5150 Business Strategy

Life in the Corporate Fast Lane and Still Remaining Intelligent

Raider Nation – The Concept in 1996

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Think back to 1996…… The internet was in its infancy and no one had yet fully tapped the true potential in the area of internet commerce. Netscape, anyone remember them?, was the dominant player in internet browsers. They spun off multiple firms that hoped to capitalize on the internet – from hosting solutions to content creation. Digital cameras were archaic and the size of a shoe box if you could afford one – think about cell phones or portable computers as a comparison for how they developed. Going from big and expensive to small and cheap in a span of ten years or less. Hard to believe but in 1996 the wave known as the internet had not yet started to crest, but all the signs were there. Internet commerce was just a glimmer in various enterprenuers minds and how to truly capitalize in this area was also on a scale of small to large – the individual with some HTML skills all the way up to those implementing grand shopping schemes. Some were spectacular failures – does anyone remember Webvan?

Now think back to 1996 as the year after the Raiders had returned from Los Angeles. Oakland Raider fans from the days of Kenny Stabler, Freddie Biletnikoff, Dave Casper, etc. were riding a surge of adrenaline from their beloved team returning to where they should never have left. I happened to be one of those “old” Raider fans who looked to rekindle the glory of the Oakland Raiders but little did I know that I was about to catch the wave of the internet at just the right moment in time.  A time when fan pages were popping up anytime a fan wanted to post pictures or comments regarding the team. The majority of the sites at that time were primarily sites designed to talk about the team, the games, and trash talk with the other fans. No one had a concrete vision to combine the fan page with a concept such as Raider Nation – it did not exist.  The plethora of “Nation” sites you see now were all given birth by the success of Raider Nation. There would be no Red Sox Nation, Bachelor Nation, Niner Nation, etc. without the first website designed to capitalize on the internet and fanaticism – Raider Nation.

The official filing with the US Patent and Trademark office:

USPTO

Many have come forward after the success of Raider Nation claiming to be the originators but none have the conclusive documentation being presented here to substantiate their claims. What I am presenting here is the history and origins that fueled the success of the concept known as Raider Nation. I will present the original graphics that were used to develop the Raider Nation website for which, of course, I owned the domain RaiderNation.com. Intertwined in the history will be the business lessons learned along the way.

I will take you on a journey that validated many things taught in business schools and the journey itself was an education in business that many never receive in an entire lifetime. Are you ready to rumble………..

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Raider Nation – Early Adopters

cheerchristy

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Raider Nation – Brand Identity Part 2

cheer4bEarly on I scored several major coups by enlisting the aid of various Raiderettes to the cause of Raider Nation. This drove the competition bonkers as they were driven insane by the very real speed by which Raider Nation was becoming the acknowledged leader for Raider fans on the Internet, and beyond. First they lost the coveted Raider Locker Room outlet by which the image and name of Raider Nation could be advertised daily through a brick and mortar outlet. Then they lost the battle for the very hearts of Raider fans when the Raider Nation moniker started to appear on the backs of cheerleaders – WTF, this is adding insult to injury. It was a brilliant execution of strategy aimed at making the Raider Nation brand well known and adopted as a symbol of Raider fans worldwide.

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Raider Nation – Brand Identity Part 1

vellakat3OK, there may be several teasers to the real lesson of building brand identity. What is undeniable is that a product or service can fail or succeed based upon the image that consumers have in their minds.

In 1996 the internet was secondary to the traditional marketing channels that existed at the time – meet and greets with the cheerleaders!! What was becoming clear, however, is that the internet could spread news and photos on current events much faster and across a much more diverse geographical base. Instead of only fans in the San Francisco Bay Area being able to see the latest news in the local rags there was now the ability to spread this info across the globe. No one appreciated the impact of the internet in this area more than I did when it came to formulating a strategy which would propel Raider Nation to the pinnacle of success.

The photos shown here were all published on the Raider Nation website exclusively and I, in effect, became the official photographer for events that were taking place at John Vella’s Raider Locker Room. The Raider Locker Room and Raider Nation became strategic partners in spreading the Raider Nation brand. Traditional brick and mortar retail was still the predominant method of sales in 1996 but to sell to a global fan base the internet was becoming the preferred marketing and sales channel. The symbiotic relationship between most retail outlets and the internet is taken for granted now, in 1996 Raider Nation was on the cutting edge.

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Raider Nation Brand Identity – The Original Design

scdThese are the original draft designs from initial concept to final design which made it as the official logo of Raider Nation.

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I originally went to a t-shirt screen printer in Berkeley thinking where else would you go to get a far out wild design done the right way. Big mistake as it turns out they were good at concert graphics but simple sports designs were just not their thing.

From these drawings you can see the skull and bandana went through several iterations until it was done right. Once the design was finalized there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be popular. The design incorporated all the base attributes which Raider fans identified with – skull and crossbones, being a team for the nation, and portraying the rogue mentality.

2013-03-17 16.58.42So, these original draft designs document the true origin of Raider Nation as this became the iconic symbol for the website and all merchandise associated with Raider Nation.

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Happy Happy Joy Joy

Old King Cole was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he……..

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Senior manager at one firm would glide across the room and greet visitors as if she had known them all her life. Speaking platitudes of how glad they were to see the visitor and going over the top in expressions of love and happiness. Of course this belied the underlying contempt this person had for everyone and that all the happy, happy, joy, joy was just a facade she used to get what she wanted. Boy, but turn her down once she made this grand spectacle of opening her heart to you, regardless of how asinine whatever she was asking for, and you would see the immediate dark side.

She was the type of manager that had no regard for the true opinions of those who worked for her. What?, you thought my expressions of peace, loveimg_0250, and happiness were real – then you are the real idiot in the room. All her expressions of love and caring were only intended to placate the emotional need of those she dealt with. If you did not know her then you accepted these offerings as genuine. Having dealt with this person day in and day out over a period of years I knew them for what they were – nothing but word vomit, diarrhea of the mouth, mutterings of a serial con artist, etc…

You might ask, why do so many managers in the workplace operate in such a manner? The simple answer is, unfortunately, that it works the majority of the time. img_0305A manager such as this lacks substance but gets by on the happy, happy, joy, joy facade which allows them to build political brownie points. Of course, ignore the fact that these types are generally not the sharpest knives in the drawer, but that is exactly the point – they have become shrewd manipulators who divert your attention away from the fact they can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

They are the Joker in the deck. Great to have around company parties and events as they have learned the art of saying a lot without really saying anything. Meaningless dribble which buys many many political points and kudos in organizations that put more value on “fitting into the culture” versus actually accomplishing something.

I actually believe in a much more direct and honest approach to communication. One in which there is nothing left to the imagination.img_0276 If you don’t like something, say so – I know this is a novel concept in an age where one must at all times mute what might be harmful to the social environment and the delicate souls that operate in it.

Lesson learned: happy happy joy joy is no substitute for proven experience and the ability to execute.

Stooges

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

About 5150 Business Strategy / Raider Nation

via About 5150 Business Strategy / Raider Nation

 

rebeca

Because I Can

Tell me how we lost the $1.7 million settlement was the simple question that I asked over and over. The person stammered through several unintelligible answers but finally said the very fateful…….. “Because I Can”. Talk about the straw that broke the camels back!!! Finally, in those three words there was an admission that all the bad decisions and very questionable strategy boiled down to “Because I Can”. Really?

Why were there multiple trysts with government procurement officials… Because I Can

Why was there a million dollar plus loss on multiple projects and consistent profit fade on all the others… Because I Can

Why did we utilize subcontractors that went bankrupt and left us holding the bag… Because I Can

Why were projects underbid to the point where it was impossible to make money without resorting to unethical practices like stiffing subcontractors… Because I Can

Why were safety procedures and protocols not  strictly enforced to prevent unexploded ordinance from being sold to third parties unremediated and causing bodily harm… Because I Can

Why did the senior manager alienate very capable staff to the point that they left the firm… Because I Can

Why were there projects in questionable parts of the world where other firms went to die… Because I Can

Why were bonding companies not told the entire truth about problem projects… Because I can

Why were investors in other assets made to fight for what was rightfully theirs… Because I Can

Why do I focus on WIP when cash is the only reality… Because I Can

When it dawned on me that the investments made in this firm were subject to going poof because of this “Because I Can” philosophy it was time to head for the exit.

Time to cash in my chips and preserve what I could before the head pinhead pissed it away just because they could. Better to get out with what you could instead of sticking around waiting for the inevitable face plants that kept occurring.

There has been a continued brain drain from this firm as it becomes apparent to many others that the firms upper management lacks the ability to lead. It continues to have the self centered “Because I Can” mentality that has it on the Highway to Hell. Multiple lawsuits filed against the company with no end in sight. Correction, there is an end in sight – for the company as an ongoing entity.

Lesson learned: don’t wait until your investment in a firm goes to zero when it becomes apparent that you have placed your money on a losing proposition. Use the “Because I Can” philosophy to your benefit!! I left, Because I can…….

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

In the Pursuit of Happiness

Selling England by the Pound

The key lyrics at this point in my life and career:

I-know-what-I-like-I-like-what-I-know

Having gone through several positions it has become apparent to me that the upper levels of management many times is populated with posers. Imagine if you will a world where what you know matters little to whether you are qualified to be in the “C” suite. In fact, your only qualification for being a so-called executive is because you know how to play the game and have risen through the ranks by dodging positions that require substantive knowledge on subject matters for those which only require that you know how to shine people on. So, a variation – I know what I like and I know I don’t like you. The business world is over populated with those short on knowledge but who possess an abundant amount of shiny sparkly dispositions – shiny happy people.

As 2018 closes out and the past fades further into the rear view mirror, here are the other things which I don’t like:

  • Senior executives who dally with contract procurement officers and other government officials.
  • Senior executives who dally with employees where the amorous adventures lead to human resource issues.
  • Whacked out senior executives who speak authoritatively on subjects for which they have not a clue what they speak of. Tell me again how you think WIP is calculated and how it causes losses on a project.
  • Senior executives who play fast and loose with the money invested in a company and obviously are not qualified to be making the decisions they make. Tell me again how you can lose a million dollar settlement and still want me to roll the dice on the historically bad decisions you have made in the past. Uhhh, no.
  • “Consultants” whose only claim to fame is in their past and, many times, that past is less than stellar. Yes, they have convinced everyone that they are the speakers of the truth and holders of wisdom.
  • Those in decision making positions in all areas of business that lack the critical skills needed to make those decisions. It has become all too common to have some pinhead pontificating on why things should be as they say they should be. When pressed for substance one finds there is none. Scary that they can alter the course of a business with their ill advised “knowledge” of what should be.

So, onward into 2019 with not much optimism that the wrongs of the business world will change. The very best that can be hoped for is that you steer clear of the posers, wannabees, and holders of the “truth”.

Lesson learned: stick to your inner path and take comfort in the knowledge that there is satisfaction in knowing what you like and liking what you know.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Animal Farm

Let’s all put in $75,000 to purchase a building and share in the wealth as the building appreciates in value. What a great idea and at least several of us thought the idea was worthy of investing in under those conditions. Little did we realize that those making the proclamation of equality, as in Animal Farm, thought equality meant something different based upon who you were.

Almost immediately Napoleon tried to change the terms under which the investment group was formed. No, I don’t think the original $75,000 was completely invested by the LLC members. It comprised $35,000 from the operating company which needs to be paid back. WTF, are you on drugs?? That was never the case as it was understood, and documented, in the LLC documents that the source of the entire $75,000 was from each individual member. No, no says Napoleon, all my minions agree with me that the LLC was formed for the original founders primarily and those who came along afterward are not of equal standing. Really? Now that was news to me and, as it turned out, to the attorney brought in to kick some pig ass. Indeed, this was an egalitarian investment group until some saw an opportunity to exploit other members. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs – except when one group decides to define needs in line with their own self interest with no regard to established contracts and agreements. Just as in Animal Farm there was a hierarchy, albeit unknown, that all animals were created equal, except that some were created more equal to others. Unfortunately for those trying to exploit the “minority” they failed to realize that even the “minority” were able to hire pit bull attorneys that could eviscerate them and serve them up as pork chops, LOL.

This same scenario played out in a variety of different transactions. Do as I say, not as I do was the golden rule with this group. Being egalitarian only meant something to the chosen few and everyone else be damned.

Let’s build a warehouse for the operating company and then deduct the value from the LLC partnership members accounts. Why, you might ask. Well because the operating company majority owners wanted to pass the expense on to the LLC where they had less of a financial interest and, therefore, essentially see a greater profit for the operating company. Of course this neglects the fact that the operating company was the driving force for building the warehouse. Again, all animals are created equal, but some animals are created more equal than others. Except for the fact that this foolishness was squashed before it could gain momentum.

Then there was the ad nauseam open proclamation of the senior manager that the LLC investment should not benefit all equally. There was no explanation as to why they felt this could be supported, only that it was the way it should be. Funny how the value fell along the ownership percentages of the operating company – the greater ownership of the operating company, the greater your “equality” in the LLC regardless that all members in the LLC were legally equal members.

There was a universal deceit by senior management that sought delegitimization of the equality of members in the LLC. It came in the form of outright declarations and in the form of subtle intimidation. To the point where telling the truth was, indeed, a revolutionary and noble act. Animal Farm as a parable which is played out daily in the business environment is as valid today as when George Orwell wrote it. Sadly the masses of men continue to lead lives of quiet desperation and religion, and one could argue equality, are the opiates of the masses. There are those who utilize the utopian promise of equality as a way to divert attention from their ultimate goal – to prove that all animals are created equal but some are created more equal then others, and they just happen to be more equal.

Lesson learned: beware of claims of equality from those who have much to gain by diverting your attention from the dangers of them being more equal and feathering their nest at your expense.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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