Thursday, September 12, 2013

PROFESSIONAL: The "Art" Of Giving Back


    I had somebody comment on Twitter recently… saying in no uncertain terms “you are living the life, man!"  True… and no complaints.
    Those who’ve worked in professional sports can relate to the life of being around top notch competition and the enthusiasm that comes from an big sporting audience.  Those who’ve worked in the media understand the “rush” that comes from covering news or sports … or the satisfaction gained from an interview that gave an audience a better look at a person or topic.  And those who’ve ever traveled for a living can find common ground with somebody who’s walked  - and run – through airports around the world, lost luggage along the way … but found moments pinching themselves about the places they’ve been, the cities they’ve seen and the experiences that have come their way because of airplanes, rental cars and professional relationships.
    In my role as Chief Communications Officer at the LPGA… I’ve traveled more than ever.  But to a large degree…. I pick and choose my spots based on what I need to get done, who I need to see and what difference we’re currently trying to make.

Recari, Tseng, Gal, Korda, Pettersen, Creamer, Miyazato, Engzellius
    In 25 years in media ... and now two at the LPGA, I've hosted many a pro-am party, spoken at many an event … and recently, I felt like I truly hit the "jackpot."  Suzann Pettersen is a world class LPGA player – top 5 in the world – and one of the great athletes in all of sport.  Born in Norway… she’s spent the last few years working as hard at “giving back” through the game she loves… as she has at making her swing as good as it can be.
Talking with Pettersen on 1st Tee

    Her Suzann Pro-Challenge in Oslo just completed its second year.  She asked me to help host her event and gala dinner in year one… and then invited me back to do it again in year two.
This time, the event brought together 8 of the game’s top players: Paula Creamer and Jessica Korda from the United States, Yani Tseng and Ai Miyazato from Asia, Beatrice Recari and Sandra Gal from Europe … and Marita Engzellius joined Pettersen to represent Norway.  It also brought together key dignitaries in Norway, the United States Ambassador to Norway, the Norwegian Golf Federation, local celebrities and key businessmen and women – all with the goal of raising money to help children around the world find participation through opportunity in sports.  The charity is “Right to Play.”
    My point in sharing this… is that while on stage hosting the gala dinner and auction… and seeing our LPGA stars giving of themselves, sharing stories … and actually taking the microphone to auction off the items …. I was struck by just how special golf is … and just how “giving” the LPGA stars are with their time, talents and even money – each raised their own hand in the bidding over items and each volunteered to be a part of some of the trips or events being auctioned just to add value.
Gal & Recari "Stole the Show" With Me During Auction
    Oslo might be close to Evian, France (which was the tournament played the next week)… but not all that convenient when weeks off are precious and most live in Florida.
    Many of our players have their own charity events… many sports have athletes who do similar things.  But my biggest take away in being a part of a terrific two days is this: 

Giving back is an art.  Not everyone “buys in” to the concept that playing golf or sports for a living provides a stage and a platform from which you can do good for others.  Not every player or athlete has reached the level of notoriety that allows them to truly make a big monetary difference.  But everyone can play a part.  And I feel incredibly fortunate to work in a sport – and on a tour like the LPGA – where selflessness is so apparent.  “Right to Play” is a great charity … the “right to give” is not always something people take advantage of.  Suzann has taken her notoriety to create a platform that helps do good for others.  And her tour partners exactly how to help.
Creamer & Korda - Upped the Bidding

    I don’t know if my work schedule will allow me to fly back to Norway next year…  but I do know that I’d certainly try to make it happen.  Year number two of the Suzann Pro Challenge was an event like no other I’d seen… and for those who do – and don’t – follow the LPGA, I really wish everyone had the same view I did.
    Thanks for following this blog … your comments are always welcome and I appreciate those who’ve shared with others to help it grow.  Follow me on Twitter @KraigKann….. and share direct comments there as well.


 Thought for the Day: The biggest impact you can make is to add value to others.  If that isn't the true meaning of success... then I don't know what is.