Offense vs. Defense

Remember in a previous post where I explained that I was “good with money?”  I feel the need at this point to remind you, the reader, of that sentiment.  Funnily enough, the need to reinforce that comes once again as I retell a story of a money mistake from my past.


While I was always fairly conservative financially and focused on obtaining a strong career path and funding a retirement account, etc. my younger brother seemed to be cut from a different cloth.  He spent much of his twenties and early thirties working in bars, most in New York City.  He spent time as a bartender but really seemed to hit his stride when he got into promotions.  He seemed to have a knack for attracting crowds to the establishment he was promoting and was paid extremely well for this work.  He continued working in this field and eventually moved into management positions.  Eventually, that work appeared to pay off when he had the opportunity to buy his own bar.  He turned on his promoter skills and dialed his favorite (only) brother and asked if I were interested in investing.  The idea of owning a piece of a bar in New York City was pretty attractive.  While I was living in another state at that time, I had visions of myself visiting, walking past a long line of people waiting to get in; overhearing them asking each other who I was and why did I get to cut the line.  Typical ego-boosting type thoughts.  I think you can see where this is going…. I took the plunge and invested.

We encountered all the issues that any new business does and there always seemed to be a need for more and more money to get things off the ground.  After what seemed like an eternity, we were set for a grand opening.  The place looked great and was getting some decent buzz.  Well, decent for a place of its size at least.  The fairy tale was not meant to be however, and things never really took off.  We trudged along for some time but never really got ahead.  I tried to ask some questions about the finances but quickly learned that my brother and I had very different ideas about running a business.  In rough times, my inclination is to attack costs and see what can be eliminated or reduced.  In other words, I like to play DEFENSE.  My brother, however, felt that there was no money issue that couldn’t be fixed by attracting more revenue.  He came up with new and interesting ideas to stoke the flames of customer interest.  Many of these ideas required spending even more money.  “You have to spend money, to make money” seemed to be the mantra.  Obviously, he liked to play OFFENSE.

So, which is the correct method?  To be successful, I believe you need to play both offense and defense and find a happy balance between the two, but I just don’t think any one person can be wired to do both on the same level.   What are your thoughts?  Where do your strengths lie?


One thought on “Offense vs. Defense

  • October 11, 2018 at 9:48 am

    I’m definitely Defense. I hate to spend money. Even for my business, I try to do the Offense part the same way I build software and do “The Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work™”, which translates to “The Cheapest Thing That Could Possibly Work™”.

    I agree with you that I can’t conceive of someone who can play both Offense and Defense interchangeably well when the need arises. I believe one is your “default mode” and you’re “mailing in” the other.

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