How to Stand Out in a Crowd of Talent
By Sarah Robson
What it takes to transition from being an intern into a longstanding successful employee
As I was sitting on a flight to Miami, on my way to accept an award at the Front Office Sports Rising 25 ceremony, I began to reminisce about the past two years — which felt more like two minutes. That flight was the first time in a while in which I had the chance to sit back and reflect upon my growth at SBX Group. Thinking back to my first day, as an apprehensive intern, I had no idea what I was about to take on, but was happy to be there. They had free coffee — so I knew I wanted to be there for the long haul!
On my flight, I began doodling and writing random thoughts in my notebook. At first, I was simply trying to pass the time, but after some deep thought I decided to write this blog post — which will hopefully help other young sports business professionals achieve their goals of securing their first “real” job.
Now that I am lucky enough to have a great job, and am surrounded by a great team, one of the most common questions I get from those who are looking to break into the sport and entertainment industry is:
“How did you stand out to your employers and set yourself up for success and opportunity to grow?”
After much thought, I think I have finally pulled together my answer. If you want to be successful in this business, or really any business, be committed to the following guidelines:
1 / PERFORMANCE
Have an unparalleled performance level. Pledge yourself to greatness.
I have tried to leverage every stepping stone in my professional and athletic career thus far, not only to better myself, but everyone around me. I try my best to use my finance/economics degree from Brown University in combination with my experience as a D-I athlete to help individuals, organizations and brands exceed what they thought was possible. Performance to me now encompasses:
Being Results Driven — How are you helping the organization you are a part of grow? What direct impact are you making that makes executives see value in you beyond being a paper pusher
Go the Extra Mile (Trust Me) — Maybe this is ingrained in me from being so competitive, but when you stay that extra hour or do an extra project when no one asked, you will begin to exceeded people’s expectations. It goes a long way.
Be Uncomfortable —Being uncomfortable means you are pushing yourself, your boundaries, and allowing yourself to grow as a professional. Never back down from anything. Whether it be an executive meeting or a BD phone call, it will make you better. You will learn from these experiences, and believe me, you can sometimes surprise yourself with how far you push your limits.
2 / THINK
Constantly thinking of ways to be more than just a need-filler. Be a life-enabler.
One of the quickest things I have come to learn since working at SBX is the idea of being proactive over reactive as often as you can. When you are reactive, you are in a constant state of “just getting by” and doing nothing more than what is required. When you are proactive, you truly get ahead of the game. Here are some specific ways to be proactive and impress both your clients, bosses and colleagues:
Identifying Gaps — Look around you and observe. Understand what works and what needs to be more efficient. Be the person to make the change and start the conversation. This could be anything from improving current processes to seeing how you can help improve culture. This way you exemplify your proactiveness and commitment. It is important to not only observe but prove you can execute against the observation.
Be Innovative — I am not saying you need to reinvent the wheel, but always look to think outside the box. What can you bring to the table that others can’t? Ensure that you have thought of every variable and use resources around you to ensure that you are constantly updated with industry advancements. The world changes quickly. It is up to you to not just keep up, but get ahead.
3 / CULTURE INCUBATOR
Create an environment that drives connection, success, and motivation.
At the end of the day, you can have a great business idea, but if you do not have a team to help bring it to life, your idea is as good as gone. Why does Google always rank at the top with employee satisfaction year over year? Yes, they have crazy office spaces, and yes they might have free food and nap pods (which helps), but at their core they have great people at the company that look to implement new employee programs and opportunities to bond, network and learn from each other. My advice for people who want to be the leader in a company:
Be Others-Focused — One of my main objectives when I started as an intern was to always put myself in a position to make my boss’s life easier. Be that person who can be counted on. Be proactive, ask questions, and take the initiative. In turn, when focusing on how to make others’ lives easier, I ended up benefiting the most with new skills, tools, and resources.
Forge Your Own Authentic Path — Everyone has unique experiences. Use them to your advantage in the workplace. I know that my experiences with teams and coaches allow me to truly understand how people tick and how to create a welcoming workplace environment. Leverage your network and experiences to bring something new to the table.
Talk to Everyone You Can — It is way too easy to bury your head into your computer and work for eight straight hours and not socialize. We all make excuses like “I am so busy” or “I just don’t have time to go to lunch with you”. That is BS. Make the time. People are what make or break companies and there is always time to catch up with colleagues, learn about what they are working on, and see what insight you can bring them.
These are the values that I have placed upon myself for many years. Even if you choose to pick out a few of these tactics to work on, I guarantee you will notice a difference in yourself and your performance.
If anyone reading this wants to chat further or connect professionally, please reach out to me, I would love to hear from you!