Category: Motivation

Seeding Psychology in Sports

This post relates mainly to sports (mainly from my Ultimate Frisbee experience), but adapting the analogy to business help to open up an insight for me.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the definition of seed is

seed is a competitor or team in a sports or other tournament who is given a preliminary ranking for the purposes of the draw. Players/teams are “planted” into the bracket in a manner that is typically intended so that the best do not meet until later in the competition. 

Yes the seeding process does help with the intention so that the best do not meet until later in the competition, but I would like to touch on is the pre-tourney seeding psychology.

I have experienced Ultimate Frisbee tournaments for many years and at the start back in my Nottingham days, I personally was very anxious on who did we get to pair up in the group based on our seeding. Once the groupings are out, automatically I will be like oh shit, we got all the top teams in our group. What are we gonna do?

Fast forwarding to now, 6 years later, seeding to me is just mere indication for an organiser to do their job so that the strong teams can meet at the last few knockout stage and that the audience can have an exciting finals to watch. It’s part of the process, it’s their job, that’s a given.

But what I learnt from the last 12 months of experience from watching few tournaments and listening to conversation of many players couple along with some drama over how seeding is done not correctly, we humans somehow already decide to determine how our fate is going to be even before the game is played. It’s funny really that how seeding can be the scapegoat of how a team perform instead of what goes within a team’s training camp and the other team’s training camp.

This boils down to the core root of psychology for any teams in sports or any business organisations. Being paired up with strong teams in a group, and a complains comes from being unfair cause it’s going to be tough. But teams tend to forgot to see that it’s a compliment to them, that other teams are being hungry to labeled seeded 1 in the whole tournament, and who they are paired up against is hampering the thoughts.

When being seeded lower than higher – “Oh shoot, now we are gonna face the strong teams and it’s unfair cause we have done so well in the past, just recently we slipped up. Sigh this is quite unfair” The label of inferiority is already spreading to the team when that thought came about, of how so call “unlucky” we are to be seeded so low. Is there no better way to see this as a turnaround?

Many games is half won or lost even before the team enter the battlefield. Teams and players tend to forget that every moment is distinct from the rest and we tend to forget how a 5-1 lead can lead up to a slip of 5-6 in the end. Be cautious of how one player’s thought could infect the whole team. Be grounded at every training, to

  1. Not to be carried away and take things lightly
  2. Not feel inferior with own team performance against other teams’

I always enter every game as a fresh start, a blank canvas of sort cause anything is possible in a game. Playing with Soar High has demonstrated that. Seeing how U8 Soar grow during their prime time demonstrated that! The key question is does everyone see the same?

A company labeled 5 million dollar market cap may not be the same 1 year down the road, so why have their label have an effect on you? It’s like comparing ourselves with Mark Zuckerberg. Sometimes we forgot everyone’s journey is different.

Seeded top or bottom, does it matter? Some will still say yes. I say let what’s inside your training camp do the speaking cause the number 1 will never be number 1 if you don’t let it to be. If you are last, you can always get out from it.

Does your team even know where you want to go to begin with? Are you selling yourself out to achieve what could be possible? Is seeding just another scapegoat?

*Tip: The best time to experience this is always at a Frisbee Hat tournament. That’s why I love hat so much, besides the people I meet, cause everyone will start off with a blank canvas.

To all Malaysian teams, good luck for the upcoming Shark Alam Open 2014.

An Emotional July


As I’m writing this, it’s 6am here Thailand (a place which I adore very much), which also marks the last day of July 2014. It has been an excruciating 31 days I have to say, which was driven from uncertainty, fear, hope and avoidance.

We had a great 2 year anniversary for the lab, I won’t discount that, but underlying all of those was what was going within the company.

A glimmer of hope to bring the company forward with a funding interest was indeed an intense experience, which had going on for more than 1 month of back and forth internally and externally. Whatever the final decision turned out to be, I’m glad that it happened anyway because it actually opened up our eyes to look within closer, tighter and it made me realised that sometimes we are not alone as we think we are. The world of business, as much as there’s a lot of helpful people out there, there ought to be the forgiving ones as well.

The question is whether do we owned up and forgive ourselves for the mistakes that we made. 

Along the way, I had great insights and advice which made me draw up these few insights for myself and to share.

  1. You are not alone in business. 
    As much as you think the business is yours, there will be a time where everyone in business are being affected or would have at least been affected. Sharing your problems or findings with each other and ask for help could probably be the best act to make you gasp for air and feel a little relief.
    Sometimes hearing experiences or objective neutral advice from others does put you to take the back seat and reanalysis situations. This also comes with careful selection who you decide to ask for advice, someone who could be as objective as possible. A big thanks to a good friend of mine from another FnB restaurant.
  2. Perfection/Inflated good news should be taken objectively
    Billion dollar company, big ass fund raising round, multi-million exit strategies are all just on the surface. Yes websites have been very much been flooded with these awesome fluffy lovey dovey news about startups, but we very much forgotten about many of those who failed, like how Groupon plummeted 80% of the stock price after Andrew Mason was fired.  (Read here about his comeback, which I believe gives me the drive even more)
    At the end of the day, it’s a good drive of motivation from the media, but it shouldn’t be used as a reference to make a decision cause at the end of the day you know your business best, in a different market for a different cause.
  3. You don’t have to know everything
    I wish exams can be based on this basis, where we can learn on how to utilize each other strengths. You don’t have to know everything, you just have to know more people who know a lot of things. That way, your search cost for information and chances of making a costly mistakes can be reduced. At the end of the day, sometimes all we need to do is to ask!
  4. Reach out to an unlikely source
    It’s funny how sometimes when you hit a brick wall, one will try any methods to get a solution. I recently reached out to 2 people for advice – a CEO of an airline company which I haven’t met in person for years and a co-founder of a app development company from NYC who I met recently in Malaysia. And one shared a pretty darn good book and the other shared with me with advice, ideas and mindset. Both coming from an unlikely source, but heck if we never try we never know.
  5. Be honest to myself
    Results are always a feedback to us, well at least that is what I want to believe. And in the end, results do that lie. It is what it is and unless we can be honest to ourselves, we will not be able to see it and take action. Drilling into the finances of the company during the investors’ interest discussion opened up many doors for us to look at, one by one, weighing ourselves with other competitors as well as other brands in the same industry. But it starts from being honest with ourselves that then we can decide what rigorous action steps to take.
  6. Taking control
    Being able to take control and be in control of things is very important, that’s what I learnt recently. Seeing how big the players of China, USA, Russia is in the world, it’s all about control at the end of the day. Heck World War 1 and 2 are examples of it already. So having able to have control of your business and your life is essential to move forward.
  7. Feeling down is normal
    Recently there have been many articles written revolving life of various entrepreneurs’ downs which includes the challenges, depression and isolation. And reading them makes me feel that at the end of the day it’s actually more common than I think, which leads back to the point no.1 where understand that we are not alone in business.
    It can only be a normal process to have a down moment, even if it hits to a depress state. The key is how one deals with it and bounce back which is key. Reading on Mason’s article on his next startup just fuels me to know that it’s not end of the world if one fails (and of course not failing due to complacency). And in point no. 6, we have to realise that we have the control at the end of the day to decide how we want to live our lives and feel about the happenings in our lives.
    A good read on founders’ depression can be seen here.
  8. Take the time
    Sometimes, decisions are not easy and asking for more time or taking your time would be the wise things to do. My friend quoted recently “Take your time to decide, because you wouldn’t want to make something that would cost you dearly in the future.” Despite the pressure sometimes, it’s good to ask for more time to make a decision.
  9. Talk to someone not in business
    Sometimes we forgot we have social circle of friends and families who are not doing their own business, and it’s so relief sometimes to talk to them cause it gives us a different perspective about life – on what life is all about. It’s not just the business, but also great friends like these whom we could spend great moments with (at least not thinking about work). Embrace the diversity of friends that we have, cause we don’t know how they can add value to us till we are open to it.
  10. Allow others to love us
    Yup, there’s nothing greater besides loving ourselves and others is to allow others to love us. A friend once told me that “Receiving is a form of giving” and it’s so true ever since I heard it from him. I have never seen it that way before he shared that to me and it has allowed me to be vulnerable to situations around me and to be supported in any way I can. It may sound deep, but it starts from saying yes to an offer. 🙂 Try it.

At the end of the day, it’s all about opening up your challenges and problems to others and take whatever bounces off the world as a new insight to your mind, cause sometimes being bogged down by the same thing day in day out can place us in a tunnel vision. Whatever decisions we make at the end of the day, there’s always a risk, and we will never know what the other road which is less traveled by will lead to.

The Irony

The irony of life becomes more evident when you transition out from schooling days to college to working life to marriage and then to old age.

8 hours of sleep, who will ever forget this irony advice since you are small. Every child should get 8 hours of sleep a day. Was that used for real health reasons or just to keep the child quiet so adults won’t be bothered by kids? It’s an irony cause if you fast forward it to adult life, successful people will say “men who have dreams will not be able to sleep, while men who do not will not wake up”. If only parents gave that motivation to their kids, imagine what would happen?

Problems? Big problems? Small problems? Ain’t everything we do will always have problems? Whether it is stupid crazy jam in KL or financial problem, they are bound to happen. But funny how isn’t it parents usually say to their kids, “what for are you doing this (eg organising activities)? Wasting time, money and effort.” Such irony to suppress a child’s dream and goals. That is why probably only 1% of population are at the top, cause they never lose sight of their dreams.

If you have small dreams, your problems will bound to be big. If you have big dreams, your problems will become small cause you feel you can overcome all of them easily. It’s a fact, it’s all in the head. So why the discouragement from the parents? Definitely an irony.

What is being taught after college is 175 degree different from the real world working life. What’s more, the school system really needs a revamp. Industrial revolution syllabus does not work anymore peeps! Get up and change or get left behind.

If you have any irony advice by parents which contradicts with the real adulthood world, do share them below 🙂


Project Online – UltiAsia

Finally, the procrastination disease has met its match. The months of delay for the Ultimate Frisbee website – UltiAsia is finally up.

Perseverance is really important when doing projects like this, and it’s going to get even harder when things are just starting to roll.

Life is short + Burning Passion = Action without procrastination

A shoutout to everyone who has been putting what they want to do on the side, just start doing it. One small step at a time. Everything starts with a step – remember that! 

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