Last weekend I got punched in the face -- twice

Last weekend I got punched in the face. Twice. Karate practice has been a great source for insights and life lessons. In one of my recent posts I wrote about changing the kata and the mindset as a company re-positions itself in the market. Today I want to tell you about the lessons I learned over the weekend. 

Ducktape - a karateka's best friend. [Shotokan Karate of America - CalTech special training 2016]

Ducktape - a karateka's best friend. [Shotokan Karate of America - CalTech special training 2016]

A major part of the SKA practice includes winter and summer special training events. Special training is a long weekend of intense training that pushes you to the edge of your abilities and usually your toughest opponent is you. No, I didn't punch myself.

One of the benefits of special training is to practice and face karatekas from other dojos. In sanbon-kumite (three strikes sparring) I faced another black belt. Both of us ranked as nidan. Quick estimation - I am a head taller than him, at least 10 years older than him and he has a well groomed big mustache. We bowed, and before I managed to move in, his fist found my chin. Since I was working on getting-in (irimi) I decided to try getting-in again and stretched myself tall so his fist would need to travel longer to its destination. He moved, I moved, and his fist found my nose. No worries - only blood, nothing broken. Sanbon-kumite is a three continuous strikes engagement, my opponent managed to hit me and cause pain. Yet, he didn't knocked me out and I was able to navigate successfully his other two consecutive strikes and counter attack. One of the seniors that observed the engagement commented: "try to block." I didn't want to change my internal goal for the practice, but I didn't want to get hit in the face for the third time. So, I adapted my internal goals to meet the threat. 

Lessons for the insurance companies:

  1. Don't under estimate InsurTech startups. Some of them are hipsters that can respond to your customers faster and better than you can.
  2. Playing "big company" against a small startup may draw blood, from you.
  3. Most of the time the startup has only the first punch to play with.
  4. Adjust your internal objectives and incentives to support your external goals.
  5. Adjust your modus operandi base on the external threat. If you need to block, block! It doesn't matter that blocking is a simple technique and less elegant than Irimi.   
  6. Think M&A

Lessons for InsurTech startups:

  1. Be fast!
  2. Have a long reach than perceived.
  3. Create an awesome diversion. Grow a mustache if you can pull it off. 
  4. Hit where it hurts.
  5. Think M&A