Business Class: Just say YES!

By Randall Kenneth Jones

Originally published in the Naples Daily News
Friday, November 8, 2013

Mary CarilloWhen we think of professional athletes, many characteristics come to mind: discipline, drive, determination and, of course, an unparalleled desire to win.

These same words can also be used to describe successful business people.

However, a lucky few possess a little something extra that sets them apart.

With her indomitable “yes” attitude, tennis pro turned celebrated sports analyst Mary Carillo is equal parts successful and special.

A player on the professional tennis tour from 1977-80, Carillo won the 1977 French Open Mixed Doubles title with her childhood friend, John McEnroe.

However, knowing her injured knees had her “running on rims,” Carillo always understood the need for a “Plan B.” A product of a Queens, NY “family of storytellers,” Carillo recalls, “From the beginning of my tennis career, I always seemed to drift from the courts to the press room to see how they covered the stories.”

Not one to let uncooperative joints bring her to her knees—pun intended—storyteller Carillo would ultimately emerge as a renowned sports analyst with accolades coming from Tennis Magazine, the Women’s Tennis Association and countless more.

Sports Illustrated also named her the 2000’s “Best Sports Analyst of the Decade.”

When asked for the secret to her multi-faceted success, the ever-fearless, Plan B-inspired Carillo offers a profoundly simple answer: “I always said ‘yes.’”

“Do you want to go on TV?”


Carillo can be found on CBS, NBC, Tennis Channel and appears regularly on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

“Do you want to write a book?”


Her books include “Tennis My Way” with Martina Navratilova and Rick Elstein’s “Tennis Kinetics.”

“How about a documentary?”


Carillo has received two Peabody Awards for work on the HBO documentaries: “Billie Jean King, Portrait of a Pioneer” and “Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports.”

And most recently, “Do you want to go to Siberia and Mongolia?”


As for her upcoming globe-trotting experiences, please stay tuned—literally—as Carillo will once again step in front of NBC’s cameras as a broadcaster and special features correspondent for her 12th consecutive Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

In the words of tennis icon Billie Jean King, “Sports may be one of Mary’s strengths, but because she has multiple talents, she has succeeded on several different fronts. She has the gift.”

Mary Carillo and Randall Kenneth JonesGifted or not, before you assume “yes” should always come without careful deliberation and a solid strategy, think again. “Today, I say ‘yes’ to projects that are going to be interesting—not just for the money,” says Carillo.

King adds, “Working in an environment that allows her to succeed is where Mary wants—and needs—to be.”

True, winning and losing is part of the game—on the court and in the board room.

But when it comes to finding your niche and embracing your competitive spirit in a positive, productive and profitable way, Mary Carillo serves up the best advice around: in a world seemingly full of “no,” sometimes you just gotta say “yes, yes, yes.”

Randall Kenneth JonesMarketing guru, business humoristprofessional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.

Pictured above: Mary Carillo and Randall Kenneth Jones

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