Saturday, January 06, 2007

Success Book Review: Greg Norman "The Way Of The Shark"

In The Way of the Shark: Lessons on Golf, Business, and Life , Greg Norman, the hugely successful golfer and businessman chronicles his life from his youth surfing in Australia, all the way through his techniques for managing a $300 million dollar business. I am not a golfer, so I read the book to get general principles of success. Certainly a man who has achieved fame in the areas of golf, clothing, endorsements, wine, real estate and a host of other ventures is an excellent teacher! In fact this is a surprisingly detailed exposition of such arcane subjects as deal structure, networking, delegation, people skills, etc. It is also a detailed look at the emotional highs and lows, the strategies, and even the defeats of a great career. Very telling.

Here are a few of the principles I found instructive in the book:

Visibility Works
In a recent post, I reviewed High Visibility by Rein, Kotler, et al. Greg Norman’s story is the archetypal example of leveraging visibility from the golf arena to all the other business lines he eventually participated in. He tells us that often , in a business venture, while other people were putting in money, he was putting in his own efforts and “personal brand” as his “capital”. Clearly he expertly leveraged his golf visibility to huge success in worldwide businesses.

Don’t Let Go of your Core
This is also seen in other major successes such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey. You don’t sign away the core elements of your “brand”. You approve everything personally, because, in the case of a Greg Norman, there is no “vice president” of being Greg Norman.

Everybody gets “taken” the first time out
Like many other newbie celebrities, Greg Norman had some not-so-good encounters with managers, etc. early in his career. It seems to be a truism that the young star is at risk from more knowledgeable, less ethical professionals who vow to “help” him. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, if you don’t set your own goals, you will end up working for someone else’s.

Start slow, learn the ropes, then get bigger
Over and over, Greg Norman proceeds cautiously into each endeavor. For instance, he spent several years in non-USA tournaments before deciding to enter the “big time” USA PGA tour. In business, he started small and gradually grew his expertise from a simple endorsement to full equity , CEO-level status.

Be fascinated with the details
I found Norman’s ability and strong interest in the minutiae of golf logos, real estate partnerships, wine-making, sports-equipment distribution, etc to be perhaps one of his most amazing qualities. I personally can stay focused only on a few areas of core competence, but stand in awe of the capacity to take in so many disparate areas of expertise. This may be one of the key differentiators of his success.

No one will do it for you
In the midst of a crisis with one of his apparel ventures, Norman called each and every pro-shop owner personally. This is the kind of business-saving action that comes from knowing that, as the principle, you have to show more drive and guts than anyone else around you. No one in your organization is going to have an equivalent emotional investment to yours. You can’t expect anyone else to perform at your level.

Lastly, Greg Norman was involved in a quest for lifelong learning, from the day he picked up a couple of Jack Nicklaus golf books, to sitting down with a major Australian bank. He was willing to listen to the best business minds around him, and get business and even golf coaching when he needed it. As I mentioned here, each and every subject in the world, whether it be wine, golf, or business, spans enough knowledge to fill a library. To be a success it is absolutely necessary to continually gather knowledge and expertise from as many people, books, and other sources as you possibly can.

And Greg Norman’s book is a great starting point.

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