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CEOQuarterSpring2016 copy

Your morning routine can positively impact your productivity and success.

In 2001, I started my own business. While my wife and I were finishing school, we created the Boosterthon Fun Run, an all-inclusive fitness, character and leadership fundraising program for schools. Booster was my top priority. As a young entrepreneur, running a startup required all of my energy. But inevitably, daily distractions and requests would sidetrack my day. Instead of keeping my proactive edge, I became reactive. I could feel that I wasn’t maximizing my time, but I didn’t know how to keep my day on a focused, proactive track.

a9ce67971e465c61a3eeb0a4eb64f3bcThere’s no shortage of books and speakers who compare the business world to sports. That’s not really surprising, given that both business and sports have a very distinct bottom line. You either win or you lose, and the difference between winning and losing organizations isn’t hard to figure out. Leaders who can coach their organizations to winning records are lauded for their skills.

But there’s a danger in looking at the bottom line as the be-all, end-all measurement of leadership. Penn State University has learned this lesson the hard way over the last six months, after the trial and conviction of former football coach Jerry Sandusky revealed some disturbing things about the culture created by his superior, the late Joe Paterno. Paterno, who at the time of his death earlier this year was the winningest head coach in NCAA history, had avoided making a public affair out of Sandusky’s child molestation. According to an independent report compiled by former FBI director Louis Freeh, Paterno wanted to sweep Sandusky’s crimes under the rug, and employed similar tactics when dealing with crimes allegedly committed by his players.

The athletes and coaches may receive most of the attention, but success in the world of professional sports depends almost as much on the business savvy of the people in the front office. Famed baseball executive Branch Rickey was at times better known than the managers he hired as he built World Series champion teams for the Cardinals and Dodgers, broke baseball’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson and invented the minor league system. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has drawn a lot of attention to himself with his outlandish behavior, but he’s also known for lavishing his players with top-shelf perks and eventually brought the city of Dallas its first NBA championship.

The Summer issue of Management Today presents a pair of stories of hard-working pro sports executives who work on a smaller scale, but still exemplify the dedication and determination needed to keep a pro franchise successful and profitable. As president of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the National Basketball Association Development League (NBADL), Bert Garcia was named 2011 NBADAL Executive of the Year. The fact that the Vipers won the league championship the season before no doubt helped Garcia’s case, but the team also leads the league in tickets sold, group tickets and overall attendance.

Garcia’s efforts have been a big part of this success, including community-focused promotions. Without the massive marketing engine of its major league counterparts, the Vipers turn to sponsorships and public appearances to drum up support, and the attendance figures show that it has been working.

“This not only helps us build and strengthen relationships within the Rio Grande Valley, but we can also receive feedback to improve our product,” Garcia says. “Our niche in the community is by far the best value for our stakeholders.”

One of the Vipers’ rivals in the NBADL, the Erie BayHawks, also works hard to create a bond with the fan base in its community, and President Matt Bresee leads those efforts. “When fans come to games, it’s our job to deliver great value, and we are constantly striving to create unique components to what we do on game nights,” he says.

Bresee says the time he’s spent in the corporate world has given him a unique perspective among minor league sports executives. He says giving staff the latitude to make decisions for themselves and the ability to take on multiple responsibilities himself are key to his success. “As we continue to grow and have the NBA involved, it’s only going to continue to put us in a position where we can continue to deliver for our partners and fans,” Bresee says.

These days, it may seem like planned obsolescence is the one true path to success. Enough people bought the original iPhone to suggest that there wasn’t much wrong with the product, and yet the next iteration of the device was released a little more than a year later, prompting another feeding frenzy. This pattern has remained pretty much consistent over the last several years.

The lifecycle of a lot of electronics has been accelerated to the point where consumers are expected to turn in their existing gadgets for the next generation well before they’re actually worn out. That might be a successful formula for consumer electronics, but there are some corners of the marketplace where buying one item to last for decades still is the norm.

A vacation is supposed to be a break from the routine, but it’s easy to forget that many times the break can become the routine itself. Popular vacation destinations like Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., and even Wisconsin Dells all have an element of sameness to them. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course – giving vacationers what they want and lots of it is how these destinations and their local businesses pay the bills. But, this also means there’s room for entrepreneurs who want to put a slightly different spin on things.

A pair of innovative companies featured in our Spring issue are doing just that. Westgate Resorts is focused on providing unique vacations through its 27 resort properties across the United States, while Kalahari Resorts brings new ideas to the waterpark industry in Wisconsin and Ohio.

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