The end of Sports Talk. Three years ago a few college students, including myself, tried something different. What we built was not significant to the outside world, but it has changed our lives.
Mike Uva likes to talk about the before and after of Sports Talk. When we started it was one camera, a very unorganized show that would have been better on radio. At its height it was twelve sports analysts, a tech crew, two executive producers, five segments, furniture changes, chaos, and lots of yelling. But the result was a weekly one hour program and a consistent stream of blog posts on our website acsportstalk.com.
The show never received any particularly high praise, it didn't change the Assumption campus, and to be honest, many of our viewers will graduate over the next few years, and forget about it. But the show was special for the people involved for a few reasons.
The first and perhaps the most important was the the ability to pursue our passions. I was a video nerd, Uva was an athlete, Devin was a sports nut and the rest of the cast and crew were something in between. But the show was a medium for us to express what we loved doing. We had all the equipment, the access, and the exposure to a small community. There were no obstacles to jump over. This enabled us to actually work on the content of the show, the marketing, the execution, & the workflow. We learned the challenges of being producers, sports analyst, video editors, and marketers.
The show also gave us real world experience. I was an executive producer, the role, at the time, I wanted in my career. Mike Uva, Devin Raeli and others were sports analysts and reporters. Pete Padula was a director of photography. We skipped the interviews, the years of hard work, and instead, were able to do our dream jobs.
It also brought us together and we learned from each other. One of the greatest things I ever did with Sports Talk was bring my friend Sam Pericolo onto the show. Sam is an extremely passionate sports guy. He brought that passion to the show day in and day out. His energy and eagerness gave him the opportunity to work on almost every episode during the second season of the show. Bringing in a guy like him, taught me a lot about passion and success.
What really made Sports talk special for me, was that it propelled me into my career. I know that I got my start in my industry because I was able to show my abilities to market my show, using the internet and social media. But more than that Sports Talk taught me how to be responsible, how to be a leader, how to manage others, schedules, and put in the extra mile. Really it was Mike Uva who taught me that last one. Mike always pushed me to exceed expectations for the show. Usually in an extremely annoying persistent manner, but he pushed me to produce and direct better episodes.
Thank you to everyone that supported the show. You may not realize it, but you helped us become who we are today. I'm really proud of my guys back at Assumption keeping up the show, learning how to run the cameras, edit shows, produce them, just to keep up their passion. I hope anyone who reads this might recognize that following your passions and putting in the work, no matter how unfruitful your pursuits may seem at the time, can ultimately change your life.
My friend Smit Patel recently wrote this eBook. He asked me to design the cover for him, which I did. After something like 14 iterations, we arrived on the design on the left. It took us a while to find something we really liked, that conveyed the message of this eBook.
For those that might be interested in working for startups, I highly recommend this ebook. It costs a few bucks, but there’s value in the purchase. Smit doesn’t just list all the things he did to get into some very reputable startups. He insightfully pinpoints “dos” and” don’ts”, as well as resources one can use, and he provides a plan any candidate can follow to success. I work at a startup now so I have some domain knowledge. This eBook is an excellent step-by-step guide. Check it out by following the link below.
Expedia's "Find Your Travel Companion" Commercial
I saw this commercial half asleep the other night, and quickly scrambled to jot down a few notes before I fell asleep. It was just that good. I really like this commercial and I can tell you why in a very brief blog post:
1. It puts the product into a realistic context.
I don't know why so many businesses miss this...but they often do not give enough context for their product. Make it relatable! Make me understand WHY I really need this. And don't overcomplicate it. (i.e. AT&T's crap commercials) I see how this Expedia product works, and why it might benefit me. No other bullshit.
2. Sweet and to the point!
It's 31 seconds long. Perfect! Throw me something then get out of my face. I hate ads, but if I have to watch them, make them short, convey your message and move on. It's like a sales person cold calling you at your house. They start talking and explain why they are calling, and usually they don't stop, unless you cut them off. This video is like the sales rep that calls and goes, "hey this is what I'm selling, you know what to do if you like it."
3. Fantastic visual storytelling.
There isn't a narrator, an actor or spokesperson talking at me, only a catchy little song and great cinematography. I like the angles, the first person POV, and the pace at which the story progresses: set the scene, wham bam, thank you ma'am. Expedia.
4. The product is the central character.
It's silly when a physical product is made a "supporting role" in commercials to humans. Businesses are too focused on human talent for commercials and not focused enough on giving their product that "star talent." Well don here, Expedia.
Well done guys!
The software industry is a major employer of Generation Y. But the amount of workers in the industry that don't understand the fundamentals of computer science is staggering. Before I judge though, I will admit I was one of those less educated workers not so long ago. But over the course of time, curiosity led me to research computer science. During my education, I came across this really great computer science resource.
I highly recommend this course, even for those that just want to understand how the internet or their computer, works. The course also provides quizzes, exercises, and the entirety of Professor Parlante's lecture documents. You move at your own pace, so there is no pressure to set aside for instance, a weekend, to take the course. Try it out, so next time when your co-worker is talking about IP Address connectivity issues, you'll be able to make observations of your own.
Here's an idea, that I really like. This company, SayHelloThere, has built a very basic (meaning easy to use) software that allows job seekers to record videos and embed them onto a custom web page, like the example to the left. As they put it "it's the easiest way to make video resumes." Charging only $3 a page for their product, there is tremendous bang for your buck. The time, effort and money you put into finding a job is an investment. It's a short term and very profitable one, if you do it right. I gotta say, this is the "it" factor that many college students scrambling to find a job need. If you're in the market for a job, I highly suggest you try this out. I haven't made one (yet) but I see tremendous benefit from this type of professional branding. It will set you apart from your fellow candidates and hopefully give you the edge you need to land an interview (or possibly the job itself).
NFL on ESPN is a Twitter account I follow. You can probably figure out what they tweet about, from the name. I realized recently I am constantly reading their tweets and favoriting, replying or retweeting them. I do love football, but I'm not always reading their material because I have so much love for the NFL. Rather, I'm constantly reading their tweets because they take up the most real estate on my Twitter feed:
Between using images, videos and simply spacing their writing out with multiple lines, NFL on ESPN is smart: taking up more space than the usual 140 character tweet. Followers would be hard pressed to miss these tweets. Especially since Twitter changed their layout and now preview images and videos. NFL on ESPN clearly takes advantage of their arsenal of videos, and images, being a sports broadcast channel. (I could go on all day about how ESPN has adapted beautifully to the modern age of the internet and social media, don't tempt me.)
I sometimes reply, retweet and because of my interaction and that of others, NFL on ESPN is quickly growing their reach, already up to half a million followers.
This type of creativity, with a limited communication tool (Twitter), is a new trend of marketing in the digital age, that all marketers have to adjust to. Whether it be Twitter with 140 characters, Instagram with photos, captions and filters, or even Snapchat (the unconquered marketing territory): these mediums can make-or-break marketers. Those that get creative, will find success. NFL on ESPN is a great example of a creative adaption to Twitter.
I work with some very impressive people. The marketers at HubSpot are extremely intelligent and very dedicated to their jobs. That's a commonality for most young professionals of my generation. I've observed my colleagues, thought about how each is successful, and come to the conclusion that the majority share not only brilliance and ambition, but these common skill sets:
1. Writing skills.
When you're reading a job description, you often find "strong writing and verbal communication skills" and you probably think 'I went to college, I know how to write.' But do you really? Part of the reason I write this blog is to improve my own writing skills. For marketers, this ability is essential. Just because you took a writing course, or a couple, doesn't make you a good writer. There are two very basic ways anyone can improve their writing: read and write more (start a blog). There isn't a shortcut here. Writing is vital and often overlooked by most young marketers.
2. Technical know-how.
You probably know how to navigate around the internet, search on Google and run a few other applications like Microsoft Office. But do you understand how Google actually works? Do you know how a website is structured? Marketing is transforming. Drastically. Every marketer should consider learning how to code. I taught myself using codeacademy.com and reading code for familiar sites such as Hubspot.com. You don't have to be able to write a website from scratch, but understanding HTML and CSS on a basic level will differentiate you in any marketing position.
3. Design chops.
If you're in marketing, you have a creative side. You probably know the difference between a good design and a bad design. I recommend learning Photoshop, what a vector image, what the various image file types are (eps, png, and jpg) and how each is used. Try photoshop out for 30-days on a free trial. You can watch YouTube tutorials to learn new things. Again, you don't need to know everything, but learning the basics and understanding how to crop an image or add features like text to an image will help you differentiate yourself.
I really like Twitter and I really dislike Facebook. That wasn't always the case. In fact it was quite the opposite about 3 years ago. I didn't even make my twitter account; the girl I was seeing at the time made it for me. She wanted a new follower. True story. Today I use Twitter as a business tool, as the front to my personalized newspaper, and sometimes a place to vent about New England Patriot games.
Here Are A Few Reasons Why We Like Twitter:
Facebook is becoming irrelevant to me because it's plagued with old friends (that I don't talk to anymore, nor care to reconnect with). It's a social media relic as far as I'm concerned (I know the numbers claim differently). Twitter is more recent and has the most relevant information to me today but I have no doubt will become an antiquated social tool, years from now. Anyways, what I really wanted to propose are two really awesome features I cooked up (and honestly others probably have thought about too) that Twitter should incorporate:
Here's What Twitter Needs:
1. Live Tweeting Context. Okay, I know what a hashtag is, but it's not enough. A hashtag has a longer lifespan than what I'm proposing. I think for something like: An NFL game, a context bar would add value to tweets. Twitter currently offers a "location" option that tags your GPS location when you post a tweet. What if, instead of that location, the tweet gave more context to the circumstance for which the tweet went out. We only have 140 characters after all. Here's an example:
2. My second idea is regarding filters. Now Facebook tried this with "close friends," "acquaintances" and other labels to give "friends". It helped. Labeling the accounts we follow into very basic groups like "organizations," "friends," "colleagues" and "others" would allow us to add more context. Publishing and newsfeed sorting just makes life simpler for us. I repeat: simple solutions to complex issues are the best.
Both these features are about adding context. Twitter doesn't often change their design (like Facebook does) so that the user is forced to adjust to a new layout: that's part of why I like Twitter. But adding context to Twitter is going to allows users to stay engaged. It's also inevitable. My generation craves personalization. We need it. Remember: over populated and cruel world.
I don't use Facebook because it lost context. I don't care if a person I knew briefly in high school is going on vacation in Florida. Twitter should reap the benefits of not being the first big social media site and take notes from Facebook's mistakes. Adding context will give the user more reason to use Twitter.
Getting hired is not easy. If you've read my blog before, you know I often write about finding a job (see here). I do so because I feel like I've been really fortunate in my young career not only finding a job, but good ones. I've had many, not all in my chosen career path. I've come to some conclusions about things. Not only from my experience, but also from observing the experiences of others. Here are a few things that are preventing you from getting the job:
1. You're Not Working Smart.
Not everyone is able to simply work smarter. I can't count the times friends have told me they re-did their resume and re-wrote their cover letter, but they just can't seem to get the job. Well that's not putting in smart work. If you're smart, you'd do something like this:
2. You're Not Applying For The Right Jobs.
When a job description says 3-5 years of work experience in a specific field, and you have maybe 6 months, you're probably not going to get the look you think you deserve. You might be a real go-getter. You might have some great work experience and think you know enough to take on anything. And honestly, that's possible. But companies hiring for business roles like accounting, marketing or equivalent roles, really rely on years of experience as a key metric of a candidate's value.
Another thing to consider is skill set. If you don't have some of the key skill sets they are looking for, but you think you can learn quickly, you're in a jam. Most companies aren't going to bet thousands of dollars on a candidate who hasn't work with, for instance a CRM or customer relations management system like Salesforce, if you don't have any experience with it.
3. You're Pretending You Have The Upper Hand.
Nope, you don't. The organization you are applying to, probably has unlimited resources, a stack of qualified resumes and definitely high standards for what they want. Answer their emails, connect with them on LinkedIn, read about the organization, be prepared for interviews, be professional, say a prayer.
4. You Haven't Found Your Unique Selling Point.
Everyone has their own unique selling points. Your USP is not just "hard-worker." You have to think about this. Think about projects you've worked on, successes you've had, talents you possess, and other abilities that set you apart from the rest. Make sure you use those USP's across all forms of communication with your potential employer for emphasis: cover letter, phone interview, in-person interview.
I recently helped a few of my college friends get started with LinkedIn. One is a senior in college, the other graduated with me in May. They both are job hunting. LinkedIn is crucial in today's job hunt, to showcase your potential and find the right job. Here are 4 things you must do with your profile.
LinkedIn people. It's what's up.