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“Can You Only Pick One Way To Be Better…”


I was doing a podcast with week with Brett Zalaski for the ALSD’s new B2B sales vertical and one of the questions we were discussing was, “what area do you think sports business leaders should be getting better in?”

I had a pretty well thought out and well considered answer prepared because, in general, the areas where businesses should be getting better has been on my mind a lot lately.


Because constant improvement is a necessity at this point.

That being said, in the areas that I spend most of my time focusing: sports, nonprofits, professional services, and advocacy, there is a common theme of complacency about certain key skills that shouldn’t be there. And, that if they aren’t addressed immediately, will be the downfall of many companies.

What are those areas?

  1. Business acumen: We seem to be infatuated to the point of ignorance by subject matter experts. Take advocacy as an example, many of the best and brightest political minds in the Democratic Party needed 84 swings at a campaign slogan for Hillary Clinton to get it wrong and roll out something that didn’t connect with many. In sports, we see the same thing as “sports business pros” are lauded, even if they have pretty little in the way of real business acumen. And, in the professional service realm, so many people are blinded by the latest, greatest feature that they can’t see the value that they create for their partners.
  2. Strategic thinking: Silos are nothing new. But silo thinking is detrimental to many organizations. They cause the best ideas to never be unearthed because group think is almost the preferred method of discovery in too many organizations. Think about how many different ways that the average sales floor is split up. Why? So that you can allow management expansion when none is warranted?
  3. Marketing skills: In all of the areas I work, if I could take a magic wand and change one thing, it would be marketing. Sports marketing has become shouting into the wind in a “if I have to explain why you should go to a game, I don’t want you manner.” In professional services, marketing is a collection of features…at best, on too many marketing sites and in too much marketing literature. In nonprofits, the focus on warming their own hearts loses opportunities to engage donors and advocates in any meaningful way. And, in advocacy, the playbook is so tired that it is a running joke on many shows, podcasts, and blogs.

If the people that I can reach would pick one of these skills and start thinking about how they can act better in one of these areas, let’s not push our luck on all 3, improvement would be rapid.

Until then, I don’t think things will change much.