The World Needs More CSFX

MH3 —  August 16, 2017 — 1 Comment

The world needs more CSFX, so we are going to give it to them.

I am not intending to make light of the expression “The World Needs More Canada,” but after many many many months of planning, thinking, brainstorming, strategizing and sometimes panicking, we have reached an exciting milestone. My team and I have made the decision to take the magic of our sponsorship conference, the CSFX you love, on an international journey.

We started CSFX as the Canadian Sponsorship Forum in 2005 with a clear mission. Our aim was to gather a cult of passionate sponsorship minds in Canada, and share relevant best practices, learnings, and experiences. It was important for us that we be able to access Canadian case studies, research, and data. I dreamed of creating an annual reunion of sorts for the industry. A place where you could make new friends and celebrate the old. Our secondary objective was to have a damn good time. We didn’t just wrap the whole experience up by partnering with marquee events to provide an immersive experience. We wanted to host every delegate like an old friend coming over for dinner.

If you’ve attended, you will agree we’ve achieved that.

One 2017 delegate commented that it was like “Christmas and Easter all wrapped up into one.” Not sure what that means, but I liked it. I liked it so much, we just hired her in fact! But, you get the point. CSFX, CSF, The Forum, Harrison’s Conference, whatever you labelled it, hopefully it was a badge you know you earned and could wear with honour for years to come.

However, the world is a much different place than it was in 2005. I hate that expression, of course the world is different. But, it’s time for me to wake up and smell the Starbucks. Our business has changed. It’s not just tech. Everything has changed. Global change is what is driving the need for us to grow and evolve as an event.

The sponsorship landscape of the next twelve years, 2018 through 2030, will be so much different than the 2005-2017 era we have celebrated as a conference. Whether it be sport, media, entertainment, festivals or chase properties, globalization has taken over. Who would have imagined three country World Cup soccer bids? Or charity events that got perfected in Canada, being exported to Australia? NFL regular season games in the United Kingdom and women’s college basketball teams touring Italy? The importation of festival genres and internationalization of television shows? Digital media super stars with no boundaries? The growth of B2B conferences as international investment drivers? Festivalization of everything? Consumers in mass trading belongings for belonging?

It would be utterly naive for us not to jump in with both feet, heart, mind, and soul.

So, we are.

For 2018, we are changing the name, positioning, content, and structure of The Forum. Yes, I said we are changing the name. In fact, the word Canadian is being removed entirely. Does that make me some sort of hypocrite? Hopefully not. I’m a proud ass Canuck still.

We are sharing preliminary information this weekend in Whistler at Crankworx. Over the next four weeks, we are going to invite you to hear more and more, until we reveal the full package at the end of September.

Part of our plan is to move our flagship conference around globally. That doesn’t mean we will abandon Canada. We will be growing by adding an international event, while still maintaining an annual Canadian event. I intend to have my cake and eat it too. But seriously, we recognize that budgets and time will hamper some people from attending our global event. More importantly, there are still so many great events and communities in Canada for us to attend that it would be a waste. Of course, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being excited about some of our potential global stops.

Hopefully you want to be a part of this joyride. Better yet, invite your friends from around the world to join us. We are just about one year away from Whistler. Time for you to strap on your big kid clothes, tighten your chin strap, take a deep breath and get ready to get dirty.

Hello Friends;

This week South by Southwest has opened voting for their 2018 speakers. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

You may not realize that I have submitted a couple of times before and was outright rejected! http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

So, my team suggested that for my third (and final?) try… I should share my learnings from these harsh rejections. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

Below you will find my speaking topic. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

If you want to support me, please click this link: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

If you don’t want to support me, you can also oppose me here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

In case I get rejected for the third time… I have prepared the following list of excuses, proactively. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

Please share your feedback on them. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

1. I can’t spell SXSW. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

2. My topic reeks of self-pity and wallow. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

3. Wallow is a verb, not a noun. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

4. What proof do we have that this is the new Mark? http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

5. Those fake MH3 initials don’t stand for MH 3.0. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

6. We had Obama speak in 2015. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

7. You’re not Obama Mark, nor do you look like him. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

8. People at SXSW actually do read the post-event surveys. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

10. My post-event survey wasn’t actually anonymous. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

11. I didn’t sing one note at the panel on Corporate Karaoke and then stole the idea for my own conference. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

12. Trump knows I’m brown. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

13. Trump knows I bring a brown colleague with me. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

14. People who campaign for votes are self-centered. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

15. I plead no-contest to #14. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175

Thank-you for your consideration. If you haven’t found the link yet, it is here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/76175


What Being Rejected by SXSW Has Taught Me
Learn the process that Mark Harrison took in submitting to SXSW in the past. And, why it failed. Twice. Learn what not to do, what to do better, and how he came back in style with an unforgettable presentation. He’ll demystify great conference speakers by looking at those that stand out most. There are tons of presenters out there, but what makes some exceptional? Learn to be like Mark this year, not like Mark last year. Or the year before.

 

Great Season Green

MH3 —  August 1, 2017 — Leave a comment

I am at a bit of a loss as to what to write this week, so I will share with you the bottom line and maybe you can co-create the story line with me.

The bottom line is my Toronto Jets bantam football team (hence the Green of the blog title) lost our semi-final playoff game 26-22 to the fourth-place team. My avid readers will recall that we finished the regular season in first place, but to call this blog a story about a stunning upset or titanic triumph is to over simplify. To mark it down as being a game in which the breaks went the other way sounds like an excuse. To grade my coaching performance as coming up short would be too self-centered. To suggest we may have collectively looked ahead to the championship would be painfully too accurate.

The other challenge with each of the so far suggested themes is none of them provide credit to those who deserve credit. That would be the coaches, players, and parents of our opponents. Despite the fact we beat them twice in the regular season, they came into the clash convinced they could win. Their star player, who we had held in check for the seven previous quarters, played to his ability. Losing aside, the sports fan in me had to admire his gut and his will. The play of the game came on a fourth and sixth when he broke a tackle for a loss and ran the game sealing a touchdown right down our throats. I called him “MVP” in the handshake line. I truly hope heard that.

Yet for every wicket of credit I want to give our opponents, I have a dollop of criticism for myself. Quite clearly, I can hear you begging for me to spare you having to read my pathetic list of “if-only’s.” It is probably one of my biggest challenges in life to not dwell on the past. I am a harsh critic of others for doing so, which is steadily consistent with my standard operating procedure to be hardest on the flaws in others that I see most in myself. There must be some awkwardly enunciated syndrome for this. I might name it em-ache-threeing. That didn’t really work, did it?

But seriously, I what-if some of the silliest things ever. The Steelers losing an AFC Championship game to Stan Humphries. The Tony Gabriel phantom offensive pass interference in the Ottawa vs. Edmonton Grey Cup. Many a business pitch. The super talented employee(ssss) who got away. The partners I wish I hadn’t partnered with. The big client I bungled that became even bigger for our replacement. Not traveling when I was younger. Many a speech I wish I could have back. Okay I hear you, stop before I mention the blog I wish I could re-write. Or is that you asking for a re-write?

The scoreboard reads as follows:

Our season is over, but we won a bucket of games and were in every one. This is a team that lost six games by more than forty points last year. So, check mark for massive improvement.

We may have had to turn in our equipment, but our kids just finished four months of practice, training, and games that helped develop their minds, their bodies, and their souls.

I can personally sit back and be thankful that for some reason an awesome group of people, parents, mangers, team organizers, and volunteer coaches can come together to build a team, a community, a family.

So, while there is no championship field for me to run on next weekend, I can end our chat with a simple truth. We may have lost but the grass is still green. Toronto Jets Green.

Safely seated on the sideline, far from the field where his thirteen-year-old was doing battle with a bigger opponent. The sideline where four volunteers were enthusiastically supporting his progeny, the critic went to work.

As his son’s team blew a lead and suffered their second, but only their second, defeat of the season, he let loose with his unabated commentary. “The team wasn’t well coached. It was their fault. They clearly knew nothing about the game. The offence was too complex for kids this age. Look at the other team. They just hand the ball to their biggest player and he runs left and right.”

On and on he proffered his thoughts to those around him, clearly unaware that the involuntary listeners had no interest in his comments, but they heard every word. For some, they dismissed your commentary. For others, it offended.

So, let’s dissect the situation a bit:

Your son plays on a youth football team.

This team is coached by four volunteers, all who also have sons on the team.

The team is in first place.

The team has NEVER been in first place.

The team lost its last two games of the season.

Both games were meaningless because the team had clinched first place.

The team has NEVER clinched first place.

You have never offered to help coach the team.

In fact, you have never asked the coaches any questions.

Such as: Why do you run the offence you run?

Why was it chosen from the three approaches you were considering in pre-season?

What did you see in the players that made you pick this approach?

How about these questions:

How much time do you put in every week coaching my son and his friend?

What time commitment does it take beyond what I see? How much of their own money have the coaches shelled out buying cleats for kids that don’t have them, lunch for players who hadn’t eaten on game day, fees for kids whose parents can’t afford to pay?

Perhaps you could ask them about your team manager who chases kids, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents for confirmation of your son’s teammates attendance?

Or, how much time it takes us to clean and fill water bottles, make sandwiches for bus trips, find replacement mouth guards, and pack the first aid kits?

It might be good for you to chat with some of the many parents who voluntarily car pool kids whose families don’t have cars, bring their parents to road games, and buy ice cream for after-practice treats.

No, you were too busy being a critic.

Too mean spirited to maybe pause and think perhaps the coach is testing new things out for the playoffs today.

Too immature to understand that with the team’s top runner out with an injury, the focus of the game may be trying to ensure the rest of the team understands their potential.

Too focused on their complaints to see the mistakes being made by their own son, who instead of being berated when he started crying on the sideline, was comforted by coaches and teammates alike.

Too self-centered to realize that many of the people hearing his comments were on the verge of anger, but decided to swallow their rage.

Congratulations. You are a super star critic. In fact, you are so good, you should get a trophy for your efforts. It must take extra work to be a critic of a first-place team.

Stampede Life

MH3 —  July 18, 2017 — Leave a comment

I want you to imagine for a moment that you meet a person. A unique sort of individual who oozed passion, commitment, and hospitality.

A person that genuinely took an interest in you, despite the fact that the lifespan of your entire relationship was to be no longer than the time it took to drive you from downtown to the airport. Or in the time it took to provide you with directions to the VIP event you were attending. Or in the time it took to share a story about yesterday’s rodeo.

Imagine a person who takes eight, ten twelve, fourteen days off from their real job to provide these services to you on an unpaid basis. Imagine a person who has done this for fifteen, twenty, thirty years in a row.

Imagine this person describing how excited he was to be back as a volunteer driver, after having spent the last three years as the chairperson of the committee. That while he was honoured to have led the team of one-hundred guys who manned the courtesy cars every day, it was talking to visitors, voyageurs, and VIP’s that gave him the most satisfaction. Imagine the same person telling you how much of a family the group of drivers really are. Men from all socio-economic walks of life, unified in their purpose of welcoming the world to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

  

Now think about this person standing in the pelting rain, patiently holding down a tarp in the midst of a thunderstorm that even the old-timers are shocked and awed by. While the wind whips, their eyes closed and the rain soaks deep into their bones, you may not realize how happy they are. Because truth be told, it hasn’t been all that exciting as a first-time volunteer. Don’t misinterpret their thoughts They are glad they did it. It’s just that when you grew up riding in a family where the four legged beauties were truly part of the clan, it’s almost impossible to resist the urge to help clean, feed, or exercise the beauties. Still, it’s a thrill to see them cheered on daily by thousands and thousands of live spectators.

It may be impossible for you to imagine a satisfying job where you report to a committee. It may be impossible for you not to make committee jokes, like the one where a committee tried to design a horse, but instead, invented the camel. But when your committee intrinsically understands the mission of your team and the vision you are pursuing, when your committee does more than just committee-talk, committee-meet and committee-trip, then you can actually accomplish what you are being paid to do.

Imagine for a moment you are standing in your hotel lobby, face pressed deep into your smartphone. A cheery voice asks if you need directions and without pausing is this your first Calgary Stampede. The answer to the first part of her question is trigger quick and absent of emotion. The second requires restraint because nobody, lest a welcoming volunteer, needs to hear my twenty plus years of Cowtown mythology. The grateful volunteer is none too happy to answer your inquiry regarding why she volunteers. She’s been doing it for years and every winter she gets that feeling. Apparently it comes around Christmas time. As soon as the holidays are over, she finds herself anxious and excited. She can’t wait for July. It’s Stampede time.

For this woman and thousands of her friends, nothing in the world can beat being a Calgary Stampede volunteer.

Author’s Note – This blog entry is a fictional interpretation by me of real people I encountered at the 2017 Calgary Stampede

I can’t make this any more succinct or clear.

Our federal government is proposing a ban on marketing all unhealthy foods to children 17 and under. This isn’t just advertising as per the ban in Quebec, it’s all marketing, including sponsorships.

Here is what they consider unhealthy:

“That would then cut out all of the things like, of course, your regular soda, most cookies, cakes, pies, puddings, ice cream, most cheeses because they are high in fat, they’re high in salt,” Hasan Hutchinson, director general at Health Canada, who is overseeing the consultations.

Health Canada would also target foods such as sugar-sweetened yogurt, frozen waffles, fruit juice, granola bars and potato chips, according to Susan Lunn, CBC News.

So goodbye Timbits sponsorship. Say au revoir to granola bars on the sideline. Don’t dare feed a hungry athlete some sugar so they can compete energetically. No yogurt at your Scout jamboree. No fruit juice at your daycare. Say goodbye to ice cream in the park or apple pie at the piano recital.

Banned. All banned.

Leading the charge is Senator Nancy Greene Raine, who didn’t have a problem with a longstanding Mars bar sponsorship when she was a competitor. It used to be one of my favourite Canadian partnerships of all time. Used to be….

By my estimate, we are talking about $500 million to $1 billion a year of corporate support. It could be more, it’s difficult to measure.

The current wave of public consultation ends July 25th. It almost feels sneaky. You need to respond immediately and spread the word. Every NSO, PSO, CSO, Charity, Youth Group in Canada needs to know about this. Let your parents and volunteers know that the government is excited to ensure your child’s fees go up and up and up for years to come.

Then in fifteen years when we are all dying due to malnutrition, we can greet the return of more appropriate solutions from our hospital beds.

In all seriousness, I understand the need to ensure we have a healthy society. Over indulgence is a problem, but it goes beyond teens and children.

Let’s start with affordable access to healthy foods. Let’s look at socioeconomic factors. Let’s look at busy lives, time, and convenience. Let’s look at lack of physical education and free play time in schools. Let’s look at community parks that aren’t properly maintained or secured. Let’s look at the lack of street closures for sporting events. Let’s look at the lack of bike lanes, bike signals, etc.

There are many factors in the equation. Many experts who know much more than I do. Let’s engage them, you, and others to dig into this issue.

Someone should call our friends to the South. The United States of America is celebrating the wrong holiday. They call July 4th Independence Day. It should be renamed Interdependence Day.

I don’t for a second want to dampen the Red, White & Blue Party happening this week. The birth of a great nation is worthy of a great celebration. The contributions of the USA to commerce, sports, innovation, politics, and war are probably second to none since the Roman Empire. Despite seemingly unrelenting racism towards colour/gender/sexual orientation, random murders at nightclubs/intersections/beaches and rhetorical politics/politicians/political news, the USA is a great ally and neighbour. I know it may not sound that way, but I am not being sarcastic.

However, the notion of Independence is dated. It’s had its time. It’s had its place. It’s had its role.

Today, thousands of new Americans will become U.S. citizens. They will pledge their allegiance and denounce their citizenship of their mother country. That’s part of the contract when you decide to become an American. Unlike Canada, there is no such thing as dual citizenship in the States. You want in, you’re all in. Hey, it’s your country, your rules.

But if you really want to Make America Great Again, our neighbours should spend a few moments thinking about their own neighbours. Think about the people living on your street. Think about the people you work with. Think about the people that teach your children. Think about the vet who cures your dog. No matter what colour, religion, or ethnicity, every American was an immigrant at some point.

One of my best friends from Orillia is one of those people. He was visiting from his home in Atlanta this weekend and I was thrilled to spend Canada Day with his family.

Thirty years ago, he moved to America and attended university, followed by law school, graduated with several degrees, had two children, became an Assistant District Attorney and now is a county prosecutor and has an important community law practice. In addition to the two kids of his own, there is a young teenager he feeds and clothes because of the brokenness of his own home. His two kids both have 4.0-grade point averages. His eldest boy is a university-level soccer player already on a statewide development team.

Over sixty years ago my friend’s dad left his home in India to attend university in the United States, before migrating to Montreal for work. Eventually, he wound up in Orillia and was a colleague of my father’s.

The America being celebrated today is telling the future fathers and sons from far away, and even close-by, countries that they aren’t welcome anymore. I guess that is the current Declaration of Independence? I guess the USA doesn’t need any more lawyers trying to put away the bad guys, or future doctors as his daughter will become, or future student-athletes as his son is. I guess America doesn’t need people like my friend who provides food and shelter for an impoverished youth and adopts rescue dogs, including one that was badly injured thrown from a speeding car.

I would be happy to have my friend and his beautiful children back here in Canada. Our country would benefit from their talents. It would be one more reason that I love this country. But that isn’t to be. The once welcoming the United States of America now has them.

Hopefully, their contribution and that of other immigrants will be recognized as American’s celebrates July Fourth. It is time to show a little gratitude to those who have already helped Make America Great.

My 150 Gift to Canada

MH3 —  June 27, 2017 — 2 Comments

I love Canada and I’m so bummed I can’t be in Ottawa for this sesquicentennial weekend. Whoever organized my OPFL Bantam football league should have recognized that this is a big holiday and NO games should have been scheduled.

I digress.

Speaking of football, I would love to give Canada a gift for turning 150. My gift is a game plan for the next Canadian Football League Commissioner. As you know the league started its 2017 commissioner-less (not sure how that’s even possible), and the search has been remarkably quiet. So, I’m going to whip out my pot stirring spoon and apologize to all of you with feather allergies, as I itemize some suggestions.

They are free of charge on the surface. Of course, I have a hidden agenda. What coach doesn’t put a little deception in the game plan? A few fakes, a few tendency breakers, a few new formations just to game the opposition off balance. In fact, you can probably detect I have more than one agenda. Not letting your opponent know where you are really headed is always a great plan in business.

So here we go. One hundred and fifty, or so, suggestions for the next commissioner of the CFL. Happy Birthday Canada.

.

1. The Canadian Football League should become the umbrella organization for all things Football in this country. It should create an alliance between themselves School Sport Canada, Football Canada, NFL Canada, University Football, CJFL, OVFL, CEGEP, etc., etc. The job of the CFL should be to unite “football” in this country. If someone is a football fan, they are more likely to follow the CFL in some way or form. Why try to compete with the NFL? Work together. Grow the sport.  Who cares if they carry the Vanier Cup on a different network than the CFL’s TV partner? Who cares! Those players are your future CFL stars. The CFL commissioner needs to be an ambassador of all things football. They should be at youth games, industrial league games, car washes, and more. Take the John Tory approach to being a mayor and stretch it from coast to coast. Why is there no football business conference or football fan expo or football coaches’ clinics or football summit in this country? Leadership is the only path to the end zone!

Canadian Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon played six seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos and he won five straight Grey Cups from 1978-1982 while wearing the Green and Gold.

 

2. The CFL needs to grow the game. I know that sounds basic, but it’s vital. I challenge you to do a little test. Go to the CFL website and click on youth programs, or volunteer opportunities, or community football. It doesn’t exist. Where would you go if you wanted your child to sign up for a youth flag league or tackle league? What would you do if you moved to a new town and wanted to join an adult league? Where would you search if you wanted to see the best high school in your area? What about summer camps? The CFL should be the primary promoter of ensuring that the game is growing. More players = more parents = more fans = more money = more talent in twenty years = more stars = more fans = more talent. I would love to send my kid to a CFL branded overnight camp, where he would do all the camp things he loves to do and learn great skills. Imagine the CFL being able to offer more jobs to university grads, who aren’t quite ready for the first team, to stay in football either as a development period or go into coaching, managing, organizing, officiating, etc.

Doug Flutie Toronto Argonauts 1996 1997 grey cup winner 1992 96 97. CFL most outstanding player 1991 1994 1996 1997.

 

3. The CFL needs to understand that they are not just the overseer of the sport and its growth, but also its business. The CFL needs to drive the football business at every level. Licensed goods, camps, better sponsorships and more partnerships at every level. They need to have college courses teaching the business of football. They need to teach community organizers how to manage leagues. They need to get business partners who will promote the game. They need to rebuild the Grey Cup festival model from the ground up. Between government, businesses, wealthy individuals, and the public, the CFL needs to raise a megafund for investment in the game. Why am I as a Canadian Pittsburgh Steeler fan also a Green Bay Packers Shareholder? Because they gave me the opportunity to invest in FOOTBALL! When I bought my stock five years ago they raised $67 million in 6 weeks selling shares at $250 each. SXTY-SEVEN MILLION! It’s worthless paper folks. Come to my office if you want to take a picture!

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) spots a receiver through the rain during first half CFL action against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, in Regina on Saturday, October 22, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor)

 

4. The CFL needs to rebrand as the “small c, cFL” until they truly become the CFL. Confused? Well my map of Canada doesn’t stop at Montreal. The league needs to stretch coast to coast to coast. It is time to put a team in Halifax or Moncton, one in Quebec City, and one in Whitehorse. The Atlantic Schooner faithful have waited long enough. Let’s give Atlantic Canada the major-league team it deserves. There is enough money and more than enough beer to support a team. Quebec City? Laval stole the market from the CFL some say. I say Laval educated and trained the market. The league should draft off that. Imagine the rivalry between Montreal and Quebec City if they both had CFL teams. Plus, Quebec is a province-wide hotbed for the sport already. The North is a frontier worth exploring. Imagine the opportunities to help economic development, build programming and provide role models by having a team in one of the territories. Travel costs could be managed by teams going up and playing two games over six days as an extended road trip. In between, they could practice and do community programming. Our federal government needs to provide solutions to northern issues, and a sports experience could be a great one.

Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant during a game against the Calgary Stampeders in Regina, Sask., Friday, July 5, 2013. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

 

5. I am not suggesting the CFL expand into the US again. Having teams practice in a parking lot (which Los Vegas did), doesn’t help the brand. But, the CFL needs a North American marketing strategy. Being broadcasted on ESPN12 isn’t enough. One third of Americans say pro football is their favorite sport and half of Americans are pro football fans. College football isn’t far behind. With most CFL players being American, doesn’t it make sense to build a long-term approach to targeting Americans? They love football. Merchandise programs. Sport tourism. Fan Expos. Player tours. Cross-border sponsorship. Is it out of bounds to cross the border and suck some money out of a massive market? You can’t tell me that college fans of a US star now playing in Vancouver wouldn’t want to come for a weekend, watch a game, and see an amazing city all at once? What about a CFL All-Star game in the same city and on the same weekend as the Pro Bowl? Has anyone ever asked the NFL to co-host? How about a Canada vs USA CFL showdown? Why not do one or two regular season games in the USA in football starved markets, like the NFL does in England? I bet if you measured the total Canadian Football GDP and the US Football GDP, the CFL would only need to capture 1-2% to double their business!

Ralph Deiter Brock Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback 1983.

 

6. The CFL should own emerging and niche markets. Why introduce new Canadians to hockey? Learning to skate isn’t easy, but running is a common element of most sports from around the world. Buying equipment is expensive. Youth football is unique in that the equipment is provided. Football builds instant camaraderie and friendships. My son’s youth team has kids on our team that were born in Turkey, Egypt, Mexico, and even the US of A! The CFL should be waiting at the border for all shapes and sizes, because football is a sport for every body type. The CFL should expand that approach to marginalized Canadians. Canadians who have been here before Confederation. Canadians with various degrees of physical and intellectual abilities. Partnerships with Special Olympics and the Canadian Paralympic Committee are a must do. Working with indigenous groups is obvious. Creating special programs for LGBTQ. Driving growth in women’s football is so obvious to me, I don’t know why it hasn’t been tackled. Right now, the Women’s World Championships are happening in British Columbia this week, but who knew? The best player on my bantam team last year as was young woman. She was defensive MVP. This year she retired to coaching at 15, because there is nowhere for her to play!

Ottawa Rough Riders rookie quarterback (6) J.C. Watts. from Oklahoma. guided time to 20-1 halftime lead in Ottawa’s last Grey Cup.

 

Hey CFL Owners, if you like my ideas enough and want someone to implement them, just give me a call. I’m ready for my interview!

mh3

PS – I have loved the CFL since I watched Russ Jackson, Condredge Holloway, Tom Clements, JC Watts.

PS2 – I have been a volunteer football coach since 1994.

PS3 – I coach three teams a year right now.

PS4 – I have worked with the CFL, Canadian Football Hall of Fame, NFL Canada, numerous league sponsors, CIAU/OUAA/OUA/U Sports/CIS.

PS5 – I have attended at least twenty Grey Cups.

PS6 – I have attended at least fifteen Vanier Cups.

PS7 – My first Vanier Cup was as a student reporter covering the Guelph Gryphons 1984 win over Mount Allison.

PS8 – My sister was a cheerleader at Western.

PS9- Don’t ask her to do a cartwheel now.

PS10- I am only jealous because I could never do one.

North-South Runner

MH3 —  June 21, 2017

The football expression to run “north-south” may sound odd to those who aren’t familiar with gridiron nomenclature, but it’s timeless and it’s invaluable advice.

The expression is used to coach running backs. The idea is simple. Once the back reaches the designated hole or zone to run, they should stop running side to side, aka east or west, and head north. Why we say North-South I don’t really know. Maybe it’s a more rhythmic comment. That doesn’t mean a runner can’t cut back or make moves but in general, you want them gaining yards, not running sideways for no gain or worse a loss.

It’s a hard thing to teach and great players have it instinctively. The best runners are wired to gain yardage by heading north-south. They understand that three yards upfield is better than two yards lost. They know that to get to pay dirt they need to point their compass north as soon as possible. They understand that despite the counterintuitiveness of running towards their opponent, that the sure swat way to success is through your opponent.

Yesterday I joined NFL Canada, and some of their major partners as they did a little north-south running of their own for the 2017 Sponsor Summit. To shake things up the event was held at NFL headquarters in New York, which afforded us a fantastic line-up of expert speakers from the NFL office staff. In effect, some of the best sports marketing coaching on the continent!

NFL Headquarters

NFL Headquarters

 

NFL Headquarters

The clichés between sport and business are some of the most overworked writings in literature, but when sport and business intertwine they take on new meaning. So, at risk of you penalizing me, I am going to share a thought from the day that will stay with me for a while. It might perhaps provide the goal line required for being a north-south runner.

When sport and business collide, through sponsorships, licensing, media partnerships, or joint ventures, a mutually beneficial relationship is created. It is not a one-way relationship. Both parties, or all parties I should say, have a vested interest in both the sport being successful and the business being successful. In simple math, the more football, rugby, or soccer fans that exist in a market, the better it is for the governing bodies, teams and leagues, and the better it is for partners and sponsors. The exchange of rights and funding is the transactional part of the relationship, but the mission of the relationship is much more important. The long-term sustainability of the relationship is directly tied to the growth of the sport.

The growth of any sport, such as football, is the payday for all its constituents. A football in the hands of an eight-year-old girl or boy is good for everyone in football. A football jersey on the back of a millennial, or mom, or media celebrity is as good for the NFL, as it is the CFL, as it is Budweiser, as it is Mount Allison University. The Argos open their second season at BMO this week and their success is as important to the football industry as my Toronto Jets game against the Guelph Jr. Gryphons on Saturday.

Toronto Argos Tailgate Party

Toronto Argos Tailgate Party

Toronto Jets

Toronto Jets

Sport and business are at their best when they learn how to work together. There was a lot of conversation yesterday about insights, planning cycles, shared learnings, and partnerships. Sport and business are great teammates when they pursue lofty, ambitious goals together. When they create a powerful sense of shared mission. When they recognize that a team is built slowly, purposefully, and painfully.

Getting to 345 Park Avenue (NFL HQ) was a bucket list moment for me. No, not because I played the board game as a kid. In the lobby is a display of every Super Bowl champion ring ever produced. There is no jewellery store in the world that can compare. These rings aren’t bling. They are the result of sticking your nose to your opponent, whether that be your daily task list or a tough sales call or a creative challenge, and not stopping until you get to the end zone for a touchdown.

Run North-South!

PS. I am so glad the NFL is loosening the rules on touchdown celebrations last year. Few images were more striking to me than last season when Zeke Elliott jumped in the Salvation Army kettle.

Zeke Elliott in the Salvation Army kettle

Joy Inc.

MH3 —  June 6, 2017

I just finished an awesome book.

Credit for my hearing about it goes to an Ohio U MBA-MSA student I had in a recent workshop who was fortunate enough to be mentored by the author and his co-founder. As passionate as I am about entrepreneurship, the book intrigued me. Its title? Did you read my blog title? I borrowed it from their book.

The subtitle of the book, How We Built a Workplace People Love, is both accurate and misleading. There is no question that people love working at Menlo Innovations, his software company, according to the author. In fact, I suspect Thomas Edison himself would have loved working there. The book, however, is about more than love or Joy. It’s about an entrepreneur’s journey to build a workplace that he feels makes sense.

The stories about the sheer stupidity that culturally existed at many of his jobs sent shivers down my spine. It caused me to question how many times I have been that shortsighted with my teams. One of the shortcomings of most workplaces it represents is how invaluable we allow team members to become because nobody else understands how to do what they do. Inevitably, this backfires as the super important team member gets frustrated by the lack of internal mobility and leaves the company for new challenges. I know I have done that in my tenure as a business owner. Not intentionally.

You can hear the frustration in Sheridan’s voice and pen about companies he served that didn’t understand the ongoing museum of resources. How urgent projects constantly interrupted best laid plans. How fire after fire messed up any chance for work to be purposely throughout out. How fixing things becomes the norm versus the energy to build things. Sound familiar?

One of the most unique aspects of Menlo Innovations is the way every person is twinned. On every project. Every day. Two people work together, for a week. On one computer. They Ying, they yang. They sing, they sang. Then after a week, they split up and twin with somebody else. Menlo has proven that two heads are better than one and by standardizing their approach to software they can move people from project to project with no glitches. Many people don’t believe it, until the try it. Think about pairing everybody in your organization up. Would it work?

Another feature of the Menlo culture is safety. Not from falling beams or air pollution. No. The safety that exists in Menlo is the opportunity to be honest and candid about project estimating. Teams can freely express how long projects will take, without retribution from bosses. In fact, the role of the bosses is to educate the clients to understand why tasks take the time they do to be done right. By infusing a lack of fear in the organization, there is no fudging of time estimates to buy time. Project managers make the most accurate assessments they can and if they off, the conversation is focused on adjusting the schedule, not punishment. This process is widely enabled because all clients must participate in a resource planning exercise with Menlo throughout the project build. Using index cards and markers, the broader project team works together to prioritize what needs to be done and when. Safe to say I am envious of their ability to bring this to reality with their clients.

Midway through Joy Inc., I almost stopped reading it. Sometimes the author gets a bit preachy, sometimes a bit corny, often not super strategic, and a few times almost unbelievable. But I was glad I plotted through it. Candidly, the book isn’t just about Joy. It’s about taking the absurdity out of how many of us work.