I receive many requests each week to chat with young folks as they prepare to embark on an occupation and career. Quite often, they seek my advice and thoughts hoping for a little inspiration. In addition, many people who are looking to switch careers reach out for similar direction as they contemplate making a move to a new industry, especially the sports business. I am sure this request is posed to many of you who have experience and expertise in a given field. I imagine that if you dedicated time to every request, it could easily become a full time job; that has been my experience for the last five years or so, and the frequency seems to have increased dramatically.
I do understand the importance of giving back and helping others get their start, which is one of the main reasons that I write my blog and have a chat every Sunday night on Twitter. Unfortunately, time doesn’t permit me to personally chat with everyone seeking individualized advice, so I recommend they read through my blog. It contains all the stories and advice I would relay in person, and more. I also believe #sbchat on Twitter is a great way to learn about the sports industry, not only from me but also from other sports professionals. Of course, if someone really wants to get into my head, Winning the Customer is a great resource to understand my approach and the principles I believe in. The book is in many libraries, so accessing it at no cost is pretty easy.
I am writing about this for two reasons. The first reason is to make a suggestion to those of you who are inundated with requests for advice, calls and meetings. If you do not have a blog or other vehicle to share your experience, starting one could be a way to help manage the requests that you receive and still allow you to give back. The second reason, triggered by a call I received last week, is to address those seeking advice. Let me relay that story.
I was asked to speak to a young man about getting into the sports industry. He had cancelled once before, and on the second appointment, he called seven minutes later than the scheduled time to speak. Things come up, so I understand the cancellation, but if someone gives you their time and advice for free, you should call punctually, as scheduled. I don’t need to get into the entire conversation, but when I suggested he read my blog to get deeper insight beyond the call, the punk acted like he would be doing me a favor, and actually said, “I’ll try, but I’m not sure if I’ll find the time. Can’t you just tell me now what I need to know?” At that point, his entitlement I suspected rang true, and it didn’t matter what I told him, he just wanted me to get him a job.
I realize this is an extreme case, and that most people are grateful for the time and advice, but there have been other conversations where folks were just looking for me to do their work. Advice is one thing, but the information you receive is only going to take you so far, and we are not going to be the magic wand to your success. Those seeking advice need to roll up their sleeves and take their destiny into their own hands. You can’t expect things to be handed to you; you truly have to work for what you get.
This experience has led to me to establish a new protocol for me to take time to chat with folks looking for direction. Everyone looking for advice has to come to the conversation prepared. This means developing a list of questions and reading my blog prior to the meeting or call so the follow-up questions lead to fruitful answers. It also will show me who cares enough for the time and the information they are about to receive.
I have had a few folks in the past who reference my blog and philosophies, and those prepared people asked great questions and made me want to give them a more in-depth perspective. I want the content I produce and the advice I give to aid people in achieving all their goals, but more importantly, they have to want that and use it to their full advantage.