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Coach Lombardi to Yahoo!: Success ain't no annuity.

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“Success is like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to pay the price to win and you have to pay the price to get to the point where success is possible. Most important, you must pay the price to stay there.” Vincent T. Lombardi

OK, so I’ve been writing about Yahoo! this week, and I have football on the brain. Go Giants!

(Watch this video, an example of huge mental discipline by an indefatigable kicker.)

Anyway, when I read this quotation from the storied Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, I thought it was worth sharing.

I mean, look at Yahoo!. (Update: Microsoft makes $44.6-billion offer for Yahoo. ) Once the #1 destination on the Web, the company that helped establish the Internet era is reeling, having lost its vision, lost its product edge, too much top talent, then market share and, of course, market value. (Nielsen Online says Yahoo! can still claim to be #1 in total page views per user per month, but Google is #1 in the more valuable statistic of “average monthly uniques.”) It seems leadership hasn’t been willing to “pay the price to stay there.” And so now Yahoo! will be losing 1,000 of their 14,300 staffers (and an ex-CEO board member!), too.

Lombardi could’ve taught those techies a thing or two: : Success is no annuity. It must be earned, over, and over, and over. Maybe Jerry Yang, et al, will learn this lesson yet. (And maybe Eric Schmidt should take pause, too.)

Let’s hope so, but for now, why don’t we all just thank those Yahoos! for “doing the research” for us on this one. Sit on your duf, even a little, and you’ll find yourself riding out of town on it. So that’s one less business lesson the rest of us have to learn the hard way.

7 Responses to “Coach Lombardi to Yahoo!: Success ain't no annuity.”

  1. I hate to sound obnoxious but when someone achieves a certain level of success and they are worth tens of millions or even billions I’m not sure they care to hear platitudes from coach Lombardi. They have done something that few in the world can understand, and they are not people that are open to being lectured. If Google’s best days are behind them — and i’m not suggesting they are — Eric Schmidt woiuld still be *proudly* worth billions and would never look back.

  2. It may take longer than the weekend. I’ve never seen such a look of fear and uncertainty in what were otherwise the most competent and confident core of the Yahoo corps; and one can’t blame them for being reticent. I will come back here and leave a link when the article is done.

  3. Alan, I’d look forward to that post. Especially as the insights of those insiders will inform our readers on how to nurture and maintain morale inside their own orgs in the future. Please let us link to it?

  4. It was Yahoo’s game to lose all along. They had the twinkle, they had the talent, they even up to the present had the vision, though technically it was executed with a complete lack of focus. So many good ideas and insightful small web20 acquisitions gone to seed. They needed to pull together all of those threads of innovation, but infighting and egos got in the way.

    Can you imagine a bigger clash of cultures?

    I have contacted a few mid level management people at Yahoo who could be described as, ‘Yahoo Purple Lifers”. They have intimated that they will stay and work to make any cultural changes to the organization, and I quote, “as painful as possible for the new Microsoft directors and division Veeps, short of insurrection”.

    I’ll try and write something up on this attitude that seems pervasive, on my blog, over the weekend. There has been plenty of bitterness over the layoff’s already.

    They are very different companies; although one could reason that this acquisition is the lawful and logical harvest of equity for Yahoo’s long term investors and employees with stock. But it takes more than a mere decision to make such a gargantuan move work.

    They are Very Different cultures.

  5. Well said. Here are two other Vince Lombardi quotes that apply to founders:

    “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”

    “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”

    Another quote I like is:
    “There is no such thing as a free kick, it’s just a question of who pays”
    Unfortunately I’ve no clue who to credit for this. The most immediate sports image is a soccer field but it’s application to business and beyond is obvious.