Pushover to Pioneer

BUILD AND VALUE RELATIONSHIPS

Author and speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”  I can say, unequivocally, this is true in my own life.  I’ll share more about the importance of reading another time.  But over the years the people in my life–family members, mentors, teachers, coaches, friends and colleagues–have made a significant impact on my life.  In fact, I can’t even imagine who I would be, or where I would be, today without the influence of others.  Relationships (whether positive or negative) are powerful.  Remember this.

ADVICE ABOUT NETWORKING

Whenever people ask for advice about breaking into the sports business, I start with this: “It’s what you know AND who you know.”  To achieve success in any endeavor, you must know your stuff and hone your skills.  This means studying, researching, practicing and constantly stretching yourself; pushing yourself to learn more and grow and in your abilities and level of excellence.  But knowledge and excellence are only part of the equation.  Relationships are vital to success as well.  Success comes from not only being prepared but also having opportunities. And, in almost all situations, opportunities come through people.  So doesn’t it make sense that the more people you know–the larger your network–the more opportunities you’ll have?

Yes, but there’s more to it.  Quality.  That’s the standard.  The quality of the information you are studying and the quality of the practice you are putting in; that matters.  So does the quality of your relationships.  What do your networking efforts look like?  Are they limited to sending out LinkedIn requests or connecting on social media channels?  Those are valuable tools, as are emails and letters.  But you should go beyond that.  Build real relationships.  Many of the important connections in my life started with an email or a Tweet.  But I did not stop there.  I worked to set up opportunities to speak with those individuals, first by phone then in person.  When I had to drive for hours, jump on a plane, or rearrange my schedule, I did whatever I had to do.  And my focus, whenever I meet someone new, is not simply “What can this person do for me?”  No, it is about genuinely getting to know that individual: what is their journey?  What is important to them?  Do they have a family? What do they do for fun?  Whether it’s a visitor at church or the General Manager for a professional sports team, I always take this approach.  When you sincerely take an interest in connecting with others, you develop relationships, not just a network.  And as I said, relationships are powerful.  They should also be mutually beneficial.

ADVICE ABOUT FRIENDS/LOVED ONES

Ask yourself this: do I value relationships in my life?  And how do I show it?  You can never go wrong by loving or respecting the people in your life and treating them as valuable.  We have all made mistakes by not valuing others as we really should.  But we can also make mistakes when we allow certain people too much access or let them dictate our emotions.  Loving, trusting, forgiving and giving grace to others does not mean we are supposed to compromise who we are or what we believe in.  And while having a “servant’s heart” is admirable, serving others does not mean we live to please them.

Trust me, I know that the influence and impact of people in our lives is not always good.  Well-meaning people have given me a great deal of advice over the years, fully intending to help me or spare me from pain.  People I looked up to, respected and revered have told me to quit…not because they did not believe in me as a person, but because it seemed like the prudent or logical thing to do.  But as author and speaker Bill Johnson says, “If you live cautiously, your friends will call you wise.  You just won’t move many mountains.”

YOUR PERSONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Another important piece of advice about relationships came from author Andy Andrews, who has also become a friend and mentor: have a personal board of directors.  These are individuals in your life who provide accountability, encouragement, guidance and inspiration in the various areas of your life.  They may not realize they are serving in any official capacity, but you should be mindful of their importance in your life.  Seek them out.  Learn from them.  Glean wisdom from their experiences.  They may not have all the answers, but their input can provide the support you need to fulfill your purpose.  If necessary, make changes to your personal board, just like the CEO of a company does.  But before you add or subtract an individual, always ask yourself why.  You want advisers in your life who challenge you; who do not simply accept you as you are, but see you as you are destined to be.  They help you stay focused on your values as you move towards your purpose.

Kelli Masters

Recognized as one of the most influential women in sports business, Kelli Masters often hears, "You have a DREAM JOB." But she chooses to inspire others not with her successes, but with her vulnerability, sharing not only the victories but also the battles and failures along the way. Kelli is an attorney, an NFL sports agent and Founder and President of KMM Sports, a full-service sports management company with offices in New York, Los Angeles and her hometown of Oklahoma City.

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