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The Marketability of Stephen Curry

If you haven’t watched Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors play, you’re missing out on one of the purest shooters the game has seen. For those avid college basketball fans, we knew him best playing in the 2008 NCAA Division-I Men’s Basketball Tournament.With mixed reviews, the negatives coming from teams they beat, Curry made an impact on our lives long before stepping foot onto an NCAA branded court. Wardell Stephen Curry II received all-state rankings as a senior at Charlotte Christian School, in North Carolina, but received zero offers from any major Division-I college. ZERO. Hard to imagine. He did receive offers from smaller schools including VCU, Winthrop, Davidson, and Virginia Tech. Tech, his father’s alma mater expressed interest, but only as a walk-on. In retrospect, it’s unthinkable. Despite his small frame, despite the fact that his jersey often looked three sizes too big, despite being  the “runt” of the group,  he chose to stick around his hometown and felt becoming a Wildcat was the best fit. Representing Davidson College (@DavidsonWildcat), a small, private liberal arts college located in Davidson, N.C., was once known as a university that had graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars. It has now been put on the map as a pioneer in mid-major universities, leaving an imprint in the future of Division-I college basketball and athletics.

Will Bryan (@wbryan08), a Davidson graduate, is currently the Associate Director of Athletics Communications at the College of Charleston. He and I had a chance to talk about Stephen Curry’s journey and offers some great insight into his career and where it’s headed. Attending Davidson from 2004-2008, and staying in the Charlotte area through 2009 (Curry’s last year), Bryan still remembers the buzz Curry received when he first arrived on campus.

“He was like our hidden gem up until the 2008 NCAA tournament,” Bryan said . “He did things in non-televised games that we went nuts about. Moves and shots that we knew [even then] was beyond ‘Davidson’ ability. Our success up until then had been team defense, outside shooting, and no mistakes. Curry penetrated. Could shoot off the dribble (even though he did less, then), and he had the Duke ‘nail in the coffin’ sense about him. Until that NCAA tournament, we felt like he was our secret. Only losing to Duke by four, UNC by two, UCLA by four and NC State by only one that year. There was this fear that we not only had something special, but it wouldn’t be special enough to have a lasting impact. At least that’s what I thought. “

Bryan continued, “Whenever the team was on a run and (the) crowd started working into a frenzy, he would blow the roof off (of the 5, 223 seat John M. Belk Arena), with a three. We used to call them ‘Curry timeouts’ When teams spent timeouts on account of him.”

Via DavidsonWildcats.com

Prior to Curry, Head Coach Bob McKillop had won two Southern Conference tournaments in 2002 and 2006, and zero NCAA wins. Starting in 2007, Curry’s freshman year, Four NCAA tournaments (2007, 2008, 2012, 2013), one NIT (2009), and three tournament wins. Mind you, Davidson College had not won an NCAA Tournament game since 1969.

The X-Factor

“I always thought of Curry’s play in a wider context. He made games fun…an experience. Before him, there were science labs of picking apart an opponent. Curry turned them into rock shows,” Bryan said. “There were people in my graduating class that got jobs because of that run. Because the résumé was attractive. Because employers distinguished Davidson. Hundreds of us owed a lot to him, including myself. Now, we gather at night together. It’s pretty incredible to watch my Twitter feed during Warriors games.”

Bryan also shared that his college friends still get together online to watch and talk about Curry.

“We love getting the chance to experience what we did in 2008 and still be in awe of him,” Bryan said. “Even now, there are still chills and tingles when national writers and celebrities are just now catching on.”

Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson made the statement, “Those guys are just coming to the hospital, the baby has been born already. We’ve been watching it all year long.” referring to newcomers to the Curry bandwagon. Bryan adds, “We feel like we were there at conception. I can’t tell you how many times I jump up when he shoots in the third quarter. Like how many times do you jump when a guy shoots in an NBA third quarter? But it’s Curry and it’s going in. “

Why wasn’t there more buzz about him prior to this season, though? Sports fans in general, as many can be, are skeptical and consistently questioned his defense, his durability, his passing. You cannot deny, though, that his story is intriguing with many stereotyping him as an underdog. Too small in high school, too small of a college to be recognized, too small in the NBA, too fragile because of previous injuries.

Why is it that we set expectations of players extremely low? Do we do so on purpose just enough for him to exceed it or should it be higher? Makes you think.  Stephen had the shooter gene early on in his life thanks to his father. (The son of NBA three-point specialist Dell Curry who is currently 13th all-time in NBA for three-pointers made. His all time stats and awards list. “Stephen SHOULD be one of the best point guards of our generation … a 10-time all star. Elite talent and can win a championship with a more veteran team around him that accepts his leadership role.” Bryan says.

His Journey

His Impact

Davidson set the precedent for other mid-major schools (a term used to distinguish between athletic conferences that are not among the major six conferences including the ACC, SEC, Big East, Big 10, XII, and Pac 12); paving the way for others to follow suit. Schools like Butler, BYU, St. Louis, VCU and George Mason all took their turns in the spotlight. This year was no different with schools like Florida Gulf Coast, Wichita State, and Colorado State.

In his final year at Davidson, Curry led the nation in scoring with 28.6 ppg and received first team All-America honors while setting a notable list of scoring records. Even despite the ‘Patsos game‘ and being a target on scouting reports. The Golden State Warriors have to be thrilled about their gamble they made almost four years ago, picking Curry seventh overall in the 2009 NBA Draft. His prospect profile back in ’09.

Aside from his unique story, and the fact that his potential Achilles heel is literally…his ankles, he is an incredibly marketable athlete, even more so now, than ever before. He has become a breakout star in this years NBA Playoffs, and leading the Warriors to reach the second round over the Denver Nuggets, (check out Zach Buckley’s breakdown of his superstar season here. (Update, his NBA regular season record for the most three-point shots made, is now at 272. Penciling him in first place over Ray Allen who has 269 via Basketball-reference.com.

Early on in his career, Curry partnered with Spiracle Media (@spiraclemedia) – Located in Charlotte, Spiracle Media specializing in new media marketing through the use of social media, video production, and website development, promote his image in a positive way. As an early adopter to social media and frequent user, notable campaigns have been his #SC30 Twitter promotions both using Twitter and Facebook and visiting fans, even hosting a Fan Appreciation week. Check out the Storify recap here. (http://storify.com/SpiracleMedia/stephen-curry-fan-appreciation-week).

Spiracle Media co-founder Bill Voth (@billvoth) has proven to be a great advisor and social media coach to Curry guiding him in the right direction towards future marketability. I had a chance to connect with Voth, who shares his thoughts:

Pam: As an athlete, and aside from his raw talent, what makes him marketable?

Voth: Think of any negative athlete stereotypes. Steph’s the opposite in pretty much every way.  I’m not being cheesy, and I’m not just partial to a client, but I’ve worked around and with athletes for 15 years, and Steph is the most down-to-earth star I’ve been around. From when I started covering him as a TV reporter when he was a freshman at Davidson, to his current playoff run with the Warriors, he honestly hasn’t changed. I think that’s the base of his marketability off the court.

People see him as approachable, friendly and humble, which he truly is. That’s sellable. Then add in his extremely close relationship with his family – his dad and mom – who plenty of people have seen cheering for him over the years, his brother – who’s a great player in his own right, and his gorgeous wife and adorable nearly 1-year-old daughter. And of course, he’s pretty decent at his job, too, and he’s only getting better. What brand wouldn’t want someone like that representing them? In my obviously subjective opinion, now that he’s been able to prove to a worldwide audience just how good of a player he is, Steph’s complete package makes him one of the most marketable athletes to come around in a long time.

Pam: Regarding sponsorship, is it important to strike while the iron is hot now?

Voth: For “traditional” sponsorship, his agency, Octagon, handles all that, and I don’t want to speak for them. As far as what we’re doing with him online, we can’t do much activation right now, as tempting as that is. Before the playoffs started, Steph made it clear he wanted to be low key during this time, especially because it’s his first postseason experience. He’s still tweeting and doing a couple other things, but we’re not running any chats, contests, etc. For example, we’ve done his #SC30 contests every month since fall of ’11, until a couple weeks ago. He wanted to postpone April’s, and he told fans he’ll make up for it by doing two #SC30 contests in a future month.

While striking while the iron is hot is tempting and seemingly a no-brainer, I totally get why Steph wants to dial it back a bit. What he does on the court is his most important job, and he’s doing it pretty darn well these days. And we’re certainly working on things for when the Warriors season does end. The current run he’s on has obviously opened some doors that weren’t as open before, and we’re planning for the future, not just for the time immediately after the playoffs, but in the long run as well.

Pam: What are your thoughts on best practices with endorsement deals?

Voth: Again, there’s a bit of a split on what kind of endorsement deals he gets/can get. Octagon handles the “traditional” ones, while we work with him on online opportunities, and of course, those intermingle sometimes. When a player’s star rises like it has with Steph over the past few weeks, it’s obviously exciting for everyone on his team, both on the court and off. But I think the best way to handle it is let him do his thing on the court, take the extra calls and emails coming in, listen, and then gather everything and everyone together to hash it out immediately after the season. Then it becomes a matter of choosing the right opportunities for Steph.

Learn more about Stephen Curry’s social media efforts via ESPN and Mashable. He was also the first pro-athlete to embrace the Vine app…link here.

Voth has several videos of Curry’s other community efforts on his personal blog and here’s a link to other articles Voth has been mentioned in, regarding the latest trends in social media innovation…definitely worth taking a look.

Also check out Octagon Sports to learn more about them and their athletes: http://www.octagonbasketball.com or Octagon.com.

Other NBA athletes who also share a strong social media presence…Tony Allen (@aa000G9), Kevin Love (@kevinlove), Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) Amar’e Stoudemire (@Amareisreal) and now, even the injured, Kobe Bryant (@KobeBryant).

Curry’s efforts on and off the court over the past several years, despite injury, have filtered down back to his old stomping grounds. Davidson announced today that they will be joining the Atlantic-10 (@atlantic10) conference in 2014. There was an opportunity to join the CAA previously, but the Wildcats had decided to stay in the Southern Conference instead. Davidson athletic director Jim Murphy is thrilled about this opportunity for more exposure.

A-10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade said during the official press conference,

“It is my pleasure to welcome Davidson’s administration, their student-athletes, staff, alumni and fans to the Atlantic-10 Conference. They will maintain our presence in the Charlotte market, one of the top 25 media markets in the country, and reinforce our commitment to national prominence in men’s basketball.”

Think Curry had something to do with that exposure in some way? Absolutely.

Stephen Curry’s efforts are starting to get recognized more an more, landing his first SI regional cover, with a feature by Chris Ballard (@SI_ChrisBallard) announced this week.

Cover image Via InsideSportsIllustrated.com

Cover image Via InsideSportsIllustrated.com

Players are starting to take notice, too, Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) from Mercury News writes.

It was also announced this week in a Forbes article by Alex Konrad (@alexkonrad), that because of the buzz that Stephen Curry has received lately, his social media partner, SportsStream, released a new platform this week called SportsBase, an updated scores, information and reactions, a fully loaded sports content filter. More about the platform here. I could definitely see a product like this take off, especially for athletes looking for self-branding opportunities.

Where will we see this 25-year-old in the next few years? Hopefully continuing to break league records, inspiring more social media innovation and, as someone who doesn’t seem to be afraid of getting physical … the sky is the limit.

Notable Links of Interest:

Official website: http://stephencurry30.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StephenCurryOfficial

Official Twitter: @StephenCurry30

His history and full statistical background: http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/curryst01.html

Thank you again to Bill Voth, Will Bryan, Jeff Wolfson for your contributions!

Growth Is Optional

Welcome to 2013! We can finally bid 2012 adieu as we peer into the future with the hope to gain the best return on investment possible. Change, transition, clean slate. We have heard all of these words recently whether it is in our personal or professional lives. How we move forward will define how those changes will really affect us. A lot has happened in 2012: Conference realignment, brand changes, memorable marketing campaigns, break ups and make ups, PR disasters, coaching carousels, cutting ties, engagements, marriages, home buying, family additions, road trips, vacations, Netflix marathons. Whatever it was this year, reflecting on what has happened over the last 366 days is healthy … identifying mistakes and remembering positive memories. Believing in ourselves. Being happy. It doesn’t matter if what happened was life-changing, or if those changes were so minor it has become an afterthought, those changes have altered how we perceive our external environment and characterize our behavior and who we are. Our personal lives should mesh seamlessly with our work and so should the people that are in it. I realized that support is critical in moving forward and you need to surround yourself with those that share core common interests (if nothing else, for personal sanity). It is very easy to get lost in a selfish mindset without the support of friends, family and those closest to you.

Regardless, we are constantly attempting to adjust to circumstances that are beyond our control, especially when the future is potentially unknown. The way we communicate and offer support has changed drastically in the past two years. More and more people have taken to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, blog posting, etc. to offer their opinion and show their love (and sometimes hatred). Some air their dirty laundry publicly for all to see and some choose to keep it private. I feel like the idea of how to properly communicate with others is lost sometimes. You would think that with the opportunities for “instant” communication, you would be able to figure out what others are thinking, feeling, acting … nope. Not even remotely close. This, too, can cross over between personal and professional relationships. Do you effectively communicate how you feel toward your best friend or significant other? What about your boss/co-workers? For me, and for those that know me, it takes a LOT for me to get truly angry. I try to remain positive and optimistic as much as possible. People often know how I’m feeling and when I’m angry, people know it. There are so many reasons why we choose to communicate the way we do and how we channel that information properly to those around us. A new year often means identifying goals we can make for ourselves and resolutions that can help make this year more enjoyable than the last. Everyone has heard the phrase “YOLO” (You Only Live Once), right? So often we forget how true this actually is. One simple way to achieve the goals we make for ourselves is by realizing how important communication is with ourselves and with others and channel those details in a positive way. How can you possibly sell someone an idea if you don’t believe in it yourself? Instead of asking yourself why, how about why not? We have all experienced some form of tragedy in our lives. Unfortunately, some have experienced it far worse than others, but using a combination of support and good communication can help us move forward with these issues. Becoming smarter about certain setbacks starts with being prepared. This is true for sports teams, business pitches or asking someone out on a first date. There is always a fear of rejection and there is always someone who is out there, ready to shatter your confidence. Using what you know, however, allows you to recreate the approach on how to better handle yourself and your relationships moving forward. Once you do get that “yes” and reach those goals, it makes it much easier to mimic a similar solution in the future. The key to success in anything is allowing yourself the opportunity to actually TRY, and that involves taking risks and being creative. Act as if.

Image

Red Bull Stratos…serious
motivation! (via jalopnik.com)

I would love to share an excerpt from one of my favorite books, “Marketing Outrageously” by Jon Spolestra. The book is about how to increase revenue by thinking outside the box, using creative ways to express marketing strategies in business. I say, redesign that box or throw it away completely.One of the chapters in the book mentions two tasks that everyone should do. The first is to ask yourself a question. Fill in the blank: “What’s it going to take to ________________ this year.” It’s a question every person should ask themselves regularly. It’s that little motivation that can go a long way, much like having that size-too-small pair of pants hanging up in full view in your apartment as motivation to work out more and eat healthier to fit in to them. The hardest part isn’t necessarily finding the answer to the question, but actually asking the question to begin with. The book also suggests that you write the question down on a note card or sticky note and keep it in your wallet or pocket, or somewhere you can instantly access it. This isn’t a question that needs to be looked at all the time, or shown to anyone. The fact that it’s there should be a reminder to keep you focused and on the right track. The ability to create your own luck in 2013 can be fostered by a foundation of support and motivation. If you constantly do things for others, why not ask yourself what do *I* want. If you constantly do things for yourself, why not ask yourself what do *others* want. Are you the leading actor/actress in your own movie? Are you the face of your own personal brand? If not, there needs to be some adjustments made in the new year. Pay it forward and always network, whether it is virtual or in person.
Up and coming sports agent and Hi-Def Rep CEO Heather Deranek suggests a quote she often tells her current and
potential clients:
“Patience – It won’t happen all at once. You can only control what YOU do. You have to believe that if you keep working hard, it will pay off. Even during more difficult times in which you are struggling, never lose sight of your goal and your belief in yourself.”

After speaking with her, I realized that this quote is something I should be telling myself daily. We all have those inspirational quotes that we find from time to time that we can relate to, but sometimes we don’t actually use them for real benefit. You cannot possibly grow and move on if you don’t embody the motivation and communication required to succeed. I have learned to take my own advice. I’ve grown a lot in the past year, for the better. I have been introduced to some amazing people in my life and reconnected with some of those from my past. Timing has been a consistent theme in my life and I am excited to see what 2013 has to offer. Certain opportunities that are right on the horizon makes me realize that every downhill has its uphill and for that I will continue to have a big smile on my face. Always remember to smile more. It makes people wonder what you’re up to.

The Relevance of Midnight Madness

“Happy New Year” sentiments were shared, as the start of basketball season officially began Friday evening. I always know it is the start of another sport season as I never get adequate sleep. None the less, being right in the heart of events like these, definitely add to the perks of the job.

Check out my photo gallery from the event featured on ESPN Front Row: http://frontrow.espn.go.com/2012/10/tweetback-jeter-reaction-gameday-heading-to-the-swamp-irish-rising/!

In the spirit of old-fashioned school pep rallies before the big game, Midnight Madness offers the students a chance to get to know their team, their coaches, and to build momentum going into the beginning of the college basketball season. It’s a chance to show off, to have a little fun, and to encourage students to pack the house come game day. Leading up to a promotional event like this, there is a lot of work to be done in preparation. Photo shoots and green screen video of players are taken and edited for the upcoming season’s press guides and television displays. The sports information department plans for months to make sure Midnight Madness successfully kicks off the 2012-2013 season without a hitch. These events are one live continuous show for which there is usually no dress rehearsal or precedent, which means little room for error, especially for those in the production truck.

Despite the recent rule changes on coaching and practices that allow teams to meet mid-September for two hours a week, Midnight Madness at schools with historic basketball programs like Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. can still make a huge impact on ticket sales, team unity, and community exposure. The excitement and anticipation of the team making their public debut is a feeling that fans can experience whether in person or on television.

Midnight Madness is still very relevant, regardless of the latest changes, especially for those potential underclassmen recruits looking to be a part of history. McDonough Arena, which holds around 2,500 people, was packed with students who had lined up hours before, feasting on burgers and listening to DJ’s hyping the crowd. As we were set to do record an interview with former coach and ESPN men’s college basketball analyst Tim Welsh in front of McDonough Arena, he mentions how exciting this time of year can be, both as fans and coaches/teams. Rowdy fans swarmed around Georgetown star Otto Porter and chants like, “Otto-matic” began. The ballet of coordination between capturing video for later usage along with the live production as the events unfold requires a multitude of factors to be in sync in order to see the seamless presentation viewers enjoy at home.

The on-site Producers have scouted the optimal angles, set up the lighting effects, and arranged interviews well in advance. Satellite relays are established, hundreds of feet of cable are run, cameramen, stage crew, and technicians perform their integral duties to make sure all of the live action gets properly fed to the television production trucks. Once there, the producers conduct the symphony, graphics packages are added to garnish the video footage, and the end result is beamed to millions of viewers.  The “Kickin’ it Ol’ Skool” theme featured a special performance by hip-hop legend Doug E. Fresh, who was thefeatured performer of the night, playing close to a half-hour set. Team introductions, several dance ensembles and student group performances continued throughout the night as the cameramen were up close and personal during each of these moments, capping off the night with a dunk contest.

Students chanted, “J-T-III “as Head Coach John Thompson III was spotlighted showed off his dancing talents amongst a sea of lighted thundersticks. Thompson talked about feeding off of the energy of the fans, and even for those working the game, the excitement makes for a far better atmosphere for all involved.

In a sense, he is helping to cultivate a home-court advantage for the season, allowing us to come in and capture those moments for the fans across the country ready to root for their team.

Here’s a little Doug E. Fresh interlude to set the mood: 

Understanding Brand Elements

I recently had to give a presentation on understanding how to choose certain brand elements to help build brand equity. Creating something from scratch is not easy, and neither is modifying it! Once you have chosen a brand name, what next? You already have your product or service ready for launch, and after a long arduous process, you have found a brand name that fits. The next challenge is figuring out how to promote it and market it successfully. Each brand and company is unique and should use certain elements that works best for them. This includes altering it to fit it with modern times or to update an perception of what you are selling. Many companies have had makeovers with new advertising campaigns but fail to pull it off when marketing to the masses, especially global campaigns. Upon request, I decided to post my presentation and added my notes to the bottom so there is a clear understanding of the different kinds of brand elements and how they can be used in a positive way to help market, manage and build equity on a product. This presentation was used as a guide to help community managers and marketers understand the basic principles of core marketing and advertising, with cited examples. What are some of your favorite examples of brand elements, feel free to share!

Entertainment and Sports Equals Art

I will start today’s thoughts off with a line from one of my all-time favorite television shows from the 90s, NBC’s hit, Saved By The Bell… What is art? Are we art? Is art, art? Lisa Turtle does raise an excellent point, despite not being herself, trying to impress the over-pompous and very studious Brian to make sure he takes her to the school dance. [Sidebar: I'm a big fan of the series and enjoy watching them. You can, too - they are available to watch on Netflix]. She does raise a good point, and interestingly enough, each industry we happen to be a part of is a form of expression and art, in a way. The sports and entertainment industry, to me, is just that…art. An unique form of expression that you can share with the world. It is one of the few industries that allows you the ability to create different types of art, even if you are not an artist yourself.

The collaboration between a production staff to create entertainment products stimulates the mind and body. This is what also makes it extremely competitive. Some people call it “High risk, low reward.” I call it “high risk, high value”. Yes, the theories are true, starting out in either sports or entertainment, you will find it is a lot more challenging than you think. The grunt work becomes tireless, you often hit walls you cannot break through, and even if you aren’t looking to be the next Meryl Streep, you are still hoping the next big break will happen when you least expect it.

Success in this industry, like any other industry, is dependent on the quality you bring to the table. I am not talking about tweeting your favorite celebrity, hoping you will hear a response. It is possible to earn your way up the ladder to reach your ultimate goals.

via NBC’s Smash

Who doesn’t want to find something they love to do and be able to share that with others? For some, it’s electrical engineering, orthopedic surgery, or pastry chefs who makes exquisite desserts. Each job involves some sort of art feature, so what sets apart sports and entertainment from the rest of the industries?

The ability of trial and error. It is a unique brand all of its own, very distinct in a category that targets peoples emotions. The quote “Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you try” comes to mind…Thanks, George & Ira Gershwin.

Lets go back for a moment. Despite the fact that 90% of what you see on the surface of any production is created and nurtured by hundreds or thousands of people you never and probably won’t hear of, it is critical that you learn to appreciate them.

ESPN production truck

Growing up and performing in musical theater, the “techies” were the most integral part of the show. They gave us a sound, a voice, costumes, lighting, make up, and thanks to the directors, producers, and stage managers, a script and blocking to follow.

2012 NBA Finals

This isn’t an industry of necessity where people NEED to watch Adam Sandler’s latest movie, or watch Emily from The Bachelorette take 43 minutes to give four different guys boutonniere roses, or the NEED to watch LeBron and Durant battle it out for World NBA Domination. But, how do sports and entertainment often cross over you ask? Think about it. What is CBS Sports? What is ESPN? Who is NBC? Who is Warner Brothers? Film, media, broadcasting, fashion, music, radio, television, and theater. It also includes levels of marketing, research, writing, editing, public relations, advertising, photography, promotions and monitoring levels of success (lawyers, financial analysts, agents, even social media strategists). Maybe you’re in the entertainment business and don’t even realize it! The list doesn’t stop there, though, it just keeps evolving and changing.

For me, I cannot really imagine myself in any other industry. Growing up around sports my entire life and having a strong appreciation for theater and film made me who I am today.

It was an outlet for me to learn how to express myself and has afforded me the chance to take my emotions and channel it into producing viable results.It is all about the product value chain. What efforts are we making to get to the next level of accomplishment?

Regardless of what is happening in the economy these days, from a macro-economic stand point, people are more likely to spend money on things that make them happy, despite its higher cost levels. What is important is why we love what we do.

serious NCAA domination

My friend Jenna says it best, “it’s the human element of sports and entertainment that is the reason why we love it so much. It is the connection with other fans, players and people who enjoy the same things we do that connect us as human beings.”

How, during a season, whether its 10 episodes or a 31-game regular season,

(Note – College basketball: 27 regular season games and up to 4 games if in an in-season tournament – Source: NCAA 2010-2011 Division I Manual, Section 17.3.5 Number of Contests) you can experience the full range of human emotions.It is the drive that makes us get up every day and do whatever it is that we do and sometimes, prove others completely wrong.

Don Draper had a pretty great speech during one of the last episodes of Mad Men this past season. Dramatic and insightful, he mentions there is always a need for change, business is business, but ultimately, you will need to accept the fact that satisfaction is temporary, and you need those in the industry to bring you to that optimum level of achievement:

Don: “I want to talk about your business. Looking at what you’re doing you’re in desperate need of change. This is about your business. I’m sure they [current agency] are very happy with you, but you don’t owe them anything. All they have to do is keep running the same work. You’re on the back burner over there; subsidizing all the creative work they’ve been doing..paying for new business lunches, and as soon as you walk away from that place, it will fold up like a tent.

Company A: We’re at 50% market share in almost everything we make.

Don: Because you have a big line of diverse, and charismatic products and you keep make more. Zip tape, styrofoam, Rovana… and why do you keep doing that? Because even though success is a reality, its effects are temporary. You get hungry even though you’ve just eaten… (I blame the Food Network and Pinterest)

They reply: “We’re happy with our agency..”

Don: “Are you…You’re happy with 50%? You’re on top and you don’t have enough. You’re happy because you’re successful, for now. But what is happiness? Its a moment before you need more happiness. I won’t settle for 50% of anything I want 100%. You’re happy with your agency? You’re not happy with anything. You don’t want most of it, you want all of it, and I won’t stop until I get all of it. Thank you for your time.

This floored me, talk about a good pitch. He couldn’t be more right. Yes, we do what we love to do, but it also means sacrifice…Long hours, often little reward (at first). But it will happen and sometimes you need to just roll with the punches to get what you want. You can either embrace it, not settle for the bare minimum, or, using the tools that are often right in front of you, get yourself to that 100%. Surround yourself with others that share the same mindset as you do, appreciate your hard work, and understand and accept the sacrifices you have made to get to your 100%. I had to go back and listen to it several times to let it sink in.

There is a reason people are hired and challenged daily to accomplish tasks and goals. People are hired in this industry because our emotions change so often that those in our craft try hard everyday to satisfy those changes. Whether it is in journalism, social media, marketing, promotions or public relations or another field, always be asking questions. Find your niche. Find your 100%.

Personal Brand Identification: Change

In marketing and advertising, we talk about brands, logos and redesigns all the time. What makes them unique? Will it help the company with this change?  Is it worth the investment? Will this change, make a difference and ultimately “change” the ROI to be worth it? We can relate to this in our own lives too, especially those who are on a path to discovering who they are as a person and establishing their own brand identity.

I have literally taken a Break In The Action myself…a couple month hiatus, but now I am back, including having read several sports biz books on my previous post you can find here. I had been thinking of a good post…and there were so many topics I could choose from, ones that I related to and ones that were relevant to right now…I often channel what I am feeling through music lyrics, however, I couldn’t really do that either. I am excited to get back in the swing of things and start writing again. As always, topics are welcome at any time!

Knowing that my main focus of this post was change, I decided to look up the word: to transform or convert, to become different, to become altered or modified, to pass gradually into, a change or exchange, metamorphosis, revolutionize, modification, development; variation… there are a lot of meanings of the word “change”. Even over the past several months there is change all around you. All of a sudden Facebook statuses begin to go from “i am so hung over” to “I haven’t slept, the baby kept me up til 3am”. Still, way too much information to share on a social media website, but yet, it’s a form of change we are seeing more frequently as we get older.

I thought of how I’ve changed, if I have changed at all…I’d like to think I have toward a positive direction. I sat for a few minutes today thinking what has evolved over the past several months. Was I able to control it? Not even a little bit. Several recent “fortuitous” encounters had both fortunate and unfortunate consequences…could I control them? Nope. I have looked at those changes, or meetings or events as “happy accidents”. The recent changes have also made me realize that I need to stop trying to control and just let things fall as they may, obviously with proven effort behind it. Hopefully the good from these encounters will be bigger than the bad.

I’d love to share a quote that I read in a book I have just started to read. I have a feeling I’ll be jotting down a few of these quotes from time to time. This one reads: “Bread takes the effort of kneading but also requires sitting quietly while the dough rises with a power all its own.” How spiritual are we talking here? That’s for each person to decide. But it does give an important message. Not only is there effort to be made to get the result we eventually want, but the patience and resistance of not trying to speedy up the process of change.

While it isn’t exactly bread, although I do love watching Food Network (for hours) and attempting to make my own delicious creations, bread can mean just about anything, but allowing one’s self to do something different or out of our comfort zone while continuing on the familiarity lines we’re used to. I firmly believe life is very similar to the weather; we can predict it and try to expect it and attempt to prepare for it as best we can. Sometimes preparing works in our favor, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes there are disasters that happen so fast there’s nothing left to do afterwards but pick up the pieces and try to move on.

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Look at the redesign Starbucks has done since the 1970s. They have created a more simplistic design and look, taking off the brand name completely because it is already recognizable. Other brands like Nike, Shell, and Apple have done this. Since Starbucks’ change in 2011, they have launched “green” campaigns with the redesign, emphasizing the current environmental issues in today’s society. Not only was there a logo change, but a company-wide change as well. Because of that, it continued to be successful. As a personal preference, I liked the older logo with the text, but not everyone would agree with me. With us as people, perhaps its also true we need a full-body redesign to accompany new changes that happen in our lives.

I have also noticed that a lot of change includes identifying certain things that we can see that might not have been there before, perhaps more visible, more vibrant. It is in our nature to analyze, over analyze and over analyze again to reach the ultimate satisfaction, but that too, comes with change. In marketing and advertising, sometimes, change is necessary, a logo here, a revamp of a package design to keep up with the latest trends and bring it into 2012. In sports it happens constantly, some learn to accept it and continue on much faster than others; and some completely are resistant like oil and water. That saying, “actions speak louder than words” emulates into business and the value of life. At some point, changes need to happen and we can either accept it for what it is and roll with the punches and adapt to it, or crawl into a hole and live in a land of sunshine and lollypops (which, actually, would be kind of cool, but only for a couple days). 

I try not to be preachy, but I found myself setting goals for myself: for the day, for the week, for the month, whatever. Acknowledge feelings, talk them out. It has helped me and I am sure can help you, too, even if everything is peachy keen. Allowing ourselves to be flexible gives us a chance to grow with whatever changes that are coming our way. In being flexible that also means to express your feelings outside of just talking about it. Working out helps a LOT. Extremely therapeutic. Everyone has something they can do to relieve stress whether it be cooking, writing, sleeping, being romantic with someone else, whatever helps.

Change will happen regardless, it’s up to us to see where we go with it. What kind of bread will YOU be baking? Mine? A lovely braided challah; complicated to make, but delicious and WELL worth the wait. I’d like to leave you with some notable brand logos that have changed/evolved over time, why? Because they are pretty.Image

Sports Biz Reading List

So after tonight’s Sports Business Chat (Twitter, #sbchat hashtag, Sunday nights at 9:30pm ET), It gave me a great idea. Even with our busy schedules with school and work, we choose to read what we are interested in.  We read topics about different topics we enjoy to expand our minds and continue learning new things. I decided to start compiling a list of great books worth reading starting with aforementioned books already discussed as must-reads this coming year. This list is comprised of mostly sports business books and similarly related texts. It can include anything from business-directed focuses, strictly sports, social media content, etc. Feel free to send me a message of your favorites, if they aren’t on the list and if they are on Twitter, please include their handle for a follow! I’ll make sure to update it as often as I can! Enjoy!

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Winning the Customer by: Lou Imbriano (@LouImbriano)

Scorecasting by: Tobias Moskowitz/Jon Wetheim

The Power of Who by: Bob Beaudine (@YouGotWho)

Beyond the Scoreboard: An Insider’s Guide to Business of Sport by: Rick Horrow/Karla Swatek

License to Deal by: Jerry Crasnick

Never Eat Alone by: Keith Ferrazzi

Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games by: A. Bartlett Giamatti

The Tipping Point by: Malcolm Gladwell

Veeck as in Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck by: Bill Veeck

A Career in Sports: Advice from Sports Business Leaders by Michelle Wells

Poke the Box by: Seth Godin

Purple Cow & Linchpin by: Seth Godin

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by: Steven R. Covey

Planet of the UmpsA Baseball Life from Behind the Plate by: Ken Kaiser/David Fisher

The Thank You Economy by: Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) 

Brandwashed by: Martin Lindstrom

Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by: Lee Cockerell

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by: Dan Ariely

Marketing Outrageously by: Jon Spoelstra

The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First by: Jonah Keri

Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage by: Daniel C. Esty/Andrew S. Winston

Intercollegiate Athletics and the American University by: James J. Duderstat

The Business of Happiness by: Ted Leonsis (@TedLeonsis)

How to Win at the Sport of Business by: Mark Cuban (@mcuban)



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