Spieth Loses Masters, We Learn Vital Business Lessons

the 12th green at the Masters viewed from the 13th fairway
the 12th green at the Masters viewed from the 13th fairway

Jordan Speith’s loss at the Masters may have been a big upset in the golf world, but it gives us the opportunity to learn three important business lessons.

You don’t have to be a rabid golf fan to know that something just happened in professional golf that was unpredictable and unlikely. Jordan Spieth lost The Masters golf tournament after leading by five shots with only nine holes remaining.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the trophy presentation. Danny Willett of England shot a final round 67, while Spieth scored a title-surrendering 73, after dunking two balls into the water on the famed 12th hole (pictured above). So Willett—never mentioned as a tournament favorite–won the championship by three shots.

While the golf pundits stay busy exploring what this stunning upset means for professional golf, let’s consider three vital business lessons Spieth’s loss provides.

Mary Kay Ash, who sold and managed her way to the top of the cosmetics industry, said this well, as quoted by her biographer Jim Underwood in More Than a Pink Cadillac: “Never rest on your laurels. Nothing wilts faster than a laurel sat upon.”

Apply her advice to today’s flooded job market. True, job seekers are wise to highlight their major accomplishments in their resumes, and to refer to them during their interviews. Although these achievements help their cause, past activities alone won’t land a new position.

A potential employer will determine what you can do for her company now, next year, and beyond. How will you boost teamwork, sales, and customer service? Will you adjust successfully to the new corporate culture?

In the music industry, the phrase “one hit wonder” applies to many recording artists. Sadly, their careers plummeted soon after a meteoric rise to the top of the charts. They didn’t keep producing what the public would buy.

So follow Mary Kay’s counsel. While describing your career, talk about your wins enough to build your credibility, yet emphasize what you are going to do next that will benefit your employer, clients, employees, other constituents, plus that all-important bottom line.

New Masters Champion Danny Willett didn’t qualify for The Masters by winning something like the Toledo club championship. Though far less heralded in the United States than Spieth, Willett ranked twelfth worldwide among professional golfers, and had finished sixth in the British Open.

One key to remaining at the top in business is to recognize that vastly gifted competitors challenge you–to remain innovative, to adjust to shocking changes, to be the first to offer new products and services, and to treat your customers better than anyone else could.

Think back a few years to the condescending comments some merchants and business owners made about an upstart company called Walmart. You can just hear hear their derisive words:

“From a hick town in Arkansas, won’t amount to much.”

“They won’t affect us. Our folks will stay loyal to this company.”

“They’ll fold soon, like the other store that was on that corner before them.”

As we know, any business executive who thought he could ignore the lesser known competition was miserably mistaken. Walmart has become the world’s largest corporation according to revenue, and the world’s largest private employer.

So here’s a second vital message: Never assume the competition seems trivial, less prestigious, or unlikely to take control. Plan, work, manage, sell, and motivate as though your competitors are gaining on you. . .big-time.

So,  Jordan Spieth did not win The Masters, and resembled an amateur badly in pursuit of his club’s championship. Yet would you consider him washed up, a has been? Would you bet against him in any tournament he enters? A thousand dollars, or more? Not likely–because you know that one loss, even one witnessed worldwide, will not destroy his confidence permanently, reduce his talent, or erase his drive to regain and keep the number one spot.

Relating to the business scene, have you experienced any of these threats?

  • Downsized staff, making you accomplish more with less help
  • Company has a new owner, you get a new boss
  • Your health and retirement plans shrink drastically
  • The company transfers you to a distant location
  • You lose your job
  • A potential employer who seems a “sure thing” hires another candidate

Once more, use the Jordan Spieth analogy. You, too, will reach top levels again.Chances are strong you have done that before, after what you considered a career-ending catastrophe. Now, you are even more skilled, you have additional leaders referring you, and you know you can adjust to unsettling situations.

Yes, Jordan Spieth, you didn’t win the coveted green jacket, but certainly you gave all of us three superb business lessons.

First, visit my LinkedIn page:


Then call me to discuss what you want to accomplish, and we will devise a coaching plan that will help your company communicate more clearly and productively: 678-316-4300

And check with me too about my Speech Coaching plan that will help you speak confidently, clearly, and convincingly.


Speakers Need to “Feel That Juice”

golf clubs

When Tiger Woods teed off in the first round of the 2015 Memorial Tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio on Thursday, his drive off the first tee marked the 307th time he has started a round in a PGA Tour event. So, would we assume that he no longer feels the jitters when he is about to hit his first shot? By now, hasn’t he become the proverbial “cool, calm, and collected”?

In an interview afterward with Tim Warsinskey of The Plain Dealer newspaper, Tiger commented:

“Oh, I always get nervous,” He added: “That’s great. And the day I don’t feel nervous on the first tee is the day I quit. That means I don’t care anymore. I want to feel that juice on the first day.”

What Tiger Woods said provides a solid lesson for speakers. When I provide Speech Coaching for clients, one of the first questions I hear is, “Can you help me get rid of my stage fright?” I explain that while many speakers think that stage fright is a totally negative experience, fear of the audience and the speaking situation enables us to “feel that juice” Tiger Woods described. Advantages:

–We prepare more thoroughly, to reduce our tension.
–We look and sound energetic.
–We become less rigid and more mobile.
–We ignite our audience, since enthusiasm is contagious.

So the next time you start shaking at the thought of your speech that’s minutes away, recognize this means–to borrow Tiger’s language again–you care. Realize, too, that your anxiety matches what a teacher feels on the first day of class, a novice sales professional senses when she approaches an appointment, and the new employee feels entering his office.

To hear more about stage fright and to listen to other valuable strategies that will help you generate the “attention, agreement, and action” you want as a speaker, order my Audio CD, “How to Speak with Poise, Power, and Persuasion.” You’ll find this and other CDs on my Web site:



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Let’s talk about your speech coaching needs, so we can design a plan that helps you speak more effectively. Call me: 678-316-4300

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