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All You Need is One Play!

November 5, 2009

What do the Supremes and the Pittsburgh Steelers have in common? All they needed was one play to reach the pinnacle in their field.

In the Superbowl XLIII, February 2009, the Pittsburgh Steelers were losing to the Arizona Cardinals in Florida with less than three minutes on the clock. The Cardinals had scored a touchdown that appeared to clinch their victory with only 2 minutes and 37 seconds left in the game. The resulting score: Cardinals 23, Steelers  20.

When the camera went to the Steelers’ bench, did you see anguish, defeat, despondency? No.  You saw Coach Tomlin pumping up the players with this line, “All we need is one play!” Over the next 2 minutes and 2 seconds the  Steelers marched 78 yards down the field to score and win the game 27-23, attaining championship with their victory.

My wife, singer-songwriter Laura Baron, was recently honored at the Smithsonian as one of ten top DC songwriters. Hosting the event was Motown songwriting giant, Lamont Dozier. He told the story of shopping his song in 1964, Where Did Our Love Go? He first took the song to The Marvelettes, who had taken Please Mr. Postman to the #1 position on the charts in 1961. He told The Marvelettes he had written the song just for them, and they turned him down.

He had recorded the demo of the song, and if he didn’t sell it, Lamont would have to pay the recording charges himself. He was motivated to find a buyer. He took it to the Supremes who at that time were at the bottom of his list of potential clients. He told Diana Ross that he written the song just for her. She blew him off, because she had already heard about the song from The Marvelettes.  The Supremes were a relatively unknown band at the time. Ross was resistant to the song, and the producers put together a recording session under some duress.

When Where Did Our Love Go? came out, it propelled the Supremes to stardom hitting #1 on US pop charts, and #3 in Great Britain. At their peak, the Supremes rivaled the Beatles in popularity. It only took one song.

I wrote a think-piece once that I co-published as a white paper with Raj Chawla titled, Leading from the Middle. At the time it was one of a series I was doing called, Visionary Leadership.  Then an opportunity became available for Raj and I to work together at Shell Exploration and Production Company in New Orleans. We rewrote the piece with Shell in mind, shared it around the organization and it turned into a contract for the two of us (I later secured one of my largest change contracts inside Shell, but that’s another story…). All we needed was one play.

Don’t worry about how many people are coming to your website, how many hits you are getting, how many people your marketing campaign is reaching. All you need is one play when it’s the right play.

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