In the first year, I posted here everyday with a mix of posts. For the last five months, I've continued to share every Tuesday and Thursday with a bigger focus on the professional side. With an opportunity to write about the personal side on another blog platform beginning June 20, this blog will now focus on the professional side. I will post here every Friday, and hope you will check out my dating blog every Monday and Thursday (Details to come).
I just started reading the book Ice to Eskimos and at the start of chapter 6 the author identifies ground rule #6 “create big...
I obviously saw the story about Taylor, who wrote a letter back to the Padres basically saying they could take their suggestion to attend the sales combine on her own dime and stuff it. Lots of people asking me what I think about it. I’ll write something more in-depth over the weekend as several things have crossed my mind, but I wanted to take this moment as a reminder of how hard it is to get into sports.
You can’t do it alone. You need mentors. You need a network of people who are going to help you get an opportunity that you might not have otherwise. But ultimately you need to take the steps to make that happen.
I’m not even going to pretend that it was as hard to get into sports when I started out 15 years ago, but I will still use my first job as an example of how important volunteering and networking is because this idea is timeless.
I wrote for the local newspaper in my town throughout college and volunteered in the sports information office at my school, Truman State University. That’s it. After graduation, I went on an interview at Northwestern University where they were looking to convert their secretary into a marketing assistant. It wasn’t an ideal role, but if I worked hard, they said I could make that job whatever I wanted it to be. I had no idea how true that would be when 11 years later I reached my final spot as Associate Athletic Director of that same department. But I took that chance.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in marketing. I thought I might want to be a writer. I also thought my end goal in life would be VP of Marketing for the Miami Dolphins. When my first boss, Rob, left NU he went to the University of Miami, so guess what? He was now my “in” with the Dolphins because of the connections he was making.
Because I was unsure of my path, I made certain I gathered as much information and experience as possible to guide me through the sports industry. When Rob was still at NU, he was married to a woman who worked at the Chicago Bulls, so by impressing my boss, I was also impressing her as she heard tons of stories about what I was doing. Within one year, I had made a contact who could help me get an in with any team in the NBA.
Rob was also former roommates with the head marketing guy at the Chicago Fire so I decided to volunteer to work gamedays for them. I was in charge of the mascots. A live dalmatian and the person dressed up as one. It was my job to follow them around all game. And for those who read this blog, you know I’m not a dog lover.
In addition to that job, I also helped run the halftime contests where I pulled a muscle trying to shag the soccer balls fast enough for a kicking contest. It’s something they still tease me about to this day. One of those people was my direct report, Trent, who is the brother of the ticket manager at the White Sox. Boom.
Up next is where I understand some of the frustration Taylor was feeling. I applied for a job at the Chicago Bears for an entry level position that I was overqualified for at this point (what a difference a few years make!), so I didn’t get the job. They said I would get bored and leave because I wouldn’t be challenged in this position.
Instead of writing them a letter burning bridges, I asked them if I could have a job on gamedays to prove to them how much I wanted to work for the Bears. They took me up on it and I checked “impress the Bears” off my To Do List.
Once I realized that college sports was my passion, I wanted to meet as many people as I could so I dedicated myself to the NACMA organization by joining a committee, presenting at the convention and working to increase membership. Because of that involvement, I became a Board Member for NACMA. And to this day, despite not working on a campus anymore, I am still heavily involved in the NACMA Board as the advisor to the President.
There are so many different ways to get where you want to go, but however you decide to get there, you need to have a plan. It needs to be strategic. And what I learned pretty quickly is I can’t get there alone.
So what I initially took away from Taylor’s story is this: Where in the world were her mentors? Did they even know she was having these struggles? How could she have networked better to put herself in the position to get her dream job? I obviously don’t know the whole story, but it’s times like this that capture exactly why I’m so passionate about helping young pros in the business. We all need someone in our corner.
If you are the hardest working person in the room while also being the happiest, please reach out to me anytime. I would love to hear your story and help you make your way in this business. I wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of my mentors/friends so I will always pay it forward.