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Fearmonger

MH3 —  January 19, 2014

This morning, while taking my son to his freestyle skiing competition, I drove past one of my former rivals from my high school football days.

Predictably, he groaned as I began to tell him about every game we played against this school. Not again, he begged, and I begrudgingly retreated into silence. But silence can often prove to be a blessing, as it allowed me to think about my worst game against this rival.

It was the year I finally won the starting QB position. We travelled to this school for a season opener that we should have won. Instead I let the team down, played a tentative game, messed up my play calls, and cost us a victory.

Why? I was afraid. Panicked I would screw up. Frightened to lose my role. In the end, my fear-induced ineptitude swiftly cost me my QB job. This was my first experience realizing that if you think about something too much, it will come true.

There is no greater enemy in the arena or the boardroom than fear. Nothing frustrates me more than when I hear one of my employees is afraid of screwing up or even worse, afraid of me. I once had a client tell me I scared them.

Creating an environment devoid of fear has been a relentless objective of mine for several years. The only thing I want people to be concerned about is not trying. Not giving their all. Mistakes will happen. Initiatives may fail. Pitches may be lost. But trying and giving it our all is the true victory. Not trying is failure. I think I am most upset with people when they won’t try. The effort is as important as the result.

It’s a lesson we need to apply away from work as well. If you have kids who play sports, you have no doubt been a part of some great seasons and some crummy seasons. Odds are high that during the crummy seasons, your child and her teammates competed in a culture of fear. Usually created by a well-meaning coach who thinks she is installing a system, but doesn’t realize she’s installing a Pavlovian condition.

Maybe she is as afraid of losing as I was? Maybe she too had the same experience when she was 15? Maybe she too will drive past an arena from her youth, where fear got the better of her one game, and realize that fear doesn’t breed success.

TrojanOne is For Sale

MH3 —  December 19, 2013

No, just kidding. But who can blame any of my agency-owning peers for some wishful thinking of selling our businesses this week after witnessing the IMG sale?

In less than 10 years after being sold for $ 750 million to Forstmann Little by the estate of the late great Mark McCormack, IMG is now being sold for more than three times that…$2.4 billion to William Morris Endeavour. These two transactions reflect the brilliance of two men. Mark McCormack, who founded IMG in 1960, effectively invented the agency business model for sports and sponsorship marketing. The second genius in our saga is Ted Forstmann, who, according to the script written by industry pundits, went from a reviled investment banker criticized for gutting IMG…to a man who clearly knew what he was doing!!!

IMG has incredible assets in the properties they own and the rights they broker. Now we know they aren’t just incredible; they are pretty valuable. Worth billions.

So how much would you give me for TrojanOne? What assets do I have? You probably don’t see media rights to international properties or ownership of fashion shows or marketing relationships with star athletes on my balance sheet. But look a little further.

What I do have is the most dedicated and talented team of people you would ever want to be associated with, who proved to me once again in 2013 that they will do whatever it takes to get our clients promoted. They push the boundaries of creativity with Twitter-activated vending machines, keeping a relentless focus on clients’ business objectives, generating thousands of leads for a Grey Cup sponsor, or ensuring our field staff are motivated and equipped to travel the country and endure the demands of a grueling experiential tour schedule.

I have witnessed my team spend all night rebuilding bike racks at an international sports event; held my breath while they created from scratch, in less than 24 hours, a mobile payment system for an event registration venue that threw us a curve; and tried to support them relentlessly during six emergency conference calls on a weekend when a music property went astray.

Most people in life never get to work in area they love. The passion my people have for their work is amazing and I love them for it. That’s why TrojanOne will be accepting bids today starting at Infinity!

Workcations Don’t Work

MH3 —  August 28, 2013

Last summer I was pretty proud of myself. I took two weeks off and only sent four work-related emails. Of course the London Olympics were a serious distraction from the office rote.

Stupidly when I embarked on this vacay, I actually expected to work. The theory of this hot air balloon burst quickly when I crashed into this old world time warp called Spain. Since swapping the chaotic romance of Barcelona for the organized tranquility of Montreux, Switzerland…the work time hasn’t increased. But my productivity has…and today while yodelling down the mountain, I decided to share my epiphanies with you.

#1. Mark the hypocrite says don’t work on vacation, but if you feel the pressure to be available, then:

# 2. Take twenty minutes in the morning to work and no more. You will be horrified you can actually do everything that’s truly important in way less than the hours of candle burning you normally incur!

# 3. Email at the best of times is horribly misused. When you are away you realize how much so. Convince your team to use email as a data transmitter, not a conversation enabler, and your inbox will shrink.

# 4. Use the twenty-four hour rule. On home soil, this applies when you’re about to send an angry email. But when you are away, delaying all will allow you to edit your replies so they are divinely surgical.

# 5. Mull. Meditate. Ponder. Never do we have enough daylight hours to think. What better time to teach yourself new techniques.

Smile for the camera, it doesn’t know you’re working!

Building Community

MH3 —  April 25, 2013

Yes this blog title matches the theme of the 2013 Canadian Sponsorship Forum. But no, this isn’t an advertisement to attend. Not today anyway.

Today these two words summarize for me some reflections I am having.

The first reflection is of Jane Knox and Eamonn O’Loghlin. This week at the 2013 Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada Conference we are honouring Jane and Eamonn. Both were people I did business with. Both attended numerous Canadian Sponsorship Forum events. Both became friends of mine, I hope. Both were community builders. Both departed us much too early in the past two years.

Jane was a stalwart in the sponsorship community through her work at CBCF and Sick Kids. She was active as a marketer, volunteer, and champion. Eamonn led sponsorship at the CNE for years, all the while championing all causes Irish in Canada.

We invited their families to the conference this week, so our industry could say thanks. Both individuals make me realize why I love the Canadian sponsorship community.

The second reflection is from Coca-Cola’s presentation at the conference. While the presentation focused on their partnership with WWF Canada, the key for me was their rationale for this type of activity. The Coke presenter eloquently stated that when you Build Community you Build Business.

Building Community isn’t just about building business. Take Paralympic Champion Michelle Stillwell, who has decided to trade her Team Canada uniform for a campaign outfit as she runs for the Liberals in Parksville on Vancouver Island. I don’t really know Michelle, but she partnered with one of our clients last year. What struck me about her was that she was so genuine in determining whether she would work with our client. The money they offered didn’t matter. The exposure they offered also didn’t matter. What mattered was how our client was contributing to society.

Makes me believe that as a politician she will be truly more interested in her riding, in her community, than her potential personal rise to the top. If I was eligible to vote for Michelle, I would. Twice!

The Human Race

MH3 —  April 18, 2013

Events, such as the Boston Marathon, are the ultimate celebration of humanity.

Endurance events celebrate human achievement that many thought impossible in themselves. Festivals provide a stage for expression and recognition. Sporting events bond people together and prove that team colours are thicker than red blood.

Events aren’t supposed to result in death, amputation, devastation.

Events aren’t supposed to result in CNN, 911, 617.

Events aren’t supposed to result in this.

There have been many, many call outs for us to soldier on, carry on, move ahead. Events and organizers around the world are putting on a brave face. All of us realize the need for beefed up security and additional diligence in our planning. I want to add to the choir.

Our industry might be perceived as fun and games. But we hold the key to The Human Race. We create experiences, joy, and triumph. Now more than ever we must continue to do so.

In this nonstop age of media onslaught, only events will ensure people connect physically. Only events will ensure that we get to know our neighbours. Only events will drive the fitness of our bodies and minds.

Almost every person who reads this blog contributes to that. You need to realize how important what you do, what you do each and everyday, is to society. Whether you are a sponsor, organizer, producer, marketer, volunteer, or a marathoner.

Whatever your marathon is… keep running. Keep organizing. Keep supporting.

Look into the faces of your participants and recognize the importance of what you do.

You don’t organize events. You build people.

Don’t let some nut stop that. It’s the best tribute we can pay to the victims, their families, and the countless people engaged with the Boston Marathon.

Leading from the Front

MH3 —  April 11, 2013

How do I summarize a week where it seemed every waking moment was filled with inspiration kicking me in the butt?

Some of the motivation was formally delivered. I witnessed a riveting speech delivered by General Rick Hillier at the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance Sport Events Congress. His central message about inspiring others and inspiring yourself revealed that his approach to motivating troops abroad was grounded in ensuring they stayed connected to being Canadian – a sip of Tim Horton’s coffee, a Christmas dinner made by a CO, a visit from the Stanley Cup.

Some of it arrived unexpectedly but in formal settings. In a meeting at Rideau Hall, I was enraptured to hear Bernard Shinder talk about how the event we now call Canada Day was created in the 1970’s by a group of well-connected Ottawa business leaders. Canada Day in Ottawa is a must do event for every Canadian, but in its early days was held away from the shadow of Parliament Hill, as the government feared it may flop!

Some out of the blue. An impromptu offer for a ride from the above Rideau Hall confab, found me being chauffeured by none other than General Walter Natynczyk and hearing about his three children, all proudly serving in our armed forces around the world. How energizing the words of a proud father were, discussing the love his offspring have for serving their country.

Some grew organically. Specifically from Charmaine Crooks, Debbi Wilkes, and Loreen Barnett participating in a Women of Influence panel, moderated by the non-influential male known as MH3, also at the CSTA event. Their voices combined to form a chorus of motivation and insights for women pursuing a career in sports marketing. To quote Debbi Wilkes, “Don’t let anybody else write the script for YOUR life!”

Some were ensnared in the jaws of defeat. Unfortunately at the hands of the US Women’s hockey team who upended Team Canada, in the gold medal world championship game, with their superior skills and sizzling skating. But defeat can be a powerful motivator and all of us should emotionally team up with our women for revenge in Sochi.

I misled you. This wasn’t even an entire week. It was actually only three days. And it wasn’t a butt kicking. No – it was more of a motivational stampede to catch up to those leading from the front!

 

 

Co-Branding by Tiger & Lindsey

MH3 —  March 21, 2013

I had barely finished my recent issue of Sports Illustrated, where Lindsey Vonn denies any romantic involvement with Tiger Woods, when suddenly the pair conduct simultaneous Facebook announcements confirming the opposite.

Before you get caught up speculating how athletic any offspring they may produce could be and certainly before you wonder as to who earns more endorsement money, today there are some more fundamental issues to deal with.

Category exclusivity.

Nike has Tiger.

Under Armour has Lindsey.

When they pose for a photo in branded gear is this somehow contradicting their duties. Are they inadvertently generating impressions for their sponsor’s competitors?

If Tiger starts wearing Red Bull hats do the marketing folks at Fuse Science lose their wings?

If Lindsey refuses to fly NetJets, will their stock crash? Hey wait a minute, doesn’t Tiger own his own jet? Why does he have a fractional aircraft sponsor?

Consider what we know. The pair released four posed, professional, sunny studio photos, featuring their super human athletic frames, to thwart paparazzi from profiting off disclosing their relationship. These photos spun through the digital universe almost as quickly as the stories of Tiger’s philandering did a few years ago. Did they really need to be on the cover of my daily newspaper. In Canada? Two divorced American megastars with (deservedly?) out-sized egos dominating my daily circular.

Yes it’s that big of a story. Neither leaves anything to chance. So imagine the reaction of their agents when each arrived on the “set” adorned in their sponsor’s logos. The swoosh v. the UA. These are not friendly rivals. Bitter is too subtle.

For the first time in sports marketing history the two logos co-existed in a marketing campaign. Harsh? No. That is what this announcement was. Two control freaks attempting to control our interpretation of their relationship. This is marketing. This communications management. Nothing is left to chance.

So I wish them well. They will have detractors. They will have critics. They will have doubters. But if they want to, they will probably succeed beyond our wildest imagination. They have that type of will power.

What needs to be determined is whether they will have any more co-branded adverts. Me thinks not!

 

 

 

Summer School

MH3 —  March 6, 2013

Seems to me that the weather must be getting nicer, based on the flurry of summer job inquiries I received this week.

Friends, clients, ex-clients, suppliers, neighbours, net-workers are all sending me the same email. This email details the ambitions, talents, and virtues of their son/daughter/niece/nephew/neighbour who are looking for that perfect summer opportunity. This email tells me they NEVER hit people up to arrange summer jobs. This email forgot they said the same thing last spring!

Bring ’em on I say. It’s candidly the best channel for recruitment.

But I would like to offer some unsolicited advice to the young nominees who are approaching us for work, to help ensure they get the best shot at the best opportunities this summer.

1. My name isn’t “Mike”. Yep, happened today in fact. A second year student emailed “Dear Mr. Mike Harrison” for a summer job. Guess they teach name recognition in third year. (I politely, for me, emailed them back and said Mike wasn’t hiring, but Mark might be if they wish to try again.)

2. Our company name is TrojanOne. No space. Capital O. Not T1.

3. Enough of the petty stuff… here is an important one. Brevity! Don’t send me your cover letter, resume, and three references all expertly compressed and PDF compatible. Sorry I don’t have time! I am going to flip your email to one of my hiring gurus along with a quick comment: “Mandatory Hire”, “Please Interview”, “Up to You”, and “This kid puked on my lawn last summer…”. So don’t bother filling up my in-box young stars, send me something short, and…

4. Sweet! Hey if you want to work for us, don’t just send me a form email. Customize. Personalize. Humanize. Here is a real life quote from an applicant yesterday:

Dear Mr. Harrison,
Thank you so much for considering me for a potential summer position.

I saw my mother’s email to you … maybe she should be the one going into marketing and promotion. To be described as tall by her is unreliable, at best, and “busty”… maybe relative to my twelve year old brother.

I look forward to hearing from your “hiring dude”.

Hilarious! I hope we have hired her already.

5. This is the most important tip. Figure out what you want to do, how you want to learn, and whom you want to meet. Then be disciplined and diligent at getting it. Summer jobs can be great experiences. They can be great fun. They can be hard work. They can be a great party. They can be a great foundation. There is no right answer. However you need to figure out how you want these four months to impact your future, because whether you realize it or not… you’re not headed to a job, you’re headed to Summer School.

Stolen Kisses

MH3 —  February 14, 2013

Some lucky gal received a Panasonic flat screen for Valentines yesterday.

Hopefully she likes it, because it won’t be wrapped with a gift receipt. In fact I’m not sure it will be wrapped at all, given it was ripped off the reception wall in my office. Ripped off is correct, this TV was stolen from TrojanOne. We wuz robbed!!!!

The thief was proficient. Our surveillance camera has four minutes of video to prove it. In two hundred and forty seconds he pried the door open, unhinged the TV from its bracket, disconnected the mess of cables, pulled it from the wall, and fled. Wham bam, thank-you Ma’am.

I wonder what makes a man turn to taking another’s possessions for a living? Do they consider it a professional vocation? Was there an aptitude test along the way?

Seems to me this thief has a lot of transferable skills he could put to use in a more legit fashion. He is a planner, as he knew the timing of our building security, entering our lobby shortly after the main door became unlocked. Clearly he has manual dexterity as he jimmied our lock with minimal damage to the door. Focus is no problem as he had marked his prize allowing no distractions, like the much more valuable computer sitting on the desk, get in his way. I appreciate his orderly ways, as there was nary a mess left behind. He also possesses a pint or two of luck as the four or five people who are usually in at that early hour, were all coincidentally somewhat late that day.

Hopefully it was worth the trouble. It doesn’t add up to me. What value is a flat screen in this day and age? Did he want it for his condo? Did he sell it for bus fare? Did he give it to his sweetie?

Bet if he did, he stole a few kisses as well.

 

 

Merry Christmas!

MH3 —  December 20, 2012

Burnt out from all the Holiday socials you have slogged through?

Running on fumes from all the last minute requests from your boss?

Panicked about the number of presents you still need to buy?

Hang in there. The holidays start in a few hours.

They can’t come soon enough. Seriously. I don’t get this December thing. It is insane. It seems that every year it gets busier and busier. The meetings. The parties. The planning. The final push to hit numbers. The job seekers. The networkers. The out of the blue emails from associates long forgotten. Sick kids. Extra hockey practices. Plus a staff cookie exchange.

Just this morning I’ve got someone else trying to book a meeting for tomorrow. Please go away. It’s Christmas time.

Seriously. I mean it. I’m spent. Tired. Exhausted. I don’t have one more meeting left in me. I can’t even think about when I’m going to buy my niece’s present. Let alone stocking stuffers for ten people. Why does my family still do stockings anyway? (Are you now trying to figure out what Christmas stockings are?It’s not that I’m cranky. It’s the opposite in fact. I love Christmas. My parents always did a great job of making the season feel really special when I was a kid. Snacks for Santa. Sitting in the usually off limits living room reading fables. (Yes I’m old enough to have grown up in a house with “off-limits” rooms.) My Dad pretending that reindeer were landing on our roof.

I just want some time this year to enjoy it. Can’t we slow Christmas down? Create a nice holiday pace? Give it that Hallmark card feel. Heck some snow would help.

That sounds nice doesn’t it? Hopefully you’re going to do the same. Relax. Chill. Take time away from the grind.

Okay? Sound good? You good with this plan?

Great! So stop bloody emailing me!!!!! (-:

Merry Christmas.