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Focusing on Fundamentals Reaps Rewards

Written by Tim Valentyn, Senior Vice President

Before transitioning to banking a year ago, part of my law practice over many years involved representing coaches and professional athletes. Through those connections, I’m still pleased to call several of my former clients friends, and we stay in touch.

Tim Valentyn CandidRecently I was talking with a former coach about the growth of the sports camp industry. It seems that every well-known player has a sports camp branded in their name — there are specialized position camps, specific skill camps, and individual sports camps at many high schools, colleges, and universities.

We both played sports on a collegiate level back in the day and both attended camps in our youth. My friend has more familiarity with the differences between camps now and camps then, and told me that nowadays, many kids come to camp with the expectation that they will scrimmage and play games all day.

The reality is that quality basketball camps, for example, devote a great deal of time to the basic, boring stuff that makes you a good basketball player — things like footwork, pivoting, stance and lateral movement, ball handling, passing and shooting mechanics, and much more. These fundamentals are taught and reinforced using a variety of creative and fun individual and small group drills, often during morning and afternoon sessions. Then, in the evening, the kids play team games and tournaments as a “reward” for working on the foundation of the sport. They (hopefully) use the solid fundamental building blocks learned earlier in the day to play well and win!

When kids watch the NBA, the MLB all-star game, or watch the USA women win the World Cup, they often focus on flashy windmill kicks, long home runs, thunderous dunks, and three-point bombs. What’s hidden are the hours, days, months, and years that star players dedicate to the boring, but absolutely critical fundamentals. Without the basics, it’s very difficult to reach the top.

I was struck by the fact that this analogy applies perfectly to our team at First Business Bank. We spend more time than any other local Madison business banking team on the fundamental, core financial aspects of business, and have an intense internal focus on culture, values, refined skills, and experience. We strongly believe that this approach sets us apart and better prepares us to go out into the community to help our clients. I like to think we help local business owners play their game better than anyone else. Our competitive advantage is sometimes concealed, similar to the pro athlete who still runs lines and does ball-handling drills every day, until you experience the difference with another bank.

My friend and I might have been the old guys trash-talking “kids these days,” but when it comes to your business, do you want to work with a “flashy” dabbler in business banking or the experienced team with a rock solid foundation and multiple careers’ worth of perspective gained from working with other business clients? I think you have your answer.

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