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Never Admire Your Punch
Keeping your guard up as an entrepreneur is importantreneurs staying on defense is key

I loved going to my best friend’s house as a kid mostly because there were few rules over there. I also enjoyed it because we were able to hang out with his older brothers, who I looked up to. And they frequently had older girls at the house too, which was a nice bonus as a ten-year-old.

Anyway, the brothers didn’t have a father in their life, and their mother was often working late (likely just scraping by enough to house and feed her three growing boys), so they were left to fend for themselves during the day, with the eldest often in charge.

One afternoon my best friend called and told me to come over right away to watch his brothers and their friends box in the backyard. I couldn’t resist that invite. The eldest brother had a real reputation for being a bad ass fighter. He was a neighborhood legend who punched above his weight, often beating the crap out of guys much bigger than him, or so the tales went. Never having the chance to actually see him fight until that point, I couldn’t miss this opportunity. I jumped on my BMX and hauled ass over there.

Approaching the driveway I could hear a lot of yelling and cheering coming from the backyard. I remember getting nervous as I knew I would be surrounded by fighting and teenagers much older and bigger than me once I opened the gate to the backyard. Nevertheless, in I went…

There were probably 25 teenagers in the yard, boys and girls, circling around two guys with boxing gloves on who I had never met. On the outside of the circle was a rather portly teenager sitting on the grass with blood trickling out of his ear. He seemed okay, but was breathing pretty hard.

“One round, three minutes!” yelled the eldest brother from within the circle of people. Immediately the two guys with boxing gloves on started fighting…

After about 20 minutes of different guys proving their toughness by boxing against each other, the eldest brother put the gloves on. He was ready to scrap. But all his friends who had been eager to fight each other earlier began looking for quarters. As a ten year old, even I could tell that no one wanted to fight the eldest brother. You could see it from their body language. They were scared of him. I guess the legendary neighborhood stories were true.

After realizing that no one would fight him, he looked over at his youngest brother and me and said “get over here pussies.”

I’ll never forget how nervous I was. All the cowards who were looking for quarters immediately began to smirk, probably because they knew we were about to get hazed…

“Aaron, you probably never fought have you?” the eldest brother said to me.

I don’t remember my response, but he was right. He told me to put a pair of boxing gloves on as he ran into the house. Within seconds he came back out wearing boxing hand pads. With the teenage crowd watching, he said “I’m gonna teach you how to fight.”

After some quick lessons on how to throw a punch he put his hands up for me to hit. The boxing gloves felt like they weighed a ton on my skinny arms. And I presumably began throwing some pretty pathetic punches judging by the laughter coming from behind me.

With some more advice from the eldest brother, things started to improve for me after about 5 minutes. I could feel my punches had a little bit of power now when they hit his pads. And I knew I was on the right track because he began to smile after each punch I threw.

Slowly, my nervousness grew into confidence. After landing about 20 from what I could tell were great punches, the eldest brother advised me to throw the punch and immediately bring my fist back in tight to my body. Basically, throw a punch and immediately defend your body was the lesson he was trying to teach.

Seemed simple enough, but for some reason I wasn’t doing it very well. I would throw a nice punch with some decent power, but then leave my arm extended, as if I was admiring my work…

The eldest brother scolded me: “Stop admiring your punches, Aaron. It’ll get you knocked out.”

Despite the warnings, I did it again: landed a great punch and left my arm out for a half second too long as if I was reveling in my ability. This time he yelled “Aaron! You’re about to get smacked if you do that again.”

About thirty seconds later, I did it again – except this time it was followed by a hand pad hitting me square in the nose, without warning. I remember seeing black for about 2 seconds, then tasting liquid metal…

The eldest brother had socked me right in the face with the hand pad and my nose was bleeding. I felt so embarrassed and even wanted to cry. He was right to call me a pussy now that I think about it…

My best friend came over and walked me into the house to see if I was okay. We got some fudgsicles and went upstairs to watch TV. About an hour later, after all the teenagers had left, the eldest brother came in and told me something I’ll never forget…

He said “Never admire your fuckin punch unless you want to get knocked out. I took it easy on you. If that were a real fight you would be shitting Chiclets right now.”

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Chiclets were a type of gum back in the day that were white and similar in size and shape to teeth. His analogy was that if I admire my punch like that, someone would knock my teeth down my throat in a fight. It was very poetic on his part…

Entrepreneurial moral of the story here: Never admire your work. Stay humble, always remain proactive, and never let your guard down in the business world. Strike early and often, but diligently defend your shop from competitors.

Stay hungry,

Aaron Hoddinott signature