The story of David and Goliath has captured hearts for millennia. Their two respective armies were at war. Goliath of Gath was a fearsome giant, standing essentially 10 feet tall and whose mere presence struck fear deep into the core of the opponents’ hearts. Goliath of Gath challenged David’s army to a one-on-one battle with any soldier. If David’s side won, Goliath’s army would become their servants. If Goliath won, David’s side would become servants.
No one had the courage to face Goliath. All the soldiers were terrified of meeting their end at the hands of the mighty Goliath of Gath. David, a shepherd and the youngest of 8 sons was not even supposed to be at the battle. He was so small, young, and weak that his father would not even let him go to battle like his eldest three sons, instead forcing him to stay with the sheep. One day David took lunch to his brothers on the battlefield and observed that everyone was running scared from Goliath. However, David had confidence that, with the help of God, he could defeat the giant and asked to fight him. He was mocked and ridiculed but anyway went to face Goliath.
David went to battle Goliath of Gath with nothing more than a slingshot and some rocks. Goliath was furious that such a wimp was the only one who was willing to battle him. However, before Goliath even had a chance to do anything, David had slung one of his rocks at Goliath, striking him right between the eyes and knocking him out cold. David then finished the job by beheading Goliath with his own sword. He had defeated the undefeatable through his courage and unfaltering confidence.
Humanity has been enamored by the story of David and Goliath for centuries. Billions have found inspiration and encouragement from this story over time. Any time a story like this resonates so strongly with so many people, you can be sure that it is striking a common chord of identification and meaning in its readers, and hitting on a deep human truth.
In the book, The Responsive Chord, author Tony Schwartz writes, “Resonance takes place when the stimuli put into our communication evoke meaning in a listener or viewer. That which we put into the communication has no meaning in itself. The meaning of our communication is what a listener or viewer gets out of his experience with the communicator’s stimuli. The listener’s or viewer’s brain is an indispensable component of the total communication system. His life experiences, as well as his expectations of the stimuli he is receiving, interact with the communicator’s output in determining the meaning of the communication.”
I think that this story touches so many people so deeply because we can empathize with David’s experiences. Many of us have been conditioned throughout life to believe that we are weak and measly. Deep down, however, there is an undeniable voice in our heart that tells us how strong, capable, indomitable and great we can be. It doesn’t matter if we call that voice God, or by any other name that we each find acceptable. That voice tells us that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to and that all we need is a fighter’s chance to prove ourselves.
Perhaps that is why we love sports so much, and why we all seem to love a good “Cinderella story”. Sports competitions (hopefully) represent the ideal of an “even playing field”. A team may not have much going for it in terms of financial resources, talent, coaching, or anything else. On paper, the team may be totally mismatched. Yet, on any given day, with a good strategy or a great team effort, a complete underdog can topple a behemoth.
The World Cup starts this week (P.S., I hope you all will feel better soon as you recover from your mysterious and sudden illnesses that arise over the next month, preventing you from going to work and requiring intense football viewing therapy), and we at Konsälidön are hoping to see some good Cinderella stories like the Miracle of Milan from 1990:
The Miracle of Milan
It was the opening match of the 1990 World Cup. Defending 1986 World Cup Champion Argentina was facing off with a Cameroon squad that was not expected to make much noise in the tournament. The differences between the two sides were stark. The Argentinians were given 11-1 odds to win the world cup, compared to 500-1 odds for the Cameroonians. The countries themselves were very different as well. Argentina’s GDP and GDP per capita in 1990 were 12.68 and 4.54 times higher than the corresponding numbers in Cameroon.
The Cameroon squad was composed of exactly 0 stars, with most of the players playing for domestic clubs and none for top-level European clubs. The Argentinians had many top-level players, including superstar Diego Maradona. The Cameroon players were not even receiving payment on time and their starting goalkeeper in the match did not even know he was going to be on the team until a few hours before kickoff.
The players from Cameroon were not accustomed to playing on a large stage. As one of the announcers explained, “For many of their players, it’s a rare opportunity to perform in front of such a huge audience. They seemed almost overawed by the sheer size of the stadium when they were taking a look around for the first time a couple of days ago. It simply took their breath away.”
When the match got underway, things did not get much easier. The score was tied 0-0 through the first half. In the 60th minute, things started to look very bleak for the already (supposedly) overmatched Cameroonian side, with one of their players, André Kana-Biyik, being red-carded and ejected for a foul. Now down to 10 men, the Cameroonians were expected to fold and collapse. Instead, in the 66th minute, François Omam-Biyik netted a goal off of his head, putting the Cameroon squad up 1-0.
The drama was not over, as Argentina tried to mount a comeback. In the 88th minute, another Cameroonian, Benjamin Massing, was red-carded and ejected for a strong foul. Cameroon was down to 9 men against Argentina’s 11, yet still managed to hold on to their lead and beat the team that was supposed to run them out of the stadium. It was a most unexpected victory for the team from Africa. In the words of The Guardian, “In the space of 90 minutes, African football, once derided for being all about juju magic and Zairian defenders with a limited grasp of free-kick regulations, became credible.”
Even though no one believed that Cameroon stood a chance against mighty Argentina, the Cameroonian footballers themselves were not surprised by the outcome. After the game, François Omam-Biyik was quoted as saying, “No one thought we could do anything here against Maradona, but we knew what we could do. We hate it when the European reporters ask us if we eat monkeys and have a witch doctor. We are real football players and we proved this tonight.”
The same confidence that had spurred David on to victory against Goliath of Gath with nothing but a slingshot and a few stones, helped propel the Cameroonian football team to a massive upset of the defending World Champions, despite so many factors stacked against them.
Small business, big value
Small businesses and boutique consulting firms find themselves in much the same position as both David and the Cameroon football team. Constrained by factors such as small size, lack of financial and other resources, proper tools and other economies of scale that big businesses enjoy, SMEs have primarily their own self-confidence to work with in trying to scale up the reach of their products and services.
Even so, SME’s are making a big difference in the world. At Konsälidön, we aim to give SME’s a lot more than just a “fighter’s chance” by offering boutique consulting firms and SME’s the aid of our ecosystem that is designed to help boutique consulting firms scale up their services and SMEs to receive high-quality expertise and consulting services at a fraction of the cost that a large consulting firm would charge. Through our services, we are arming SMEs with tools that go well beyond a slingshot and a rock.
It has been 4 months since we "soft-launched" client operations. Since then, we have helped bring consulting opportunities to over 80 boutique firms.
Our firms have delivered projects such as:
- Supporting a FinTech start-up platform in Bahrain with designing a loyalty program.
- Helping set up a new entity to increase employment in the Operations & Maintenance function in Saudi Arabia.
- Aiding a Legal Education start-up in attracting over USD 150,000 in revenues in their first year of operations.
- Assisting a new department for Arctic and Antarctic Research in Romania in establishing their brand.
- Guiding a Facilities Management Training firm in Nigeria through the initial phases of their Digital Transformation journey.
Last week, we formally started client operations.
We believe that small business creates big value, and that the freedom of thought and expression that is fostered by the innovators and entrepreneurs at the heart of SMEs is crucial to a vital, thriving society. We believe that by utilizing the Power of Together to connect boutique consulting firms with SMEs the world over, we are playing a small part in creating a more vibrant future for all of us. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”