What’s the secret to becoming the most highly paid and recognized individual in your field?
Legendary, Emmy-award winning television sportscaster, Al Michaels, famous for shouting one of the most memorable sports lines of all time – “do you believe in miracles?” – during the U.S. victory over the Russian hockey team at the 1980 Olympics, as well as being the only play-by-play commentary/host to cover the four major sports championships: the Super Bowl (6 times), World Series (8 times), NBA Finals (2 times) and the Stanley Cup Final (3 times) – and reaping impressive financial rewards from his successes- recently conversed with our UCLA Masters Class on The Business of Sports.
Michaels exhorts 5 strategies that propelled and sustained his enormous success followed by my declarations of how you can adapt them to get your winning edge to stay relevant and highly rewarded in your business.
Michaels gleaned over his many years as a leading-edge sportscaster that the audience viewing habits changed. Instead of staying dormant in one place watching three hours of sports, the audience was more distracted and was active with sometimes two or more other tasks, bringing them in and out of game play. Recognizing what the audience really wanted, he adapted his announcing style to incorporate the repetition of certain key elements in the story to be sure his audience stayed connected with the narrative.
Get Your Winning Edge By…staying attuned and in tune with your audience. As they change, you must adapt to stay relevant and attractive. You must evolve or become extinct. This is an issue of attitude more than aptitude. If you want a long career, in order to not become “old dog,” you must learn new “tricks.”
Limit the Lingo
Michaels is at the epicenter of one of the most formidable assets in professional sports media, NFL Sunday Night football, as its anchor sportscaster. Michaels points out his audience has grown tremendously largely as a result of the increased percentage of women who have been drawn to it and follow it. Michaels attributes this, in part, to making this sport accessible by not using too much unique vernacular. It can’t be a clinic. The ideas can be sophisticated and it can be rich content, but it has to be inclusive. You’re always trying to enlarge your audience.
Get Your Winning Edge By…understanding that in your business you ought not be speaking up or down to your audience, but that you’re speaking with them. You must communicate so they understand easily and “get” the value proposition of your offering and are compelled to take the action you want. Don’t let your ego get in the way to show how smart and clever you are. It’s about the connection, so it’s important to speak the language and the tone that aligns with your audience. This will support you in sustaining and growing your audience (customers and clients) and will enhance your reputational and economic value.
Use Technology Purposefully
Michaels points out that there is no doubt that technological advances have enhanced the viewer experience. But, it is just a frosting, and too much frosting can overwhelm the cake. Using technology just to show off can backfire as it did when a decision was made to put a light weight camcorder on a jockey’s head to capture a race, and the viewer experience of bouncing on the horse was nauseating. Whereas the Skycam, which was started in the competitive football league, was so successful that adapting it by the NFL became a boon to the audience’s enjoyment of the game.
Get Your Winning Edge By… understanding that new technology when purposefully applied can deepen the connection to your audience, or when indiscriminately or over used becomes a cold comfort. It’s not about the features of the technology, i.e., how it works, but whether the benefit (what’s in it for them) adds real value to your audience. It can position you as a thought leader who is able to execute on your thoughts and deliver the benefit to your audience. This will escalate your currency inside and outside of your organization. It will advance the development of your personal brand. And, most importantly, it will differentiate you from your competitors who may seek the same audience, job or promotion.
In journalism Michaels believes that truthfulness begets trust and respect. Because of his commitment to the truth, Al felt he was more often granted an interview from someone who otherwise would have been reluctant to speak with the press.
Get Your Winning Edge By… being authentic. In today’s technological world, untruths can be revealed in mere seconds and reputations can be instantly and often irreparably damaged. It’s always far harder to regain trust than it is to earn it, so build and grow your relationship with your employer and your customers based on authenticity and transparency. This will solidify your relationship in good times and bad.
According to Michaels, the most “popular” sports are the ones that create and maintain an emotional fan connection. Connection is the key. Fans must believe they own the team and they make a difference. And Michaels must facilitate this connection to earn their loyalty.
Get Your Winning Edge By… identifying what stakeholders (both up and down your food chain) are most important to your success and be sure to make an emotional (not merely intellectual or informational) connection to them. This emotional connection, through the stories you tell or the experiences you share, fosters a deeper relationship making you the more “popular” and favorable selection than your competition.
You don’t need to “believe in miracles” to remain relevant and highly rewarded for your product, your business or your personal brand. Instead, use Michael’s 5 success game changers and create your own miracles!