At first, most would have the inclination to be overwhelmed, but sitting and listening to ESPN analyst and Ann Arbor resident Mike Tirico speak at a recent AdCraft luncheon, you will find that more than 20 years in the announcing business has made Tirico very easy to listen to. Being in only my second week on the job at Airfoil PR, I tried my hardest to take in the experience of being thrust into an event with fellow guests carrying ESPN, CBS and FOXSports credentials, to name a few. I walked away with a fresh perspective on some of the finer points of teamwork, losing, as well as how NCAA basketball is ruining sports.
When Tirico got on the stage, after all of the expression of gratitude and formalities, he spoke of teamwork. He used the NBA’s Miami Heat as an example of how teamwork and chemistry work hand-in-hand when trying to accomplish goals. After the acquisition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to pair with Dwayne Wade, on paper, the Heat had the best starting five in the NBA and was predicted to win the title immediately. But until chemistry is built, the Heat was only a collection of individuals. The team had not yet come to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
This thought process can be applied to the professional world as well. One of the first things I noticed at Airfoil was that every person worked on multiple accounts with different clients. The environment is such that collaboration and playing off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses is encouraged. If I am weak in an area, I will have worked with enough different styles and personalities to know whom to approach for advice to help me improve in that area. I will enjoy working with different people on different client accounts, gauging the strengths and weaknesses of others on my team, to possibly help them improve as well.
Tirico then spoke of losing, but not in the way you’d expect. He spoke very highly of losing, as a necessary experience in life. Lessons you learn from losing, help you to win in the future. This parallels the old saying, “We fall to learn to pick ourselves back up.” No one can go through life never having lost –it is how we grow as individuals. I feel that a work environment should be the same. If you don’t make mistakes you will never be able to learn from them. There has to be a happy medium between biting off more than you can chew, and professional growth, and that’s the balance I am trying to find as well.
Tirico lastly spoke of how NCAA basketball is ruining sports, but more specifically, greed in NCAA basketball. Rather than drafting players that can contribute immediately, the large majority of teams must draft for potential. When given the choice between going back to school, possibly getting injured, losing millions of dollars, and going into the draft, the choice is obvious and the players can’t be blamed for their decision. He felt that the NCAA should take a page out of their football rules and require a player to be two years out of high school before they can declare for the draft. This perspective of greed got me thinking about greed in all of professional sports. I worked up the courage during the Q and A segment to ask Tirico his thoughts on all of the professional lockouts recently being fueled by greed, especially with the proximity of the Winter Classic being pushed back a year. He let me know that as with any consumer based product, negotiations are inevitable and both sides will fight for what they want, the fans just ended up in the middle of it. He also believed that the Winter Classic would come back to Ann Arbor/Detroit New Years Day 2014 and the fans would completely forget that it was canceled in the first place.
Going into the AdCraft luncheon I didn’t really know what to expect, but a lot of the sports themed topics that were discussed could easily be applied to how I should try to handle my work affairs as well. Hopefully I can learn as well as teach, improve my weaknesses, and build on my strengths. And maybe more important, remember that if I do something wrong it isn’t the end of the world, but an opportunity to learn from it.
Mitchell Harris (@MitchHarris15) is an intern at Airfoil, a high-tech PR and marcomm firm with offices in Silicon Valley, Detroit and London.