Shifting Your Perception of The Hustle Mentality

This article originally published for Front Office Sports

We live in a world that increasingly glorifies the #hustle culture. You know the one I’m talking about, always on the #grind, setting meetings, working out, traveling, all work, no sleep. Just follow my guy Gary Vaynerchuk on any of his platforms and you’ll see the epitome of this glorified mentality. It has its merits but, trust me, it’s not for everyone.

That said, I’m not here to tell you not to work hard. But I am here to provide suggestions to help you become your most productive self. I know everyone is wired differently so I’m speaking here from past experiences. The #hustle and #riseandgrind mentality can be draining on you not only mentally, but physically and emotionally.

I’ve already written in this space about work/life balance. I wanted to continue along those lines and discuss a few more habits I have adapted in recent years that have helped me be more productive. You’ll notice that these habits don’t involve using the latest app, or another way to keep me plugged in. These are some “old school” methods that, to me at least, are still ways to #hustle and keep you on the way to being the best version of yourself.

1) Hand Written “To Do” Lists — I’ve long felt the most comfortable when my “to do” list is written out and I can physically cross items off or re-order them as priorities shift. It’s been proven that the best way to remember things is to write them down by hand. That was all I needed to hear a while back to make the change to a more traditional method. I still use apps like Calendar, Notes, Reminders and Evernote for certain things (the pinging on my phone is still needed), but I rely on them much less that I used to. I also like to hang on to my lists and planners. With an app, things eventually get deleted. To me, that just seemed like a tidy way of organizing. But with a paper trail, it’s a great way to look back at your past week, month or year. There is something refreshing about reflecting on how much you’ve accomplished. I also have heard many stories about families discovering old journals and notes from family members. What a cool way to remember and reminisce about a loved one when you can read their accounts in their own words and handwriting!

2) Face-to-Face Connections — I’ve been reading recently about how email controls our day. This in turn means we are letting other people’s agendas dictate our productivity. How many times do you just about get in your “zone” or say to yourself that you’re going to focus on a certain task for the next hour and then PING, you get distracted by that “urgent” red flag email? I’m guessing more often than you want to admit. We have to change the way we respond to emails and other distractions. I’ve learned that I need to set aside certain times of my day to check them and from there prioritize my responses. Not everything needs a response! Now to get to the title of this point, face to face connections. What I try to do for pressing matters is make time to set face-to-face meetings. Not long, boring meetings. But, short and productive personal sessions. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish meeting face to face! This is even a tactic I like to use when networking and connecting. Don’t just rely and emails and texts. Work as hard as you can to meet someone for coffee, a quick lunch or a happy hour drink. You’ll be amazed at how productive they can be.

3) Reflection and Wellness — I must give credit to me better half for this section. My wife Megan has totally transformed the way I reflect, stay mindful and make sure I’m taking care of myself physically. These are also ways to help keep you grounded if you feel that the #hustle is getting the best of you. A few things that I have adopted are journaling, getting enough sleep and understanding the concept of peaks and valleys. Journaling has helped me chronicle the best parts of my day and reflect on the things that matter to me the most. This can be anything from time with my family, getting that interview I wanted, or even the Cardinals sweeping the Marlins. You will also be astonished at how much reflecting on the good will keep you focused on your goals. Getting enough sleep is usually not a problem for me, but when life and work get stressful or complicated, it can really affect your sleep patterns. You must remain cognizant of your sleep patterns. It’s OK to shut off the #hustle at 10pm or earlier each night and go to sleep. It’s also OK to sleep past dawn. Figure out when you can get the 7–8 recommended hours for most adults to help balance your hormones and help your body recover.

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I mostly kid when I say that these are “old school” ways of staying productive. I’m not that old, and these methods can work for nearly anyone. What I am saying is that as much as I strive to work hard, reach for my goals and build relationships, I can’t get caught up in the #hustle culture. That just doesn’t work for me. It’s not how I am wired.

If you find yourself scared of the real world or scared of the grind of working for an athletic department, a corporation or an agency…don’t. Be yourself. Stay true to the principles and methods that keep you focused and grounded.

If you’re someone who has been working for a while and you’re not Generation X and also not a Millennial, I will tell you same thing. Be yourself. Don’t compromise your values, don’t lose your mindfulness and don’t let the #hustle culture get to you.

 

4 Easy Ways to Find Work-Life Balance

It is possible to make some subtle changes to your lifestyle and find the right balance that makes you function efficiently in all aspects of your life. 

This post was originally published by and written for Front Office Sports (@frntofficesport).

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Individuals working in athletics and sports business know they’re choosing a certain lifestyle making the career decision to work in sports. A lifestyle that typically includes late nights, long hours, stretches away from family and friends, low compensation, lack of healthy meals, too many meals with limited activity, and the list goes on.

Those are just some of the reasons why people get burnt out and tend to transition to other career opportunities which offer a suitable work-life balance. That phrase “work-life balance” can mean different things to different people however. It doesn’t always mean changing careers or leaving a job that you really enjoy even if you have to make personal sacrifices.

Take it from someone who used to work in athletics and made the decision to look for a more balanced opportunity a few years ago. It is possible to make some subtle changes to your lifestyle and find the right balance that makes you function efficiently in all aspects of your life.

Below are some things to consider and some resources that exist to help you find that work-life balance to help you be the best version, both personally and professionally, that you can be.

Prioritize what gives you the most satisfaction –  Prioritization is key to achieving many things in life, but especially in finding balance. Does your job need to pay a certain amount? Does it need to have no travel at all or less travel than you experience currently? Does it need to offer flexible vacation time or generous holidays? Will it allow you opportunities for career development and growth? Will the employer offer a gym membership or on-site gym access? Prioritizing what aspects are important to you and will help you feel balanced. Discuss these items with those important to you and rank them. Use this a guide to help you remain where you are, look for something better, or just to keep you in the right frame of mind throughout your career.

Build downtime into your schedule – “Busy” is such an overrated word. There I said it. We’re in a culture of busy. People always say they are busy, like it’s a badge of honor. It’s really not. To me it means you can’t prioritize your time and efforts. Therefore you’re left scrambling all the time and use “busy” as a cover. Let’s stop the culture of busy. It can be done day planning your day with periods of down time, or periods when you are doing things that aren’t worth the time and effort. Make plans around improving your health. Make plans around strengthening the relationships that matter in your life. Downtime can mean many things and building in the time will make you a better person.

Focus on the good: complain less, appreciate more  – Gratitude is a powerful thing. So is positivity. YOU have a choice each day and during each situation you encounter to face it positively. YOU also have the choice to count your blessings and be grateful for everything you have in your life. So, stop complaining and start appreciating. You’ll be amazed at how your life will change. You’ll be amazed how you can change other people’s lives. You’ll also be amazed at the opportunities that will come your way when you remain connected to those that matter with a positive and grateful attitude.

When working, get in the zone  –  This last tip applies to being the most productive worker, employee, boss or mentor you can be when working. You have to be able to multi-task when working in athletics. Actually, looking at most job posting for any advertising and marketing jobs in any field will have “multi-tasking” as a critical skill. I tend to think of multi-tasking a little differently. I think you have to be able to accomplish multiple tasks and meet multiple deadlines within a given day or week. But, you need to tackle each task with a single focus. Don’t try to handle them all at once. Set your task priorities, focus on finishing on each task without interruption and get in the zone while working on each one. This will allow you to accomplish those tasks, but not get derailed along the way. It can get tough spinning so many plates at your agency or athletic department, but setting up your day with this focus can be a game changer.

These may seem like simple tips. And you know what, they are! They’re easy ways you can transform your life. They can make you a better person and help you achieve the professional and personal life balance that so many seek to achieve. Believe me, I practice the tips above and can attest to their power.

 

Professional Development Q&A with Kevin Adema

This post is the third in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.

Part 1   Part 2

Name: Kevin Adema (@KevinAdema)
Profession: Digital marketing consultant and educator
Degree: B.A. Business & Psychology, post-secondary CAAP designation from
ICA

I was introduced to Kevin at Second Wind’s Agency Account Manager College in Chicago last spring. I was lucky enough to attend last spring’s two-day certification, where Kevin was a featured presenter. As the only agency representative in attendance that worked for a digital-only agency, I was dubious Kevin would tell me something I didn’t think I already knew.

Thankfully, Kevin’s presentation offered a wealth of new ideas and perspective on the state of digital and how agencies are falling behind. Even though I was working for a digital first agency, there was still plenty I learned and I’ve remained in contact with Kevin ever since.

Please check out his website and look into his classes on digital strategy. You won’t regret it. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from Kevin Adema.

1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated
with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
Education’s aim is always to empower and to train the student “how” to
think, “how” to learn and then, “how” to apply. My formal education paved
the path for me to have knowledge in both the business and personal realm
so in that regard, it is fully aligned with what I do currently. Are the
specifics from one course or another directly linked to my daily practice?
Not really as in my field of marketing, every day presents new issues.
Moreover, as marketing marries businesses with consumers, a marketer must
be a continual student, obsessed with learning and continually willing to
adapt.

2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what
you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations
along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
I didn’t have an exact ideal job in mind. I love business and I love
working with people. I was blessed to start my career in an agency as
marketing fuses my two professional passions together.

Deviations: no, not really. I’d say there were delays: Agency life can be
grinding as we get wound up in the daily ebb and flow of turning work
over. These patterns of “busy” can keep a person stuck and not growing.

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3) What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
Be obsessively humble. Marketing is NOT about you and moreover, it’s
definitely NOT about the brand. Marketing is about understanding human
behavior and real human needs and then, filling those needs. I’d humbly give free access to our Fundamentals course to any marketing professional.

4) What do like the most about your profession?
The exact moment when someone says: “now I get it” and they get fired up,
excited and passionate about doing digital the right way.

5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession?
I’m battling 100-year old legacy thinking. It’s deeply entrenched into our
academics and established business protocols. Although millions of dollars
have been spent proving the “old way” isn’t working, change is never easy
even if it’s desperately needed.

6) How has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
When I first started in an agency, we still had CMYK film and Quark was
the epitome of a designers toolbox. Those are long gone and digital
has completely changed how marketing works forever. We can’t use
traditional media approaches where we talk AT an audience. Digital has
given the consumer a voice and real power. It’s a dialogue, not a
monologue.

7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they
leave?

Marketing is not 9-5. Burn out, stress, fatigue are all factors.
Marketing is also very people centric. Any time you put more than 1 person
in a room, there exists a good chance for drama and politics.
I’ve learned many hard lessons dealing with people. I’ve made many
mistakes but hopefully, I’ve also empowered and taught enough people to
make a difference.

8) Are you considering leaving your current field or company?
Never.

9) What is your favorite social media platform?
Any coffee shop where two people can put their mobile devices away and sit
face-to-face and talk. 🙂

If I had to choose, probably Linkedin as it attempts to stay professional
but as with most platforms, it’s loaded with content and not discussions.

10) What was the last book you read?  The last TED talk or othere-learning content you consumed?
I have a very large business library and use it frequently. The most
recent book I’ve spent the most dedicated time in was: “The Shift” by
Scott M. Davis. His philosophy of how marketers must change to become
leaders of tomorrow has inspired much of my work.

11) Where do you receive your news and information
A. Print Newspaper
B. Online Newspaper
C. Television
D. Twitter
E. Facebook
F. Other

Yes to all, but remember, reading or watching is not necessarily learning.
For example, if I read something in a certain publication that has an
inherent certain slant, have I learned the truth? NO. I’ve learned a
perspective on the truth. Read always to gain information from numerous
sources and then learn how to combine it for value. When numerous credible
sources all point to the same outcome, you have knowledge.

12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a
hobby?
I am married to a wonderful woman and we have three beautiful kids.
Spending time with them is my hobby and of course, I wish I could do it
more than I do.

Failing Your Way to Happiness

unnamedFailing Your Way to Happiness…sounds like a funny concept right? But when you think about it a little bit deeper, it kind of makes sense. I know when I really thought about what that phrase meant, it hit home for me.

I must give credit to my inspiration for this entry, Marc and Angel. I learned of this couple and their blog just recently, and they are a great source of encouragement for me.

The words fail and failure carry a negative connotation. I mean, they are defined as being unsuccessful in achieving one’s goal.

But I like to flip that notion on its head and think like Winston Churchill once said: Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

What I take from that quote is, it’s all about how you handle failure. You can either look at all the positives you still have in your life and move ahead in hopes of better things, or you accept the failure and pack it in.

For the better part of my 33 years, I’m positive I accepted failure as a finality. Now, through reading sites like Marc and Angel, clearing negative things out of my life, and realizing that thinking positive is an easy change, I’ve had the courage to continue in the face of failure.

I’ll be honest, my pursuit of a full-time job this spring has produced mostly rejection. Through all the rejections, I was able to stay positive and always cherished the good I had in my life. It’s through these events and actions that I think that I’ve finally “Failed My Way to Happiness.”

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Remember, thinking positive costs nothing and changes things for the better. I’m the happiest and most confident I’ve been in my life despite all the recent rejections and what some would perceive as failures.

By facing things with a positive outlook, I’ve been able to have my “moment of clarity” and am ready to share publicly my latest happy news. It is with great excitement that I announce I have taken the newly created position of Executive Director, Client Services with Verge Pipe Media (VPM) here in Auburn.

I’ve been doing contract work for VPM and its founder Don Crow since March. Along the way Don and I realized that we had many things in common both personally and professionally. We also developed a great respect for each other and realized that together we could really take VPM to new heights.

I’ll let Don chime in here to lend his perspective…

“When I think about what makes an entrepreneur, or in this case, join me in an entrepreneurial journey, I think about Tod’s transformation over the past year. I’ve seen him grow as a true professional in many facets, including having a ‘stable’ job working remotely, going into a contract role with us, and then making the decision to join Verge Pipe Media full time on the partner track. The trait that sealed the deal for us was watching the resolve and the positive mental outlook he maintained through the journey. Once we saw that, coupled with the consistency in performance, we knew Tod had the character to make this work and ride the roller coaster that this industry demands.”

I’ll say this again, positivity is a choice. You have a choice to wake up every day and be positive. Choosing to face each day with enthusiasm and positivity has changed my whole outlook on life.

It has allowed me to stop worrying about what I can’t control. It has also allowed me to not rely on other people to define what makes me successful.

I’ll close with a passage from the great Steve Jobs. To me this is a perfect way to show how drowning out negativity and doing things for only yourself can truly allow you to Fail Your Way Into Happiness.

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Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Be A Better You

IMG_6317 - NEWI’ve not lived up to my pledge to fill this blog with regular posts, because as I’ve said previously, life keeps getting in the way. That’s a good thing though, and I have kept up my practice of writing down the thoughts that swirl in my head. I’ve been working on getting those notes into this blog and I’m finally ready to share a few with you now.

As I’ve faced some rejections and adversity this spring, I’ve been made further aware that you have to look out for yourself because nobody else will. I’ve also been made well aware that YOU are the only person who cares about your personal growth. It’s up to you, and only you, to make it happen!

It is imperative that when times get tough, you stay positive and you stay proactive. The best way to further your personal growth is through positivity and proactivity. If you aren’t doing these two things, you are being reactive and negative and will be unprepared to take action when faced with adversity.IMG_6318 - NEW

Keep these tactics in mind as you look to grow yourself personally…

Be passionate, but also be realisticBeing passionate is good, but you must look at the big picture when you get passionate about something. Having passion without realistic goals or a taking a proper look at the big picture can lead to frustration.

Fear will only hold you back – Let go of your fears and face things with positivity. Stop worrying! Taking a risk will be uncomfortable, but if you are confident in your choices, there should be no fear of failure. You must be ready to step outside your comfort zone!

Emotional decisions are usually bad decisions – Letting emotions get in the way of a big decision can lead to misguided reactions. You are usually acting with a minimal amount of thought when emotional. Sometimes our emotions are based on an unusual impulse. Always make sure to take time to look at the big picture and consult your better judgement.

Flexibility for change is vital – It is easy to get comfortable with your surroundings and accepting things as they are. Comfortable is easy, change is hard. But, it is important to stay flexible and learn to accept change. Learning to accept change is vital to long-term happiness and success.

Identify what you don’t want – It is important to realize that recognizing the things you don’t want in your life is as important as recognizing what you do want. Identifying what you don’t want helps you to focus on the big picture. Don’t ignore what you don’t want. Recognize it and make the decisions to get you what you do want.

Take ownership of your actions – When you have considered the points above and have clarity about your personal growth, act and act confidently. Take full ownership of your actions and be ready to accept the outcome. Taking full ownership will allow you to achieve success in the long-term.

YOU ultimately control your attitude each day and hopefully these tips can help you find some personal fulfillment.

I hope to write again soon and provide some personal and professional updates in addition to other ways you can better yourself with positive thinking. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

-Tod

Routines Are Good

IMG_2004(1)I have goals to make this blog much more focused and to post more frequently. But, life keeps getting in the way these days. Even without a steady job, I find it difficult to carve the proper time to create new posts.

I told myself that to get back on this writing thing, I need to hold myself accountable and develop a content calendar for the rest of the summer.

That said, this week I will touch briefly on a point I brought up in my first blog. From there, anticipate a few new pieces each week and possibly (hopefully?) updates on my job search and career opportunities.

If you remember in my first post, I provided ideas to help you cope with difficult times. I’ve expanded on a few of those already in this space. The one I am finding most helpful these days is . . . routines are good.

I can’t say this enough, routines are good.

My newest routine, the ones that I implement daily, are writing down thoughts which are swirling in my head to un-clutter my mind and sticking with my workout plan.

Even if your routine is doing one common thing each day that you enjoy . . . Do that one thing. Then do it tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. That is all. If you do your one thing, it will make you feel good. You did it. That’s all you need to do!

You may think that one thing can’t possibly be enough to consider it “a routine,” you’d be wrong. You will be amazed at how once you’ve accomplished your one thing, you will feel like you’ve accomplished something big. Your day will feel complete. You will feel fulfilled.

Then you start to stack those “one thing” accomplishments on top of one another and, before you know it, your outlook on your circumstances is better. You’ll soon have achieved a month’s worth of “one thing” accomplishments and your attitude will have improved.

Your “one thing” could be anything, such as these examples I’ve mentioned before:
1) Working out
2) Meeting a friend for lunch
3) Writing a blog post
4) Playing with your kids
5) Writing down your ideas
6) Starting a savings fund for a vacation
7) Reaching out to “weak” contacts
8) Cooking dinner

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My “one thing” routine is a stabilizing force for me right now. When you hear “one thing a day,” boy does it take the pressure off your circumstances.

Routines are good, especially “one thing” routines. So, no matter what that one thing is . . . get up, get the blood moving, check things off that “to-do” list, but don’t forget to accomplish the one thing that YOU enjoy each day.