Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘sport’ Category

My last three posts have outlined problems and failures. I don’t know about you, but all that #fail is starting to bum me out, so I need to break the cycle right here, right now. I’m in need of a little win today, if only to finish out the week with some pep. No need for a dissertation about this or that today. Instead, just watch this video and let it do its thing. It’s short, it’s brilliant, it’s beautiful. (Just ignore the fact that it’s an HBO promo.)

Outstanding.

Whatever it is you want in life, how badly do you really want it? How hard are you really trying? The spirit of victory is alive. And if it isn’t stoking your fire, you can be sure that it is toking someone else gunning for your customers, your market, your job or your belt. If you aren’t the guy in the room who wants it the most, you’ve already lost to the guy who does. You just don’t know it yet.

Just like we manufacture our own failures (see my previous three posts) we manufacture our own wins. It’s a question of perspective. Of will. Of fire. It’s a question of choice.

Have a great weekend.

Read Full Post »

Afghan "Shura" - Source: US Navy

A debater with thin skin is much like a soldier without composure: He isn’t much good to his craft, not to mention his cause.

I find myself debating a lot these days. Many of the topics revolve around business, brand management, crisis communications, Social Media, R.O.I. and marketing, while others touch on far more important ones like geostrategy, culture, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and Constitutional law. I believe debate to be a healthy pursuit – not simply an entertaining passtime – and engage in it with both delight and passion. I relish the opportunity to face off against another’s intellect and wit, especially when the act of debating an issue helps bring a discussion back from a place of hateful discord to one of mutual respect, if only for a few minutes.

It doesn’t mean both parties will agree or that one side will convert the other. I am not that naïve. All it means is that both parties will discuss the issue with respect towards each other. Debate is at its best an exercise in civility, at its worst an ugly, pointless brawl or shouting match.

The latter happens when emotions rather than reason get the best of someone involved.

Before you get to riled up, consider this that if debate is indeed a manner of combat (and it is,) it at least has the virtue of being bloodless. As such, it is a gentleman’s (and likewise a lady’s) sport. Losing an argument isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it may come with its share of benefits, not the least of which may be an education.

Now might be a good time to point out that debates are not about proving that one’s feelings about an issue should prevail. Debates are about arguing points, not feelings. “My feelings are more right than your feelings,” is an impossible argument. You might as well try to argue that your choice of a favorite color is better than someone else’s choice of their favorite color. It is completely pointless.

In every debate are two conjoined threads: One holds fast to reason while the other weaves itself into feelings and emotions. unless you want your exchange to degenerate into mindless hysterics, always focus on the former. While passion can – and should – drive a debate, it should never be the instrument of its discourse. Ever.

How this translates to this blog and exchanges I might have with you on Facebook, Twitter or even in the real world of face-to-face interactions is this: I will never tell you that your feelings about an issue are wrong. I may, however, tell you that your thinking around an issue is.

And then prove it to you.

When this happens, here’s how to best me: Prove me wrong. Not with feelings, not with arguments about feelings, and certainly not with anger, scorn, insults or threats. Best me with reason. If you make your argument, I will yield. (Gladly, in fact.) It happens regularly.

If you cannot make your argument, break off, give the topic of discussion more thought, do more research and try again when you’re better prepared.

Never will your feelings about an issue be enough to convince anyone of the validity of your position, especially if they revolve around anger. No emotion or personal belief, even if echoed by your peers, can ever justify the abdication of reason, especially in a debate. Show me your cool head. Show me the depth of your intellect. Show me the extent to which you have reflected upon an issue. Preparation here is key: Know what you are talking about. Know it from every possible angle. Consider all of the points of view, and recognize their every strength and weakness based on its own bias, not yours.

Only when you can see every angle can you consider yourself ready to enter into a debate – that is, a discussion about a topic with someone of the opposite viewpoint. Regarding this topic, here is something to consider: Spending most of your time both listening to a single viewpoint and discussing it with like-minded peers will not prepare you for a debate, the object of which is this: To prove the validity of your point in spite of your feelings, rather than by recruiting others to the emotion that secures your adherence to it.

A few tips on debating issues both online and offline:

1. Know the subject thoroughly. Not just your side of the issue, but all sides equally.

2. Trust both, but separate reason from emotion. The former is your ally. The latter is not.

3. Unless you live in a theocracy, morality and religion are subjective arguments, not objective arguments. Subjective arguments, while fascinating in certain social situations, have no place in reasonable debate.

(Update: Rick pointed out that I may be wrong about this in the comment section, and I see his point. Our discussion about context helps shed some light about this. I indeed failed to take into account the context of a debate when I suggested #3. He’s right.)

4. Respect your opponent even if s/he does not respect you. (Your professionalism, kindness and honor are yours. Their absence in an opponent has no bearing on your own.)

5. The moment either person involved loses their temper, the debate is over.

6. Thin skin and public debates do not mix.

7. Be aware that debating a point with an unreasonable person may be a complete waste of your time. Debating the virtues of civil rights legislation with a racist, for instance, may not be the most productive use of your time. Likewise, arguing ethics with a crook probably won’t get you anywhere. Just as worthy opponents make great sport, worthy opponents make great debates. Too one sided a contest typically yields disappointing results. Don’t waste your time on unworthy foes.

8. At least 1 out of 4 people who disagree with you may be utterly incapable of arguing a point objectively. See item 7 for further instructions.

9. If you represent a company or organization, heated debates may be ill-advised – especially when they touch on religion, sex and politics. If you are answerable to no one but yourself, no such limitations exist beyond those you impose on yourself. In either case, always remember item 4: The golden rule of public debates.

10. If you are bested, acknowledge it gracefully. If you win, thank your opponent for his/her gracious effort. All other outcomes are to be avoided whenever possible. Nothing is gained from the murder of civility, especially in matters of public debate.

One final note: Debate with heart, let outrage fuel your argument when it must, but keep your sense of humor close at hand. When all else fails, it may yet carry you through. The ability to laugh at yourself, at your own stumbles, at the witty barbs of your opponent when they deserve a nod, can be all the armor you need to compensate for any unwanted thinness of skin.

Read Full Post »

Sorry about the delay in posting the Road Race shots, but the Hincapie party/fashion show ran late into the evening Sunday, and I went on an epic 5 hour country ride Monday. Ergo: Taking my sweet old time with the images. Sorry about that.

The bad: Hometown favorites George Hincapie and Craig Lewis didn’t win.

The good: Tyler Hamilton (who’s a VERY nice guy) made a hell of a comeback at 37 years old to win the National Champion jersey by a hair. Pretty impressive given the immensely talented field of world class professionals and the fact that many pros are retired by the time they’re 37.

Pretty exciting race, especially the last few laps. It’s always a blast to go back to my roots once or twice a year and put on my photographer hat at events like this.

And as a bonus, the word is that the National Championships will come back to Greenville for another year!!! Very cool.

Go check out the slide show here.

(If you don’t like slide shows, check out the photostream here.

I promise I’ll be back to posting marketing/branding stuff before you know it. (I just have to get the national championships out of my system first.) It’s always exciting to be part of something this big.

For other photographers’ images of the races, check out James’ links here:

Read Full Post »

Year 3 of the annual photographic pilgrimage that is the USA Cycling Pro Championship. (One of the many benefits of living in Greenville, SC.) Earlier today was the Time Trial (won by David Zabriskie – again) on a new course that featured two of Greenville’s unique features: #1: The new ICAR campus (which was allegedly described to the field of pro athletes as “flat” – Ha!) and #2: The crushing humidity that comes after four days of thunderstorms.

Some of my favorite little happenings during the race today:

1. Running into James T. and Andy Woolard.

2. Shooting with Roby again.

3. Running into so many of my cycling and triathlon friends along the course.

4. The mysterious blood-like stains on my “borrowed” photographer’s vest that make me look like a crazed axe murderer.

5. Watching Dave Zabriskie win again.

6. Watching the champagne-spraying shenanigans.

7. The completely instinctive and collective backwards leap taken by the press photographers when the champagne bottles came uncorked.

8. Not getting pancaked by the ginormous pickup truck that almost backed over me while I was shooting Zabriskie go by. (Thanks to the quick reflexes of a course marshal.)

9. The sweet smell of chain lube in the morning.

10. Sunny, sunny, sunny skies.

Tomorrow, the Road Race.

Check out the slide show here.

Read Full Post »

Don’t get me wrong: I am very happy with a 1:10:45 finish (a personal best on the Greenville Sprint Triathlon course)… But I was chasing 1:08:12.

Next year, Green Goblin. Next year. Muhahahaha.

Read Full Post »

Even if you don’t care for cycling, even if you think that watching cycling on TV (or in real life) is as boring as watching the grass grow – only with more lycra and crazy looking sunglasses, you might still want to head over to VS. tonight (yes, the TV network) and watch today’s Tour De France coverage.

Judging from the RSS feed of today’s stage, Stage 17 sounds epic. No… not epic. EPIC: Not one, not two, but THREE major (HC) mountain climbs (the crushing Col du Galibier, the leg-shredding Col de la Croix de Fer, and the Holy Grail of cycling: Alpe D’Huez), the best riders in the world struggling to stay in the race, crashes galore, cyclists misjudging turns in 70mph descents and flying off mountainsides… It is absolutely insane.

Sure, I miss the early days of Lance Armstrong’s dominance – when the show was all about his crushing superiority on the climbs and in the time-trial, but this is spectacle. Pure, raw warfare on wheels. No engines. No time-outs. No half-times. No substitutions. Just sweat, blood and grit against some of the most spectacular vistas in the world. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know one rider from the next. This kind of stage is so intense, so pure, that you will find yourself rooting and cheering for the guy with the most heart. The most huevos. The guy who wants the stage win the most. You will find yourself cheering for a guy whose name you can’t even pronounce and whom you have never heard of before. That dude in green, or that dude in white or orange or blue. Who knows.

Whether you’re into cycling or not, this is truly sport at its best. Skip the sitcom re-runs tonight and tune in to VS. for a couple of hours. If the climbing portions bore you, stick around for the descents. (Between the full speed motorbike cameras and the sweeping helicopter shots, you are sure to gain a whole new appreciation for what is without a doubt one of the toughest and most dangerous sports in the world.)

Seriously. Wow.

Read Full Post »

1. I need an aggressive and consistent training regimen in the pool.
2. I need an aggressive and consistent training regimen on the bike.
3. I need an aggressive and consistent run training regimen.
4. Racing without being well prepared is a dumbass thing to do because it kind of hurts, and to top it all off, you don’t win anything.
5. For me, the difference between being race-ready and or not in a sprint distance tri is about 10-12 minutes on the clock.
6. Some of the finest people I will ever know are triathletes. True class acts. Eric, Dave, Mendy, Julie, Janice, Holly, Roby, Beth, Jay, Hal… the list is long and I apologize if I didn’t include you here. (You’re on my long list.) I am VERY lucky to count these people as my friends.
7. There’s no bullshit in triathlon. There is nowhere to hide. The clock doesn’t lie.
8. Racing reveals every single flaw. There’s no escaping it. What you do with those flaws is your choice – which is pretty eye-opening in and of itself.
9. Triathletes are a bunch of VERY fit and VERY twisted people.

Yeah, I had a blast.

Read Full Post »

Awesome little post by Mike Wagner over at “Own Your Brand“:

“What position did you play?” seemed like an innocent enough question coming from my six-year-old grandson. Basketball is on his mind, as it is everyone’s this time of year.

The conventional answer, “I played center.” says so little. I’d rather tell him what I accomplished for the team – it means more.

My high school coach, in his “John Wooden-like” wisdom gave me an outcome to achieve. My position of “center” was just for the program.

We were a very short team competing against much taller teams. My assigned contribution was to get the opposing team’s center to foul out – Period. “How” was up to me.

Some of my opponents were temperamental and easy to frustrate into fouling me. Others were so confident they couldn’t wait to stuff the ball down my 5-foot, 11-inch frame every time I tried a shot – they were easy targets as well.

My position was “center” but my contribution was “strategic foul generation”.

In the business world, the word “title” is exchanged for “position”. People want to know what others do for a living – many reply with their title. But a title says so little!

In your career, it’s better to focus on the outcomes you bring to the team…

  • Contribution is more important than title – Titles mean a lot in the pecking order found in any organization or business community. However, in terms of ultimate brand impact, titles are about as substantial as cotton candy. Focus on your contribution regardless of title.
  • You get “playing time” by contributing to wins – Titles come and go. When tough economic times require a hard look at “head count” how do you think decisions will be made – “We can’t let Jim go. We have to have an Assistant VP of Marketing!”? Not likely. To solidify your place on “the team” link your day-to-day outcomes to the brand’s success.
  • You own the “how” of what you contribute – Own your outcomes. Don’t wait for someone to show you how – it may never happen. Find a way to deliver what the organization needs. Be creative. Be determined. People who know and own their contribution are what every team needs.
  • Titles do not create great brands. It’s great performances produced by people who contribute like “owners” regardless of what it says on their business cards.

    I have nothing to add. Perfect.

    photo by christopher wray-mccann

    Read Full Post »

    My good friend and super personal trainer Holly DiGiovine sent out an email over the weekend that struck a cord with me. Here’s some of what she had to share:

    When you have a goal that is as huge as the marathon-it will “keep you honest.” It’s not like a smaller goal that you can announce and then put off or fake your way through. Once you sign up, commit months to training, and take your first step on race day-you better have done your homework.

    The beauty of this is that it goes against 99% of the natural tendencies of our culture that favors gratification without effort or devotion. But is that kind of achievement ever as satisfying? Linda Hill once told me she loved the quote, “There is no glory in training, but there is no glory without training.” In no way is this more true than in running.

    And business.

    One thing I’ve found over the years is that many of the folks I train with (and race against) are for the most part as devoted to their jobs (if not more) as they are to running or cycling or triathlon.

    Unlike participation in say, golf or softball or basketball – no offense to club/league sports – the type of determination, discipline and emotional focus that comes with training day in, day out for extremely challenging endurance events (often by yourself) tends to bleed over into people’s 9-5’s.

    Whether you’re training for a marathon, a century or the Ironman triathlon, one thing you quickly find out is that there’s no room for bullshit out there on the pavement. You either do the work or you’re screwed. Politics won’t get you to the finish line. It doesn’t matter who you know or how well you can work the system. When you’re out there, every weakness bubbles up to the surface and stares you in the eye. Lack of prepapartion, lack of motivation, lack of dedication will all come back to bite you in the ass. there’s nowhere to hide. They will all find you and jump up on your back to stop you dead in your tracks. The choice becomes this: Do you let them stop you, or do you accept them and keep going?

    You learn a lot about yourself, training for that type of event.
    You learn a lot about how to break thresholds and get past your own little ego, training for events like these. When you’re tired and sore and hungry but you still have four miles to go, guess what? You still have four miles to go. How you get through these last four miles is entirely up to you. Nobody cares whether you walk those last four miles or run, or hail a cab. Nobody made you set 26.2 miles as a goal. Or 100 miles. Or 144+.
    Once you’ve broken past your lack of will and learned to keep going, you are transformed. A similar thing happens to Marines during training. At some point, who you used to be before you went beyond what you thought your limitations were, before you kissed excuses goodbye, before you left all of the bulllshit that stood in your mind’s way ceases to exist. You become someone else.
    That someone else, the marathoner, the long distance cyclist, the triathlete, the Ironman, he or she walks into your place of work with you every morning.
    We all work with two types of people: Partisans of the least amount of effort, and dedicated professionals.
    The latter aren’t all marathoners and triathletes, but I have yet to meet an Ironman or marathoner who didn’t take his or her intensity and dedication to their job.
    Not that there’s anything wrong with drinking a case of beer and watching sports on TV all weekend, but who you are outside of your work does have parallels with who you are when you are at work.
    Something to think about.

    Read Full Post »

    If you want to see me get heated, ask me about doping and sports. Hopefully, you aren’t a football fan (American rules) or a baseball fan – as my opinion of steroid use is pretty cut and dry. You see, I’m a purist when it comes to athletic performance. Any athlete who uses a drug or other substance to enhance their performance, strength, endurance, recovery, etc. is a cheater. Period.

    I understand the need for bigger and bigger hits in football, I understand the need for baseball players to be able to hit the ball out of the park with one arm, time and time again, and yes, I understand the need for track athletes to break speed records in the 100, 200, 400 and 800.

    More to the point, I completely understand the temptation to dope in the world of grand tour cycling – especially when I am sprinting up a steep hill, my heart beating so hard I can taste blood in the back of my throat, and I still get dropped by guys more talented and better trained than me. If only I could take a pill or drink some kind of special shake that made me just 5% faster. 5% stronger. Gave me 5% more endurance. Yeah, on the verge of puking my guts out at the top of a climb, I often wish Accelerade or GU came up with a little magic pill that would make climbing a wee bit easier.

    And as competitive as I may be, I am just a recreational athlete.

    Imagine if I were a pro, and my paycheck depended on my getting to the top of a mountain in first place as opposed to… fifth or sixth or seventh place.

    Imagine if the difference between success and failure depended on just 5% more output from my body.

    Imagine if the majority of the athletes I competed against were doping up, and the only way for me to even-up the scales were to shoot up?

    What if I lived and worked in an environment, a culture, an industry that not only encouraged me to cheat, but also made it easy for me to do so? What if every single day of working in this environment, everything led me to rationalize that… well, if everyone else is cheating, it isn’t cheating since all I am really doing is evening the playing field?

    It would be difficult. I can sit here on my high horse and pretend that the choice not to dope is easy, but it isn’t. It can’t be. Not when the culture of your sport and the incredibly high stakes make doping the solution of choice when it comes to not getting churned out like a chump.

    The problem with professional cycling is that blood doping has been at the core of the Grand Tour culture for quite some time, and it is nigh impossible to change that kind of behavior overnight. But some athletes, teams and directeurs sportifs are trying. They really are. The problem is that we still can’t tell for sure who’s cheating and who isn’t, because doping science is always just a step ahead of testing science.

    If you were to ask me if doping scandals have turned me off from the Tour, my answer would be yes and no. No, I will never be completely turned off by the Tour De France because it is such an awesome event to watch and be a part of. It is inspiring. It is exciting. You can’t be a cyclist and not watch at least the mountain stages of the Tour… or the TT, or maybe the first week’s sprint finishes. But yes, I am a bit turned off because every seemingly superhuman performance raises a little red flag in the back of my head: Is this guy really that much of a badass, or is he on a very expensive cocktail of hemoglobin and top secret meds?

    That’s the part that sucks: Not knowing. Doubting that the performance is genuine. As much as I enjoy watching an athlete crush his competitors the way Lance Armstrong did a few years ago, not being able to buy into his victory 100% affects the value of the experience. It also affects the relevance of the event, and of the sport in general. And that sucks.

    Today, there still is no definitive way to absolutely 100% identify cyclists on the juice from those not on the juice… and until that changes, the Tour De France will be only half the race it could be.

    In light of this, here is an email I received over the weekend:

    On February 13th, the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) barred Team Astana from competing in any race or event organized by the ASO in 2008. The ASO owns premiere cycling events like Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours, and the famed Tour de France.
    To justify its decision, the ASO has cited the doping scandals of last year’s Tour de France.There can be no comparison between the Astana team of 2007 and the new Astana. The entire organizational structure has been rebuilt under the direction of the team’s new General Manager, Johan Bruyneel, who has thoroughly cleaned house. What’s more, Astana has adopted the rigorous doping controls developed by anti-doping expert Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, and Astana now spends more money on anti-doping controls than any other team in the pro peloton.
    “That the happenings of last year…prompted the Tour organizers to leave Astana out of the season’s most important race sounds understandable,” notes Bruyneel. “However, Astana Cycling Team 2008 has nothing to do with the team of last year. We have done everything to change the dynamics of the team. New management, new riders, new philosophy. Only the name of the sponsor remained.”
    The ASO has turned a blind eye to Johan’s efforts. By barring the entire team from competing in ASO events, outstanding athletes like Levi Leipheimer, who was not a member of last year’s Astana team and who has never been implicated in any doping affair, are forced to sit on the sidelines while their life’s work passes them by.
    “When I saw the Tour de France on TV when I was young,” laments Leipheimer, “I knew that someday I wanted to do that race. I sacrificed my life to participate. After finishing on the podium last year I want to do even better. Now I’m a victim of an illogical decision and have been excluded from the race.”

    I don’t claim to know the exact chemistry of Levi’s blood, but I’ll say this: Give the guy and his team a chance to race. Punishing a team for past misdeeds when its membership, management and anti-doping measures have all been overhauled is moronic. Sure, the team’s ownership may be rightly punished (something hefty fines would do just as well), but in the end, it is the riders and the public who suffer – and unjustly at that.

    Whether in the world of sport or the world of business, when an organization completely rebuilds itself in the wake of a scandal and commits to rebuilding its reputation, why punish them? Why not embrace their effort and their spirit? Why not make them the poster child for the kind of change you want to see? Test them to death, scrutinize their every move, but let them prove themselves. Give them the opportunity to fail.

    What could be worse than not punishing athletes and teams when they cheat?
    Punishing the wrong people.

    Though I am not a huge fan of Levi’s riding, I admire the way he is fighting for his right to race in this year’s Tour. His fight isn’t about winning – it’s about wanting to race, which is at the core of cycling (and sport’s) very spirit. That is sonething I can both relate to and stand behind. So Levi, you have my vote.

    To voice your opinion, click here.

    Read Full Post »


    As promised, F360’s photo coverage of the USA Cycling Pro Championships can be browsed here.

    (Yay to Flickr.)

    Congratulations to Team CSC’s David Zabriskie, who defended his Time Trial National Champion title today. (That’s two in a row. Not bad.)

    We will be updating the gallery over the next few days, so don’t hesitate to come back to it often.

    Have a great Labor Day weekend, everyone.

    Read Full Post »