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Show Your Employees the Blueprint for Professional Success

Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone on your team was relentless in their pursuit of worthwhile goals that benefited them and your company? And wouldn’t be great if they also practiced thorough preparation, embraced obstacles instead of fleeing from them, maximized their unique strengths, and maintained emotional control every day?

To make that vision a reality, you need to show each member of your team the path to professional success. Good news: I’ve got a blueprint for you.

A little back story first. Across three decades, I’ve achieved professional success as an entrepreneur, executive, business advisor, and speaker – plus I’m an 18-year cancer survivor. After one of my industry friends learned I was a survivor, he told me, "Now I understand why you’re so driven and do everything with a purpose – you’re relentless about every challenge. Now that I know you had cancer, I get why you are the way you are." I politely thanked him, but I couldn’t agree with him. I didn’t wake up every day thinking about myself as a survivor. I rarely thought of cancer, so it certainly wasn’t a catalyst in my daily life.

Upon reflection, I realized I attacked cancer and my career the same way I approached my role as a basketball walk-on at Gannon University, a Division II powerhouse in my hometown of Erie, Pa., from 1988-92. My walk-on attitude guided me to launch and publish my own sports magazine (1993-98) and then rise the ranks from Managing Editor to Operations Manager to company President/General Manager at IT publisher Jameson Publishing (1998-2016). The behavior pattern I established at Gannon through four years of extreme commitment, hard work, perseverance, and resiliency is the blueprint for professional success – mine, yours, and your team’s.

That concept was intriguing and enlightening to me, so I scratched on a sheet of scrap paper the core elements of my walk-on behavior, which I eventually crafted into the five-part Walk-On Method. (More on that in a minute.)

Immediately I wanted to tell others about this formula so they could apply it to their lives. But I didn’t think my walk-on and work stories would provide enough data to encourage others to change. They could point to what I did as an anomaly, the stars aligning, being in the right place at the right time. So, I decided to test my hypothesis: if I interviewed fellow former walk-ons about their college experience and their professional path, would I learn that The Walk-On Method paid uncommon dividends for them, too?

After five years of internet searches, outreaches via email, phone, and social media, and interviews with former walk-on student-athletes, the answer to that question was yes. An overwhelming yes. While each walk-on’s individual path was unique, the mindset, skills, and behaviors developed and the outcomes achieved after college were similarly remarkable. Ordinary people will accomplish extraordinary feats when their energy is properly channeled.

Ordinary people will accomplish extraordinary feats when their energy is properly channeled.

Our walk-ons applied The Walk-On Method first to college football, basketball, rowing, golf, or track & field, and then they parlayed that behavior pattern into success in business ownership, engineering, coaching, law, finance, broadcasting, medicine, insurance, film, management, education, banking, acting, and ministry. These former walk-ons were behaving subconsciously, unaware that scrambling to make a college sports team and fighting to keep their roster spot was foundational to their life’s work. Going the extra mile in their profession is second nature, and they wonder why others don’t take that same (and seemingly obvious) path.

Most people don’t realize they’re in control of their career trajectory. We’re advised by family and friends to play it safe, follow a well-worn path, or choose the most financially prudent option. We’re encouraged to seek immediate rewards for our efforts and “look out for number one” because nobody else will. When we read a media account of a successful person, their accomplishments are often painted as a one-in-a-billion anomaly, a lightning strike of genius or opportunity. My research destroys those myths and reveals this important reality: your professional success is within your control. Repeated (and bolded) for emphasis: Ordinary people will accomplish extraordinary feats when their energy is properly channeled.

Here's the five-part Walk-On Method I promised to share with you:

Step 1: Take a Big Shot - Aim for something great; anybody can make a layup

Step 2: Make a Passion Statement - Prepare with Passion, Practice with Passion, then Play with Passion

Step 3: Run Uphill - Takes longer, makes you stronger

Step 4: No-Fuss, All MUS - Maintain emotional control, Maximize Unique Strengths

Step 5: Make Them Throw You Out of the Gym - Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever quit

The beauty of The Walk-On Method is that all five steps are within your power. Nobody can stop you (or anyone on your team) from preparing with passion, leaning into obstacles, and maintaining emotional control.

In my book The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success, I share details on this process through the stories of 31 underdogs who became extraordinary. Here’s a quick look at one of those inspiring stories:

As a teenager, Paul Woodside was burdened with a paralyzing stutter. Ignoring his impediment, he walked into the West Virginia University football office in August 1981 to speak to a coach about playing for the Mountaineers. After struggling for 20 minutes to express himself, Woodside and the coach stepped onto the football field – where he shanked his first attempts so badly the coach accused him of playing a practical joke. Woodside relaxed, began making his kicks, and because of his uncommon mental toughness and work ethic, developed into an All-American. When other WVU specialists would get their work in and then hit the showers, Woodside would run the stadium stairs for two-and-a-half hours, even in nasty weather. Today he counsels prospective college and professional kickers as the owner and lead instructor of Before U Kick: Seeing Beyond Uprights. Woodside trains his pupils on technique, but his focus is on helping them establish a special attitude.

There are 30 more walk-on stories where that came from - practical, easy-to-digest stories that will paint clear pictures of behavior your employees should model. Plus we end the book with a list of 43 Walk-On Workplace Do’s and Don’ts that can be applied immediately. Examples:

· DO Answer truthfully, even if the truth exposes a failing of yours.

DON’T Stretch facts or provide incomplete answers to cover up your failings.

· DO Deflect credit, accept blame. Speak up when you fall short of a goal or make a mistake.

DON’T Brag. Outsource blame. Offer excuses or point fingers when outcomes are not achieved.

Purchase your copy of The Walk-On Method today – for yourself and so you can show your team members the blueprint to professional success.

Want to hear more? Check out Jim's appearance on the Maximize Business Value Podcast with Tom Bronson here.


Since 1999, Jim Roddy has educated business and non-profit leaders (and future leaders) through books, national magazine articles, podcasts, and presentations at national conferences. Jim is one of the most popular speakers in the technology industry because of a presentation style that is “infotaining” — a combination of informational and entertaining. Jim is author of The Walk-On Method to Career & Business Success and Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer. He has been featured as a guest on the Read To Lead podcast and has been published by Entrepreneur and Nasdaq. Jim can be reached at

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