Remember the XFL? That professional football league that
WWF WWE owner, Vince McMahon, started back in 2001? No? Well, I don't blame you, the XFL only lasted one season as it was mostly a gimmick with football as the side show. It would have been great if the quality of play improved enough to become a viable substitute for when the NFL is in the off-season, but alas it seems we're destined to only have one major professional football league (yes, I know the Arena league is alive and well but I think it's too compact with too much scoring).
Even though the XFL folded after just one year, the league still gave us one of the best gimmicks in sports, allowing players to put whatever they wanted on the back of their jerseys. The most notable being Rod Smart's jersey, which listed his "name" as "He Hate Me". You might not remember the XFL but I'm sure you remember "He Hate Me". It was a classic and probably got the XFL the most exposure out of anything. I'm sure Mr. Ocho Cinco used it as inspiration when he legally changed his name.
Here's five life lessons I learned from "He Hate Me":
- Gimmicks rarely work. Create quality content for long-term success.
- When going for an off-beat brand, make sure you like it.
- Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.
- Hatred is a stronger emotion than love.
- Have fun!
Rather than focusing on the quality of play, the XFL created gimmicks like a scramble for the first possession, no field goal extra point attempts and free rein over jersey names. The entire league was basically one big gimmick, rather than a genuine attempt at offering a decent football game. On the other hand, the Arena Football League focuses mainly on quality level of play with enough differentiation from the NFL style of football to make it work. They offer a unique product that is also entertaining because it's played well, rather than relying on flashy gimmicks.
Many people might think Rod gets sick of being known, still, as "He Hate Me" and probably wishes he never put that on the back of his jersey. Well, Smart actually loves his nickname and is cited by wikipedia as saying:
That's a part of me, so I never get tired of that. It's like my birth name, except it only came later than birth.
If you're going to call yourself something crazy/odd/strange/atypical make sure you like it. It's a big reason we're OK with The 42nd Estate as our company name, though it does create confusion and isn't the most intuitive name in the world, but we like it.
Thought the XFL has long been relegated to the footnotes of pop culture, "He Hate Me" lives on. Spike Lee mimicked the brand when naming one of his films "She Hate Me", Mark Cuban sports a "He Fine Me" shirt to basketball games (due to being constantly fined by the NBA), and even CSI: NY named a character on their show "She Hate Me". And now, eight years after the fact we're all learning life lessons from "He Hate Me"! That's quite the lasting brand!
So, when people copy your style, don't get mad. It's a sign that they like what you're doing and wish they though of it first! Of course, that's different from someone blatantly stealing your work and copying it word for word.
In the marketing world, it's common knowledge that angry customers will create more noise than satisfied customers. It's very important to make it as easy as possible for your very happy customers to provide testimonials and refer people to your brand, because anyone who dislikes your product will publicly and loudly call you out. When we get upset or feel we were wronged, we will let it be known. But, when we're completely satisfied we often don't shout it from the rooftops.
And when you look at the XFL, the longest lasting remnant of it is "He Hate Me". Whatever anyone thought of the XFL, almost everyone had an opinon one way or the other on "He Hate Me". The lesson is that no matter what you do, try really hard not to give people reasons to hate you because they will declare that hatred loudly and openly. Unless of course, you want the negative publicity, then let the hatred grow!
Above all, Rod Smart taught us to chill out and have fun. Sure, there's a lot of times to be serious in life but if we don't find moments to let go and just have fun, then what are we working so hard towards? Rod didn't care what people thought about him and his "He Hate Me" jersey.
The phrase originated from situations where he felt he was the best option, but was turned down. Instead of holding a grudge or getting upset he coined a funny phrase to use. When the coach wouldn't put him in the game, he'd just shrug and say oh, that's because "he hate me". He took life's obstacles and turned them into something funny. It's a lesson many of us could benefit from.
So there's five life lessons I picked up from Rod, "He Hate Me", Smart. Did you learn something new from the article? Know of any other lessons we can learn from "He Hate Me"? Share them in the comments below!
Not sure who took the original picture (let us know) but thanks to the Milwaukee Decider for the snap of the "He Hate Me" jersey.