I was watching Moneyball this weekend. It reminded me how much I like this movie, even though it is an exaggerated adaption of a book that, in the first place, bent facts to fit the narrative. It didn’t make the book less interesting— but Michael Lewis knows how to spin a yarn.
It also didn’t distract from the core message — data and paying attention to data allows you to find inefficiencies in the market. You can see that in every aspect of our lives now – sports, stock makers, advertising, marketing, and even our personal health.
The real golden nugget in the movie and the best advice, both business or otherwise, comes from the mouth of John Henry, the owner of Red Sox. He is trying to hire Billy Beane and offers him $12.5 million to become his general manager. (Interestingly, Billy Beane is part of a SPAC that wants to buy an interest in Red Sox and take them public.)
Here is what Henry says in the movie:
I know you're taking in the teeth out there but the first guy through the wall, always gets bloodied.
always is a threatening not just a way of doing business. But in their minds is threatening the game.
but it's really worth threatening is their livelihood is threatening their jobs, threatening the way that they do things.
And every time that happens, whether it's a government or way of doing business or whatever it is.
The people who are holding the reins and their hands on the switch.
Read those words. And reread them. This is the story that repeats itself; every single someone tries to do something new. The entrenched incumbents and their bonus culture dismiss what is new and threatening.
The media industry was quite dismissive of the Internet opportunity till it was quite late. They dismissed blogs as a joke. They dismissed Spotify. Netflix wasn’t good enough. Social media wasn’t serious enough a threat. And I remember the jokes about the cloud, only a decade ago. I can offer examples till the cows come home.
As Henry points out, the future is built by those willing to be bloodied and run through a wall. Some of them have the constitution of an Iron Man and can build a Tesla. Others are pig-headed to stand up an Amazon. And some are forgotten but carve a hole small enough for the future to sneak through. Digg and Friendster, for example.
The point, as made by Henry in Moneyball, is that change is threatening to those whose livelihoods it threatens. And there is a lot of change going around these days — and it threatens a lot of livelihoods.
Okay back to work!
November 2, 2020, San Francisco