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February 23, 2016 | Issue 15
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the morning shakeout by mario fraioli
Fox hounds attacking a local incline in Mill Valley, California. instagram.com/mariofraioli

Buenos dias, new and veteran Morning Shakeout readers. Issue 15 is ready for public consumption. Enjoy!

Olympic Trials, please take the stand.

We’re now over a week removed from the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles and whether USA Track & Field likes it or not, athletes, fans and other pundits are putting the event on trial. Media and marketing maestro Peter Abraham shared 10 thoughtful suggestions for improving the event, while Trials participant Patrick Rizzo went off about his sub-par athlete experience. A quick scan of the Twitter chatter from the past 10 days yields a slew of mixed reactions, which is par for the course when it comes to evaluating an event. There are those who will laud almost anything and others who will be critical of just about everything. One of the biggest problems in competitive road racing/track and field today is getting the folks on both ends of the spectrum to meet in the middle and have a constructive conversation about how real progress can be made.

As a working member of the media (and coach) who attended the event two weekends ago, I feel that Peter's post was well-thought-out and on point. I’ve attended three Olympic Trials Marathons now—the last two in a professional capacity—and while L.A. fell somewhere between Houston and New York in terms of on-course fan support, it lagged behind both of those events in regard to overall strategy, energy and execution. That assessment is based on my own experiences and observations, alongside numerous conversations I’ve had with race participants, fellow members of the media and fans who attended all three events. 

While there were a number of hard-working people in L.A. who freely dedicated their time to helping the athletes throughout the weekend—and those fine folks deserve a huge THANK YOU—the event as a whole seemed hastily organized and satisfied the needs of USA Track & Field and its sponsors at the expense of maximizing the experience for athletes and fans, and that’s unfortunate.

But rather than simply cast all the blame at USATF, I’m going to suggest this “trial of the Trials” enter a working recess over the next 3-4 years, where organizers, athletes, sponsors and media regularly get together to evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly of the event and work toward establishing and achieving a set of mutually beneficial goals and objectives that help move things forward for EVERYONE involved. Look, I know “it’s not that easy” but that’s where it needs to start and it needs to happen sooner than later. Distance running (and the sport of track and field as a whole) needs to rehabilitate itself in a major way, otherwise it will face an inevitable death sentence—and nobody wants that.

Feeding the Buzz

If you’re a fellow mediaphile or a closet internet addict, you’re no doubt aware of Jonah Peretti and the content conglomerate he created known as BuzzFeed. Peretti is a fascinating individual and this Fast Company profile on him gives a really good glimpse into this digital media mastermind and the crazy company he runs. Among other things, I’m impressed by the calculated chaos of the entire operation, from editorial to native advertising and the creative culture that drives it all. “What’s lost here is a true understanding of what Peretti, one of the world’s most astute observers of Internet behavior, has built. The company’s success is rooted in a dynamic, learning-driven culture; BuzzFeed is a continuous feedback loop where all of its articles and videos are the input for its sophisticated data operation, which then informs how BuzzFeed creates and distributes the advertising it produces. In a diagram showing how the system works, Peretti synthesized it down to ‘data, learning, dollars.’”

Be lazy, do better work.

“If you’re driven to produce things that matter, then you need to put deep work at the center of your professional life. To do so will probably require that you become lazier in the Feynman and Stephenson sense of the term: that is, you must treat with sluggish wariness efforts that keep you away from depth, regardless of how many small benefits they promise.” I enjoyed this article by Cal Newport on the benefits of developing “lazy” work habits. It reminds me of a lot of the lessons preached by Greg McKeown in his excellent book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. (Note: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked or some combination of the two, I suggest giving that one a read.) 

The world according to Seth

Seth Godin is one of the most interesting people in the internet. His blog, updated daily, contains little pearls of business, marketing and life advice, and his books covering those same topics in greater depth are—for the most part—excellent. I first became aware of Seth while rummaging through The Great Discontent archives a couple years ago and stumbling across this interview. More recently, he was a guess on Tim Ferriss podcast, and I enjoyed the lengthy episode over the course of three sittings. You can listen to it here. It’s quite candid, full of good stories—I’m fascinated by the fact that he makes a mean cup of coffee but doesn’t drink it himself—and provided some excellent insight into the methods behind his marketing madness. “For me, my mission—and it has been for a long time—is to make a certain kind of change happen,” Seth explains in the podcast. “I want to help people see the world differently and, if they choose to, make a different choice after they see the world differently. I want to help people connect to each other and to use that connection to make things better.”

That’s it for this week’s newsletter. Let me know your thoughts by replying to this email or yelling at me on Twitter. Eventually I’ll put a stop to my “lazy” ways and write back. Finally, if you liked what you read here, please share the web link with your friends, training partners, family members, enemies, adversaries, childhood pen pals, co-workers, long lost cousins, social media followers or even complete strangers. Your generosity means a lot to me. 

Thanks for reading,

Mario

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