Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
Talking sports is my job. I love looking at the matchups, stats and storylines. I also love how often sports intersects and corresponds to business situations and conversations.
Sports always goes beyond sports if you’re Thinking Outside the Box Scores, which also happens to be the title of my new video series on YouTube. Every week I’ll post a short video that draws a correlation between sports and business.
For example, that project debrief you’re tempted to skip… that’s like a team not going back and looking at film of their game. You can see that video here and while you’re there go ahead and subscribe to my channel (there’s some fun stuff coming up!) And of course make sure you’re using topics like these to spark small talk this week.
If the last thing you want to do after finishing a project is a debrief, I get it.
I’m not particularly fond of re-watching past TV shows/segments I’ve produced. When I’m done, I’m done and I’m ready to move on. Except that’s not a game plan for success. Sports gives us a great example and reminder of that.
As the sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks I can tell you that every Monday is “Tell the Truth Monday” at the Seahawks facility. Everyone reviews film, (Yes, I know it’s not actual film, but they still call it film study.) They highlight the successes, study the failed plays and have honest conversations about what went right and what went wrong because the film, as they say, doesn’t lie. I’ve covered more than 250 games for the Seahawks, including outcomes you don’t want to talk about much less re-live on Monday, but they do it anyway because it’s one of the ways you get better.
I often mention that more than half of all Americans identify as sports fans. The World Cup helps highlight the magnitude of sports on a global scale because more than 5 billion people are expected to watch the tournament. That means more than half of the global population will be watching. (Insert mind blown emoji here.) Here's a great summary of the talking points around the World Cup.
If we’re being honest, I probably won’t be one of the billions of fans watching World Cup games, but I will follow headlines and highlights so I can talk with people who did. It’s part of using sports to connect with others. Even a passing interest can spark interesting conversations. So can these sports conversation starters.
There is a difference between saying "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry." Both are important, but you don't necessarily need to apologize if you guessed wrong or your educated guess didn't pan out.
I was completely wrong about how the Seahawks game in Germany would play out. It gave me the perfect opportunity to practice useful communication skill in business.
As I mentioned in the video there are times an apology is necessary, but I've seen far too many people (especially women I've worked with) default to "I'm sorry." Here's what happens when you do that: you take on unnecessary blame and criticism, add pressure on yourself and send a message that you're responsible for any and all failures. That's just not true and it doesn't position you well for future opportunities.
Here's where sports can help us differentiate between "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry." It starts with the question "Who do you think will win the game?" The answer is a best guess and fans get it wrong...
Travel. See the world. Use sports to connect.
Okay, I’ll admit I’m a little biased and still riding the high of being in Germany with the Seahawks. I have missed overseas travel immensely the last couple years. During the few days I spent in Germany I did my best to soak up the culture before working a football game Sunday.
Sports was the connection point. Every Uber driver knew there was a big game in town. Every server knew there were football fans around. The buzz sports created gave me a chance to connect. I learned about national sports from four different countries and answered questions about American football. It was amazing to find similarities with people in another part of the world.
It was also a reminder that we are all connected. Through sports. Through life. Through struggles. When I connect with people I see life in different ways. I see similarities instead of differences and I see a clearer path for better communication and stronger...
Could you imagine having a performance review every week?
Or having to talk about every outcome (good and bad) your team produced in a week?
Even worse, could you imagine pointing out shortcomings and pointing out the losers in the group?
Sounds a little cringy in a business setting doesn’t it?
But as sports fans we do these things all. the. time. It's called cheering. It’s how we talk about games. It’s the criticism we dish out after a disappointing loss when we don’t have any problem calling out the player whose slump is bringing down the rest of the team.
As sports fans, we’re not only capable of delivering feedback we excel at it. And then we clam up when we encounter similar conversations in business. We dread performance reviews. We shy away from tough conversations. We avoid critical feedback.
Here are a few gentle reminders of what sports fans already know:
Feedback is both expected and obvious in sports. The dropped ball, costly...
I’ve spent a lot of time texting with family members the last couple days about the World Series and the Houston Astros. I grew up in Houston. We went to games as a family. My brother and I frequently text about baseball during the season and now my niece and nephew are fans.
For me baseball isn’t just part of my job as a broadcaster it’s something that connects me to my family. That’s the power of sports. It’s the connections and the memories.
Give a sports fan to share some of those this week by using these conversation starters.
No tricks only treats for sports fans Monday because it’s the second Sports Equinox of the month. That means all four major sports leagues are in action on the same day.
The World Series continues in Philadelphia, Monday Night Football takes place in Cleveland and there’s a slate of regular season NBA and NHL games.
All of this means you don’t have to go far to find a sports conversation. Heck, you could even use the Sports Equinox as a starting point. It’s just the 28th occurrence ever. We saw the previous occurrence October 20th and here’s a fun fact, the first Sports Equinox occurred in 1971.
If you’d prefer to talk more about the actual games there’s a full list below.
Hard work pays off, but it doesn’t necessarily speak for itself. You have to be able to articulate your value because the answer to the question: “Doesn’t the company know how hard I work?” is “Probably not.”
Advocating for yourself starts with your communication skills. You don’t need to brag about what you’ve accomplished, but you do need to realize that everyone (including your manager, CEO, Founder, etc…) is busy. As long as a job is getting done no one looks too closely at the effort behind how it got done.
It’s on you to articulate how you affected the outcome.
As you can tell in the video I get very passionate talking about this particular communication skill. There are a lot of things out my control, but I can always control my messaging and the way I talk about my value and success.
If you struggle talking about your successes I get it. My parents taught me that you didn’t need to tell...
Compared to any other time of the year this is the busiest stretch of sports, with the most variety of sports being played. That means it’s not hard to find a sports headline or encounter fans talking about their favorite sport from football to soccer, hockey, basketball and baseball - they’re all in action now.
You don’t have to be up to speed on all the headlines. Fans will be happy to tell you what’s on their mind if you give them the opportunity to engage in the conversation. These conversation starters could help you get the ball rolling.