Category: Random Sneakerbox

One-and-Done: The NBA’s Strategy For Managing Millennials

The NBA instituted a rule in 2006 that an athlete must be at least 19 years old and at least one year removed from graduating high school. And the term One-and-Done was born. It’s gained enough acceptance over the last decade that I wouldn’t be surprised if Merriam-Webster picked it up in a similar fashion to the term selfie.

Why was this strategy necessary?

In 1971 the Supreme Court decision in Haywood v. National Basketball Association, ruled against the NBA’s requirement that a player must wait four years after high school graduation before going pro. With no rule holding players back, would there be a huge influx of high school kids in the NBA? Surprisingly it was a resounding… thanks but no thanks.

Dun dun dun…. enter late Gen Xer’s and Millennials. The 90’s and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air happened and we started to see:

A Culture Shift:

Declaring for the NBA Draft straight out of high school wasn’t cool yet. It was expected that out of high school players go to college and play for at least a couple of years then head to the pros. Even The Greatest Player of All Time, CHOSE to stay and play at the University of North Carolina for three years from 1981-1984. It wasn’t a “thing” until Kevin Garnett left almost 25 years later in 1995 and started the windfall of the Kobe Bryant’s, Tracy McGrady’s, Amare Stoudemire’s, LeBron James’, and Dwight Howard’s.

LeBron James in high school at St. Vincent St. Mary's in Cleveland, Ohio.

LeBron James in high school at St. Vincent St. Mary’s in Cleveland, Ohio.

Workplace expectations were, I work 9-5, I work at the office in my super awesome cube, I only see my boss at my annual review, I wouldn’t dare wear headphones because that’s rude. Then this group called Millennials started infiltrating the establishment and decided that wasn’t so cool anymore. Cue our own version of the windfall. The designated leader of our group by the media, Mr. Zuckerberg, would have been a first round draft pick in the business world if there were such a thing.

The Skills Gap:

These straight from high school kids caused a shake-up in the NBA. There were more players than ever vying for the same number of positions, not to mention several of them were not physically ready for the pros. The players had the raw skills but needed some polishing, for example making sure rookies know that a “Pick and Roll” has nothing to do with sushi.

There are enough Millennials to go around, we’re entering the workforce in droves year after year. In August 2014 there were 4.8 million job openings, the highest level since 2001. It shouldn’t be hard to fill them right? If you’re in my talent or HR crowd you probably just laughed out loud. It’s just not that simple. Terms like STEM, technology, and globalization make it more complicated.

Adaptive Leaders:

One-and-Done college players are wreaking havoc on the college game. College coaches now have to change recruiting strategies and coaching techniques. There are three number one seeds left in this year’s tournament, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Duke. John Calipari and Kentucky are known for being home to One-and-Dones, Bo Ryan and Wisconsin are known for taking 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and having experienced senior-led teams, and Mike Krzyzewski and Duke have had balanced rosters of One-and-Dones like Kyrie Irving and Jabari Parker, to seniors like Shane Battier and Mason Plumlee. Three different approaches, three successful teams.

One of my favorite One-and-Dones, current Cleveland Cavalier and former Duke Point Guard, Kyrie Irving.

One of my favorite One-and-Dones, current Cleveland Cavalier and former Duke Point Guard, Kyrie Irving.

Leaders who can adapt to the evolution of the workplace are setting themselves up to be destination employers for Millennials. We want feedback from our leaders and we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Great talent follows great leaders.

The NBA needed to address the culture shift, skills gap, and identify adaptive leaders. Enter the One-and-Done strategy. Innovative and progressive workplaces weren’t necessary until, one day you looked over and your cube mate was a 90’s kid with headphones in listening to an artist with a dollar sign in her name.

What will be your One-and-Done Strategy?



Recruiting Millennials: How Oregon Got It Right

[Posted on LinkedIn 12/31/14]

Today is the eve of the first ever College Football Playoff. The inaugural four-team playoff includes Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, and Oregon. I must be up front and let you, the readers, know that I have an unwavering allegiance to The Ohio State University, as I grew up three miles from The Shoe and was born into the madness that is Buckeye Country. With that said, another team in the Playoff has changed the game of college football with the help of Nike.


In the late 90s, Oregon was not a perennial Top 25 football team. Being a west coast team, Oregon rarely got prime-time games and if New York wasn’t watching the games, fans and prospective players weren’t seeing the Oregon brand. Understanding that the Ducks could not change the orbital pattern around the sun or physically move the time zone lines, how were they going to become more visible and national title contenders? Brand it.

What Nike and Oregon teamed up to do with their swag continues to be a formula to attract high profile football recruits and offers organizations insight into what Millennials are looking for in an employer (even if we aren’t a 6’6” 250lb. linebacker with 4.40, 40-yard dash speed).

Step 1: Know What Freakishly Good Looks Like:

What gets it done today in college football? Being sleek, fast, and light on your feet, as if you’re gliding on top of the turf. The team who scores 40+ points with athletes who can outrun their opponents more often than not, comes out on top. At the time, Oregon didn’t have these players, but hoped that by making their brand fit this type of recruit, they could get one step closer to getting future Marcus Mariotas.

Do you know what being freakishly good means for your company? Define what this is for your organization and individual positions. By the way, this definition doesn’t include years of experience or knowledge of PowerPoint. For Oregon, being freakishly good involved four words: Leadership, Dynamic, Irreverence, and Innovation.

Step 2: Advocate for Change, Set the Culture:

No one wore neon until the Ducks sported Lightning Yellow and had audiences wondering if they should have sunglasses on to watch the game. No one had chrome helmets or facemasks until the Ducks made it possible. What about matte helmets? Sure. Oregon and Nike set the culture. And now, teams and other apparel partners are mimicking the duo’s creation. Why? Because it works.

Football recruits want to wear loud colored socks? Let’s do it. Millennials want a fresh, green Adidas jacket after they’ve worked for Groupon for a year? Let’s do it. If no one else is doing it, fantastic, let’s show them how it’s done. These don’t have to be earth-shattering discoveries; the little things set a culture.

Step 3: Recruiting Never Stops:

It’s all well and good to complete steps one and two, but those alone don’t lock in a championship. An elite program cannot stand on one wave of freshmen… To get Oregon where they are today took a decade of freshmen classes. And guess what? Today looks pretty good. Oregon has their first ever Heisman Trophy Winner and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Not bad.

Organizations have to sustain their competence in recruiting Millennials. One day it’s working flexible hours and the next it’s wearing a hoodie to the office. Take your first batch of kids and show your future millennial hires that not only is it cool to work at your organization, but you’re also pretty damn good at what you do.

So who will be the number one team in the nation this year? My rational side wants Oregon to win to reinforce what I’ve written above. However, my irrational sports fan gene, that my father so graciously passed on to me, will be in full force tomorrow as the Buckeyes take on the Crimson Tide.

Merry 2015. Happy Millennial Hunting. Until Next Year. Go Bucks.

#LikeAGirl: Hire Mo’ne Davis and My Sister

Always created a campaign addressing what it means to run, throw, and fight #LikeAGirl. When did #LikeAGirl become an insult? As more young girls believe they’re strong and capable, the challenges and obstacles women in the workplace face today will no longer hinder these kids from defining their own success.

Doing things #LikeAGirl is a gender stereotype being dismantled by campaigns like the one above and by real life stories of young girls who said, “Maybe I do throw like a girl. So what? I am a girl.” Have you seen the latest cover of Sport Illustrated? Mo’ne Davis is the first Little Leaguer, boy or girl, to be on the cover of the most coveted sports magazine. Not a bad gig for a 13 year-old who just happens to have a 70 mph fastball.

Mo’ne Davis and Becky Hammon have pulled Anything You Can Do I Can do Better back into the news, with a little help from our friends at ESPN. But, what about those stories ESPN doesn’t catch?

My kid sister threw #LikeAGirl, the girliest of girls in playground speak. Audrey had little interest in sports in grade school. She would build mini forts underneath the bleachers at my basketball games and play house. When we would attend a Tribe game, she’d dash for the cotton candy right when we got to our seats and miss the first pitch. Audrey made kid careers in ballet, painting, ceramics, and winning The Most Irritating Little Sibling in the World Award.

We didn’t have a lot in common at the time. I didn’t throw or run like a girl. I remember being on the docks of Lake Erie tailgating for Cleveland Browns games with my dad and his buddies, and I would hear, “Is that a girl? What an arm!” On Any Given Sunday I’d find myself taking a three-step drop and firing a cannon into the makeshift end zone between the grill and cooler full of adult beverages.

Truthfully, I just really didn’t think Aud was cut out for sports. Then one day she decided she’d had enough of following me around, being Nicole’s little sister. 10 year-old Audrey wanted to be a softball pitcher, a really good one. She had me telling her she couldn’t, my mom, bless her heart, didn’t really think it was going to work out, and the early softball teams Audrey played on weren’t the most supportive either.

So where did our athletic careers take us?

I played basketball at a Division III private school in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Ohio, banking on my ACT score to make tuition slightly more palatable. My sister, however, that kid playing with Barbies and dancing across the stage, was a pitcher for The Ohio State University. She played in a million dollar facility, traveled coast to coast playing the best teams in the country, had tutors on speed-dial, sports psychologists available, and what I think is the coolest thing ever, she wore our last name on the back of a Buckeye jersey. #proudsister

Who got the better deal in the end? Me, the coach pitch all-star or my sister, who threw like a girl? Whether it’s women in sports or women in the workplace these “young kids” are refreshingly not jaded. Young girls stare down gender inequality every day and rather than being deterred, some say, “I don’t care.”

My sister wanted to become great, and the more people who told her she couldn’t, the longer she’d be out in our front yard pitching to my dad. Audrey threw like a girl, a girl with the most wicked change-up you’ve ever seen.

These women are out there. Find them and hire them. They’ll inspire you.

4 GenY Misconceptions About Mentoring

As millennials we’re not only green (aka young, inexperienced, naiive… you get it) when it comes to skill sets needed in a job but the real issue is we’re green to full-time work in general. This creates a perfect storm for 20-somethings and we simply just don’t know what we don’t know.

I currently serve on the board of the Human Resources Association of Central Ohio (HRACO) as the VP of Student Services. My responsibilities include the organization and execution of our mentoring program for college students. Last week I was preparing to speak to students about joining HRACO and I began to think about why GenY might balk at the thought of mentorship.

Misconception #1: Making a decision might be worse than Chipotle running out of steak right before they close and it gives me anxiety.


When individuals say you need to find a mentor, it’s singular. As a 24 year-old millennial, how am I supposed to pick just one mentor? What if I pick the wrong one? What if I don’t think I have the time? What if someone recommends me the wrong person? What if I want two or three mentors? The idea of choosing “My Mentor” is daunting and therefore I refuse to even look into it because of the “what ifs.”

Truth: Getting out of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do. Decisions really aren’t that bad. You can have one or more mentors and if it’s not an “epic” experience, that’s ok. If you pick up just one nugget of information it’s an experience that is moving your forward.

Misconception #2:  I’m young, wild, and free like the retro 2011 song says. I have plenty of time.

Three months ago I had my two-year anniversary at work and if you do the math, with a retirement age of 65, I have 41 years left in my career. 41 years? I’ll get a mentor when I’m 30. I can wait.

Truth: So my question would be what happens when you’re 30? Is that when your career jumpstarts? It might be. But, be content with knowing others started at 22 and you’re now 8 years behind. #sorryimnotsorry

Misconception #3: “Older” folks know nothing about technology and that’s what runs the world, please tell me what I can learn from them.

I have a co-worker who has asked me multiple times to help show him how to forward text messages. I tie both hands behind my back, close my eyes, rap “Ice Ice Baby,” hop on one foot and forward the text at the same time, thinking to myself… “For real?” I guess by definition he could be a mentor but he can’t even use his own phone. On to the next one.

Truth: Don’t hate me for this… but you can only learn so much from YouTube. For example, ask YouTube how to merge a PDF. Do not ask YouTube if it can put you in touch with the VP of HR at your dream company. Whether or not a mentor has the latest app has about as much bearing on his/her ability to teach you rapport-building skills, how to build your network, or organizing/prioritizing tasks as the players on a Cleveland roster have on winning a championship. None.


Misconception #4: When I step off the stage at graduation, nothing can stop me from taking over the world.

When I graduated, there was nothing I “couldn’t” do. My parents let me believe if you work hard enough you can get anywhere you want to go. Why would I ask for help? That’s admitting I can’t do it alone and that does not fall in line with my narcissistic ways.

Truth: You’re creating a new marketing plan, you have a meeting to present it to your supervisor tomorrow, and you do it all by your lonesome. All you have as a reference are the three marketing classes you took in college, where you were on Twitter 87% of the lecture and the other 13% of the time you looked up occasionally to make sure the professor was really only using the PowerPoint. In which case you need not pay attention at all, just tally up another “I showed up” in the attendance books and save the studying for the night before your test when you print the PowerPoint and take a quick read-through.  How much about marketing do you REALLY know? Maybe someone who’s done this before could give you some tips? Just a thought.

Whether or not you formally call someone a “mentor” is not the issue. What is important is that we seize opportunities to learn from those with experience. It could be a formal program, a meeting with your professor, or lunch with a co-worker.

I’m not trying to crush dreams. Please feel free to be successful. Just know you might need a few others along the way.

“Call Me Maybe”, “Harlem Shake”, and A Business Take Away

Self-made dancers and videographers are swarming the Internet. What’s the next big movement? Well, we won’t know what the next “big thing” in YouTube dance sensations will be until another artist unleashes their genius on the world again. But, whether it’s a teen looking to break into the market diluted with young stars already or a DJ spinning a beat – the world has gone crazy for dance.

Exhibit 1: “Call Me Maybe


Because I have a personal bias toward “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, I turned to social media to gather some data regarding how people currently feel about the song when it comes on the radio, do you leave it on or change the station?

  • 41% said change the station
  • 59% said leave it on

While it wasn’t an overwhelming majority, the majority agreed with me – leave it on. And if you’re me, you turn it up and create your own music video while driving home from the office. It’s catchy and had the whole world hooked on Carly Rae for the summer of 2012.

Abercrombie & Fitch featured the song to promote their global stores and WOW their target audience. Even the London Olympics caught Carly Rae Fever with the US swim team and many others putting their own dance remix to the track.

What is the business impact you ask? “Call Me Maybe” opened the door and offered an inside look, even if just for 3 minutes, into the personalities and “off the clock” antics of some of the most focused, decorated athletes and mega corporations in the world. Their “Call Me Maybe” videos made them real people. People you could identify with.

Social Media allows you and your corporation to be real. Someone and something you can touch. Or at least believe that you can.

Exhibit 2: “Harlem Shake



As I have previously written blogs about my distaste for LeBron James, the Miami Heat had me thinking after I viewed their Harlem Shake video. These athletes are put on a pedestal of greatness and fame. Through this short video clip, they let the world see they are regular guys who like to have fun just like you and can get caught up in a social craze just the same.

In my opinion, this was the first time LeBron was “real” to me. It made him human and is a pure example of how social media has increased the visibility of those once thought of as unreachable.

Business Take Away:

First things first, you don’t have to go create a YouTube video and please don’t think that is the point of this blog. We are not all equipped with the time and budget to create impressive, creative music videos. However, I do think it is common practice to be present on social media outlets for companies and executives.

Being present on social media is one thing but being real and relatable is another. You want to identify with your peers, customers, colleagues, and overall network. Be yourself and be personal.

Products and services are a dime a dozen.

Social Media is a tool to help build your identity and make your company accessible.  People want to surround themselves with not only intelligent business associates but, business associates they like. Keep that in mind.

Why Gen-Y is Stressed and Why it Doesn’t Matter

Last Friday I went to bed at 10:30pm then woke up at 9am on Saturday morning. The best part about going to dinner and calling it an early night on Friday is I know when I wake up there will be several Instagram pictures for me to look at in the morning from celebrities and average Joe’s alike.

Before my feet even hit the floor, I get up to date on what Kevin Durant did on Friday night (socially and on the court), check my work e-mail to make sure there’s nothing urgent, open my Facebook app if I have a notification, answer any mentions on Twitter I may have, and look up Twitter conversations from my out of town friends to see what they were up to.

Some may think this “extra activity” before actually getting up is stressful; Millennials can barely take care of themselves let alone care about what everyone else is doing, right? However, I think most Millennials would be more stressed if we couldn’t check our social networks. Knowledge is power regardless if you decide to populate your brain with why it took Sean so long to eliminate Tierra, the fiscal cliff and depleting Social Security, or why the Lakers have built the worst “Dream Team” in the history of the NBA (finally now at .500).


My iPhone home screen with a few of my social network applications.

Millennials report higher stress levels than Gen Xer’s and Baby Boomers according to a new study by the American Psychological Association and is it because we’re concerned about The Bachelor? I’m unsure, but the NBC article discussing the study points to the unemployment rate and college debt as notable reasons for these unusual spikes in stress for those ages 18-34.

To some extent this is true, however, I think I would be much more stressed if I was a mother of two, Vice President sitting on the leadership team, who just got laid-off by a Fortune 500 company I’ve been loyal to for 15 years but, due to the economy, my employer I was so committed to? Sends me packing. When given that scenario, being a 24 year-old unsure of my entire future seems pretty acceptable.

College grads have been struggling with college debt much earlier than 2013. It’s not specific to this generation. I realize college is more expensive than it has ever been but there’s a thing called inflation that somehow always balances it out. Entry-level salaries are no longer $17,000 and college might not cost $8000 / year either.

The difference in this generation is the amount of information we have access to and the amount of information we want to retain. The more the better; because information is so accessible Millennials have this false hope that there’s no reason we shouldn’t have all of the answers.

Knowing how my company goes to the market, staying up to date on the latest sneaker releases, crossing my fingers Danni isn’t eliminated from Biggest Loser so that Jillian Michaels can stay on the show, making it to my sister’s softball games, finishing my project deadlines on time, failing at baking the latest Pinterest recipe, getting Retweeted by someone on the Glee cast, downloading the newest music, and perfecting the latest and greatest marketing software programs is a typical day and that might only be about 25% of it.

The stress being documented is a direct result from how Millennials go about daily activities in a stream of consciousness manner. I may be filling out a spreadsheet at work and after I’m finished, Instagram a picture that says Excel Master with the X-Pro II filter. Why? Solely because I’m happy it’s finished and want to document it – prior to social media the only people who would know about my “stressful” project would be whomever I meet for dinner that night, not the universe.

Gen Y differentiates itself from the “others” because of their easy adoption of technology. There’s never the next BIG thing for Gen Y, we’re always prepared for the next popular digital tool. Information makes us stressed but without it we’d be bored. We’re not afraid to tell you we’re stressed, because it’s normal. Nothing a Starbucks coffee and new One Direction song can’t cure.

Correlation does not mean causation. Studies reflect Gen Y’s self-diagnosed stress levels. And I’m sure we are stressed. But it doesn’t really matter; it means we’re just going about our daily lives.

What do you think?

Why would I buy a $4 coffee? Customer Engagement. That’s why.

It’s difficult to sit here and cite specific examples of “what I learned in college” and how it relates to the real world. To be quite frank, I was one of those kids that smashed all of the information in my brain for that test and that semester then off it went into the stratosphere. If there was anything that stuck, it was purely by choice and a slight Christmas miracle. In my consumer behavior class, an elective I took primarily due to my liking for the professor and the distaste for anything requiring addition or subtraction, I learned something I still remember today. We read a book called Predictably Irrational and if anything can top Freakonomics, which is difficult, it’s this book written by Dan Ariely.

In chapter 2, The Fallacy of Supply and Demand, Ariely addresses Starbucks v. Dunkin’ Donuts and all other “wannabes.” The brilliance behind the Starbucks brand is they have found a way to divert their customer’s brains to everything other than price. As noted by Ariely it’s the ambiance – the way you order, the food offerings, the décor. It’s unique and up scale. Why wouldn’t you pay $4 for the coffee? Buying a coffee at Starbucks is an experience not a daily chore. When in all reality, I have an entry level job and if I bought a $4 coffee each weekday for an entire year (which I do not, I try to be reasonable now and then) it would cost me just over $1000. I’m predictably irrational, I could use that $1000 on something other than coffee clearly… yet, I choose to buy over-priced, you guessed it… coffee.


Now let’s get down to the real reason I wanted to discuss my coffee buying habits or obsession rather, the coming of the Starbucks Reward card. Enter big data. Take any gift card you bought for yourself at Giant Eagle to earn fuel perks or that you received from your gracious friends who know it will go to use immediately, and register it online.

I naturally have done so, electing to offer my personal information to the twenty-fifth website and creating another username and password… for what? Starbucks Rewards, that’s what. Some perks include free refills on brewed coffee, a free coffee on your birthday, free music downloads, and “other promotions.” Let’s just say the other promotions don’t come around too often.

However, with your Starbucks Rewards card you can now download the Starbucks Application on your smart phone, manage your account online, pay with your phone and ditch the plastic card. In summary, I get a free coffee on my birthday (yes, once per year), free refills on brewed coffee (I don’t order their brewed coffee), download music (if it’s popular music they probably aren’t handing it out for free) and a free promotion now and then (that usually requires you to buy something first then get money back – spending money you otherwise wouldn’t).

And yet, here I am at 7:10am lining up and getting my coffee. I am fully aware that Starbucks is conning me into thinking I am so great for belonging to their club and sitting on the edge of my seat until I reach the Gold Card status and the best part is? It really doesn’t bother me at all. I’m going to have my Gold Card, pay with it on my iPhone, smile, and walk away content. Buying my $4 coffee is interactive and flat out cool.

I’m a predictably irrational millennial, armed with caffeine and an iPhone ready to take on the day.

What irrational purchases have you made?