3 Success Tips From the Greatest March Madness Coach

The first weekend of March Madness is over.  How’s your bracket looking?  I got three out four in the First Four.  Holy Cross – a 10 and 19 team surprised me.  They beat Southern.  I didn’t do as well on Friday.  I was really surprised that Yale beat Baylor.  Then Michigan State — who picked to win it all — lost.  As the old saying goes, that’s why they play the games on the court, not on paper.

Enough of my lack of knowledge about college basketball.  Let’s talk about success.

Recently, I read an essay by Dale Brown, an NCAA Hall of Fame coach, in which he shared the three secrets John Wooden, the legendary UCLA coach – winner of 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, and seven in a row.

Here’s what Wooden told Brown…

  • Talent — Make sure that you have better players than anybody you play.
  • Teamwork — Make sure you always get those players to put the team above themselves.
  • Simplicity — Always practice simplicity with constant repetition.

This is great advice for leaders as well as those just starting out in their careers.


Leaders need top quality people.  Make it hard to join your organization or team.  Don’t hire just anybody to get a warm body.  Find the exact right person what you need.

Young professionals need to become high performers – to demonstrate their talent.  Great performance won’t guarantee a promotion, but it is the best way to start climbing the success ladder.  Make sure your work is impeccable.  Do more than you’re asked.  Don’t whine or complain.  Get the job done with what you have.


Leaders must create an environment in which ideas, and creativity, flow freely.  Reward the people who work for you not just on their individual contributions, but on their contributions to the team

Young professionals need to become great team players.  Volunteer to help your colleagues when they get backed up.  Keep confidences and avoid gossip.  Be responsible for yourself.  Act in a civil, constructive manner in tense situations.  Do your job and give credit to others for doing theirs.


Leaders need to be clear on their expectations.  Make sure the people you lead no exactly what you expect of them and what good performance looks like.

Young professionals need to embrace simplicity too – especially in their communication.  Become a clear, concise writer.  Make your writing easy to read and easy to understand.  Use short words and sentence, first person, active voice.  Be precise in your choice of words.  Discipline yourself to prepare for presentations.  Use simple slides – not too many words.  Practice out loud until you are totally in sync with what you are going to say.

John Wooden’s three keys to success – talent, teamwork and simplicity — apply not only to basketball coaches, but to business leaders and young professionals.  Put them to work and watch your career flourish.

Your career mentor,


PS: I write this blog to help people create the life and career success they want and deserve. Now I’m going one step further. I’ve created a membership site in which I’ve pulled together my best thoughts on success. And, as a reader of this blog, you can become a member for free. Just go to https://budbilanich.com/join to claim your free membership. You’ll be joining a vibrant and growing community of success minded professionals. I hope to see you there.


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