19 Apr

What’s Worse? Missing An Alley Oop Or An Open Layup In Business

Lessons From My Real World

A few weeks ago I was playing basketball with some friends. We were tied with the opposing team and we had the ball. I inbounded the ball to our fastest player, who immediately drove down the court and missed an open layup. We got lucky and still won but we let my teammate have it for missing the layup anyway.

My teammate quickly got upset and blamed the ball. He didn’t blame the pass, or anyone else, just the ball. It was the ball’s fault that he missed, what type of shit is that?

One teammate walked over and told him, “That’s why we never give you the ball. You miss open shots all the time and lay the blame on everyone else.”

He was right and this got me thinking about the few times I dropped the ball and didn’t make my own layups in business. That feeling of missing a “gimmie” or a sure shot is the worst feeling when you actually take a second to think about it.

It also got me thinking about which was worse in business; missing an alley oop, or missing an open layup. Better yet, does it even matter?

Missing An Alley Oop

In basketball making an alley oop gets the players and the fans excited. Nothing beats being setup perfectly and then converting on an easy play. However; miss that alley oop and things get shaky. The coach gets mad, the players lose a little of confidence and everyone will be waiting to see if you convert the next time.

In business missing an alley oop can be embarrassing and emotionally draining also. One way to look at it is through introductions.

When you are introduced to someone you idolize in business by one of your friends or peers they are giving you the alley oop. Any true entrepreneur will tell you that intros are valuable as hell when they are coming from people they trust. All you have to do now is show up and do the things that got you that intro in the 1st place. This is where many fuck up.

Some feel that since someone gave them the alley oop their work is complete when in actuality there’s still more to do. The person made the intro because they know you can convert, so now you must convert.The pressure is on you to not miss your shot and embarrass yourself or worst of all the passer. When you get the hookup and still mess up, those hookups or alley oops will start to diminish.

But why? Well you missed the chance to prove yourself; you might have also just lost the belief you needed from the passer. Me personally if I see that you keep messing up on easy opportunities, I will stop handing them to you. You missed the shot, but it was a shot I set up for you. We both look bad when you miss an opportunity because I helped you with it. I can’t risk losing because I can’t pass the ball to the right person. Plus you might try to blame me for your misstep since we are in this together.

So when you miss an alley oop remember, you just didn’t miss for yourself, your team or business missed out on the score. Not the best of feelings.

Missing A Layup

In my opinion missing a layup in basketball and in business is by far the worst of the two.

Here you are the sole player, the decisions are yours. Do you go up with your left or right hand? Do you get fancy and perform a reverse lay up? Do you cold call over 1000 people a week or play it safe and only call 5 people a week? Do you get lazy and not push your product?

All these decisions are yours, so when you fuck up and trust me you will at times, it’s all on you. I look back at some of the layups I could have had in business and ask myself how the fuck did I mess that up so bad?

I feel like I did this many of times with ThePhatStartup where an opportunity presented itself but I didn’t convert. It wasn’t that I couldn’t convert; it was that I didn’t even try to convert. I got cocky with it like many ball players do and simply missed the shot.

I felt this one time when I was sitting at a dinner with a big time entrepreneur. We were talking about the Tech808 conferences my team was putting together and the lack of a budget. This entrepreneur charges at minimum 40k for his keynotes and he asked me if I needed more speakers.

He bent over backwards telling me he would do it for us for free but I needed to let him know ASAP as he was always traveling. This was a layup that I should have made right then and there but instead I didn’t. I figured that he was excited, so he would hook us up and I didn’t need to rush. So I didn’t close, I didn’t take advantage of the easy layup!

Bad move! Two weeks later I called him up, told him we had room for him and he said, “Sorry can’t do it.” I was shocked, what changed? Well nothing changed, he gave me a chance but now his calendar was packed again. I took too long to convert a layup that would have guaranteed ticket sales. I messed that up, no one else.

Missing a layup in business can be detrimental if you let it be. Just like basketball, your main focus should be converting that basket. Not looking good while taking the shot, or letting your confidence take over. We all miss layups but if you keep taking them, buckets will surely follow.

So Which Is Worse? Or Do They Both Suck!

So which is worse? Missing an alley oop or a layup in business? Does it even matter?

Both suck, no one likes missing a shot period. No matter how easy it was or if someone set you up perfectly for it. When you miss you don’t score, point blank.

Both kill your confidence and if you do it enough both can kill your business. Most people will want you to win, but if you can’t convert on your shots, people will not feel confident in helping you.

Nothing is ever guaranteed in business but when you take a high percentage shot at your goal, you better make way more than you actually miss. Those easy buckets build confidence and momentum.

Miss on the shots that aren’t gimmies like 3 point shots or testing a new marketing strategy. You can get better with every failed attempt without losing respect from your peers or team. People will respect that you are taking a bigger chance and can forgive a missed shot like that.

But missing on the easy two points every time will give your competitors and your haters hope. As long as you keep missing and they keep converting; your chances of a loss increase. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I lost because I dropped the ball on something easy and neither should you.

Go make some easy buckets when they are presented!

Ever Missed Lay Ups Or Alley Oops In Business? How Did You Handle It, How Did You Survive? Hit Me Up On Twitter, I Would Love To Learn From You!


Would you like to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!

  1. Jamelle Sanders

    April 26, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Great analogy to talk about an important business lesson!

    • james

      April 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Thanks Jamelle I hate missing both shot btw ha ha!!!


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