On Monday night, ESPN’s Darren Rovell joined the MSBA Class of 2015 to kick off this year’s speaker series. His message to us was clear: “You must prove yourself in this industry, and act always as if there are others who are willing to work for free.”
There was, perhaps, no better tone-setting point Rovell could have made than this. When you consider what we have been assembled here to do, and where we all have the privilege of working this summer, I think it is critical to enter our respective internships with a mindset that says, “I’m going to be the guy that’s always willing to go the extra mile”.
Rovell’s message to us was really about humility — it’s about being able to recognize that when we are given a chance to pursue the careers of our dreams. No job is “below us.” We always have to be hustling — anticipating the next assignment, considering how we can improve execution, and looking for new opportunities to demonstrate our value. We’re all people who seem to want the responsibility of the “big job,” but we can’t forget that, to get there, we have to earn it each and every day. That never stops, even if one day we do happen to find ourselves behind a very important desk.
Beyond Rovell’s overtures about needing to have the work ethic to be great, he spoke at length about innovations in the digital marketing world. “At base,” he said, “today’s digital marketing is all about building the personal brand — teams, companies, and athletes all want to connect with their fans or clients in a deeper way.”
One example Rovell discussed was a recent digital ad by Heineken, which features everyday New Yorkers who are randomly selected to go to an all-expense paid Champions League game in Barcelona the next day, but have to first convince their bosses to drop everything and come with them. The raw emotion of the people featured in the ad made for some very compelling content, and it achieved something very rare, as advertisements go. It made the ordinary seem extraordinary; it connected the viewer with a stimulating story; and most importantly, it offered an escape from the linear, mundane advertisements to which we are so often exposed.
The challenge Rovell posed, therefore, was to not only be ever-humble and hungry for self-improvement, but also creative and non-complacent with the way things are. This could mean anything from the way we communicate through digital media to how we might help operate a team or league. All in all, it was a great first night, with the promise of many more to come.