Golf is Hard
There are many ways to be a winner
While it’s certainly not a mature industry, it’s no secret that the search/EtA space has grown in popularity over the past decade. When we started Chenmark in 2015, there were some loosely organized resources for those interested in the space. Today, most top business schools have search/EtA clubs and conferences, there are SMB meet-ups, and there are even websites that provide resources to aspiring searchers.
As interest in the space grows, we get a lot of questions about our set-up — whether it be legal structure, shared service design, incentive structures or leadership development. We are happy to share this information because we believe that Chenmark is a reflection of our team’s personalities, our shared values, and our lived experiences. Somebody else could copy everything we “have” at Chenmark and it would still be different. Not necessarily bad, just different.
We recall having a similar observation when we lived in the hedge fund world. Bill Ackman and Cliff Asness could not be more different in their approaches to engaging with the market. However, they are both wildly successful in a highly competitive arena. They are playing the same game, but their strategies are a reflection of their beliefs, their skillsets, and their life experiences. One is not necessarily “better” than the other, they are just different.
Netflix’s Full Swing series reminded us that there are many ways to be a winner. For those unfamiliar, the show provides incredible insight into the lifestyles and mindsets of some of today’s top golfers. It’s incredible to see the varied approaches of those who are playing the same game, at the same time, and getting essentially the same results.
For instance, before moving to the LIV tour, Brooks Koepka appeared to be good at packing a lip and complaining about being the 20th best golfer in the world. Collin Morikawa is ranked 10th. He is a hard worker who seems to be incredibly particular about his surroundings. He seems ill-equipped to be around toddlers. Matt Fitzpatrick is ranked 12th. He is very into statistics and has recorded every shot he’s taken since he was a teenager. He seems like he could use a beer. Tony Finau is ranked 13th. His priorities are faith, family, and golf — in that order. He takes his family of five with him on tour.
Yes, they all want to be number one, but occupying the top spot is at best a fleeting accomplishment. As Rory McIlroy said, “golf is hard”. The point is that like Asness and Ackman, these are all world-class professionals. While there may be some approaches that personally resonate with us, that doesn’t mean one is inherently better than the other. It just means they are different. Tony Finau can’t be Collin Morikawa — and if he tried, it probably wouldn’t go well for him.
Similarly, in the small business space, there are many ways to be a winner. The key is to choose the approach that is authentic to one’s values and ambitions. Simply trying to CTRL+C, CTRL+V an approach is misguided at best because like golf and hedge funds, small business is hard.
Have a great week,
Your Chenmark Team