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8 Business Lessons from March Madness

March Madness is upon us — That time where businesses across the country lose productivity during exciting games, early-round upsets and weekdays filled with back to back buzzer-beaters. Although managers and owners may struggle with the distractions that come with the annual tournament, there are actually several great lessons you can learn and apply in your business from the madness:

1. Rooting for more than one team — Everyone has their favorites in the brackets — an alma mater, favorite mascot or just the underdog, and oftentimes more than one team — The same holds true in business. You can root for and support a variety of “teams” that enhance everyone’s all around experience. Lift up your partners and vendors with things like positive online reviews; tell a client contact how much you appreciate their service with a personal note. Cheering for many doesn’t diminish the amount you cheer for your ‘own’ team.

2. Group participation and excitement — In many businesses you may have a group of disparate employees with not much in common other than their place of employment. The universality of March Madness means everyone, from the receptionist, to construction foreman and accounting manager, can get in on the action regardless of their expertise. Some of the most fun picks come from those individuals with absolutely zero understanding of the tournament and the fun of watching those picks play can transcend age, gender and education level.

3. Believing in the underdog — Your business might be the underdog, the one trying to make headway in a crowded field or introducing a new game-changing operations model. No matter what, you have to battle through the big players to get to the end and the chance to win it all, just like March Madness. It can be done; the lesson here is to just believe!

4. Thinking ahead — One of the biggest challenges of making your picks is trying to guess the path eventual winners will take. Participating teams have the same issue. When facing a challenge or issue, don’t be tempted to look at just the elements right in front of you — In March Madness, coaches have to be smart and strategic, preparing and planning ahead for which teams might advance (either favorites or surprises) and setting out a plan of attack in advance so your players are ready when that game comes.

5. Not taking victories for granted — Pretty much every season there is a first-round shocker where a highly seeded team is knocked out by an underdog. Almost without fail, you will hear coaches say “we didn’t prepare for the team” or a variation of that in post-loss analysis. In business the same is true — Don’t discount the preparation and seriousness needed for even simple or small tasks, as indifference can often breed failure.

6. Marketing and engagement opportunities — Like it or not, March Madness is a productivity suck. People are glued to their TVs, computers and phones. So take advantage! Look for ways to incorporate the fun into things like online contests, Facebook ads or TikTok videos to encourage customer engagement — When they weren’t even expecting it! Just be sure to avoid using any licensed team names, logos or trademarks in your contests — Keep references generic.

7. Learn to move on from mistakes and look forward — There are two options in March Madness: Win or go home. Whether your team has won or lost, it’s important to review mistakes and learn from them. Did you get lucky with a victory despite too many foul opportunities? Focus on correcting that for the next round. Out sooner than you thought? What can you learn from the defeat and apply to the next time you are in the same situation? Both lessons hold true for your business.

8. Have fun! The excitement from something like March Madness can be infectious and those swells of positive vibes that come from exciting finishes an big moments can brighten a variety of workplaces. If working conditions allow it, consider offering employees opportunities to watch parts of the games during business hours or schedule an off-site team building activity if a local team is in the tournament and you want to come together and cheer. The goodwill and happy memories of team camaraderie can have a lasting positive impact on morale.