Two full weeks into the program, and the grind was starting to finally take its toll. The 12-hour days were becoming a lot to deal with, and this rainy Monday morning made it nearly impossible to drag myself out of bed to work, let alone to another Speaker Series all the way downtown. Had it not been my turn to write this blog post, there is a chance I might not have made it. But let me tell you… that would have been one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
“Live in front of your business card, not behind it”
It was an honor and privilege to be able to meet and listen to Mark Zablow, the CEO of Cogent Entertainment Marketing. He has been nationally recognized by the Sports Business Journal as a “Top Dealmaker” in the world of sports and also titled by USA Today as “Social Media Guru to the Stars”. Although it started as a rough day with me questioning what the hell I was doing with my life, Mark walked in with advice and stories that made me realize what the game of life is all about.
Mark’s words resonated with me in many ways. I wasn’t too interested in hearing how he did this deal or that deal, but instead I was fascinated by the way he lived his life. One point that I really took to heart was to humanize yourself to the people with whom you work and to those who surround you. Just because someone has a high-ranking title, doesn’t mean they are any more special than you are. At the end of the day, everyone goes home to the same problems whether it is health, family, money or whatever it may be. Also, the faster you humanize yourself to the people around you and get comfortable with them, the quicker you can establish trust and as a result work gets done much faster.
Additionally, Mark made it clear to us that although this is a business, we should not expect to make significant money in our 20-30’s; this is a business of fun. With that in mind, he stressed to us to not let your job be your identity; live in front of your business card, not behind it. He would rather be known as Mark Zablow the sneaker-head and pretzel-lover than Mark Zablow CEO of Cogent. To me, that spoke volumes about who he is as a person, and the priorities he has in life.
Of everything Mark said to us, my favorite quote that I took away is something that can apply to everyone in every aspect of life. He said “Don’t kick me when I’m down, because when I get up you’re f***ed.” This is a business of relationships and in order to succeed you need to treat everyone with respect and humility because you never know when you’re going to run into that person again down the line.
Mark is clearly a successful man, but he doesn’t let his work define him and I admire that about him. On a day that started out as a struggle for me, I ended up with more hope than I could have ever imagined, and for that I am extremely grateful.