Play Like You’re In The Masters, Or Maybe Not?

group of multiethnic friends standing near golf cart and looking away

The Masters Golf Tournament is happening as I write to you dear hippos. For the first time in many, many years, I have spent time watching this storied and supreme sporting event day after day.  (I was recovering from surgery so that’s why I indulged in this decadent use of time) Even if you don’t golf, the Masters is something to witness. From the beginning, the Masters shows its brand. Its tradition to have the greats – the legends –  tee off to commence the tournament is brilliant and nostalgic.  This year, three of history’s best –  Gary Player, Tom Watson, and the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus –  were honored.  These guys had style in their day.  Gary Player dressed like a cast member from “Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” Tom Watson with his ubiquitous array of planters hats and fedoras looked like he was hanging in Margaritaville, and of course, there’s Jack.  Just check out his iconic look at this legendary victory of 1986.  I am convinced Jasper Parnevik has trademark infringement on Jack’s pants.

Watching this week, what strikes me most, is that all the players look the same.  From their clothes to their facial hair to their hats.  Especially the hats.  Nice, soft colors and palettes to make a beautiful backdrop for all the sponsors’ stickers adorning them.  They look like walking bulletin boards. Like a camper trailer in the 1970sSee Rock City! anyone?

Where is Tom Watson’s straw planters hat?  Or Sam Snead’s pork pie?  What happened to Jasper Parnevik’s pants?  Remember them? They looked like a Peter Max poster! And…none of those guys ever had stickers on them!  Their looks were their trademarks, their personal and professional brands. And they still managed to make plenty of money and build incredible wealth and fame beyond their playing days.

If you squint, today’s professional golf players all look pretty similar.  As do their games.  Yes, we have the standouts, but not much separates them technically.  One of the reasons I love the Masters is it transcends golf through its independence from the leagues and ability to ward off ridiculous political movements and unseen disparities. The Masters’ brand is independence and freedom.  Over the years, it’s always been a wonderful surprise to see new faces, amazing feats of golfing skill and those azaleas! Wow!  Yet, for the most part, those who currently populate the sport are …. boring?

Now, Cameron Smith has a righteous mullet, nice branding.  My wife was rooting for him because she thought he was from Georgia.  Smith is an Aussie…

Tyrrell Haton is an interesting semi-reinvention of John Daly. The stout big hitter is an excellent golfer and tends to talk to himself in demonstrative fashion whenever he hits a less than perfect shot.  That’s something I can relate to; makes me feel my game is similar (not!).

I did actually see a bucket hat on one of the amateurs which was a nice break from the standard baseball-style golf hat brandishing at least three stickers.  What, no short caps?!

Meanwhile, most of the other familiar faces  seem more reserved and boring…even Tiger Woods, whose lifestyle and play were bigger than life at times, seems quietly reserved and well, quiet. Like he is waiting in line for a flu shot.  And this is a man who never waits in line. (BTW what’s up with Tiger’s private security force?  Not sure that’s the greatest brand look.)

As a small business owner, as in SMALL, I’m constantly looking for ways to differentiate myself that also honor who I am and who I serve.  Just ask my followers, all 53 of them.  Is it enough to just have a skill you’re really good at?  Scottie Scheffler hires himself everyday, so for an athlete like him, who is a small or actually pretty damn big business, it’s ultimately up to him if he fires himself one day.

For the rest of us, clients are essential to our existence.

Ben Stiller and his ubiquitous and not super funny commercial seen on every broadcasting break creates a brand (and a verb!) just by that appearance.  Now, when you scuttle a series of rounds aka Bryson DeChambeau’s epic pine straw adventures in the third round, you can say to someone; “Wow you just ‘Stillered’ that back nine!”  Now that’s branding (and grammar creation)!

I muse about today’s sales professionals.  With so many challenges and such a fast-moving landscape, how does one stand out? Is it enough that your product is valuable? (And actually works?!) Is it enough that you perform all the necessary moves procedurally and technically, checking off all the steps that all of the sales prognosticators demand will make one a successful sales professional? IMH prognosticator opinion, it’s not enough.  There’s just too much noise in front of the client/prospect.  Shiny objects are the norm now. You have to be “shinier.”  As I continue to watch this springtime sporting event unfold, here are some ideas –  perspectives really –  to consider as you shape the “look” of your career or business:

  • Truly be yourself. If you don’t know what that means or who you are or how you behave, then take a personality assessment.  There are many wonderful ways to define and catalog who you are and what you stand for: Myers-Briggs, DISC, Strengthsfinder, Enneagram, and many more.  Check one or more out and see what shows up.  This is a great start.  Hint: Don’t respond the way you think others want you to respond.  These can be gamed and that’s a waste of time.
  • Now that you have an idea of who you are and how you’re built, what will you do to connect yourself to all of those systems, processes, and technologies in a way that works best for you? Remember, we prognosticators generally came up with a system that works for US!  We are different from you.  I recently asked a long-time client who has taken a wonderful journey into leadership how they were able to bridge their own personal strengths and culture and make it work.  Their words: “I listened to the ideas and frameworks, continued to experiment through failure and success, and eliminated what didn’t work for who I was and customized what did.”  Brilliant and exactly how it works.
  • What would be different in your world if more of you showed up? I went through a metamorphosis late in life when I discovered coaching while working in business development.  It was liberating and mesmerizing when I dropped unnecessary and inauthentic filters and moved toward a personal brand that truly reflected who I was and how I could serve the world.  That brand continues to evolve with my faith now moving forward to a more visible position.  So, commit to one thing that you will do differently tomorrow that shows more of your brand. Then, commit to another thing, and so on…and show some fortitude when doing it!

Sure there’s more here.  And it’s on you to experiment with it.  What’s holding you back from letting more of yourself out there for the world to see?  Money? (#1 excuse) Job? (boring) Significant other? (I’ll bet they’re more for it than you think…)  I always say “Be Big. Be Bold. Be Hippo.”  So…given that society defines us by things like money, career, partner, and a bunch of other needless stuff, remember these are just stickers.  Many of us focus on representing everyone else’s brand. We present the billboard they want us to be. Why not  just be comfortable and confident  putting your own approach, your own style, out there?  Let’s lose some stickers.

“How’s your game right now? Do you want 2024 to be different and amazing?  Maybe taking a deeper look makes sense.  What about a personality assessment?!  Here’s a link to discussing it right now!

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