The Position Player. And what happens when you have one.

Tom looking up-cropped-smaller1769I am now developing a NEW book focusing on Brand Positioning entitled: “The Position Player. And what happens when you have one.”  My career has been largely focused on developing Brand Strategies that set client companies up to compete and win. A strategic and proprietary positioning has always been the foundation for great brands to succeed. Companies that have strong marketing strategy and brand positioning strength on their team, set themselves up for long-term success.

The POSITION PLAYER presents popular brand cases where smart positioning laid the foundation for success. It features the thoughts of many successful marketers and ad geniuses including examples from my company StimulusBrand, who have crafted unique positions for companies that help them win big.

As you may know, I am also a speaker and will look for opportunities to speak publicly on The Position Player. Please tell a friend, a business colleague, or outside organization that may have interest in me speaking on this topic and upcoming book.

Below, I share Opening Intro excerpts —illustrating the impact a key Position Player can have on your team, and more significantly, your business and your brand.  Hope you enjoy!


“The Position Player. And what happens when you have one.”

It was a crisp and bright Saturday morning in early September, 1976. The day that was about to unfold would be exciting, exhilarating, challenging and life shaping.

What was about to take place inside 100 yards of lined turf was, to many, simply a high school football game. But, to me and 56 gridiron brothers, this was our time!

Most of us had endured two straight seasons of sweat, tears, injury, frustration and flat-out failure. We lost many games over that period. In fact, we lost every game. But, somehow, none of us were defeated.

This season, we had a new, highly touted coach to guide us. Coach (Chappy) Moore. He was recruited out of the Philadelphia Catholic league, where he won multiple championships. And surely, we were on the road to one for ourselves. Sporting slick new uniforms, we brimmed with anticipation of success that usually comes with the arrival of a new coach and a new season.

As players, we were excited, jumpy you mighty say. We knew we were ready. Each of us had a job to do. Just moments from now, months of preparation would be tested. Would we make the grade? Would we finally be the victor?

We gazed across the field at our opponents geared up in red and black, They looked bigger than all of us—even menacing. How would we compete? After all, we were not yet a mature team or mature program that spent time in the weight room building strength and bulking up. At first glance, we had to be one of the least imposing teams in the league. Nonetheless, we stayed focused.

Our entire team huddled in prayer asking for blessings and expressing grace, humility and gratitude for being placed in this position.

The whistle blew. It was game time.

My job was to deliver the ball every play, block, blow open holes for the runner, and basically not make stupid mistakes. I was the Center —a key position player. Over the next few hours, I would have my head handed to me over and over again, by a beast seemingly twice my size.

Never fear, we had a plan. Our approach would have our opponent chasing us all day long. We were fast and deceptive. Quickly, we were running end-arounds, sweeps, pitches left, pitches right, and pulling guard traps. We were moving the ball for first down after first down—“moving the sticks“ as they say. Quickly a touchdown came and we were on our way.

As we trotted to the locker room at halftime, we were trailing in the score. So, we still had work to do. I looked around. I saw confidence. I heard encouragement. This seemed odd. After all, we were losing. But, this time, we knew we had something. We had a game plan that made sense to us. We got it! And, we had a coach who carved out a position for our team to compete and win. We just needed one more half to prove we could come out on top.

As I said, I was not the Quarterback or the heralded Running Back. I was the Center, hiking the ball at the start of every play, working (in the trenches) to block defenders and carve open running lanes—all the while getting slammed by the beast across from me. And, I was loving it!

While our game progressed, the bleachers and surrounding fencing filled with fans watching and cheering in anticipation of our first win in three years.

With just minutes remaining, the score was close—14 to 15 in favor of the visitors. We had the ball. This was our moment. We had a ticking clock urging us along. And, I believe we also had the luck of the Irish on our side. After all, we were the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame High School.

With only seconds left, our chance at winning would come down to kicking a game-winning 50-yard field goal. In most high school circles, that distance is unheard of. But, we knew our placekicker had the leg. Up to this moment, we had executed a game of speed and deception, which put us in a position to win. Why change now?

While setting up for the 50-yard field goal attempt, we knew our opponents would be keyed up to stop the kick and end the game with one show of force. We decided to shout out a hard-count and never hike the ball. This, of course, drew them off sides and resulted in a 5-yard penalty.

We huddled up once gain and laughed, deciding we should try this again. Surely, they wouldn’t fall for that deception again, would they?

We lined up. Our quarterback shouted a hard-count once more and (don’t you know) they jumped off-sides again. The “beast” across from me lunged into my face and knocked me right on my bottom. “They    did it! They jumped off-sides again. Unbelievable!”, I shouted. We just moved ten yards closer to the goal post, ten yards closer to our goal. Moments later, our placekicker drilled a 40-yard kick right through the uprights. We screamed, and hugged, and cried, and laughed with our gridiron brothers, and fans, and family in attendance. That day, I was a position player who experienced success with many other position players working together as a team towards one goal.

Our coach was smart and a quick study on talent and skillsets —and not just those of his own players but also those among our competitors. He knew that if we were to be successful, we would need to know the competition, their tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses. That would reveal our strengths too and help position us each week to compete and win. We built a team of 57 skilled position players. But what made us a force to be reckoned with was the strategic Position Player at the helm.

That season, our team was crowned league champions and went on to compete for the NJ State championship.

Looking back, as a young high school athlete, I couldn’t yet see the richer, more powerful meaning to “Position Player” that would impact my life, and career and greatly influence my measure of success in the years to come………………..