Mind and Business.
During my time as a Chess Mind Coach, a key tool for my evaluations stems from this one observation: Almost all new players will display this characteristic under stress — they will second-guess and overthink simple problems… and rush into knee-jerk reactions when presented with complex problems. And the road to training the mind toward mastery lies in understanding the source of this one characteristic and finding its resolution.
Allow me to illustrate with an example. I was observing one of my National Junior players, arguably one of the most naturally talented players in Malaysia. His ability to problem-solve was truly remarkable. In one tournament, he was playing with a Grandmaster and he was winning on time with 20 minutes on the clock to the Grandmaster’s 5 minutes. And he had the Grandmaster on the ropes. A big crowd had gathered to watch the game and he had only 2 potential moves left — one would lead to a win, and the other a loss. Under normal circumstances, this would have been child’s play for him to find the winning move. Instead, he chose to let the clock run down and lose.
A side note…
While this post is not about Chess, let me give a brief overview of my training methods so I may draw some parallels to Business. In preparation for tournaments, we first do a self-evaluation of our current skill sets, strengths & weaknesses, and then we evaluate the same for our opponent. From there, we arrive at a tentative strategy. Tentative, because few plans survive beyond the first contact with ‘reality’. So we normally course-correct as the tournament progresses and new information reveals itself. But there is also another consideration. Time. Tournament formats can be Blitz, Rapid or long games — Blitz is 2-3 minutes, Rapid 30-45 minutes and long games are 1½ hours. So depending on the tournament format, we adjust our strategies to accommodate different thinking modalities for different time frames. For instance, a trick move may work in short time frames under time trouble, but will not work in long games. And having a strategy is important because it allows you to work out priorities to conserve energy under time pressure — it informs what are important considerations, and what are not.
So what are the parallels to Business?
In Business, we develop our products & services depending on our skill sets/giftings and our evaluation of market needs. We then craft a marketing plan. And then depending on our reserves, cash flow and costs, we determine what our monthly/yearly income should be in order to generate a profit. Straightforward enough. However, with the arrival of platforms on the Internet something changed.
With the arrival of the platforms, the Advertising & Marketing models fundamentally changed — see article on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Flowing from this legislation the traditional wisdoms of marketing were upended. Allow me to illustrate from our own experience when publishing our ezine — It’s My Life — in the early 2000s. We learned that the same person needed to see and hear from us roughly about 8-9 times before they engaged… and then we needed to address questions and concerns to build trust. If they are convinced by our value propositions, they may begin to try out our products & services. And if it meets their expectations and needs, we’ve gained a client. With enough clients, we then work on retention by upskilling and expanding services without a drop in quality, etc. And as a Publisher, we focused on the organic growth of our readership (to ensure integrity of data)… and we paid attention to opening rates (to see if our presentations are effective)… and we also did our best to ensure all the Businesses that advertised with us were genuine (to build trust for our Brand).
But under section 230, platforms are legally protected from being liable for fraudulent content. And the marketplace soon began to resemble a circus because in order to provide ‘free content’, platforms needed Advertising revenue to survive. And so checks and balances were relegated to supercharged revenue streams. Many independent publishers like ours folded because we just couldn’t compete with their purported ‘value propositions’.
So we shut down our ezine and moved to web design ( ref. Walking the Road Less Traveled ). In 2016, however, when we were invited to provide Internet Marketing solutions for Nusantara Collection ( ref. The Nusantara Story, Part 1 ), we decided to revisit the current Advertising & Marketing models, and I consulted with experts from top Advertising Agencies and others. They tell me the model is broken and even they are struggling to understand how platforms work. I then learned that within the current platforms’ Advertising models, the largest chunk went to SEO (search engine optimization). This informed me that many small and medium-sized companies will be disadvantaged because that is a very expensive route to market.
Platforms are touted to amplify small businesses. But do they? In a crowded space, how does one communicate USPs (unique selling propositions)? Particularly if one can’t reach the same audience over a fixed period of time? Do intrusive Ads work, especially if we don’t trust the Advertisement? Questions, questions and questions… but with seemingly no answers from the experts.
Furthermore, the business models of current platforms were designed for an environment of low interest rates and quantitative easing. That environment doesn’t exist anymore, and now most have to redesign their Business Models to the new environment. So I expect more fee raises and more turbulence as they adapt. In the current scenario, Internet Marketing on platforms appears like a Kafkaesque World designed by Machiavelli. Where is the pathway out?
And so, instead of doubling down — since even the experts are lost in this convoluted maze — we decided to downgrade the use of platforms as the primary marketing tool until there is more visibility.
Meanwhile, marketing/sales still need to happen in an environment of uncertainty and rising costs. Perhaps deeper pockets may have an alternative route navigating the platforms… but SMEs like ours can’t afford it.
Can you tap into our experience?
After much reflection and consultation, we decided to revive It’s My Life …and we hope the organic solutions we’ve built into this lifestyle e-magazine will allow Designers to focus on developing their gifts — and Services & Brands to focus on their core business — while we do our bit to bring them to market, within their particular business niche and tailored for their pockets.
Next post: Linking Mind, Spirit and Body — A deeper dive into the thinking of the Chess prodigy mentioned above.
Do join me on this blog or on The Spiritual Realist in Business FB Group if you have questions or wish to discuss any blog post or topic.
Read The “Thinking, Spirituality & Body Consciousness” Series:
Can Business be a Tool to Heal Our Mind, Spirit and Body?
The Mind, Spirit, Body and Business — Part 1