Weekly Thoughts


Socks and Shoes

Here is something that caught our eye this week:

Life lessons from Coach John Wooden

It’s no secret that we strongly emphasize financial and operational data internally.  In fact, when we first purchase a company, the majority of our focus goes toward putting in place systems that allow us to gather accurate and timely performance information.  We care not just about the results themselves but also that there is a degree of precision to the production of the reporting itself.  But what happens after the bulk of the up-front work is complete, and we have processes for these things locked in?

Thinking about this reminded us of the classic story about legendary basketball coach John Wooden‘s first day of practice with the UCLA basketball team each year.  According to numerous reports, on the first day of the season, Coach Wooden would bring the whole team together and spend the entire session providing a detailed overview of the proper technique for putting on socks and shoes (hint, it included making sure there are no wrinkles or gaps in your socks and tying your shoes snugly). From a blog post recapping one such episode:

“As Coach Wooden got up to leave the locker room for the gym, the players behind him were silent, still wondering what their coach could possibly be doing by starting out the season talking about shoes and socks.  Here they were, the best schoolboy players in America, and this legend had just spent 30 minutes teaching them about shoes and socks.

 Just then, Coach Wooden would turn around and, with a glint in his eye,  say ‘That’s your first lesson. You see, if there are wrinkles in your socks or your shoes aren’t tied properly, you will develop blisters. With blisters, you’ll miss practice. If you miss practice, you don’t play. And if you don’t play, we cannot win.’

‘If you want to win Championships, you must take care of the smallest of details.’”

Like Coach Wooden, at Chenmark we believe the best companies are built from the inside out.  We have spent, and continue to spend, an inordinate amount of time making sure our data is accurate and our operational systems are strong.  From that foundation, we now have the opportunity to engage with customers, lead in our markets, and ultimately grow our various businesses.

So, once we have our internal socks and shoes on, what do we do?

We get out there and play basketball.

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

Subscribe to Weekly Thoughts

Previous Post Next Post

Recent Posts

It’s Basically 1200 Meters

When we lived in Cambridge, we frequented all the common outdoor exercise spots — leisurely jogs along the Charles, grueling stairs in the Harvard Stadium, and heart-rate spiking intervals on the Newton hills.  As such, we enjoyed learning more about the “Tempo Loop” in the Harvard Athletic Complex. 

Read More

I Said No F*ing Brown M&Ms!

While we are more of a Smarties group, we were interested to learn this week that brown M&M's carry relevant significance despite being the worst color for a candy variety.  They are also the most notable thing about a backstage concert rider — the legal document that outlines terms for concert promoters — for Van Halen’s 1982 World Tour.

Read More

Cash Money

Our regular readers will know that our metric of choice is Free Cash Flow.  This is because the crux of our strategy relies upon our ability to purchase cash flowing businesses from retiring owners, and then, over the long-term, using the cash flows from those businesses to fund the equity requirements for growth—whether it be supporting internal growth initiatives or writing a check for our next acquisition.  Without free cash flow, our strategy stalls. 

Read More