A recent trip to an unlikely frequented city of Rotterdam revealed a new element within me. One that, while predictable, was surprising nonetheless.
For those that don’t know the city which is a far cry from the vintage speckled, canal mazed, tourist infested and enchanting Amsterdam, my Middle Eastern food finds and perfect brunch spot, not forgetting the best bagels I ever had or perfectly petite cupcakes, all emerge from this city’s gastronomic misadventures.
However, what I managed to slip myself into was a tennis match in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament between world renowned Andy Murray, fresh on recovery from back surgery, and 20 year old Austrian Dominic Thiem. The former of which I happened to dine right next to in Rotterdam’s finest fine dining joint, Fred. Review coming soon!
Yours truly also stayed in the same hotel as the team, the iconic Manhattan Hotel, named ironically after yours truly’s newest hometown. Meaning that the lobby was flowing with players with HEAD bags playing on iPhones, as was the gym, decked with tennis balls with sweeping city views of an architecturally intriguing, modern city.
While perched in a front ranging seat courtesy of yours truly’s connections, it was interesting to see the dynamic between the carefree, hit-everything approach of the young Thiem, compared to Murray’s struggle to stay afloat to maintain his reputation, who eventually won nonetheless with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win. But not without smashing his racquet into his shoe once, and into his abdominals several times like a mommy spanking her son.
In retrospect, lessons in strategy were not what crossing my mind as I tried to best comprehend a game that had been my sister and dad’s passions in their earlier years. Hence the predictability and surprise all at once. However, a few things about marketing and sportsmanship come to the forefront when you witness a match so intense.
Marketing is a visual opportunity
It’s not new for brands to sponsor events, with logos and the likes flashing across everything from props to clothing to billboards. ABN Amro court walls, Adidas gear on the boys and Thiem’s own name on the side of his heel, complete with the official hashtag #tennisservice (my sumptuous social media plug!), the game brought to the forefront the simple fact that marketing is a visual opportunity.
Play hard to reinforce
Competition breeds emotional and physical reactions. Winning can channel these to reinforce self-esteem. However, losing (or being on the verge of losing as witnessed by Murray’s disposition in game) is important as it kick starts the process of reasoning. An unstable forehand gave Murray a rather dismal second game, one that he reasoned with in the third set. Whether in sports or marketing, the key is to play hard, for it reinforces the goal: winning, strengthening, or in b-speak, is the crux of brand management.
Resting is not optional
Ironic that this comes from yours truly who is known travel so ravenously and micro manage Instagram to the point that sleep takes a back seat. However, as Murray and especially Thiem showed us, take rests, relax and sip up on the energy of life. Even if its water. Or the moment to get a fresh breath of air for new inspiration.
Retain enigma and reveal strategically
Mystery is always intriguing. Witnessed before in a drastically different concept of chocolate. And while many may preach clarity, it is important to leave certain strategies (or aesthetics) as a surprise element. In corporate, think pathway, think visuals, think craft. In sports, think wayward forehands by Murray, or Emporio Armani peekaboos by Thiem, both unveiling distinctions about player personalities.
Learning from mistakes clarifies the goal
Losing gives the opportunity to recommit yourself to your goal. Whether this came from Murray bashing his racquet into his shoe or abs, or by Thiem sticking to his routine hold, one must learn from mistakes. And if the mistake happens to be losing, it puts winning into a new, savoring perspective: that of a goal.
Giving credit is gracious gratification
In his closing, Murray gave credit to his opponent for a competent match, as well as to the audiences who apparently had it easier watching. For him to say that Thiem was a powerful player for his age showcases the fundamental rule of gratification: giving credit. Because upon looking internally, credit, not blame, is the way to convey thanks. Applying from everything to sportsmanship to leadership to marketing, this is probably one of the most fundamental of lessons I can take into my life.
Having heard that the end of learning never exists, I personally learned that the opportunity to learn always exist. For who would have thought that I would walk both entertained and enlightened after a match of tennis?