The Secrets Behind The Madness

Coach from NK Herald Feb 2006My April column for the Kitsap Sun / Kitsap Business Journal…

I love March Madness. I think it’s the best three weeks in sports, period. Nowhere else can so many upsets, drama, and amazing personal stories converge on such a grandiose stage.

As I write this column, the Sweet Sixteen has yet to occur, so I have no idea who wins. Suffice it to say, my bracket was officially “busted” when University of Maryland-Baltimore County upset the overall No. 1 seed — and my chosen champion — University of Virginia. It was the first time in history a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed. However, other huge upsets to big-name programs came at the hands of the likes of the University of Buffalo, Loyola-Chicago and the University of Nevada. Madness.

As a former high school basketball coach, I always seek to understand the “why.” Why do mid-major teams from smaller conferences and with lesser pure talent upset the higher seeds on a regular basis? Here’s what I’ve decided:

1. The big schools have been besieged with what’s referred to as “one and done” players. The one-year minimum college rule before entering the NBA means the best young players rarely stick around for their sophomore years, opting to go make money. The consequences? There is less consistency and maturity for those big schools as compared to mid-majors that keep players for all four years. You often have 22-year-olds playing against 19-year-olds — plus the more mature teams have played together and create a stronger synergy and teamwork.

2. The pressure gets to younger players with bigger expectations. I’m certain the more talented Virginia team started feeling the pressure midway through the second half when faced with being the first top seed to fall in the first round. You could simply see the change in their body language; they were taught theory and opponents were playing fast and loose.

3. Leadership is everything. I’m not suggesting that the big school coaches are not good leaders, they are. However, I’ve observed that they are more like psychologists dealing with bigger egos. The mid-major coaches resemble more high school coaches because they have the full attention of the players. Their focus can be on strategy and pulling the right strings with strong influencing skills.

Let’s discuss how this correlates to your business and why you can compete with your larger, more highly resourced competitors:

Team: You have the opportunity to build a strong, diverse, and consistent employee base. Small businesses are responsible for the most growth in the North American economy. Large corporations simply exchange the same employees; you grow them.

Once you have good employees on your team, it’s your responsibility to cultivate and develop them. That means having a formal development program where employees at all stages can be mentored, coached, and learn their craft. With the growth of digital technology, there have never been as many resources to utilize.

The problem I see is that small business owners don’t make this a priority. While many say this is what they want to do, their actions and financial investment say otherwise. In order to build a company full of star players, each one has to have an opportunity to grow, develop, and rise in the organization. If they don’t, they won’t stay.

Pressure: We all are familiar with what it means to “choke” in sports. In our business, “choking” means succumbing to the pressure. It means allowing fear and anxiety to win over our talent. As a business owner, you can help allay this issue by becoming a master influencer.

Notice I didn’t use the term “motivator.” Motivation is hardly ever the problem with good employees; it’s fear of failure or rejection. Instead of motivating, your job as a leader is to “influence.” In other words, become that person that can transfer your knowledge, skills, and positive mindset to those that just need the encouragement and — this is the important part — assurance that it’s okay to fail.

Influencing skills are the most crucial part of being a strong boss or manager. Without it, you’re the equivalent of that coach yelling from the bench to try harder. You want to be the coach that shows them how to be better and more confident.

Leadership: Employees don’t leave jobs, they leave people. Business owners and managers hold the future of the business in their hands, and it’s a huge responsibility. Retaining and growing talent is crucial in any industry. That’s why the person in a leadership position must be able to skillfully pull the right strings by understanding what motivates employees under their guidance and how to optimize their skills for the betterment of the company.

When the focus leaves the individual and falls on the team (e.g. the company), then everyone is working towards the same goals. The problem in so many small businesses — especially family businesses — is that agendas and favoritism become part of the culture. The consequence is a crisis worse than any fire or cyber attack to the health and profitability of that business.

The solution is to train and guide those in leadership positions. Leadership is not inherent in people. Just because they have impressive sales skills doesn’t mean they will make a strong sales manager. Don’t make the mistake of choosing leaders and letting them go without development. The investment you make in your “coaches” (including yourself!) might just be the best money you ever spend.

You want to consistently win big in your “bracket.” The follow these three steps:

Step 1: Create a culture of teamwork, consistency, and personal development.

Step 2: Don’t add pressure, but rather find a way to help your employees to work relaxed and unburdened. You will get better results.

Step 3: Grow your coaches. Invest in yourself and your leadership team to become more skilled in developing and influencing your employees.

Do these three things and you’ll find yourself consistently cutting down the nets and increasing your business growth and profitability.

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps small business and middle market business leaders and entrepreneurs to grow more profitably and create a better life.  He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-271-1592; e-mail at dan@danweedin.com or visit his web site at http://www.DanWeedin.com.

Extra Points: Competing For Life

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Last Friday, I attended the annual meeting of the local economic development council. The keynote speaker was Congressman Derek Kilmer. He gave an inspiring speech, yet one thing resonated with me. He proclaimed his belief that both public and private businesses must compete with everyone, every day, everywhere, forever.

Compete with everyone, every day, everywhere, forever. Let that sink in.

I immediately recalled coaching my high school basketball players that we had to have the mentality that we’d play anyone, any time, and anywhere. Just needed a ball and an opponent. Congressman Kilmer’s language speaks to the same principle of readiness and preparedness.

If you’re going to do more than merely survive in business – as a CEO or a business professional that cares about your career – then “competing” is more than an aphorism. You’d better be prepared to do more than scream some rallying cry, or your bound to get thumped by someone that is prepared.

Let me put it to you in business terms: If a sales professional isn’t prepared to respond to either interest or objection to them or their company, they’re negligent and unprepared. If the CEO isn’t ready to deal with a crisis that could damage his or her business and the livelihood of the employees, he or she is not competing. If the leader of an organization doesn’t take the time to invest in themselves personally to grow and become better in their craft; then the consequences of this lack of motivation will soon mean the loss of respect and business from those that surround themselves with him or her.

On Saturday night, the Oregon men’s basketball team had the inside position to rebound missed free throws twice and got out-hustled by North Carolina players that competed just a hair harder. The result of North Carolina’s efforts catapulted them into tonight’s championship game as they won by one point. Championship opportunities are there in both basketball and business to those who don’t always get the inside position, but compete harder.

Can your “team” win the close games because they are ready to compete with everyone, every day, every where forever? How can you tell?

Do you or your company need help competing better every day? If so, let’s talk. I can help you move forward to better performance and resilience individually and organizationally.

Quote of the Week:

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”

~ William Shakespeare

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Tight Shoelaces

This Week’s Focus Point: Tight ShoelacesDan Weedin Unleashed-40

I love March Madness and the start of this year’s tournament has already been filled with huge upsets and thrilling games. Unfortunately for me, this year was the time I decided to boldly go with just one bracket. Even though I’m competing in several pools, I eschewed hedging my bet and went with one single outcome. That outcome for me fell to pieces on just the second day when my “winner” – Michigan State – went down in flames to 15th seeded Middle Tennessee State. Michigan State was tied with Kansas as the odds on favorite by Las Vegas experts. In the opening round, they showed how you can go from favorite to last in the blink of an eye. The cause of this calamity for the Spartans? Tight shoelaces.

I’ve been a huge fan of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo since I first saw him speak about a dozen years ago. He is a master coach that really prepares his athletes well. However on watching the second half of this game, I noted something very uncharacteristic of a Coach Izzo team. As the Middle Tennessee squad refused to succumb to the higher ranked team by hitting big shots and making the better plays, the Spartans got a case of “tight shoelaces.” This is a basketball axiom that is synonymous with panicking (you may be able to draw other visuals from this metaphor). Middle Tennessee had nothing to lose, so they played fearlessly. Michigan State played with panic. It was evident that they were thinking about the ignominy of being only the 8th #2 seed in the history of the tournament to lose to a #15 seed. This was a talent-filled, veteran group with high hopes and they were self-destructing under the weight of the pressure.

How do you handle pressure? Do you play fearlessly and aggressively as if you have nothing to lose OR do your shoelaces get tight? Panic has nothing to do with courage or skill. Panic is 100% about confidence, or lack of it. When consequences to “losing” align with a drop in confidence, panic sets in. Just like in March Madness, panic is deadly for you as a business professional. What you need to do to avoid it is always keep your perspective, proportion, and absolute belief in your ability and smarts. That way, you’re always in a position to win your game day after day and stay away from those tightening shoelaces.

Quote of the Week:


“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

~ Oscar Wilde

If you’d like to hear more about this concept, listen to my live Periscope broadcast today at 10 am PST. Information below…

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Madness Unleashed Journal #3

You can’t coach “tall.”Jack

I was watching the Kentucky-West Virginia Sweet 16 game last night on TV. Even on the television, it was excessively apparent that Kentucky’s team was just literally head and shoulders better. Any 50-50 ball that was up in the air (including rebounds) was there ball to have. While West Virginia is talented, you can’t change how tall you are. When I coached basketball in high school, I recall we coaches would always joke around and say, “You can’t coach height or speed.” Kentucky is undefeated this year and their ability to bump into the sky while running down the court is one BIG factor.

As a sales professional, entrepreneur, or consultant, you can offer all the same methodology as your competitor – products, services, assessments, trainings, etc. But you always have one thing that is different and can’t be duplicated. You. Too many of you fail to utilize the one thing that can’t be “taught.” You have experiences and gifts that are unique to you. They are manifested in how you influence others and can improve their condition.

Example – in my line of work in strategic risk and crisis management consulting, I can tell stories and draw comparisons based on my experiences as a volunteer fire fighter, a high school basketball coach and a public school board member. In fact, the least scary of these 3 was running in a burning building! My ability to transfer these experiences into something useful is a skill that can be learned (dribbling a ball), yet the fact that I own those experiences are unique to me.

Bottom line – instead of trying to impress a prospect or a client with your insurance knowledge or the number of acronyms after your name, try using what is exclusive to you.

You can’t coach “tall.” So go stand tall.

© 2015 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved

Madness Unleashed Journal #2 – Confidence

Why is it that so many lower seeded teams in the NCAA March Madness bracket upset the favored team?58842030-Dan+Weedin+%22Unleashed%22-30

These are all factors…

3. Lower seeded teams tend to be more “mature.” They have juniors and seniors, whereas many of the “better” teams are younger due to the “one and done” players. This ultimately means better decision-making.

2. In basketball, often you just need one really good player to carry you. Many teams can ride the shoulders of the “hot” player and overcome more talented teams.

And the most important in my mind…

1. Confidence. When teams that aren’t “supposed” to win get to hang around for the entire game, they get to a point where they believe they can and will win.

Confidence for leaders helps you win your own “championship games.” Confidence allows you to say both YES and NO when each are appropriate (and you will know the difference). Confidence allows you to ask tough questions, make bold moves, take risks, and meet people you might ordinarily be fearful of reaching out to.

Confidence wins in March Madness. It wins in leadership, too. It allows you to be “unleashed.”

© 2015 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved

Madness Unleashed Journal #1

Coach from NK Herald Feb 2006I love March Madness. I think it’s the best post-season tournament in all sports – college or professional. What makes it so fun is the unpredictability of the outcomes of the games. Every year, some “Cinderella Team” emerges to knock off heavy favorites and bust the brackets of many millions of fans around the country. The tournament is filled with talented players making incredible plays, the highest level of competition, and dramatically dizzying finishes of games. Even the most pedestrian sports fans are drawn to it and often fill out their own office pool bracket.

How do you bring that same magic, that same “madness,” to your business?

While you aren’t a high profile basketball tournament, you should be high profile in what you do. The same elements that make up a wildly popular sporting event are present in your own potential popularity. For instance:

  1. The tournament is different than the others based on the number of entries and the time span. How are you different than your competition?
  2. This tournament is defined by its drama. Are you an object of interest to your prospective clients? Do you make them lean forward when discussing your value?
  3. The value for the viewer is sheer fun. What do you bring to the table? Is it dull or dynamic?
  4. The tournament is ubiquitous for the next 3 weeks. Are you as visible to your target class of business? How deep is your intellectual property empire?
  5. The tournament is the ultimate water cooler discussion. Are people quoting you? Are they seeking you out as an interview? How strong is your cache?

Here’s the deal…

You don’t have to be popular to college basketball fans, but you do to your audience. During last night’s game between Robert Morris University and North Florida, North Florida coach Matt Driscoll was being interviewed and said he challenged his players by telling them to be “ballers” (hoops vernacular to a dynamic performer). He said “Ballers make plays. Dudes are just dudes…you need to be ballers.” In other words, anyone can go out on the court and be regular. They needed to be special.

Are you just a “dude” or are you a “baller?” Take a cue from the very best of the madness and go be special; be unique; and be a “baller.”

© 2015 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved

Weedin Madness Unleashed

JackHey, everyone has a bracket for the big tournament, right? Why not Captain Jack?!

Join my personal March Madness tournament and if you beat the Captain Jack Jumpers, you get a $100 credit towards any coaching, mentoring, or consulting program that I offer. It’s that simple. Fill out your bracket and see if you can beat us. Let’s have some fun.

Here’s how it works…

My league is on ESPN. There is no cost to play, but you have to be a member of ESPN (free). Go to Fantasy Games and find the “Tourney Challenge.” Search under groups for Weedin Madness Unleashed. That’s us. Join the group with the password UnleashedJack. Then pick your bracket by tip off tomorrow morning. Best to d it today to be sure.

We all need time for some fun and frivolity. Join in and see if you can beat Captain Jack. If you do, it’s worth a $100 credit.

Game on!

© 2015 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Madness. Memory. Momentum

Madness. Memory. Momentum                     2006 seated huddle vs Shelton

“Great players have short memories.”

The words of CBS college basketball analyst (and former Supersonic), Greg Anthony as he was talking about Ohio State star, Aaron Craft. Craft made a game winning shot against Iowa State with less than a second left in the March Madness tournament. Anthony is absolutely right. Great players always put the failures of the past behind them and move towards success on the next play. That’s exactly why I’ve never become a great golfer!

In watching the Gonzaga game Saturday night, many folks around here are calling Gonzaga “chokers.” In reality, in a game where there were three distinct momentum shifts, Wichita State had theirs at the right time…at the end of the game. The Shockers made 3-pt baskets like they were layups for the last 3 minutes of the game, as momentum swung furiously in their favor.

To be successful in business and life, you need both a short memory and momentum. On the latter, you can successfully keep momentum going with activities and behaviors that you know work, but sometimes are tough to keep doing. Keeping your head down and doing the right things consistently and intentionally will keep those momentum bursts on your side of the court. On the former, the best way to keep ding all those right things is to have a short memory. Forget the rejections; forget the naysayers; forgot when people say you can’t; forget unsolicited advise; and forget the speed bumps that are there to slow you down.

I love basketball for so many reasons, but one of them is clearly the lessons it teaches off the court. If you want to be successful in your life – professional and personal – keep momentum on your side and have a little selective amnesia.

Next!

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

This week’s quote –
“We an have no progress without change, whether it be basketball or anything else.”
–  John Wooden