While the game was touted as an old-school defensive team, led by 40-year-old Peyton Manning, against a new-style high-powered offense led by Cam Newton, the game actually came down to the basics.
Here are 3 business lessons I learned from yesterday’s Super Bowl 50:
1. You can’t do it alone
People thought one man was going to make it or break it for both teams. Manning has fought injuries all year and even spent some time on the bench before stepping back to the helm in the playoffs. And Newton, with his combined 50 TDs on the year, has singlehandedly delivered all year in the red zone. However, neither player had a definitive impact on the game. Manning struggled to get his team going on offense, but between the running game and their high-powered defense, they managed to move the sticks and put points on the board. Newton wasn’t able to leap into the endzone, but his defense also wasn’t able to turn their takeaways into points. Manning didn’t lose it for his team, and Netwon certainly didn’t win it for his.
Business lesson: You can’t do everything on your own. Even if you do spend a good portion of your time on one area of your business, you need other people to step in when you can’t be there. As an entrepreneur, you want to be involved in every aspect of your business. And while you should always know what’s going on, you can’t be all things to all people. Build a team around you that you trust. If you want to execute on a large scale, it’s going to take a team to get you there .
2. Little mistakes add up to big trouble
There were mistakes on both sides of the ball yesterday. there are always going to be mistakes. In fact, it’s typically the team with the least amount of mistakes that wins. Aqib Talib racked up three penalties in just over a quarter of play. One of those penalties put Carolina back on the field, and in better position, after the Denver D made a massive stop in midfield. Carolina didn’t convert, but one drive later they show up in the red zone and Talib committed an egregious facemask penalty setting up Carolina for first and goal on the one-yard line.
While Carolina also got into penalty trouble, their biggest mistakes came when they were holding the ball. Running backs Mike Tolbert and Johnathan Stewart both let the ball slip out of their hands, Newton got stripped of the ball twice, miscues by the receiving corps led to a pick, and in a baffling special team’s play, Carolina expected a fair catch and accidentally let Jordan Norwood charge 61 yards down the field before they forced him out of bounds.
Business lesson: Don’t make mistakes. It’s actually not that simple. It should be, make less mistakes than everyone else. Mistakes are going to happen. You should have a plan in place to make sure when something goes wrong you can get out in front of it. And if you see your competitors doing something wrong, show your customers you’re doing it right. That doesn’t mean calling attention to someone else’s mistakes. If your competitors aren’t offering something that people want, make sure you do. If your competitors don’t offer a great customer experience on their website, make sure you do. The goal is to minimize the impact of your mistakes and maximize the results of your competitors gaps.
3. Don’t ignore what works for what’s flashy and new
There was a lot of talk about high-powered offenses coming into yesterday’s game. Carolina was given the edge in the Super Bowl because of their 17-2 record this year and their near-unstoppable offense. It’s like everyone had forgotten that we all made these same predictions two year ago when the match-up was the high-powered Denver offense versus the defense-powerhouse known as the Seattle Seahawks. And we all know how that turned out. In fact, when the number one defense in the league winds up in the Super Bowl they almost always win. Out of the last eight times, the number one D ended up with seven of the trophies. The only time they didn’t was last year’s battle between the perennially competitive Patriots and the Seahawks. And as we all know, that literally came down to the last play of the game and what many consider a Seahawks mistake more than anything else. Defense wins championships. I guess we all needed the reminder.
Business lesson: Disruption is the name of the game these days. Every company is trying to disrupt an entrenched competitor who’s doing things the old-school way. And while that’s great for both the economy and customers everywhere, it doesn’t mean you need to disrupt every part of your business. If your systems are working fine for you internally, and they have the ability to scale with you, don’t feel like you need to go out and adopt the newest tool. If you have a gap in your capabilities, of course you should shop the market. But don’t abandon the things in your company that are working just because there’s something new out there. Every time you bring on a new tool you’re going to lose time training and upskilling your staff. If the long term gains are there, then it’s totally worth it. But if it doesn’t offer a significant upside than you should stick with what got you there in the first place.