Saving Face

As discussed in several studies, including the book, “Think Like a Freak” - the best strategy to scoring a goal in soccer on a penalty kick is to the hit the ball straight down the middle.

Now of course, it’s much more impressive to go top right or top left –as the Freakonomcis co-authors point out, those spots leave little margin for error. And whether they care to admit it or not, most fans likely know this - statistics show that keepers dive left or right on a PK ~97% o of the time.

So why don’t more players do this? The answer that players will give you is that statistically speaking, most (~75%) of all PKs taken go in the net and most of them are aimed at a corner – so it’s proven to be a pretty good strategy. But that’s unlikely to be the real answer. The real answer is likely much more personal. The fact is – the approach to PKs is driven much less by the desire to look like a hero, and much more about not looking foolish.

Not looking bad is a much greater motivator than looking good.

And unsurprisingly, this is exactly the same logic that seems to drive most alternatives managers when it comes to presenting themselves to investors and the marketplace, as well. Why? Managers will tell you that it has to do with regulatory issues…or their limited and highly sophisticated target audience that is “above” non-logic-based influence…or that is just not what tradition dictates.

All rational arguments…to a point.

But none of this really explains why their messaging continues to lack originality or imagination. After all, this is still an enormously competitive space. Getting investor’s attention, let alone their time, is hard enough - even when you do actually say something different. Despite this, few try. As one of our clients’ put it, “I have never seen an industry work so hard to look like everyone else.”

But just as every other industry has evolved over time and realized the necessity to elevate one’s differences over its similarities, this industry will, too. We are slowly heading that way as views around this have become more pliable.

Still a long way to go. But one thing’s for sure – it’s about time we stopped playing, not to lose and started to play to win!

By JD David