5 keys to industry success from a recent #sportsbiz grad

by luke johnson - incoming sports industry professional with the Pittsburgh pirates | May 21, 2019

With graduation one week away, it has given me some time to reflect on the journey to my first role with the Pittsburgh Pirates in their Inside Sales Associate Program. Because of family, friends, and mentor support, I feel prepared to take this next step from being an undergrad to serving a fan base in one of the most passionate sports towns in the United States, if not the world. As this journey continues forward, I have come to realize there have been five core principles that have allowed me, and believe will continue to allow me, to succeed:

1) Every day is a tryout. Each day, especially as a young professional, it is crucial to display your drive for success. You can never be comfortable with being average. Average doesn’t move the needle. Average doesn’t deliver. The only thing average is, is replaceable. This doesn’t mean you have to be a rockstar everyday of your career (because that is impossible), but you have to strive to uplift yourself and others and be a positive contributor to the culture of your organization.

2) Acknowledge the greatness you see in others. This goes into the last point I made in #1. You are part of a TEAM. When you see a teammate or supervisor go above and beyond for yourself or a colleague, tell them. When we have those tough days in this business, it is the people who are next to you that are your rock (and friendly competition!). We should be there for each other to help face adversity.

3) Read. It is a great way to harness knowledge, develop new ideas, and expand your creativity/imagination. Not to mention, it is a relaxing activity to take your mind elsewhere from a sometimes hectic work environment. In addition, especially in a sales role, it can help you understand your prospect’s specific industry and build talking points. Lastly, if you are transplant in a new area, I’ve always found it beneficial to read your city’s local newspaper to get a feel for the city and its culture.

4) Embrace the career-long learning curve. This industry is dynamic. The way fans, business partners, and strategies to get fans engaged with sport is going to constantly change. We as professionals must embrace that we will always be learning in this industry. We cannot ever let the well of new ideas, strategies, and partnerships run dry if we want our organizations to always be relevant to our consumers, as well as potential prospects.

5) Enthusiasm. There’s a quote by NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi that goes “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm”. We get to call stadiums our offices. We get to facilitate unforgettable memories. We are able to craft something amazing that people laugh, cry, and cheer for. Never forget that it is the selfless sacrifices many in this industry do that make this career so sought after. Come in with an attitude ready to serve, attack the day, and be a part of something special.

Luke Johnson is a recent University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh graduate who will be launching his career in sports with the Pittsburgh Pirates Inside Sales Associate Program. You can connect with Luke on Twitter @LukeJohnson2014 for dialogue on the #SportsBiz and more!