Saturday, September 15, 2012

CAREER: My Thoughts on Experience (es)



An eight hour and forty minute flight home from a week in Europe that began in Oslo, ventured to Liverpool and ended in London.  The first goal was rest… and thankfully, my seat on British Airways allowed for a horizontal snooze of more than 5 hours.

The rest of the time is about reflecting about what was, thinking about what will be, and planning for success based on using that "experience." 

I was asked recently to be the "interview subject" for a well-respected friend of mine who heads up a department at a fast growing university that prides itself of practical experience and delivering students who can jump in and be an immediate asset to their employer.

A former television sports host in a major U.S. market, he’s involved in a thesis project that will ultimately shape his department and raise his own stature as an “educator.”   First off, thanks for the chance to help him.  I’m always flattered when people come my way for those types of things and hope I can provide some value.

EXPERIENCES Define Your Career Ladder
Below is his Question… and my answer: 


Q: Given your experiences, what advice would you have about the sports industry for people as they enter the industry for the first time?

A: Don’t let anyone tell you, or convince you can’t make it or won’t make it.  Early on in my career, I saved EVERY rejection letter and used it as motivation. I’ve saved them all as I consider them valuable experience.  Have you ever heard “a goal without a plan is just a wish”?  I use it all the time – even in talking with my kids.  People need to decide HOW they’ll get where they want to go… not just why they want to get there.  For me… success is always about opportunities.  But YOU create the opportunities by making good things happen.  Always over-deliver on the ones you get and find a way to be different as you do it.  The competition is too steep to be ordinary.  You have to find a way to be the last one kicked out the door… and not the first.



Nothing earth shattering in my answer.
  But since I graduated from the University of Missouri in 1988, I’ve looked - not just for jobs and opportunities – but for “experiences.”  To me, experiences shape your “experience” that everyone asks about in a job interview.  Every job has its guidelines and day to day expectations.  But my advice is to look for experiences that take you to a different level among your peers.  Experiences that challenge and take you OUT of your comfort zone. Experiences you might be afraid of taking on.   And of course, experiences that you’ll always remember along the career path as the joy of the job.  Here are a few for me:

* Super Bowl XXV in Tampa – covering it for WINK-TV, Ft. Myers amidst Gulf  
  War
* Traveling each week with Western Michigan football and basketball teams while
  working for WWMT-TV, Kalamazoo
* Simply interviewing for a Golf Channel host position in 1994
* Flying with Arnold Palmer in his plane as he opened a new course in Georgia
* Interviewing Presidents Ford, Clinton, and Bush at the Bob Hope Classic
* Interviewing Tiger Woods in the locker room after he won the Masters in 1997
* Interviewing First Lady Laura Bush after Katrina at New Orleans PGA Tour
   event
* Being invited with my wife to the White House that December for a reception
   with President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura
* Starting HTK Media Consulting and then do my first major speaking
  after launching it.
* Subsequent speaking engagements at Oklahoma State Univ, Mississippi State
  Univ. and University of Arizona – sharing real life professional experiences
* Visiting Malaysia and Taiwan for the first time representing LPGA
* Leading a Consulting project at the University of Missouri


Speaking at Suzann Pro Challenge Gala




And most recently, this trip… which included a flattering opportunity to host and emcee the First Suzann Pro Challenge (benefitting youngsters who might have a chance to play sports) in Oslo, Norway prior to working at the RICOH Women’s British at Royal Liverpool.   For me, it was a chance to represent the tour and one of its top stars in Suzann Pettersen.  The room was filled with 200-plus at the Gala fundraiser.  Most I didn’t know and most didn’t know me.  I had flown over the day of and had a terrific evening sharing stories and emphasizing the importance of everyone doing their part to create “experiences” for others. 

My point in all of this… is that we have jobs to make a living.  But those jobs provide an avenue of experiences.  Some are better at creating new experiences through hard work.  Some can be better at taking advantage of those that come in front of them.  I tell college students… “don’t collect business cards, collect relationships and experiences.” 

To me, at the end of my professional road…. It’s not the years of “experience” on my resume that I’ll be most proud of.  Nope. For me…. it’s the experiences among those years that will define the joy and success of my career.  I hope you create the same for you.  Comments below..... I’d love to hear what you think.

Line of the Day: Have you always wanted to be the best at something?  If so, take stock of your own heritage and figure out how it all began.

Follow me on Twitter @KraigKann