Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What's Your Personal Mission Statement?

Happy Wednesday from the other side of ankle reconstruction surgery. I've been pretty restricted on recovery activities to this point, which sounds like a holiday, but let me assure you, it is not. Especially with two littles running rampant!

Needless to say, I've had a little time to think - which is a dangerous proposition in light of the pain meds - but now that I'm out of my Percocet stupor, I'm diving into Entrepreneurship class and doing some excellent reading. I've always been fascinated by business and the start-up of the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission has truly been an entrepreneurial effort. At any one time, I am usually at various points in at least one Audible book, one Kindle book and just because my free time abounds, a good ol' fashion hard copy book as well. More frequently than not, these books are related to some aspect of business.

You may consider my philosophy akin to casting a wide fishing net. In my case, I read a couple books a month outside of class, with the hopes that I'll reel in at least a few fish - or bits of knowledge - that I can mull over and potentially apply in some area of my life, whether personal or professional.

Photo Credit: Will Gervais
I strongly believe the aggregate of the information helps shape who we are and how we live.

In entrepreneurship class this week we are starting to develop our mission and vision for our business plan project. I have a specific project in mind (I'm not going to spoil the surprise yet). But it got me thinking from my  couch-ridden state...

I've formulated a mission and vision for the sports commission from its onset. And, right now our organization is working with some amazing consultants from Phoenix-based Huddle Up Group to revisit and refine our overall strategic plan, inclusive of mission and vision. It's one thing to develop a business-related mission and vision, but another to develop a personal mission statement.

Enter Stephen Covey Habit #2 in his acclaimed 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

Dave Ramsey also has an excellent book, called Entreleadership, in which he discusses both facets of missions and visions, personal and professional. I know I probably made a half-hearted attempt at a personal mission statement when reading Entreleadership the first time many years ago, but it's time for a revisit.

I don't know about you, but I need daily reminders of priorities and the direction my ship (personal and professional) is pointed. I'm constantly reminding our key stakeholders, employees, student workers, board members and others that the overarching goal of the sports commission is to make a difference in our community's economy and quality of life through sport...but what about me?

What's my personal mission statement? Does having one help hone my time, priorities, and likely result in better overall quality of life (and likely productivity)?

I contend it does. So I'm issuing a challenge.

One I'm taking on myself. I challenge my readers (believe it or not, there are a few hundred of you now), to spend some time this week formulating your personal mission statement. This isn't just "I want to be a rocket scientist", this is how do you want your time here in this crazy life defined?

I will do the same, and I will post mine in Stoll on Sports next week. Regardless if you are a student intern or the GM of the LA Dodgers, personal mission statements are absolutely imperative.

I had a great conversation with a friend yesterday and we were talking about how sometimes in this circus of life, you can blink and realize that your life is being steered by demands, not driven by you. Creating a personal mission statement is one way to take control and articulate in real, well-thought-out words, the foundation of your life.

Some other great friends of ours run a Christian retreat camp in the beautiful San Juan mountains and wrote a book called The View from the Rocking Chair. I encourage you to check it out as it's all about how you will reflect on your life when you are old and rocking on your front porch (boy, do I look forward to those days!).

Additional resources on mission statements are below.

Until next time, this is been Stoll on Sports. Ponder this quote by the famous Zig Ziglar "Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission."

Personal (and professional) Mission Statement Resources:
Happy writing (and likely re-writing!)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sports = Innovation

Remember those little crafts you used to make in elementary school where you'd glue little loops of construction paper together like pieces of a chain and tear them off day-by-day as a countdown toward something special like Christmas break or Field Day? Well, I haven't resorted to that system of checking academic terms off my list, but my home office whiteboard contains a barely more sophisticated version. 
Paper chain by someone more crafty than me
Yesterday I got to check off my 6th term out of 8 total (just coursework, dissertation will require actual construction paper loops and glue sticks). I have three academic courses left in this journey that both feels like it just started yesterday, and yet also feels like it has been moving as slowly as molasses in winter (as my relatives like to say). 

This term I'm embarking on Research Methods and Entrepreneurship in Sport. Despite my better judgement, the shimmery lure of going full-time and getting this done is too enticing to drop to one class. Plus, I really want to cross those terms off my whiteboard!

I'm super excited about these courses as one is going to help me begin to mold my dissertation topic (stay tuned for more on that), and the other, entrepreneurship, is of personal interest to me, especially as I got to start the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission essentially from scratch. 

I've done a lot of thinking lately about leveraging the sports commission in to even greater social impact for our community. I think this course will help me lay a foundation to do just that. In our first readings, we learned about the very nature of sport being innovative and entrepreneurial in spirit. Read Sports Business Journal, Sporting News or SportTechie on a weekly basis to continue to be amazed by the concepts emerging. 

Photo: Sports Business Insider
In sport, we have a unique opportunity to leverage our products for the greater good. Sports, by their nature, are community driven. Check out the awesome WIN for KC program developed by colleagues at the Kansas City Sports Commission, as an example. 

Seriously, who doesn't love the Globetrotters?
We've talked a lot about consumption driving sports, and that also makes them communal. What I mean is, I believe sports creates a common bond, sense of community and shared values. Regardless of background, political persuasion or religious preference, sport can unite vastly different groups of people. If you are an Ohio State Buckeye fan, you're a Buckeye fan. Period. If you're a Michigan fan, well then, sorry. 

I'm kidding about that last part (kind of). 

I've held true to the position that if we all rooted for the same teams, sports would lose their intrigue (and probably their existence)...unless you're the Harlem Globetrotters, but that is more novelty entertainment. By the way, did you know the last time the Harlem Globetrotters lost was in 1971? 

Let me jump this train back on the track. The sports world is advancing at warp speed changing the way we participate and consume sports. As such, it's also changing the very fabric of our community. It's an exciting time, indeed!

I'll leave you with two of my favorite quotes about innovation from two well-known innovators. This has been Stoll on Sports.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Saying Farewell (to the mandatory posts)

View out my window right now
If I'm being honest, I will admit that I have thought about blogging for quite some time. I had flirted with the concept of putting some of my thoughts and ideas out there for the world to see. The thought of doing so put a fear in me that had never allowed me to take the next step.

It's funny how things work out. Little did I know my strategic communication and emerging media course would force me to step into the unknown. At times I can be one of those people who prefer to stand on the dock, looking out to the horizon for the boat, then when the boat is tied up to the dock, I'm still reluctant to step aboard. I have to be diligent to put my feet out in the water and swim before I see.

I'm married to a "jump-off-the-dock-and-swim-until-a-boat-appears" kind of guy. And I love that about him. He's fearless and courageous, and importantly, he encourages me. He laughed when I told him I had to write one blog per week for this course. His laugh wasn't at me, it was at the fact that he'd known I had already contemplated doing it but hadn't taken the leap.

Some of my unease was rooted in uncertainty. Ironically, what I've found through this process is that blogging has become an enjoyable outlet for me. It's a time, once a week, to learn, reflect, ponder and try to make sense of topics. It reminds me of volunteering. Often the volunteer is left feeling more blessed that the recipient of his or her service.

While this marks the end of my mandatory weekly blog posts, my hope is that it's only the beginning of Stoll on Sports. I plan to broaden the topics addressed from communications to other areas, focus more on the sport context, and not lose sight of what's truly important. The posts may come a little less frequently, but I hope you'll join me as I continue down this journey that has been so rewarding.

And with that, I'm going to go enjoy this bluebird fall Colorado day! Until next time, this is Stoll on Sports. 

"I believe the children are our future"

Does anyone remember those timeless lyrics from the late Whitney Houston? Maybe I'm dating myself a bit here, but I still do love that song, and frankly, any Whitney Houston song.

"I believe the children are our future" the intro line to the song Greatest Love of All.

Simple. True. Timeless.

This song lyric transcends generations because no matter where we are at a point in time, at some point our future is in the hands of our children. In my humble opinion, it's our job to set them up for a future of success.

But how do we do that in a world riddled by tragedy, information overload and ever-changing technology?

This week's topic focuses on children and media. It's a heavy topic for sure. Especially during a week like our nation has seen with the Las Vegas tragedy following up destruction of natural disasters, and any number of other recent headlines in news and sports.

As a parent, these can be a difficult waters to navigate. We desire to protect our children, but also raise them to be aware and independent thinkers. When my kids were babies it was much easier to shield them from the negativity. They are only just about 4 and 5 and a half, and it is more and more difficult as they are more perceptive, learning to read and striving to understand the world around them.

Gopnik (2012) discussed what babies think about in her Ted talk. Interestingly, she noted that as young as 18 months, babies begin to understand we all like different things and they can help give someone what they prefer. Fifteen month old babies cannot decipher this complexity yet. I mentioned a few weeks ago how much brain development occurs in the first year of life.

And it doesn't stop there.

As outlined by the University of Rochester Medical Center (2017), the frontal cortex - which is responsible for rational thought - does not fully develop until the age of 25 or so.

I have a dear friend, with kids older than my own, that reminds us often that our kids can't make the decisions we expect of them because their brains simply aren't developed. In other words, they don't know what they don't know. She is also wonderful to realize that she is key aiding that development.

So where does all these leave us in the dynamic world of emerging media?

The internet brings with it a vast playground for development of self-awareness and self-expression among youth (Davis, 2010), not to mention the plethora of (good and not good) information available at their finger tips.

Let's take a second for me to be really clear: I'm not speaking to my opinion on what is right or wrong in terms of parenting style or parameters. I'm just talking about youth and media broadly.

In 2006, 54% of bloggers were under the age of 30 (Davis, 2010). According to Sysomos (2017), the proportion from ages 21-35 is 53.3%, but importantly slightly more than 20% of bloggers are 20 years of age or younger.

Did you get that? One-fifth of bloggers are have barely blown out the candles on their 20th birthday cake, nor can they legally buy a Coors Light.

As Davis (2010) asserted, bloggers are literally coming of age online. Her research on the development of online "profiles" noted that online, you can be anything you want to be, just like the Brad Paisley song of the same title.
Brad Paisley "Online"

However, and somewhat relieving, her research indicates that the female subjects of her study portrayed a similar profile both in online portrayal and offline identity.

So at least for that study, the young ladies were not pretending to be something they aren't. Although, actual identity and profile were not distinguished as either positive or negative. At least they weren't hiding it.

The tale should be cautionary, however. Livingstone (2008) commented on that vast playground mentioned earlier. Through social media, adolescents need to use rational thought to determine who they let into their world, what information they share, the emotions they portray, and how they respond to others.

...the same rational thought that we learned, is not fully developed until around 25 years old.

To my astute friend's point, how can we expect them to decipher what is and is not appropriate?

The issues with youth and media are not limited to social media behavior, but also news media and learning.

We already examined the struggles facing traditional news media outlets way back in August. Now we must look at news media consumption by the next generation.

Those in my generation may have a great advantage in that we are well-versed in traditional media outlets (radio and newspaper), but are also a part of ushering in the newest news technology. We can safely ride the line between new and old in a customized fashion. I still read our local newspaper (albeit online, behind a paywall...I know, I know), but get national and sport-related news notifications on my smartphone.

This won't be the case for younger generations. Unlike even my elder counterparts, news media consumption patterns of today's youth are focused on two elements: relevance and customization (Huang, 2009).

If capturing this critical audience is important, then catering to their desired consumption behaviors should be paramount. Settling for status quo cannot be an option.

Let's jump back to the learning process. Mitra (2007) conducted a series of experiments in which he placed computers with internet access or CD-ROMs (all content in English) in remote locations in India. What he found was that in groups, children taught themselves not only how to use the devices, but they also taught themselves the English words necessary to use them and communicate about them. With no learning structure, adult supervision or other influences.

Mitra's experiment in process
We see this in sport as well. When left to their own accord, kids will use their imagination to create games, agree on rules, and self-govern. So what do we do? We jump in and produce organized sport with coaches and structured practice, and tournaments from the ripe age of 3 or 4.

Fixing something that isn't broken? Perhaps.

While the frontal cortex may not be fully developed, there is no doubt development is still occurring at an exponential rate.

So what do we make of all of this?

The next line of the Whitney Houston song mentioned at the beginning of this post is "Teach them well and let them lead the way."

I think that's what we, as parents and community members, can do. We can agree to do our best to bring positivity to this world, help our children learn, and do our part to lay the foundation so they can become the leaders of the future.

I apologize to my sports junkies out there that feel neglected this week, but it was a lofty topic. We'll pick back up with more sports next week. Until then, how about we all go out and do a random act of kindness today. This has been Stoll on Sports.


Davis, K. (2010). Coming of age online: The developmental underpinnings of girls’ blogs. Journal of Adolescent Research, 25(1), 145-171.

Huang, E. (2009). The causes of youths’ low news consumption and strategies for making youths happy news consumers. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 15(1), 105-122.

Gopnik, A. (July 2011). What do babies think? Retrieved from

Livingstone, S. (June 2008). Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: Teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy, and self-expression. New Media and Society, 10(3), 393-411.

Mitra, S. (Februrary 2007). Kids can teach themselves. Retrieved from

Sysomos. (2017). Inside blogger demographics: Data by gender, age, etc. Retrieved from

University of Rochester Medical Center. (2017). Understanding the teen brain. Retrieved from