Bruce Springsteen meets Ted Lasso

In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released Human Touch, which was a mediocre album by Boss standards (on a good day). One of the singles from the lackluster work was “57 Channels (and Nothin’ On),” which was what I gathered to be the Boss’s opinion of the then fledgling and ever-expanding list of bad cable TV being beamed into houses across America. I suspect the updated cover might be called “2300 Channels and Less than Nothin’ On.” Even with some of the OK stuff on Netflix (yes, Ozark was OK for three seasons) and Amazon Prime (maybe Patriot is my kind of weird), most of the noise is just that.

The net result over the past few years has been my intentional avoidance of all things “hyped.” Breaking Bad … nope. Game of Thrones … nope, nope. Billions… OK, I peeked at that one. Generally, though, nothing has captured me until now. I had heard the awards and the accolades — the Ted Lasso noise if you will. As you can imagine, the more I heard, the more I was determined to watch reruns of Andy Griffith. Determined, that is, until “it” happened. “It” was twelve hours of plane time. Twelve hours of COVID-oozing hours in a steel tube being jettisoned through space at 600 Miles per hour, elbow-to-elbow with three hundred of my closest friends.

Now, I don’t know about you, but flying to me is all about being in the zone, with noise-canceling headphones and something to listen to or watch. The last thing I want to become is aware of my surroundings, because my surroundings are just weird and occasionally gross (I’m talking to you, half-eaten and clearly old Big Mac in aluminum foil guy in a tank top… Really, a tank top on a plane?) I digress, and I think you see where this very slowly going… I zone out. If I’m being honest, this flight snuck up on me and I hadn’t spent the usual three hours preparing my distractions for the next day’s travel. With an early flight and few precious hours of sleep available, I made the last-minute decision to give in to the hype…Ted Lasso it was.

I know what you’re thinking: “Scott, what in the name of Napoleon Hill does any of this have to do with the price of Micro Chips in China?” Fair question, but hang in there. First, let me say, I know your taste may be different than mine. That’s cool, but if you try to tell me now that Ted Lasso is anything but the best thing on TV, then I guess we’ll have to fight (extreme, but warranted). You see, Ted Lasso is great because it’s a show about people — not bad people, not violent people, not even the most attractive people. It’s about kindness and decency. It’s about a man who, while fighting his inner demons (like we all do), still musters the strength each day to help people get the best from themselves, often in the least intrusive way. I’ve been accused, like our hero Ted, of being “too optimistic” or “naive” to the challenges we face as communities and individuals. Let me be clear, I am not unaware of the challenges we face as individuals, parents, Americans, and citizens of the world — I just refuse to spend one moment worrying about things I can’t control, thus losing precious time to work on the things that I can and should.

Ted Lasso is an American Football coach charged with coaching an English Football (soccer) team. He knows nothing of the game, yet his ability to get folks to summon the best from themselves is grounded in kindness and empathy. You see, soccer, like the stock market, is unpredictable. Oftentimes the ball in both cases bounces in funny and unpredictable ways. Yet, Ted has a way of making that OK. In my experience, good leaders really need not be aggressive or even be the most knowledgeable (although they can be). What truly good leaders have is the ability to help us to discover the paths through or around our most difficult obstacles, in our own ways.

Investors that I meet rarely lack the knowledge required to be successful. What they do often lack is the key to unlock that knowledge when they need it. In golf, they call it “the yips.” The ability to hit a seemingly easy two-foot putt just disappears for no good reason. In investing, it’s that down week in the market that you know you shouldn’t sell into, but you can’t seem to summon that conviction you talked about just a few months ago. As an advisor, I’m willing to bet I rarely say anything revolutionary to a client – it’s not like you haven’t heard the concepts I generally tout. What Ted and I may have in common and the reason I love him so, is that he/we never stop A) Caring and B) Trying to find that example or metaphor that will help you score the game-winning goal or refrain from that bad trade. I know it’s in there. I know you know better than to give in to impulse and or emotion.

Ted Lasso is obviously a fictitious character, but the concept of compassion and empathy in leadership is anything but. In the end, we are at some point going to have a bad day or two in this market, and when we do, remember what Ted Lasso says: “Two buttons I never like to hit, panic and snooze.”


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