The Michael Jordan Guide to Sports Career Success

By Chris McKinney




Michael Jordan is the epitome of sports career success.

Not only is he one of the all-time greats on the court, he wields even more power off of it. In June 2010, Jordan was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 20th “Most Powerful Celebrity in the World,” with $55 million earned. (10 years after his final dunk!)

However, when you look behind the MJ curtain, you’ll see it wasn’t just His Airness putting in the hours and paying the price. He surrounded himself with a team of trusted advisors: Phil Jackson, David Falk and Tim Grover. Not to mention his publicist, nutritionist, financial advisor, the list goes on.

Appoint Your Own Advisory Board

Like Jordan, you need your own advisory board. Bob Beaudine (@YouGotWho), best-selling author of, The Power of WHO says, “None of us can see every possibility coming our way.” Beaudine’s advice: “Create a personal board of directors.”

That’s exactly what Jordan did. Other than his head coach, Jordan assembled his own board. (Note: some argue that Jordan did, in fact, appoint his own head coach.)

People at the highest levels appoint their own advisory board, including the President of the United States, as well as business icons such as Donald Trump.
While the decisions are ultimately theirs, the process of bouncing ideas and talking through problems is extremely valuable to one’s career.

The same can be said for a college student or a career-changer looking to achieve sports career success. We all need sound advice.

Whether you realize it or not, you already have an advisory board. Girlfriend. Boyfriend. Mom. Dad. Whoever you hangout with the most. This circle of influence is your advisory board.

It may be time to beef up your board. Adding key people who hold important positions can have the greatest impact. The list below will point you in the right direction.

• Your Professors (current or former)
• Your Rabbi/Pastor
• Your Career Services Director (even if you’ve graduated)
• Your Banker
• Your Lawyer
• Your Coach (current or former)
• Your Sports Executive Hero (Better find one! More on this in another post.)
The good news: these people want to help you. Reach out to them and they will respond.

Dominate Your Own Sports World

We can’t all, “Be like Mike” on the court. However, each of us can be the Michael Jordan of our respective fields.

You need to ask yourself, “What part of the sports business world can I dominate?”

Yes, Michael could jump. Shoot. Play D. Everything. But in the NBA, everyone can. Where MJ destroyed his opponents was in his mind. It was because of his superior mindset that he dominated the basketball world.
The most critical part of Jordan’s mindset was his willingness to outwork every person that’s ever laced up a pair of high-tops. When you outwork everyone — whether in sport or in business — you will have the mental edge.
MJ’s mental strength was unmatched. What about you? Where’s your strength? Creating? Producing? Leading? Influencing? Organizing? Speaking? Writing? Deal-making?
Find your most dominating strength and attach it to your greatest love.

Be Original and Authentic

If you’re doing what everyone else does, how will you stand out from the crowd? I’m not suggesting you do something obnoxious, for the sake of getting attention.

What I am saying is this: be a trendsetter. A tastemaker. A forward observer. An expert in your chosen field. But most of all, be original. And authentic.

Michael Jordan didn’t let the NBA’s ban on red shoes stop him. In fact, he used it as marketing weapon and started a sneaker revolution.

He didn’t continue wearing those ridicules short-shorts everyone else was, he went baggy and took swagger to a whole new level.
He didn’t let losing his hair cramp his style. Instead he shaved it smooth and did the impossible: made bald cool.
TAKE AWAY: Surround yourself with wise counsel. Link your God-given talent with your greatest love. And above all, be yourself. The best self you can possibly imagine.
What are you going to do? I want to know. Tell me here: chris@sportslaunch.net
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Want to Work in Sports? I’ve Got Good News & Bad News (Plus an Important Action Item)

By Chris McKinney

If you want to work in sports, and I think most of you do, I have a question for you: What do you plan on doing (career-wise) in the sports industry?

What company, if they hired you, would be a dream come true? The New York Yankees? Pittsburgh Steelers? How about Adidas? Or Under Armour?

Well, I’ve got some good news. And some bad news.

Good News First

You can work for Adidas. You can land a job with Under Armour. You can even land a job with the New York Yankees! Or whichever team you love the most.

The reason I say this is because every one of those companies hire recent college grads every year. So do thousands of other sports-related companies. And if you’re a seasoned veteran, sports companies across the country are hiring at the C-level as well.

The question is, will YOU be one of the chosen ones?

Now the Bad News

Landing your first job in sports is a huge challenge. The demand forsports jobs is incredibly high. The opportunities are limited. And the competition is fierce.

According to SportsBusiness Journal there are 24,000 college students majoring in Sport Management today. Not to mention the thousands of Business majors, Journalism, PR, Marketing, Advertising, Communications and Finance majors that share the same dream.

It seems everyone wants to work in sports!

AND… to make things even tougher, this is one of the toughest job markets in U.S. history.

What are you going to do?

You Need a Game Plan

If you truly want to break into the business, you’re going to need a game plan. Start by asking yourself these 10 QUESTIONS:

1. Which companies do I really want to work for?

2. What job (or jobs) can I do better than anyone else?

3. Who are the executives that hire for those positions?

4. How do I get my foot on the door?

5. How do I stand out from the competition?

6. How do I position myself as the best candidate?

7. How do I network effectively?

8. How do I write a cover letter and resume that gets me the interview?

9. How do I prepare for the interview?

10. And most importantly: How do I knock it out of the park?

You Control Your Own Destiny

The only person responsible for your sports career is you. Not your friends. Not your parents. Not even your professors. It’s you. You control your own destiny.

Listen. There are two types of people breaking into sports today:

1) Those who hustle

2) Those with relatives in the business

Do yourself a favor. Take a look at your last name and figure out which one you are. Most of us have to hustle. You don’t accidently land a job with the Yankees. You don’t accidently end up working for Under Armour. And you don’t accidently break into Adidas.

Like I’ve said before, landing a job in sports happens on purpose.

Take Action!

If you’re planning to work in sports, but you’re frustrated because you don’t know where to begin, you’re not alone! Getting started is one of the biggest hurdles.

The way you get over that hurdle is by taking action. Taking action is the key to a successful career launch. Anyone can say they’re passionate about sports. But not everyone can turn that passion into a profession. (Except you, of course!)

You must be proactive. President Lincoln said it best, “Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

It’s time to hustle.

ACTION ITEM: Get a spiral notebook and write this down: “My Goal is to Land a Job in Sports in 2011.” Next, I want you to write down those 10 Questions. Give each question it’s own page. That’s it for now.

(Note: Follow this blog and I will help you answer all those questions and more.)

Chris McKinney is the president of SPORTS LAUNCH™, a career development firm dedicated to helping college students and career-changers launch sports careers. www.sportslaunch.net

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3 Things That Will Guarantee Your Success in 2011

If your goal for 2011 is to break into the sports industry, there are three things that will guarantee your success. (And it won’t cost you a dime!)

1. Write Down Your Goal

Breaking into sports doesn’t happen by accident. It happens on purpose. That’s why it’s crucial that you make it your number one goal in 2011. Goal-setting starts by writing down your goal.

Hall of Fame running back, Emmitt Smith, said it like this: “It’s only a dream until you write it down, then it becomes a goal.” Emmitt didn’t accidently become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. He did it by starting with the simple act of writing.

Personal development expert, Brian Tracy says, “You can’t hit your target if you can’t see what you’re aiming for.” Written goals bring clarity and focus.

2. Establish a Time and a Place

The biggest reason people fail to reach their goals is because they don’t establish a time and a place to work on them. They think setting the goal is the key, but it’s not. That’s only the beginning.

Just like a college football player establishes a time and place to prepare for the NFL Combine, you must do the same thing. You don’t haphazardly go into the Combine. You work up to it. Likewise, you don’t haphazardly pursue a job with ESPN, or Nike. You train for it.

But instead of a weight room, your training ground is at the kitchen table. Or a coffee shop. Or the library. Anywhere you can turn off your phone and get locked in on what you’re trying to accomplish — that’s where you need to be. Same place. Same time. Each and every week.

3. Make a Promise to Yourself

In your quest to break into sports, you will face challenges. Doors will slam in your face. You will hear the word “No.” And your insecure friends might even make fun of you for pursuing such a lofty goal.

So, how do you prepare for such harsh reality? You become resilient! You develop fortitude. Mental toughness begins by making a promise to yourself that you will not give up, no matter what.

Successful people have mastered this mindset. When things get difficult, they don’t quit. They simply hang on just a few minutes longer than everyone else. Making a promise to yourself will give you the inner strength to persevere.

CHRIS’ KEYS: Guaranteed success comes from your unbroken promise. Anticipate the challenges. Stay focused. And finish.

Chris McKinney is the president of SPORTS LAUNCH™, a career development firm dedicated to helping college students and career-changers launch sports careers. www.SportsLaunch.net

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