#MySportsBizStart - Luke Schuellein: "The lessons I've learned"
by Luke Schuellein - DIrector, business development at viwa ticket management solutions | July 02, 2019
My sports career path to becoming Director of Business Development at Viwa has not been the most conventional one. Having previously worked in professional sports, minor league sports, and collegiate sports, you could say I got a taste of it all. I never imagined myself becoming a “ticket broker”, let alone leading a business development team on the secondary market side of the sports and entertainment industry.
I had a handful of internships in college, but my ticket sales and service internship with the New York Mets helped launch my career. I used that experience to land an Inside Sales role with the San Diego Padres. Family health issues cut that opportunity short (family first in my book) and brought me back home. From there, I had the unique opportunity to jump into a Director of Ticket Sales role for the Wichita Thunder, a minor league hockey team. I was young, unprepared, lacked experience, but it was a challenge that I took on. It was a tremendous learning experience and I matured very quickly.
After two years leading the ticket sales staff at the Thunder, and family health issues under control, I took on a new challenge and ventured to Arizona State to manage the ticket sales consultant team. In a convoluted way, I found myself now working on the secondary market of the sports and entertainment industry. The path to where I am today has been a fun challenge, and I have learned a lot along the way. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned during my journey:
Lesson 1: Be positive. “Being positive won’t guarantee you will succeed but being negative will guarantee that you won’t". I am a huge Jon Gordon fan (recommend reading the Energy Bus), and the overarching theme in his books is focused on positivity. Make it a habit to show up every day and be positive. It’s infectious and your team and/or staff will recognize it. This does not mean you won’t be tested (adversity is part of life). I guarantee that you will get hung up on, you will get yelled at, and you will be cursed at when you are making 100+ calls a day. However, stay positive, and approach each call with a renewed vigor. Every call is a clean slate and approach each one with a positive attitude.
Lesson 2: Be adaptable to change. Just because things have been done a certain way in the past, it doesn’t mean it always has to be done that way. Change can be a good thing. Whether management is changing, technology is evolving, or the organizational structure is being altered, be adaptable. In the secondary market, things are constantly changing, and it is important to adapt and overcome.
Lesson 3: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When I first began my career as an inside sales rep, picking up the phone 100+ times was not normal to me. In my first management role, giving constructive feedback was uncomfortable. As the saying goes, “you grow outside your comfort zone”. Push yourself to embrace those situations. Learn from it. Grow from it. Continue to pursue greatness.
Lesson 4: The learning never stops. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, there is always something to learn. Initially, it might be learning how to develop relationships and set appointments. It may progress to learning how to sell premium seats. Eventually, it could lead to learning how to manage and lead a staff. Regardless of what position you’re in, there is always something to learn. Two things that I highly recommend: find a mentor that you can learn and grow from and read (there are tons of books out there). Knowledge is power, and it can help separate you from the competition.
Lesson 5: Work ethic is important no matter what stage you’re in. It’s something that will set you apart from others and will help lead to success. Put in the extra time, volunteer for extra assignments, make an extra ten calls a day, attend networking events, go to optional training sessions, and leave it all out on the “field”.
Lesson 6: Culture is key. During the interview process, it is just as much an interview for you, as it is for them. Surround yourself with good people. Go to a place where you can learn, grow, and thrive in a positive atmosphere.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and best of luck to all of you out there pursuing your goals in sports business. Lastly, we’re hiring, if you’re interested in learning more about VIWA and possibly joining our team you can see our open job here.
Luke is currently the Director of Business Development at VIWA. Before that, he spent time at Arizona State, Wichita State and the San Diego Padres.