Financial Rumblings (Biz Case)-July 8, 2016

On July 4th, 2016, NBA Super Star Kevin Durant, after being courted/recruited by a handful of the premier NBA teams, decided that he would sign with the Golden State Warriors, a team that had eliminated his Oklahoma Thunder in the Western Conference Finals in seven games.  The decision to switch teams is one that he did not undertake lightly, but his reasoning at his introductory news conference is enlightening and is probably a good tack that companies should take when hiring employees-be they entry or executive level.

Workplace environment and chemistry is huge. You are going to be with your co-workers longer than you are with your family on any given weekday, so it might as well be enjoyable. Lorne Michaels, Saturday Night Live creator and producer, told Tina Fey, “Don’t hire anyone you wouldn’t want to run into in the hallway at three in the morning.” (The New Yorker, “Lessons From Late Night”, March 14, 2011).  Durant spoke of how Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green seemed to really like being teammates: “But to see them together, they all walked in, they looked like they were holding hands. It was a family. I can tell they enjoyed being around each other.” Durant elaborated further, “It felt like like those guys just played pickup every single day… That’s the kind of feel I wanted.”

You have to be wanted. Though, you might not have a NBA MVP in your company, every company has a MVP who is the face of the organization/company, and that person needs to be all in in wanting you to be part of the organization. Durant said of Curry’s involvement and impact on his decision:

“He’s a guy that’s on top of the world right now. He’s the face of the NBA in a lot of people’s eyes. I wanted to see if he really would embrace me as a player and as a person, and I had no doubts that he would. He showed that he was all in on this thing. He worked with his family to come to the meeting and be a part of the meeting, and then he showed me how much he cared and how much he wanted me to be part of it.”

Growth and learning opportunities must be there.  Though Durant is an accomplished player ( NBA All-Star 5 times; All-NBA First team 5 times; NBA scoring champion 4 times; and NBA MVP 1 time), he is joining a team which has been in the NBA finals for two straight years and has three current All-Stars in the team’s starting five. Durant said of these opportunities, “But I want to just continue to keep getting better, man. I want to learn from these guys. I want to come in here and lead as best as I can and just be myself.”

You have to trust your gut on deciding on whether to change organizations. After processing all the information, as trite as it sounds, it really comes down to what your gut/instinct says. Gut instincts are very valid, according to an article by Samantha Olsen in Medical Daily ,“Your Gut Feeling is Way More Than Just A Feeling: The Science of Intuition”, provided a person was not forced or denied certain feelings during his/her prime stages of mental, physical and above all emotional growth .  Durant said of his decision team (father Wayne Pratt, business manager Charlie Bell and agent Rich Kleiman) and process on choosing whether to stay with Oklahoma City or change to Golden State, San Antonio, Boston, Miami, or Los Angeles:

“We sat down and went through the pros and cons of every team, every situation. We looked at it all, and they were there to support me, to be there for me, and I trusted them. I think the third, the night before, Fourth of July… we were talking and I was just torn, and I told them I wanted to sleep on it. I woke up about 7 o’clock in the morning and I walked in the room – everyone was asleep – and I woke them up and I just said ‘I want to go to the Warriors,’ … and we all gave each other hugs and we moved on from there. We knew a lot of attention was gonna come. We just stuck to what I wanted to do, and we moved on. That call to Oklahoma City was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. Tears were shed, but like I said this is a new journey for me, testing the unknown. I trusted my gut, I trusted my instincts. It’s an unpopular decision, but I can live with it.”

Once you join the organization, the work has just begun. Once the new employee is on board, the recruitment never stops, as you must continue to create an environment for the employee to stay: those tangibles/intangibles that persuaded the employee to join your organization must continue to be there, otherwise, the person might just jump ship. Although, Durant signed a two-year contract with a player option in the second year, it’s expected to be a long term contract. “I don’t want to go through that again, so I plan on being here,” Durant said. “I’m committed.”

Financial Rumblings (Biz Case)-July 7, 2016

Game of Thrones Script: The Winds of Winter Episode (Season VI, Episode X)

From the Winterfell-Dining Hall.

Slow zoom out from JON SNOW’s face. JON SNOW is sitting at high table. SANSA sits beside him. Representatives from Northern houses, the Vale, and the wildlings are gathered in the dining hall. TORMUND and DAVOS sit among the wildlings. PETYR stands off to the side, watching.

VALE KNIGHT: You can’t expect Knights of the Vale to side with wildling invaders.

TORMUND: We didn’t invade. We were invited.

VALE KNIGHT: Not by me.

JON SNOW stands.

JON SNOW: The tree folk, the northerners, and the Knights of the Vale fought bravely, fought together, and we won. My father uses to say we find our true friends on the battlefield.

One of the houses’ representatives stands.

MAN: The Boltons are defeated. The war is over. Winter has come. If the masters are right, it’ll be the coldest one in a thousand years. We should ride home and wait out the coming storms.

JON SNOW: The war is not over. And I promise you, friend, the true enemy won’t wait out the storm. He brings the storm.

The men begin to murmur. LYANNA MORMONT stands.

LYANNA: Your son was butchered at the Red Wedding, Lord Manderly. But you refused the call. You swore allegiance to House Stark, Lord Glover, but in their hour of greatest need, you refused the call. And you, Lord Cerwyn, your father was skinned alive by Ramsay Bolton. Still you refuse the call. But House Mormont remembers. The North remembers. We know no king but the King in the North whose name is Stark. I don’t care if he’s a bastard. Ned Stark’s blood runs through his veins. He’s my king from this day until his last day.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The most difficult thing for people in power- be they politicians, business leaders, managers, etc. – to realize is when to change their tack against headwinds in order to continue to progress forward toward their goal. The Brexit vote is an example, where those in favor of staying argued points which really didn’t register with the masses: 1) to vote to leave the European Union would be a disaster for free trade within the EU; 2) England’s status as one of the world’s financial centres would be diminished if it is no longer was seen as a gateway to the EU for the likes of U.S. banks; and, 3) the GDP would fall. In essence, the citizens of England who were in favor of leaving the EU were like Lyanna- trying to rouse the political officials to act on what they saw was was wrong with England’s involvement in the EU: lack of sovereignty on immigration and to a lesser extent court rulings that can be overturned by an EU central court; and, the despair that the working class felt as their own financial goals were fading as a result of lack of wage/career growth. In business, the constituency (consumer) cast their ballots with their wallets/clicks/follows, and they vote as frequently as they do in Chicago elections: often.

Business leaders, like lobsters, are often too slow to realize what is occurring before it is too late. Businesses need to be anxious, paranoid, and scan the horizon for new competitors, while making sure the product/service offered is the best; no one buys a crappy product for very long once they realize it is a crappy product and your competitor’s product is better or at least not as crappy as yours. H&M is growing big time, but their quality, or lack thereof, is a bit concerning. It is true that fashion trends change quickly, but, when a shirt fades and the thread in the shirt becomes less taught, it is enough for one to really question the underlying value of an item that will not last beyond the current season. H&M clothing fits a fashionable and value customer, but in order to maintain its reputation, it does need to increase the thread count/quality such that their products do have some longevity- even if it goes out of style.

Business leaders need to be empathic because when they aren’t, they sound just as clueless as those  in the Winterfell-Dining Hall arguing against supporting John Snow in his battles to come. Technological companies can be poor at not understanding their consumers, because often they are mesmerized, like the songs of the Sirens, by the “coolness” of the technology that they are providing. The wireless companies at first had unlimited data plans-which was fine when you didn’t have data hog applications like streaming video, movies, and social sites, but they were slow to address the needs of the consumers when the “unlimited” data plan became too costly to promote; thus the wireless companies started to have tiered pricing dependent upon usage-which also became obsolete due to the increased bandwidth flow because of 4G, etc. Thus, you have Verizon, increasing its prices and having roll over minutes, which is similar to offerings by AT&T. Another complaint that people had was the outsourcing of call centers to outside the U.S., which at times was challenging, which resulted in returning some of those jobs stateside/bettor training.

Winter is coming and like John Snow and Lyanna and the other houses that swore their allegiance to the House Stark, need to be in unison on how to tack to reach their goal of defeating the outside invaders -White Walkers; businesses need to tack to reach their goal of providing the best product/service/value for the consumer, which leads to increased market share and earnings (EBIT and EBITDA).