Archive for August, 2009

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But The Media Made Me Do it!

August 27, 2009

6c3ce29ca09136ad38e8a853bf9368f7-grandeIf you’re a Cubs fan, live in Chicago, or simply watch ESPN, then you know today is quickly becoming “Controversial Thursday.” Michael Vick is appearing in court regarding bankruptcy before joining the Eagles today-Brett Favre’s arrival is creating a “schism” in the Vikings locker room-More allegations are being made in the Rick Pitino sexual assault case-Oh, and Milton Bradley is accusing Chicago Cubs fans of being racist.

If you’re listening to Chicago sports radio, I’m sure you’ve heard your fill of Bradley’s recent lash-out. In a post-game interview on Tuesday, Bradley mentioned that he looks forward to time with his family where he can avoid the hatred. The hatred? When asked about it Bradley said the hatred is everywhere, even when he’s eating at a restaurant. He then went on to accuse Cubs fans of being rascist, but was unable to provide specific examples. But it was this line that really got me, “All I’m saying is I pray the game is nine innings, so I can go out there the least amount of time possible and go home.” (Carrie Muskat, Cubs.com) That’s it Milton. That’s how you’ll gain the respect of Chicago. That’s how you’ll stop the so-called “hatred.” Make the least possible effort, and complain while you’re doing it.

As a life-long Cubs fan, I take offense to players being disrespectful, not making an effort, complaining, or talking trash about the team or fans. If you want respect, you have to GIVE respect. I’m tired of punks putting on the uniform and making a spectacle of it. With that being said, these personal opinions were exactly what started an interesting discussion with @MikeProper during last night’s Cubs-Nationals game. Below are the comments from both of us..

@MOgulnick: I don’t care how often he gets on base. He’s disrespectful and he doesn’t deserve to wear that jersey. Ugh.
@MikeProper: Disrespectful? When, since the day he was signed, did ANYONE in Chicago show him any respect? Why should he show any in return?
@MikeProper: As someone who’s interested in sports PR, I thought you’d understand that Bradley’s “persona” is a creation of the media.
@MikeProper: He was a scapegoat from Day 1.
@MOgulnick: Ok, has that been the case everywhere he’s gone? Is that why he’s been on 7 teams? Has the “Them against me” theme ever changed?
@MikeProper: Has any media market let it change or have they constantly pushed for it happen?
@MikeProper: As SOON as he arrived there were dozens of articles about how he’s a cancer.
@MOgulnick: And I won’t deny that, but bc that’s his history! They’re just reporting the truth. It was up to HIM to dispel it, not them.
@MikeProper:You can’t dispel something when you are never given a chance. He’s in an endless cycle.
@MOgulnick: Well then we’ll agree to disagree. Milton created this. Not the media. He can dispel it whenever he wants.
@MOgulnick: He’s only reinforced everything the media has ever said about him.
@MikeProper: Is he mature? Of course not. Does that mean he deserves all the negativity? Definitely not.
@MikeProper: I’m sorry but I can’t accept the notion that “the ends justify the means” when it comes to this kind of irresponsible journalism
@MikeProper: The media is a powerful tool, and it was used to bring a man down from his first day in Chicago, and I think that’s sick.
@MOgulnick: And in Montreal? And Cleveland? And Los Angeles? And Oakland? And San Diego? And Texas?
@MikeProper: So he got a bad reputation early in his career (and that didn’t even come out until L.A.) ….
@MikeProper: and then he was given zero chance to live it down…. yeah very fair

So, where do we stand on this? Was he given a chance to live it down? I will agree with Mike’s points that the media is a powerful tool and often focuses on the negative. But as a friend of mine said, in this case I believe it was Milton who created his “persona,” the media only magnified it. And this isn’t only the case in Chicago. Milton has had issues with the media and fans before. Yes, Chicago media is magnifying his reputation and has been since day 1. However, just because the papers say he’s a “cancer” doesn’t mean he HAS to be one. By making disrespectful comments, rude hand gestures to the fans, and generally not caring, he’s only perpetuating everything the media has ever said about him.

Yes, I agree that it’s disrespectful of the fans to boo Bradley even when he gets a base hit, but I also know that Cubs fans are unwavering in their devotion to their team. We want nothing more than to embrace our players, but at the same time will take it personally if a player doesn’t show respect. If you’re playing well, we’ll support you. If you’re not, then you might get booed. But that’s baseball. That’s how it is for professional athletes. You can’t take it personally. Personally, I think his behavior over the past few days has all but written his ticket out of here, but I look forward to seeing his reactions in the future.

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So what do you think? Does a player create his persona, or does the media? Can an athlete change his reputation, or is he stuck in an endless cycle? How do you feel about Bradley? How do you feel about the conversation above? Does respect have to be earned? Is an athlete with weak character worth having on a team? Would love your thoughts!

Thank you to BleacherNation.com for the above image.

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Preparation, Pitching, and the Perfect Interview

August 12, 2009

This is the second installment in my series for Chandlee Bryan’s, The Emerging Professional. In this post I discuss the similarities between baseball and interviewing.

Baseball is one of the most superstitious games in the world. Players may say you make your own luck, but watch that same player as he makes an effort not to step on the foul line. Between eating fried chicken before every game, taking batting practice in multiples of 3 or wearing the same warm-up jacket before each start, baseball players have numerous ways they get ready for a game. Of course, not all of them have to do with superstitions. I met Ryan Dempster, starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, in Texas during a 3-game series against the Texas Rangers. Since my uncle works for the team I got to be in the park before everyone else. Regardless of the scorching heat, Dempster ran bleachers around the entire stadium before each game. Just one of the ways he prepares. Whether it’s taking batting practice or watching film, baseball players do whatever they can to fully prepare for each and every game.

This same attitude can be applied to the job search. Sure you won’t find me eating fried chicken before every interview, but I do have my set ways of preparing. Here are some steps I take in preparing for an interview:

1. Research: As soon as I have an interview set up, I make it my goal to find out as much as possible about the company. Look on the web, ask friends, ask family or anyone you may know in the industry. It is important to know the company’s reputation, objectives, values and goals. Know their brands, products and important clients. The more you know about the company, the better equipped you’ll be to customize your answers. Interviewers will be impressed with your knowledge of the organization and it will show your dedication to the position.

2. Review Your Qualifications: You know how great you are, but it’s important to be able to articulate that. Before going into an interview think about the skills necessary to succeed in this position. Do you need to be organized, have good time management, have good writing skills or be good with people? Now, customize your own skill set to the position you are applying for. In addition, be able to articulate how you have put those skills in action recently. Use examples to prove your point and demonstrate your skill set.

3. Prepare Questions: The job seeker isn’t necessarily the only one being interviewed. It is important for the interviewee to ask questions as well to see if the company is a good match. Before heading to an interview prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Examples of these are, “What are the responsibilities of the position?”, “What qualifications or skills are you looking for this person to hold?” and “What are the goals for this position?”. Interviewers will evaluate you not only on your answers to their questions, but also the questions you ask them. I try to prepare at least 5 questions prior to each interview.

4. Be Prepared!: I know this seems obvious, but this is key. Besides what I discussed above, also make sure to have extra copies of your resume, have your portfolio prepared (or multiple copies if you’d like to leave a few behind) and have your outfit ironed and ready the day before. Know exactly where you are going and allow enough time to purchase train tickets, get gas or take the bus to wherever the interview is. Don’t wait until the last minute to get everything organized. You want to have a clear head going into the interview and being prepared ahead of time will help you with that.

I recently spoke with CJ Wilson, a relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers, about preparing for games. “The key is to focus on the process of what makes you successful. We make a routine where we do stuff in the same order so that our minds and bodies have all the tools needed to go out and do the job.” If you’re a real sports fan you know what you need to do to succeed. We see and hear about it everyday. Players taking batting practice, pitchers having a catch on their off-days, teams watching film before an upcoming game. Whether in sports or in your job search, if you prepare properly you’ll have all the tools necessary to succeed. I’ve always been complimented on my interviews and that’s because I follow the steps I laid out above. I research, I prepare and I set myself up for success.

Whether you’re a baseball player or recent college graduate, preparation is key.

Have you used preparation tactics similar to these? What do you do to prepare for interviews? What do you find successful? And what has baseball, or any sport, taught you about the job search? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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Megan, meet Megan.

August 5, 2009

Tonight I once again made the commute into the city from Naperville like I’ve done many times before. Depending on the time of day the BNSF is either a quick 40 minute ride or the dreaded hour and 15 minutes. Most people, including myself, despise a 75 minute train ride, however, from time to time there are nights where maybe that extra time provides you with a much needed break. That extra time gives you the opportunity to disconnect from the world, enjoy the silence, and for once, hear your own voice. For me, tonight, that extra time was exactly what I needed.

A couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine, @SarahKettler, suggested I read Just Who Will You Be? by Maria Shriver. I love a new book and I needed something to take my mind off of the adventure that is my current job hunt. So I said, “Why not?” and swiped my library card one more time. I didn’t know what exactly to expect from the book. It was small, both in size and length. Sarah had raved about it, but I wondered how life-changing a book could be in 91 pages. I sit here eating my words. Just Who Will You Be? is a beautiful, heartfelt story of Maria’s personal journey in finding out just who she is. An invitation to speak at a high school graduation ignited Maria’s own quest to find out who she was, who she had been, and who she wanted to be. The book details her difficulties in deciding on a topic to speak about. After all, even a Kennedy needs to be persuaded that their story is worth telling. In the end, Maria gives a moving and genuine speech concluding with her own poem entitled, “Just Who Will You Be?”

Tonight I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the launch of Sevans Strategy founded by the incredible @PRSarahEvans. As I stepped out from behind the laptop and phone for awhile I made sure to look and listen as people of all types came together. I mingled, caught up with folks I’d previously met and introduced myself to some new faces. However, regardless of when I’d met them, one common question kept being asked; “what do you do?” What do I do? Well, right now I sit at home applying for jobs, writing blog posts and networking like I should get paid for it. But that’s not really what they wanted to know. So maybe, “What do you want to do?” But even that question leaves for so many possible answers. As the night wore on, I felt so limited by the questions being asked. Okay, well, I’m Megan, I graduated in 2008 from EIU, I interned with the Chicago Blackhawks and Weber Shandwick. Those are basically the answers to every question I was asked. But what does that say? What does that tell you about me? At times I longed to delve deeper into conversations, to really learn about the person, but it always went back to their career or social media or something of the sorts. Don’t get me wrong, the night was a great success and I met some incredible people, but the experience had me questioning a lot. A lot about myself. A lot about “what I do.” And a lot about what I want to do.

Before leaving the house this evening, as I threw my business cards and lip gloss into my purse, Maria Shrivers little book of answers caught my eye. “It’s going to be a long train ride,” I thought, “Might as well have something to read.” And while many people despise that 75 minute train ride, sometimes life means for you to miss an earlier train so you’re forced to take time to just…breathe. As I sat alone on the train, tired and hungry, I began to read and began to see things much clearer. My whole life I’ve been asked, “What do you want to be?” Well, a ballerina, obviously 😉 What do I want to be? Throughout high school and college that answer changed constantly. And since then I’ve been many things, I’ve worn many hats, and I’ve had many dreams. But the truth is, what I am now or what I was then is only a small part of what I will be in the future. Of who I will be in the future. Because tonight after reading Maria’s book in its entirety, I realized that the important thing isn’t what I do, or what I want to be..It’s who will I be. What kind of human being will I be? Will I help others or serve only myself? Will I cherish money and belongings or family, friends, and relationships? As I met new friends tonight I wish they had asked these questions. Because what I do in no way defines who I am.

I am grateful that I had that extra time on the train to read all of Just Who Will You Be?, because I’ve realized a few things. I’ve realized that the expectations others have of me, aren’t nearly as important as the expectations I have of myself. I’ve realized that in order to truly be happy, I need to follow my heart and my passions. And I’ve realized that above all things, the most important question to ask myself is “Who will I be?” So as I continue this journey in finding my rightful place in this world, I look forward to meeting the who I will become.

Megan, meet Megan.

There will definitely be more to come regarding this post! However, since it’s 1:20am I should probably be getting to sleep 🙂

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