Quick Summary: Choosing the business you'll start as an entrepreneur is often a stumbling block for frustrated lawyers who want to leave the law. A good starting point is to identify the services, products or industries where you’re passionate, you will outwork the competition because it doesn’t feel like work, and where you think you are, or can be, one of the best. That’s the mindset of Ronda Rousey, MMA’s most dominant female fighter, so I’ll call this entrepreneurial mindset the Rousey Standard.
Bonus update point: Play to your strengths, and don't fight on your opponent's playing field.
Editor's Note (Okay, it's just me, but "Editor's Note" sounds so much more official): A couple of people have asked me whether I'm going to change the name of this post (The "Rousey" standard) now that the formerly undefeated Rousey really got de-feeted. That's not a typo - just a bad pun - check out this video of Rousey getting knocked out by a kick to the head. I say there's no need to change the title though, because the usefulness of Rousey's approach to how she chose her career remains the same. By the way, you won't go undefeated as an entrepreneur either!
Her defeat just allows me to make a second point that you will see in more detail in the Entrepreneur's Lesson #2 below: You have to pivot/do something different when your new competition's strengths nullify your strengths. Otherwise the unbeatable become beatable. Frankly, Rousey made the same mistake Blackberry made against Apple, and Blockbuster made against Netflix...I talk about both those firms' entrepreneurial mistakes in my book.
Enough with the editorializing! Read below for the full Rousey Standard post!
In August I was watching SportsCenter and stumbled upon an interview with Ronda Rousey, a mixed martial arts fighter who was at the time the undefeated UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion.
Why should lawyers who are contemplating entrepreneurship care about Ronda Rousey?
It’s because Ronda Rousey’s mindset is instructive on how to choose your new business. Lawyers who want to be entrepreneurs often have trouble deciding what type of entrepreneur they should be. What am I good at? What can I do that will make money? There are a lot of tools out there that can help you understand your personality preferences, like the Myers Brigg Test, or tests that will help identify your strengths, like the StrengthsFinder test. I’ve taken both. These are helpful, but a simpler way to choose your path might be to assess whether your choice would live up to Ronda Rousey’s mindset about fighting – I am calling her mindset the “Rousey Standard.”
What’s the Rousey Standard and how can it help me choose a business path?
In the interview, Ms. Rousey, the undefeated champion, is asked whether her undefeated challenger, Cat Zingano, would be her most challenging fight. When I heard her answer I thought it was instructive on how to choose what type of entrepreneur you should be.
Rousey answered yes, the challenger would be her toughest fight, but that she could not be outworked when it comes to martial arts, she’s been passionate about it for years, and frankly, even if the challenger does the best she can do, she won’t be as good as her, because she (Rousey) is one of the best. The mindset represented in those three bolded points, is what I’m calling the Rousey Standard.
Choose a product, service or industry where you feel the same way as Rousey feels about martial arts:
- You are super passionate about this product, service or industry – you eat, sleep and breathe it.
- You will outwork your competition because when you’re doing this thing it doesn’t feel like work.
- You are very good at it – you are, or will be, one of the best.
That’s the Rousey Standard, and you should pick something to do, no matter how narrow or crazy it seems, where those words ring true. Btw, don’t take this too literally—you don’t need to think you’ll be the best of all time at anything to be a successful entrepreneur in that thing. As a starting point, you just need to love it to death and think you’re awesome at it.
You don't need to be an undefeatable champion to be an indefatigable entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurial Lesson #1 of 2/Fight Update: Just in case you were wondering what actually happened in the Rousey/Zangano fight, and whether Champion Rousey’s confidence was warranted…
Cat Zangano's fighting background is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Rousey's is in Judo. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is sometimes described as more "patient" than Judo's fast takedown approach. Rousey's business plan was to use her Judo background and general attacking style to her advantage, and leverage it to beat Zangano. Zangano could have been patient like her Jiu Jitsu background might indicate, and use Rousey's general aggressiveness against her.
Fight Update: Instead of having a patient strategy akin to her Jiu Jitsu background, Zangano charged Rousey at the opening bell, and tried to beat Rousey at her own aggressive game rather then following a more Jiu Jitsu-like fight plan. Turns out that was the wrong approach--Rousey won by submission in 14 seconds, the fastest submission in a title fight in MMA history.
Entrepreneurial Lesson #1: Play to your strengths, and don't fight on your opponent's playing field. Unless you have a tactic that can fundamentally attack and mitigate the strength of your competitor, your business plan should attack their weaknesses, rather than directly confront their strengths. Zangano played right into Champion Rousey's hands.
Entrepreneurial Lesson #2 of 2/Rousey Update: Rousey went on to win her next match by 34 seconds in the first round, and then on November 15, 2015 faced Holly Holm, a former champion professional boxer and a kickboxer. Rousey displayed her usual unfettered confidence before the fight, and no one gave Holm a chance. However, Holly Holm entered the ring with a height and reach advantage and a background in boxing and kickboxing. Both of those traits could allow her to stay away from Rousey's judo takedown moves and also counter Rousey's charge-forward aggressiveness. Rousey also announced she was going to try to out-box Holm, the former champion boxer.
Entrepreneurial Lesson #2: Same lesson but different result. Rousey did not change her style against Holm, and played directly into Holm's boxing and kickboxing strengths. Rousey fought the fight by charging forward, and Holm patiently kept her at bay with long-armed punches and jabs. Rousey was knocked out by Holm in the second round, suffering her first loss ever. The entrepreneurial lesson here is the same: Unless you have a tactic that can fundamentally attack and mitigate the strength of your competitor, your business plan should attack their weaknesses, rather than directly confront their strengths. Rousey tried to outbox a boxer, and charge directly forward on a taller, longer kickboxer. And she was knocked out as a result.