I'm not sure if I was just too young at the time to know better or just incredibly eager to start a business out of what I saw as a need in college recruiting.
But I jumped in with two feet and started my first business with an idea I had way before the digital age of recruiting services that are around in abundance today.
It was 1991, I had just returned to the states after playing American Football in Europe, got a position coaching college football and discovered that making seven thousand a year coaching wasn't going to cut it in the short term financially.
Although I loved coaching, but wanted to get married and start a family with my college sweetheart Margaret.
So I had a to make a decision or create an opportunity for myself to start a career or business.
What I did love the most about coaching was the recruiting process and helping athletes.
One of my responsibilities coaching college was recruiting Junior College transfers and my assigned territory was California. Which if you know the business is loaded with talent and schools.
But during that time without the internet or recruiting services, the challenge was how do you find and evaluate talent without having to call every coach and shift through how is a fit for your school efficiently.
It's obviously doable but by being 3,000 miles away was certainly a challenge.
Until one day I met a retired Juco coach and athletic director from Santa Barbara community college.
He already had established what I was looking for that helped student athletes and colleges looking for those athletes.
However in those days his service wasn't very sophisticated for the times nor was it a business, it was his passionate to help connect people together.
So out of his garage which sat high in the hills next to the Santa Barbara Community College Campus, overlooked the Pacific ocean with this amazing post card view, he had this wonderful set up of a row of TV's, VCR's, grease board, a desk and an endless supply of home made California red wine.
He knew ever kid and coach on the West Coast. It was a one stop shop. Get your prospect list, drink a bunch of wine and listen to all his incredible stories. Plus he was an East Coast old school Italian. I felt like I knew him forever and trusted his evaluations.
So in 1991, recently married, living in a small apartment, Margaret was pregnant and I was volunteer coaching at my old high school and working odd jobs, I had the epiphany to start a my own high school recruiting agency from our kitchen table modeled after my Italian California friend.
Armed with a wall dial phone, a stack of index cards and a thick directory of every college in the US, I picked up that yellow phone, standing next to the wall, I started dialing.
I called every college and sent out hundreds of letters.
Although it was Connecticut overlooking our small apartment living room and not the Pacific ocean, the positive response I received from college coaches was encouraging.
Encouraging enough to eventually move out of the kitchen and into my own office.
I wish I took a picture of the place. You actually had to pass through an empty set of offices that had wires hanging from the ceiling and the lights didn't work. So at night I had to blindly go through a maze of wires, boxes and lord knows what else to escape that office every night.
My little wood paneled office in back had a mis matched furniture that I pieced together from left behind tenants, folding lawn chairs from Walmart, a two thousand pound metal desk that had to be there twenty years unable for any human to move, old TV's, VCR's, grease boards and a small fridge filled with Bud light.
But to me it was big time. I had my own business.
That dingy office hosted many college coaches passing through town, sharing stories, laughs and cold beverages.
We discussed prospects, talked about their families and the war stories of finding those diamond in the rough prospects.
I wanted to help and knew there was a need to connect the coaches and athletes who I felt were under the radar geographically.
Even though I had zero business experience, as a criminal justice major in college, I didn't take business or finance courses but was suddenly thrown into accounting, marketing, sales and operating every single aspect of my business.
The valuable lessons I learned from just doing it out of necessity, was invaluable.
I had no one to blame but myself and the pressure of providing for my family was certainly a motivator to work harder and harder. That right there was so vital to setting the bar for my career.
Those lessons starting a business from scratch taught me the most valuable business lesson I could ever learn about real life practical experience.
If you have an idea, see a need in the market where someone will actually pay you for that service or product and you can bring value to someones life, you need to figure out a way to start executing that idea right now.
Don't over think it, or wait to have the perfect logo or website, you don't need anything fancy to get started, just start. The market will tell you if it's a good idea by the revenue you bring in.
Starting and operating my own business at such an early stage set a foundation for truly understanding how business really works. Managing cash flow, balancing a budget, driving new business development, servicing clients and building relationships were so vital to my long term career as it gave me an appreciation and curiosity of how it all works.
I understood the value of both sides of the table. Not just whats in it for me, but how can we both benefit.
I eventually merged my little college recruiting agency with a more establish agency that was primarily sending pro baseball players to Japan and we eventually started recruiting for American Football leagues and teams in Europe and Australia.
So the business evolved and I had a massive sense of accomplishment from having an idea and taking that to market.
So from that cool garage in Santa Barbara to our kitchen table to that dingy office, ideas and businesses are born everywhere, be curious, follow your instincts but more import, execute on our ideas.
By the way, there is still a two thousand pound metal desk somewhere waiting for you!
The world is a much different place then when your parents and certainly your grandparents where wide eyed and ready to start a career.
They were most likely raised to go to a good college, get a job with a pension, buy a house, have kids, load up the family truckster and save their way to retirement.
It’s interesting how the world has changed.
We now live in an on-demand world of a freelance work force with a swipe of a smart phone or asking a talking hockey puck for on-demand transportation, on-demand housing, on-demand dating, on-demand food and status symbols that are rooting in “The Experience” rather than material possessions.
The massive difference is that most of our parents and grandparents settled for the safe road and probably didn’t chase what they were really passionate about for their careers.
Not sure many were satisfied unless they found a purpose.
Life may have got in the way and they didn’t have a chance the explore more or simply didn’t want to take on the risk of change.
That was not always a bad thing, but the benefit of today’s world is the ability to create more time through an on-demand culture.
By creating time, I define that as having access to faster resources that allow gaps in the process.
In the late 80’s, colleges were in the infancy stages of incorporating Sports, Media & Entertainment into their business schools and just started to acknowledge that this was an industry that could stand on it’s own because of the massive interest.
That era is very similar to the where the business and interest is with ESports today.
Today there are over 450+ colleges around the world offering undergraduate and post graduate degrees in sports management and the talent pool entering the marketplace is extremely crowded and competitive.
Because of the amount of talent entering the workforce, and this is very important to know that landing a job in sports today is much easier than keeping a job in sports.
What will keep you employable is a diverse skill set to first and foremost have the ability to do one of these three things really, really well; create, sell and execute.
Always remember it’s a business first and the value of entertainment and consumers experiences is the result of sustainable profits over time.
Now where does this leave you to figure out what you love to do by landing and keeping a job in the industry?
I mentioned in the title you will figure out what you don’t like before you find out what you love.
A good portion of your discovery process besides education is practical experience.
So think about the following;
Did you like accounting, legal and finance classes?
Did you enjoy collaborating on case studies and analytics on consumer behavior?
How was it volunteering for the 5K setting up tables at 5am and going home twelve hours later dirty, broke, tired and hungry?
Did you lose sleep the night before knowing you had to cold call 100 businesses the next morning?
Did you enjoy being creative with graphic design software or editing short form videos?
My point is you will find the things you don’t like to do through this elimination process by doing a little bit of everything.
Now write down what did you enjoyed during the process.
What did you do well in school and working?
Do you like interacting with the general public?
Do you like the creative side with design, social media, video, etc?
Do you like outside work with getting dirty?
Was it on the client side with activation, hospitality, solving problems?
How did you do planning, scheduling and the behind the scenes work?
Now here is the point that will help you with a long career more than anything else.
Despite how smart you are or how smart people say you are, having a true sense of self awareness is critical.
Look yourself in the mirror moment.
It is a sign of maturity when you can accept the fact that perhaps you may not be great at designing graphics but you are obsessive about details, love checking off your task lists and P&L’s.
You will need to get there mentally to focus on landing and doing a great job.
Going all in with what you enjoy doing because you are really good at it, combined with your passion in that specific area / sport is the magical moment of clarity and will be your career compass.
But what you should do is create time. Time to explore geographically, teams, leagues, vendors, agency's and time to try as many areas of the industry you are interested in and finding out what you don’t like will lead to what you love.
When you reach that point of meeting on the corner of self awareness and passion, your career will take off regardless if you’re still dirty, broke, tired and hungry.
But I do promise you one thing, you will be satisfied with your journey.
I was lucky enough to have amazing mentors along my career journey, but none made as big of an impact in my life both professionally and personally as much as Coach Tommy Groom.
I never played for Tommy, he was retired from coaching when we met.
It was perfect timing as I was just starting out on my career and trying to figure how it all worked with a young family and very little business experience.
Tommy was one of those once in a lifetime characters you meet and if you read this all the way through you will be inspired and hopefully entertained as he had some crazy stories!
His advice to me on the day we met.
"Everything will fall into place, if you're headed to the right place"
This is his story...
Tommy grew up in a very small town in what he liked to say, West "By God" Virginia. His blue collar, coal miner DNA, naturally allowed him to break down life into it's simplest common sense form.
He never made things overly complicated or dramatic.
Always looking for the good in people.
Tommy had a great college football playing career at Virginia Tech in the late 1960's and then spent the next 30+ years coaching at the D1 level.
Like most coaches he went through a gypsy life of transitions, packing up and starting over several times and even being married several times.
The one thing I really admired about coach was that he never seemed to miss a day of living without maximum effort, a slick grin and most important that infectious positive attitude!
I can remember this moment like it was yesterday. I asked him; "Out of all the places you ever coached, where was the best time in your life"?
At that moment this brilliant response forever changed my perspective.
"The best placed I've ever worked, is wherever I'm At"
He would tell me "Don't worry about your next job, make sure you are taking care of the one you're current in".
Practical advice and 100% true.
Coach and I traveled around the world for several years operating the National Football League's Youth Development programs.
We put on hundreds of NFL youth events, camps, clinics, tournaments from Boston to Bangkok and as you can imagine we had the experience of a lifetime.
We were very lucky and we knew it. Never taking it for granted.
We worked with incredibly passionate administrators, coaches and players from all corners of the globe.
All though there were communication challenges, all of us had one shared goal of expanding a sport we all loved and having the platform to make a difference in kids life's through sports.
A natural bond.
Tommy and I spent thousands of hours together on planes, trains, in airports, hotels, on football fields and occasionally in some of the wackiest bars on the planet.
We were invited into countless homes of our host coaches to explore their culture and spend time with them and their families.
Even though we were tired from travel and long days running events, he pushed us not miss a chance to I discover new things and build friendships that have lasted 20+ years.
He always said that no one really cares about how much experience you have or where you went to college, it's always about the relationships you build along the way that will be the single most import aspect to your career 3-5-10 years from now.
He was spot on.
His thoughts on experience were summed up in this classic Tommy quote:
"You can no more do, what you don't know, to come back from where you ain't never been"
Let that one sink in.
Each trip was unique and special. We discovered how small the world really is and that there are so many generous, caring people in this world.
That was our common connector on every stop, we heard and shared amazing stories about overcoming obstacles and resources and how sports is a microcosm of life.
I shared a front row seat to listen and learn from all his incredible stories and was a participant on a great deal of new ones.
But I will never forget one of the many classic Tommy moments. This one in particular was in Tokyo on a promotional tour for an NFL pre season American Bowl game.
What Tommy liked to do out of respect for our hosts, would be to attempt to begin every press conference or event when he addressed an audience for the first time, he loved to say hello in the language of that country.
He gave me the task of helping him learn it on our way to each event. Sometimes I would have to remind him what country we were in let alone learn a second language.
I would usually spend half the flight repeating how to say hello in whatever language over an over until he could finally say his standard greeting.
Sometimes I would be left to write the phrase on napkins, but he didn't just look for my help, typical Tommy would include everyone around him. He would practice on the flight crew, the people on the plane and just about everyone in the airport regardless if they were from the country we were traveling to or not.
I really do give him credit for trying, but he never got it right.
So this particular time in Tokyo, after practicing on the 11 hour flight, we entered the press conference room, I looked him in the eyes and had him practice one last time, which he nailed.
I'm not sure what happened in the five seconds from the time he said Konnichiwa, to the moment he bowed, hit his head on the mic, looked at the crowd, grinned and says in Spanish...Feliz Navidad!
The room went dead silent, we couldn't believe what we just heard and the look on everyone in that rooms face was a mix between confusion and sadness.
Until finally our Japanese interpreter respectfully broke the silence with a soft response of "Merry Christmas Coach".
It was July.
Tommy had so many incredible stories that were so out of this world crazy, but as I spent more time with him, I began to understand how and more importantly why they happened.
I could listen to his stories over and over again on our travels. They never got old.
The lessons of life he would weave into these stories were masterful and always relevant to what he knew was troubling me or anyone else we wound up meeting on the road.
His passion was people and he always had a way to put challenges into perspective, regardless if we were in South Korea of South Carolina.
A sad but a legendary Tommy story and the absolute moment when I knew he operated at a whole different level then the rest of the world was from a phone call I received from him right after the New Years in 1998.
Although it was very serious and horrible event, his positive attitude was like a slap to the head on a persons character being revealed through challenges.
But on January 2, 1998 I received that call from Tommy which revealed who he truly was.
"Hey My Man, I have good news and bad news."
I hesitated to ask, ok whats the bad news?
In a cool, deliberate voice and I kid you not he said "I burnt my house down"!
I shocking ask, "How did that happen"?
His response was "Deep frying a turkey on my back porch"!
I was shocked and wasn't sure if he was fooling around "Coach are you and the family ok".
"Yea we are all good, you know how quick I am on my feet, got them all out safe except for the kids pet turtle, that thing was always too dang slow"!
Somehow he found a way to let me know it's going to be all right.
We just cracked up.
I said "Well if the bad news is your house burning down, what's the good news"?
Without missing a beat..."We get a NEW HOUSE"!
So one day after such devastation, he still found it in him to find the positive side of life during an incredibly sad situation for him and his family.
Sadly, they lost everything. The kids Christmas presents, all their clothes, family photos and 30 years of championship rings, team pictures, mementoes that I am sure were very sentimental his coaching career and life.
He found a way which I'm sure was so painful at the moment to find something positive out of this unimaginable event.
At the time it obviously wasn't funny but as time passed and he sorted out his housing and got life back in order for his family, he would tell that very story with such gusto and detail it too became part of his legacy.
He simply would never allow himself of anyone around him act like the victim in any situation and was never looking for sympathy, he turned it into a lesson for all of us.
He lived his life exactly how he lectured so often about.
The funny thing was he never brought up that you should never cook a deep fried turkey inside a covered porch attached to your house. That part was assumed by everyone.
When you did complain to him about challenges or people he would always say "If you can't roll with it, buy new tires".
I learned from coach that it's all in your perspective on how to tackle a challenge you are facing. No matter how large or painful at that moment.
He would tell you to take a second, think about it, don't get emotional and break it into common sense and find a solution.
He loved to say this about the tough decisions:
"Once you make a decision, it will be the best one you make"He lived by the words he preached.
His zest for life, football, people and enjoying the exact moment that he was living in was contagious.
He believed in how you carried yourself, was how others would perceive you.
He would sarcastically say, "I always have a chance to prove them right once I open my dang mouth!
Regardless of the occasion, coach was always the slickest dressed in the room.
He always wore a standard sport coat, polo shirt, jeans and cowboy boots.
Out of our group of khaki and sneaker wearing schleps he was the boss.
We would always tease him about his year round tan.
Which you should know, was only on his face.
I even asked him one time "Why don't you ever tan anywhere else but your face"?
In coaches pure common sense he says "My man, it only matters what I look like walking into the bar".
Another life lesson learned coach!
Coach Tommy Groom passed away at the age of 55 in his sleep March 2003.
He was attending a coaching clinic doing what he loved. Helping and teaching others.
Coach had a major impact on all those who knew him, worked with him, lucky enough to be coached by him and call him a friend, dad, brother or even an ex husband!
I was so incredibly fortunate to have spent all those years with him and honestly never seen him mad or hear him say a bad word about anyone.
I do think of him often and the massive impact he has had on my life. Especially during trying times.
What an incredible mentor.
I only wish I had an opportunity to say good bye and thank him.
But I hope how I lived my life by always trying my best, helping others, staying positive and enjoying every moment is my thank you to coach...wherever he's at.
If you had a mentor make an impact on your career and life, please leave a comment and share.
Rob Thompson Former NFL, Walt Disney Company Executive and host of the weekly podcast "Interview with Influencers in Sports and Entertainment" Sundays 7pm EST www.RobThompsonLive.com
By now I am assuming you already had a few jobs that pretty much confirmed what you do not want to do for the next 5, 10, 15 years of your life.
However the burning question I imagine that keeps you up at night..."Where do I start, who do I call and how do I break into the sports industry"?
Well here is the secret sauce...you need relevant experience.
Here's the good news, relevant experience is transferable skills which you may have already gained at your previous job.
I can tell you that the market is extremely competative and no industry employer wants to hear you say "I'm a huge fan".
Become a fan of the industry and leave your emotional connection for the team at the door.
So what are the skills and relevant experience that will help you land that dream job?
Number One: Sales
Everyone, and I don't care who you are unless you are a bit demented and love to crank call complete strangers, probably hate making cold calls.
This is normal, as it's uncomfortable, not glamorous and good luck getting anyone to answer.
But if you have had any type of sales experience: cold calling, B2B, B2C or even worked a call center for a fundraiser, political campaign, etc, this experience is a HUGE plus.
If you consider yourself a bit socially shy there are plenty of areas that might be a better fit rather than direct sales.
Number TWO: Graphic Design / Content Development / Video Editing
Can you design social media content, snap filters, presentations, promotional collateral, edit short form video? Again very valuable skills.
Number Three: Social Media Advertising
Are you experienced with Facebook/Instagram Ad's, SEO, Google Ad Works, Sales Funnels, Utilizing Constant Contact, Email Campaigns and Analytics?
If so, this will make you stand apart.
Number Four: Social Media Strategy
How many followers do you have, are you an influencer? Do you have a blog or vlog audience?
All of these skills are transferable and will be looked upon as relevant experience.
Ok, so you have a few of these skills and experience in some form...now how do you get a job?
If and when you get an interview, bring examples, case studies, presentations, videos, of everything you have done regardless if it was for a hair salon, summer camp or lawn care service.
It's not theory, it's practical experience that will help you stand out with the interviewer.
So, you landed an interview but sadly you weren't offered the job. Now what do you do?
You should call the person who interviewed you, politely ask what you need to do to get the job next time and any advice they can offer.
Thank them for the opportunity and before you hang up, offer to volunteer in any areas they may need help at any upcoming events.
This will demonstrate your enthusiasm and at the same time keep the door open for future opportunities.
So if they except your offer to volunteer, be prepared to miss the parties, beach or that music festival with your friends. You show up, smile and know that you are one step closer to landing your dream job.
"You are better off to invest on the front end to train and provide ongoing education for your security staff than having to pay on the backend for lawsuits".
James DeMeo a twenty two year experienced security professional and retired NY Detective is CEO and President of Unified Sports & Entertainment Security Consultants.
He explains why security is critical to your guests overall experience and the importance of thinking strategically about how it fits into your planning and execution.
This is James DeMeo's story....
Peter Arch was part of the original British invasion of youth soccer in the 1980's. This influx of British soccer coaches changed the landscape of introducing millions of US children to soccer in a fun, kids first approach...with a little twist.
The British approach to teaching kids the fundamentals of soccer was perhaps unconventional from US standards at the time.
The understanding that attention span and athletic ability of children U2-U12 is drastically different and you need to teach an 8 year old different than coaching a 12 year old.
By coaching in small groups, adjusting the training space and providing full participation in short periods of time without a lot of standing along listening but rather doing is the magic ingredient.
Mix in a bit of Monty Python shtick and thats where the intersection of fun and youth development meet.
After 25+ years of building a national youth soccer summer camp business and the expansion into 14 regional offices, tournaments, European tours and a massive team uniform and merchandise business, Challenger Sports is now woven into the culture of youth soccer in the United States and millions of kids, families and certainly the explosion of youth soccer in the US are the result.
This is Peter Arch and Challenger Sports Story....
Here is a true or false exam...
What will happen if you take twelve college sports management students, give them seven days advance notice (Ok maybe five) provide them with a map, tell them they have to get to an event on their own in NYC and they absolutely have to be there exactly at 12:30pm on a Saturday, tell them the event is going to be chaotic so be flexible, attendees may not be nice and be willing to do whatever is asked, eat before you get there and remember to have fun because this is the sports business.
True or False...they all show up on time and do exactly what we asked them to do?
If you're thinking FALSE this generation doesn't want to work and has no drive...wrongo!
In fact they were waiting for me to arrive.
There is nothing more rewarding than being around young adults who are incredibly eager to learn and experience life and more importantly, follow direction.
I wanted to give them not only a unique opportunity to work an event for the NBA which they hopefully will be able to tell this story on an interview, but gain practical experience working in the sports industry. It's drastically different than being a fan.
Sitting in class listening to an old guy like me tell them what it was like in my day....zzzzzzzzz is never that intriguing, but to get in there and figure it out when it's loud, hot and chaotic. That is when the magic happens.
The proud moment of watching them jump right in, ask the right questions and take over is when I know they applied lessons they learned from the amazing sports management professors at the University of New Haven (That plug was for a free lunch).
Experiential learning, which is the core of the educational process at UNH, is vital to arming all students with the tools that will help them land their first job in the industry.
So if you answered TRUE... thank you. Young adults aren't all lazy or unmotivated. In fact they are incredibly aware of the world and opportunities more so than I ever was at their age. You might be confusing unmotivated with them being bored or uninterested.
They will continue to push us as educators, coaches and administrators to think bigger, become more aware of the ever changing way they communicate, learn and set goals.
Now if I could only figure out this GPS thing to drive out of NYC....
Leave a comment below and tell us your perspective on practical real life experience for college students.
Rob Thompson 25+ year sports and entertainment executive and current Associate Director of Athletic Development at The University of New Haven.
Think for a second when that moment you may have been the crazy parent at your kids game?
It happens to all of us...yes it has happened to you too.
You may not be the loud parent at your kids game screaming what typically is the obvious to everyone else in earshot...."Let's get a hit Tyler John".
No kidding dad, we all can't wait to watch 12 pitches and then a walk.
By the way... why do yuppie parents call their kids by their first and middle names in public?
Do they not know their friends will call them their nick name by the time they turn 12 for the rest of their lives?
Anyways so you may not be that parent, but at one point you will lose it.
It may be in the car ride home, or in that moment of questioning a teammates actual age or the decision the coach made to play the slow kid who can't run, throw or catch and who seems to be more interested in what is happening in the park lot.
We all experienced that blinding moment.
For most parents I believe there is a clarity and a sense or reality that our kids are average. So we tend to uncomfortably make a comment or two about our kids shortcomings.
It makes us seem like we get it in front of the other parents.
But times moves on and the talented kids will move up the food chain of youth to HS athletics. Things become more clearer at that moment.
Now the big leap is moving onto college. Tyler John is now known as TJ and he still can't run so now he becomes an "Academic" prospect.
Recently I had an dad call me about his son who was a "great" HS athlete but decided to go the prep school route to get his "game right" and his grades up.
Come to find out, he quit playing after a month to focus on his grades, still not sure how that works? But he wanted a second chance to play college ball as he was focused now.
So Prep School dad asked for a visit. Which of course I connected him to the HC to arrange for a visit along with the other incoming Freshman.
When Prep School kid arrived, he was obviously not in shape, in fact it looked like he never even touched a weight in his life.
After touring the campus, eating lunch, meeting the coaches and sitting through several meetings reviewing all the academic requirements to play at an NCAA school, the father comes up to me and asks...
"So can we sit down and discuss your scholarship package for my son"?
What do you say?
Well you tell dad what you wanted to say several years ago at that little league game..."He's not ready to play college ball and here are the reasons why".
You tell them the hard truth. No parent politics, not worried about hurting the kids feelings, no uncomfortable praising of a kid. Just give the parents the truth and suggestions on what they need to do with some options if this is what the kid wants to do.
Why can't youth coaches do this several years earlier?
Because it might be unfair to determine the future of a kid too early when they still have plenty of time to grow and mature athletically.
However, a fair and honest assessment earlier on can help manage parents expectations, if the parent is willing to listen.
A great tool for this type of early assessment is www.isport360.com.
This platform provides up to the minute coaches assessment, tracks player growth and provides suggestions for player skill improvements.
This tool is extremely helpful for youth all the way up to HS athletics.
Another useful tool for parents is www.lockerroomtalk.com. When you are evaluating colleges, this platform provides tremendous insight into what players have to say about their college coaches and athletic experiences at a school.
Managing expectations and real honest player assessments are so import to help young athletes develop and more importantly providing parents with a guide and feedback to set a clear path to realistic goals.
It certainly will make those 3 hour little league games more enjoyable and maybe Taylor John will hit a homer next and and if we are real lucky right into the windshield of dad's Audi.
I'm not sure there is a one size fits all model or example for what makes each of us happy. And let's face it the secret to life at the end of the day is about your personal happiness.
Your personal happiness does effect others around you.
Our own definition of happiness comes in different forms, from simple moments of time each day, to reflecting upon our life journey.
I believe happiness comes in the form of daily successes and those daily successes add up to overall satisfactions or our "Happiness".
Those successes take on many forms and for the most part are the results of our daily decisions.
Did I decide to call an old friend or colleague? Did I decide to help someone without them asking. Did I decide to address an issue that was bothering me? Did I decide to show up today and be positive?
Human nature, generally speaking pulls all of us in the direction of enjoyment, respect from others and being around positive, friendly people.
I recently heard one of the greatest examples of the "Secret To Life".
Scott O'Neil, a legend in the sports industry, during a recent interview said two profound things that resinated with me.
"You should be able to explain your life and job in three words. It shouldn't be any more complicated than three simple words".
His "Secret To Life" is very simple. Here it is...
"When your feet hit the ground in the morning, you should want to sprint to work. Excited about your day and what you do for a living. And...When your day is over, you should want to sprint home to be with your loved ones".
It's rather pure and simple.
Your happiness is the secret. Happiness in being truly fulfilled whatever your definition of personal fulfillment may be.
Perhaps it's financial freedom, respect at work, great friends, helping others, spiritual, a loving family. Or a combination of all of these.
It's not about how much money you make, rather how you make your money that defines you.
My secret to life is summed up in these three words. "Keep It Simple".
It's not the NFL or College Sports.
It's not about media rights deals, sold out stadiums and ungodly salaries.
I't not even about Saturday afternoons at the local dusty little league field with volunteer moms and dads slinging hot dogs and freeze pops.
It's now about why paying $30 to watch your 8 year old play soccer is only the beginning of the story.
It's also about the culture of "My kid is not missing out" and you can argue a big part is the parent brag factor on facebook.
The "My Kid is an Honor Student" pumper sticker has been replaced by the team photo in front of the ESPN's Sports Complex globe posted for all their friends, families and coworkers to see.
It's also about families investing in the "Experience".
Many of these mega sports facilities popping up across the nation are funded by private and in most cases public money.
Ten years ago it was about minor league or pro stadiums, today it's about family travel and tourism.
The projections of filled hotel rooms, restaurants, shops and amusement parks are now an investment into the community.
Today's mega youth sports facility services the community, helps small businesses and typically ensures that open spaces or depressed properties become a focal point of community pride.
The family investment in youth sports tournaments, elite programs, family sport-cations, equipment, uniforms, private coaching, digital media platforms, hotels, sports commissions, brand activation and overall access to mom and dad consumers are all feeding into a multi billion dollar youth sports industry.
There is no bottom in sight as the generation of parents grew up with this boom.
Long gone are the days of local recreational leagues, orange slices and stopping for an ice cream as a post game celebration.
Today it's about travel teams, weekend long tournaments, hotel rooms, flights, sports drinks, pop up tents, condo coolers, 7 uniforms, paid coaches, indoor training facilities, $50 dry fit shirts and $150 cleats...and that's just for the parents!
Youth sports are on a national and international elite stage.
Even those kids who aren't considered elite, parents are still willing to invest in travel. It's the new version of "Keeping Up With The Jones".
Regardless, most of our kids will never experience that next level in the upcoming 5-6 years and beyond. Honestly it doesn't matter.
So as a family to go through this experience together in what is such a small window of time is a great thing!
These kids are active, they learn how to compete within a team dynamic, they build friendships, they socialize without social media and build memories through late night swims, cold pizza and competing together.
Team travel is the ultimate bonding experience. It has replaced summer camp.
Why else will kids and families get to explore other areas of the country most of which we/they would never visit.
Besides, when would you ever get a chance to spend a weekend in Scranton? (No offense to those from Scranton, it's a nice area in the summer).
The Family "SportCation" segment of the sports/travel industry is real revenue, massive amount of participants and what is an endless supply of parents who are willing to invest in their kids youth sports experience.....Although maybe not every weekend in Scranton!
Leave me your comments below, tell us about your experience with youth sports travel and please share.
25+ Year global sports and media executive, investor and start up advisor.
Are you one of those people who writes down your daily goals when you wake up in the morning and recaps when you go to bed at night?
I actually love the concept and have done this a few times but seem to run out of goals each day. Maybe I'm just doing it wrong?
My Hypothetical Daily Goals...
I survived 25+ years in the sports and media industries and lived to tell my crazy stories.
That pretty much sums it up. Direct, honest and It also qualifies if I want to spend any part of my time with that person.
If they go "oh that's nice", I pull my phone out my pocket and pretend that I have an urgent call from one of my kids "Who BTW only text me". Really tragic that they only call their old man unless they need something.
However, or if they go, really what stories? They qualify.
Generally the conversation is very similar to they way I write these blogs, it's usually my POV based on real life experiences and sharing those successes and my failures but most of all my general day to day real life stuff that just happens to everyone in life and business.
Because stories of your kids are just boring to everyone, including your own extended family unless it's something they did that is stupid, I tend to stick with business.
Here is my go to...
Boy have I learned a lot about people from all those years but most of all I learned about the end user and that is you and me...the people that buy stuff and tell our friends about the stuff we just bought and how great that stuff is.
I also learned that relationships with people are more important than impressions and views. People expect bad service, bad attitudes and negativity. Is it so hard to be nice, follow up and help someone without looking for something in return?
Unless of course it's your kids looking for money...then you expect to get at least a Thank You!
Today I help businesses and brands figure out their digital voice and personalities and help them understand there is a massive difference in having having fans versus having followers. That's the science to social media.
I would love to learn more about your business, challenges and big visions and figure out if there is a way that I can help you...
Please leave a comment below, it gives me hope that people are actually reading my rants or even better share this post if you found it interesting.
By now you are probably tired of reading about and seeing the massive reaction and interest on POGO.
It certainly opened up everyones eyes to those in marketing, advertising, media, etc.
It has forced us to rethink consumer engagement and wonder "How can businesses monetize" this technology and ultimately figure out what is the overall appeal.
Ultimately what we all should be looking at is the mindset of the end user.
What is driving 7-25+ year olds to spend time chasing imaginary characters around neighborhoods?
General speaking the "Why" factory is obviously the generation of gamers.
Those that are embracing the culture of gamers are going to win.
Miami of Ohio video gaming is now a varsity sport.
The Pac-12 Conference is also embracing e-sports and supporting tournaments and games between schools.
ESPN has invested in the media rights to broadcast eGames.
Colleges are scrambling to create majors as the "industry" is estimated at a half of billion in revenue across events, prize money and revenue generated from twitch ad supporting viewing.
The naysayers inside and outside of the industry don't understand the appeal simply because they didn't grow up playing video games our was part of their entertainment with friends.
Same people also consider social media as silly.
Pro Soccer teams in Europe and NFL teams are now signing e-sport players to represent them in EA Sports tournaments.
POGO is clearly an indication that the culture is more than ready to embrace this form of entertainment and willing to spend time engaged in it as a participant.
In my POV POGO it sent the message home that this form of digital engagement is here to stay for a long time.
Now the technology is cool enough to get gamers out of their homes and into the streets in massive numbers is a game changer.
The verification that users not only embrace new forms of gaming be it hand held, participating or attending tournaments that take place in 20,000 seat arenas is here to stay.
It will only get bigger as technology is built around it with the software companies like Nintendo and ES Sports.
We will continue to see pro teams, leagues and colleges offering scholarships to not only players but the back end professors, administrators, programers, marketers, event operators and media companies scramble to recruit talent to this emerging industry.
So if you see this 49 year old running around the park this weekend with his kids chasing imaginary characters, don't be afraid to join in and I would appreciate help understanding what the heck is a Pikachu?
Please share and comment below your opinion and what you level you are on!
When we are no longer here, as sad as it is, Our Facebook posts are our time capsule and part of our legacy. Be careful what you post as it will be there for your family and friends to remind them of us FOREVER.
What may seem bothersome or troubling to you today, In a year from now it probably will not be a big deal. For all those "See I told You" or "There They Go Again" political or racial posts it will seem silly and honestly it's boring.
Share all the wonderful, positive and funny experiences and POV's in your life because that's what you want your friends and family to remember you by and what makes people positively respond to you today.
Blaming others and being the victim at work and in society is an excuse for lack of courage, hustle, self awareness and persistence.
You don't want to be remembered that way and perceived that way today.
We all have an obligation to each other to be successful in our life. That comes in many forms none of which is financial success.
That will come with our efforts, words and actions, but it all adds up to what we receive in return by what we give to others. Most of which is time.
50 years from now when this post will still be available for my kids and grandkids to read, I want them to see and read what defined me as a person...
Not as a has been jock or businessman but as someone that squeezed ever last minute out of living a fulfilling life that hopefully made in difference in my wife and kids lives, shared my adventures with others, mentored those that worked for me and hopefully made those around me lives a little more enjoyable.
We all have a story to tell and not all of it is pretty...tell yours the way you want the world to know the good you.
Rallybus.net a community mobility platform that offers pop-up mass transit to and from sporting events, concerts, and festivals, announced today a partnership with Major League Baseball.
The partnership is intended to make transportation to and from MLB games easy, comfortable and most importantly, fun for fans.
Available immediately, it’s easy to catch a Rally ride to the ballpark: just find the game through the Rally mobile app, website (rallybus.net) or when purchasing tickets online at MLB.com and the official Club website, choose a convenient Rally point (bus stop) for travel direct to the stadium, and then sit back and relax with a drink and family and friends!
Among the teams confirmed to participate include: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals.
Partnering with MLB is a defining moment for Rally and the latest in a series of recent exciting announcements from the company.
Since its inception, riders have reserved 500,000 rides in over 1,400 cities to events and destinations across North America using the platform.
Rally has successfully crowd-powered community travel to and from a number of major events including the Kentucky Derby, Super Bowl, Daytona 500, Beyoncé, and the recent visit by the Pope. More recently,
“We’re thrilled to partner with Major League Baseball and are excited that they see the potential for their fans to really enjoy using our service,” says Numaan Akram, CEO of Rally.
“We are hopeful that with this launch we will be able to get more communities to baseball games and help them extend their fan experience beyond the game with an enjoyable travel experience.
"As we say here at Rally, Travel is better together.”
Rally was accepted into Techstars prestigious international Mobility accelerator.
For more information on how your group sales and marketing departments, music festival or convention can partner with RallyBus please visit: www.rallybus.net. or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Several years ago while working for a global corporation, I faced an unfortunate situation by using social media in my professional life that caused a crack in my reputation.
It was incredibly embarrassing to me professionally as I had pushed for our business unit and staff to be more aggressive in the space thinking that we needed to be using the platform more both personally and professionally.
At the time of the issue, I had recently read a New York Times Best Seller book on "Building Your Digital Brand".
The book was actually very education and basically outline why everyone and businesses needed to be using social media to gain attention.
I thought I understood the basics and focused on the immediate attention I assumed I needed, looking back now, I really didn't know how to tell stories properly within the context of business.
It quickly caused a crack in my reputation which I worked so hard to establish.
It's very uncomfortable even now for me to write this and be open about the situation.
Mostly because it was a big mistake and let's be honest no one wants to admit mistakes publicly.
But at this point in my life, I realize mistakes happen that will not ruin a career if you are willing to take responsibility, accept the consequences, learn from them and then leave it in your rear view mirror.
I'm still learning everyday.
I choose to tell my story for others to use as a learning tool and to know that you are not alone with this love / hate relationship with SM.
It certainly was a hard lesson to learn and ultimately motivated me to put time and energy into learning how to properly use social media effectually within the context of business and regain the momentum I had lost which lead me to ultimately reinvent myself and gain skills in areas I avoided.
Before you judge me, it wasn't inappropriate personally, it was a matter of sharing information on a business I had invested in as a personal safety net knowing the current business unit I fell under was being divested from the company.
However my timing and approach was wrong.
I lacked patience, communication and confidence.
So let me get into lessons I learned and ways to avoid those mistakes.
Why executives and business owners don't maximize social media:
I understand first hand all of the above but also know the massive benefits to learning the tools and putting great effort into creating and sharing content the proper way will help bring positive attention to them and their business.
How Important Is SM in how we communicate in 2016?
I was recently in a Panera Bread in a retirement community for a lunch meeting and after the meeting I stayed around to get some work done and use their WiFi.
I notice around me there were ten people (I counted) all senior folks 60+ having a coffee or probably just wanting to be out of their homes and around other people.
Out of the 10, nine of the people were staring at their cell phones, the 10th person was napping (Seriously).
Based on my personal Facebook feeds, I know my parents, aunts, uncles and connections within that demographic are fully engaged watching and commenting to what their kids, grandkids and friends are doing all day long.
Most don't post their own content but rather share, like or comment on others.
FB I'm sure is still intimidating to them but keeps them connected to their friends and families more so than ever before.
That connection is what keeps them engaged.
I know my Panera friends we doing the exact same thing that afternoon, except of course the sleeping guy.
Benefits To Properly Using All Social Media Tools:
So what are the solutions for executives, business owners or anyone who needs help in this space?
There are certainly benefits to each option depending on how you like to learn and time commitment.
There are a lot more books available now that cover both the why and how which are great on audio tape as well.
"Likable Social Business" by Dave Kerpen is one of my favorites.
Online courses offered on Udemy have plenty of classes which are user friendly, can be taken at your own pace and can be used as a refresher as many times as needed.
Subscribe once and the class is yours forever.
The last option is a a lot more inclusive and a greater investment, think of it as a personal assistance.
Only you know how much your time is worth.
This option can costs anywhere between $100 and $5,000 per month depending on the services or length of assistance you need but will change over time as you understand and become more comfortable using the apps yourself.
How Can A SM Coach Help?
It's just the beginning.
We are part of the cultural shift in how people communication, watch live events, consume the news, book travel, buy products, etc.
Some of you will remember what happened when the TV came to market in the 50's and people stopped listening to their shows on the radio.
Most of you will remember what happen to ABC, CBS and NBC when cable was installed in your house.
Look what happened to the radio industry?
Today look at what is happening to cable TV, newspapers, magazines, home phones and direct mail.
Think about your daily routines on how you find out scores, local news, weather, events, entertainment or the new restaurant in town?
Chances are it's not from a newspaper delivered to your door.
It's All About Attention!
Attention is in our pockets and hands of the 14 billion cell phones in the world.
An average of 4 hours a day is spent on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Texts, YouTube,
WhatsApp, taking selfies or creating stories on SnapChat.
80% of websites are explored on cell phones
85% of 25 year olds don't subscribe to cable TV
When was the last time you even took a call from a number you didn't recognize?
What I Learned
The valuable lessons I learned turned a very negative situation into a very positive skill set, which has massively grown my network, brought more attention to my business and ultimately resulted in new revenue streams.
Revenue actually wasn't the goal at the beginning of building my "Digital Brand".
Once I learned and applied my social media personality, after some time of putting out consistent daily content, new business (And Job) opportunities came to me naturally.
Why? Because I wasn't trying to sell anything, rather my goal was to help connect people, share content I liked, found interesting or funny.
By deciding to not shy away from social media, which took some time to catch my breadth and watch, rather I went all in with my chips to avoid repeating that issue and learn everything I could about this universe and what influencers were doing.
What You Can Do Today
We are living through the greatest moment in our lifetime to the shifting of media, communication and advertising consumption.
So I implore those hesitant to become a "chips all in users", which may be some of you to take small steps but at least start walking.
Embrace the ever changing social media landscape and enjoy all the incredible benefits it provides.
You should allocate time and resources to learn more, experiment, read books, take online classes, hire a SM coach to help fast track growing a following and master the art and science of SM.
The beautiful thing is you're followers will immediately let you know if you are providing them with valuable or interesting content.
But most of all, understand how to use SM properly and don't be afraid to use in an appropriate manner.
Find your SM personality and have enough self awareness and confidence to share your knowledge with the world.
Your rewards will be plenty with building relations, helping others, growing your network and ultimately learn how to stay out of the dog house!
I'm a 25+ year sports, media and entertainment executive and start up investor and advisor. I have published eBooks on practical tools; Utilizing Social Media For Your Business and The Global Business of Sports.
I am a guest speaker at college Sports and Media programs and assist brands, start ups, pro leagues, media groups, NBG's, Retail Chains with personal and business digital media strategy, social media management, unique activation concepts and event generating revenue.
Learn more about my background and how I can help you and your business at the above tab at SM Services.
Kindly share and comment below if you found this article helpful.
Today I met an amazing older southern lady at the airport waiting for our plane to board.
She must have been lonely because she jumps right into telling me her life story about her daughter and late husband of 50+ years, whom she adored.
She told me some hilarious stories and described what a true character he was ...everyone in their tiny home town in Virginia called him the "Mayor".
Although he wasn't really the mayor, He worked for the high school as the Maintenance man and as she said always carried "175 keys"!
She worked in the high school main office...both of them at the same school for 40 years. They started and retired on the same day together. Incredible...
The Mayor was the guy that got involved in everything and everyone knew him, she would say. He was the president of the little league, pop warner football (he didn't have any sons) and somehow found time to organize fundraisers, be a volunteer fireman and bartender at the VFW.
He was also proud Navy Vet.
They retired to Florida several years ago as he was very passionate about Golf, Cold Beer and BBQ and as she said sarcastically... "And not necessarily in that order"!
While in Florida at their retirement community he was a member of several clubs, president of most, organized several fundraising golf tournaments and of course the "Mayor" of their block parties. Which were plenty.
She did get a bit withdrawn at the end of her story and summed up everything about their marriage, relationship and the amazing outlook and life he led...
She explained the day they found out he had stage 4 cancer, on the golf cart ride home from the doctors he said to her incredibly just minutes after he was told he had very little time left to live...
"Honey it's been a great ride and journey with you, I couldn't Image another life. I know we never made a lot of money, but we worked hard, put our daughter through college and I hope we made a difference in a lot of peoples life's. I think we won the game...
So let's go celebrate that with some beer and ribs"!
She continued on to say she is not sure if she will ever get over him being gone, perhaps not?
However she says her nightly dreams and thoughts through the day are filled with funny things he would do or say and all the lifelong memories of her wonderful life with the mayor.
She says those memories gives her strengths knowing that he gave it his all everyday to make a difference with his family and their tiny Virginia community.
I am so glad I smiled and said hello to that wonderful lady today. She helped put a few things into perspective for me today by sharing her story....and I am happy to share it with you.
Have a wonderful weekend, be thankful for your life, make a difference and go enjoy some beer and ribs!
I don't have to look very far to see first hand how the shift in influencer marketing and content consumption is happening.
My very own focus group lives with me...we have a 24, 21, 18 and 7 year old (That's a story for another day) which gives me the perfect age range. Plus it's two boys and two girls.
Of course as a parent I am naturally curious about what they watch, listen to and post online, but being in the business it's equally intriguing to me to understand their media consumption habits and how their digital friends "Influencers" really direct their attention. Both the good and the bad stuff.
Here is what I have discovered.
Kids Are Creating Personal Media Empires
How Did This Happen?
Growing & Evolving By The Hour & Day
The influence that Youtube, SnapChat or musical.ly will have on my home focus group is massive.
Those brands that are nimble in the space, willing to take some risks and not bogged down by layers of approvals and politics will win.
If you're thinking this is a few years away you lost, think 3,6,12 months and what are you going to do today.
Now if I can only get my seven year old to play the guitar like Eddie Van Halen!
Thank you for reading and hopefully commenting below and sharing this post.
Rob is the author of "The Business of Sports" eBook guide to working in the sports industry and a 25+ senior executive with The Walt Disney Company, North American Sports Group and The NFL. I help global sports organizations, media groups, brands, leagues and teams create digital and live event revenue generating content and activation.
You can follow me on all SM platforms @RobThompsonLive
What I find interesting is that somehow recently "Not Everyone Getting An Award" seems to be the rallying cry of those which believe is the core reason to young athletes growing up to be an entitled millennial.
How did this happened?
Those that believe in this theory think that if we give everyone an award for just showing up and competing, regardless if they won or lost, why does that deserve a trophy?
"They need to accept failure as a child to be a more productive adult" screams the grouchy dad.
Let's take a look deeper into the why...
Sure there is also those that believe todays young professionals feel entitled to big salary's and titles without earning it.
Perhaps the fact that only 12 years ago when social media didn't really exist these same kids who were born at the right time in the history of the world with the digital revolution, they have seen that it is very possible that they too can become a millionaire at the age of 19.
And the fact that they know that, pisses a lot of experts off.
So is it the youth soccer coaches fault? Is it the parents fault?
Or just maybe it's the leagues and the tournament organizers that build in a trophy and free T-Shirt as an added value to sign up and register and gain attention to their sport or event!?
Does everyone deserve unlimited appetizers at TGIFriday's for just showing up and not earning those 75 free loaded potato skins?
Or just maybe its marketing and gaining attention to their restaurant chain and a youth soccer tournament?
It's really just business and not the evil empire in an attempt to soften up our kids.
Now let's talk about young professionals vs youth sports and what we as adults do to enable or staff and what youth coaches do to develop young athletes.
There is a correlation between the two.
If you have every operated a business, or have been in management and hired young professionals, it's easy to get caught up in the pedigree and look test.
Similar to youth and high school players are judged by what state they are from, what they look like in street clothes or uniforms.
I don't care who you are, we all judge people the same way on first impressions and make our assumptions.
What we don't know is what drives them internally. Do they have the "Want To Factor"?
Coaches talk about you can't see the size of their heart. Employers talk about high effort, hard working, non drama employees.
Don't we know talk about "Culture" and "Lifestyle" and offer extra's to keep employees happy. Staff bowling parties, extra days off, Monday lunches, bring your pets to work, etc, etc....
Aren't those awards for just showing up?
Now think about that kid that sat on the bench.
Who is not that athletic and seems like they just don't fit in. That could have been many of you or your kids.
Everyone needs some confidence be it the star, bench warmers or intern.
Whatever the reason, something compelled that kid to get up and show up for the game and play the season.
Be it they won the championship or lost every game, as little the award maybe if only for a brief moment, it may just be the confidence that child needed to play another sport, or register for another season.
As painful as Mondays are to work, perhaps that free lunch and that brief moment to bond with the boss and coworkers gives them the confidence to work a bit harder or feel more valued.
So let's go back to grouchy dad who thinks that every kid is entitled and doesn't deserve that trophy for just showing up.
He still like to compete and show his kids how its done .
Somehow on his last Turkey Trot 5K he finished 9899 out of the 10,000 but remarkably was so proud to show off his medal to his kids. Now lets go get some potato skins!
Good thing "Everyone Gets An Award".
Sign up today and receive unlimited free access to influencers in the business of sports, media and entertainment at www.robthompsonlive.com.
Rob Thompson-Owner Operator of 100+ grassroots events for youth, recreational and elite athletes. 20+ Years In Youth Development Programs, Family Entertainment and Media for the NFL, The Walt Disney Company and Arena Football League.
Follow me on here in LinkedIn and on Twitter @robthompsonlive
Kindly share and leave your comments below, I would love to read your perspective. Thanks for reading.
"Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable" is what separates the star players from the haters and those negative nay-sayers in business. How many employees, coworkers, industry executives, people on SM that love to sit in the shadows and criticize or are just negative? Or better yet, don't know how to use or truly understand social media platforms. Just because your kids and junior level staff are on it doesn't mean you shouldn't be or at the very least understand consumer attention. Stop being a spectator and get in the GAME!
Understanding SM platforms and HOW they are consumed on a daily basis is 90% of the challenge. It's about understanding consumers attention. When you think about the 100+ million posts on Facebook each day that should be a pretty good key to it's value. Just because you are a 50+ year old CMO doesn't mean that you should rely upon the 20 year olds or your kids to help you understand SM. It's YOUR job to be engaged and understand the power and massive shift in the market of peoples attention. But you need to be a participant first. Understanding how real data and digital analytics such as clicks, likes, comments and shares are much more powerful than Neilson ratings assumptions based a percentage of DMA's. Who's taking those survey's anyways? Seniors and those that are unemployed? Last month 10 million customers canceled cable, so common sense I assume is how do TV ratings go up if consumers have shifted how they consume content?
Not many of us are really comfortable throwing our ideas and POV out to the world to judge us in social media like this platform. Heck I know my grammar and spelling is brutal, but what you are getting is an authentic me. How many times had you wished in a staff or client meeting that you spoke up but didn't in fear of saying something really stupid or off point? "I will reach out off line" What that heck is off line anyways?
Do you think Mark Cuban, Richard Branson and other highly successful executives and entrepreneurs have that same mentality? Yes they listen but aren't afraid to be heard, give their opinion or be in the game. I'm sure they weren't that way before they were Billionaires. They understood then and even more so now where consumers attention was in that particular moment. You have an expertise in what you do everyday or something you're passionate about, stay in that lane...but Get In The Game!
I grew up with dyslexia and never knew it until I got to college. I was a horrible student who struggled from day one. Fortunately, I had a college summer school teacher my freshman year and in a class I had to take just to be allowed into the fall semester. She discovered my dyslexia this first week of class and helped me work through my learning disability (How I was able to go through public schools for those early years and no one caught it is another story). Up to that point before college, I was always uncomfortable to raise my hand and petrified to speak up. I basically accepted the fact that I was a bad student.
The fear continued to suffocate me until I fought through it and became comfortable with how I delivered my opinion and that was through writing. I continue to do so today but have more confidence which I gained from just diving in and challenging myself everyday, but my platform changed. So you aren't alone if you have faced the same challenges, just fight through it and find the platform via video Vlog or writing but start somewhere that you feel comfortable with either here, Medium, Blog, twitter, FB, etc. But start today.
Even on this platform, I decided to stop being a spectator a few years ago with just reading and commenting on other's posts, I made a decision to become really uncomfortable and started my own website where I interview influencers in my industry (1 on 1 Interviews above tab) who I feel can help others with their personal stories. Believe me is not in my DNA to self promote. But what has happened as a result is my network has drastically increased my connections and followers quickly and it has massively grown my network and attention in my industry ...now I'm in the Game! And you should be too. It's not who you know...It's Who Knows You!
Get In The Game!