Laura Petrolino

Growing a Business: The Jump Shot Strategy

By: Laura Petrolino | February 4, 2015 | 
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Growing a Business: The Jump Shot Strategy By Laura Petrolino

The invention of the jump shot is a story anyone growing a business should use as a template for success (not to mention motivation).

Kenny Sailors, a former point guard for Wyoming’s 1943 NCAA championship team is now in his 90s.

He’s credited for inventing and perfecting the one-handed jump shot.

If the mere fact that one man can be credited with creating such a well known—and game changing—shot wasn’t enough, Sailors’ motivation for the creation of the shot is what really sets him, and it, apart.

You see, at his full height of 5’10”, Sailors really wasn’t what you would consider a natural born basketball player. But he loved the game and was determined to make the best of his (somewhat short) assets, to play to the best of his ability.

Growing up he often played against his older and taller (6’5”) brother Bud and became frustrated at having shot after shot after shot blocked.

Thus the jump shot was born…not from a man genetically gifted at the game he loved, but from a man who used and embraced his biggest shortcoming to find a way to be successful.

Planning Success through Obstacles

Successful business planning comes from understanding your strengths and weakness, your obstacles and opportunities—and pulling them all together to build something that maximizes the strengths, minimizes the struggles, and leverages the complete package to achieve your goals.

When we go about developing a strategy for a client, our first step is a research and analysis phase. This is where we dig into the client’s business—their business plan, sales process, industry, and competitors.

We review research, any existing analytics and metrics, and talk to the client team to really understand where they feel strengths and weaknesses lie.

We finish up this stage with a complete SWOT analysis looking at all four media types.

We do all of this so we can create a “jump shot strategy.” A plan that fully accounts for the client’s strengths and weaknesses, and reveals any potential opportunities.

That’s exactly what Kenny did.

Growing a Business Requires Risk

Being a smart risk taker is a important skill in growing a business, and a quality we look for when choosing team members and evaluating potential clients.

In most cases not being a risk taker won’t ruin you, but it will prevent you from reaching the level you could.

When Kenny created the jump shot, almost everyone was shooting with two hands, and no one’s feet left the floor. Kenny broke the mold to find a solution that worked. And it worked well.

Risk is scary, but whether it’s growing a business, playing sports, or just life in general, if you aren’t a bit scared you aren’t living up to your full potential.

Dribbling through Obstacles

Not only was Sailors a one shot wonder (pun totally intended), he had the ability to continue to navigate obstacle after obstacle and dribble his way to a becoming a consensus All-Americanhelping his Cowboys win the National title.

Life and work is and always will be about navigating obstacles, about controlling the only thing you can…your ball.

It’s about understanding that the phrase, “the ball is in your court,” really is accurate.

Sailors had the direction and focus needed to navigate past endless obstacles and get the ball to the hoop. A skill easier said than done in work, life, and sport.

I got to thinking that if I could dribble up to him—I was a pretty good dribbler—and then just jump as high as I could in the air and shoot the ball that I may not make it but at least I would try,  Sailors said. But at least I would try.

A phrase that makes the difference between someone who finds a way to push past their weaknesses and insecurities, and someone who lets them be permanent obstacles.

Success and growing a business require a certain amount of disconnection from an immediate outcome. Long-term growth strategies often don’t result in immediate gratification.

Instead they require a lot of endurance.

Knowing When to Let Go

And in the end, after you’ve tried and experimented, measured and analyzed, tweaked and perfected, a certain amount of success comes from knowing when to just let go.

It’s about deciding when the right time to take your perfect shot is, jumping and just letting go.

As Sailors so aptly puts it:

You don’t shoot it on the way up, you don’t shoot it on the way down, you have to take the shot right at the peak of your jump.

Photo credit: Makena G via photopin cc

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • Risk is definitely scary, for anyone. But risk without the possibility of reward is straight up futile. Sailors knew when he took his first jump shot that he had at least a 50/50 chance of scoring. I think many entrepreneurs take risks that don’t even come close to those numbers. The real key to success is knowing where your ‘insecurities and weaknesses’ begin and end. And not using them as a crutch, an excuse, to justify your choices, or your failures.

  • “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The Great One
    Seriously.. what do you have to lose?

  • Konectidy

    MediaLabRat lkpetrolino SpinSucks Thanks for this. Just what i needed to start my day!

  • EmilyNKantner

    I love me a basketball analogy! Great post, Laura

  • “you have to take the shot right at the peak of your jump” << Love this!

  • Eleanor Pierce I know, that’s my favorite quote too! I think about it a lot because it applies to soooo much in life!

  • EmilyNKantner Thank you, thank you! Sports analogy posts are some of my favs to write!

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger

    We all have weaknesses and insecurities. And in my opinion, we’re never going to turn true weaknesses into strengths. A more reasonable goal is to not let them hold us back. Recognize your weak points and partner with people who can help you push past them. Great post!!

  • belllindsay Totally agree. Smart risk vs. blind risk. I was an an event last night where the managing director of The Maine Venture Fund was the speaker. Afterwards he took questions and of course (the room filled with Maine based tech entrepreneurs) the questions were based around the who, what, when, where, why of getting funding. Over and over again he had to keep saying “show market need” or “is their a reason,” “what’s the market demand.”

    These are questions that entrepreneurs need to continuously ask themselves, but unfortunately some never do at all.

  • Great analogy and great post LauraPetrolino !I would just be careful assuming all businesses can be strong in all for areas. Sometimes their business isn’t a good fit for certain segments. I could own a big chain of dry cleaners but social media and media relations chances they arent a strong fit due to business type and apathy from people. But paid media, direct mail, community relations (like sponsoring town clean up day) would.

  • Stealing  Howie Goldfarb  opening words – Great analogy, using a great game created in Canada.  Thanks Laura.

  • Digital_DRK HAHAHA! Way to bring in the Canadian Pride Darryl! They should pay you royalties (because they certainly don’t have a bunch of all star basketball players to pay them to)

  • Howie Goldfarb LauraPetrolino Oh, you are 100% correct. That’s a mistake a lot of businesses make. Strategy is about knowing where your power lies. Kenny’s was in his jump…some businesses can jump, some businesses can block, some can score from across the court (I’m sure I could make each of these into clever analogies for the four media types…next post). Not everyone can be a Jordan!

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger Agreed, it’s finding away around your weaknesses, leveraging them in some way– whatever that might be. I’ll also say that some of our greatest strengths can also be weakness, so that’s something you have to watch for as well. For example, I’m super extroverted– that is a tremendous strength, but also a tremendous weakness, so I have to account for both sides of the coin.

  • LauraPetrolino  I know! –  our Toronto Raptors are having a so so season. I’m not even a Canadian citizen.

  • lkpetrolino

    patmrhoads Thanks Pat!

  • lkpetrolino

    ginidietrich Ohhh, I like this one!

  • lkpetrolino

    KatieMHutton Don’t you LOVE that quote!

  • lkpetrolino

    Konectidy Well then my work here is done! 🙂 (cc: MediaLabRat SpinSucks )

  • patmrhoads

    lkpetrolino You’re ever so welcome!

  • Konectidy

    lkpetrolino MediaLabRat SpinSucks LOL you can’t stop! Keep pumping out the positive juice the world needs a lot more of it : )

  • Howie Goldfarb LauraPetrolino I think I could take the guy, one-handed shot or not…just as long as he doesn’t have a wicked cross over dribble too….

  • bdorman264 Howie Goldfarb LauraPetrolino Bill I’m officially challenging you to a game of HORSE. We will test those skills my man!

  • Love it. We can beat the giants, yes, we can.

  • I love a good story and you wove this one into your post beautifully. And I don’t even like basketball. 

    I have to say I took this one personally, especially in regard to the idea of taking smart risks. I’ve been working on a post about my theme for the year, which–first time saying this anywhere–is Be Courageous. As I make plans to go into my small business full time, I can attest to what you said: …if you aren’t a bit scared, you aren’t living up to your full potential. And the letting go part. Yep, at some point you have to let the ball fly. 

    Awesome, Laura.

  • lkpetrolino

    Konectidy Haha! Good point! Also, LOVE what you all are doing. What a great concept.

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