Monday, November 18, 2013

Speaker Spotlight: Rick Abbott

November 15,  2013: Grainger Hall, UW-Madison

            Recently, Sports Business Club had the pleasure of hosting a speaker event with Mr. Rick Abbott. Rick is currently the Vice President of Global Securities and Facilities at ESPN. Some of his primary duties include ensuring the safety of ESPN's 6,000+ employees and managing the 48 buildings that ESPN currently owns or leases. You can read his full bio here:
            During his talk with SBC Rick discussed the importance of Personal Branding. In your pursuit of creating your personal brand, Rick suggested taking the time to really think about what kind of career you want to build. He said, “until you own who you are and can explain yourself to others, you will never be able to get to where you want to be”. Self-reflection is an important part of the puzzle. Ask, “How am I portraying myself?” Then sit down and take the time to write out 3-5 words that define you. Rick posed the questions: “What do you think people are saying about you when you’re not in the room? And would you agree with those things?” Figuring out the answer to these questions may be easier said than done. Rick cautioned that your friends, while very important people in your life, will generally always tell you what you want to hear. Therefore, you need to also have people in your life that will be honest and hold you accountable. Seeking out a mentor and building a network of colleagues are good places to start. Also, because of the interconnected nature of the sports industry, Rick suggested joining LinkedIn. However, he cautioned that what you post on other forms of social media such as Facebook or Twitter will stick with you for the rest of your life. Be wise with what you send out on the Internet, as it will all have an impact on your Personal Brand.
            Once you land a job interview, the number one piece of advice that Rick offered was to think about how you will make yourself memorable and how you will leave your mark but be sure not to make the interview all about you. Rick said the easiest way to do this revolves around how you prepare for the interview process. He stressed the importance of first reading the job description of the position for which you are applying. Know under what circumstances the job is being made available. Make a statement like this: “In your job description I noticed you are looking for X, Y, and Z. Here’s why I think I can help.” BE THE SOLUTION TO THE INTERVIEWERS PROBLEM.  You then need to take the time to craft a resume and cover letter to match the job description. Rick offered the perspective that “for the first time you’re really doing ‘homework’ that could benefit you for the rest of your life.”
            Remember: the first job you get does not have to be the last job-- those days are long gone. Rick discussed that what you are doing in school might not directly correlate with a job opening or job description. He also touched on the fact that it is okay if you don’t know what you want to do right at this very moment. Ultimately, your interests and passions may take you further than anything else. With that in mind, he urged everyone to “Be willing to take risks. Trust yourself. Just raise your hand. You never know when you will hit the home run. You need to understand and recognize when you are in a ‘lucky’ situation and take advantage.” Quite simply, he said, “Liking people works. Interpersonal relationships are key. Good people get further.” Rick closed by encouraging everyone to literally and figuratively “sit on the front of your seat,” ready for action. He said, “Life outside of college isn’t as scary as you might think, but it is competitive, so get competitive, join in. You are going to get out what you put in.” 

Sports Business Club would like to extend a big THANK YOU to 
Rick for sharing his time and advice with us!

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Piece By SBC's Chris Weinberger

By Chris Weinberger 

In light of the current issue rocking the NFL, the alleged bullying in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room involving threats to Jonathan Martin from teammate Richie Incognito, it is easy to get caught up in a “He’s right. No he’s right” mentality. Many, most vocally from teammates of Incognito, have come out to defend Incognito’s character, while others, including former college teammates of Martin at Stanford, have tried to garner sympathy for the alleged victim of the bullying scandal. However, this situation is a lot bigger than declaring one side “right” over the other.
The mere fact that this has materialized to such a national headline represents a growing trend in the sports industry. This trend is apparent in the NBA, exemplified by Derrick Rose’s decision to sit out a season despite medical clearance and Jason Collins’s coming out. It has even penetrated the NFL in recent years with stricter rules to protect its players. This trend: sports have evolved from its stereotypical jockey nature to an industry with vulnerable human beings rather than athletic machines.
The fact that this current bullying scandal has become headline news is due to the fact that it is something that we have simply never acknowledged. Just like when Derrick Rose sat out, shedding light on the fact that an athlete is allowed to feel psychologically compromised by a devastating physical injury and that you do not have to sacrifice your body in an industry that applauds those who perform at the cost of their health; or when Jason Collins revealed he was gay, showing us that homosexuality exists within the uber-masculine industry; or when Roger Goodell set out to make the NFL safer for its players, setting a precedent that athletes are not gladiators sent to fight to the death.
This recent scandal has itself brought another issue to the public, that athletes are not robots built for our amusement, but real human being with real feelings. Yes, feelings do exist within professional sports, even one as masculine as football, where its players are constantly trying to knock each others’ heads off.
To those who claim that emotions do not have a place within sports: Why not? Are emotions okay when Kevin Garnett screams at his teammates, or when Lou Piniella would go off on tirades? Or how about when Eli Manning trembles as he holds up the Lombardi Trophy? With so many other emotions flying around in this industry, it should not be shocking that many of these players are in fact very sensitive.

So even if this situation were to turn out as a complete over exaggeration, it has brought light to an issue that has most likely been swept under the carpet for quite some time in the sports industry. The helmets may unintentionally dehumanize these players, but with time we will begin to realize just how human these athletes really are.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Speaker Spotlight: Chad Bauer

November 5, 2013, Grainger Hall, UW-Madison

As a college graduate unsatisfied with his cubicle office and less than exhilarating work at a software development company, Chad Bauer recalled a piece of advice his grandfather had previously given him. ‘You need to find something that you love to do and do it,’ his grandfather had said.

Inspiration sparked after feeling frustrated with the high-priced entertainment at a Milwaukee Brewer game. Bauer saw an opportunity to offer baseball fans a less expensive alternative with quality play in starting a collegiate summer team. And, after extensive planning, relationship building with the right people, setbacks and roadblocks, Bauer was able to accomplish much more.

The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the Northwoods League, a summer league for college players that started in 1994. These summer leagues provide college players to continue play throughout the summer by traveling around the country, living with host families, and getting exposure in front of scouts. The Northwoods League has been very successful, drawing more attendance at games than any other league and being ranked second in the country for best talent. Currently, Bauer is the Assistant GM of the Lakeshore Chinooks. Although Bauer dabbles in almost all aspects of the business, his primary responsibilities are sponsorship sales and managing the interns. His favorite part is how this type of organization allows him to ‘wear a lot of different hats,’ or, in other words, because the office is so small, there are more opportunities to be involved in a variety of areas.

While the Chinooks were a product of partnering with Concordia University and renovating their field and stadium, Bauer was also simultaneously starting a summer team in Green Bay, WI. He partner with a friend from college, who became the GM, to open with the Green Bay Bullfrogs in the 2007 season. He remains as the Vice President, specifically helping out with finances for the Bullfrogs.

His dedication, drive, and relentless pursuit of his goals brought him to where he is today. He was honest about the hard work and number of hours he puts in working in sports. One of the things he emphasized was passion. He warned that ‘if you aren’t passionate about sports, you’re not going to make it in this industry.’ More advice came from discussing the significance of networking and building relationships. Of course, it’s a lot about whom you know, but taking that even further, Bauer addressed just how small the sports world is – most people in sports know each other. Because of this, he told us how important it is to not to burn any bridges in this industry because it can come back to bite you.

From his experiences, through both the highs and lows, Bauer knew he had to be driven and to always stay true to what he wanted to accomplish, remaining steadfast in his dream. This is sometimes easier said than done. But, in case situations along the way leave you disheartened, he said to ‘surround yourself with people who can lift you back up and push you to keep going.’

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Speaker Spotlight: Kash Razzaghi

October 29, 2013, Grainger Hall, UW-Madison

After graduating from Mississippi State, Kash Razzaghi moved to Boston, MA to figure out what came next for himself. After spending several years at a company that provided software for video platforms, Kash left the organization to pursue an entirely new, less conventional career path.

Amidst the transition from college to the real world, Kash, who had always been a sports devotee, missed the sense of community he had with his fellow sports fans at MSU. Sports are the number one type of content shared across all social media platforms, and yet there were no platforms dedicated solely to sports. To fill this void, Fancred Inc. was born.

Sports Business Club had the privilege of video-chatting with Mr. Razzaghi, current CEO of Fancred Inc., the mobile application. In discussing his reasons behind creating the app, Kash talked about the lack of an MSU community in Boston. He argued that “…even the most passionate sports fans…don’t really care whether or not their teams win or lose,” but rather, it’s the community, traditions, and customs that really matter to us as sports fans. Fancred was created as a way to stay connected to the fans, communities, customs he had left behind at MSU.

The Fancred mobile app is a way for users to create or join communities, discover other fans, and share content. The Fancred score is a measurement of how active you are within the app, both in posting and getting responses, as a means of allowing you to build an audience. 

Rather than starting off by building a base of users, Kash and his team began by focusing on building the best app possible in hopes of creating a great experience for his future users. He talked about Fancred essentially having to compete against 2 million other apps - not just other social media platforms. When he finally began working on user-growth, the Fancred team reached out to journalists, both established and up-and-coming, as well as students, alumni, and fans of the Mississippi and Boston areas to garner community members.

Kash said that the content needed to be compelling. It was important to ‘find content producers and match them with people looking for content.’ User-growth is determined by Fancred’s members. ‘The Wisconsin community,” Kash explained, “ is only going to be good if you have a lot of people in it.” After communities began developing, Fancred started seeing a response organizations and universities who wanted to be a part of these virtual fan hubs.

As another marketing tool, Fancred sought out Ambassadors across the country to begin diffusing information and raising awareness of the app. SBC’s very own Dan Kirk is Madison’s ambassador, is currently building our Madison community.

Kash offered insight and advice based on his own experiences not only as a CEO, but also as someone who worked his way through the rankings of his initial position. He told us that ‘if you ever need anything, go to the top. Those are the people who can make decisions.’ You have to ask for help and support in order to obtain it. When discussing the creative process behind Fancred, he explained that our ‘ideas aren't enough.’ An idea is just an idea until you build it and test it to see if it works…’execution is what matters the most.’

See for yourself! Download the app and join our Badger community at