It’s Time ….. 6 Tips to Surviving Cheersport Nationals

It’s that time of year again. You have been practicing since May. The squad is solid, the routine is locked and perfected. You know every move you teammate is going to make. It is time to make the trip to Atlanta, Ga for Cheersport Nationals.

The logistics begin to make this a successful trip for athletes and parents alike. The uniforms are packed the make-up and hairspray are strategically positioned for easy access. The hotel is booked and travel plans engaged. You have the inflatable furniture packed and the Stiletto heels ready to go! *LOUD RECORD SCREECHING SOUND* Wait What??????

Yes, you read that right. People do what they have to do to survive the Cheersport Nationals. It is an awesome competition and an incredible experience. It needs to be managed carefully or it can quickly spiral into a massive challenge on many levels. Here are some tips to make sure you maximize your experience.

  1. Leave the Jimmy Choo’s at home! This is no joke. You will walk miles upon miles going from warm up room, to competition area, to awards. Bring the FitBit because you will rack up the steps more than you would even believe. The last three years we have walked over six miles per day. Bring comfortable shoes!X.jpg
  2. If you are going to bring the inflatable furniture do it in style!Listen, i’m not here to judge. You are going to see inflatable furniture up in this bad boy. Folks have to do what they have to do. Parents who have more than three athletes competing have my personal blessing to bring an inflatable sectional couch to the competition if needed. There is a ton of standing and a lot of downtime. Stay comfortable people you will need your rest! Just make sure you coordinate and do it in style!36491-blog1.jpg
  3. Remember this competition is not about you- For the younger children ( heck even parents), this place is extremely intimidating. There will be close to 70,000 people at Cheersport this year. The Georgia World Congress Center has its own ZIP CODE for a reason. Remember your team will be extremely amped up and excited. There is a lot of pressure to execute and the electricity is infectious. If you can simply put yourself in the shoes of your athlete you will be fine. Keep the drama to a minimum and go with the flow. Don’t sweat the small stuff. (There will be a ton of small stuff!) Keep your focus on helping your athlete through the day. Pace yourself, and take in the experience it awesome.
  4. Take a break from the Competition festivities! If pulsating cheer music for 8-9 hours is your thing fantastic! Sit there and take it all in. For most, it will be healthy to take in something outside of the competition. Luckily there is tons to do within short walking distance of the competition. Take a look at the spectator packet for a ton of great deals and activities for the weekend. Most of what you need to know can be found right HERE. My personal favorite is the circus, but I am a kid at heart.
  5. Make sure to make new friends Listen it’s a long weekend and teams from all over the world will be here. It would be a shame not to share this wonderful experience with others. Share some kindness and some sportsmanship we all in this together for this long weekend. For most, this is an annual experience it’s good to share with others.A1CD9700-5259-401A-86C6-B33B5D224B5B
  6. Watch the best of the best- The fight to watch the Senior teams is intense. It gets ugly trying to get a position to watch the best teams in the world compete. Just be aware and careful especially if you have little ones. If you let your guard down before a popular team comes up, the crowd get feisty very fast jockeying for position. If your team is lucky enough to hit both days you MIGHT win. If that happens, you will have a lifelong memory for both your athlete and yourself. Even if you don’t, you will never forget the experience and you can build off it in the future.811C1664-66C1-4A74-9282-66731933FF6B

You have been working all year. Now is the payoff time. Stay safe and enjoy your time. Plan ahead and allow plenty of time to do anything. Make sure to plan your meals unless you want to live off of Dippin Dots and Limited food options which is what I do. If you see me make sure and say hello. I would love to talk to and I am sure my daughters would love to meet you! Cheers! Let me know some of your awesome or not so awesome Cheersport National stories.

If you have never been, take a look at this documentary of the 2018 National Champion Black Rays. It’s an up close and personal example of the entire weekend through the eyes of the team.

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Finding myself in Atlanta…..New Digital and Culture challenges

Moving from Chicago to Atlanta was a very cool experience. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved Chicago and still do. Atlanta has something about it that feels like you are a part of building something. It is kind of hard to explain. Atlanta to me is still trying to find it’s charm and has yet to define itself. It is a city of transients and transplants. The explosive growth of the late 90’s has completely changed the landscape of the city. When I first moved down to Atlanta I found a new career outside of advertising. the company was a physician recruiting firm. It was a very exciting role. Basically I would go into hospitals and larger universities in the Northeast to educate CEO’s and VPMA’s about what they needed to do to recruit physicians. To sit in a board room at Harvard and Yale and educate them on why they could not get physicians to come work for them was fascinating. I learned a ton traveled alot but with the news of my first born on the way traveling three weeks out of the month was not going to cut it.

I was looking for a culture where I fit in. I loved the team environment. I truly enjoyed coaching and teaching people new things. The best part of leading a team is finding what makes people tick and pushing them beyond their boundaries. I was really looking for a new challenge in the digital world. It was something I was very passionate about and had a knack for teaching people the digital world with relative ease. Even the most hardened legacy salesperson proved to be my biggest challenge. I sought out those folks to convert them into believers. I figured, if I could get them on board the rest would follow.

I started a new role at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I really did not know what to expect as the group recently went through a pretty tough re-organization but wanted to build out a digital revolution. The group was very upfront with me that this new role would be a big challenge as customers as well as the salesteam were very resistant to change but they both needed to be converted. I jumped in head first into the challenge….. one of the most exciting times in my career was about to happen and I had no idea where to begin… the rest to be continued….

Part 2.. the big move and more setbacks…Things start to look up.

The fun part about being in a startup is that all of the experience you have gained in your career often does not amount to anything. After being at FlashIssue for a month now I realize while having experience is beneficial it really does not amount to a hill of beans when starting from scratch. I don’t want to say that all I have learned over the past couple of years is useless, but it all boils down to the customer and building your product off of feedback. It is a very different experience. I will document it soon here. I will say that the experience gained by talking to executives has proved to be very valuable. I have talked to a few executives in my first month that I never thought I would speak to. It has been very exciting. Some of that was my experience, most of it is Flashissue the product… but enough about that.  And now the rest of the story….

The break in was very tough on me mentally. After the reality of my break in set in, and I finally understood the benefits of good insurance. I started my job at Circuit City. After a few months I saved a couple of hundred dollars and was ready to move out on my own. I put down the deposit and moved in with a bunch of hand me down furniture that I was extremely thankful to have. I remember the feeling after I plunked down my rent. I have a few more weeks to come up with next months rent. It was a very shallow feeling but very motivating at the same time. It was time to hustle…

While starting  at Circuit City, I was shocked about how much training was involved. They trained us to do everything and I was a sponge for the knowledge.. The management was incredible. I felt very comfortable here. I had a team and a support network. It seemed as if everyone had my back. It was great.. but there was an issue after a couple of months. It started to get slow… really slow. Circuit City taught us how to run our business from installation, to sales, all the way to managing a P & L. We as a team, were empowered to control our own destiny. The main issue was that we could only install what was sold on the sales floor or what walked in off the street. We as a team were not selling much. My main role was installation. I figured out really quickly I need to be more assertive to make our monthly bonus. Again, my entrepreneurial instincts kicked in. I began to wonder up to the front of the store to find out where the breakdown was. Was it customer flow? Was the department being covered properly? Not sure, but I was going to find out. After about a half day casing the situation. I found out what the problem was. The sales people were selling more in other departments and neglecting our department. I walked back to my manager and asked what the policy was  about me selling in the department to bring installs back to us. He said “go for it.” The first time I walked on to the sales floor I talked with a customer and sold him a complete system with installation. Needless to say we ended up making many monthly bonuses and grew the department quickly.

After 9 years with Circuit City,  I can say it was one of the best experiences of my life. At the time, I had no idea how good the training and experience was. It proved to be very beneficial for my future. Many people have learned about this company from the book Good to Great  by Jim Collins . I was very fortunate to be a part of this company during the time the book addresses. The management and training I received was incredible. They relocated me 10 times in 9 years. I gained invaluable experience and insight into everything from hiring,training, performance management, sales management, and teamwork. During the end of my experience at Circuit City the culture changed quickly. Many executives began to leave to competitors. I could see the writing on the wall, it was time to look for an exit strategy. I never thought I would leave the company. I truly enjoyed the experience. Even the holidays ( it was retail) were a challenge and we made it fun. It was time to move on, and I was scared. I gave nine years to a company and gained a ton of experience but I did not have the one thing I needed to take my career to the next level…. a degree.

After the company moved me from Chicago to Atlanta. I was looking for a role to get me back to Chicago as I recently engaged to be married. My fiancee was recently graduated and lived in Chicago. It was time to suck it up go to night school school full time and work full time. After I just escaped the retail and working weekends they were now dominated by The University of DePaul. It was tough, but I sucked it up and finished in 3 1/2 years. While going to school full time I worked in the yellow pages industry. It began my love affair with working with small businesses and advertising. The month I graduated my wife and I decided we wanted to relocate to Atlanta,Ga. I had lived in Atlanta for a few years while at Circuit City and really liked the area. Plus after coming back to Chicago from Atlanta I was not sure I could handle the winters anymore…. So off to Atlanta we went…