Saturday, August 9, 2014

How Tiger Woods Ruined Golf by Randy M. Ataide

He is perhaps the greatest professional golfer in history. With 79 PGA Tour victories, and 14 PGA Major trophies, he is consistently coupled with the legendary and record shattering Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus. His career earnings are the greatest of any player ever in the PGA, even accounting for inflation, and he holds the lowest career scoring average in PGA tour history. Named the PGA Player of Year a record eleven times, he is none other than Tiger Woods.

And he has ruined the game of golf.

Let me explain. From any reasonable measurement, golf as a sport and industry is in serious trouble. While soaring PGA tour prize money has surged in the past decade, this only masks the underlying difficulties facing golf. According to a new report by CNN Business, sales at Adidas, the owner of the famous TaylorMade golf brand, have plummeted and dropped by about 20% just in the past months. Callaway Golf posted similar results, and even Nike golf is struggling. There are many reports of a saturated golf course market, with declining revenues. Youth pursuing golf as a competitive sport is waning and even among many players who have tried golf, a growing number have walked away from it. Last month, Dick's Sporting Goods laid off more than 400 of its golf staff, citing slowing sales and a lack of interest. Most troubling is declining television viewership, which has driven golf's ascent over the past few decades and is now seemingly powerless to stop its decline.

I am a golf aficionado and greatly enjoy my weekends watching the sport. Yes, I have played it some, more in the past, but consider myself much more of a student than a player. I enjoy its variety, the changing conditions and courses, the drama of the tension and strain that most players face on Sunday afternoon as they realize a few shots can make the difference between a legendary career and an also ran. For many years, I attended PGA tournaments, most notably the ATT at Pebble Beach each February, and the value of conversation on the golf course for business is something I touch upon in my classes for MBA's.

But the reality is that over the past twenty years golf put way too much emphasis on Tiger Woods. As he ascended and ultimately eclipsed the careers of many other great contemporary players who likely would have been dominant players in other generations, the attention and focus upon Tiger became an obsession for the golf industry. If he played, the hype and buildup as the tournament unfolded escalated, even if he was not playing well. Click on any one of a number of prominent websites for golf as a sport, and his image, statistics, stories, rumors, and innuendo were everywhere. With time, one could see all too often what appeared to be players who were content to battle for second place. Few other than Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and a handful of others could rise to the occasion to compete against the seemingly unstoppable Tiger. As an industry, golf made a fundamental mistake in business, and even now seems unable to pivot away from what has led them to this point.

Here, I want to make an analogy to something I have learned from both research and experience in entrepreneurship. In my MBA courses at PLNU one of the assigned books for their reading is Never Bet the Farm written by Anthony Iaquinto and Stephen Spinelli and as the title indicates, their advice is that one should never go "all in" on a venture or enterprise. This is simply a modern version of our grandparents counsel to "don't put all your eggs in one basket." Golf put all their "eggs" into the basket of Tiger Woods, and as he made his stunning ascent so too did golf. And as his injuries and personal troubles have diminished his consistency and appearances these past five years, so too has golf diminished as well. This is no coincidence.

But there is hope. Golf needs to return to respecting its players but not idolizing them, as it has with Tiger Woods. This is in no way a diminishment of his talent and career, but to date the golf press, media, commentators and websites continue to excessively fixate upon the trials and tribulations of Tiger Woods, and too often neglect the broader trends and personalities in golf. If emphasis was placed upon the magnificent breadth and diversity of both the male and female players from many nations, rather than the superstar status of a few, golf as an industry can make it through this difficult season. In a globalized world and with young people viewing traditional geographical and national borders as suggestive rather than mandatory, enormous opportunity exists to bring some of these exciting young international players to our attention.

There are other things that could be done, including creating golf mentors and green fee subsidies for aspiring golfers of all ages who cannot afford the services of course professionals and instructors. The PGA should be sponsoring golf teams at the high school and collegiate level and not just at the elite schools. Individual players could do more within their own communities to be ambassadors for the sport. Manufacturers and retailers of golf clothing and equipment should consider donating items to a broader population than is currently done.

The window for golf is closing, and closing rapidly. If a new attitude and approach does not emerge in the near future, embracing not what golf was but what it can be, for a broader and more diverse group of people, golf will be relegated to a few great courses and tournaments. And this will be a loss for all of us, whether we play or not. Give us less Tiger, and give it to us soon.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Language of Leadership by Randy M. Ataide

I have now been a citizen of the U.S. for a total of ten Presidents, starting with President Eisenhower (no, not Roosevelt, Theodore or Franklin!) And I voted for the first time while I was actually in my first months of service in the U.S. Navy, a privilege that had been recently granted me by a constitutional amendment. (My candidate lost.)

But I am not here to talk about my own particular political views, but rather the language that Presidents and other influential leaders use. And I must admit, President Obama's use of the office and the language he employs to speak to the nation (and to the world), is unusual, to say the least. As a Professor of Entrepreneurship, I am used to the unusual, the disruptive, the activities and innovations that move companies and economy actively, aggressively, assertively. So it is not the style per se that is problematic, but rather the sheer ineffectiveness of it as used by the President.

Yesterday in Kansas City, using what has become almost a signature staccato style, President Obama chided Congressional Republicans with "Come on and help out a little bit. Stop being mad all the time.  Stop just hating all the time. Come on." When I first heard it I did a double-take--did the President just call other Americans "haters?" I went online and confirmed that is exactly what he did. With a beaming audience behind him nodding and applauding. (Ugh! These staged audiences for politicians of all types makes me ill. I can see it now, a 23 year old aide freshly minted from a good university manipulating people as mere mannequins or props--"OK, now, when he/she turns to his left, and looks back at you, applaud loudly. And when he/she gets quiet, around the middle of the speech, look serious. Got it?" )

Now President Obama certainly has his vociferous and at times unfair critics, and a House of Representatives majority of Republicans who are committed to thwarting every idea or initiative (of which there are scarcely any of in the past year), so some of this can be understood. But I simply cannot imagine any President of any stripe, and of any level of competence, intrigue, or background, calling other Americans who disagree politically with him as "haters." Was it in jest? Used to lighten the moment? Often with our current President, one cannot distinguish in his tone if he is chiding or praising, lifting up or tearing down. It makes those of us away from the extremes and vulgarities of politics confused, dispirited, disillusioned. And it is fairly new to Presidential politics and the prestige of the office, and frankly, it seems very ineffective.  It is a poor substitute for governance by inspiration, and six years after he stormed to power what seemed so fresh as a candidate now is stale beyond belief.

Long ago as an undergraduate student, I started with great certainty on a path of a radio-television broadcasting major. After four years of military service, much of it deployed overseas, I was enthusiastic and hungry for higher education, soaking in knowledge and instruction that few of my peers likely had. I had dreamed of in 1979-80 of finally starting college in earnest. And in my first "R-TV" course, taught by the Department Chair, I was crestfallen by a style and engagement with his students that was distant, aloof, cold, and sterile. With several decades of instruction, academic papers and accomplishments, and of course, his Ph.D. certifying his mastery of the topic, he seemed frustrated that we introductory students were somehow below his standards. 
During one lecture, he asked for questions and I referred to our textbook and the observations of Alexis de Tocqueville, a noted French political thinker and historian. I pronounced Tocqueville's name with an ending of "hard" L's, something Americans often do. The instructor stopped, and in what I perceived to be a sneering and non-instructive way, corrected my mistake. Later that day, I changed majors and never thought again about broadcasting as a profession.

It has been my experience in business and academia that my mistakes more often than not come not from having bad ideas but rather failures in my capacity to communicate in an uplifting, inspiring, and engaging way. This is a lesson of leadership, and fortunately I have had and do have others who tell me when I have acted this way. Often it is unintentional (which is no great excuse), but it is a lesson I must continually learn and re-learn.

Any President, Prime Minister or Monarch., as well as any other senior executive or leader in any industry, has great capacity to use his or her office to compel, persuade, cajole, reveal, propel. And I am just not seeing this in President Obama, and I say this not with glee but with chagrin. 

Perhaps my standards of Presidential leadership are too high, for I have had the benefit of leaders as diverse and distinctive as Kennedy and Reagan, long before Obama. But these days I am increasingly drawn back to 1980 again, and in a warm classroom at Fresno State University, I am feeling more and more like I need to change majors.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back in the Saddle Randy M. Ataíde

Well, my my, it has been a long time! My sincere apologies, and I simply cannot believe it has been...gulp!...four years since I have posted here! A lot has transpired and I apologize to anyone (students, alums, colleagues, Pulitzer Prize Committee, etc.) , who has wondered where I went during this absence...

Back in 2010 my work changed at PLNU in that we re-organized the Center I led...and it was changed to a Business and Economic Institute and it has been a blur of a great deal of work and energy and creativity during these years. I am grateful for that time and opportunity, and I think we really have accomplished a lot in providing PLNU the leading university based Institute in our fields in San Diego, and one of the most influential ones in the U.S. I also accomplished some academic writing in economics, entrepreneurship, and began to teach a new class on negotiations for MBA's, for which I wrote the curriculum...a lot has gone on! The office also created a fairly active blog to which I contributed to as well, so "Ontrapranur" was neglected...

But effective January 1, 2014, I resigned from full-time work at PLNU...and the past months have been good as I have made this transition...still teaching a bit and doing some consulting...and more traveling...but it was a good time to make a change and I am confident that the Institute at PLNU is better than ever!

So this means that I will start writing on topics of interest to me again...and as the title of the blog means it will be items that reflect a voice that is "broadly speaking" for I profess interest in many things but no great expertise in many of them. For example, I have always been fascinated by things as diverse as time travel, physics, medieval languages, etymology, myth, and psychology...but really have much training in any of them...what I do have is an eye for interesting things and a fascination for how and why things work...and I think this comes out in my teaching and relationship to students...

A great result of the change in my routine has been that I am going for long walks...typically 5-8 miles three or four times a week but as long as 15 miles...and a few weeks ago I purchased a beach cruiser bicycle and so have been riding as the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach area...and these times by myself have been incredibly invigorating...seeing details and items that I easily miss by passing through quickly...the hours alone have been wonderful and i am savoring these days and the time to think, pray, listen to the radio, and simply see people on my daily journeys...

So be well and stay tuned...more to come!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Are Farmers Markets a Good Deal?

Many of you know that prior to joining academia I worked for 25 years in agriculture...a great career and personally and professionally rewarding...but wow there is a lot of work that makes you feel old quickly!... However, before I ever thought of starting my own wife and I worked for three summers at Farmer’s Markets in Fresno...going out each Thursday or Friday and load up my van with fruit from my in-laws farm...and on Saturday morning arrive with my young bride at the Vineyard Farmers Market ...and we would sell hundreds of pounds of farm fresh peaches, nectarines and plums...great tasting fruit full of aroma and juice and color...usually at .59 or .69 a pound...and make the astronomical sum of $150-$200 per week...hard to believe that one week of selling peaches could just about pay our rent in 1981!...

...These sales kept us “in groceries” for the first three years of our marriage, until I began to work full-time in the growing and wholesale fruit industry. It was a great experience of dealing face-to-face with consumers, watching them enjoy our fruit and get a good deal in the process...But over the years, I noticed a significant change in Farmers Markets as I visited them in many towns...were they really what they purported to be?

...After a recent experience with two San Diego Farmers Markets, I have concluded that much of the time they are not a good deal for consumers...the quality of produce sold in proportion to the price charged is grossly unbalanced...and often I find the quality...particularly in fruit more so than vegetables...marginal at best and often actually cull fruit... leading me to conclude after several years of observing these markets...that often I believe that products are not in reality what are being portrayed to the consumer...not a good thing...

...An example of this is tree fruit that I see sold at Farmers Markets portrayed as being local grown. For those of us in the industry, we know that peach trees have a nearly impossible time to grow and produce fruit in southern California. (How many of you have seen these scrawny little trees around San Diego with peaches the size of cherries?) The reality is that we are in a tropical climate and most decidious trees need at least 800 hours each winter of sub 40(F) degrees to be able to produce, and we just don’t typically get that much cold weather here...

But in several conversations with “Growers” at these Farmers Markets, they tell me as they dump boxes of fruit out of boxes originating in Central California how they are simply recycling cardboard from the San Joaquin Valley and hauling empty boxes hundreds of miles to the south. Laying aside the economics of hauling empty cardboard, even if it is free, when empty cardboard boxes worth .50-.75 each are just as easily available in the immediate area it just doesn’t make sense.

...From my experience much of what I have seen is actually cull fruit that is legally packed by legitimate growers 300 miles north of San Diego, sold to someone for the going rate of about $5-$6 per 25# box...and then dumped into a box or basket here and sold as “local grown” for $2.50 a pound typically...that is a profit of over $55 on each box made upon the hard work, risk and labor of the actual my buddy Vernon Peterson pictured of the best men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing...and if you want to talk real organic...truly from tree to Vernon at

...I also have grave doubts about much of what is presented as organic fresh fruit...To an experienced eye, organic peaches are fairly easily able to discern...but I think I am seeing “organic” fruit being dumped out of non-organic boxes, which is to my understanding a violation of the organic certification laws...and when I have engaged in conversations about their growing practices (not revealing my own experience) with these peach “growers” I am usually underwhelmed by their lack of knowledge of the products they sell...I do not believe that all of them are being deceptive, but a significant number of them appear to be something they are not to the consumer...and I think it is worse in fresh fruit than in vegetables are much easier to grow than organic peaches, plums or nectarines...

...This was not the Farmers Markets of 30 years ago, nor was it in the spirit and intention of those brave growers who sought alternative markets for their produce. There was a very close connection between the growers, vendors and products...But as with most things that grow popular, abuse usually follows...and I fear that has happened to many Farmers Markets...regretably...

What to do? Ruth and I have tried in vain over the past month to buy good quality watermelons and corn at local markets, but to no in and day out the best produce for the money in this area is...Henry's...and with the going rate for fresh summer corn is 3 ears for $2 at the Farmers Markets... at least two local stores have been selling it in the range of 4-5 ears for $1, way under the Farmers Markets...The quality? Outstanding!... And if it advertised as organic, with much regret, I have concluded that I have much more confidence in the store being truthful than I do someone who scrawls “organic peaches” on a piece of cardboard, stands back, and watches the consumers line up.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boom Deeyah!

So I guess that I don't have enough going on in my life...but a couple of months ago my wife and I started Portuguese that is something easy to do at my age!...and I have much more respect for people who try something very new later in, no getting a puppy...but you know, like having triplets...skydiving...traveling worldwide...chainsaw juggling...because it is really hard! I don't really have a good track record in this area...because there is not much I remember from a couple of years of high school the only sentence I can remember is..."Do you want to play basketball?"...pretty good, huh?!?...your tax dollars at apologies to all of my Clovis High instructors...for me it was kind of like coaching just keep putting the ball on the stand for the kid...hoping they will eventually hit it...closest I ever got was hitting the rubber stand...wait!...they didn't have T-Ball when I was a kid...not invented yet...anyway... what I have learned so far?...that it is better to do such things like language studies as a playing T-Ball...but if you do attempt this later in is important for you to recognize how you learn...for me language studies is similar to doing a puzzle...trying to connect words and thoughts and images in my head...and it is very gratifying when you complete a sentence saying...ummm..."Do you want to play basketball?"...well, in Portugal it would be soccer...but you know what I mean...

...but I think the point holds for all of us in business, education, parenthood, etc...figure out your learning style...for my bride it is much different...she wants to construct words and sentences like she is building a Mercedes-Benz...precise, perfect, well-crafted, beautiful...

...but for me it is more like building a Corvair...quick, less pain, less precise...and having a tendency to blow up and catch fire once in a while... today...get up off your little hiney and get out there and do something!...think of a way of improving your company tomorrow..making someone's life a bit a new dish...water skiiing...selling Avon...or learning Portuguese!

Friday, August 6, 2010


I just returned from several weeks in Portugal, which is my sixth trip in the past five years. These trips have allowed me the opportunity to visit many towns and regions outside of the two dominant cities of Lisbon and Porto, and spend time with a variety of Portuguese citizens. It is an ancient country, from its Roman ruins to splendid palaces, cathedrals and castles, and it should make any American realize how short our own history is.

Today, as a peripheral country of the European Union and broader global economy, Portugal is at a crossroads. Kenneth Wattret, the chief euro region economist at BNP Paribas in London stated in April 2010 that ”The reason we’re concerned about Portugal is not because its public sector debt ratios are excessively high; it’s more that the Portuguese economy doesn’t really grow.” This small seafaring country which once controlled much of the world, dominating the trade routes to Japan, India, Africa and South America, is now the fodder of economic and political pundits, being labeled one of Europe’s “PIGS” (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain), a poster child of European government mismanagement, bloated public sector and pension systems run amok.

Last week, over lunch (fresh sardines!) in Lisbon with a Harvard classmate who is a prominent entrepreneur in Portugal, we talked about our respective countries. He shared with me that while Portugal has made much progress since the long oppressive reign of António de Oliveira Salazar (1932-68), often simply referred to by Portuguese as “the Dictator,” he took special note of the lack of capacity and willingness of Portuguese to take risks of any sort in any business. While there are other factors (colonialism, wars, etc.), the contemporary view is that Salazar and his government machinery created in the Portuguese a mindset that the government would take care of everything if the populace just gave them their votes and acquiesced to its policies. It is frequently said that what Salazar did was to keep the country occupied with “Football, Fado and Fatima” (Portuguese sports, music and religion, respectively). What Salazar actually did was disembowel the inherent Portuguese entrepreneurial spirit, leading to a population ill prepared for the global world.

As Americans, what do we draw from this? While we must be careful to not attempt to overreach in the analogy, it seems clear that when people lose their inherent skepticism towards its government, regardless of its particular form, that with time the people inevitably are harmed. The rulers invariably win over the ruled. I am reminded of Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political thinker who over 160 years ago said “I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all.” (Tocqueville also said “Socialism is a new form of slavery” but that is a topic for another day.) Tocqueville accurately predicted the Portugal of 2010.

I am convinced that the future of Portugal rests not in the hands of its political leaders but its ordinary people, who get up early and stay up late trying to secure a better future economically, socially and culturally for their family and communities. In many instances these are the entrepreneurs, those strange and restless personalities who undertake opportunities where they find it. They will likely not create the next multi-national company, but they can create something better than they have at the moment. And in Portugal, and perhaps here in the U.S., we need to encourage those who do this, in all their variant forms and contexts.

If not, and we choke off these restless spirits, we may find that the painful acronym has grown to “USPIGS.”

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hope Still Exists...

Those of you that know me well have some idea of my complicated views of the government...I am a "puzzled patriot"...and know that the idealization of the USA as the noble and always in the right "good guys" that I received in my youth was somewhat shattered by the Vietnam War... own spiritual journey no doubt shaped this as well...coming into contact soon after my discharge from the Navy in 1980...and enjoying some splendid years with those who had a different view of the government...and our history and symbols than I did...but no doubt some of this was just the product of the post Jimmy Carter era...(note to self: next time we want to elect a good natured peanut farmer to the White House lets bypass that step and send him straight to building houses for the poor...a much better use of a person)...but anyway... as I watch the headlines of these present days...and think deeply about a world where more than 50% of the citizens of a country retire at 50 years old (France)...where angry citizens fire bomb a bank and kill three people because they don't want their outrageous pensions slowed (Greece)....and the thrifty and wise people get hosed (Germany)...and everything seems so complicated and confusing...

...In light of all of this it was a good diversion for me...after another long go out on a Friday evening to a school presentation from Literacy First Charter School in El Cajon...where my daughter Rachel is a 1st grade teacher...there she is below with some of her students from Friday...

...this is the second assembly I have attended...can't believe its been another year...sheesh time flies!...and so we drove out to a packed church where the end of the year assembly was held...and watched the American experiment once more... for the next hour or so I sat near the back of the room...while my bride took pictures (of course)...and observed a very diverse group of fairly new Americans...from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and countries of origin...I watched them stand up spontaneously and applaud and saw sincere and authentic patriotism...not the John Wayne or idiotic politician type...but real appreciation based upon their own to how their lives were so much better in America...

...and I must admit it was pretty emotional for me...because it was real and heartfelt...watching 1st and 2nd generation immigrants stand and robustly recite the pledge of allegiance...or sing a patriotic song...with expressions of joy as they watched their young children...respectful and responsive...sing and present as well...with Mom and Dad and siblings and extended family all filming and photographing...and when they asked all military veterans to stand to be was a nice that made me recall that prior to moving to San Diego few in 25 years had ever said anything about my 4 years on the USS long ago... instead of bailing out after my daughter's class presented at the beginning of the event...we stayed for the entire time...and enjoyed it immensely...and I realized that the American experiment is still alive and some places...and that the best place to see this is in the face of young Mexicans, Chaldeans, Africans, Asians and others who still come here seeking a better life...and the reality is that regardless of what we think many of them do indeed find this better life...not a street paved with gold but a far better reality than they had... to all of the teachers, staff and students and families of Literacy First this old veteran...and very grateful....thank-you so very much for reminding me that hope still exists...