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Don’t Stop the Madness!
It’s March! And for me, that means just one thing… bring on the basketball! 🏀 Remember, one of my very first Broadcat posts was about tying your shoes John Wooden-style. (I’m all about consistency—in sports AND compliance training!)
Even in this era of one-and-dones and NIL (“name, image, and likeness,” for the uninitiated), there is something still so unique about college basketball. And having spent time working in a collegiate athletics compliance program, I get how challenging it can be to navigate the rules while supporting coaches and athletes to bring home championships. (If you’re not working directly in athletics, think of that as a metaphor.)
Which is why, this time, I’m turning to another legendary basketball coach, Pat Summitt, for some wisdom to apply to our compliance journey.
1. "Teamwork doesn't come naturally; it needs to be taught." 🤝
Compliance is hard. It’s not that people generally want or strive to do things in a non-compliant way, but it happens. Which is why we have jobs, right!? The mere fact that we write a policy doesn’t instantly mean everyone really knows what they’re supposed to do. So how do we get people focused on the “right” behaviors when they probably think they’re doing just fine? You have to teach them.
2. "Silence is a form of communication. Sometimes less is more." 🤫
Don’t misunderstand—I don’t think compliance people should be silent. But you do need to know how best to use your voice, in all its forms (e.g., verbal, written, visual, recorded, etc.).
Do the work to figure out how best to communicate with your teams, realizing that you may need different communication styles for each unique group. This means getting out there and engaging with your business by listening (i.e., close mouth, open ears) from the very top levels of senior leadership to the people that are making the dream work every day. If you make that effort, then when you’re ready to speak out, your voice will reach to the top of the rafters!
3. "If you don't admit a mistake and take responsibility for it, you're bound to make the mistake again." 😵
Whenever I hear of someone trying to sweep something under the rug, all I can think is “oh, good grief” (except maybe not that nice).
Source: The Office
Not only is that a bad thing to do, as Pat mentions, it’s also likely to lead to the next error. We know how uncomfortable and difficult admitting to and dealing with mistakes can be, but that’s the compliance game. Just like your bigs down low, post up and deal with the hit (in other non-basketball-lingo words: it’s going to hurt a bit, but it’s the right thing to do). It’s what the regulators expect and what your company deserves.
In fact, this type of behavior is exactly what the regulators expect, as we learned in the beginning of the year when Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. presented the DOJ’s updates to its Corporate Enforcement Policy. If both DOJ leadership AND one of the greatest coaches ever agree, it must be good advice. 🌟
4. "Offense sells tickets, defense wins games, and rebounding wins championships." 💪
I love Pat’s riff on the traditional version of this saying (she added the part about rebounding). And I think she’s absolutely right. High-scoring, flashy plays, and up-tempo offenses get attention. Disrupting passing lanes, keeping your hands up, and being in position keeps your opponents (or risks) at bay. But there is another element to the game we can’t forget—the rebound.
Make time to learn how to pivot, adjust, and regroup after a mistake. This is the natural next step in taking responsibility for mistakes. Again, this is no easy task and takes hard work and practice, but I guarantee you, your program and your company will thank you for it!
5. "A champion is someone who is willing to be uncomfortable." 🙃
Like I said earlier, compliance is hard. Your job is hard. And oftentimes it’s uncomfortable given the myriad of bad things you are expected to deal with. The simple fact that you do this everyday makes you a champion. Not only a champion, but a pro!
Don’t ever let anyone try to tell you otherwise.
6. “Jennifer’s free webinar on ethics ambassadors will level up your compliance game.” 😏
OK, you caught me. This one’s all me, but for a good reason! My colleague and resident customer whisperer, Jaycee, and I are hosting a replay of our webinar on ethics ambassadors, with some fresh updates thrown in. Since we last presented, the DOJ, DAG Monaco, and AAG Polite have given us some new commentary and guidance to consider, so join us for the latest and greatest on April 12.
Now go grab that one shining moment!
PS: My condolences if your bracket is already busted!