Sunday, September 5, 2010

Managed Print Services, the Class of 1980 and The Boys of Fall



Fall, 1979.
35 Fullback, 24 Tailback.
First published, Fall, 2010

As an avid reader of DOTC, and not my mother (hi Mom), you know I occasionally use Football as a metaphor - for MPS, Selling.

Of course, there is more to life than Selling MPS(when you find it, let me know) and it seems that football, American football(I can't believe I need to make that distinction) is and always has been, a metaphor for this American Life.

Friday nights in America during the fall, 22 young men gather on a North/South patch of grass or dirt or mud or turf - 100 yards long, 53&1/3 yards wide - challenging each other.

On those nights, under artificial glare, in the middle of it all, you never really hear the crowd - for me that was mostly true. We were simply out there doing what we had been doing since we were 7 years old. My Tailback had been there, in his position, next to me since the third grade. Buds.

On game night, the hundreds of laps, the two a days, heat, the dust, the dirt, the fame, the coaches, all melt away. The Band, your parents in the stands, the Glee Club(hurl) and even the cheerleaders, fade into the background - you see, they are all on the sidelines.

On the Sidelines, so many living vicariously through us.

Those Friday nights were short - how fast 30 years goes by. In the fall of 1979, the John Glenn class of 1980 football team clicked off each Friday night, Kings of the School, the boys of fall, measuring up and learning timeless lessons.

"They didn't let just anyone in that club...get to wear those Game Day Jersey's down the hall..."

But not unique.

Thousands of us, we who played, victorious some nights and losers on others, we played for more than fun. Unless you were there, you can never get it.

The biggest lesson learned, hell the only lesson and one I am finding uniquely American, is when the scoreboard says you lost, get back up. Watch game films on Monday and get back to work.

The lessons of football weren't simply how to block, run fast, catch a pass, score touchdowns - it was how to win with honor, face defeat with grace.

And when you do lose, get back up.

When that 250 pound linebacker, stops you cold, rings your bell, leaving you staring through your face mask, up at the black, starless, autumn Michigan sky - get the hell back on your feet, huddle up, call the play, and do it again.

"Football lessons we learn as kids continue to apply for the rest of your life. Life's a team game, the big game." - Joe Namath.

In America, failure is a process towards success. Not another opportunity to blame your parents, ex-wife, or George Bush for your actions. Unfortunately, we see more and more blame and less responsibility.

I blame the idiots who protect their kids' self-esteem by not keeping score. What the heck is that? No, really...what in the world is that?

Right now, today, you and I, we get our bells rung. And it seems that while we out here keep huddling up, the folks in the stands are getting all the points. The guys in the press box are telling us how wrong we are. Telling everyone how little we know about what it is we've been doing forever and they've NEVER DONE. Worse, they are making a living doing it.

My coach had a good way to handle that - he would simply say, "don't listen to them..they don't know shit..." - yeah, pretty simple.

You see, most critics and even lots of "experts" on the game, had never been down there in the huddle, or on the line across from that 250 pound linebacker.

What's more, they weren't there during two a days in August.

They never did a down-up in their life let alone set the school record. They weren't ever on a snow covered field as a 12 year old, the wind whipping through the ear-holes of your helmet. They've never had their nose broken in the 1st quarter, and continued to play with the blood. Nor have they ever heard the sound of a leg being broken at the fifty yard line. (imagine the sound of a thick, dry, tree branch snapping - yup, just like that).

No, these blow-hards, these experts didn't know shit.

That was High School football - and in Managed Print Services?

You've heard it before, the "dumb jock" labels. And you see athletes sometimes mocked on TV and in movies. Sometimes, the mockery is just - Tiger Woods.

So it is with salespeople. Pushy, over talkative, uncaring, fake. Stereotypical. Yes, some of that is deserved, but not for all of us.

Fake? What's with those industry pundits who last year provided copier sales training suggesting MPS was a fad. Today, all of a sudden, "MPS Expert" magically appears next to their name?

And how about that MPS Director insisting that MPS is a 30 day close and should include devices.

Or the distributor touting "We ARE MPS", give me a friggin break.

Coach said it best, "don't listen to them, they don't know shit..."

At best, there may be a half dozen firms who may have 6-12 months experience in a "higher" level of Managed Print Services.(beyond toner, service, meter reads and clicks...)

Today, MPS best practices, benchmarks and "certifications" are being created in the field, on the scrimmage line - no consultant, no manufacturer, or third party toner person has ever done this before. They've never followed a pulling gaurd off tackle. Ever.

This is not a bad thing - tomorrow's experts are selling today's MPS. Think about that.

There was a time when passing in football was not considered. Some guy in the field on the gridiron came up with the idea of throwing the ball(1905). Bach then, there were no football experts making goofy suggestions from the sidelines. And you can bet the first 100 times the ball was thrown, it was ugly.

All I am saying is the experts, the real life experts, are in the field, trying new plays, getting their bell rung and creating success where once there was none.

All on their own; all on your own.

Over the top? Too emotional?

"...you can't be quiet, you can't be unemotional...this is an emotional game..."

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So, how did I come up with this goofy idea for a post? Kenny Chesney - blame him.





---------------- Watch this: Westland John Glenn Rockets - Homecoming, 2009, Irma E. Kionka stadium - NEVER GIVE UP.


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