Eye of the Tiger

I recently read this article in Entrepreneur magazine about taking on the proverbial ‘big boy;’ the David vs. Goliath, the Gorilla, and it completely aligned with my recent Judo Kata World Championships experience and my experience building the Piggyback Rider standing child carrier (I invented it several years ago). Earlier this month, I was invited to represent the USA National Judo team in Malta. Quite an honor. Judo is a martial art whose principles are applied on the mat and in everyday [business] life. It’s tactical chess.

In preparation for Worlds, I studied video and trained hard, but stepping onto the mat the first day and looking at and standing next to world champions that I’m going to be competing against (Japan, Germany, Italy, France, …) was indescribable. I felt in awe and wanted to study our competition in real life as they practiced, but couldn’t focus on them. This was our time also, David’s, the underdog; time to play hard and represent the USA to the best of our abilities. As with Piggyback Rider, our first international tradeshow was a noodle bag of nerves. We knew our competition and every product that might compete with ours; we set up our first booth looking at the biggest names in our sector, Osprey, Kelty, Deuter, and to their chagrin, we won best new product. Yay for the little guy! A huge feather in our cap as it was in competing with the world’s best at the judo kata world championships.

In both instances the classic Survivor song played loudly as we ramped and amped up for the big show. We didn’t worry about the competition, we focused on us and went for it.

It’s the eye of the tiger; It’s the thrill of the fight; Rising up to the challenge of our rival; And the last known survivor; Stalks his prey on the mat.

In summary, the Entrepreneur article, nails it. 1) Find your niche — check; 2) Don’t obsess over your competitors — check; 3) Be the underdog — check; 4) Don’t let the pressure get to you — check. The article represents characteristics you already have and do, I know it’s true for me, so be confident in your abilities or product and confident to take on the Goliath, the Gorilla. They’re not that scary. In reality you’re more scary to them because, as the underdog, they don’t know what you have to offer. You know everything about them and they know nothing about you. Be tactical with your [chess] strategy and go for it.

One more time…

It’s the eye of the tiger;
It’s the thrill of the fight;
Rising up to the challenge of our rival;
And the last known survivor;
Stalks his prey…