Laura Petrolino

Growing a Business: The Jump Shot Success Strategy

By: Laura Petrolino | January 6, 2020 | 
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Growing a Business: The Communicator's Jump Shot Success StrategyNew year. New goals.

And for many of you, growing a business is at the top of your resolution hit list.

So today, we are going to talk a little hoops (go Celtics) and a little business growth.

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

Kenny Sailors, a former point guard for Wyoming’s 1943 NCAA championship team, is credited for inventing and perfecting the one-handed jump shot.

And while it’s impressive a single man can be credited with creating such a well known and game-changing shot, it’s Sailors’ motivation for the creation of the shot that 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 play by making the best of his (somewhat short) assets.

Growing up he often played against his older and taller (6’5”) brother Bud.

Kenny found himself constantly frustrated at having shot after shot blocked.

Thus, the jump shot was born.

Not from a man genetically gifted at the game he loved.

From a man who used and embraced his biggest shortcomings to find a way to be successful.

Planning Success Means Overcoming Obstacles

Successful business planning requires an understanding of your strengths and weakness, your obstacles and opportunities.

Communicators are awesome at doing this for clients.

But we stink at doing it for ourselves.

When we develop a PR strategy for a client, our first step is a research and analysis phase.

We dig into the client’s business—their business plan, sales process, industry, and competitors.

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

And finish up this stage with a complete PESO model based on a SWOT analysis.

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 an important skill in growing a business, and a quality we look for when choosing team members and evaluating potential clients.

In many cases not being a risk-taker won’t ruin you, but it will prevent you from reaching your full potential.

When Kenny created the jump shot, almost everyone else was shooting with two hands, and no one’s feet left the floor.

Kenny broke the mold to find a solution that worked. And worked well.

Risk is scary, whether it’s growing a business, playing sports, or just life in general.

But if you aren’t a bit scared, you aren’t living up to your full potential.

Plus, what’s worse? The risk of action or cost of inaction?

We live in a world where we spend most of our time very comfortable.

Many of us don’t need to ever worry about having enough food, a place to sleep, and shelter from the elements.

This is great.

What’s not great is we get so used to having a convenient life, we are often hesitant to venture out of our comfort zone in any way.

One thing I try to do daily is lean into discomfort in pursuit of my goals.

I remind myself if I’m not at least a little bit uncomfortable, I’m not pushing myself hard enough.

Dribbling Through Obstacles

Not only was Sailors a one-shot wonder (pun totally intended), he had the ability to navigate endless obstacles.

Something we all need to do in work and life. 

When we make a plan, we can really only control one thing: our 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. 

For Sailors, it was all about the attitude:

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.

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.

In fact, the opposite is more likely to be the case.

Most of the time, the difference between success and failure isn’t skill, it’s patience and endurance.  

Just Do It

While the “Just Do It” motto has nothing to do with Kenny Sailors, it is connected to another pretty well-known basketball player you might have heard of.

Since I’m all hopped up on basketball analogies today, let’s go with it.

Everyone has that one plan or goal they just can’t seem to accomplish.

You know the one.

The one where you constantly say: “I really need to do X for my business,” or “this year, I’m going to develop/create/launch X,” and then somehow the year goes by and you’ve once again successfully pushed off a goal that was important for your success.

It’s normal.

We all have a bunch of daily tasks to keep the proverbial lights on in our businesses and jobs.

And then we see this big task in front of us and we put it off for “when we have time”.

Unfortunately, the reality is we will never, ever have time. Ever.

Until we make it.

And it will be really hard to make it until we stop trying to find the perfect environment and scenario and just do it.

On our Agency Jumpstart call last week, I mentioned how I’ve started setting really small, tactical goals for myself every week that get me closer to my big goal.

Sometimes it’s hard to “just do it,” because we expect ourselves to get done too much at once.

And it’s overwhelming at best, impossible at worst.

Instead, just do SOMETHING.

Give yourself daily or weekly goals to move the needle forward the smallest bit, but still, move it forward.

Tasks so small not doing them is just embarrassing.

This keeps you in the game and the once elusive project stays front of mind and top of our task list.

As they say, you shouldn’t try to eat an elephant in one bite.

(I say, please don’t eat elephants at all.)

Knowing When to Let Go: Just Ship It

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. 

Seth Godin calls this  “shipping it“.

Decide on the right time to take your perfect shot, jump, and let 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 chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.