I had a plan last night of listening to the debate in the background while working. I accomplished this for close to 30 minutes when I put down work and paid full attention (as much as I could) to the debate. Wow, Romney killed it. Detailed, factual, on point, spoke great, made President Obama uncomfortable. If Romney is able to seize the momentum from this debate, he might now have a shot at the Presidency.
Over the course of the last month, Obama has obliterated Romney (Romney has also obliterated himself). Romney knew that this debate was his last shot at salvaging the campaign. He knew he could not do well, or win, he had to trounce Obama. Romney was on the ropes and on the biggest night of his political career he was able to sting like a bee and float like a butterfly.
Romney stepping up to the plate got me thinking of other great men who have stepped up to the plate. FedEx as we know it today, almost did not exist. In the early years of the company while undergoing difficult times and not able to meet payroll, FedEx founder Fred Smith took what left of the company’s savings and went to Vegas. His company was on the ropes, Smith went to Vegas and won a large amount in blackjack and promptly wired the money back to his company.
Another notable example is when Steve Jobs returned to Apple. His company was on the ropes with only a few months left before going bankrupt. Not only did he cut workforce and streamline the product, but he turned to one of his biggest competitors for a lifesaving investment. Jobs turned to Gates and Microsoft for 150 million dollar investment in order to buy him the necessary time to turn around the company.
During the financial crisis for a time it looked like the country was going to be plunged into a period of crisis worse than the Great Depression. The largest savings and loan in the country, Washington Mutual went out of business. Bear Stearns was bought for peanuts, Lehman Brothers went out of business. New Meryl Lynch CEO John Thain, saw that his company was on the ropes. Thain saw the writing on the wall. Thain made his move and sold the storied bank to Bank of America. Although not as bold as Smith or Jobs, Thain also saved his company. Both employees and customers did well. In hindsight, Thain’s move was genius: without question Meryl Lynch would have gone out of business; Meryl’s balance sheet forced BOA to go to the government for an extra 25 billion in TARP money.
Everybody goes through difficult times. The ability to persevere is essential. However, perhaps an even more important ability is to step up to the plate during uncertain times. Great men from Drew Brees as a future free agent with no contact taking his team to win the Superbowl or woman such as Meg Whitman who chose top step up to the plate in order to save HP.
However, life is not a movie. In one of the most iconic examples of stepping up to the plate Curt Schilling single handedly shut down the Yankees offense in the World Series. Under extreme pain and with a bloody ankle, Schilling was the main reason why Boston won the first World Series in franchise history. The “bloody sock” will go to the Hall of Fame. Schilling recently got into the startup game. With his company on the ropes Schilling stepped up with a 12 million dollar personal loan guarantee. The company went bankrupt, now famed pitches Curt Schilling is going bankrupt, and is forced to sell the famed “bloody sock”.
Perhaps Teddy Roosevelt puts it best:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”