8 Tips to Getting Promoted in the Sports Industry

8 Tips to Getting Promoted in the Sports Industry
by Rocky Harris – October 2015

Managing expectations

I get asked all the time what it takes to get promoted in the sports industry. Over the last 15 years the industry has encountered rapid growth, which has provided more professional opportunities and raised expectations for getting promoted faster.

When I got my first full-time job with the San Francisco 49ers, I felt lucky to have an entry-level position. It was highly competitive. No one seemed to get promoted or leave for other jobs. Upward mobility was more aspirational than realistic. Today, people enter the industry expecting to become athletics director, president or general manager by the time they are 30. Somewhere along the way, we stopped worrying about excelling at our current jobs and only focused on reaching the next step.

How to advance in 8 easy steps

Instead of trying to reverse the course of the industry, I have some direction for those looking to advance their careers.

  1. nickbakerExcel at your current job: Many people think all they have to do to get promoted is meet the minimum expectations for their current positions. I always tell my staff that the first step is to excel at what you were hired to accomplish. AEG Senior Vice President Nick Baker, who started at AEG as an intern and worked his way up, explained: “You have to have proven excellence in your current role before you can be considered for additional responsibilities and opportunities.”
  2. Impact other departments: Once you effectively manage all current responsibilities, the next step is to positively impact and contribute to other departments. It shows you are a team player. Other leaders within the organization will notice your contribution in helping them reach their goals.
  3. Focus on solving organizational objectives: I was told early in my career to solve the problems of the most senior decision-maker in the department (president, athletics director, owner, etc.). After perfecting the job you are hired to do and helping other departments reach their goals, spend your spare time figuring out ways to solve organizational problems. Delivering a solution to an issue that keeps the team owner up at night will help you get noticed and promoted.
  4. Know your strengths and weaknesses: Focus on using your strengths to deliver short-term results. Develop and display a skill set relevant to the objectives of the organization. Example: If your boss is a luddite, and you are tech-savvy, your technology skills can deliver value to the organization that no one else can that sets you apart.
  5. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have: One employee asked for a promotion because he felt he was ready to take on a more senior role. I told my boss about his desire for advancement and we were considering it. The next day, the employee walked in to the office with tennis shoes and his shirt un-tucked. My boss said he refused to promote him, regardless of the work he produces, until he learns professionalism.
  6. Find mentors: I wouldn’t be where I am without the help of others. It is critical to your professional development. Mentors can help you develop your personal plan and provide much-needed guidance.
  7. Build relationships: Have a positive attitude. Be the kind of person people want to work with. Leaders can easily identify divisive people. Dividers will not be promoted regardless of the results they drive.
  8. stevewebbBe open to change: Executive Director of Compliance at Arizona State University, Steve Webb, has lived in four different states to pursue his goals in the sports industry. Webb said, “In the sports industry, you have to be willing to change jobs, move and take on new roles in order to grow. The more flexible you are, the more likely you will move up the ladder quicker.”

 

These steps do not guarantee you will fast-track to the top of an organization. But, if that is your goal, these pointers will give you the best chance to reach your career goals.


Cover photo courtesy of Pascal.

 

What makes a great ballpark?

What makes a great ballpark?
by Kirk Wakefield – May 2013

My favorite is AT&T Park. You don’t have to love baseball to love going there. And that really is the business issue: How do you build or maintain a park that attracts people who don’t really care about baseball? The Cubs aren’t spending $500 million in renovations because baseball fans don’t love Wrigley. They’re concerned about the long-term attractiveness of the park and providing all fans, baseball lovers or not, with a good experience.

What makes a good park?

In the past two weeks I visited  Dodgers Stadium, Petco Park (Padres), and Citizens Bank Park (Phillies). On this three-park trip I focused more on the team stores in addition to the sportscape. Let’s take a quick look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s start with the good.

sportscape-factorsSan Diego’s Petco Park is also one of my favorite parks. The location is perfect, adjacent to the Gaslight District for fine eating and close to major thoroughfares and public transportation for easy access. Walk two blocks and you’re good for a stroll along the bay. I’ve been here many times, so the pictures highlight a few things you might not notice if you’ve only been here once or twice.

Many team stores are designed as an after-thought. Not so at Petco Park. The Padres team store opens to an exterior retail street. The merchandise assortment, displays, lighting, and layout are as nice as any comparable upscale retail store. (Place cursor over pictures to pause & read comments.)

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Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park is located in the same area as all of the Philly sports facilities. Public transportation is great (take the Phillies Express to the AT&T subway station), parking is fine, but if you plan to do anything else besides go to the game, forget about it. Outside of the Xfinity Live! establishment on the corner by the football and baseball stadiums, there’s nothing but concrete for miles.

Great parks have signature foods and restaurants–not only in the club level–that fans actually want to consume beyond standard hot dog & beer fare. Outside of maybe the Philly cheese steaks, this is not one of them. The food service on the club level is above average, but the general access food is typical. Overall, the layout and design of the park is easy to navigate and the size of the stadium makes for good sight lines and seats all around.

With respect to the team store, fans may be deceived by the relatively small storefront visible from the concourse. The store is very large and contains an extensive collections of kids and women’s clothing. As with the Padres, the Phillies offer some exclusive items you can only get at the park. Good call.

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Dodger Stadium is iconic. Any baseball fan will love it.

Dodger Stadium Access
Dodger Stadium Access

Any non-fan? Not so sure. You may have heard it’s in a ravine. From a traffic standpoint, the vast majority of fans assume the only entrance is off the 110 via I-5 or the 101 (blue line on map). The reality is not that LA fans are fashionably late. They are all stuck in traffic about a mile from the stadium.

After sitting at a complete standstill for 15 minutes coming off the 101, I took off to explore an alternate route (the black line) away from the traffic jam. (“Yes, dear, it IS better to move no matter what than to stand still in traffic.”)

In short order I ended up parked–for free–on a nearby street where all the locals obviously go. Traffic was still piled up at the bottle-necked entrance as I walked past the $20 parking. All it would take would be a few traffic cops directing to the less traveled routes. Alternately, like the San Antonio Spurs and others have done, teams can place traffic directions on the website for newcomers. Better yet, email to new ticket buyers.

Now to the apparel and a few other things. Since I love Magic Johnson and the Dodgers I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The smaller team store, drab concrete floors and facades, and cramped serving areas are problems with any park built back in the Stone Age of stadiums (1950-70s). Food service areas, passageways, restrooms, and virtually anything that should provide amenities were designed as discomforts. That said, the lower levels have better food service, but fans aren’t allowed to go below their seated level.

Franchises can make some changes. The Dodgers could generate millions in new revenue by moving the press box out of its prime space directly behind home plate. Other parks (e.g., White Sox, Astros, etc.) moved press boxes and immediately sold out all of the new premium seats.

Want more?

These are just snapshots of a few things baseball franchises (MiLB and MLB) should be monitoring. As part of Baylor’s Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) program, we go into these issues and many more. If interested in an in-depth treatment of sportscape management, you may want to read more at www.teamsportsmarketing.com. As information, this text contains frequent attempts at humor.

Leading: Popping the Self-Delusion Bubble

Leading: Popping the Self-Delusion Bubble
by Dan Rockwell – February 2013

Waking up

I woke up this morning disturbed at the subtlety of self-delusion. The trouble with delusion is illusion.

What do you call someone who believes they’re:

  1. Supportive but demanding, instead.
  2. Humble but in reality, arrogant.
  3. Listening when they’re talking.
  4. Able to do everything “right” while others fall short.
  5. Informed when they don’t know.

You call them deluded leaders.

Deluded leaders falsely believe intentions automatically translate into behaviors. You intend to be supportive so you must be supportive, right?

Deluded leaders believe they’ve mastered the things they tell others to do. Consider the pursuit of excellence, for example. Are you always improving the work of others but doing things the same yourself?

On excellence

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Mike Mahoney
Mike Mahoney

“When you get feedback on your performance remember that it is business, not personal, so don’t get defensive. It is hard for people to bring up negative things so appreciate they cared enough to help you correct your behavior and make the necessary adjustments.”
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How do you respond to:

  1. Suggestions about your behavior?
  2. Criticism about the way you handle tough conversations?
  3. Improvements suggested by underlings that impact you personally?

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving for better. Can you name one thing you’re striving to improve in your leadership? Can you name three things you’re doing to improve it? Do those under you know and participate? Or, are you deceived by intention.

You pursue excellence for others but not for yourself. The discomfort others feel in telling you the truth says you aren’t approachable. When was the last time you invited someone to speak into your frailties?

Get real

Leaders serve.

You’re not special, better than, or more important. Thinking you are deludes you.

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  1. Conform to them rather than demanding they conform to you.
  2. Focus on them; stop expecting them to focus on you.
  3. Their success is your success.
  4. Fuel their passions not yours.
  5. Serve them; they don’t serve you.[/dropshadowbox]

Leaders who don’t serve rely on authority and coercion. They pressure rather than enable. Saying and telling aren’t serving.

I don’t know how you feel. But, I feel better. I needed that reminder and I bet you did, too.

Discuss with your team

How can leaders address the self-delusion issue?

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