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Pony Express - Know when to use a full court press

You've heard of the full court press. It's an aggressive defensive basketball strategy -- an all out effort -- that harasses the ball handler with one or two players all over the court to cause errors (turnovers) by disrupting dribbling and passing with heavy pressure. When it works, it can be devastating. Sometimes both teams do it to one another, resulting in a wide-open run-and-gun ball game. But it can be a dangerous strategy against a skillful, well prepared team and can backfire with disastrous results.

As you can imagine, the full court press strategy isn't limited to the game of basketball. We have all seen the full court press at work in politics -- and the picture isn't pretty. It's a steady stream of negative advertising designed to humiliate and embarrass an opponent or paint him as a liar, cheat or fraud. In contrast, it could be a relentless campaign of positive messages, but seldom is.

The business world understands the full court press. The Apple people especially know how. They've been doing it for years. First, a "rumor" is leaked about a fabulous new product being perfected. It may not even be revealed until next year. Then details trickle out. Finally the date of an unveiling is announced. The information is a clever mix of fast and mystery -- smoke and mirrors. Finally, there's a press conference on the big day. The wonders of the machine are described in detail. The product sits on a table at center stage, but it's covered.

Then a power point presentation builds the tension. Finally, it's unveiled. Ta-dah! But after that it rolls of the assembly lines slowly so that customers gather at the doors of the Apple retail stores so that the frantic buyers can get one of their own on the very first day. This is a full court press folks and it works every time for the Apple team. The same strategy is employed by many retailers on "black Friday" after Thanksgiving. Hyped up buyers stand in line for a midnight opening and push and shove one another rushing in the doors when they finally open.

Romance and courtship (is the term courtship used anymore?) are also familiar opportunities for the full court press. Young man meets young woman, thinks she is the girl of his dreams and decides to sweep her off her feet in the least amount of time before somebody else gets her. So he engages in a relentless rush of attention: movies, ball games, dinners, roses, chocolates, gifts, cards, e-mails, calls, trips. Finally, a ring and a proposal. Is this love? It might be, or it may just be infatuation. If it all happened in too much of a rush, it may turn off the princess and kill the romance. That's the danger of the full court press. If she likes the guy, the like many turn to love and they marry and live happily ever after. For most couples, the slow and steady approach is more likely to provide the happy ending everybody is looking for.

So now you know about the full court press. It can come at you in anything you do or you may choose to enlist it for your own purpose. But be careful -- when it doesn't work, the team or guy who tries it, will probably be sorry they didn't use a more patient approach. You gotta know when to try it, know when to deny it -- know when to walk away and know when to run.