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Focus and self-questioning: What we can learn from the replacement refs

From the HB Blog.

By now, everything is back to normal for the NFL fan. The full-time refs returned for their first full weekend of the season. No longer will nationwide media outlets waste valuable time with nonsensical referee talk.

Despite some egregious errors by the so-called replacement refs (most notably the game-ending play in Seattle), we can learn a lot from their three weeks of sub-par refereeing – and none of it has to do with financial negotiations or football strategy.

It’s all about looking in the mirror.

The blame game

Following last weekend’s overly criticized calls in the Patriots vs. Ravens andPackers vs. Seahawks games, dozens of players took to the media and Twitter to complain about the outcome of the game. Most notably, Packers offensive lineman TJ Lang tweeted the following (forgive the language):

The New York Daily News compiled many other Packers players who echoed similar sentiment.

Guess what? The referees had no impact on the outcome of the game – only the players on the field.

Taking Responsibility

In times of chaos, a first reaction may be to blame outside factors. The real determining factor is the only thing you can control – yourself. Kudos toPackers coach Mike McCarthy who took the high road after the game and stressed all things the Packers could have done earlier in the game to avoid such an outcome.

“The offense didn’t do our part in the first half. I should have adjusted plans earlier… We were wearing that defense down… We need to move on. It’s important for us to get back and get ready for the Saints.”

Before investing time in determining why external factors may have changed an outcome,  first ask, “what could I have done differently?” You don’t have to be in sports to do this.

Self-questioning in practice

Professional situations often don’t run smoothly. Perhaps a contact is unreachable, or a partner misses a deadline, or a marketing effort falls short of a financial goal.

Guess what? Many of those reasons start with you.

In hindsight, you can always do things differently. I’d argue that you could always do things better. At HB, we make a practice of discussing projects after they’ve launched, mailed, or delivered. Even if it’s informal, a candid talk about past work goes a long way to making future endeavors more successful. Such a talk also makes for happier clients. Some typical questions from our discussions:

  • Did we listen to our client?
  • Did we reference the creative brief and project goals at every step?
  • Did we stop to consider alternate solutions to a problem?
  • How could we have completed our project more efficiently?
  • Did the project succeed? Could it have succeeded at a higher rate?

It helps to ask these questions of your client as well, but the first questions are from us, to us.


The referee problems may have disappeared… but players will always make mistakes on the field and in the marketing arena. Questioning our actions will consistently provide improvements to our own strategies and tactics.

In fact, it’s time for me to question this blog post – how could I have written better?

Design MMA Sports

Joe Lauzon on Cover of Fight! Magazine

Joe Lauzon Fight Magazine Cover

How cool! The UFC’s nerdiest fighter, Joe Lauzon, graces the cover of this month’s Fight! Magazine.

Without stealing the spotlight, I was proud to see the Lauzon MMA logo on which Joe and I worked together make it on the front cover. Very exciting!

I’ve been lucky to work with Joe over the years, designing logos and apparel for he and his gym – I look forward to continuing the relationship as Joe furthers his career in the UFC.


Going Green… On the Green

From the HB Blog

I thoroughly enjoy sports, especially golf (above: my recent trip to Torrey Pines in San Diego with my family). I also enjoy “doing the right thing,” especially when it comes to the environment.

Several sports franchises feel the same way and developed the Green Sports Alliance – a collective group working to reduce the environmental impact of their teams and venues. Their most recent news surrounds FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., home to the NFL’s Redskins. The organization plans to install solar panels in its parking lots which will power the field on non-game days and dramatically decrease the energy needed for home games. Even more impressive, the recently-founded Alliance has quickly quadrupled in size thanks to the addition of our hometown Red Sox and other franchises.

As a Sox fan, I proudly root for the players on the field… and soon I will proudly root for a team that is “doing the right thing.”

An additional thought: I know that golf in particular can be hard on the environment. Read my previous post about how Justin Timberlake sets a new standard for eco-friendly golf, and if you’re a golfer, join me in asking for environmentally conscious practices at your local golf course.