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…
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.
Why is it that so many lower seeded teams in the NCAA March Madness bracket upset the favored team?
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.”
I 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:
The tournament is different than the others based on the number of entries and the time span. How are you different than your competition?
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?
The value for the viewer is sheer fun. What do you bring to the table? Is it dull or dynamic?
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?
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.”
Hey, 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.
I was in New Jersey this past week for a couple of speaking events when the Rutgers University Men’s Basketball debacle hit the national headlines. For those of you who
missed it, Head Coach Mike Rice was shown in videos of practice verbally and physically abusing players. He was throwing basketballs at them; punching and shoving them; using gay slurs; and literally acting like a maniac. The video was made available to Athletic Director Tim Pernetti back in November, 2012. At that time, rather than fire Rice, he tried to rehabilitate him through a $50,000 fine, suspension for 3 games, and mandatory anger management treatment. Next thing you know, ESPN’s Outside the Lines program is showing the world the actions of a coach gone mad. The reaction from the sports world was harsh to say the least, and also drew the ire of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Rutgers is New Jersey’s most prominent state school, and this was a crisis that was spreading like a wildfire.
In the following days, Rice was fired; his assistant coach resigned; AD Pernetti resigned; and the President is under fire. As I write this, I am listening to the press conference by the president. According to Pernetti in his letter of resignation, they followed advice from the University’s Human Resources Department, Legal team, and outside counsel. He regrets now the decision of rehabilitation over dismissal. He wishes he had it to do over again because he would change his decision. Hindsight tells us that he should have known these tapes would be leaked. In today’s world, things like this never stay silent. But, that’s hindsight. Let’s use a little foresight for you.
Crisis doesn’t have to come in the form of a windstorm, fire, or data breach. Your reputation as a business or organization is priceless, and may be more impactful to
your bottom line than those other examples. For Rutgers University and its President, board, and leadership, this is a train wreck. Now, all eyes are on them on how they diffuse and react to the situation. It gives us a chance to learn from them.
Here are a few tips and suggestions on lessons learned…
Understand plainly that electronic and written communications and information rarely will stay private. What is written in emails even securely (see David Petraeus) can and will come to light, and is usually damning to you and your organization.
Poor behavior of employees and leadership will be held to account by your clients, prospects, investors, key stakeholders, community, and the media. You need to be prepared to respond to it publicly.
You should have behavior clauses in your employment agreements regarding poor behavior, including what might be done or written on social media.
Silence after a crisis like this is bad. You need to be proactive early. In the Twitter and Facebook world we live in, public opinion can be swayed and determined very quickly.
Practice for events like this. Role play mock interviews and press conferences and hope you never have to perform them live. At least with practice, you can work on your game.
Respect and have empathy for those who have been injured in the debacle – whether physically or mentally. The wost thing you can show is arrogance or indifference. Contrary to what you might have heard, apologies are not only acceptable, but necessary if they are warranted.
Do the right thing. Legal and HR have value, but if the right thing to do is fire someone because their actions were intolerable, then you fire them.
You better be good at public speaking. When issues related to bad behavior in your business pop up, you can bet you will have to address them to the media. You’d better have some skill in this area. If you don’t feel like you’ve “got game” in that area, now is a good time to change that…or delegate it!
I’m not hear to throw Rutgers under the bus. The leadership has acted pretty swiftly for an organization like this. The post event decisions seem to be good. This
article is more about what you can learn as a business owner, executive, or organizational leader. Now, some of you might be thinking, “This stuff doesn’t happen to me. I’m just a small business owner.” That’s where you may be tragically wrong. You may not end up on ESPN or CNN, but a bad report in your local paper or television station can be just as devastating. Don’t think it happens? Spend some time reading your paper.
Bottom line – Bad behavior happens all the time in many organizations. You need to be prepared as the leader to prevent it through education and consequences; mitigate damage if it does happen; and bring your team together to move forward after it’s calmed down.
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.
My alma mater, the University of Washington Huskies, got left out of the Big Dance. Even though they won the Pac-12 regular season title, a couple of bad end-of-the-season losses, kept them out of the March Madness NCAA tournament. They ended up being a #1 seed in the national Invitational Tournament (NIT).
These are 20 year olds. They were discouraged and upset about not being selected to the NCAA tournament after winning their conference. The NIT, though prestigious in history, was of little consolation. It would have been very easy to walk out on the court in the first game with a bad attitude and leftover baggage. That would almost certainly lead to an even more embarrassing loss and a terrible off-season.
On Tuesday, the Huskies defeated their arch nemesis Oregon to advance to the NIT Final Four in Madison Square Garden in New York. They won three games to earn that distinction. Now they will play on national television in the Big Apple. No matter what happens, this has been a success. They turned lemons into lemonade.
Give credit to the coaches for excellent leadership. Give credit to the players for staying tough. And give credit to the fans for sticking behind them. It was a team effort.
How often in business do we turn lemons into lemonade? In my experience, not often enough. Bad things happen every day in the business world…
Accounts are lost
Sales don’t get made
People are fired
Companies are sued
Fires, floods, power outages, and tornado damage occur
You can come up with a bigger list. The bottom line is that bad things happen and how we respond will determine the success or failure of the company and maybe even you. Here are some ways to avoid the failure…
Have a short memory. Dwelling on the past never helps the present or the future. Gain a “closer” mentality. When Mariano Rivera blows a save (which rarely happens), it’s forgotten by the time he hits the locker room. The next time out is about getting the save. You need to be the same way.
Be positive. I see too many people with a “victim mentality.” It’s always someone else’s fault; it’s never going to get better; we can’t do this; the sky is falling. You know the people.If you can’t be positive about who you are, your team, and your business, it’s time to get out.
Take action. Determine your course and take it. Be bold. Be fearless. Others follow bold, decisive leaders.
Have fun. Some days you win and some days you lose. Have fun anyway. Life’s too short to dwell on the past failures.
Final note – my professional mentor Alan Weiss has always espoused, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.” Life is full of failures; generally many more failures than successes. It’s how we respond to failure to find the next success that matters.
There is a tragic story coming out of Oklahoma State University this morning. Head Women’s Basketball coach Kurt Budke and his assistant Miranda Serna were killed in an airplane crash following a recruiting trip. This happens as college basketball is getting started and leaves the university both mourning and grasping for answers.
Certainly, the focus is on the families of Coach Budke and Coach Serna. However, their loss at such a critical time is also an example of how important it is for organizations to be prepared for “human redundancy.” Certainly, the team has other assistants, but these were the head and first assistant. How well prepared the assistants are to take the reigns of a major college program will soon be seen.
What about your organization? Who is next in line if something happens to you? What if a crisis occurs like this where the top two or three go down?
This is often a difficult subject to talk about, but it must be done in businesses of all sizes and even families. Tragedy usually occurs suddenly and having to make decisions in real-time can lead to problems. Take the time now to work out those issues and potentialities. None of us are invulnerable to them…
I guess maybe the Board of Trustees read my blog post today. They have relieved Coach Joe Paterno of his duties immediately.
This isn’t the last we will hear of this. The fallout will be widespread and legends and reputations tarnished. This isn’t a scandal that involves boosters buying a car for a kid. This has serious issues related to damaging lives.
Damage to reputation has the chance to harm more deeply than any other peril. How do you protect your organization’s reputation?
It’s a question to consider in calm times; not in real-time…