Lessons from Los Angeles

Dear Max,

I played 18 holes in the Verdugo Mountains with only a seven iron and a ladies putter. This experience at the DeBell Golf Club reminded me a lot about business strategy and life. Let me explain…

In between working at Airfoil Group and FleishmanHillard, I decided to take a quick trip to visit one of my best friends, Uncle Sunshine, who lives in Burbank, California. He’s worked in film for quite a while and has most recently worked with the likes of Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, and Ryan Gosling.

One day, after a morning loaded with script writing and four glass-bottle Cokes, we decided to take a break and golf. I called the course and lined up a set of rental clubs, but once we got there something changed. They said that a tournament just started and all of the rental clubs were being used.

I nearly walked out. But, I’m the kind of person who sticks with things so I asked what my options were. The gentleman was kind enough to say that I could use this one old putter in back and urged me to borrow a few clubs from my friend. With Aunt LaLa playing as well, I said “I don’t mind driving my own cart, but I’m gonna need lucky number seven.” After all, I didn’t want to have him keep coming over to my ball in whatever side of the woods I shanked it to each time.

And with that, we played golf. I went up and down a mountain using a seven iron, being reminded of some great lessons, like:

Use the tool that works best

There are many times when we are bombarded with so many options that nothing quite works well. Using one tool that works really well allows for acute focus and making it work to the best of your ability.

Lack of choice can be comforting

With nothing else to choose, I didn’t have other options. I had to make it work. Not having to worry about how I could hit different clubs at different distances helped me relax. If I wanted the ball to go farther, I hit it harder, and vice versa. Of course, there was more to it than that.

Persistence is a clear path

Persistence towards a goal – finishing the round even remotely close to my regular score – took perseverance. It was not easy, but doing it repeatedly and continuing to move forward is what got me through.

I’m currently reading a book titled How to Think like a Millionaire by Mark Fisher and Marc Allen, and in it is a quote that has stuck with me. It says:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Calvin Coolidge

Test, adjust, and learn

Every time I took a swing, it was a test. Every subsequent swing was an adjustment. The entire game was a learning process.

So, how did the game end? I shot only 5 strokes above my average, I didn’t hold up the game, and yes, we’re still great friends.




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