Is it just me, or has the world become overly specialized? With more and more products flooding the market, and more and more people doing different stuff all the time, it seems like everything new is developed specifically for one special thing. Gone are the days of the one-quiver anything, now you have to have a different something for each endeavor. Powder skis, groomer skis, park skis, backcountry skis. Downhill bike, cross-country bike, park bike, commuter bike. Small stream trout rod, big river trout rod, smallmouth bass rod, largemouth bass rod. You get the picture, and that’s just the hard goods. When it comes to soft goods, the issue is even more dynamic with baselayers, mid layers, jackets, hats, pants, and of course shoes.Let me be upfront in saying that I am both a gear hound and a shoe hound. My closet is loaded with both from years of dedicated and deliberate accumulation, much of it specialized to the point of never getting used because as often as I would like, I never seem to use my ten-mile-and-above-wet-weather-hydration-compatible-high-altitude day pack or my low-light-late-season-snowing-but-not-too-hard-high-exertion ski goggle lenses. True, sometimes the situation calls for a specialized piece, but usually I just go with whatever gear I’ve used the most because most of the time confidence in what you are using trumps any advantages over-specialization brings to the table.This is why my go-to footwear over the past few weeks has been the Patagonia Fitz. At first glance the Fitz is just another sneaker – albeit made by one of the largest and diverse outdoor brands in the game today – but look a little harder and the Fitz is much more. This is a shoe for all occasions due to its construction and style. Allow me to elaborate.From a technical standpoint, the Fitz fits the bill for all types of active pursuits. First, it’s a lightweight shoe, has a breathable mesh lining, cushy insole and foot bed, and a grippy rubber sole for traction. All this adds up to a super comfortable sneaker equally adept at urban assaults or short day hikes. I would not hesitate to take this shoe out on the trail – in fact, I have done this – because the suede upper prevents the usual wear and tear from dirt, sticks, and the rocks I usually kick down the trail pretending to be a caveman version of Pele. Speaking of suede, that brings me to my next point: style.The Fitz is low profile, meaning they look great with shorts and allow pant or jean cuffs to drape over them with ease. The leather adds a touch of class to this shoe allowing you to sport them at the bar or the boardroom – with three subdued color options, they can almost pass as a type of dress shoe (this may be a stretch depending on what you consider a dress shoe, but they have leather so…). The stitching of the Fitz Roy silhouette, and Patagonia logo, is a unique feature I have not seen on a shoe before – this is no Swoosh.I tend to opt for some type of sneaker in the summer as oppose to flops just in case I need to break into a sprint at any given moment, plus I enjoy the support for my freestyle walking habit. The great thing about the Fitz is it satisfies my wife’s desire for me to not wear skate shoes – she finds them tacky, and I don’t skate so they also make me a poser – while satisfying my desire to be ready to chase a purse snatcher, climb a tree, race a bike, hop a fence, dunk, launch a staircase, send a gap, or otherwise display my athletic prowess at the drop of a hat.I can do all this while still keeping it cool and classy in the Fitz, and that’s all you can ask for in a shoe.
Alan McManus and Ding Junhui go to the green baize first.Then this evening at 7 o’clock Marco Fu takes on Mark Selby.The final will be played over the May Bank Holiday weekend.
Share Share Submit Related Articles StumbleUpon BetRegal revamps affiliate program with Income Access for crucial 2019 January 25, 2019 Kindred ups operating costs to accommodate for licensed realities July 24, 2019 Suren Khachatryan, Digitain: Focusing development on the customer’s need for speed April 23, 2019 In some respects, the time has flown by, while other elements of the journey have moved at a snail’s pace. That’s the view of Aly Lalani, Head of Marketing at BetRegal.com, as he reflects on an eventful, yet ultimately rewarding, first year for the new sports betting brand. As I sit here at the beginning of September typing this, I realize that it has been just over a year since the launch of BetRegal. That’s right, we have been live and functional to accept players and process wagers for over 12 months now.Much like we all like to do on birthdays, I thought it would be a novel idea to reflect on the lessons learned over the past year.Some have been good, some have been more difficult, but all have proven valuable in terms of developing learning as we navigate this new and evolving terrain.Easy and simple are not the same thingEnglish was never my strongest subject in school. I was always more of a math and science guy. Even so, I always had the impression that the terms ‘easy’ and ‘simple were’ synonymous. Turns out I couldn’t be more wrong… those are two very different terms.Conceptually, what we are trying to accomplish here is reasonably simple. We are not trying to reinvent the way customers wager on sports (or casino), we are not trying to revolutionize our product by offering options that no other gaming company offers (yet), and we are not trying to be way ahead of the curve in terms of payment options by focusing on cryptocurrency or blockchain betting.None of those things. What we are trying to do is acquire (and keep) customers by offering a quality gaming product to a targeted audience in a safe and secure online environment. Ultimately, the number of available markets to wager on is relatively homogenous so all we need to do is take the product being offered by our software provider and differentiate it enough to be attractive to our target customer.Sounds simple enough right? Sure, it sounds simple, but it is the furthest thing from easy. There are so many intricacies and issues that just seem to pop up out of nowhere that regardless of the level of planning or forward thinking, it seems like we are in a constantly reactive state.Just to be clear, nobody at BetRegal went into this thinking it would be easy – it just amazes me that a goal that can be articulated in a few simple sentences can contain so many trials and challenges. It really is remarkable how different the concepts of ‘easy’ and ‘simple’ are.Adaptability and flexibility in terms of business focusIt’s mid-August 2017. The other stakeholders and I are sitting in a boardroom finalizing plans for our impending launch. We have had the appropriate conversations around setting goals, which includes a reasonable understanding of who our target customer is, as well as a good sense of which markets we are to focus our efforts on.Sounds good right? Sounds like we have a relatively well-defined path? That’s what I thought too. The result of the path hasn’t changed (goals, target customer/market), but the journey has definitely taken some hard rights and lefts. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of being a small and nimble company, and almost acts as a differentiator.Outsourcing can be extremely valuable, but also a real pain in the a$$Way back in the first of these diaries (coincidentally about a year ago), I discussed our strategic decision to utilize the outsourcing model for most of our needs, which puts me in a good position to judge the pros and cons of this approach. My conclusion is that this can be really awesome, or really awful.Earth-shattering right? Let me elaborate. My experience has been that there is a huge amount of variability in effectiveness of outsourcing. The upside is great. Imagine being able to bring on an entire team of subject matter experts in a field you have a specific and urgent need for. No hiring, no onboarding process, no product or market specific learning curve, none of that stuff that everyone hates.In most cases nowadays, it’s reasonably easy to find agencies/consultants that are vertical specific, so they are already familiar with the concepts and terminology. It’s a great process when it works well. It’s definitely costlier, but allows for unmatched efficiency when compared to hiring an internal team.As high as the ups can be, the downside can be just as extreme. The real down side, in my opinion, is priority. Especially when dealing with a vendor who services multiple clients. It’s obviously impossible to assign the same level of priority as when dealing with an internal team.It’s easy to walk into a team of developers or marketers and say ‘project X is now priority number one, and nothing else gets worked on until it’s complete’. We’ve had situations where the outsourcing strategy has resulted in not meeting the defined timelines, or not to the quality we would expect. That results in angry emails and skype chats, escalations, etc. None of that is a productive use of time.The ‘R’ in the SMART goal methodology is remarkably importantAnyone who has sat in any type of management training, has gone through the process of defining SMART goals. We’ve all groaned at PowerPoint’s explaining why SMART goals are important. As cliché as they are, I am actually a firm believer in all of the components. However, over the course of the past year one has really jumped out as especially important.Although there are variations, in my world the ‘R’ is for realistic. If there was one component of the SMART goal methodology we missed on, I would say it was R. After all, who knows what is realistic to achieve in the first year of operation? Some of our initial goals were achieved fairly quickly, while others we have barely begun to penetrate.With 12 months of operation under our belt, and a reasonable sense of our pace of accomplishment, we are well positioned to make sure our upcoming strategic goal setting exercise is properly aligned with our resources and realistic output.Can we can do this? Yes, we canPerhaps the most important takeaway from this entire first year, through all the peaks and valleys that we have experienced over 12 months, is an encouraging sense that ‘we can do this’. This is not an impossible task. It might not an easy path, but there is a path here to the end goal that we defined.There will inevitably be challenges, as our industry evolves in terms of technology, product and compliance. However, it’s important for us to see them not as obstacles, but opportunities to develop.Ahead of the World Cup, we talked about swimming with the big fish. Now is not the time to retreat to the safety of the shore. After 12 months hard work, it’s time for BetRegal to kick on.
A former Black Stars Management Committee chairman, Wilfred Kwaku Osei (Palmer), has stated categorically that some Ghana Football Association (GFA) officials have been influencing the selection of players to the detriment of the senior national team.He, therefore, singled out self interest on the part of some GFA officials and certain personalities in the team as the main issue that had hampered the progress of the team in recent times.“This is an open secret that GFA officials influence the selection of players into the national team. There are some players who come to the national team but are not fit to be in the team,” Palmer revealed in an exclusive interview with the Graphic Sports .He noted that selfish interest on the part of officialdom stood out, among other missing pieces, which had denied the nation her fifth Africa Nations Cup (AFCON) title.“We have so many missing pieces and selfish interest which are the drivers as far as most personalities in the Black Stars and the GFA are concerned,” he stressed.According to him, some top officials close to the team tend to consider players who are close to them for selection into the Black Stars instead of diagnosing the problems of the team from a technical perspective.“Instead of we looking at things from a technical perspective, we tend to look for players very close to us to be part of the team, irrespective of their level or quality of skills they have.“If you have your doubts, you can talk to the ex-coaches and they will tell you a lot. Even the supporters can say we want this player to come into the team because we want ABC to be done. But is that the way forward?” A worried Palmer questioned.Similarly, he said progression of players into the Black Stars had also not been the best, citing the promotion of some key players of Ghana’s 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup winning team to the Angola 2010 AFCON squad as a typical example.“We were able to go as far as the final of the finals in Angola after 2009, which should inform us in our policy direction that when we allow these boys to migrate in a natural progression up to the Black Stars, this is what is there for us to achieve.“If they were able to make that monumental impact on the African soil just a year after winning the FIFA U-20 World Cup, then a different story would have been told if we had gone with the full complement of the team, including some of the senior players such as Essien and Co. who were ruled out by injury.”Palmer, who is currently contesting his disqualification from the GFA elections on October 25 last year at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), also had a problem with the mode of appointment of coaches for the Black Stars.“Even when it comes to the appointment of the technical team for the Black Stars, do we do the right thing?“There were people within the technical team who bottled up some negative feelings because of the way things were done,” he disclosed further.In his frustration, he questioned whether coaches were subjected through a thorough scrutiny before they were appointed to serve in the senior national team.“Are people being properly scrutinised for us to know if they are the right people to do the job? he lamented, with particular reference to the recent appointment of coaches to the various national teams.” Source: Graphic Sports