Wrestling with Key Success Factors

Getting Down to Business with the OPRF Chamber

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By Cathy Yen

Executive Director OPRF Chamber of Commerce

Following OPRF Wrestling's third state championship in as many years, the temptation to draw life lessons is overwhelming – especially from a sport as allegorical as wrestling.  But there is much the business world can learn here.  The top ten key success factors are all in place. 

Like any business, it starts with strong leadership.  The organization also managed one of the biggest small business land mines:  succession.  When Mike Powell handed the reins of head coach to Paul Collins, the program didn't miss a beat.  As a result, the people within the organization – the wrestlers and volunteers – have stayed committed.

Our wrestling program tells a story that resonates.  A story about training young men in a difficult environment.  Now more than ever your customers are interested in your story.  What makes your business unique and why should they care?  People buy into the story before the product.

Story turns into brand and the wrestlers manage their brand well.  They know what they are about and are consistent in their messaging.  Liberal but intentional branding through logoed gear reinforces the message.  Their loyal tribe of people spreads that message with pride and energy.  Newspaper stories only reinforce the message people already have heard and embraced.  Smart use of technology, including website and social media binds together story, brand and tribe.

With a strong brand promoted through technology and tribe, resources become available.  Access to capital and customer revenue in the form of fundraising, t-shirt sales and even sponsorship provide leverage for the organization.  An investor in a large corporation may be interested in only financial return.  In a small business, investors and customers want impact as well.

Finally, hard work and focus - the essence of any successful organization.  Laser focus on a goal and the willingness to put in the work.  The wrestling program has this is spades.

Look around at the small businesses that truly succeed.  They embrace these same key factors.  And those of you just starting out in business – take a look at the OPRF Wrestling Program.  You'll find their offices just past the big trophy case.

Email: cyen@oprfchamber.org Twitter: @OPRFChamber

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Tab Washington  

Posted: February 29th, 2016 10:56 AM

Nothing else need be said... An astute businessman will recognize these qualities.

Eric Davis from Oak Park  

Posted: February 29th, 2016 10:04 AM

Excellent points. I would add others. First, flexibility. The Huskies keep their eyes on the goal - winning state - and during the season, they make changes to their lineup in whatever way best supports that goal. They have the flexibility to be confident that their whole roster has people willing to work for the common goal, when their name is called. The other I would add is the ability to handle difficulty. Just being in the OPRF varsity practice room five or six days a week is more difficult than most of us can even understand. So our guys can also handle things that are difficult - maybe the most difficult regimen in sport, the toughest thing that there is - and not just endure but succeed. They can even thrive when something awful like an injury that would knock most of us down - or even as this week, the unfathomable tragedy of a sudden death - and the team is there, and they are both strengthened by it. As a parent who's watched these guys and their coaches for years now, I've learned that as much as it - wrestling or business - is about individual performance, the greatest success is when you're part of a great team. With three state championships in a row (and a national #1 along the way), as Cathy points out, there is a recipe here that we all can learn from. Remember - life and business are team sports too.

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