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Jerry Rice Teaches Us All A Lesson

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Since the majority of the professionals in the exhibit industry are women, I most often look for other than sports analogies to make a point.  However, in reading the Investor’s Business Daily of January 24, 2001, I found some of the points that Jerry Rice the famed San Francisco 49’er receiver made were germane to all of us in the exhibit industry.

How do you get to be the Super Bowl MVP, be the all-time leader in receptions (1281) and receiving yardage  (19, 247) and the most touchdowns in NFL history (197) ? How do you get to be the Exhibit Manager of the Year?   Is it just natural talent?  Or is it focus, commitment, and discipline?  It seems to be all of those. 

What can one learn from the 38 year old Jerry Rice to achieve the pinnacle of our profession?

  • Maintain peak physical condition – since most of us don’t have to be in the top physical condition that is required of an athlete, we need to be conditioned physically so we can withstand the rigors of 10-12 or 14 hour days, exhibit set-up and tear-down and the work all day – fly all night schedules we have to maintain. Without being physically fit and eating healthily we cannot maintain the schedules that most of us are required to withstand. In addition to physical stamina, we require mental agility to bob and weave with the variety of changes we have to face day-in and day-out from our many constituencies and internal customers.

  • Master the skills of your profession – become a student of exhibiting – in order for us to be in control of our exhibit programs, we need master the skills – planning, budgeting, marketing, project management, elements of design, and logistics.  We need to be life-long learners – read everything we can.  We need to spend some time , be it 30 or 45 minutes, of every day committed to learning. 

  • Be tough on yourself – you face both internal and external competition. In order for you to rise to the top of your profession, you need to be tough on yourself.  Set a disciplined course for yourself.  That doesn’t mean work yourself into a stressed-out condition that leads to burn-out.  It means setting goals. Identifying what is working for you  and what isn’t . It means continuous improvement. Creating plans for growth and professional expansion.

  • Work hard, work smart – You only have so much time. You need to devote time to your job, your family, and yourself.  Too many of us are heard today saying, “ what life?”  We just work. In order to achieve  top performance you cannot  just work hard, but work smart so you have enough time and energy left over to live the remainder of your life.   

  • Maintain a positive attitude – today  we are faced with stress from downsizing, rightsizing, “dot.comization”, shrinking budgets, and management that doesn’t understand the medium. In order to maintain balance and achieve the performance you desire, you need to maintain a positive attitude.  We’re not talking about “looking at the world through rose colored glasses”, but we are talking about glasses being half full and not half empty.  We are talking about strategic thinking that allows you to work out issues logically and rationally, not emotionally.

  • When your are doing something you truly don’t like, ask yourself if this is the worst it can get? – there are lots of activities we don’t like to do.  Defending your budget, firing a supplier because they are not preferred by your new management or sitting and waiting for lost freight.  Just ask yourself is this as bad as it could get?  Obviously, no, so cheer up and remember as Little Orphan Annie sang,  “the sun will come out tomorrow”.

  • Be a perfectionist – this is what is expected of you.  Being a perfectionist doesn’t mean that you get bogged down in details or become an anal retentive personality.  It means that everything you do, you do the best you can every time. And each time you do it, measure your own performance, decide what was done right and what could use improvement and create a plan to improve it.  Continuous improvement breeds perfection.

If we all can aspire to be a Jerry Rice, a Picka-Boo Street, a Nancy Kerrigan – we will drive for the end zone of our profession every day, all the time.

© 2013 by Marc Goldberg