NetWorks Sports Two-Mintue Drill: Week of January 1, 2012

THE NETWORKS SPORTS TWO-MINUTE DRILL

Log on to the NetWorks Sports blog every Sunday as we succinctly recap our Top 5 list of events that caught our eye during the week in sports in The NetWorks Sports Two-Minute Drill.  Take two minutes out of your day to get our view on what’s going on both on the field (or court) and in the front-offices!

Top 5 Topics from the Week of January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!  As 2012 officially rolled in last Sunday, the world of sports remained the focus of many of our attention.  As I rang the new year in down in Scottsdale for the Fiesta Bowl, it was evident that 2012 would start off where 2011 left off…with several intriguing sports stories that promise to make this leap year another phenomenal year comprised of 366 magical days of sports.  Football fans were able to finally enjoy some competitive BCS Bowl games, the NFL playoff picture came into focus, and after a week of lockout affected NBA hoops, fans were enjoying (thanks to a free preview of NBA League Pass) the return of the best basketball players in the world to packed arenas around the country (except in a few markets, those poorly managed markets we speak of often). Here are the 5 topics in sports that topped our list this week:

5. Mike Tomlin proves that winning isn’t everything: While this is tough for Steelers fans to digest hours after a tough playoff loss to a lower-seeded Broncos team, in a culture & era where “winning is everything”, Coach Mike Tomlin continues to impress with his compassion for his players and view of the big picture. Defensive Back Ryan Clark, who has Sickle Cell trait, could have put his life in jeopardy if he opted to play in the high elevation of Denver.  In fact, unknowingly, doing so caused tremendous health issues for Clark a few years ago (in 2007), so Tomlin & the Steelers brass made the decision that Clark would have to sit this game out this week, despite it being a huge playoff battle on the road.  Clark stated this week that he wanted to play in such a huge game, but understands AND appreciates Coach Tomlin making his health a priority.  As witnessed late Sunday evening, Clark’s absence from the Steelers’ defensive backfield (along with solid play by Denver’s offensive and defensive units…and yes, 361 passing yards by Tim Tebow) may have cost the team dearly as his replacement struggled to make critical plays down the stretch.  There’s no doubt that Clark would have loved to have been on the field to impact the outcome of a huge playoff game, but in an age where many subscribe to the win at all costs method, it is refreshing to see why the Steelers organization and its leaders, such as Tomlin, are so well-respected across the sports industry.

4. Clippers continue to fight unwanted perceptions: This week, Blake Griffin (who actually coined the term Lob City when he initially heard about CP3 trade to Clippers being official) and Chris Paul attempted to distance themselves from the term by strongly stating that they are much more than just a team centered on lobs and dunks in transition.  Fearing that Lob City will imply that there is more style than substance (which arguably is a characteristic found in many Los Angeles based situations), the pair have taken to the media to further define what this new Clippers team is about…winning games & competing for Championships.  Seems like there is an identity crisis for LA’s newly appointed trendy team.  Based on the not-so-flattering nicknames fans of NBA hoops have used on the Clippers in the past, you’d think that they actually would be ok with embracing the fact that the Lob City moniker caught on so quickly and is a first step to changing the perception of a downtrodden franchise that had been the laughingstock of the league for years.  Personally, many fans find themselves tuning in to Clippers games because their Lob City exploits and charismatic players are exciting to watch.  More exciting than many of us can even remember!

3. A sports discussion falls back on a debate about race: Terrell Suggs (Ball So Hard University grad) vs. Skip Bayless on ESPN First Take this week!  Ding, Ding, Ding.  In what has previously been a rather mellow back and forth banter during Suggs’ occasional appearances on ESPN’s First Take, this week’s interviews took on an entirely new dynamic when Suggs brought up religious agendas involved in the current obsession with Tim Tebow when they debated Joe Flacco vs. Tim Tebow.  This debate, one of many, furthers the divide many feel in this complicated conversation based on the presence of a religious undertone.  Unfortunately, on the heels of this heated discussion, others began to allude to racial biases involved in the love/hate relationship many have with Tim Tebow.  We discussed it on a recent Game Changers Live radio show and undoubtedly will continue to discuss this very difficult topic.  Ultimately, at least we are having a dialogue about two very sensitive issues: race & religion.

2. She doesn’t “Love this Game”: Serena Williams divulged that she doesn’t love tennis or working out.  ”It’s not that I’ve fallen out of love; I’ve actually never liked sports, and I never understood how I became an athlete,” she said, according to the website. “I don’t like working out; I don’t like anything that has to do with working physically.”  We won’t see an NBA-like commercial where Serena says “I Love this Game!”, but don’t let this statement diminish her will & desire to be great and/or to win majors.  A lot has happened in Serena’s life, from the death of her sister to serious injuries, but through it all, when the lights & cameras of a major tennis tournament are on…she tends to bring out her passion for winning better than most.  Her display of honesty and candor should not have any impact on what we have come to expect when she laces up her Nike’s, puts on an outfit that will be critiqued, and stares across the net at her opponent.  If that ankle she injured last week heals properly, we should all tune in to the Australian Open to witness her greatness.

1.  “We Are Penn State” and we want to be heard: Amid the ongoing debate surrounding the Penn State scandal, proud alum of the PSU Football program took to the airwaves to air the utter frustration with the “new” direction the administration is taking.  LaVar Arrington, who has a unique platform to air his disdain on a DC-based radio show, was the loudest of many alum voicing their opinions on the hire.  At a time when every move made by the Penn State brains trust will be scrutinized, it was especially alarming when the pride and unity that this university has displayed for decades began to crumble over yet another decision that was perceived as disloyal.  Administration should certainly have appeased powerful alums by at least involving a committee of former players in the interview process (just based on the situation). Dallas Cowboys linebacker and Penn State alum, Sean Lee (a soft spoken leader), put out a statement on Sunday acknowledging that he (along with the others) had hoped for a member of the PSU family to have the opportunity to follow in Paterno’s footsteps, but ultimately encouraging his fellow alums to support the new regime.  That along with Bill O’Brien’s letter to the alum should help to calm down the madness and allow those who care the most about this program to start moving forward during a difficult time.

For a “New View from the Sidelines”, tune in to Game Changers Live Wednesday’s at 1:00pm ET/10:00am PT on BlogTalk Radio as the co-hosts cover important topics in the sports world.

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NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden (Director of Innovation @Nike Digital Sport

NetWorks Spotlight Interview with….Jason Mayden, Director of Innovation – Nike Digital Sport
By Tracey Savell Reavis

 

Jason Mayden Director of Innovation, Nike Digital Sports

Jason Mayden could talk about carbon fiber arch plates and laser etched tongue details all day. His goal, from the young age of 12, was to design sneakers, specifically Air Jordans. He chased his Nike dream with a laser-like focus, and landed a summer internship at Brand Jordan, while in his third year of design school.

But it was six years later, when the impossible dream, at least for a kid growing up on the Southside of Chicago, came true: He was named the lead designer on the new Jordan shoe. Drawing inspiration from the sport of fencing, from the propulsion of a Paralympic athlete, and from the legendary ball player himself, Jason created the Air Jordan 2009 with a design described as both conforming to the brand’s storied history, and demonstrating a fresh and forward-thinking approach. Since then, he’s spearheaded the design of signature shoes for Derek Jeter and Chris Paul.

More than just a former athlete – he turned down football scholarships to pursue a career as a designer – and more than just a creator – he considers himself an illustrator and graphic artist – Jason is also an innovator who can see the big picture for business. He just completed his Masters of Science at Stanford Graduate School of Business as a Sloan Fellow, where students are chosen based on their past accomplishments and their potential as future senior leaders. When Jason starts his new position on August 15th, one that was created specifically for him, there’s no doubt this is yet another chance for him to make an impression and to leave his unique footprint on the world of sport innovation.

So first question, what exactly will you be doing as the Director of Innovation at Nike Digital Sports?
[Laughing] Well, at Nike our core strength is the ability to innovate. This position is a way to implement technology into the sports world and to give the consumer a brand new experience. It’s a really fun, creative role, part design, part product development, and part business development.

And how did you find yourself on the receiving end of a newly created position?
I knew digital sports was a hot topic. And it was being in the environment at Stanford. It was a collaborative process, based on my interest and the company’s needs. I would say the process took the whole year. I basically went to class, and then this is what I would do 2 or 3 hours at night. This was my pet project. Then [this past] January I put together a presentation, and it morphed into the role that I now have.

It’s really about where the company is going, and where your core competencies and talents can fit in with that strategic vision.

You seem pretty proactive when it comes to your career. Would you say that has been a key to your success?
Yeah, ten thousand percent. But not even proactive, I would say I was curious. I pursued Nike because I learned at an early age that no one is going to come to your doorstep and give you a magic ticket. So I took the initiative. I remember someone telling me, Somebody has to design shoes. Why can’t it be you? And that stuck in my mind. Why can’t it be me? Why can’t I be that kid?

I asked for help early. I exposed myself to different conversations, different concepts. I had books that gave me a different perspective. I escaped through books. Reading Lord of the Flies, and Peter Pan gave me a chance to dream of a world outside of Chicago. That helped build my vision and that helped give me the confidence to take that first step.

What is it about sneakers that has captured your attention? What made you want to design shoes?
I’ve always loved shoes. When I was a kid, I had shoes that were literally un-wearable. I used to put duct tape on my shoes. So every time I design a shoe, regardless of how much it’s being sold for, I try to really pour my heart and soul  into it and give the kid more than just a piece of leather, but a story and value. Because I know there’s a kid out there, who was just like me who saved up their money, and this is their first pair of shoes, that really will make them feel confident and good about themselves, and I want them to take my shoes out of the box and put them on their feet and feel like they can do anything.

You consider yourself a designer, and yet you were interested in attending Stanford and pursuing an MBA?
I’m the type of person to turn my weakness into a strength. I applied, took my GMATs, and interviewed. But I don’t have an economics or finance background, and never worked as an analyst. And a lot of people said you’ll never get into business school being an artist. But I said, you know, creativity has purpose and a place in corporate America. I played it up as my strength. I said, “this is why I should be here”, because I’m completely different.  I knew this would be a chance for me to understand the conversations that were going on in [meeting] rooms and for me to contribute in my own unique way.

Michael Jordan at Press Event for 2009 Air Jordan Release

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I got was from my former big boss Michael Jordan. And he told me early on, when I was an intern, always under promise and over deliver.  And I live by that. I never over promise. I never try to sell someone on more than what I can do. I think being understated, being humble and being honest about your capabilities upfront then people start to build a trust and respect for your work and your work ethic. I live by that advice and I pass it on.

What advice would you give to people starting out about reaching their goals and achieving a seemingly impossible dream?
First thing, don’t tell yourself that it’s impossible. [Laughing] Tell yourself that it is going to take a lot of hard work and that it will be difficult. But with faith and the right team around you, nothing is impossible.

Dreaming is a free ticket to your final destination of where you want to be. I’m constantly daydreaming, about where I want to go in my life. I encourage myself; I’m constantly pouring positivity into my life.

And do everything you can to arm yourself with knowledge.  If you remove the notion of impossibility, be prayerful, and surround yourself with a positive group of people, the sky’s the limit.

What kind of career advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get into the sports industry, especially about the amount of work?
People look at hard work as if it is degrading or that it will take too long. I look at it from the framework of there’s heart work, h-e-a-r-t, where you have a passion and you’re going to do it anyway, and hard work, h-a-r-d, manual labor, where you’re doing it because you have to, because you need to take care of your family. I grew up watching my parents do hard work. They did what they needed to do to give us opportunities.  Now I’m in a position to do heart work, something that I love, a passion. And when it’s something you love, it shouldn’t matter how long it takes. You should be doing it because it makes you feel complete.

What does giving back mean to you and how do you support young people?
Giving back to me means giving time. I try to make myself available to as many people as possible. You can give money and resources, and that’s all necessary. But for me, in the type of world that I’m in, I try to spend time talking with people. And it means the world, because I had key people talk to me, and I never forgot it. Because everybody has gifts, whether developed or not. Sometime it takes just one person to let you know that they see it in you. So I try to be that one person for a lot of people.

If you weren’t designing shoes, what do you think you would be doing?
My other dream job besides designing the Jordan while working at Nike was to be in the movie industry, in special effects. And if that didn’t work out, probably an art professor, or coach. I just really love any way to interact with the young generation. At some point in my career, I want to go back and teach.

Get to Know Jason
Favorite Artists: Czech illustrator Alphonse Mucha and American concept artist Syd Mead

Favorite Clothing Designers: Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs

Favorite Shoe Designers: Manolo Blahnik, Tinker Hatfield

On his nightstand: Warrior of the Light, by Paulo Coelho

Most influential book: Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

 

In his music library: Anything from Bjork, Joe Henderson, Miles Davis

Follow Jason on Twitter @JayMay_ChiCity and find out more about what he’s doing on his website www.megamayden.com

Follow NetWorks Sports Consulting on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports and sign up to receive the “Changing the Game” Newsletter today!

 

Let us know what you think of this NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden in the Comment section below!

 


NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden (Director of Innovation @Nike Digital Sport

NetWorks Spotlight Interview with….Jason Mayden, Director of Innovation – Nike Digital Sport
By Tracey Savell Reavis

Jason Mayden Director of Innovation, Nike Digital Sports

Jason Mayden could talk about carbon fiber arch plates and laser etched tongue details all day. His goal, from the young age of 12, was to design sneakers, specifically Air Jordans. He chased his Nike dream with a laser-like focus, and landed a summer internship at Brand Jordan, while in his third year of design school.

But it was six years later, when the impossible dream, at least for a kid growing up on the Southside of Chicago, came true: He was named the lead designer on the new Jordan shoe. Drawing inspiration from the sport of fencing, from the propulsion of a Paralympic athlete, and from the legendary ball player himself, Jason created the Air Jordan 2009 with a design described as both conforming to the brand’s storied history, and demonstrating a fresh and forward-thinking approach. Since then, he’s spearheaded the design of signature shoes for Derek Jeter and Chris Paul.

More than just a former athlete – he turned down football scholarships to pursue a career as a designer – and more than just a creator – he considers himself an illustrator and graphic artist – Jason is also an innovator who can see the big picture for business. He just completed his Masters of Science at Stanford Graduate School of Business as a Sloan Fellow, where students are chosen based on their past accomplishments and their potential as future senior leaders. When Jason starts his new position on August 15th, one that was created specifically for him, there’s no doubt this is yet another chance for him to make an impression and to leave his unique footprint on the world of sport innovation.

So first question, what exactly will you be doing as the Director of Innovation at Nike Digital Sports?
[Laughing] Well, at Nike our core strength is the ability to innovate. This position is a way to implement technology into the sports world and to give the consumer a brand new experience. It’s a really fun, creative role, part design, part product development, and part business development.

And how did you find yourself on the receiving end of a newly created position?
I knew digital sports was a hot topic. And it was being in the environment at Stanford. It was a collaborative process, based on my interest and the company’s needs. I would say the process took the whole year. I basically went to class, and then this is what I would do 2 or 3 hours at night. This was my pet project. Then [this past] January I put together a presentation, and it morphed into the role that I now have.

It’s really about where the company is going, and where your core competencies and talents can fit in with that strategic vision.

You seem pretty proactive when it comes to your career. Would you say that has been a key to your success?
Yeah, ten thousand percent. But not even proactive, I would say I was curious. I pursued Nike because I learned at an early age that no one is going to come to your doorstep and give you a magic ticket. So I took the initiative. I remember someone telling me, Somebody has to design shoes. Why can’t it be you? And that stuck in my mind. Why can’t it be me? Why can’t I be that kid?

I asked for help early. I exposed myself to different conversations, different concepts. I had books that gave me a different perspective. I escaped through books. Reading Lord of the Flies, and Peter Pan gave me a chance to dream of a world outside of Chicago. That helped build my vision and that helped give me the confidence to take that first step.

What is it about sneakers that has captured your attention? What made you want to design shoes?
I’ve always loved shoes. When I was a kid, I had shoes that were literally un-wearable. I used to put duct tape on my shoes. So every time I design a shoe, regardless of how much it’s being sold for, I try to really pour my heart and soul  into it and give the kid more than just a piece of leather, but a story and value. Because I know there’s a kid out there, who was just like me who saved up their money, and this is their first pair of shoes, that really will make them feel confident and good about themselves, and I want them to take my shoes out of the box and put them on their feet and feel like they can do anything.

You consider yourself a designer, and yet you were interested in attending Stanford and pursuing an MBA?
I’m the type of person to turn my weakness into a strength. I applied, took my GMATs, and interviewed. But I don’t have an economics or finance background, and never worked as an analyst. And a lot of people said you’ll never get into business school being an artist. But I said, you know, creativity has purpose and a place in corporate America. I played it up as my strength. I said, “this is why I should be here”, because I’m completely different.  I knew this would be a chance for me to understand the conversations that were going on in [meeting] rooms and for me to contribute in my own unique way.

Michael Jordan at Press Event for 2009 Air Jordan Release

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I got was from my former big boss Michael Jordan. And he told me early on, when I was an intern, always under promise and over deliver.  And I live by that. I never over promise. I never try to sell someone on more than what I can do. I think being understated, being humble and being honest about your capabilities upfront then people start to build a trust and respect for your work and your work ethic. I live by that advice and I pass it on.

What advice would you give to people starting out about reaching their goals and achieving a seemingly impossible dream?
First thing, don’t tell yourself that it’s impossible. [Laughing] Tell yourself that it is going to take a lot of hard work and that it will be difficult. But with faith and the right team around you, nothing is impossible.

Dreaming is a free ticket to your final destination of where you want to be. I’m constantly daydreaming, about where I want to go in my life. I encourage myself; I’m constantly pouring positivity into my life.

And do everything you can to arm yourself with knowledge.  If you remove the notion of impossibility, be prayerful, and surround yourself with a positive group of people, the sky’s the limit.

What kind of career advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get into the sports industry, especially about the amount of work?
People look at hard work as if it is degrading or that it will take too long. I look at it from the framework of there’s heart work, h-e-a-r-t, where you have a passion and you’re going to do it anyway, and hard work, h-a-r-d, manual labor, where you’re doing it because you have to, because you need to take care of your family. I grew up watching my parents do hard work. They did what they needed to do to give us opportunities.  Now I’m in a position to do heart work, something that I love, a passion. And when it’s something you love, it shouldn’t matter how long it takes. You should be doing it because it makes you feel complete.

What does giving back mean to you and how do you support young people?
Giving back to me means giving time. I try to make myself available to as many people as possible. You can give money and resources, and that’s all necessary. But for me, in the type of world that I’m in, I try to spend time talking with people. And it means the world, because I had key people talk to me, and I never forgot it. Because everybody has gifts, whether developed or not. Sometime it takes just one person to let you know that they see it in you. So I try to be that one person for a lot of people.

If you weren’t designing shoes, what do you think you would be doing?
My other dream job besides designing the Jordan while working at Nike was to be in the movie industry, in special effects. And if that didn’t work out, probably an art professor, or coach. I just really love any way to interact with the young generation. At some point in my career, I want to go back and teach.

Get to Know Jason
Favorite Artists: Czech illustrator Alphonse Mucha and American concept artist Syd Mead

Favorite Clothing Designers: Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs

Favorite Shoe Designers: Manolo Blahnik, Tinker Hatfield

On his nightstand: Warrior of the Light, by Paulo Coelho

Most influential book: Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

In his music library: Anything from Bjork, Joe Henderson, Miles Davis

Follow Jason on Twitter @JayMay_ChiCity and find out more about what he’s doing on his website www.megamayden.com

Follow NetWorks Sports Consulting on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports and sign up to receive the “Changing the Game” Newsletter today!

 

Let us know what you think of this NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden in the Comment section below!