The 1/3 Theory

“ No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. 
No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. 
It’s the other third that makes the difference.” Tommy Lasorda

Let’s call it the 1/3 theory.

You’re good. Maybe you’re really, really good. But the client doesn’t care that you’ve done the same assignment 30 times and have sterling references. There is just something about how the competition positioned themselves. They offered up a fresh insight. They play golf every Thursday with the CFO. They lost a proposal with the same client last year and it’s payback time.

Or, perhaps you are the wild card. You’ve got a new firm or it’s a new relationship. Maybe you made a misstep in the proposal stage. Somehow, improbably, you won the assignment. You may never know exactly why you won, but deep down, you know it wasn’t because you were hands-down the best fit for this assignment.

Not much you can do about either case. But what about that last third you can influence: the third that makes the difference in how you finish your season?

Tommy might say you have to show up, be in your best condition, and play smart with heart. You’ve got to be clear on who you are, what you do and why it matters. You’ve got to connect with your client and show them—not just tell them—how great it will be to work with you. You’ve got to plan your game right, taking into account their culture, appetite for change and readiness for what you’re proposing. You’ve got to care. Deeply.

How’s your 1/3 going?


  • Lisa

    You are truly one of the people who inspires me. I always find something to take away from your blogs and I am a big fan of the authenticity that reveberates through your posts.

    I like your new logo but, have got to say not so much on the template design. One of the striking and “set-apart” pieces of your brand is your photo. The stance, the angle, and yes…the shoes! I find the cropping awkward. You lose the interesting angles and the body language it so aptly displays. How can you have “shoe maven” as a tag when your shoes are hidden?

    I’m sure I get some of the rationale to bring you closer to your audience literally and normally I would agree. However, in this case, your image was so striking and expressed in a fresh way that I think you lose more than you gain.

    That said, I still love your site and thank you for your thought leadership.

  • A very interesting blog using a quote from Tommy Lasorda. Next to only Casey Stengel or maybe Yogi Berra; Lasorda is one of the most quotable sports figures. But, going back to the essence of the blog; I do agree with you. We each have to know our strengths and weaknesses as well as those of the client we are focusing on. We will not win all the battles. We have to know when and where to use our strengths to win our share of those we were not supposed to win. That is when the advantage tilts our way.

  • Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for the thoughtful remarks–I actually love that you miss the “old” photo. I do too! We have something in the works that might please you; I simply didn’t want to delay the blog shift to this site another second longer.

    Thanks for being so candid AND graceful 🙂

  • Thank you Ed–great points as usual. Sports heros give us some colorful quotes, don’t they? And watching the World Series (and earlier playoffs) has been driving home the validity of the 1/3 theory lately…

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