Leo on Competitions

Writing about strategy and competitions of all kinds.

As we approach the end of 2023, another year, most of us tend to go into reflection mode. How was this year? Was it better than last year? The main question is: should we even compare? I don’t think we can.

In individual sports that are readily accessible to amateur persons, such as long distance running or triathlons, it can be difficult to discern who is the opponent. When training for a marathon, or even if it is for a local 5k run, we usually hear “don’t compare to others, you are racing against yourself”. This is evident when we talk about marathons, where a professional athlete can compete against an average Joe, under the exact same conditions. All participants of all levels run the same distance, the same course, the same day, with the same external elements.

Now, of course, results vary vastly. I will use myself as an example. I consider myself a casual runner. Running is my favorite sports to do, given how practical and simple it is. I am no super athlete, but I have three full marathons under my belt. My best time was at the Fort Lauderdale Marathon at ~4 hours exact. Compare that to the average finish time at the 2022, Boston Marathon, one of the most difficult to qualify for races. It was ~3 hours and 45 minutes. Not that far off, you might think. However, compare that to the record for any marathon race, and we are talking about ~2 hours. And most professional runners, get relatively close to that time. They’d practically lap me.

What this means is that an average Joe like myself, is considerably far from a professional, in a setting where all conditions are the same. It’d be absurd to compare my training and race times with the podium times. It would give me nom value. Therefore the general thought of “don’t compare yourself, you are racing against yourself and it is better to focus on your incremental improvement”. It’s really a scale thing, because **an absolute win, as in the fastest time in a marathon, is unattainable for most of us in spite of all conditions being equal**.

But average Joes still go out there, every day, and train and signup for marathons. This is because they are not after a podium, they are after different goals. Of course, some do it to raise money, other to say they have finished such a difficult taxing activity. Many of us do it, to simply, improve.

Now, back to the original topic and question. Can we compare years with previous years, should we focus on incremental improvements every year (which is still a comparison, but in time), or should we reflect in isolation? Can we say that 2023 was much better than 2020?

We can argue that years have all conditions equal. We are on the same earth, same time in history, across time. Similar to a marathon race, and as cliche as it sounds, life is a relatively long journey when measured in years. Therefore I think **we should avoid comparing each year with the previous year, or the year when we got married, or the year when my job gave me tons of professional success. We should focus on assessing and reflecting on each year in isolation; by itself**.

After all, not everything is a competition. For me , 2023 was a great year. Happy new year 2024.


The perfect is enemy of the in-progress. In the asymptotic limit of competition outcomes, focus in growth is more important than the end state.

#thoughts #brief

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Trust is the firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person. Trust is an important, powerful quality to influence and work effectively with others in business, work, and our competitive lives. In fact, the level of trust in all business relationships is the most significant determinant of success.

However, the level of trust we carry can be subjective and difficult to measure. The Trust Equation is a framework that, although not exact, attempts to quantifiably guide us towards building more trust.


The Cassandra syndrome, also known as the Cassandra complex, presents itself when a person’s warning goes unnoticed and is disregarded. This is a very familiar situation for consulting roles, and especially true for competitive intelligence professionals who try hard to get their insights acted on.

The term is derived from Greek mythology. Cassandra was a beautiful woman whose beauty seduced Apollo into granting her the gift of prophecy. However, when Cassandra refused Apollo’s romantic advances, he placed a curse on her. The curse was that nobody would believe her prophecies and Cassandra was condemned to a life of knowing future dangers, yet being unable to do much about them.


The COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the greatest global challenge we’ve faced in nearly a century. All four characteristics of VUCA events are present during this coronavirus pandemic: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. There is no “best practice” to follow these challenges. However, the competitive landscape is still there, and a framework exists to help navigate these situations.


My most used strategy tool is the Strategy Map. In his Competitive Strategy book, Michael Porter describes them in his chapter on structural analysis within industries. He defines Strategic Groups as laid out or organized by strategic dimensions. This is my version of it and how I use it.


Noncompete agreements are legally binding workplace contracts preventing an employee to work for a competing company after the employment period is over. These agreements commonly prohibit the employee from sharing proprietary information to other parties during or after employment.


Porter's Five Forces is a very popular framework for analyzing the competitive dynamics of an industry. It is well taught to MBA students all over the world, yet I admit it is the one I use the least in Competitive Analysis. Not because I don’t find it useful, but rather because it’s a snapshot in time for an industry structure.

The premise is that by understanding the five forces, a company can identify the key factors that determine the competitiveness of an industry, and use this information to make informed decisions about how to position itself in the market.


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Hi. Operating from sunny South Florida, I am very passionate about all kinds of competitions. As a matter of fact, I’ve made my career about it and I work in competitive strategy and market intelligence in the corporate world. I have been in the industry for 10+ years, now.

Today, I'm the Head of Competitive Market Strategy at Zoom. Leading a rock star team of smart creatives that make competitive happiness possible.

I also really like building and operationalizing impact. I previously led and help built Competitive Intelligence functions as VP of Competitive Intelligence at ADP, and Dir of Competitive Intelligence at Cisco.

Outside of work, I also love competitions; both finite or infinite games. This of course includes anything from professional #sports (I have a preference for #soccer that borderlines addiction), to simple family board games (our current family favorite is Blokus)

I am family oriented, a truly diverse music taste, and love everything outdoors, especially: water sports, sailing, salt water life, boating; long distance running.