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8 mins read . 21 Dec 2022
So, the FIFA 2022 is done and dusted and Argentina are the deserving champions. Who would really grudge Messi a grand farewell with the world’s most coveted trophy? But the FIFA is over and it is back to business. Let us look at 8 business and life lessons that FIFA 2022 left us with.
Of course, we are talking about the one and only Lionel Messi. For a man who just played his fifth FIFA world cup, a victory is a befitting culmination of a glorious career. For a man who played his first World Cup at the age of 18 in 2006, the trophy has come pretty late in his career. The best part was that Messi believed it was possible. That made the difference. This applies to our investing too. Things can take a long time to fall in place, but the believe is important. Even Buffett made most of his wealth after the age of 50.
People often wonder as to what differentiates the winner of a world cup from the others. It is not just talent or planning. It is about the team that consistently improves its game with each match. If you look back, the one team that really did it in this World Cup was Argentina. That is true of investing and business too. The best value creators are the continuous improvers. Improvements may not be substantial, but even marginal improvements in a progressive manner are good enough.
That was one thing that came out eloquently from World Cup 2022. At the start of the tournament, few would have expected Croatia and Morocco to reach the semi-finals. Like these two teams, there are enough cases when we write off business ideas or investment ideas because they don’t look fanciful. Remember, even with limitations, there can be good ideas that can work wonders, if they play to their strengths.
In the FIFA 2022 final, it was Argentina that dominated the first 80 minutes before things turned and became more equally balanced. What stood out was how the Argentines had planned the game and how the plan was executed to perfection. This is the boring part of any game or business or investment strategy. You have to perfect the process and make it work. At the end of the day, be it the FIFA World Cup or business or an investment or life; long term success is like a weighing machine. Luck can only help you up to a point.
The Argentine game through the FIFA 2022 was a classic example of knowing the network and leveraging it. Any casual observer of the game can say that the 11 players of Argentina exactly know where the other players were and now to leverage this network. That applies to your business and investing and to life too. As a standalone entity there is only so much that you can achieve. However, it is not just about having the network, but about knowing the coordinates and leveraging the network. That is what makes a team larger the sum of the players. You got to make the best of the network effect.
You can understand the role played by a Messi or Mbappe based on how the queen bee in a beehive holds the entire swarm together. Soccer is a team game, and there are no two opinions about that. However, you still need the queen bee. That is true of your investments too. Businesses still need key people to hold the team together and guide them towards the purpose. Investments still need that major driver, just like even Buffett needs an Apple to drive the aura of the Berkshire portfolio.
One think that stood out about the final four teams in FIFA 2022 was that these teams had solid defence in the form of backs and a world class goalkeeper. Attack alone is not enough. In soccer, it is not only about how many goals you score but also about how few you concede that matters. The same is true of any business or investment or life. You need to manage risk and reduce your losses. Unless you do that, no amount of profits made by you would be sufficient in the final analysis. An ounce of prudence at the right time is always worth a pound of aggression.
People who are singing paeans of Messi and Argentina forget that it was an extremely close match and it was just a few critical moments that made the difference. The reality is that Argentina are the champions and France has to now wait for another 4 years to make another bid for the Soccer title. That sounds unfair, but that is the way it is. In your business you often feel it is unfair that you are being judged by the last month or the last quarter, but that is something that is for real. Whatever the philosophers and the aficionados of the game may say, the hard truth is that Argentina are the champions and France are the runners-up for the next 4 years. Now, that surely must ring a bell for most of us!