Idea to Reality
An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements. -Scott Belsky
Never underestimate the power of impact.
Leadership is not at 8 AM to 5 PM. Leadership is a 24 hour job that requires more than just assigning and delegating tasks. Leadership goes beyond the immediate. Leadership is about how one can help sustain success by putting people first and by giving more than the minimum.
Thus, 5 ideas to think about…
1. Respected leaders admit when they are wrong. They step up in difficult times and put themselves out on the frontline. They accept the challenge. They recognize that odds will not always be in their favor. And finally, they know they will make it out and they see they will be stronger from it.
2. Respected leaders are those who consistently prove through their work ethic that they are reliable and trustworthy on the inside and out. Note the key word to the previous sentence is “consistently.” Leaders set the standard. Leaders give the example. And finally, leaders follow these standards day in and day out. At work and at home. It’s about transparency.
3. Respected leaders take risks. They are bold enough to challenge some ideas and ways for the betterment of the organization and their team.
4. Respected leaders, no matter what the situation may be, will find ways to discover the best in people and enable their full potential. It is the ability for a leader to put their own reputation at risk for the betterment of the individuals they are serving.
5. Respected leaders are the most authentic. Their presence is genuine and true. In a leaders eye, everyone matters. They welcome constructive conversations regardless of hierarchy or rank. It is a trust that comes from leaders living out their personal brand and creating culture that can overcome all obstacles.
Without sponsors, most of us would be lost.
From the smallest sponsor account to the biggest sponsor account, each account plays a role in filling some gap and each account is made on some type of relationship. While relationships are something that truly take time to build, it is crucial to keep in mind that every interaction matters and every decision will play a roll into whether each relationship will remain, decrease, or increase over the years.
The bottom line is that relationships with sponsors really make the difference when it comes to the final product. It is the ability to communicate ideas, express needs, and come up with a way to “make it happen.” It is not the you or me approach, but instead, it is we approach. It is approach that requires both parties to commit. Commit to time. Commit to financial investment. Commit to the process.
And when both parties commit to this, it really is fun to see ideas come to life and these relationships grow.
The Cowboy Corral is the tailgate party that the our athletic department puts on in one of our parking lots 3 hours before every home football game. It started in 2012 as a new activation piece sold to one of our beverage companies. While the 2012 season fell short in many ways, it definitely laid a platform to work off of in 2013. From the marketing to the actual layout to the stage adjustments to the performing acts etc, every weekend provided the opportunity to learn what worked and what did not work. Now as we are in our third year of putting on the Cowboy Corral, I can truly say it is night and day from years past. This is not because we are getting more money, changed location, or made many drastic improvements, but it is because we have engaged more with our beverage company and other sponsors involved. We have invested more hours and changed our mindset. Thus, this has provided us with a purpose and direction for our tailgate party adventure. And what we have learned is that everyone who supports McNeese are more than just fans and sponsors…they are family. And when we throw events, we are not just inviting people to come to our stadium and parking lot, but inviting people to come to our house and yard,
COWBOY CORRAL 2012
COWBOY CORRAL 2013
COWBOY CORRAL 2014
Willpower…do you have it?
By living in this results driven world, you must constantly strive to improve in order to stay on top and continue to make positive steps in your life. But as you get older, there is one flaw that will become more apparent in many of those you observe who are striving to get better: they don’t commit 100%.
When pushing yourself, whether it be with work, food, or exercise etc, it has to always be a 100% commitment because it is actually easier than 99% and it provides co-workers, peers, family, and friends with a role model for personal growth.
The difference between committing 99% and committing 100% cannot be measured by the normal mathematical equation. When you commit to 99% for anything, there is always room for negotiating. It is the thought process of “1% is not that big and I can cheat a little.” You may believe in the benefits of 99% in the short run, but you will slowly realize that cutting it short here and there will eventually add up. That 1% will accumulate and your mindset will become accustom to not finishing.
When you commit to 100% for anything, you must make it non-negotiable. This means that whatever you are trying to achieve goes from a “should mindset” to a “must mindset”. This means that there is no options or ways out. And by committing 100%, you are defining yourself with it and setting an example of what unwavering commitment truly is.
And finally, let’s remember the 100% approach fighting strategy of the ancient Greek armies. When Greek armies would arrive on shore, commanders would “burn the boats.” Therefore, there was no escape route. The men had two options: win or die. The concept was simple and can still be applicable to situations you face in today’s day and age.
Overall, this game was a HUGE success. We created heavy traffic and interest with our 2015 LSU ticket drawing, which got people to Cowboy Stadium and kept people in Cowboy Stadium past halftime. We put on a memorable presentation between our student-athletes, fans, SGA, and student sections. We activated a sponsorship in multiple ways, even had a fan walk away with a year supply of coke.
And most importantly, we exceeded our sales goals by 34%.
REMEMBER: Sometimes it’s not always about the competition that the team you work for will be playing. Sometimes it’s about a little bit of effort, planning, and creative thinking in order to help stir the pot.
As I mentioned on Sunday, we are playing a D2 school this Saturday and have been battling to hold on to the “buzz” after a strong performance at Nebraska and at our home opener.
Now, this game was no surprise so we had time to brainstorm a few ways to advertise it in the prior weeks. Besides from your normal print, radio, and commercials spots, below are some additional strategies we planned in order to attack the week leading up to GAME 2 at home…
—One of the first things that we did was developed a way to not only reward our season ticket holders, but also try and make sure that these fans would be in the stands on 9/27. In every season ticket book, we included an opportunity for a fan to win 6 FREE tickets to the McNeese vs LSU game in 2015. Fans have until 9/26 to turn in the card below. The drawing will happen at halftime of our game this Saturday. So far, the response has been GREAT and we have received more than two thirds of these cards.
—The second thing we decided to do was build off this weeks football game sponsor, Coca Cola. We split this up into two parts (prior to the game and in game) and two target markets (students and fans/people in Lake Charles)
PRIOR TO THE GAME: In honor of McNeese’s 75th Anniversary & in honor of the commemorative Coca Cola glass McNeese bottles, we have been doing a scavenger hunt leading up to this Saturday’s game as a form of grass roots marketing. How has this scavenger hunt worked? 2 cowbells are placed each day starting Tuesday, one on McNeese’s campus and one in the Lake Charles community. Picture clues have been posted via social media. The people that find one of these cowbells brings it to the McNeese Ticket Office to redeem a FREE six pack of glass Coca Cola bottles and 6 FREE football tickets for this weekend’s game.
IN GAME: 1) For the students, we will ice a ton of cokes down and place them in the student section. 2) For the fans, we will do a coke row of the game. We will pick a section and a row in Cowboy Stadium and those people will each get one of the commemorative glass McNeese bottles. 3) Coca Cola is giving away a year supply of Coke to a fan who kicks a field goal
—The last thing we did to try and get people to this game was get our student-athletes and SGA involved. Between the 1st and 2nd quarter, we invited SGA leaders to be apart of an on field recognition. But instead of our normal PA guy doing this and to avoid the SGA being on the field alone, we thought it would be cool to have our student-athletes on the field too (they will help with “saying thank you”) and to have one student-athlete actually read the PA.
Well y’all, let’s see how Saturday goes…
We all know how busy the first few months on the job can be and how important it is to stay focused and perform. Thus, this statement holds true…”better late than never.” With this said, I finally received David Pillen’s farewell blog yesterday! David left McNeese in June to take the position as Director of Creative Services and Video Ops at La Tech. While you may only worked with some people for short time, it does not take long to form strong relationships when you are fighting the same battle with these people and when these people carry the same fire in their bellies to perform at their best at ALL times.
Because remember it is not the place that makes the people, but it is the people that makes the place. You don’t get to choose how or when life comes at you. You get to choose how you respond. How you react impacts your team and your leadership.
Thus, the story of David from McNeese to Louisiana Tech (from dpillen.com)…
My Time at McNeese
I guess this is better late than never, right D$?? But for real, I think as a leader you have to take things seriously that others deem a serious matter. This blog post is one of those things. If someone asks me to do something I am going to get it done and/or never leave something unfinished.
The first thing that pops into my head when I think about my time at McNeese is that I am so thankful for Danielle giving me the opportunity to come down to Lake Charles, LA from Abilene, TX to help her out in her first year as the then new Dir. of Mktg — I knew McNeese was the place I needed to be to learn and grow and gain a new experience in the realm of college athletics…and thus move forward in my career as a young professional. From the first time I drove over to LC to visit with Danielle about the position, I knew that our relationship would be one that would communicate well and often, execute efficiently, and make each other better every single day. Our backgrounds as student-athlete’s I believe gives us both a foundation to be reliable and understand what it takes to get our jobs done. When you have a team like that, it’s hard to lose.
What I Learned at McNeese
The things that I did learn at McNeese are the important factors that it takes for leadership to allow buy-in to your culture as a leader, the importance of customer service/ticket sales, to the natural significance of fundraising as it relates to the needs of your department - big or small.
While I believe I was already aware of many of these things, being at McNeese solidified my ideas about them all.
As a leader, people matter. It’s not about you, it is about you and those around you. If all you care about is how you will advance yourself and your ideas, there will be zero buy-in to your culture that you create as a leader.
Customer service/ticket sales are the front window to the athletic department. If we aren’t willing to work with and listen to every single fan/customer that comes in contact with the ticket office and reward them with a gratifying experience, we will lose business. Athletics is an emotional sell, so when an angry customer gets comes to us with something, we can’t let our emotions get the best of us.
I’ll say this about fundraising - if you can’t be authentic about the point I made above about buy-in to your culture as a leader - it will be tough to get others to donate to your cause. But I believe fundraising is a huge aspect to athletics. I was fortunate to gain a non-profit experience to fundraising with the Make-A Wish Foundation and I think it relates to the athletic realm in many ways. We have to provide the necessary resources it takes to make dreams come true - that comes through donations and others joining your team for a cause bigger than themselves.
What am I going to take to my new position
Well, after being in my new position for a few months, I can already tell you that I have taken the same mindset to LA Tech that I took to McNeese. That mindset is that you do the best with what you’ve got, learn from your mistakes (never make the same mistake twice), and focus on the process to get better each and every day. The same mentality applies to how I attack my job today. Things aren’t always going to go as planned, but if you aren’t willing to take criticism with thick skin and play the next play then you are doing not only yourself a disservice, but those who are on your team a disservice as well.
Months ago did I ever expect I’d be where I am today
Months ago I did expect to be in a similar position that I am in today. While it may have taken longer than I expected — I believe that I am in the spot I am meant to be in right now.
My best piece of advice when taking a position at McNeese
What am I going to miss the most
My most memorable memory
My most memorable memory at McNeese came during baseball season towards when we knew our time as a team was coming to an end. We had a few small moments that really seemed like big moments to us. It was fun.
Final Thoughts and Comments
People matter. Care about those around you, be self-aware, have fun and lead well.
D$’s final recap from McNeese…
Haha…my debut for a recorded radio spot. After avoiding this for 2+ years, I finally had to give it a go since all my guys have left for other opportunities.
For our game this Saturday, we are playing a D2 school. Therefore, coming off a weekend where we had our 2nd largest crowd in the last 12 years and coming into a weekend with a “weaker” game POV from fans, the advertising is heavy.
On Tuesday, I will write about the in-game elements that we are having etc in order to keep interest.
The goal this week is to be realistic with our ticket sales and to clean up all operational areas that we fell short on two weeks ago. These areas being…
I know y’all…I have been MIA for a good week. It really is amazing how crazy the week of the first home football game is. It is a mode unlike any other. With the stress high and the work load intense, true characters are revealed and certain roles are established. Overall, it was a pretty successful weekend. There are many things to improve on, but the biggest positive was that Saturday’s crowd was the 2nd largest home crowd in the last 12 years.
Now, back to da blogging…
Are you confident or cocky?
One way to answer this question is to consciously evaluate your actions. Because the truth is that false confidence will affect your decision-making and slowly destroy your reputation.
Confidence is a key trait of most leaders, but even all good leaders MUST conduct a reality check. This can be done with a few simple questions…