March is always exciting for this marketing consultant. It reminds me how far enthusiasm, hard work and belief in yourself can take you, whether in life, sports or marketing. March hosts the college basketball championships. Even those of us far removed from sports fandom have heard of “March Madness.” Pure hustle. Unselfishness. Everyone focused on the same goal. Genuine joy and sorrow at the buzzer.
And no March would be complete for me without recalling the most dynamic motivational speech I have been on the receiving end of: “Gentlemen, if you don’t start hustling up I’m going to run ya til your nose bleeds.” Today, “til your noses bleed” is better said, but believe me, we all knew precisely what the coach meant.
Each March I revisit the feelings I had many years ago when college basketball was played by those not nearly as fast, strong or tall. It also reminds me what sports can teach: be quick, but not in a hurry; never quit on yourself; believe in yourself; and don’t be afraid of losing. Silly platitudes? Today, I know they’re not.
Lots of kids will ride those things to great heights this month. Don’t envy them. Pick a few out and ride them yourself. . .
Don’t quit on yourself. I see so many stalled companies because people quit on their marketing. They’d try something, it doesn’t work, so they quit on that method and try something else. When something doesn’t work, it’s rarely because everything about it didn’t work. Change it, refine it, test, prod, poke, change the price, change your target audience, but never quit.
Be quick, but not in a hurry. I first heard this from my freshman high school coach (I believe it’s attributable to John Wooden, in the opinion of many the finest college basketball coach ever). Anyway, in today’s context, be quick to act, but not so quick you get sloppy. Many owners spend too much time in denial when things slow down. Don’t you be one.
Hustle. There’s no substitute for it, and it can make up for so many things. Teams that get out-hustled usually lose. So do companies.
Believe in yourself. We all need an extra boost in this area now and then. Most don’t have the luxury of a coach whose job it is to pump up that belief. Well, find an executive coach or be your own. But you might as well believe in yourself, even when it gets tough to do so. Especially when it gets tough.
Losing is part of the game. If you are engaged, hustling and moving forward — “in the game” — you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to “lose some.” Losing has to be okay or you’ll stop pushing. If you’re afraid of losing you won’t win as many.
So hitch up your guts, get out there and get it done!
I owe a great deal to the coaches who influenced me. Thanks coach:
-Ben McGrady, elementary school; taught me the connection between hard work and success.
-Darryl Franz, freshman high school basketball; taught me how to play on a team.
-Royce Youree, high school varsity basketball; taught me it is possible to achieve things you never, ever believed you could.
-Royal Brown, college basketball; taught me basketball is life, not a game.
-Jon Ericson, college reasoning, logic and persuasion; showed me excellence and passion at the highest level and challenged me to pursue them. He was the professor every parent wishes their child finds.
–Bill Wallace, my dad; taught me hard work and honesty are enough.