For the most part, we all work in offices that have a mix of male and female employees. Whatever the jobs or roles they play, everyone should be recognized for the unique contributions they add to the organization.
Yesterday, April 25, 2012, was the 60th anniversary in observance of Administrative Professionals Day. I’m all for observing such days and celebrating the people who work in these roles. But I have to ask if it’s a common practice for companies to invite “all the girls in the office to lunch” for this observance. When women are in a role not identified nor titled as “Administrative Assistant”, “Administrative Professional” or “Administrative…” anything, doesn’t it come across as sexist and demeaning to be grouped in this just because you are a woman?
What if there was an observance day for “Salesmen” and the boss invited “all the guys” to lunch? Sexist, right?
April 2011, I began a series of posts exploring the topic of Being an Expert. The first six posts were completed during a time that afforded me the opportunity to really reflect on those crazy and stupid moments that led up to the changes at the Plymouth Soccer Club. Since then, life has been turned on its head. Ironic that my last post was actually on August 12, 2011, the day before I took a significant step that allowed me to take the last 4 steps of Being an Expert and arriving to the place I’m at today. Granted, this doesn’t mean I feel I am an expert at much of anything, but I have come to the realization that each of the 10 steps in the process have presented themselves to me.
August 13, 2011 – The plan that had been formulating for the week prior comes to a head when I finally contact my former employer, Peter Brown, about possibly coming back given the situation in Syracuse is not working. Two days later, while I’m back in Syracuse, Peter calls to say that one of their salesmen has put in his resignation and that he would like to put in his recommendation for me to come back in that position. Given that my objective is to bridge a, hopefully, short-term gap of leaving Raymond and getting back in to SAP consulting, I tell Peter that I would gratefully take on the challenging role.
Although I tell this as if it were a quick, reactive agreement, it most definitely took me a longer time to talk myself in to it than what I’m portraying here. Just a couple of months prior, during a personal exercise, I wrote that something I never wanted to do in a career was be a salesperson or have to talk on the phone for extended periods. Here I was taking a path that completely went against this declaration. Little did I truly realize that I was taking the step to “Know How to Forget What You Know So You Can Know Something Else You Do Not Know.” By taking on this sales role, I was learning to Grow!
As fate would have it, I didn’t have to wait for my interview with my former employer to make the change as the Raymond Corp took the opportunity on my 6-month review to amicably part ways since it was no longer my intentions to move to Syracuse and it was clear I was not happy there. That gave me the opportunity to move forward with the plans already in motion, but to also interview for another opportunity with a major automotive company in the Detroit area that would put me back in a SAP role.
After interviewing with that company and my former employer, it was my intention to prove to myself that I could do something different but in a role that I felt I had more confidence given my past knowledge of the product and company. I also felt the role with my former employer would have a greater impact given its ‘proximity’ to the owner and other decision makers. This opportunity would allow me to grow and learn! The following week, I accepted the position of Business Consultant back with Real Green Systems and informed the SAP-related position that I just felt more comfortable with going in that direction – even though the pay was significantly less!
Fast forward to late January, 2012. In this role of Salesperson/Business Consultant, I learned that I definitely knew what I was writing about the previous year when I said I didn’t want to be in sales. Although I have exceeded my personal sales goals for the short 5 ½ months in the position, as well as exceeded the commission goals, it has been a drag on my psyche and energy. It has gone against every desire and personal belief I’ve ever had, not to mention being in an environment that simply doesn’t suit me. Yes, I’m oversimplifying this for this post, so I’ll just leave it at that for the time being.
Here’s where things begin to change once again. Although I’m in the midst of closing 8 new sales that help the company achieve record sales for the month of January, and doing the same in February, I’m finally honest with myself that this is not the best long-term career choice for me. My head and heart are still focused on how I can help my former youth soccer club and getting back to working with GuiXT on a regular basis. I had taken on a small, remote GuiXT contract to help a company but it has been moving slowly which works just fine with my regular travel schedule and fits with their expectations. Doing the work again really inspires me and challenges me in the ways I feel most confident and effective. With this realization, I made a definitive effort to put my resume back in the market and search out SAP and GuiXT opportunities.
The calls and emails came flooding in! Most are irrelevant to my experience or what I can do regarding travel or relocation, but it was good to see there were more opportunities than in the past. Then the real opportunities came in – GuiXT contracts! In the past, I’d be lucky to see 1 or 2 new contract opportunities a year. In just one week, 3 opportunities were presented to me! At this moment, I am very close to closing on one while the other contracts are on hold until later in the year.
The only words to best describe these opportunities is… THANK YOU!
Thank you to Real Green for giving me the chance to learn a new skill – sales – while also learning that it is something I really don’t enjoy. I don’t enjoy the pressure to meet unknown sales goals, I don’t enjoy the haggling with prospective purchasers and I don’t enjoy the seemingly fake efforts to give the customer a “great tool to help them grow their business.” It just all feels so disingenuous.
Thank you to my wife, Tiffany, for putting up with my constant changes. Although she just goes along with it, I know that it can be stressful whether our budget is under control.
Thank you to my kids for understanding when I have to travel or work extra hours at my other contracts. I’m grateful they get to be kids and experience a life that is not as insane as my childhood was.
I hope to report in about 2 weeks that I will be working in Atlanta on a long-term GuiXT contract. If not, I’m confident that other great opportunities will present themselves.
Oh, as for soccer, well that will just have to wait for now. If the timing is right, I’ll be able to help out with some assistant coaching, ref a few games or just help where needed. Although my heart lies with the kids and the club, I just have to move beyond all those politics and past headaches. If I’m meant to be a part of their world, it will happen.
Friday morning. A “vacation day” taken so I can be home with my family after another 4-day week in Syracuse, NY. Drove the 450 miles last night, arriving at 10:45pm. Just another of the 16 hour round trip weekly commute.
To help with my sanity, my plan was to get up a little early – 7ish, well early for the rest of the family – and go ride my bike 25 miles. Get a good workout as my only workouts for the week were a 3 mile walk around Green Lake State Park on Monday and 30 minute intense stationary bike work Tuesday and Wednesday.
7:10am – wake up without an alarm. Good start. Cup of yogurt. Riding gear on. Ready to go! Oh, that’s right, I still have to change the flat tire from 2 weeks ago! Didn’t do anything last week because of Jason’s ODP tryouts.
Toi the shed with the tire. Get the tire and tube off with little issue, and back on fairly smoothly. Air goes in smoothly with the electric air pump (one of the best purchases ever!) and wheel resecured.
Oh uh, something’s wrong with the chain and gears so I start working the pedals to get everything aligned and — POOOOOW! Freshly changed tire pops!!!!
Back to the garage until another day. Heck, I really should just sell this one and get something more “multipurpose” so I don’t have to deal with so many tire changes, not to mention the less than comfortable seat.
With the biking plans thwarted, change out of the biking gear for a quick walk while listening to the iPod. Oh, but wait. The iPod has been turned on for who knows how long and is dead! 2 for 2!
Ah but there is something far better than these temporary mechanical hiccups. I got in a 3 mile walk – a litle jogging mixed in – and write this post. I also have a plan I’m working on to get out of Raymond Corp, get back home and restructure my income earning methods. I also must rededicate some time to finishing my “Expert” posts and the last 4-5 are long over due.
Monday, April 5, 2010 – It’s just another day at work and I’m mentally preparing for the Board meeting the following day where we are supposed to finalize the Bylaw changes and present the Executive Director position. The Bylaw changes are seen as minor and should be a breeze. Mid-morning, I get a call from our Director of Coaching (DoC), and it’s the shocker of my life. He bluntly states “This is going to hurt you, but I have to tell you that [Ms. Secretary] and [Coach B] are against you and the Director position!”
Wait. Backup. Against me? Against the Director position? How? Why? Didn’t we just spend the last 2+ months discussing this in detail, working out how it would work financially? Didn’t we stay up late a few Friday and Saturday night’s scrutinizing every little word and phrase in the Bylaws to make sure it was right? All the hours developing and reworking every possible detail and scenario of the budget! I’ve never experienced physical shock, but this must be it!
Apparently a “secret” meeting had been called at the home of our DoC because there were whispers and rumors floating around – unbeknownst to me – and he wanted to “clear the air”, so to speak.
All but 3 of the club coaches showed up – those 3 not being interested in any finger-pointing or rumors if I wasn’t going to be present – to hear Ms. Secretary and Coach B present various items and stories of how I was being dishonest and had all sorts of bad plans for the coaches and club. This went on until 1:30-2am Monday morning when our DoC’s wife finally kicked them all out.
Coach C (remember that he is my oldest son’s coach and helped with the incubation of the Director position) and our DoC listen to their claims and admittedly begin to believe much of what they are saying. After sleeping on the conversation and so-called ‘facts’, they tell me that it doesn’t make sense and are still supportive of the Executive Director proposal. It took all day and several more to wade through what was really happening.
The number of phone conversations and emails in the proceeding 32 hours certainly put our cell phone batteries to the test. Without going directly to Ms. Secretary or Coach B, I tried to glean as much information as possible from Mr. VP and other club coaches by listening to the various claims and accusations. All I kept hearing was the claims were baseless and too far-fetched. Admittedly, I did not go to the sources to get their side of the story because I felt completely betrayed and Mr. VP suggested that we just wait and see what happens at the meeting Tuesday night. Everything was speculation and conjecture at this point.
It was either that same night or later in the week – I’m foggy on that date – our DoC, his wife and Coach C came to my home, until very late in the evening, to rehash in gory detail all that had been discussed. The three of them had come to the conclusion, on their own, that it was evident I did or said something to Ms. Secretary or Coach B that completely turned their feelings toward me. We speculated for hours! While I listened and processed everything, my wife had come to her own conclusions of demonic proportions. Our DoC’s wife was also climbing the walls over the situation. Although the knife in my back was evident, I was determined to take the high road and hear everything out. Unfortunately, none of it ever really got clarified to objectively proceed.
April 6, 2010 – for me, the Board meeting is a tense one. I know that our DoC and Coach C are on edge. I sense that a few other coaches are curious but appear optimistic. I don’t really hear any buzzing about any of the topics that are likely to come up as it’s actually just the beginning of the Spring season and people are talking about their teams and players.
As the meeting is just about to start, Ms. Secretary walks in, sits 2 seats to my right (buffered by our Member At-Large [MAL] person between). Mr. VP is to her right, our DoC to my left, and Mr. Treasurer and the Rules & Referee (R&R) guy to my far left.
Why would I even detail this? Well, this is exactly how many of the Board members want it so to keep things ‘civil’.
I haven’t mentioned the R&R guy in a while, but he begins to get involved shortly after this meeting.
Sidebar – an ongoing issue had been mulling in our group in regards to Coach C’s Visa status. His was scheduled to expire later in August, so we continued to talk about how to complete the application and find people who might help. Just before the meeting is to start, Coach C approaches Ms. Secretary and MAL about the subject as they apparently communicated to him that they might have some information. In the conversation, Ms. Secretary comments that there’s a $50 fee just to download a particular application related to the Visa process. I say that’s not true as I already have the document downloaded, but Ms. Secretary snaps back to me that it has changed. Really not a relevant point, but listening to her tone, I know that she is no longer interested in having any conversations with me! The Visa topic comes up again later in the story.
Throughout the meeting, I kept fairly silent. I knew that Ms. Secretary had gone behind my back so I wasn’t fully prepared to say anything and decided to just listen and ensure nothing inappropriate happen.
Inappropriate – there’s a word that gets so overused in the next 3 months!
Listening to the minor debates about the Bylaw changes – related to who had voting rights – I can sense the coaches are not happy with the direction some Board members are suggesting. However, the verbiage doesn’t change significantly and the Bylaw changes are completely ratified. Assuming that Mr. VP is going to introduce the Executive Director proposal and make the motion, our DoC nudges me to talk about the proposal. I’ve assumed Mr. VP will do it, so I give him a look of encouragement, which he takes as a suggestion to adjourn! They both assumed I was going to make the motion! Yikes! Ms. Secretary packs her stuff so fast and bolts out of the room! Everyone else starts to mingle and gradually disperse. DoC and Coach C approach me asking why I didn’t say anything. Again, I assumed Mr. VP was because we had discussed for months how it would be in our best interest that I never actually officially introduce the proposal in the meetings – “conflict of interest” (yet another overused word). The four of us then spend the next 60-90 minutes outside discussing what went wrong and how we are going to proceed before the next Board Meeting. What confused me the most, though, was a combination of statements by Mr. VP that seemed to contradict what he may or may not have known prior to the meeting or even over the past few weeks. I decided to not challenge him, nor have I to date because I honestly don’t remember exactly what was said. It just seemed strange at the time.
Over the next two weeks, there were some sarcasm laced emails from Mr. Treasurer regarding some of the auditing he was now performing on the Reign ’95 boys team, viewed mostly as an attempt to find something that I failed at, and mostly ignored by me to not fan the flames. (Although I later prove to him that money from the team had been gifted to me, he still makes the claims that I’ve embezzled something like $400!) I asked Ms. Secretary on Friday, April 23rd to put the proposal on the agenda along with a fundraising presentation. With these intentions stated, there weren’t any questions presented to me.
April 24, 2010, Coach B, our DoC and I meet at Starbucks where Coach B lays out what appeared to be the true issues. I listen to the issues:
- There’s an accusation made about a coach that is so outrageous, but apparently such a sensitive topic with Coach B and Ms. Secretary, it is clearly the impetus to all the venom. Although I have what I understand to be the facts, we debate its merits and come to the conclusion that we can agree to disagree, I think. Because of the nature of the topic, I’ve chosen to not discuss it in this public forum.
- Trust – Coach B doesn’t trust me because of a couple past situations:
I. Back in 2008, we were notified of the logo issue that the English Premier League raised. I still contend we were ratted on, but that’s not for here. Anyway, sometime in the Spring of 2009, at around the time we were looking for new design ideas, Coach B’s ex-wife submitted a pencil drawing of something she thought would work. It had been forwarded to Board members and essentially shot down as not something we wanted to pursue (along with another design submitted by a close personal friend of mine living in North Carolina). The three designs presented by MAL’s husband were the most feasible. Sometime shortly after those email exchanges, I don’t recall dates, times or locations, apparently Coach B asked me if we had made a decision on the logo and I apparently responded with “we already voted on it.” Again, I don’t recall any of these details. Coach B apparently asked Ms. Secretary if there had been a meeting to decide this, to which she responded that there hadn’t been a meeting or a vote. While it may be true that our Board meeting had not happened, this was a meaningless decision we had basically done via email and then approved at a meeting. I would love to say that I can pin point the exact meeting that happened at, but I don’t have any electronic version of the meeting minutes because Ms. Secretary NEVER forwards them after the meetings are complete. Ultimately, this is such a minor item, but Coach B says this is when his “radar went up” about trusting me.
II. At the Spring 2009 tryouts, it had already been announced that I would step away from being head coach of the Reign ’95 boys and Coach C would take over. At that time, we had 3 teams. At tryouts we had about 7 players too many for 2 teams, so there would have to be cuts. Ms. Secretary’s son, ultimately, was one of them. Coach B stated that he was disappointed that I didn’t put in a “good word” for the son so Coach C would consider him for the team. I explained to Coach B that Coach C and I had agreed that I would not get into the politics of what many of the parents surely deemed ‘guaranteed spots’, nor would I put any spin on any player, positive or negative. I would provide the data we gathered at the tryout and allow him to make the decisions without influence. Coach B continued to push the point that I should have said something on behalf of the son given Ms. Secretary’s work and commitment to the club. Apparently, not doing so went against our 3 C’s (Community, Camaraderie, Competition), more directly “Camaraderie”. Now she has to drive him to Dearborn to play on a poor team with a bad coach (which incidentally, I heard he quit from mid-season). He also asked about a rumor that I had told Coach C that the son shouldn’t be on the team because he had a bad attitude. Again, nothing of the sort was said. Coach C made his own assessments throughout the last half of the spring 2009 season and tryouts and chose the teams.
III. When was the Executive Director proposal presented to the current Board? As detailed throughout this story, the idea was discussed throughout January, discussed at both the January and February meeting, talked about at several meetings where the Bylaw changes were being detailed and the budget analyzed. I then forwarded the written proposal to Mr. VP throughout February-March for critique/revision. Apparently, the fact that it wasn’t shared in a timely manner with all the Board members created a perception of deceit and/or dishonesty.
Further on with the proposal, apparently something was said between Coach C and me at a meal we had with Coach B while on our way or in Philadelphia attending the NSCAA convention (I think I told this part in an earlier post). Apparently Coach C said something about “the position” to which I apparently said not to talk about it. I don’t recall this, but Coach B’s “radar” was again piqued since Coach C knew something. Honestly, it was at several meals that Coach C had at my home with my family that got me thinking about the idea so he was well aware of its merits and possibility. Our DoC was also fully aware and supportive. If I felt uncomfortable discussing it with others it was simply because I wanted to be sure it was developed properly and then communicated effectively.
IV. In the meeting with Coach B, I stated, exaggerating a bit, that I had forwarded the budget and trainer schedule spreadsheet at least 10 times. How many times these were emailed over the year, I don’t know precisely. Does it really matter? NO! What matters is that he, Ms. Secretary & Mr. Treasurer felt I’ve tried to conceal or hide information or not be truthful about coach stipends, the Executive Director salary and overall control of the club. If someone asks for something, or clarification on data, I’m always willing to provide. Give me a snide, sarcastic response like Mr. Treasurer had become adept at, I prefer to ignore it and not say anything to reduce the flame throwing.
The issues seem so petty, right?!?! Well, honestly, the first issue was important and I felt that we had dealt with it appropriately. We just weren’t going to air this publicly, for sure. The trust issues were just strange given the positive direction the club had been taking all those years yet Coach B really wanted to dig deeper and prove “transparency”. What he (& Ms. Secretary) was really looking for was the “smoking gun.” In an email two days later, he asked for clarification.
“There are a couple of questions that are still bothering me about our meeting Saturday morning. I’m hoping you can clear these up for me. You stated that:
- You were unaware of the allegations against….. What excactly (sic) did you understand the allegations to be and when and how were you made aware of them.
- That a copy of your proposal for a new position was emailed to the executive committee months before April 24th. When exactly did you send that out and who was on the email list?
- That the budget for 2010/2011 requested by the treasurer was emailed to him over ten times in the past year. When exactly did you send that out and who was on the email list?
- That training timesheets for 2009/2010 requested by the treasurer were emailed to him over ten times in the past year. When exactly did you send that out and who was on the email list?
- That the board approved the use of new logo through email. When approximately were those conversations taking place and who exactly was in the email chain?
- [DoC] stated that you told him and that [Mr. VP] confirmed that the whole board except for [Mr. Treasurer] was onboard with you about this new position. When exactly was that and who exactly are we talking about?”
I never responded to these questions which I’m certain provided plenty more fuel for their fire. Not only was there fire and brimstone, but the tangled web of email accusations and threats heat up and club meetings turn ugly. I had listened to all the accusations and had learned all that I didn’t know up to that point. I felt that the problems weren’t going to hold the club back and we were going to move full-steam ahead. Unfortunately, steps 7-10 of Being an Expert were still out of grasp.
Installment #5 about being an expert as it relates to the Spring 2010 issues at the Plymouth Soccer Club
4 Things mankind craves most – Freedom, Happiness, Peace & Love. None of these can be obtained without first giving them to someone else. – John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach
Shortly after graduating from Indiana University in 1991, I took a few core classes in hopes of earning a teaching degree (a second Bachelor’s), much like the one my wife Tiffany was completing. Tiffany earned hers in 2002, but two courses and other distractions later, I did not attain such a degree. I did earn my Master’s in Computer Information Systems many years later, but it was seventeen years on from my original Bachelor’s that I felt teaching would be the path to pursue. The idea of being able to give to those who wanted to learn, connecting with moldable minds and being more connected with my community gave me hope and meaning. It was all based in the understanding and mission of Community, Camaraderie, Competition. Again, in the summer of 2009, I took 3 courses in hopes of earning that elusive teaching degree, and again, finances and distractions got in the way. I was about a month short on getting some of that so-called “Obama money” after attending 3 sessions with a state agency
that was supposed to provide for the funds, but the program was nixed mid-process. I’ll never understand the politics or policies of that one, but without funding and a way to maintain regular income at that time, I opted for a low-paying, full-time, less than stellar position at a small software company in Walled Lake, MI.
It was a comment and book recommendation at that NSCAA Convention in January 2010 – by one of my favorite speakers, Bill Beswick, — that led me to the book Mindset:
The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. Having devoured the book about 2 weeks later and sharing the premise of the book with our Plymouth Soccer Club coaches and administrators, I felt a connection with something so academic yet relevant to the path I was taking with my life and the Executive Director proposal. The following is a short summary from Daniel Pink that I find just as revelatory as he does (The 3 Rules of Mindsets).
Dweck’s broad argument is that what people believe shapes what they achieve — mostly irrespective of their innate talent. Some people, she says, have a fixed view of
intelligence: They believe that intelligence is an entity, that we’re each endowed with a particular finite supply. Others have a growth view of intelligence: They believe that intelligence can expand through practice and effort.
Your starting assumption about intelligence — your mindset, as she calls it in her book — heavily determines what you’re able to accomplish. And people with growth mindsets generally accomplish more and learn more deeply.…Dweck set out three rules that nicely summarize the differences between the two mindsets along with
quotations from students that demonstrate the rules.
Fixed mindset: Look clever at all costs. (“The main thing I want when I do my school work is to show how good I am at it.”)
Growth mindset: Learn, learn, learn. (“It is much more important for me to learn things in my classes than it is to get the best grades.”)
Fixed mindset: It should come naturally. (“To tell you the truth, when I work hard at my school work it makes me feel like I’m not very smart.”)
Growth mindset: Work hard, effort is key. (“The harder you work at something, the better you’ll be at it.”)
Fixed mindset: Hide your mistakes and conceal your deficiencies. (After a disappointing exam score, “I’d spend less time on this subject from now on.
I’d try not to take this subject ever again, and I would try to cheat on the next test.”)
Growth mindset: Capitalize on your mistakes and confront your deficiencies. (After a disappointing exam score, “I’d work harder in this class
and spend more time studying for the tests.”)
If you have children, manage others, or are at all interested in improving what you do and how you do it, you need to understand Dweck’s research and its implications. For more info, here is the transcript of a speech from last year in which Dweck covered ground somewhat similar….. Stanford Magazine had a good profile of Dweck a few years ago that included an excellent infographic explaining the differences between the two mindsets. And be sure to check out her books — either Mindset or the more academic Self-theories.
Clearly, the examples above are geared toward students and how the different mindsets affect them in regards to learning and exams. However, this topic became a common discussion point for Coach B and me as he was working toward his teaching degree after many years in other, unrelated work and I was constantly challenging my own vision and desires for myself and the club. I really admired his tenacity to work toward his teaching degree and the time he devoted to it, in addition to his responsibilities as a single parent and coach/trainer.
The opportunity to teach so many young soccer players was always the primary fuel in the hybrid world of the expanding competitiveness of Plymouth Soccer Club. When I came in to the club, we probably had 200 members. By 2008-2009, we were over 400. In that same time, Coach B was one of the defining factors for our growing success. The manner in which he transferred his unique teaching style and personality to the field drew some players to the club. This was, and continues to be, true of other club coaches, but it wasn’t until well after everything had settled down that I came to the conclusion that not all coaches and administrators actually understand and embrace the Growth
Mindset over the Fixed Mindset.
The February 2010 Board of Directors meeting took place at the small office we were renting from a local indoor soccer facility. We had recently secured the room, nothing special, but it gave us our own space to have private meetings anytime we needed. I had invited 6 people so they could get a sense of what the Board did so they could determine whether they would have any interest in the soon-to-be-vacant Treasurer position and any of the At-Large Members we were prepared to propose as part of our Bylaw modifications. I was encouraged by their attendance as we discussed normal state of affairs and business items. I can’t say that I remember exactly what was discussed that night – there’s no record or Meeting Minutes as Ms. Secretary conveniently destroyed them later on – except for one specific topic. Toward the end of the meeting, I casually informed everyone that I was considering a proposal to the club for the creation of the Executive Director position. Generally speaking, it seemed to be accepted by everyone (Mr. Treasurer wasn’t there) and there were enough questions that it seemed the general idea was being supported. At one point, it was asked what type of salary the position would take, to which I responded that I hoped it would be $35,000-$40,000 the first year with some sort of increases set over a 5-10 year period. It was also clarified that the position would not include any other fringe benefits commonly found in any job but would generally take on all the responsibility of fund-raising and sponsorships to support such a position.
There was also a brief discussion about how the club could grow and expand its base through the current City of Plymouth’s Recreational program. I made a comment something in the nature of “we need to find a way to merge our programs” which was also interpreted as “we need to take over the Recreational program.” Whatever I said, or however I said it is certainly up for debate, but I feel confident that I’ve never made any statements that should have led anyone to believe that we were going to take over the Recreational program. The politics and headaches that would present were, and still are, far too much for a volunteer organization to take on.
The reason I bring up this portion of the story, while seemingly irrelevant to the Growth Mindset or “Giving” theme, is that in the chronology of events shortly after this meeting, I became mired in a Fixed Mindset and temporarily lost sight of why giving and teaching is so important to the mission of Community, Camaraderie, Competition. I lost sight of the friends I had around me and the thoughtful minds who would have kept me focused on the true goals. I’m not suggesting that any of my fellow Board Members where these people, but reverting to a Fixed Mindset – or as Seth Godin calls it, the Reptilian Brain – set me on a selfish path. My primary focus became how to make this Executive Director position a reality, how it and the club would sustain the financial load, and how I would be able to maintain a basic income through something I had great passion about.
A few weeks after that February meeting, Ms. Secretary calls to tell me that someone from that February meeting is a “leak”! Someone has gone to the City of Plymouth Recreational Director (Steve Anderson) and told him how I want to take over the Recreational soccer program. Since I know this isn’t reflective of the truth and, in hindsight, there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the room that would have gone to Steve with this information, I spent about 2 weeks asking vague questions to everyone to determine if they are truly trustworthy. Instead of just asking for the truth, I’m tip-toeing around everyone. Including, Ms. Secretary since I’m of the impression that she is being totally honest with me.
It’s now the mid-March Board meeting at which it was our agenda to accomplish a few simple items:
- Propose about 5 seemingly insignificant Bylaw changes that would simply clean up inconsistent and unnecessary language
- Make changes to each of the Board Member ‘job descriptions’ so that going forward it would make sense to have someone else responsible for accomplishing these tasks, thus allowing the Board to have ultimate over-sight of that person, aka the Executive Director.
- Vote in a new Board of Directors to take over the new positions in June (as this was a provision we had written in to the Bylaw changes).
- Upon full acceptance of the Bylaw changes, I would give a “state of the club” address in which the Executive Director position would be proposed and then tabled for
further discussion and more focused documentation for a later vote.
Oh, but this went astray when a topic in the Bylaw proposals went in a direction none of us ever expected. Much to our surprise, yet really unnoticed, Coach B points out how the language in the Bylaw proposal regarding club voting rights has a problem. It’s innocent enough, but generates quite a debate. Because of the twists and turns this took over the next several weeks, I actually shrugged it off as a minor road block. I figured it would be quickly resolved for the next meeting. We weren’t able to complete the full
agenda, not all of the Bylaw changes were ratified, and it was way past our promised time, so I held off saying anything about the Executive Director position. A couple people ask me why I held back, but I basically shrug it off as not a big deal. “We’ll do it at the next meeting.”
Through email, the Board continued discussing the Bylaw issues so that we could complete them at another meeting to take place a few weeks later. Again, at that meeting it was our agenda to complete the Bylaw changes and eventually talk about the proposed Executive Director position. However, this meeting takes place on April 6, 2010, a day after what I had considered one of the worst days of my life! From this date until well into 2011, I had lost focus of my Growth Mindset, my ability to “Give”, and ability to teach others what I knew. From that point forward, I felt I was in for a fight to keep my reputation, sanity and family.
While contemplating this step about “thinking”, I came across the 17 Reasons To Ignore Everybody and Follow Your Dreams (at Ridiculously Extraordinary).
- If you don’t follow your dreams you crush your dreams. Eventually you’ll stop dreaming altogether.
- There are very few things worse than regret. What will you regret tomorrow that you didn’t do today?
- Dreamers who took action have created everything around you.
- Following your dreams doesn’t always turn out as planned, but that makes them even more memorable.
- Personal growth happens when you stretch yourself. If you don’t follow your dreams you’re not stretching.
- You want to be remembered. Everybody does. We remember those who follow their dreams.
- Doing what you want attracts haters. This gives you a chance to ignore them. They hate that more than anything. Keep doing what you do. (In case that wasn’t clear: Don’t ever engage haters. It’s not worth your time. Let them be losers.)
- Your dreams and your actions define you. If you do what others tell you to do then you’re letting them define you.
- Following your dreams gives you the opportunity to Ignore Everybody .
- When people who look up to you see you following your dreams it will inspire some of them to follow their dreams.
- When people who don’t even know you see you following your dreams it will inspire some of them to follow their dreams as well.
- Following your dreams makes you interesting.
- You learn a lot from failure. Since you will fail on your path you’ll learn a lot too.
- Someone who’s motivated to accomplish something great is instantly sexier.
- There are no rules in life so why limit yourself to what everybody else is doing?
- You might live forever , but you might also die tomorrow. Take a chance.
- It’s better than watching TV.
Some of these points dig deeper in to the initial Being An Expert list, but they seem to highlight the theme of “risk” that is not explicitly stated in the Expert list. While risk will be discussed in a future post on Growing, I want to draw out the correlation between this idea of “Thinking” and “following your dreams”.
It’s quite clear at this point in the story of the debacle at the Plymouth Soccer Club that I had injected a sense of pride in the club, a clear direction, purpose and mission with Community, Camaraderie, Competition, and that we were moving forward in a direction unseen in Plymouth previously. You might also say that I was injecting my visions and dreams of the club reaching a level of competition that many coaches, parents and players were hoping for. All the steps taken to maintain relationships with the professional coaches, providing an income for them and raising expectations of club operations were evidence of my passion and dreams.
I think back to all of the opportunities to sit with coaches, our Director of Coaching, or some of the Board members and the ideas that would flow from these meetings. We always had fun and always came away with some new ideas or tasks to execute. It always felt like we were executing on the dreams we had for the club.
Unfortunately, we came to a point in the Spring of 2010 when some people just stopped thinking and only acted on their own selfishness and personal agenda. To dismiss that my actions were seen as selfish by others would be naïve, but that will forever be part of the debate.
The process of thinking through and analyzing whether the Plymouth Soccer Club could financially sustain an Executive Director began in late 2009. Having been told bluntly so many times prior that I should be paid for all the time and effort I put in to the club, and given the financial situation I was in, I started giving it serious thought. I even sat at my kitchen table with a trusted coach discussing how it might work. Heck, all the other big-money clubs in the area where able to do it, grow their player/membership base and are very competitive with it. The belief was that if it could be done by so many others, why not us?!?!
WARNING: From here on, I know that I will make some statements that WILL be read as self-evidence of something improper, maybe even illegal. At no point during the idea generation or analysis of the proposed Executive Director position did I feel that I was doing anything wrong. Of course not! It was my intention to take charge of the situation the club had presented via its growth, propose an idea that so many of the coaches and other administrators supported, and do it in a way that would only benefit the club and members while providing me with the opportunity to earn a small salary to keep my family afloat. You will also read statements, assumptions, and actions that make it appear otherwise. I honestly don’t know how else to tell the rest of this story.
From December 2009 through about February 2010, I probably spent 15-20 hours per week thinking about various scenarios, modifying the possible club budget, and creating various budget projections on how to include a single salary of $25,000-$40,000 per year that would be paid to me as the Executive Director. For someone with my background, education and family commitments, this represented a small fraction of what I should be making, honestly. The scenarios and budget projections also included personal income that would come from the coaching of 2-3 teams and the regular training the club provided. All told, it might have been upwards of $55,000-$60,000 per year with no benefits! Although it was a dream opportunity that I was working hard at, I know my wife was struggling with how we would ever maintain our family budget and how the perception of “money” was influencing the proposal.
January 2010, Coach B, Coach C (he was now head coach for Reign ’95) and I attend the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention in Philadelphia, PA. We made the long drive together and roomed together for 4 nights/5 days. I felt it was a great opportunity to have others in our club learn about the convention and hopefully pick up new ideas as I always do at this yearly event. It was even better considering how close I was with both of these coaches!
At that time, I was still working on the initial idea of creating the Executive Director position. Many of the details had been discussed with Coach C as he was a primary character in pushing for me to create the position, but apparently I hadn’t included Coach B in these discussions. As I would learn later in May 2010, the fact that I hadn’t included Coach B in the discussions provided further evidence to him that I was “not to be trusted.” The other cases of why I was not to be trusted, again according to Coach B, can wait until later. In reflection of the moment of when I apparently brushed off any discussion of “the idea”, it was merely because 1) I hadn’t shared it with other Board Members who I felt deserved knowing of it first and 2) it was still in its infancy and hadn’t truly shaped to anything realistic. Unfortunately, this honest answer many months later was not satisfactory to Coach B.
As I began discussing the idea with other Board members, primarily Mr. VP and Ms. Secretary, it became clear that in order to even propose the idea, we would have to make some changes in our Bylaws to ensure proper “separation of duties” and correct language throughout. The actual man-hours spent on the overall vision, budget projections and Bylaw review, although never really calculated, I’m sure were staggering! I know that each of us was neglecting our regular paying jobs to make this happen.
Ah, except for one Board member! Well, at least that was the case in January when I told Mr. Treasurer that I had an idea for creating this position. It was after an indoor game in January as we were leaving the facility. I merely told Mr. Treasurer that I had an idea we would be talking about at the next Board meeting that would allow for me to step down as President and take on a new, paid Executive Director role. Without hesitation or any discussion, he immediately disagreed with the position as “not having any sort of separation of duties.” There was no discussion and no chance for Mr. Treasurer to even understand the vision or plan. Within 2 hours of our conversation, he sent an email to the Board stating he was resigning at the end of his term and that he disagreed with the Executive Director idea, again, because there was no separation of duties. Need I remind you, dear reader, that at this point in January 2010, the idea was still just an idea!
Although this was a setback, I saw it as a minor one. Frankly, I and other Board members felt it was time for Mr. Treasurer to either step down or that we would have to ask him to step down at the end of his term. Those many reasons aren’t for this story. We felt that with his pending resignation he could be ignored and any comments were just his way of trying to stir the pot.
As Mr. VP, Ms. Secretary and I continued to communicate about the idea and future proposal, as noted earlier, we continued to think through so many budget scenarios and possible ways to make it work. We knew it would be a big financial challenge, but generating more sponsors and other fund-raising activities would be a primary activity for this new Executive Director. At one particular meeting the 3 of us had at a downtown Plymouth restaurant to discuss the role and its responsibilities, I was sharing how the budget might work and how we could build our 10-year projections. With coaching stipends prominently factored in to the budget, Ms. Secretary saw exactly what her boyfriend, Coach B, was making as a trainer and coach. It was immediately apparent that she was not comfortable with this and commented “he’s making that much and I’m paying for most of his bills!?!?! Well, that’s going to change real quick!”
After that restaurant meeting, throughout the months of February and March, we had other meetings to work through proposed Bylaw modifications, budgeting ideas and general thoughts on how to eventually present the proposal for the Executive Director position. Some of the ideas were shared with the 3 other Board members, but our thoughts were mostly focused on who would vote in favor of the proposal versus actually sitting down and talking with them about it. Although we did not know how these other Board members would react and only knew what the coaches wanted, we felt that we were delivering on the promise of Community, Camaraderie, Competition. Unfortunately, this is where we weren’t Thinking which continued until June 2010! I guess you could say that I was just following my dream, but was attracting haters (#4 and #7 from the earlier list)!
“The best part of life is when your family becomes your friends and your friends become your family” – Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
I’ve been writing about each of the points from the list of Being an Expert as I tell the story of how the Plymouth Soccer Club went through some dramatic changes in 2010-2011. The phrase that just keeps coming up for me is Know What You Don’t Know, and believe me, I know that I don’t know a lot!
In fact, I know that I still don’t know what the hell I want to do! Every day for the past 4-5 weeks I’ve been on a search for a better contract or permanent job using my SAP and/or GuiXT skills. While the 100+ contacts I’ve had via resumes sent and emails/phone calls received, none have led to a single realistic interview. Even the GuiXT project in San Diego that seemed so promising hasn’t gotten back with me in over 2 weeks now.
Frustrating isn’t the only word for the situation. To say that I’m feeling a bit demoralized at the moment would also be an understatement. Not only am I questioning whether being in the SAP field is worth the effort, I’m questioning all that I think I know. At two other points in my past, I felt that I should get in to teaching. Both times, those plans were derailed by financial situations. This week, yet again, I feel that teaching or something related to an educational field is where I need to be. And, yet again, finances are a significant factor.
As related in my Tootsie Pop licking story, I know that I know soccer in terms of running a small youth club. In the 8 years that I was part of the club on a pseudo full-time basis, I was able to make a lot of positive impact and numerous changes that allowed for the club to grow toward the vision of Community, Camaraderie, Competition we had. I would talk about these three words so often that many people thought I was just plain crazy. I felt so strongly and deeply about the meaning of these three words that, as also noted in earlier posts, I missed out on far too many good consulting jobs that would have paid very well. I was delivering on what I felt was best for the club and its members more so than on what was best for me and my family. I know it showed my commitment, but it would be the changes that we executed that showed my expertise.
Forging relationships with club members — the players, parents, coaches and other Board members — would lead to meaningful friendships and strong feelings toward some. In some cases, these people felt like family. I knew that if I had an idea to share with many of them, they would tell me the truth and give me honest feedback on their thoughts. In many situations, my ideas would run wild and my ‘friends’ would say I’m going too far or too fast. In other situations, my ‘friends’ would embrace the idea and help me execute. On the other hand, there were several who would talk to others behind my back and not confront me honestly. Unfortunately, there are always more of the dishonest than honest in this world.
Most would say that a “true friendship” would have to be forged to truly allow for anyone to gain a full perspective of that other person’s thoughts and beliefs. Over the course of 8 years with the Plymouth Soccer Club, I forged these friendships with several people who I felt were close friends. On more occasions than I can remember, I’ve had meals with all of these people, had them over my home for various meetings and events and have gone on trips throughout the Midwest in our ongoing quest to experience great youth soccer games.
During that time, we had a new club Secretary and club Treasurer. Both of these people were “related” to me in terms of their sons playing for my teams. My strong feelings toward both of their kids as strong-willed and important players for the teams led to what I thought was “true friendship” as their parent’s involvement with the club gradually increased
Ms. Secretary had been a team Manager for my Reign ’95 Gold team (her son playing on that team) and eventually became Board of Directors Secretary. I nominated her as I had been impressed with her organizational abilities during an earlier Policies & Procedures project I lead and no one else seemed up for the challenge of all the changes I foresaw. We worked closely on that Policy & Procedure document so that the club would finally have some type of formal documentation to give coaches and parents. While it wasn’t perfect and still has improvement challenges, it was a start.
Ms. Secretary and I communicated so often, that one parent (Coach A from the Learn From Mistakes story) commented that he thought she had more interest in me than just her son’s coach and the club President. For some, it’s not good to befriend a single mom who also has certain physical attributes that are easily noticeable on a youth soccer sideline! Obviously, that was so far removed from the truth, thankfully!
At that same time, I was also headstrong on finding someone with an Accounting background who could really help us standardize a club budget and properly manage the financial requirements of a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. I only knew Mr. Treasurer in passing as a team parent, but when his wife mentioned that he was a CPA I jumped at the opportunity to get him involved as the new Treasurer. His son is one of the toughest, likeable kids I’ve ever coached. He always worked hard to improve his skills and always took direction well. I wish I could say the same about his father.
I first met Mr. VP at East Middle School while running a training session for the U8 Recreational team I was coaching. It was the spring of 2002 shortly after it had been determined I would be coaching for the club the next Fall. It was only in passing because he and another coach were working with a team of boys a couple of years older than mine. I doubt he even remembers those encounters, but I do. Over the next few years, we got to know each other more and I gained the utmost respect for him. He went through some difficult personal times separate from all this but has always had the most amazing upbeat personality throughout it all.
About 4 months in to my Executive Committee duties, it had been determined that I would take over both the U9 boys teams and that the other coach would be moved to an older boys team as we felt he would be better suited coaching older ages. It was also determined that another club coach would be let go. I really don’t recall why he was being let go, but it most certainly had something to do with other Board members not liking him, his coaching style and possibly a lot of parent complaints. Whatever the reason was, I was “volun-told” to break the news to him. Apparently, this was because I was the Secretary and one of my duties was to “facilitate communications” with coaches. I think of that now and realize how misguided that was. What about the Director of Coaching or President? Why did they not take on the responsibility? I think I was just looking to show that I could do something worthwhile. Anyway, the next day, I called and we argued about the decision. He eventually moved on and technically poached the majority of the team to another club. Pretty standard stuff back in those days.
About a year later, maybe even two, it was my turn again to break the same type of news to my friend, Mr. VP, that he would no longer be the coach of his boys’ team! This time, though, I’d change my tactics. I’d break the news in person, not on the phone as I had apparently learned my lesson from the previous experience. It was probably a Thursday or Friday morning in June or July as the family packed up for a Florida vacation. I called Mr. VP to make sure he was home and to say I wanted to stop by. Although it was the morning, Mr. VP was home because he had been laid off about a month prior! In a short 3 minute conversation at his front door, I became the world’s most heartless friend by informing Mr. VP that he wouldn’t be the Head Coach for the team anymore, but we wanted him to remain as the team Manager to ensure a smooth transition with players and parents. Although I think he accepted it fairly well, I really don’t know how he dealt with it privately. Although there are other details to his personal life that I certainly can’t divulge here, I’m certain it was very tough for him.
Almost immediately after this “firing”, we wanted to put a particular coach in Mr. VP’s place. There is a story we like to tell at club events when Mr. VP lofts up the line that “Glenn fired me”. This particular replacement coach had been observed at several random training sessions and was respected as a very good referee. He had accepted our invitation to become the new coach. However, one little fact that we were unaware of was that his living arrangements apparently were what you might call “roughing it.” He had a trailer that he pulled behind a mini-van, which is exactly what he pulled up with at the first team training where he was to be introduced as the new coach for next year. He then spent something like 90 minutes just talking to the players about how great he was and what he was going to do for the team. Imagine 15 12-year old boys standing around for this, while simultaneously Mr. VP is standing a few yards away with the parents explaining he’s been “fired!” I wasn’t there, nor were any of the other Board members, but Mr. VP’s telling is a classic. Needless to say, that coach was not retained and Mr. VP was able to help manage the team for a few more years with the help of a few younger, more technically skilled soccer players. Unfortunately, the majority of the boys eventually went to other clubs at U14 and the Plymouth team disbanded, however, Mr. VP always remained loyal to the club. During the same time, he volunteered to help coordinate the yearly uniform purchases and even became Board of Directors Vice President in, I think, 2005.
The final person of significance to introduce here is Coach B.
I think it was Winter 2004 and I was playing indoor soccer with a group of guys I had met through a parent. On that team was a tough, competitive player, TS. Over a few months, I learned that he had an interest in becoming a Director of Coaching or at least help out leading a club. Our club President and I met with him on a few occasions to “feel him out” but eventually the process led us to “hiring” another person for that position. Oh, that person just happened to be the “aggressive and overly confident coach” I mentioned in Tootsie Pop. He rears his head again later.
TS eventually became a coach for us and unfortunately became a headache we had to deal with in a very formal way a few years later. He did however, introduce me to Coach B. Ironically, although I completely disagreed with TS’s coaching methods and manner in which he dealt with his girls’ team, I still run in to him at games and events and we talk a lot. We even played on the same Over-40 Men’s team for a few years. He’s a different personality that just takes time getting used to, but I think he means well and will do anything for his kids.
Coach B will also do almost anything for his kids. As a single father of two, I got to know him while playing for that same Men’s team and we quickly became close friends. When it was revealed that he was originally from the Boston, MA area, and me being from New Hampshire, we really connected. At that time, I was also coaching my younger son’s teams (two Reign ’97 teams, plus 3 Reign ’95 teams!) so I was able to take Coach B’s youngest son on to the team. His oldest son was playing for another club, but eventually came to play for my older boys’ team as well. It was somewhat of a family affair as his boys would do things with mine and we clicked as if long-lost brothers. His demeanor on and off the field meshed with the Reign ’97 team I had developed and his skills were by far some of the best that I knew. When he took over that age group for the U11 year, I knew it was one of the best decisions the club had ever made, not to mention someone I could trust would develop my younger son, too.
In the three-year period that Coach B coached the Reign ’97 team, he took on additional club training responsibilities and we often bounced general ideas off each other. In my Executive Committee roles, I relied on his opinions since he had a great soccer foundation and passion for the game. I could see that he also cared for many of the players and that he embraced our core values of “Community, Camaraderie, Competition.”
More ironic than the fact that we are both from the East Coast is the fact that my wife and I also helped arrange the date between he and Ms. Secretary in October of 2008 that led to them being a regular couple. (In early 2011, I heard they weren’t together, but that’s not been confirmed.)
It was this group — Mr. VP, Ms. Secretary, Mr. Treasurer and me — along with Coach B, our new Director of Coaching, Coach S, and several other professional soccer coaches we had hired, who would lead the charge for many big changes in the direction of Community, Camaraderie, Competition. It meant that we would talk almost daily and meet regularly to hash out new ideas and plans for the club. I meant the change of club name (formerly “Kicks” and “Lightning” to “Plymouth Reign”), a unified club logo (although forced to change after two years due to the English Premier League threatening legal action), professional coaches paid stipends that allowed them to focus on just coaching (they will be introduced later), and actual plans toward our having our own playing/training fields and developing players and teams toward more competitive play in higher levels throughout the youth soccer system.
The most significant change made was in the Spring of 2008 when we introduced the 50-50 funded club whereby parents would pay the club about 50% of their fees and their respective teams the other 50%. The numbers weren’t exactly 50%, but the idea was that it would be the first step toward paying all fees directly to the club. For as long as PSC had been operational, parents would pay fees to their team. In some cases, the volunteer coach might get to keep some of that fee while in most cases all of the money went toward 100% of the fees the team was responsible for — registration fees, tournaments, uniforms, etc. As things changed, many coaches were introducing team trainers, thus increasing the individual fees. Because everyone did things differently, parents were paying anywhere between $200 – $1000 per player and their experiences varied just as broadly. Some were getting huge bargains for the low fees and some were getting ripped off at the high fee. However, in the grand scheme of things, these rates were still huge value compared to other clubs in the area regularly charging upward of $2500-$3000 per player.
Then in the Spring of 2009, we made the switch to a fully funded club, with only voluntary fees being paid through the teams. Again, the idea was to level off the fees for everyone no matter what the perceived quality of coaching or level of play was. It stopped everyone from comparing what they paid for similar services.
In this some 2008-2009 time period, the club introduced two very significant changes that I, to this day, feel separates PSC from every other club out there.
1) We introduced something called IPD — Individual Player Development. This was regular, daily training for all club players no matter what age or skill level. As the program evolved, we tried different time slots and tried to keep it age appropriate. On many days in the Spring of 2008, we’d have maybe 1-2 kids, too often none, show up and work individually with the assigned trainer. It was frustrating at first, but I know my own son benefited greatly!
2) During the indoor season of 2008-2009, we introduced “Futsal”. Although the same skills were being taught as at IPD, parents and players saw something different. We had two regular coaches run those daily Futsal trainings who, unfortunately, are no longer with PSC (Mike Apple and Kyt Selaidopoulos), but the time and effort they put in to making those 20-30 players who came out religiously (my son’s included) set a foundation that can’t be replicated! I also organized a mini-tournament for our teams that many players loved and gave away t-shirts to “Champion” teams (age group based). Having just completed the 3rd indoor season of Futsal, I’d like to think that the PSC program has been copied by other programs as I regularly see them doing now what we were doing 3 years ago!
While both of these important changes helped improve the skills of so many players, fired up their competitiveness and contributed to a strong feeling of camaraderie, we faced significant financial challenges. You might say that we were firing on all cylinders, executing great programs for the members and learning more and more as we went. However, the financial challenges were keeping us from executing the big plans we all had in mind. It was coming to a point where we wanted to make commitments toward these big plans, where we wanted to present ideas so that we could work toward Delivering on Promises Made About What We Did Not Know.