Bill Russell, success, and software marketing
Basketball players writing business books? It's not so strange. Former New York Knicks star and former US Senator Bill Bradley's book "Values of the Game" made it to the number two slot on the best-seller list of business books in 1997.
So a guy who won 18 championships in 21 years, from high school, college, Olympics, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) knows a lot about hard work and winning. And he has a lot to teach business people about leadership and success.
Bill Russell never cared what the critics said about him. Sure, he read the sports writers' reviews and criticisms. But what drove him in his work was his desire to do his job as best he could. By understanding his strengths and weaknesses, and working as hard as he could, he created a body of work that he could be proud of. And with that as his focus, he just didn't care all that much what others thought about him.
Individual success versus team success
One of the reasons that Bill Russell's Boston Celtics won so many championships was because they allowed their competitors' stars to use their individual skills. But they responded with team play that resulted in the Celtics winning championship after championship.
For example, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were fierce competitors on the basketball court. And they were close friends off the field of play. Game after game, Wilt outscored Bill. And Wilt out-rebounded Bill consistently, albeit by only a small margin. But when it came to the win-lose ratio, the Celtics won consistently over Wilt's teams during the Bill Russell era.
The main reason for this was because the Celtics didn't care about personal statistics. They truly didn't care which players scored the most points. Their entire focus was on which team won the most games.
Software marketing and success in the software industry
There's a strong lesson here that applies directly to the software development industry. There are companies that have the talent, budget, and technology to create stunning graphics that the one-person microISV could never match. But that's no reason to give up. Prospects don't buy software solely because of the great graphics. They buy the total package.
The way to beat a company with a huge edge in graphics is to beat them in all of the other areas of software success. You create a more intuitive interface, deliver better support, write better help files, package a richer feature set, write a better sales message, and do the dozens of little things that influence software buyers' decisions.
Skills needed for winning and success
Russell Rules is a book about the mental and emotional skill sets that are necessary for winning. Luck and accidents have very little to do with winning. Winning is about developing habits that you can use over and over to ensure success in your company and in your life.
There are no winning streaks in the software industry
Sports writers used to talk about the Celtics Dynasty. Nobody in the Celtics organization, Russell tells us, ever used that term. The Celtics didn't believe that there were winning streaks. Every basketball game was a new game, on a new day. You can never rely on history or trends or streaks. Every day, you have to get up and go to work.
And Russell enjoyed his work. He says that joy is the most important benefit of winning.
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