Business, Basketball, and One Shining Moment

March 29, 2018

March Madness Basketball Lessons for Business

 4 lessons on business from March Madness


We are deep in the midst of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and March Madness.

Whether you follow college basketball the rest of the year or not, many people get caught up in it this time of year. On the other hand, there are a lot of people thinking, “When will this be over so my co-workers will stop talking about their stupid brackets?”

Love it or hate it, businesses can score some great lessons from this annual 67 game tournament.

1. Even when you are the best you aren’t too good to fail.

In this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a 16 seed, beat the University of Virginia in the first round. Virginia, the number one overall seed, was the favorite to win the entire tournament. It was the first time a 16 seed ever beat a one seed and is being called the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history. That loss is a good reminder to all of us that even the best aren’t too good to fail.

Cerner Corporation, a large Healthcare IT company, learned that lesson the hard way. Several years ago, their CEO sent an email to approximately 400 managers within the company. The negative, threatening, angry tirade was posted on the internet and within minutes was shared throughout the world.

This is just a small portion of the email he sent to his management team:

“I STRONGLY suggest that you call some 7AM, 6PM and Saturday AM team meetings with the EMPLOYEES who work directly for you. Discuss this serious issue with your team. I suggest that you call your first meeting -- tonight. Something is going to change.

I am giving you two weeks to fix this. My measurement will be the parking lot: it should be substantially full at 7:30 AM and 6:30 PM. The pizza man should show up at 7:30 PM to feed the starving teams working late. The lot should be half full on Saturday mornings. We have a lot of work to do. If you do not have enough to keep your teams busy, let me know immediately.”

The entire email can be seen here.

The response was dramatic. On the day the email was posted on Yahoo! the company’s stock value fell $330 million. In an instant the Cerner executive learned he wasn’t too good to fail and he had cost his company's stockholders millions.

2. Recognize your team.

A good leader recognizes others for their hard work. When stopped for a post-game interview, the winning coach rarely says the team won because of his or her great coaching. They recognize the efforts of their players and the players from the opposing team.

Just like on the basketball court, a business's success doesn’t come from the work of one individual. It comes from the work of many people and those people should be recognized accordingly.

3. Look outside the box for marketing opportunities.

Trilix is a Des Moines, Iowa based advertising agency. For the past 13 years the agency has hosted an online “Bracket Racket.” People go to their site and make tournament predictions. Results are tabulated after each round and participants can see how they rank.

So, what does the agency have to do with March Madness?  Absolutely nothing. That doesn't mean it isn't an excellent marketing opportunity. Customers, vendors, potential customers, and others visit their website frequently throughout the three-week tournament. The annual challenge raises awareness of Trilix, drives traffic to their website, and encourages engagement with the agency.

Businesses should consider unique marketing opportunities such as public speaking engagements, hosting a community-wide tailgate before a high school football game, holiday home tours or other special events. They are a great way to raise brand awareness and people will remember your business because of it.

4. You will be remembered for what you did yesterday, for the things you choose to do today, and how you take on the challenges of tomorrow.

Remember that #1 team that everyone thought could win the whole NCAA Tournament? How did they handle the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history? They recognized their shortcomings, stayed positive and committed to continuing the path of hard work that brought them to that point.

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett, put it like this:

“You’ll remember this. It will sting,” said Coach Bennett. “It’s life. It goes on. We’ll have to get past that. For some reason this is what we’ve got to deal with, and my job now will be to say hey, how do we bounce back, our players and all that. But a life lesson is sitting there about defining yourself by maybe not what the world says, but there’s other things that matter and then you get back to it.”

The entire video is below...

So when you experience failure in your work, when your team doesn’t accomplish what you hoped, and revenues go the wrong direction, just remember tomorrow is a new day.  There is a new game to play.

As Coach Bennett said, “Get back at it.”

Your One Shining Moment may be closer than you think. Don't miss it. This is a great reminder.  

If you are looking to finance a new equipment purchase or would like to offer financing to your customers, we would love to join your team. Email us at or call us at 1-800-247-8136.