We’re All Selling Something!

“A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing.” – Glengarry Glen Ross

Most who know me well know that I am a sports official by profession. After 27 years in management, project management, payroll and some form of customer support, I’ve spent the last couple years building upon a career path that I embrace more for the love than the money. Currently I work within 4 different kinds of sports and that number is expanding. I work with adults, high school students and even small children.

Being in business for myself has brought me to realize some things. Like my friends and colleagues with the National Sales Network, St. Louis Chapter, my line of work includes selling. The product is me.

You see there are many sports officials out there. Every year there are a plethora of young men and women who venture into this business with different aspirations. Some do it for side income. Some want to stay active in the games they used to play. Some love being around the kids and helping them. Some take the craft of officiating quite seriously and want to be the best at it. Many want to go into the college and pro ranks. Some are what I call Official/Umpire/Referee mercenaries. Their sole motivation is to get as much money as possible; and that’s it.

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I have worked with all of these categories of officials. And from the beginning I plotted my own path step by step by understanding the basic principles of selling myself as a viable commodity among my customers.

The first step was in becoming qualified and certified by state standards. Currently I am certified in two states. Second is to learn the craft as well as possible by not only working as much as I could, but also reaching out and learning from other officials. As the saying goes, I’ve learned as much of what not to do as well as what to do.

Next I always show up on time unless I’ve arranged otherwise. Nothing aggravates athletic directors, coaches, players and parents more than some slacker holding up their games and treating them as if their event is not important.

There are many outstanding officials who are on in the marketplace. A major way that I’ve learned to shine and differentiate myself is to be engaging and show a lot of energy and enthusiasm while performing. I’m not afraid to smile or even joke when the tension get a little chippie. Everyone who sees me can recognize that I want to be there and am invested and involved in what’s going on. I hustle and get into position to make the right calls. I communicate with the players and the coaches. I answer questions with courtesy, though I am firm and not afraid to settle a conflict.

Most people can tell if their official is competent, engaged, and cares about what’s going on. The games we officiate are just games. They don’t save lives or change the world. But when I played it was important to me. Whatever the gender, age, or experience level the competitors deserves to have quality officials who gives them the chance to enjoy their sporting experience within the assigned set of rules and rules interpretation.

There are several officials related associations that I am a member of.  This makes for great networking opportunities.  No matter how good you are, you cannot make it without the help of others.  Through these organizations I benefit from the training and development they provide.  They in turn assign work to me all over the area.  However, most of my work and references have come through relationship building and word of mouth based on my performance, which includes my attitude.  My name is my brand. And when people think of me, my brand is what comes to mind as they decide who to hire for their sporting events.

These principles and skills are transferable to any line of business.  Remember we are all selling something every day.  Even in your personal life, when you go on a date, is that anything less than a  sales job?

No matter the product, your name, your brand, and your reputation is the first commodity people will consider first.

Umpire

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A Friend Indeed – Dungy Goes to Bat for Vick

I give a lot of credit to former coach Tony Dungy for putting himself out there with Michael Vick.  In recent months Dungy, a man of outstanding reputation visited Vick in prison and agreed to be his mentor for not only dealing with possible NFL reinstatement, but for life.

Dungy is an outspoken Christian who in my view really lives what he preaches which is love, forgiveness, and hope.  It would be safe for him to speak with Vick on the down low and keep a public distance in case Vick messes up.  But he is standing with him publically when many feel Vick shouldn’t play in the NFL again nor even make a living.  I can appreciate the older and wiser Dungy putting himself on the line for a convicted felon.  Lord knows there are plenty more who are unknown who need someone of influence to help them make their transitions back into mainstream life better as well.

A Mother’s Work and Wisdom Pays Off

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 The Real Hustle and Flow Serve

Mom and her late husband George moved into a cozy apartment complex in Inglewood, California in the late 80’s.  Like most complexes in the area, it’s gated with secured underground garages.  With her keen eye for decore and artistic woman’s touch, I’m sure its the nicest apartment in the building.  The moving in price for this little hacienda?  $750 per month. 

For years the rent remained the same.  Mom and George knew the owners – a couple who owns several properties and a couple charter schools.  George, who was a CPA did their taxes so there was a working relationship between the two parties.

There is another reason my mom became a favored tenant.  She cleans not just her own apartment military style, she also polices the building for trash and debris.  She sweeps from street corner to street corner, and takes a water hose to the building a couple times a week.  It’s just how she is.  She enjoys a clean environment and it’s good exercise she told me.

Obviously being in one place for 20 years, there has been some change with the other tenants.  Some of the newer neighbors don’t value cleanliness and mom caught one lady dumping trash on the property.  That led to this exchange:

Mom:  Are you going to pick that up? 

Neighbor lady:  And who are you? 

Mom: “Uhh, I’m your neighbor.” 

Since that incident, mom has run into this person several times but the lady avoids eye or any other contact with mom and refuses to speak.

George passed a couple years ago.  And because the rent remained the same mom was able to manipulate some figures and survive on her income alone.  But a couple months ago the notice came that the rent was indeed finally increasing by $190.  Shocked, stunned and fearful mom went to the office to talk about the rent.  It seems that an advisor told the owners that they should be charging a lot more for the property in terms of the area and the value.  I would agree that the two bed room two bath place is worth more than $750 a month.  Still that was only logistics.  An increase that drastic would really strain mom’s finances.  She needed an edge.  Something to ease this potential monkey of her back.  While sitting before the owner’s wife, she thought about the services she was already providing in and around the building for over 20 years, thought quickly and blurted out, “You need a building manager?”  She pointed out that she has been doing the work of one anyway without benefit, and would probably do the same even if the rent increase still went into effect.  Perhaps she could continue to service the area for the difference in exchange for keeping the rent the same.  After consultation, they decided it was a go.  Mom could do what she was already doing and keep her rent cost down.  The owners would continue to have a person who looks after the place, an already loyal tennant who is heavily invested in the community.  A true win win.  Mom truly demonstrated the virtues of servant-hood and her giving efforts paid off financially for her in the long run.

Her last words on the subject?  “Next time I run into that littering neighbor and she ask who I am, I’ll look her straight in the face and say, ‘I’m the manager bitch!”

That’s my mom, a true treasure!