Archives For MH3

Spokesperson Audible

MH3 —  October 11, 2017 — Leave a comment

It didn’t take Dannon Yogurt long to sign Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott as their spokesperson, following their sacking of Carolina Panthers pivot Cam Newton.

Newton, in case you don’t follow football, was slammed for making sexist comments when a female Charlotte Observer reporter asked him a question about receiver routes in a press conference. Newton somehow thought it was funny that a female reporter would ask such a question. He later tried to brush off the comments by saying he should have said that any reporter asking that question was funny – the intimation being reporters don’t know football.

Newton, unfortunately, has a history of immaturity and stupidity. His latest actions are even more unthinkable given he has two daughters of his own. Imagine how he would feel if someone spoke to one of his daughters in the same manner?

Newton’s current actions are only a small part of the story. Football fans know he bounced from university to university due to academic and legal issues. They also know his father went to the Rick Pitino school of athlete recruitment, and allegedly demanded cash payment for his son’s college commitment. Yet, as a fan, I loved Newton’s play at Auburn, where he willed his team to a national title and at Carolina where he guided the Panthers to a Super Bowl. As a black man, I have to admit he gets my biased support. I want black QB’s to succeed, so they can prove to the league and fans that they are smart leaders, despite not having always been given a fair shake. But as a black man, I also cringe at Newton’s actions.

Clearly, Dannon Yogurt didn’t do their homework on Newton before they signed him. The first time I saw their ads, I thought … what an odd fit, but kudos to Dannon. They are taking a chance on a young man with a questionable past, but unfortunately that decision burned them.

I am also a Dak Prescott fan, admittedly for the same reasons. When he was at Mississippi State he took a program from mediocre to #1 in the polls. When Dallas drafted him I told my Cowboys “friends”, they got the steal of the draft. They didn’t believe me. Thank goodness Tony Romo’s did! So now Dannon has hitched their wagon on another young, and black, emerging star QB.

If you don’t think the American football landscape is biased against black quarterbacks read these media quotes after Dak’s final college game, a 51-28 bowl win over North Carolina State:

 

“The senior quarterback was superb, completing 25 of 42 passes for four touchdowns, 380 passing yards and an interception. He also rushed for 47 yards on 12 carries.”

“Prescott set a Mississippi State bowl record with his four passing touchdowns, breaking the Belk Bowl record for passing yards in the process. He also helped the Bulldogs break the Belk Bowl record for total offence (569) and most points scored by a team”

“Although Prescott isn’t a traditional pro quarterback, the way he played in the wet conditions was impressive and earned him game MVP honors.”

 

Not a “traditional” pro quarterback? Four passing TD’s? Super Play? MVP? That’s non-traditional?

So here is my plea to Dak. Don’t throw an interception as the Dannon spokesperson. Don’t mess up. Don’t give the naysayers a chance to hurt you, or even take more shots at Newton. Be mature beyond your years like you are on the field. Be a leader off the field.

Represent your sport. Your team. Your race. Most of all represent your true self.

Tell It On The Mountain

MH3 —  September 26, 2017 — 1 Comment

Before you start reading, I want you to find a place of solitude, plug in your best headphones to the largest screen you can muster, turn up the volume and watch this:

Now, watch it again.

Excited? I don’t think I have the literary ability to elicit the same feelings in you as this piece does. But there is a story behind it I would like to share with you, and this backstory is at the core of what our 2018 conference is all about.

Have you ever noticed in life that you are at your best when you face your biggest challenges? Isn’t it amazing how adrenaline can keep you working at a frenetic pace when you should be passed out off your feet? Or how the most dangerous version of yourself comes out when you are backed into a corner? Why do we only see the best in people when tragedy strikes? How come it takes an illness to motivate me to get into better shape? How come it only makes sense to plan for a rainy day on the day you lose your job?

Unfortunately, it’s too easy to be comfortable. Why rock the boat when you are sailing through life? If your job is good, why look for a better one? If your small business is making a profit, why risk with foolish international expansion? If your team always makes the playoffs, what’s the point of dismantling it to try to win a championship?

Successful complacency is not a bad place to be. It’s safe. It’s reliable. It’s comforting. It’ll be there in the morning.

I don’t mean to project but I feel like my life goes through ebbs and flows. I’ve faced countless business, fitness or personal motivational challenges. But just when these problems become big enough to get dangerous – like the time I ballooned to 240 pounds for example – do my strongest instincts kick-in. My brain, my heart, and my parent-instilled tenacity kick in, and I end up kicking butt. So when I am gliding along, enjoying life, feeling healthy, happy, and humming through my day – I realize that those are the worst feelings in the world. Complacency is contagious. As one of my friends likes to say: “Good is the enemy of Great.”

The other day I was moaning about my complacency to a friend who sent me an awesome video. It’s a 2015 commencement speech by former NCAA football coach Lou Holtz. In this video, Holtz talks about how maintaining success was his greatest regret while coaching at Notre Dame. His message: If you aren’t growing, you’re dying. This message resonated with me and stuck with me when I was thinking about the evolution of CSFX to sponsorshipX for 2018. And this inspiration is what gave life to this video. It’s the mountain. The mountain that represents the everlasting climb to become your better self. And now the mountain that will host you and your colleagues at sponsorshipX.

As you think about your career, your role, your future, I want you to think about what you can do in 2018 to make this year different – how can you escape the clutches of complacency and become the best you, ever? Should you run a marathon? Switch jobs? Travel? Lose 10 pounds? Lose 20? Learn how to play the guitar? Ask for a promotion? Fight for a promotion?  Build your network? Reconnect with old friends? Tell your family you love them? Climb an actual mountain?

This is not a list that I loftily suggest I have or will accomplish. But I can say that as I think about shaking the rust off my personal flywheel, one of my commitments is to help you do the same. In 2018, sponsorshipX will carry on some of our great traditions we have been known for with CSFX: we’ve again partnered with a unique event, we’re going to go behind the scenes, and offer our participants great networking. But 2018 is going to be different – we’re scaling the conference to a whole new level.

There are few places in the world more grand than Whistler, our host community. There are few events more electrifying than Crankworx, our host event. There are few business communities more dynamic than sponsorship marketers, our participants. And when you combine all three of these elements – Mighty Mountains, Amazing Athletes & Sponsorship Soulmates – you get sponsorshipX.

I invite you to join me on the mountain. To find new ways to tackle your business problems. To find new tools to reach the summit. To meet new people to help guide you to a place higher than you could ever imagine. A conference isn’t about the speakers, it’s about the truth they speak. A conference isn’t about how many leads you make, it’s about the leadership lessons. A conference isn’t about the slides you steal, it’s about the slides you share.

There is no doubt that a long road exists between the you sitting at your desk right now, and the you you see yourself becoming. So why not start that journey today?

Your friend,

mh3
Mark Harrison
Chairperson, sponsorshipX – The Sponsorship Experience Forum
A Live Action Marketing Conference

PS. I have one final request. Before you go back to your cluttered world, with its urgent emails, endless solicitations, and sketchy deadlines take one more trip down the mountain:

Ten Years And Learning

MH3 —  September 12, 2017 — Leave a comment

I love the first week of September!

Back to school. Back to work. Back to football.

The air is filled with newness, energy, hustle, and anticipation. It might be the busiest week of the year, but it’s also one of the best. There is a sense of renewal and revitlization that comes with the Fall – not to mention it also brings the best weather of the year!

This week, when I returned from a thoroughly relaxing end-of-summer vacation to an office buzzing with energy, I realized it’s been ten years since we moved the agency into our then new, now current, offices. I remember being nervous at the time of signing a decade-long lease. Today, I am in disbelief that 2007 is now 2017, and I can’t help but ask myself what happened to the last ten years?

Perhaps a better question is what have I learned since I calmed my nerves and signed my name on that dotted line? If the brick walls of The T1 Agency could talk, what wisdom would they impart?

It’s A People Business
The first and most important lesson is so important it could be the only lesson. It’s so essential that it applies to any business in the world. It’s the oldest lesson in business history, but candidly I didn’t really embrace it properly until the last few years. Our business success is one hundred percent dependent on the quality of our people, their skills, motivation, and smarts. If I reflect on my path in building this agency, I wish today that I had started working earlier and more purposefully on building a great team. In the early stages of my firm, I was too focused on selling projects and executing them. I wasn’t building a business, I was fulfilling orders. Once we realized that our focus should be on attracting, developing, and retaining stars, it was like entering a different business universe.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
I didn’t come up with this expression, but I love it. I think it’s something that you learn as an individual or an organization as you mature. In my case, I intially thought we were an agency that was providing certain services to our clients. But only once I started hiring great people with great backgrounds at other companies (See Lesson #1!) did I start to get educated. This applied to many aspects of our business: creative, strategy, and digital for example. Building a business from scratch can give you a false sense of God syndrome. Having your eyes opened to new religions can make you a true believer.

Practice What You Preach
The shoemaker’s kids probably don’t have tattered shoes, but we certainly had a tattered brand. We had a crummy brand and yet we were preaching all sorts of advice to our clients. Although a brand is much more than a logo, in our case it started with the logo, our agency name, our philosophy, our culture, our own marketing. So over time we tackled all of these issues and you know what? This brand building stuff works! That’s good news for us because now we can preach what we actually practice.

Late last year I signed a lease to keep us in our newly renovated workhome for several more years. The legal document spelt out all of our tenant rights and obligations. Perhaps it could be amended to provide some insight on what new valuable learnings await around the corner.

The World Needs More CSFX

MH3 —  August 16, 2017

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

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.

Stampede Life

MH3 —  July 18, 2017

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

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

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