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Are You the Next Serena Williams or Roger Federer? It’s Closer and More Plausible Than You Think.

Sep 7, 2018

I had the pleasure of attending some matches at the U.S. Open, which recently took place at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Great tennis and great, great fun.  And as I wondered around the grounds during its 50th anniversary, it provided me some time to consider the similarities of pro athletes’ careers to ours.  And while you may scratch your head…consider the following.

Part of our careers are built on promotions, successes, accomplishments and achieving goals, as well as working hard and long hours.  We reach success at different times and in different ways and define success differently.   So compare your career to some of today’s and yesterday’s tennis greats. Who does your career best remind you of or is it somebody else?

  • Serena Williams/Roger Federer - Wimbledon and U.S. Open champions, veterans at the top of their game, superstars and future hall of famers by anyone’s account.  Similar to a managing partner, millionaire entrepreneur or corporate executive.
  • Juan Martin Del Potro/Madison Keys - Talented stars, on the rise, won a major or finished runner-up.  Making their way into the spotlight, the hard work beginning to pay off, on the cusp of stardom.  Sort of like that very senior associate who is almost ready and can taste being admitted to the partnership.  Or the budding executive, seeking and being nominated to that promotion to the “executive floor,” carrying with it the stock options and other rewards. 
  •  Christina McHale/John Peers – Working their way up the ladder, most people unless they are hardcore tennis fans are likely to never have heard of either of these professionals.  McHale is ranked 97th in the world in singles and Peers is a doubles specialist ranked second in the world.  They toil in anonymity. Yet they have their own level of success; look it up. 

Just like the mid-level staffer, analyst or associate, working long hours to reach the next level.  Continually making the contribution, not always sure that it is recognized.  Seeking that senior level exec that sees something special in them, so they find the spotlight and “make” it.

  • Novak Djokovic/Maria Sharapova- Superstars, former stars that fell in the ranks, and are now on the comeback trail to regain their rankings and their presence.  Overcoming adversity to reclaim greatness.  The partner, principal, managing director or CEO whose recent productivity and results have slowed, whose company stock may have dropped, but now books that seven-figure client or comes up with the new product that causes the stock price – and their own career --to surge.
  • Chris Evert/John McEnroe – Veteran and recognizable stars coming back as TV announcers and analysts, contributing in other ways now that their on-court careers are over.  Senior members of the company; some preparing for retirement and others mentoring, guiding and providing expertise and input in other areas to insure the next generation of the firm’s leadership is in place.

Now that you are smiling and have thought about it a little differently, you may be closer to that Center Court title than you ever imagined.


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Robert D. Katz

Robert Katz CPA is a Managing Director of EisnerAmper Financial Advisory Services Group, and works with public and private companies, in and out of bankruptcy, to create and execute the strategy needed to restructure or improve operating performance.

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