempt, that longrange pass with the outside of your foot.

All the stuff that will look awesome in a highlight reel.

The main problem is that there’s only a tiny chance any of this works in a competitive game (otherwise it wouldn’t be highlight worthy) and even if it works, there is no outsized return.

Most highlight reels make sure to add a quick cut to hide that it the special move didn’t lead anywhere.

So what the best soccer coaches do is introduce extreme levels of discipline, structure, and patience.

Players who won’t listen and keep doing cute shit are ruthlessly sold.

For example, Pep Guardiola’s teams pass the ball a gazillion times without anyone trying anything special.

It might look a bit boring, it doesn’t give much highlight worthy material, but it’s insanely effective.

While I learned this lesson a long time ago on the soccer pitch, I’m just relearning it in the context of entrepreneurship.

Here too, there is a constant temptation to try something special.

You know, launching that truly creative business idea no one has thought of before, building that super clever automation, dreaming up a completely novel marketing hack.

All the stuff that would look awesome when Walter Isaacson finally comes to his senses and writes your biography.

But just like on the soccer pitch, the cute stuff rarely works and even if it does, there are usually no outsized returns.

The winning strategy is to relentlessly focus on the boring fundamentals, staying consistent, avoiding fuckups.

Just as for a soccer coach, it’s not just important that you as the founder understands this.

Your whole team has to be on board.

Every single person on earth sees themselves as the main character in their own personal superhero movie.

So, of course, everyone is tempted to do superhero stuff all the time.

But the real main characters are the team, the business.

And their chances of winning are dramatically reduced with every individual that tries to play the hero rather than focusing the boring fundamentals.

That’s the real hero move as a founder. Keeping the team and yourself focused on the boring basics, day in, day out.

Written on October 28, 2023

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