A podcast fueled by professionals bridging the gap between Sports and Business. Enjoy as guests share stories & experiences from the playing field to the board room
023: Pumped To Be A Pro - with Duncan Littlefield
Duncan, formerly a professional golfer currently serves as CEO of Littlefield, a company that owns a variety of other companies as well, such as the Littlefield Company, Paper Airplane, Large Forests, Sidecar, and is a critical equity partner contributor to profit focus startups. Duncan's mission is to always be a part of a larger conversation and to support everyone to become obsessed with their life.
022: The Journey of A Sports Professional: A History Lesson - with Charlie Larson
Charlie Larson serves as the Vice President of Communications for The Milwaukee Admirals. The Admirals are a member of the American Hockey League, equivalent to AAA baseball for those who are trying to understand and serve as the farm team for the Nashville Predators of the NHL. Charlie has been working hard as of late launching a brand new website for The Admirals, premiering the brand new third jersey that The Admirals will be wearing this upcoming season, and the schedule is out preparing for puck drop on October 16 against the Grand Rapids Griffins at Panther Arena in downtown Milwaukee.
On your LinkedIn, it looks like you went straight from college to working with the Admirals. How long have you been with The Admirals?
I will celebrate 21 years on August 23. So I did work for a minor league baseball team, the Michigan Battle Cats, which are now defunct, and probably the worst run professional sports team in history! I'm not joking, it was a race to get your checks cashed because if you were last it might bounce. Luckily, I was making so little money $233 after taxes every two weeks as a full-time job, that it didn't really matter that much. But I had to send my checks back and I had to put it in along with the deposit slip, I'd sign my check, mail it to M&I bank in Milwaukee and they would deposit it. You couldn't just take a picture of your check and deposit anymore. I knew I wasn't going to be there for too long after a couple of days so I didn't want to get a bank there. So I kept M&I, which doesn't exist anymore. It was interesting without a doubt.
So how often would that happen where checks would bounce and your counterparts would come in shaking their head and be like “Nope, this week’s check isn’t going.”?
As far as I know, it never happened during the season when there was a little bit of cash flow. It was the offseason and I wasn't really there for much of any offseason. They were in the same league as The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who are now the Class A affiliate for the Brewers. Back then they were the Class A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners and I had worked for them as well the year before. It was a wide discrepancy. The Dayton Dragons hold the most consecutive sellouts in any minor league sport. They've sold on every single game since the year they were formed and they're in the Midwest League with The Michigan Battle Cats when I was there, and we averaged like 300 fans a game and could barely even function. It was just this weird discrepancy. But I'll tell you this, living in Michigan, a couple of times a year we would have firework games on Saturday nights so we get big crowds of about 5000 fans which would have bumped our average attendance up to close to 1000. They would buy their sodas and their bottles, and they would drop them under the stands and if you ever lived in Michigan, or if you've seen Seinfeld, you would know that you get 10 cents per bottle and I was making so little money and so were the grounds crews that we would go underneath the bleachers after those games, and it was so disgusting, but it didn't matter. Then we go across to the Meijer store and we throw them in the little chute where you exchange your cans and I come out there with like 100 bucks 125 bucks. It was great cause that's literally half of my paycheck!
Did you know when you were at Ripon College that you wanted to get into the business side of sports?
Not really. I was at the NCAA Division Three Tennis Tournament my sophomore year, and if you know, tennis tournaments, have a lot of downtime, right? I got to talking to the NCAA Rep there because the NCAA sends a rep to every church championship. This guy played basketball at Brown. Let me take a step back. I worked for the sports information director at Ripon so that was sort of my introduction. I liked it but
We not Me: How Teamwork in Sports Correlates to The Business World - with Kevin O'Hare
Kevin is joining us today from Des Moines, Iowa where he has lived, worked, and coached most of his life. During work hours, Kevin serves as an Account Manager for AssistRX which is a specialty therapy initiation and patient support company delivering informed access and improved outcomes for their customers. After the work hours or potentially sometimes before the work hours, you can find Kevin in the gym, teaching the game to the next generation of players and mentoring those players to become even better men and women away from the court. When Kevin isn't working, coaching, or playing uncle to as many nieces and nephews, you can find him searching for his golf ball in the woods to the right where he typically slices.
I want to start out with just the evolution of the high school player because you have been a high school basketball coach for 20 years now. In your opinion, what has been the evolution of the high school player, not just on the court, but also off the court throughout that those 20 years?
Yeah, so it's been very interesting to see firsthand way back 20 years ago, where, when you thought kids were bigger, faster and stronger, and they were at the time, and then you fast forward 20 years, what that bigger, faster, stronger looks like, it's insane. Back then, I would say the game was kind of an inside-outside game where you're trying to hit the posts and you're trying to get double teams in the post to kick out to guards for shots and stuff like that. Over time, the game has evolved. I mean, we literally in our practices, now we spend so much time shooting threes, and it's free throws, layups, and threes. We will shoot mid-range shots and stuff like that, but we spend a ton of time on threes because the game, not that it's not post oriented, but it's extremely guard-oriented where way back I would say you needed one or two really solid big men to play the game and to have a good opportunity. Now, you still need that and you saw it with Baylor a little bit in the championship game where they have guards for days and strength and conditioning programs, they're insane now. Two or three days a week, our kids are up in the morning, and they're doing speed and agility drills from boxes, to cone work, to jump rope, and then they're lifting weights a couple of days a week. It's just crazy where the game was, and where it is now. You talk about off the court and stuff like that and back then there weren't the distractions of social media and things like that or your phone. These kids nowadays are on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and if they're not watching somebody else, or posting something about themselves or someone else then something's wrong. They spend so much time on their phones these days and they're always trying to see the next highlight or become the next highlight. There's a lot of distractions that I think take kids away from what they need to be spending a lot of their time on, whether it be academics, or their craft, or skillset, so we emphasize that and talk a lot about that stuff.
It seems like your game might have been better suited for today's style of play a bit. Has it ever clicked for you in your head where you wished you could play in today's game with the style being more guard-oriented?
So the funny thing is when I was about 25 years old, my best basketball that I've ever played in my life was 25 to 35 without question. These were competitive leagues that we played in, and I think you hear a lot of guys talk about that nowadays is, I think the game slows down a little bit for you, you're more mature, you figured out the ins and the outs, you don't have a coach screaming at you and telling you this or that. But I mean, 25 to 35 was my best basketball by far. You're not running plays, there's not all this structure, and then to come back to it, I think
020: Win From Within: Transform Your Mindset To Awaken Your Hidden Potential - with William Deck
William is the founder of Mind Business, LLC, and his calling is to help individuals and organizations remove their own success barriers. How the heck does he do that? Excellent question! He does so by educating them on the mental foundations for success. He has many years of leadership, sales training, and consulting experience and he has come to understand that the most common causes of personal dysfunction within an individual are thoughts and feelings of unworthiness and unforgiveness.
Let's get the show kicked off here a little bit by talking about your sports career! What got you involved in sports and how far did it take you?
Yeah, so for me, sports have been a part of my life since I was nine years old. I began to play basketball watching Michael Jordan back in the mid-90s. I also grew up in Houston, Texas, so I was watching the Houston Rockets win championships with Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and all those guys. So my very first love as far as sports was basketball. My neighbor had a basketball hoop and I was over there pretty much every single day, hooping and putting my skills together and learning how to do layups from different corners of the backboard, and all those things at nine years old. When I was 10 years old, I tried out for football and made the team and the interesting thing about football is that for whatever reason, it just was something initially that I did not really take to a whole lot, I would say I was a little timid. I had tons of physical strength and I was physically stronger than the other kids my age, but I was timid and so even though I lived in the suburbs, my mom took me to play with this inner-city team and these guys were knocking me around and things like that. It wasn't that I couldn't hang, I just had that timidity. So long story short, one day I came home from practice, and I had my head, "You know what? I'm done, I'm going to go ahead and hang them up and go back to the basketball court," and my mom was in the kitchen cooking so I kind of walked in there to let her know I'm quitting. So I went there, I said, "Hey, Mom, I don't think I want to go to practice tomorrow, I think I just kind of want to quit, this is not working out for me." She basically said, "You're not quitting," and she turned back around and kept on cooking. She let me know that if you quit with this one thing, then you will basically think that it's okay to quit with other things. So I went to practice the next day, pissed off at her and what I said to myself was, "You know what? I'm going to prove her wrong and I'm going to take out my rage on all these guys out here because this is ridiculous." So I went after that practice, and I was fired up so I went out there and I just started lighting people up. After that day of practice, the defensive coordinator had never seen have from me and they wanted me to bring that same energy to practice the next day. After that, I never looked back with football specifically. I continued to play basketball, but with football, it was just so exciting. It was something that I was good at and so I defensive MVP as a 10-year-old and our team won the city championship! Then after that, I really begin to lose weight. I was a little husky when I was younger and I slimmed off and eventually made my way to running back by the time I got to middle school and did really well in middle school with football. So I got to high school and during my senior year, I'm being recruited by some schools like Kansas State, Rice University, Tennessee, and a few others and I tore my ACL halfway through the season, on this crazy play. At that point, I had to make a decision as I was doing rehab for an ACL tear, am I going to continue to train to try to get back out there by the next fall. I got back to about 90%, but the schools that I was talking to many were trying
19: Showing Milwaukee To The World Through Sport - with Marissa Werner
Marissa comes to us today from Visit Milwaukee which is the metro area’s tourism agency. She serves as the Director of Sports Milwaukee which is a brand new division of Visit Milwaukee. Before her role as Director of Sports Milwaukee, she served as the Senior Sports and Entertainment Manager at Visit Milwaukee and has actually been with Visit Milwaukee for over 10 years.
018: An Athletes Pit Crew: Examining Sports Psychology and Performance Excellence - with Dr. Barbara Meyer
Meet Dr. Barbara Meyer
Dr. Meyer is a professor and director of the Laboratory for Sports Psychology and Performance Excellence at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. On top of that, she is also a Sports Psychology Coach who works with professional and Olympic athletes on the mental side of their game. She has trained athletes at every Winter Olympics since 2002 and has worked with athletes across various sports, including freestyle skiing, speed skating, and hockey, among many others.
Are there ways you can monitor and evaluate someone’s mindset in school?
If you were to enroll in one of my classes in particular at UWM I teach an undergrad Sport and Exercise psychology class. I've been teaching that class as long as I've been at UWM. The first day of class, I ask everybody to do a show of hands and I say, "Would you rather learn a lot in class and earn the grade of a B, or not learn very much, it's an easy class, you can memorize things and forget it tomorrow, but you earn the grade of an A, which would you rather have?" We can tell a lot about your motivation by how you answer that question and we can ask athletes the same thing. Would you rather let's say in an Olympic sport, finish fourth, but have a personal best, or would you because of whatever reason, not performed very well, but you end up first. Maybe everybody else fell down or nobody else had a good performance and so your bad performance was better than everybody else's bad performance. But those questions really get at some psychological characteristics that people have about their motivation and we can apply that to everything we do and we can learn a lot about people.
So I'm going to make an assumption. My assumption would be that most of your students, and for the most part, most of your athletes are going to sacrifice the learning and the personal bests in order to get the A and to get first. Would that be correct?
Yes, or they're going to try to balance it out a little bit. Most think that they should say, learning, they think that they should say personal best. But most competitive performers aren't there to do their best. They are, but really they want to win, they want to end up on the podium. So really, what we have to often do is deconstruct it and build up enough trust and enough evidence to say yeah. But the best way to get on that podium, the best way to win is to take a step back, and focus on the process, and focus on getting better. If you can get better at something in your performance domain, whatever you do, if you can get a little bit better at something every day, you're increasing your chances of getting the desired outcome. Sometimes it might be getting a little bit better at your nutrition, sometimes it might be getting a little bit better at your recovery or your rest. But if you can focus on getting a little bit better at something every day, you maximize your chances of getting that desired outcome.
How do you help either your students or your athletes make that mindset change quickly?
Yeah, and let me before I answer that, let me also go back and say that once you can make that connection, that I am getting smarter, I am improving, I am getting better at something. If you can realize that and really come to appreciate that, when the time comes if you don't get your desired outcome, at least you don't have any regrets. At least hopefully, on the morning of that loss is we can move on faster because you know you did everything you can and on that particular day, that wasn't good enough. So in addition to helping you maximize your chances of getting that desired outcome, knowing that you've done the work, you have no regrets helps you to manage it when you haven't achieved that. Now, to your question, how do we fast forward people's ability to get that. So oftentimes athletes that I've worked
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Listening to host Will Jurgensen navigate the business and sports world with high quality guests ranging from prominent Milwaukee planners to Olympians is truly a joy. While the interviews feels informal, Will’s approach draw impactful takeaways that will stick with you long after the episodes are done. Looking forward to upcoming episodes!
Will (the host) does a phenomenal job in the interviews really drawing out deeper topics and ideas from the guests making the entire podcast much more meaningful to the listener. The conversations are very organic and you can tell they are not just scripted Q& A. Highly recommend for anyone interested in the intersection of the business and sports worlds!
Always worth a listen
The host always brings on informative guests that have interesting life or work experiences that deal with sports. I’ve learned a lot about different industries and how they interact with sport, or how people have used the lessons they’ve learned sports in their professional career. Would recommend.