Hey, y’all. It’s me, Ali Davis, back to drop some knowledge. As you might have heard, I’m one of the best sports agents at Summit Worldwide Management. My female clients make serious bank for the firm — they’re Olympic medalists and top athletes with major endorsements that bring in lots and lots of money. Because of my track record, I should’ve been promoted to partner. But then the big day came . . . and I was passed over. Because I supposedly don’t “connect with men,” and my boss thought that a male athlete wouldn’t want to be represented by a woman.

Right then and there I vowed (loud enough for the entire office to hear) to sign Jamal Barry, the hottest NBA draft pick. And then later that night, I suddenly gained the ability to read men’s minds. You read that right, and you can be sure I used my newfound power to my advantage at work!

After “hearing” what men were thinking, I learned a lot of lessons about what it takes for a woman to be successful in a male-dominated industry. But time and time again, I kept coming back to these same 3 quotes from the world of sports. I call them my “mantras,” and perhaps they can help you one day, too.

1. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

My dad Skip always said that you have to fight to get what you deserve. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he ran a boxing gym. He even named me after the great heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, who said the quote above. Repeat it to yourself whenever you’re trying to reach a goal. It’ll remind you to think quickly on your feet to keep whoever you’re up against off-balance … until you strike. I took this same approach when trying to land Jamal Barry — using my mind-reading ability to not only charm Jamal’s intense father/manager, Joe “Dolla” Barry, but also be ruthless when keeping competing agents away from my target.

2. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.

When I was passed over for a promotion, the person who got it instead was a male junior executive who can’t hold a candle to my track record. If you also work in a boys’ club, you may not realize just how tight those male bonds are until your career hits a wall. The men in your office might even be holding a secret poker night every week, like they were in mine.

Once I had my gift, I used it to find out when and where they were playing, and I busted in and saw that it wasn’t just my male colleagues around the table. Shaq, Mark Cuban and Joe “Dolla” were also there, presenting me with an opportunity to win Dolla over and get me one step closer to signing his son. Now, I can usually hold my own at poker anyway — be it Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha or Follow the Queen — but the ability to read men’s minds put me over the top. You don’t need to have my gift to know that to get ahead, it’s important to learn how to play your cards right, both literally and figuratively.

3. Play the long game.

Whenever my boss announces promotions, he does this thing where he takes out a football, makes a big speech and then tosses the ball to the lucky agent. Needless to say, the pigskin wasn’t meant for me this time around. But it reminded me that when football players try to advance the ball downfield by throwing it to a receiver, that’s a long-game strategy. And really, everyone should have a long-game strategy for their career and life overall: plan what you want to achieve in one, five or even ten years, and then work backward to figure out what you need to do to achieve those goals.

I knew that if I was going to land Jamal and the promotion I deserved, I was going to have to keep my eyes on the prize and play a long game of my own at the office. So, fellas, let the games begin.

There are so many other great sports mantras (“Show me the money!”, anyone?), but the three above are the ones that get me through the ups and downs of my crazy career. I hope you can put them to work for you, too.

XO

Ali