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November 6, 2009
Rooting for the Underdog

This last week I was reading the local sports page when I saw that two teams from non-BCS conferences were vying to crack the bowl party in January.  Now it’s still unknown at this point of the season whether or not Boise State and/or TCU will actually win the rest of their games this season...but in my heart...I’m hoping that both teams do.  It’s not because I’m from Idaho or Fort Worth, but rather because I always seem to be rooting for the underdog.

I’m not sure exactly why we like to cheer on the hapless and hopeless...maybe it’s because we’re a compassionate lot...maybe it’s because it makes a for a good book or movie...but I think the real reason we root for the little guy is that at the end of the day, there’s a little underdog in all of us. 

Apple and Steve Jobs has made millions of dollars "sticking it to the man"...first it was Apple against IBM...then it was Apple against Microsoft...then it was Apple against the greedy recording industry...or Pixar against Disney...in each case...Apple was portrayed as the David against the mighty Goliath...even though Apple itself is a behemoth company hell bent on eliminating any real competition coming between them and profitability...but it feels good to root for Apple... 

The fact is...that we are all underdogs in some way or the other (unfortunately we just don’t have mainstream media selling our story to anyone who might listen...like Apple).  We have all tried and failed at something...we have gone up against the school bully...we have all worked for a small company at one time or another...

The reality is that underdogs rarely win (that’s why they’re underdogs in the first place I suppose).  Do the Pittsburgh Pirates really have a chance to unseat the mighty Yankees with the best players money can buy?...Can an upstart soda company really hope to beat out Coke and Pepsi? ...what about a battery company hoping to eke out market share against Duracell and Eveready?...

Sometimes the mighty do fall and we feel some sadness and nostalgia with their demise...household brands like RCA, Oldsmobile, Polaroid, and Pan Am Airlines once dominated their respective markets only to fall victim of bad management, bad economies and bad decision making...and new upstart brands have taken their place...

I guess it’s the romantic in me that wants the little guy to win every once in a while...I want to hear about the story of a person overcoming adversity and winning against all odds...check out this video if you think it can’t be done though...here’s a very passionate man discussing soda pop

There is a new movie out called "Paranormal Activity".  This little indy movie cost only $15,000 to  make (contrast that to Harrison Ford, who was paid a sum of $67M to star in the latest Indiana Jones movie) .  yet this little indy film has now grossed over $85M to date making it the most profitable movie of all time...see little guys can win sometimes...  

In every segment of the market there are the giants...the Goliaths...the industry leaders...Arrow and Avnet...Bussmann and Littelfuse...GE, Tyco, Intel, Dell, Coke and Walmart...they will win most of the time...they have too many resources available to them not to win most of the time...

...but I always root for the underdog...that’s just the way I am wired I suppose...maybe that’s why I left Bussmann and started OptiFuse in the first place...

I mentioned to a friend one day that I wanted my gravestone to read "here lies an ordinary man who tried to live an extra-ordinary life"...my friend replied, "Dude...that applies to everyone in world in some way or another...you’re not that extra-ordinary"  

I suppose he’s right...we’ve all won a few when we weren’t given even a chance...ordinary people trying to live an extra-ordinary life...the underdog...

Thank you very much for supporting OptiFuse as we live to fight another day...

Jim Kalb


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