I rescued a lot of animals as a kid. Mostly cats, I brought home a dog or two, I tried “rescuing” a raccoon once (the cats were very unhappy about this) my mom made me put “Rocky” back outside.
I’ve always had a big heart for the underdog.
Winning Often Takes a Different Path Than You Expect
Ms. P, the calico cat got her name because she had a habit of peeing in my mom’s houseplants. I found her one fall as I was walking home from a football game. She’d had all of her whiskers burned off by some sadistic kid.
She was very sweet and mom let me keep her (obvs my mom didn’t know about the houseplant peeing yet).
One spring afternoon at the end of my freshman year, Ms. P. ran across the street to greet me as she almost always did. Except this time, Meathead Larry, sophomore record holder of our high school’s bench press record, came hauling ass down the street in his crappy pickup full of kids…
Poor Miss P 🙁
This is where my first real world lesson in competitive analysis kicks in. Meathead Larry heard through our small town grapevine that I was pissed off about him killing my cat, he also heard I was looking for a fight (I wasn’t, but I was super bummed about Ms. P).
The next day at school, Meathead Larry spotted me during passing period and like a heat seeking missile he shoulder blasted me into the lockers. All 106 pounds of freshman me became a tornado of fury, fists, teeth, nails, and feet.
I’d like to tell you I won the fight, but it ended with a single, well-placed punch to the bridge of my nose.
Decades later, my left nostril whistles when I breath through it. Meathead Larry bench pressed nearly 4X my body weight. I was never going to win that fight.
I didn’t have the physical strength, skills, or experience to compete. However, I eventually managed to get revenge… well some friends of mine did, so it felt like my own very small personal victory.
More on Meathead Larry’s comeuppance later.
So What is Competitive Analysis?
Everyone loves a good underdog story.
I wasn’t competition to Meathead Larry until he heard I wanted to fight him for running over my cat. At that point I became a competitor to his reputation. That’s a big thing in a small town.
All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”–Peter Thiel, Zero to One
I failed to escape Larry, and my whistling nose paid the price for him to maintain his reputation. Analysis is your escape route to avoid getting our nose busted when the bully decides it’s time to whoop your ass.
When you know how to move, you can take your scrawny, 106 pound business, and slingshot your way around your competitors faster than you believe possible. This website is dedicated to how to avoid the Meathead Larrys of the world.
This uncovering process is often scary, but the best companies are willing to take a good hard look at the world around them, understand their position in their ecosystem, build a plan, and execute like crazy.