Focus or Breadth?

Some companies concentrate on their strengths, others try to appeal to a broad range of customers. One is Annapolis Clean Carpet who doesn’t try to be the cheapest, but they give a reasonable carpet cleaning price, do a good job and concentrate on what they do well.

Another is Cove Cleaning and Janus Furniture who have a number of services and products. This may spread them thin but they have more potential customers.

Annapolis Clean Carpet has focused on carpet cleaning and related cleaning services that use the same technology. They do steam carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning and drapery cleaning. They also do rug cleaning of Persian rugs and Oriental carpets and others.

Cove Cleaning on the other hand has decided try to provide as many cleaning services as possible. This is not unusual for a larger company but Cove isn’t very big. The question is, are they losing focus and quality and service by spreading themselves over so many areas?

They do carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, drapery cleaning and rug cleaning. So far so good. Same as Annapolis Clean Carpet. But, they also do tile stripping and waxing, house cleaning, window cleaning, office cleaning, janitorial services, power washing, industrial power washing and there are probably others that don’t come to mind at the moment.

Janus Furniture, actually doesn’t sell furniture even though they want to do that at some point. They sell used appliances. They were doing quite well. However, they then decided to open a restaurant before getting all the systems in place and a really strong organization for the used appliances.

They were getting close to opening the restaurant when they had the opportunity to get involved with wholesaling used appliances. They were warned about losing focus. The restaurant had delays with permitting and other issues and took a lot longer to open than planned.

The wholesale appliance business didn’t pan out. The appliances that they received were mostly junk and they had to sell most for scrap metal, losing money on each one. Then there were salaries on top. They lost a lot of money, fell behind on paying rent and employees for the retail used appliance business and are in danger of going out of business.

Annapolis Clean Carpet meanwhile has stuck to what it knows and gradually expanded the area it services, choosing to grow by increased penetration and market share and developing a repeat customer base and by slowly expanding the geographic range.

Picking a coach: 2 Lessons from fatherhood

Depending on how closely you follow sports, you must have at one point or the other noticed that some of the greatest sportsmen have (or had) their fathers as their coaches. Take one- golfing legend Tiger Woods. Woods had been trained at swinging by his father- Earl Woods- right from a tender age of about 4 years old or thereabouts. Today, his name is synonymous with golfing legend. Robert Easter Jnr. An American Lightweight professional boxer always has his father and coach Robert Easter Sr. in his corner when fighting. His professional fighting record is 21 wins and no losses. Baseball has countless Father-son duos like this: from Ken Griffey Jnr and Ken Griffey Snr. to Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonds among a host of others. Fathers have consistently provided inspiration, coaching and support for their sons’ careers.

The idea here is not to suggest that the road to success in sports is by having your father as your coach. That would be hilarious and even fatuous. Rather, what we will do is try to draw out 2 major lessons from fatherhood that will help in selecting the best coaches.

  • Picking a coachStrength: While this view may be somehow stereotyped, the fact remains that we associate our fathers with immense strength. As kids, we believed our dads could beat anyone who wanted to hurt us. We believed they could fix any broken toys. We believed they could put us on their shoulders, stand on their tiptoes and lift us high enough to touch the moon. Your coach should be someone in whom you find strength. Your definition of strength may vary from that of others. Strength for you could mean prior career success or a stable personal life, steady work out routine or a perfect fit body. Whatever strength means for you, you should be able to see it in your coach.
  • Love, Discipline and leadership: Fathers are often extra-committed to their sons’ success. This is because there is a personal relationship. They do not just see your career as a paycheck, rather they believe that your success reflects on them personally. Despite In line with this feeling of love and affection, they are able to sternly discipline you when you go wrong. They realize that you need as much discipline as you need love to achieve success. In finding a coach, you should look out for someone with whom you have a personal relationship. Someone who is interested not just in his monthly payments and allowances. Someone who believes that your success or failure translates into his/her success or failure. Someone who loves you enough to want you at the top of your game. But who will at the same time not be too indulgent or timid to correct you when you veer off the path of achieving your career goals.

The quality of your relationship with your coach will go a long way in influencing your success in sports. You can’t afford to make a wrong choice in selecting a trainer.

Mental Abilities of Athletes

Mental Abilities of Athletes

Successful athletes leave us in awe on how they manage to win time and again. Could it be that they have some special powers? Not really. Performing well in any activity derives from your mental capabilities. These skills not only apply to athletes but also in everyday life situations.

The following are the mental skills possessed by successful athletes:

A Positive Attitude

Having a positive attitude in stressful situations helps you readily adapt or deal with problems head on. It also helps you to point out your failures and strengths. This way, you can work towards doing your best, without necessarily showing perfection. Balancing your sport with other activities helps you create a positive perception towards your sport.


Successful athletes do not beat themselves up because of failures despite the hard work they put into practice. They realize that participation and showing improvement matters more than acquiring the awards. They persevere through the tough moments even if it doesn’t yield positive results instantly.

Setting Goals

Having long-term and short-term goals helps you work towards achieving them. To succeed, you ought to set realistic and achievable goals within a specified time period. Successful athletes ensure they follow their training schedules and plans to ensure they attain their objectives.

Keeping Connections with People

To succeed, you have to maintain a balance between yourself and the people around you. Your families, friends, coaches and fellow athletes all play a part in your success. Listening to their views and sharing your experience is essential to maintaining healthy relationships. You should promptly deal with misunderstandings that may arise and ensure it doesn’t affect your performance.


Building high confidence in yourself is a critical factor to how you deal with discouraging situations. Thinking over certain things during competitions gives you a clear and positive attitude towards your opponents. Self-talk may also be of help to resolve problems within yourself. Encouraging yourself to do better will push you several steps forward towards your finish line.

Creating a Positive Vision

Positive visions help us to view ourselves as winners. Successful athletes create an image in their mind of how it would feel if they won. It is a high motivating factor to help you do better and help you from falling short of your expectations. Positive visions or images help you to stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize.

Controlling Anxiety

Tension is present in all sports, especially during competitions. Managing the level of anxiety has a positive impact on your performance. It is important to understand that too much stress could lead to a reduction in activity levels and would ultimately result in failure. Learn tactics to help you calm down during anxious moments, like breathing in and out before you start the sport.

Controlling Emotions

Sports come with all types of emotions from the participants. Anger, excitement, disappointments and hate arise after every competition. Accepting the emotions as part of the experience helps you cope when you experience high emotions.


To perform well in any activity, you must pay attention to the details of the sport. It helps athletes avoid distractions which could cause a different outcome for their performance. Concentration promotes focus during training and during competitions.

Athletes look forward to success each time they participate in the sport. Maintaining healthy relationships, encouragement, self-motivation and setting realistic goals have a significant part to play in sports’ success.

Sell or Be Sold

Sell or Be Sold is the title of a book by Grant Cardone. You could say that selling is a competition which is why it makes sense for this blog. However, the best sales people see it not just as a competition but also a chance for win-win solutions and a way to help other people.

Sales is Life and Life is Sales

Don’t stop reading because you don’t have anything to do with sales. That is a key point in the book. His point is that selling is key to every aspect of life.

Children negotiate with their parents and husbands with wives. You sell yourself when looking for a raise or a new job, or funding for a company or funding for scientific research. You are selling yourself when you are trying to date a man or a woman and even just in making and keeping friends. And if you want to be a leader or have a cause that you are trying to promote, it essential that you know how to communicate and bring people to your point of view and follow you. That can all be considered sales or selling.


Most people think of commissions as monetary in nature but Grant Cardone points out that there is actually a wide variety of things that can be considered commissions. A raise or promotion is a commission although that usually also includes money. However, recognition for a job well done can feel really good as a commission even without monetary compensation. Getting people to agree to a project you want, or even making new friends could be considered a commission.

He considers things like health to be a commission for taking care of yourself, and happiness, a good home, security, love to be commissions for hard work put into friends, family, work, etc.

More examples of Selling in Everyday Life

How about an actress who wants a part, someone who wants a raise, a PTA president trying raise funds or likewise a committee at a church. Or, when you go to the bank to get a loan, negotiate with someone to buy or sell a house.

The point is that it is easy to say you aren’t a salesperson and don’t need to know anything about sales and negotiation. But, if you want to be successful and happy, it might be a good idea to learn something about sales. More on this interesting book later.

Creative Competition

You can go head to head in a competition. But it can be better to be creative and come up with a new product or method that no one else has and possibly get a monopoly on it.

Fosbury Flop

A sports example is the Fosbury Flop. Dick Fosbury was a high jumper who came up with a new way of doing it. Up until that point everyone went facing the bar and threw their leg up and turned sideways and rolled over the bar. Although he started using it in 1965, everyone became aware of it when he won gold in the 1968 Olympics. No one could compete with him because they all used the older style that was less efficient. Now all high jumpers use the Fosbury Flop.

Post-It Notes – A Flop?

3M’s Post-It Notes has a similar story. It pays for companies to allow creativity and to take advantage of unintended consequences. A 3M researcher, Dr. Silver, was trying to create a super strong glue. Ironically, on one of his attempts he came up with a glue that wasn’t very sticky at all. It is called a low tack glue because it isn’t very tacky or sticky.

You may think that 3M immediately capitalized on this discovery but you would be wrong. No one could figure out what to do with it at first. In fact for five years, Dr. Silver kept talking about it at various company meetings. He felt like there was something worthwhile to be made with it but couldn’t figure out what.

A Light Bulb Goes Off But a Market Flop

Finally, another 3Mer, Art Fry, thought it would be great to use on a book mark so the bookmark wouldn’t fall out of the page it was supposed to be marking. So they came out with the first Post-It Note but it was called Press n Peel. It flopped in the few stores they tried it in because no one had ever heard of it and didn’t know what to do with it.

New Solution Results in Flip Flop

So they put on their thinking caps to come up with a solution. They did a test market in Boise, Idaho and instead of putting it in stores, they gave them direct to consumers to try out. Almost everyone liked them and said they would buy more. Thus, a product was born. It was relaunched as Post-It Notes and this time was a success.

Lessons Learned

There are several things to note in this story. First, Dr. Silver realized the failed glue had potential even though it didn’t have the properties he was looking for. He didn’t give up on it for years. Then when it initially flopped in the market, they didn’t give up on it, they figured out a different way to introduce it which was successful. And 3M was smart enough to allow its employees to work on side projects like this that were not part of the jobs they were doing day to day. They have created many new products this way, although few as successful as Post-It Notes.

So 3M got a unique product that was protected by patents and they basically had a monopoly on it for the life of the patent and had no competition. Much nicer than competing with another company and only having small margins because of that.

Go For It

This isn’t really about competition but can easily be applied to competition. It is a skiing story and is about our writer SJ. In fact, he will tell it.

At the time I was living in Boston and a group of friends and I went up to New Hampshire to go skiing. Don’t ask what ski slope because I don’t remember at this point. In any case, it was Ron, Jeff and Jeff’s little brother who was a hotshot skier. Ron and Jeff were average skiers so they headed off together and I went with the younger brother. We will call him Tom since I can’t remember his name offhand.

Mogul Run 1

We went down a couple of slopes to get warmed up and then decided to hit a slope with moguls. Tom went down a ways and then stopped and waited for me. My heart was in my throat a bit but I wasn’t going to be deterred. I started down the hill and did OK briefly but quickly had problems and fell. Tom waited patiently as I skied and fell down the slope.

Mogul Run 2

We went up to do it again. Tom told me and I had heard other people tell me that you need to attack the mountain and lean into it. Leaning downhill can be scary. The natural thing to do is lean back. But that lifts the tips and you lose control and you tend to go faster. If you are leaning forward, you can carve your turns and control yourself and slow down. Well, the second mogul run was almost as bad as the first.

Mogul Run 3

Tom begged off and said he was going to go try some other runs. I went back up for a third time. I was absolutely determined to lick this hill. This time I absolutely attacked the hill. Most people have heard athlete’s talk about the Zone. Well, I had the privilege of experiencing it. Everything seemed to slow down  and be super clear. I nailed the run, not falling once. What a feeling.

I then went in to meet everyone for lunch at the agreed time and place. We chatted and shared experiences but I didn’t say anything about my last run except I did better because I wanted to surprise Tom. After lunch I asked if he would do the mogul run again with me. You could see that he was not very excited but was polite and said yes.

Mogul Run 4

We got to the top and I told him to go first. He went down a bit and fell. As he was getting up, I blew past him, still in the Zone, and skiing like a bat out of hell. The look on his face was priceless.

Who are you competing with?

You might say I was competing with Tom, but not really, he was actually a better skier. I was competing with myself. Don’t focus on other people, focus on yourself and what you can do to get better. Only focus on other people to learn from them, not to grade yourself against them.

Welcome to Waterford Badminton

Welcome to our blog, Waterford Badminton. We will be talking about competition, from sports to business or wherever. Seems like a strange name. Waterford is kind of random, but badminton is not. Most people think badminton is a wimpy sport where you dink a birdie over the net. Wrong.

One of our writers went on a date to play squash. All the courts were filled, so while they were waiting she suggested they play badminton because the court was free. She ran his ass off. The official net isn’t as high as most people set it up so you can drive the birdie and not dink it. Turns out she was on the varsity badminton team in college. When they then went to play squash it actually seemed slow compared to badminton. It was then that he realized that any sport played well is really difficult and requires a lot of skill even if it at first seems silly and simple.

So here is to the world of competition and performing at high levels.