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Title vs. Money vs. Function

As you navigate your career in or out of sports, you’ll be presented with new and exciting opportunities both in and out of the industry. At times you’ll have to balance major factors such as Salary vs. Title vs. Job Function. The right answer for one person could be the wrong for another. There are many factors that go into making job decisions. It’s hard for me to comment when it comes to salary based decisions. Everyone wants to make more money. The question becomes more complex as you add more variables into the mix – do you have a family to support, etc. Here are a few things to consider asking yourself:

When it comes to salary             

Do you need more money, or do you want more money? Everyone wants more money. Are you in a situation however in which you need more money? Perhaps you have a family you need to provide for. Perhaps you’re later in your career and need to start focusing on retirement funding. Typically when you’re younger I’ve found that you’re generally more able to sacrifice salary for opportunity. It may make sense to take a job that gives you a great skillset or experience and exposure over a better paying job. Depending on where you are in your career or in life, you may have flexibility here.

When it comes to title

Does a title give you more responsibility or translate into future opportunity? Title and Salary typically go hand-in-hand to a certain degree, but not always. Does a title come with more responsibility? If it does, is that responsibility something that will help you grow personally or professionally? If it doesn’t, are you still able to grow personally or professionally in other ways? Title bumps are great – they generally show promotion and increased responsibility. Make sure you’re avoid putting yourself into a position where you’re no longer growing and developing.

When it comes to job function

You’re not always going to have your dream job – it just doesn’t work that way. But that doesn’t mean you have to hate what you do. Certainly there are jobs out there you would love to have. There are also certainly jobs out there that you would hate to have. Shoot for ones you would love to have and avoid the ones that you would hate. If you don’t get your dream job to start, hopefully you land somewhere that is somewhere in the middle that you don’t hate that develops you personally and professionally. I cannot believe the number of individuals I come across who are in jobs they hate, and knew from the start they were probably going to hate them, just to get their foot in the door, or because it was going to pay them more money, or the job title sounded better. Why would anyone do this to themselves if they could help it!?

When you consider all of the variables in play, it can be a hard task to sort through and figure out. There are exceptions to the rule and circumstances in life that may negate the advice I lay out above. Having a good salary, with a good title, with a job function you enjoy to boot is a slam dunk. However, the trick is balancing between short-term and long-term goals, either of which can carry different weights depending on your circumstances. By no means do I proclaim myself to be an expert on correctly navigating and sorting through every possible variable, but typically I’ve found success in taking a step back and trying to methodically consider the trade offs and their impact on short and long-term goals. Hopefully you’ll find success too.

-Alex

3 Years In

The original premise for this blog was to keep track of my journey into the world of sports. Overtime it has naturally moved into other spaces – it’s my website, I’ll do what I want with it. However, in honor of my 3 year work anniversary this past week, I thought it made sense to continue the annual tradition of major lessons learned along the way. Since it’s my 3 year anniversary, I’ll talk about 3 lessons.

Be Adaptable
This could probably qualify more as a life lesson than anything else, but of course applies to your job. The reason so many people end up becoming replaceable over time generally has something to do with not having adapted to their surroundings and environment. You see this all the time with businesses, and unfortunately even more so with personnel. Another unfortunate side-effect are those in stable positions who do not adapt to new environments, and thus create a world of inefficiency as a result. Being adaptable means a lot of things – technology might change, best practices might change, your job responsibilities could change, etc. Be the person who adapts – those are personnel that are highly valued and difficult to replace.

Your Attitude Drives Your Success
It’s nearly impossible to have a great and positive attitude about everything you do in life, including work. Crappy things are bound to happen at some point or another. You’re not always going to remain positive, but you should try to see the positives that are presenting themselves – there’s almost always a few of them. You might not always like what you have to do, but

Show Gratitude
Again, probably more a life lesson than anything else, but don’t forget to say please and thank you. Let people know you appreciate them and what they do. It goes a lot further than one might think.

Still going strong 3 years in!

 

-Alex

The Art of an Informational Interview

One of the lines that sticks out to me from one of the hundreds of informational interviews that I conducted while trying to break into the sports industry is “once you break in, make sure you pay it forward” – the context being that once I broke into the industry, make sure I make the time to speak with individuals on the outside looking in. I took that to heart and since breaking into sports full-time in June 2013, and I have fielded hundreds of requests for informational interviews since.

Some have been great, and others not so great. When individuals come up to me and ask what will set them apart and be the x-factor for them breaking into sports, I often tell them it’s the informational interviews they have with individuals. Similar to my post about having genuine conversations, only a small few will actually go the extra mile in scheduling informational interviews. I find this to be absurd. I’m sure that if I guaranteed a job to any aspiring student who wanted to break into sports by saying, “if you do X, Y, and Z, I’ll hire you”, nearly all would do X, Y, and Z. So it’s crazy to me that when I tell students or anyone else who seems desperate to break into sports, “if you do A, B and C, there’s a great chance (nearly 95% let’s say) you’ll get a job in sports”, only a very small few actually end up doing it.

Here are my three thoughts or steps on how to approach the informational interview:

1)      The Ask

If you’re a student, this is pretty easy. Send an email, give them a call, but the message should be similar, “Hello, my name is Sam and I’m a masters student at North America University trying to learn more about the sports industry. I see that you work in XYZ department at ABC team/ company. If you had the time, I would love the opportunity to pick your brain about your work and the types of projects that you focus on”. If you’re not a student, that’s okay, you can follow a similar guideline.

2)      The Call

Sounds dumb to say, but be prepared, and have some idea of what you want to talk about. I’ve had several bad calls, but one sticks out to me more than the others. Someone once reached out to me and set-up a call. Once our scheduled time rolled around, I called them and they sounded surprised to hear from me – they had completely forgotten we had a call! Okay, no problem, everyone makes mistakes, so we set-up a second time to have a conversation the following week. When we finally connect the following week, they are totally unprepared. They have no questions or any ideas on what to talk about. At one point there was nearly :30 seconds of silence on the phone, followed by a comment on whether or not I had questions for them. The kicker to the entire situation is that months later they came and asked me to hire them. What chance of hiring (or recommendation from me) do you think this individual had at that point? Be prepared. Don’t waste someone’s time – it’ll bite you.

3)      The Follow-up

Nothing major, but send a quick thank you plus anything you discussed on the call that you promised to follow-up with. If anything interesting regarding your call came up such as an interesting article, include a link and reference it. Take the opportunity to stay in touch and engage again if you stumble across something that you find applicable to your previous conversation. It calls attention to the fact that you were listening and did some critical thinking beyond the call. But listen, a simple thank you is totally okay – don’t over engage if there’s nothing to talk about.

4)      Staying in Touch

This one is a bit trickier and does not apply to everyone you speak with. Some of the contacts you speak with and conduct informational interviews with are going to be more valuable than others – that’s just how it works. But staying in genuine contact when appropriate goes a long way. What I mean by this is if you come across an article or something else that you believe is interesting to someone you spoke with, send it their way. Don’t over do it, and don’t feel as though you need to do this to everyone you spoke with. If they respond and engage, great, you’ve reminded them that you exist. If not, not a problem, people are busy - avoid continuing to send them material if they continue not to respond.

So where does this all go and lead to? Hopefully a job in sports. The idea here is that you’re creating a bunch of meaningful and genuine relationships. Relationships that will then make you aware of openings on their own, or that may serve as allies to you when you apply to jobs.

In conclusion, if you really want to work in sports, I would start by first asking yourself why. This, in and of itself, is something you need to be completely honest with yourself about, and something I talk about in another blog post. The second thing you need to do is really commit to it. I promise you, that to date, not a single individual or person that has taken this advice, did not eventually land a job in the industry after taking the advice and guidelines that I talk about above to heart. If it’s your ambition to work in sports, you can make it a reality. The sad truth of the matter is that most people don’t really have the fire or the passion to make it happen for themselves. Instead they sit and wait for something to happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re an undergraduate student, or a masters of sports business student, or an MBA, JD, or PhD – these things mean absolutely nothing unless you are willing to put in the time to network, meet people, and conduct informational interviews. Yes, some may get lucky and meet that perfect connection that ends up helping get them a job immediately. However, the general candidate gets and finds a job through hard work and outworking the 80% that say they want a job in sports, but in reality only kind of want it.

If you want it, you can do it. You have the tools outlined for you on what it takes to be successful. Get after it.

-Alex

A Foot in the Door

“I’m willing to work anywhere doing anything in sports, I just want to get my foot in the door.”

I cringe when I inevitably hear this from prospective hires or from students during informationals. The reason is because it tells me you haven’t really thought about why you want to work in sports, what it is you really want to do, and that you don’t really value your time or worth to an organization. Certainly there will be times throughout your career where you’ll have to do odd jobs or things you don’t find the most stimulating or exciting. But why would you potentially put yourself in a position to do something day in an day out that you hate? Here are something things I would think you should be asking yourself if you have ever uttered anything close to the sentence above.

Question 1 – Why do you want to work in sports?

My hope is that there is more to it than “I think sports is cool” or “I love sports”. Working in sports is just like working in any other industry at the end of the day. Yes, it’s a “sexy” sounding industry to work in and there are certain aspects and perks that make working in sports fun. However, having more substance in your answer to this beyond “I love sports” is important – for both you and your future employer.

Question 2 – What do you like to do?

I’ve always said that marrying something that you love to do (function) with an industry you find interesting and engaging goes a very long way in being happy in your job. As such, you should ask yourself what it is you like to do. Are you a math geek who like working with data? How about working within the community? Are you the next big brand marketing Rockstar?

Question 3 – How does the opportunity help you personally or professionally?

You’re not always going to hit a home-run on the job(s) you land – it’s just the way it works sometimes. If you can though, think about how the opportunity in front of you helps you progress either personally or professionally. In turn, how does this progression set you up for future success?

Of course there are other factors that may mitigate some of the above. Sometimes you might have to take one job over another due to financial reasons. If you’re an international student, you may be forced into accepting a position due to visa restrictions, etc. But asking yourself the questions above will hopefully help you  

-Alex

The Art of Negotiating

Negotiating. From when we were kids with our parents, to the restaurant you’ll eat at for dinner, to taking time off, to salary discussions at work, we negotiate on a near constant and daily basis. But what is the actual point to a negotiation? Many think that it is something to be won against an opponent. This actually cannot be further from the truth. The point of a negotiation is to maximize the utility for the parties involved until there is no longer additional value that can be derived from either side.

The best negotiations that I have seen both in the workplace and outside of it, have been ones that leave everyone in a better place afterward. However, I often see individuals incidentally sabotaging themselves by being either too selfish or trying to “win” in a situation that generally calls for openness and clarity in order to maximize utilities.

Every situation is different. But approaching it with an open mind and with a focus on how to provide utility for everyone generally proves helpful.

-Alex

Hell Finally Froze Over for Duke Football

 

"By approaching our daily lives remaining focused to do everything with the wisdom of our experiences and the energy of our youth, we can continue to seize our opportunities and achieve beyond what we can ever imagine."
-David Cutcliffe

 

December 26, 2015. Most people will remember this day as having been during the holiday. Others maybe as the day after Christmas. And maybe even more specifically, as the day they saw the long anticipated Stars Wars sequel. I however will never remember that day for any of those things. Instead, I will remember it as the day a streak came to an end and as one of the best sporting memories I will ever have. The cherry on top? I got to spend it all with my father.

Duke 44 - Indiana 41. For the first time in 54 years, Duke football won a bowl game - the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Hell may have officially frozen over for a day, we're still waiting on confirmation. For anyone that knows me personally, you probably know how big of a deal this was for me. 

Ordinarily I would have thought that winning a bowl game would have been the event that marked Duke footballs rise from the ashes to finally be considered a somewhat legitimate football program. Oddly though, I am left with a completely unanticipated emotion. Disappointment. Disappointment in the season as a whole. Duke started the season 6-1, and then proceeded to tank after a heartbreaking and controversial finish against Miami, dropping 4 of its last 5 games of the season. They finished the regular season at 7-5 and limped into Pinstripe Bowl. How far has this program come over the last several years for me and many other Duke football fans to be able to sit here after a winning season that culminated in a bowl victory and still feel disappointed? I think it says a tremendous amount about the rise of the program and that the benchmark of relevance was hit before this past season even began.

Something that surprises even myself to say, the expectation has shifted from whether or not we'll be bowl eligible to which bowl game we'll be competing in (that is pretty amazing). And, for the first time in my life I'm able to refer to a Blue Devils football team as a team of Champions. The heartbreak of the previous 3 bowl games will never truly go away, but this feels pretty good at the moment. 

Hear that Bama? We're coming for you. Roll Devils.

-Alex

2 Years In

Know When To Say No – internal external
It’s not always easy to say no, especially if someone is asking for help. I think it’s human nature to want to help, to feel needed, to provide assistance. It’s also a really good way to over extend and negatively impact the quality of your work if you aren’t able to balance it correctly. I’ll be the first to admit that this is something I am still mastering and still often times fail at. It is however something I am much more cognizant of now and have been working to improve.

Let’s also be clear in that I’m not talking about everything you are or will be asked to do at work. You have a job that you are responsible for doing in exchange for being employed and receiving a salary – duh. I’m talking about taking on the extra assignment that will put you behind your other projects or require you to spend so much extra time working on, you become burned out.

Your time is valuable and important – and not just to you. Being able to say no in the right way will also demonstrate the fact that you value your time, which will make it that much more meaningful when you give it out in the future.

Be humble
Not the easiest thing to do, whether you want to admit it or not. In order to get the job you have, you had to beat out hundreds if not thousands of other candidates. Some of those candidates, believe it or not, would probably have been better at your job, or at least aspects of it. We’re all great in our own ways, but we’re not as great as we think we are either. Lose sight of that, and it shines through pretty clearly in your personality, and no one wants to be around or work with someone that clearly thinks they’re better or smarter than everyone else – regardless of whether or not that is truth!

Two years down.

-Alex

Love to be Hated

 
crazies.jpg
 

We always vilify what we don't understand.
-Nenia Campbell

Sometimes it's fun to play the "villain." Being a fan of anything Duke, especially Duke basketball, thrusts you into this role whether you like it or not. People are programmed to dislike us, whether or not they've ever had a bad encounter. I read a great article yesterday that tried to explain this, which can be read here.

With that said, no matter who you are or where your allegiances lie, you have to have the right attitude and mindset. My father said it best when as a kid I asked him a question about Duke and being a fan (for those of you who don't know, he went to Duke and is the reason I've been a Blue Devil my entire life). Essentially I asked my Dad whether or not he hated UNC and their fans. Much to my surprise he said "Absolutely not. UNC is a great school and it's a beautiful rivalry because of the fans from both sides. Having a good attitude and giving each other a hard time is great, so long as it comes from a place of mutual respect." At least he said something very close to that. Not everyone may view it that way, but at the end of the day sports is a form of entertainment, and that should never be forgotten.

In any event, that was essentially the moment that I realized that you have to have the right mindset when it comes to rivalries and rooting against other teams. If people have the right mindset about it, then I love being able to play the villain. In fact, I embrace it. 

So tomorrow, Monday, April 6, when most of the United States is rooting against me and my Blue Devils, I'll be smiling. Hopefully the villain wins for the 5th time in the last 3 decades.

Go Duke!

-Alex


Update: April 7, 2015
National Title #5!

Seattle and the NHL

 
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For the better part of the last decade I have said that Seattle would be a great location for an NHL franchise. Over the last couple of years, a number of articles have been written that more-or-less say the same. Let’s dive into the issue and explore what has been said and where the issue stands today.

First let’s start by simply examining how Seattle generally stacks up to other NHL franchised cities.

If we approach it from a metropolitan population size, Seattle would rank 13 out of 28 with a little over 3.6 million (the New York metro area supports three different teams and Los Angeles metro area supports two). From a population size perspective, Seattle comes in around the middle of the pack – not bad.

If we look at NHL cities around the United States and their respective hockey programs (both youth and adult leagues as one indication of interest in hockey), Seattle would also rank in the middle from a pure number standpoint. From a percentage of the designated metropolitan area, Seattle would again rank in the middle. Another part of this story is also the stark difference between the northern United States’ interest in hockey when compared to that of the southern United States. It comes as no secret that hockey in the United States has generally been focused in more northern states. That is not to say that the NHL and hockey haven’t found success in the south, but rather that northern territories and regions have generally found more success for a number of factors – Seattle checks this theoretical box as well.

Population size and hockey programs are only parts of the equation when it comes to finding and building a sustainable fan base to attend games. A recent 2014 study (which you can view here) on fan demographics for the NHL revealed a fan base that is the richest of all sports. Not only that but a demographic that is 63% between the ages of 18 and 54, 92% white, and 33% making over $100k.

Graph from an The Atlantic article which can be viewed  here .

Graph from an The Atlantic article which can be viewed here.

Would Seattle take kindly to another professional sports team? If so, where are the fans going to come from?

There are a few things to consider here. 1) Is Seattle considered to be a sports town, and 2) would the existing sports fans in Seattle adopt the sport of hockey?

I don’t see much debate over whether or not Seattle should be considered to be a sports town or not. The city is currently home to 3 of the major 5 sports leagues in the United States – the MLB’s Seattle Mariners, the MLS’s Seattle Sounders, and the most recent Super Bowl Champions, the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. In some respects, one could make the argument that interest in Seattle sports hasn’t been this high for the last 35 years since the former NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics brought home the NBA title back in 1979.

To some degree we’ve already touched on where the fans would potentially come from in first few paragraphs when talking about the general population of Seattle. Aside from the existence of hockey programs and a demographic profile that appears to fit-the-bill, there are still additional avenues to consider when assessing where a new franchise into the city is going to attract fans from.

In regards to current hockey fans already living in and around Seattle, the Vancouver Canucks are probably the most visible team from a live broadcast perspective although the San Jose Sharks are closest in proximity. Data over the last several years suggests that although many from Seattle would like to see a professional hockey team in their city, general interest in the NHL is somewhat low due to the proximity of Seattle to the closest NHL markets. To me this seems to present a great opportunity to grow a fan base from scratch. In the event the articles and data I’ve read through are incorrect and there is indeed a strong rooting interest in a current NHL franchise, I counter with more recent examples in which new professional sports franchises come to a market with an already heavy rooting interest elsewhere. In particular I think of the MLB’s Washington Nationals. Baseball in the Capital City had been all but extinct for 33 years since the Washington Senators left to go become the Texas Rangers. The majority of fans looking for a consistent rooting interest went 45 minutes north to the Baltimore Orioles up in Maryland. The Washington Nationals (midway through their 10th season back in Washington, DC) have been fairly successful in building their fan base from scratch and stealing back a considerable amount of “market share” from the Orioles. Yes, there is a rather complicated broadcasting rights issue that exists between Washington, DC and Baltimore, but is not something that need be covered here. In fact, some quick research into the broadcasting rights in and around Seattle doesn’t appear, at least on the surface, to present the challenges faced by the Nationals.

Although we just focused on NHL fandom in Seattle, believe it or not professional hockey already exists there in the form of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. Although the team falls somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of attendance (4-5 thousand average a game), the team has found a home in Seattle since 1977 (first as the Seattle Breakers before being renamed the Thunderbirds in 1985).


Outside of current NHL and WHL fans latching on to a new team, there would still need to be significant amounts of fans coming from elsewhere. For this, you'd have to concentrate on non-hockey fans and split this segment into two additional groups. 
 

  1. People that become sports fans when a new team moves into their city

  2. People that are sports fans that get cannibalized from other teams or leagues in the area


I won't go into the analysis now (look for a post in the future), but studies that pertain to building a fan base for new teams that move into a new market and studies on what leagues have the most cross-over (MLS and NHL fans are eerily similar) suggest a NHL team in Seattle would do well. 


Expansion vs. Relocation of an NHL team

One question that is generally discussed is that if the NHL does come to Seattle, would it be through expansion or relocation? My gut tells me that Seattle is more likely to get a team through expansion than relocation of a current team, and let me tell you why. I’ll touch on this more in depth later on, but one reason is simply because the city of Seattle is strong leverage for the NHL right now in getting less financially stable teams throughout the league to make an effort in stabilizing their organizations. Long-story short “you still want to have a team in your city? Great, do what you need to do or we’re putting your team in Seattle.” The entire situation reminds me of the MLB putting the Washington Nationals in Washington DC, which went through a similar ordeal for a number of years before happening.

Expansion on the other hand seems to already have been hinted at in a number of instances both verbally and not. One non-verbal signal may be in how the current conferences are currently aligned. If you look at the NHL’s realignment of the league and its conferences starting in the 2013-14 season, you immediately notice that there are two less teams in the Western Conference (16 teams in the Eastern Conference, 14 in the Western). Both the Central and Pacific divisions in the Western Conference only have 7 teams whereas the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions of the Eastern Conference both have 8. It sure would seem to make a lot of sense to even out the conferences by adding two teams to the Western Conference, perhaps Seattle into the Pacific division slot.

So why all of this hold-up on putting a team in Seattle?

In reality your guess is probably as good as mine since I’m not behind the closed doors of the NHL or part of any of the potential investor groups that are trying to put a team in Seattle. However, here are probably a few or the more likely causes:

1)      Need of an NHL and NBA packaged deal or assurances

 
 

Aside from a small handful of the US-based NHL teams, most venues can be described as multi-purpose venues in regards to their ability to host several different types of sports under the same roof – primarily this has been basketball. Generally the reason for this is because it’s a lot cheaper to run one venue for two teams than it is for two venues for two teams. During 2012 and early 2013 Seattle seemed all but primed for an NBA and SuperSonics return when the Sacramento Kings were up for sale. When a last minute negotiation was struck that ensured the Kings staying in Sacramento, it seemed that hope for an NHL team coming to Seattle was also delayed. So could one come to Seattle without the other? Sure, there are plenty of instances (especially in Canada) of venues hosting only a single professional NHL team. It does however become a bit more difficult from an investment perspective. Now I’m not privy to  what is being said behind closed doors at the NBA or NHL league offices, but I imagine any venue that would have to be constructed will 100% be designed to hold both an NBA and NHL team.

2)      Where are the players going to come from?

Great question and something I had to do a bit of research on since the rules of expansion have gone through several iterations and changes throughout the last few decades. To make a long story short, expansion franchises are more or less able to draft from current players and prospects around the NHL. Yes, you could see some of your favorite players from around the league more or less shipped off to Seattle if an expansion team comes to the city. But before you start panicking over some of your favorite stars being forced to relocate, consider the fact that current teams have the ability to put parts of their rosters on a "protected" list. Here's a quick breakdown on how it would probably play out:

Each team will more or less be allowed to protect one (1) goaltender, five (5) defensemen, and nine (9) forwards. There are also some other slight iterations such as two (2) goaltenders, three (3) defensemen, and seven (7) forwards. From here there are all sorts of other rules that come into play and if you're really interested in reading more then I suggest clicking here (an article that I feel explains it well).

3)      Seattle (unfortunately) is serving as great leverage for the NHL

I alluded to this earlier when talking about expansion vs. relocation. Over the last half a decade there have been several teams around the NHL that were on the brink of being moved - or so it seemed. Without going into a lengthy explanation and analysis, the threat of moving a team from a city that already has a team forces teams to restructure or find a new ownership group. Similar situations happen all of the time in other leagues. Everyone saw what happened a few years ago when there was talk about moving the NBA's Sacramento Kings. The thought was that they were going to be relocated (to Seattle actually), but a last minute deal was struck that kept the team in northern California. One has to look no further than Washington Nationals here in Washington DC. Although the team is here now, the MLB was infamous for using the threat of relocating a team as leverage for poor performing teams to get their acts together. Yes, a professional team did eventually make its way to Washington DC, but not after years and years of threatening to move one here.

4)      The NHL probably hasn’t been ready until recently. Think about it - with all the lockouts that have plagued the NHL over the last couple of decades, the league has struggled to regain relevance as a major sport in the United States, not to mention trust of it's fans. Don't get me wrong, I love hockey and I love the NHL, but lets call a spade a spade. Out of what I call "The Big 5", which are the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS, the NHL has had arguably the most to prove over the last few years. Now yes, over the last half-decade or so the NHL has made a pretty decent comeback if you look at fandom growth rates, ticket sales, television deals, and just general overall interest in the sport. My gut tells me that before expanding to a handful of new cities, they probably want to first make sure that the sport of hockey and the NHL at large is back and thriving. All of this combined with the NHL finally creating a fund for franchises to borrow from (the last of the major leagues to do this by the way), the NHL is only recently finally in a position to expand.

5)      Venue construction - If you build it, will they come?

Currently it's a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" sort of problem. Plans in Seattle to construct a stadium that would be capable of hosting both an NBA and NHL team have come, gone, and come to a hault over the last several years. Investors and the city have both expressed great interest in building a new venue - so long as an NBA or NHL franchise comes to the city, but it's difficult to invest that kind of money in a project (especially one requiring a lot of tax dollars) without some guarantee that professional franchises will come based on solely building a venue. On the flip side there's nowhere in Seattle that could currently house both an NBA and NHL team - at least no where suitable.

6)      Other viable cities outside of Seattle

Earlier I mentioned that the Western Conference currently has 2 less teams than the Eastern Conference that I imagine will eventually be filled to bring parity to the league and the number of teams that qualify for the playoffs each season. Just because I mentioned 2 open slots doesn’t mean that the NHL can’t add more to either of the conferences. In fact, multiple cities have been mentioned as potential locations for NHL teams over the last couple of years. The cities generally mentioned in addition to Seattle include Kansas City, Las Vegas, Quebec City, and even another team in Toronto! Although I believe Seattle is best suited to handle an NHL team, solid arguments can be made for each of these cities. I’m sure someone in the NHL has a pretty good idea of which cities they believe would be best to expand to, but I also imagine that there is still a fair amount of due diligence and market studies that are currently being conducted and not to mention investor groups being identified that make one city more viable than the other.

Other interesting facts

 
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If an NHL team does eventually make its way to Seattle, Seattle hockey teams would rank tied for #13 out of the 30 current active teams in the NHL in Stanley Cup championship appearances. Yes, believe it or not the city of Seattle has made it to the Stanley Cup three times, winning one in 1917 as the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). The Seattle Metropolitans were the first American hockey team to win the Stanley Cup.
 

Other thoughts - an exciting opportunity

Whether you’re here because you like sports, business, or are currently or wanting to work in the sports industry, I have to imagine that inserting a new team into a market like Seattle would prove to be incredibly exciting. As a marketer I think an opportunity and challenge such as building a brand from scratch and having the opportunity to help define what you want your identity to be and how you interact with your city and fans would be pretty cool. So I’ll put out an APB that if you or your uncle end up being responsible for putting a team in Seattle and are looking for a marketer to get things off the ground and to the races, let me know.

Well great. After years of bottling my thoughts on the NHL and Seattle, they are finally out. By no means do I think I have either a full picture or everything right in my analysis. As such I would love to hear from you and what your thoughts are – leave a comment below or email me offline!

-Alex

Harvard, the Duke of the North?

 
 

First, realize that the graphic above is only to serve the purpose of illustrating the humor behind rankings - UNC now at #12 (from #17)... that's crazy, these rankings are out of control. I mean how could any school in the state of North Carolina jump 5 spots in the ranking? Jumping 5 spots in this sort of ranking is somewhat unheard of and quite frankly a little ridiculous for anyone...

In any event, I'm proud to report that Duke jumped from #6 to #1 in Bloomberg's business school rankings - up 5 spots! Go Fuqua!

-Alex

 

I've got a great skit idea... my struggle with sketch comedy addiction

There's an area on this website that refers to my love for sketch comedy. Although my love for sketch comedy and making people laugh has existed since I was a kid, it didn't hit its full stride until I was a President of a club called FuquaVision when I was in business school at Duke. We had an expression/inside joke of "I have a great skit idea" which arose from the dozens of people you would come across in the halls at school that would pitch their funny ideas to you. The joke was that many had incredible ideas for skits but weren't willing to spend the time putting them together themselves. I understand this since most people did the "smart" thing and spent most of their time recruiting for their jobs after school. That, or their time away from schoolwork was spent relaxing and concentrating on aspects of their lives that let them escape from everyday stresses. However, for people like myself, spending inordinate amounts of time running a club A-Z and writing scripts for funny ideas was my way of letting go of the stresses of business school and doing something that I genuinely loved - and still do for that matter.

Alright, to the point of this post. I love my job and my life is going really well as far as I can tell. With that said, I still feel unfulfilled at times. The vacancy I feel is not having the time, money, or personnel to partake in one of the things I love most in the world - creating clever and funny (at least I think so) sketch comedy. I do find myself still writing a great deal in the scarce moment that I decide to stop working on work related things. Some ideas are ones that I've been kicking around for a number of years, while others serendipitous random thoughts or content that I see online that sparks an idea. For example, I am a huge fan of a few select sketch comedy groups that have a presence on youtube. In particular I have followed WKUK (Whitest Kids You Know), Key & Peele, and GoodNeighborStuff (Beck Bennet and Kyle Mooney are now on SNL) over the last several years. I love their brand of comedy and the scope in which they operate. It wasn't until the last year however that I found another group that has me wanting to scratch my sketch comedy itch more so recently than in the past. The group is a Norwegian comedy duo called Ylvis. For most of you, Ylvis probaly means nothing, but is the same group that created the global phenom "What Does the Fox Say?". Although I very much appreciate just about everything "What Does the Fox Say?" is, it is the other half-a-dozen videos Ylvis has (and that most have no idea exist) that I find to be incredibly fulfilling. Part of me wants to go through some of their other videos Pressure, Massachusettes, Stonehenge, and The Cabin to name a few, but instead I want to talk about one of their newer videos Trucker's Hitch and how it has me biting at the chomp to create sketch comedy again in my free-time. 

If you haven't seen it yet, check out Trucker's Hitch below:

What I love about this video is the simplicity and execution. The production quality is fantastic - as are all of their videos - but it's the simplicity and innocence of the subject matter that is fantastic. One of my biggest qualms with SNL (Saturday Night Live) over the last two decades is that so much of their comedy is reliant on what I either find grotesque or simply not funny subject matter. I can't count how many of SNL's sketches have related to some sort of sex, drug or incest related matter. Personally I find this to be overplayed or just straight up dumb. There's hardly ever any substance or true comedy behind the sketch. There's no juxtaposition or meta layers of humor. Its either a family that french kisses each other for three and a half minutes or a sketch about how you can hide drugs in any vessel laying around. It's playing to the lowest common denominator at times and frankly I don't find that to be either very clever or funny.

So what do I do? I have this passion/hobby that I haven't truly participated in for a couple of years now that I desperately want to continue but no real way in which I can really execute. Do I start small and do something totally solo? Do I try and recruit new faces and people around the city I live in? Do I try to get the gang back together for a weekend and film something? Or do I do something else? I have more than enough ideas but don't know how to scratch this itch.

In an odd way I have become the inside joke and am calling to myself from the past and whispering, "I have a great skit idea...."

-Alex

Social media: The Good, The Bad, The Accountable?

I originally started writing a post on how individuals (more specifically, athletes) interact with social media. I wanted to illustrate examples of how social media can help build an athlete’s image in a positive way, as well as affect it in a negative one. The post was going to be entitled "Social Media: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly". However, in light of everything that the NFL and NCAA are going through in regards to bad press, I thought we could briefly focus on something a little different -- how social media and the PR that it produces have recently, more-or-less, forced teams to become more accountable for their players' actions.

In the last few weeks and months we've seen the NFL, and football in general, develop a black eye in regards to both how some players conduct themselves and how they have dealt with off-field issues relating to domestic violence and abuse. Recently we've all heard about the exploits of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and to a lesser degree, Jonathan Dwyer, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, and Quincy Enunwa. We've also recently seen similar issues present themselves throughout the NCAA. For example, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston has experienced a laundry list of issues stretching from allegations of sexual assault to theft to yelling obscene things to women on FSU's campus.

What sparked my interest in several of these cases, most notably with Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Jameis Winston, is the role that social media had in influencing their respective organizations and universities to be more accountable. And by accountable I mean how social media has seemingly had a direct effect on the suspensions and punishments doled out. What is important to note is how these suspensions and punishments changed to become stricter and harsher after public outrage at the seemingly small consequences that had been handed out -- most often social media being the channel in which this outrage was and is being spread.

We saw the Baltimore Ravens decide to suspend Ray Rice indefinitely, the Minnesota Vikings suspend Adrian Peterson, and the Flordia State Seminoles increase a half-game suspension of quarterback Jameis Winston to a full game for remarks he made to a woman on FSU's campus. Yes, there is a possibility that these decisions would have occurred regardless of the pressure that came out of social .media. However, I have the inkling that many of these teams’ positions were forced either as a result of the negative reactions to the minimal punishments or were the result of preemptiveaction tken to avoid the PR firestorm that they anticipated would have occurred had little to nothing have been done in response to these allegations. The Ray Rice suspension appeared to be reactionary, the Adrian Peterson back-and-forth suspension seemed reactionary, as did the Jameis Winston single-game suspension.

At the end of the day it's difficult to make decisions on matters concerning players, especially marquee ones due to the revenue they generate. Regardless, it's interesting to be living in a period where you can see the world around you evolving and noticeably changing every few weeks. It seems like there's a new channel or new feature to engage with every few weeks. This post was supposed to be how it surprised me to see individuals negatively affecting their personal brands -- now it's the realization that social media has the power to affect the decisions major organizations and institutions make in order to protect their brands.

In retrospect, retaining the title for this post of "The Good, The Bad, and Ugly" probably applies nearly as well. Despite the flak that social media takes in popular culture at times, and despite whether or not people or teams would still be held to the same accountability without it, how interesting it is to see the power of crowds affecting significant change. 

Next time you post something to social media, "you've got to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?

-Alex

Defenses Don't Win Championships, Kickers Do

I like to think that I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong. With that said, I have to admit that I had it totally wrong when I wrote the post Defense Wins Championships: My Dive into Fantasy Football. That's because I have discovered over the last few weeks that it is, in fact, kickers that win championships. As a former high-school football place-kicker standout (career field goal percentage of 19%) , I can't say that I'm all that surprised.

Over the last two weeks, my kicker, Stephen Gostkowski has netted me 38 points. These 38 points are more than the amount of points that any of my quarterbacks, running backs or wide receivers have netted me over this same time period. Not only that, but this stretch of two weeks also got me my first two wins of the season.

"You're kind of the hero or the goat, and rightfully so... or not." - David Akers

-Alex

Fantasy Football: We Won, but I Lost

Every reason I never wanted to play fantasy football came to fruition this Monday night. Let's give a little context to start. I have been a Chicago Bears fan for my entire life and I don't see much changing that. One of the greatest memories I have is going to the Bears vs. Colts Super Bowl with my father. Yes, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts ended up probably winning that game, but it was one of the best sports memories I have. I was with my father, we had VIP access the entire night, I got to witness Devin Hester take the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, and I was at the flippin Super Bowl! Monday was the first night in my life where I actively rooted against the Bears... at least for a moment. Why do you ask? The evil that is Fantasy Football.

I wrote a post before the regular season that joked around about finally participating in fantasy football for the first time. What I did not disclose was my trepidation for the situation that I encountered Monday night. I was rooting for overtime in a game that the Bears were winning for Christ sake - at least for half of the right reasons. Half of my fantasy offense are the Chicago Bears. I have Cutler at QB, Forte at RB, and both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as my starting wide receivers. Blah, blah, blah I'm an idiot for being Bear heavy on my fantasy team - whatever. But as the fourth quarter started to wind down, the Bears were ahead a touchdown, the New York Jets had the ball and were driving down field with ease, and I found my fantasy roster down 4 points. With less than a minute left, there was no chance Chicago was getting the ball back... unless the game went to overtime. 

With the Jets in the red zone, a depleted Bears defense stopped them on fourth down. The Bears won the game but I had a hollow feeling in my stomach. A hollow feeling! After a Bears win! Oh fantasy football, how I hate you.

-Alex

 

Defense Wins Championships: My Dive into Fantasy Football

I don’t know what the kids are being told today, but when I was younger it was that defense wins championships. So you can imagine my thrill when I was able to pick up Seattle’s defense with the number 3 overall pick in my fantasy draft this week. No one else apparently was aware of this old adage as they continued picking running backs and wide receivers through the first few rounds - all the while I continued to stockpile defenses.

Alright I admit I’m exaggerating, but I did just go through my first fantasy football draft. In fact this was my first anything fantasy sports related that I have participated in. The many years of holding out finally came to an end by some good old fashioned peer pressure at work. Allow me to share some initial impressions.

First, it can be really stressful! I suppose my initial hesitation to playing fantasy was the fact that I didn’t know much about the nitty gritty details. I understood the basic concept but that was about it. I didn’t want to be judged for making bad picks, having a bad drafting strategy, or God forbid, drafting someone who I didn’t realize was retired or injured.

Second, where do you start with the analytics and who do you listen to? For that matter, where do you stop? There's a wealth of data out there from a number of different sources. What stats should I pay attention to? After I started pouring through projection data I started to develop my own metrics but I had a TE in the top 5 and a kicker in the top 15 based on added point value - I'm assuming something went wrong. Regardless, I love data and analytics so it became rather addicting coming up with models.

Finally, everything else. Some people check the trade wire everyday... how am I going to do if I'm only checking once a week? I consider myself to be a pretty competitive guy so I'm curious as to whether or not that'll also apply to my fantasy team. So many questions that will have to be answered through my first plunge into the world of fantasy sports.

I figure some real NFL teams end up winning only a few games during the regular season, so as long as I can win at least a few, I shouldn't feel too terrible. It will however be interesting to start rooting for teams I normally couldn't care less about. So here's to trying something new that will most likely crash and burn - I'll check back in later in the season.

And since I started this post off with an old adage, I'll also end with one - let's just go out there and have some fun... or does this no longer apply either?

-Alex


 

My crazy obsession with Duke Football

Why this post? Quite honestly I just want to get my emotions out about my favorite team in the entire world - Duke Football.

Believe it or not, I have been a Duke football fan for nearly my entire life - well at least from the first game I went to when I was about 6 years old. I had been being raised to be a Northwestern Wildcat fan since those were the season tickets my dad had gotten for us in order to have something fun and different to do every other weekend. I vividly remember there being one occasion in which we got to the game and I was decked out in my purple and white colors for Northwestern. I looked over at my father and saw he was wearing a blue sweatshirt, the same color as the other team. When I asked him why this was, he explained to me that Northwestern was playing Duke that day, and that when he was younger he had gone to Duke (he also told me not to worry since Duke was probably going to get their butts kicked - and they did). In any event, that was the first day I decided to start rooting for Duke football.

Allow me to also point out that without any exaggeration, Duke football has historically been known to have one of the worst football programs in the United States. Except for a rare bright spot here or there, Duke almost always ends up at the bottom of their division and has been consistently ranked as one of the 10 worst Division I programs. Long story short, Duke football has been a very, very, very difficult team to follow. 

A number of years ago, even before going to Duke to get my MBA was on my radar, I started to tell people that there would come a day that Duke football was good again (think Duke in 1938 good), and that I would be one of probably only a few people in the world that could claim to have been a die-hard fan. I was proud to route for the underdog, for a team that no one paid any attention to, for a program that I hoped more than anything would eventually win a championship - I mean seriously, it couldn't be any worse of a drought than what the Cubs have been going through... right?

As fate would have it, I ended up going to graduate school at Duke. I missed only one Duke home football game in my two years at the program, and that was only because I decided to return home to Chicago for Thanksgiving one of the two years. You honestly would not believe how empty Wallace Wade stadium was during the games that were played. Thousands of students would pre-game in the parking lots before the game, and an honest to God 99% of them would simply stay in the lots or go home after the game started. But then a beautiful thing started to happen during my first year. The team started.... sorta winning? I say sorta because they looked awful even in the games they did win. For example, they'd be up by 21 with about 6 minutes left and would end up having to kick a field goal with :17 seconds left that would inevitably hit a post and somehow rickshe in for the win. Don't get me wrong, I was screaming my head off and going nuts during these games, even if I was one of about 100 people in the student section doing so.

With the exception of the Duke vs. UNC game in which Duke won and clinched bowl eligibility, most would leave a little after half-time, and the stadium was never more than half-full, but there were more people there. Duke would go on to lose their final 4 games, but finished at 6-6, bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. The Blue Devils were finally going bowling, and I felt on top of the world. A funny thing started to happen towards the last half of that season, people started showing up to the games. Duke would eventually go on to play Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl and lose a heartbreaking game in the last :44 seconds 34-48. The silver lining is that the game was somewhat back-and-forth and exciting until literally the last minute. I didn't think I could be more heartbroken... that is until the following season.

The next year (2013-14 season) proved to be one of the best seasons in Duke football history. Notable wins included beating #16 Virginia Tech and #24 Miami. Duke went on to have its first 10 win season after going 10-2 and breaking into both the AP and Coaches pole for the first time since 1994. Duke would go on to get hammered in the ACC Championship against #1 FSU - this came as no real surprise as it was incredibly exciting just to have made it there. Despite the loss, Duke would still go on to play Johnny Manziel and his #20 Texas A&M Aggies in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. To make a long story short, Duke took a 21 point lead into the half. The second half can only be described as death by a thousand cuts. I watched as the Aggies cut down the lead and eventually took the lead with 3:33 remaining - Duke was unable to regain the lead. To date, this was the most heart-breaking sports experience I have every witnessed, second to none.

So here I am, brusied and bloodied as a fan that has spent the majority of their lives rooting for a team that historically hasn't been very good. Even now with the team showing some promise for the first time in a long time it still feels hollow as a result of dropping a pair of bowl games that arguably should have been won by my Blue Devils. In reality, that's a glass half-empty way to look at it. The team has undergone a renaissance under Coach Cutcliffe, and if the last two seasons are any indication, they're only going to get better going forward. So as every summer/fall starts for me, Let's Go Duke!

-Alex

On and Off the Wagon: Bandwagon Fans

Bandwagon fans are always an interesting bunch. Many self-proclaimed die-hard fans seem besides themselves when mentioning the term. Personally I have been on multiple sides of the argument. I've been a die-hard fan in favor of bandwagon fans, a die-hard fan against bandwagon fans, and as far as I can tell, have also been a bandwagon fan a time or two.

In this post I hope to be able to talk about being in all of these situations and examine why it was I felt the way I did at the time. Let's look at a few personal examples.

Chicago White-Sox - in favor of bandwagon fans
My father grew-up a Chicago Cubs fan and my mother a Chicago White-Sox fan. There was never any turmoil in the house as I was raised to be a fan of both (I would like to take a second to point out that this is not the same as a fair-weather fan). Regardless of the rivalry, there came a point in the mid 2000's that I grew very unhappy with some of the Cubs roster decisions and decided to turn my full focus to the Chicago White-Sox. Now is also a good moment to provide you with some history about Chicago and how the Cubs and White-Sox fandom is generally distributed in and around the city. First, Wrigley Field (home of the Cubs) is located due north of the city in the safe North Side of Chicago. The Cubs generally attract those that live north, west and in the city of Chicago. Cellular One Field (home of the White-Sox) is located due south of the city on the dangerous South Side of Chicago. The White-Sox generally attract those that live on the south and in the city of Chicago. Second, Chicago fandom has historically heavily favored the Cubs for a number of reasons, with the White-Sox generally being referred to as the Second City's, Second Team. 

If you follow baseball and remember the 2005 season, then you already know that the White-Sox would end up winning the World Series that year. I remember what was always a near empty stadium suddenly being sold-out. Sure there were the old die-hard fans in the stands, but there was also a large group of younger fans that looked as though they had bought their first White-Sox apparel on the way into the stadium. 

Duke Football - against bandwagon fans
Believe it or not, I have been a Duke football fan for nearly my entire life. Duke football has historically been known to have one of the worst football programs in the United States. Except for a rare bright spot here or there, Duke almost always ends up at the bottom of their division and has been consistently ranked as one of the worst 10 Division I programs. 

The 2012-13 season was not only during my second year at graduate school at Duke, but was also the first season in nearly two decades (1994) that Duke had a good enough season to be bowl eligible (I'd like to say winning season, but in reality they finished 6-6). I only missed a single home game that season when I returned home for Thanksgiving, and with the exception of the Duke vs. UNC game, the stadium was nearly empty the entire season.

The 2013-14 season was one for the record books. Duke completed its first ever double digit win season (10), played in the ACC Championship, and went to a relatively well respected bowl game (Chick-fil-A Bowl). Granted, I wasn't able to make every home game since I was now working full-time in DC, but I still made it down to about half of the home games. Attendance throughout the beginning of the season was still pretty typical, you could here an echo if you were seated in the right part of the stadium. When the Blue Devils were closing in on 10 wins for the first time in history however, something incredible happened - the stadium started to fill up to nearly 75% of capacity! The sea of brand new blue Duke football jerseys was quite a sight. 

USA Soccer - being a bandwagon fan
I have always liked soccer. I played growing up and during high-school. But as a major league or national sport, I never paid much attention to it. That is, until the 2014 Brazil World Cup in which the United States somehow made it out of the "death division." 

I found myself talking about soccer at work, with friends, and with complete strangers on the metro and at the local pub. I was glued to the screen during not only the USA matchups but during any matchup that might have a direct effect on whether the USA moved on to the next round. I even stayed up until 4 a.m. while on vacation in Prague in order to watch the exhilarating win over Portugal - that was a lot of fun.

Closing
So what is the difference between all of these situations? I was very excited and very passionate for each of these teams to win. I was surrounded by countless others who were also very passionate about obtaining a winning outcome. So why is it that these three examples all fall into different categories, all with a different spectrum of emotions attached to them? Honestly, I'm not exactly sure, which is what makes me think that there's absolutely nothing wrong with feeling one way or the other. However, it does make me think that fans generally take the wrong point of view when trying to segment these types of categories.

In reality, there are a lot of appealing things about getting excited about a sports team. The sense of comradery, sense of belonging, sense of being the best, or rising against the odds are all fulfilling emotions that are fun and exciting to feel and be a part of. So instead, maybe the thing to recognize is that everyone has a different relationship to sports and various teams. Some people live and breath their favorite teams, while others may be too busy during the year to expend the time and deal with emotional roller-coaster of every teams ups and downs.

And come on, is it really that big of a deal if you are a die-hard fan sitting next to a bandwagoner? All it means is that there is someone sitting next to you that is also excited about seeing your favorite team succeed - even if it is only temporary. At the end of the day you know you're the real die-hard ;)

-Alex

1 Year In

It’s been a year – crazy how quickly it went! I figure that 1 year in, I should share 1 lesson learned.

No Task Is Too Small
Cliché, I know. However, cliché’s exist for a reason. No task is too small, especially when you’re starting out. Carrying out tasks to the best of your ability, no matter the task, will make you stand out to those around you. It might not pay off immediately, but if you do it enough times, someone with real influence will notice. That’s not to say your career will be fast tracked or anything, but building a reputation of excellence will carry you far.

For example, I was not expecting to be in a position of having to hire someone a year into work, but after some unforeseen changes above me, I was promoted and am now the hiring manager to backfill my position. I had an intern who I think would have been great for the role, but one of the organizations higher ups had a bad experience in which the intern thought they were above the task being assigned. Needless to say, they were cut out of the hiring process prior to first round interviews.

I’ve always try and look at tasks that I ordinarily might find somewhat remedial or monotonous as a way to understand the building blocks of the organization, and try to discover efficiencies in the executions of these tasks, Approaching this with the mindset of knowing you won’t be doing it forever and this is potentially the one opportunity in this stage of your career to really understand the work at hand. It is much easier to create efficiencies, develop strategy, and create effective change if you fully understand a process, not just from an observer’s perspective.

Next year we’ll shoot for 2 lessons learned.

-Alex

Do or Die: The 30 Minute Job Application

About a year and a half ago I wrote a post entitled, "Do or Die: The 1 Hour Conference Preparation". The reason I wrote that piece was because I wanted job applicants to be better prepared at conferences. The reason for today's post is to help job applicants through the application process by revealing some of the things I look for when hiring.

I think my biggest pet peeve with sifting through job applications is how quickly I get a sense for how little time people put into their job applications. And those that appeared to put in some effort often times come off as either disorganized or simply going through the motions. I realize that everyone comes from a different background and have varying degrees of experience, but no matter where you are in your life, there are some things that you can take advantage of that will make you look all that much better in front of hiring managers. I'll admit, there was a time in my life that I was filling out as many applications as I possibly could. But if I told you that spending an extra 10-20 minutes on each application could improve your chances of getting hired dramatically, would you do it? Here are a few things that even the most novice of job applicants can do in less than a half-hour:

Cover Letter

1) Mention the organization you're applying to
So many of the cover letters I receive don't use the name of the organization they're applying to and instead say something along the lines of "I'd be a great fit for your organization" - this is not to say you have to use the name of the organization that you're applying to, but try to at least use it once or twice to illustrate the fact that you know where you're applying.

2) Mention the position you're applying to
Similar to the point above, show the perspective employer that you understand you know what position you are applying to rather than refer to it as "the position".

3) Use relative keywords that are mentioned in the job description
If you're applying to a position that has an emphasis on social media, it may behoove you to make sure you mention social media somewhere in the cover letter. Often times I'm able to eliminate applications based solely on the fact that the cover letter doesn't mention any one of numerous keywords that I'm looking for.

4) Relevant experience and attributes
After establishing that you have read through the job description by following the above points, it's time for you to talk about your qualifications. Before listing everything you've ever done, consider the job description and what relevant experience you have and illustrate each of those in an organized and concise manner.

5) Keep the cover letter to less than a page in length
I know that it sometimes feels as though you need to explain your entire life story between your cover letter and resume, but let me assure you this is not the case. Instead view the cover letter as a sniff test for employers to know that you understand the position you are applying for and that you are qualified to do it. Cover letters that are too long are much less likely to be reviewed than a concise cover letter that establishes you've done some research on the position and list a couple of reasons as to why you're a good fit.

Resume

1) Edit, edit, edit
Simple but important - make sure that your resume (and everything else for that matter) is well edited. I have received many resumes and cover letters that still have edits included in them. Edits literally such as "add a bullet point here about relevant experience". If I really stop to think about it, I know that most resumes and cover letters have gone through multiple rounds of edits by other people, but please go out of your way to not make that obvious.

2) Keep the resume to less than a page in length and well organized
In the theme of being concise, your resume should be no more than a page. Similar to the cover letter, your resume should be concise and well organized. Keep it less than a page.

3) Use relative keywords that are mentioned in the job description
Again, similar to the cover letter, make sure your resume includes the keywords that are called upon in the job description. There is no faster way to eliminate a job application than by searching for keywords that are not included somewhere within a resume.

4) Be Honest
Please don't lie on your resume - it's the worst mistake you can make for everyone involved, especially yourself. I know it may be tempting to say that you know Microsoft Excel, but I find it really annoying when an applicant says that they know Excel and it turns out that in reality the applicant only used excel in the most basic of capacities. The same goes for listing Microsoft Office as a skill. If you list Microsoft Office as a skill, then I'm assuming you know the ins and outs of Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and Access. The very last thing you want to do is claim that you know something when you don't.

Reaching Out and Additional Pieces of Advice

1) Informational interviews
Please refer to my blog that touches on the idea of building relationships. In all honesty I believe that informational interviews are the key to everything. I believe they are a key to everything because they involve something incredibly important - building relationships. Please read my post about developing meaningful relationships Standing on the other side...

2) LinkedIn
I know it seems obvious, but keep your LinkedIn up-to-date. In a day and age in which social media is king, LinkedIn is a great way to showcase who you are to potential employers.

3) Build your brand
Building your brand probably deserves it's own blog post, but just remember this. Everything you do, whether it be your day-to-day interactions or anything that you put online is representative of who you are and what your brand is. It seems as though that anything you ever put online is more or less there forever, even if you "deleted" it. I'm not saying you should pretend to be someone you aren't, but give the content you put online a second thought before posting it. Let's hope that all of my facebook posts of sad music I was listening to after breakups never see the light of day...

4) Other Touch-Points
In-person meetings, informational phone calls, etc, etc. The more touch-points you can acquire with people the better. Each touch-point is an opportunity for you, and no matter how small it may seem, approach each with your best foot forward, yadayadayada.

Good-luck!

-Alex

Riding an Iron Horse

"Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul."
-Unknown

 

I wish it were simple explaining what it's like to ride a motorcycle to someone who has never been on one. The quote at the top of the page comes pretty close in my opinion. I do however want to share something with you that I share with just about everyone I talk to about motorcycles - especially those who want to start riding.

If you ever decide to start riding a motorcycle, the best money you will ever spend is on taking a safety course before you even sit on a bike (they usually provide you a helmet during any riding tutorials). Some courses are free while others can run a few hundred dollars for multiple day safety riding sessions. Either way, I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand how to fully operate a motorcycle in order to ride safely in any situation that presents itself. Also, I always try to be safe when on my bike by always gearing up before going on a ride (helmet, jacket, boots, gloves, and long-pants) and you should too.

After the safety course, a full-faced helmet is your next purchase.

The summer of 2007 was a summer to remember. I found myself back in Chicago between my junior and senior year in college working for my mother's company. It was also the summer I accidentally discovered my father had owned a motorcycle in his younger years.

My mind was set and I saved every penny I could between working at my mothers company and busing tables at a local restaurant. At the end of summer I spent everything I had earned to the last penny on my first motorcycle - a used 1997 600cc Honda Shadow. 

After several years on the back of my Honda, I decided that I needed what every young motorcycle rider has wanted at some point - more power.

My reasons for a larger engine revolved mostly around the fact that I wanted to be able to get on the highway and not have my motorcycle violently shaking at anything over 65mph. I also wanted something classic but with a modern twist that looked like nothing else on the road.

Enter the Harley Davidson 1250cc Night Rod Special, or as I call her, "Rogue". She is the love of my life on wheels.

Although taking a motorcycle out on a beautiful fall day through a winding valley is nothing short of breathtaking, you have to be aware that the vast majority of accidents happen to riders who weren't at fault - it's all the vehicles and hazards around you. Gear up and set yourself up for the safest ride possible.

-Alex