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Manage Your Career Like March Madness

You don’t need to be a basketball fan to know it’s that special time of year…March Madness. The underdogs, the buzzer-beaters, the upsets…it’s an emotional roller coaster ride, and we can’t get enough.

As a University of Michigan alum, and fan, I really thought this was our year to win the whole thing. We did it 30 years ago, and I was ready and rooting for another championship. Oh well. We’ll try again next year. GO BLUE!

In the meantime, while we all shred our busted brackets, wipe our tears, and start looking ahead to next year, you can still walk away with meaningful lessons to manage your career like it is March Madness.

See the Vision

Just like every team literally sees themselves raising the trophy, being showered with Gatorade, and cutting the championship net, you need to see the ultimate vision for your career. What does your dream job look like? What does it feel like? What does it mean to you? Whether it’s a vision board or a detailed written description, it’s critical to see the vision you have for your career and for your life. Remember, out of sight is out of mind…and you want your championship career in your line of sight and top of mind.


Set Goals & Measure Milestones

Just like the road to victory in March Madness is long and involves multiple games, so does your career. Every basketball team wants to make it to the Big Dance, but there are steps to get there. There are short, mid and long-term goals that need to be achieved just like with your career. If you want a seat at the table or an office in the C-suite, then what are the steps and milestones you need to achieve in order to get there? Map it out, create a strategic action plan that will take you from the first game to the final game.


Get a Team

Not a single person wins an entire tournament, and no one achieves any level of career success alone. It takes a team! As women, we think we can do everything ourselves all day and every day, and we wear that mindset as a badge of honor. The truth is that we need a team. We need cheerleaders, champions, allies, advocates, mentors, and sponsors. Who you surround yourself with will make or break your career.


Never Underestimate Cinderella

March Madness is filled with Cinderella stories where lower-ranked, underdog teams celebrate unexpected victories over the big dogs. It’s a classic David and Goliath story that we all cheer for, because at some we have all felt underestimated or judged prematurely based on a “ranking.” Don’t sabotage your career or not apply for a new job because you think you’re the underdog or not as qualified as the next candidate. Those teams win because they believe they can…embrace the Cinderella mindset of a confident champion and go for it!


I know managing your career can feel like “Madness,” but I also know you are more powerful than you imagine. If you plan ahead and bring your A-game, then you will be lifting your own trophy in victory. That’s how you win and how you Woman UP!

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