The Best Business in Sports is Roger Federer LLC
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Some things in the world happen to naturally go together. This idea can be applied to hallmark pairings like peanut butter and jelly, USA and freedom, Christmas and presents. Sometimes when you think about one thing, there is a synonymous idea that our mind automatically jumps to. When talking about sports, it’s a little harder to find the other concept, person or identity that is the “perfect pairing”. Roger Federer, however, shows us the answer.
Sports go hand-in-hand with business. When looking at both on a micro level, what lies at the center of each is essentially the same thing. Sports and business are built around the competition created by all members striving to achieve a goal. At the lower levels, they may be enjoyed for recreational purposes, but the most successful individuals in each have an internal drive that does not stop. Sports and business cause their most prominent figures to develop an addiction to the process of getting better. Hard work and constant dedication have to be sustained over a long period of time in order for individuals to achieve their goals in business and in sports.
To help exemplify that sports and business are the perfect pairing, let’s take a look at Roger Federer as a business. After 36 years, Roger Federer LLC has created a culture that has stayed at the top over almost four decades. Even in the company’s toughest times, Roger Federer LLC’s integrity to its core principles push them onward to success. Every management position bases their decisions on data. Data and returns on investments that out-perform original expectations are the staples of successful companies; the two most important factors of Roger Federer LLC.
In business, future results are not solidified due to past performance. In Roger Federer’s toughest stretch as a professional tennis player, he went 17 majors without a title. Any smart company does not fold in a time of crisis, they look within themselves to find a way for innovation to lead them to success. Roger Federer let go of old coaches and hired new ones. He changed his pace of play and playing patterns. He switched to a larger racket. He even decided to minimize his risk his changing his powerful one-handed backhand to two-armed swing. Roger Federer new that change was difficult, but obsolescence is worse.
To accurately judge a company, or a player at any level, people tend to look at their rankings as the end-all-be-all. Rankings are good because they give an individual a glimpse as to where they are and where their competition is. Rankings become a problem when the number assigned to the individual consumes them and the way they live their life. The stock market is the business equivalent to player rankings in professional tennis.
Looking at Roger Federer LLC, his stock has risen and fallen over the course of his company life. Every month it tends to tick up and then down, but he pays no attention to the daily fluctuations in his price or his competition. After he won the Miami Open last May, he sat out of the clay season, causing his stock to plummet short-term; he lost his number one world ranking. He was skeptical of the physical effect the clay would have on his body, hurting his long-term goals. The next tournament he played in he felt the best he had in a long time and won Wimbledon. He experienced another drop in his price as he sat out the following tournament in Cincinnati to prepare physically and mentally for the U.S. Open. Federer’s long-term decision-making shows that in business and in sports, you can’t live quarter-to-quarter, you have to live for the long-term.
It is often not enough to just be the best. In the eyes of the media, there has to be drama. There will always be an antagonist to every protagonist in sports and business. In order to change the world and accomplish your lofty goals of setting the pace of play in your industry or sport, you have to embrace rivalry. The elite players at any level are talked about having an ‘extra gear’ that propels them past whatever issue they face.
When you’re at the top of anything, there are people constantly trying to de-thrown you. In the business world, it can be seen when Apple that declared war against Google in 2010. Apple did this in order to create a sense of urgency within their organization to elevate themselves to success. In sports world, the pinnacle of modern rivalries for the past couple years has been Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In his early career, Nadal seemed to be Federer’s kryptonite, causing him to not play with the same confidence he had in his other matches. Federer has accepted that in order for him to achieve the level of success he wants, he has to head-on attack his rivalry with Nadal. Even though Nadal leads the head-to-head meetings, 23-14, Roger Federer is on a four-match win streak, the fruition of his recent business decisions to produce innovation.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Roger Federer is that everything he does in his life, is consistent with the image of success that he portrays on the tennis court. Professional athletes at the highest levels are known for living their life differently on the field than their personal lives. Not all athletes at the highest levels can handle success, resulting in an array of different opportunities for scandal. The same applies in business. Companies like Enron and Freddy Mae committed illegal activities in order to portray their company in a better light than they were actually doing.
Roger Federer’s play is defined by balance. Every step he takes, every move he makes and every decision in his mind on the court is a mathematical calculation he has thought through in order to maximize efficiency and minimize risk. He stays true to his principles in tennis because of the discipline he has as a human. His humility is shown through the respect he shows in his interactions with all people he encounters.
Mirroring Federer’s discipline to his core principles, companies that are seen as industry leaders have a dedication to their corporate culture that rules the way they do business. In 2017, Google is known for a corporate culture that believes in equality, diversity and a value to each individual employee that is second-to-none. The daily mission the organization has to value their employees is actualized by the output their employees create. The brightest minds in all disciplines flock in masses to have a chance to work for Google. The company believesthat their success and popularity is due to making decisions daily that embody their core principles.
The life of Roger Federer is more than just a parallel to the way the best companies act. Federer’s business-like approach to every decision he makes from minuscule to championship level act as an example for us to live our lives. He shows us not just how to live our personal lives through embracing change, making long-term decisions, embracing rivalry and a daily commitment to our core principles. He is the embodiment of how sports teach an individual life lessons that directly translate to business. The way he lives his life is the way the highest companies across all industries act in a competitive business environment.
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