In the Summer of 2016, I attended a Digital Marketing Summit in New York City. This was one of the most inspiring events I could’ve ever attended. At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do in my career, but the summit was able to give me perspective. I listened to several professionals in the industry speak about their careers. As they told their stories, I knew this was the path for me. Despite my newfound desire for a career in digital marketing, I left the summit discouraged. I was told by a recruiter that I lacked experience. She said, “I wouldn’t know if you could even behave in an office environment.”
I couldn’t believe my years as an athlete, growing up on a golf course, would be completely overlooked in an instant. Didn’t she know golf is about etiquette, respect, accountability, trust, honesty, and discipline? Didn’t she know I’ve played golf with managers, partners, business owner, CFO’s, and CEO’s (usually two, three, and four times my age)? I felt insulted. But then, I realized, if I wasn’t a golfer, would I know about the prestige of this sport? Now when someone says I lack experience, I don’t become defensive. Instead, I teach people why golf is making me a great businesswoman.
Let’s get started.
It’s one of the first rules taught on the golf course. When you’re a kid it’s things like “Don’t talk when others are swinging” or “Fix your ball mark on the green” or “Make it look like you never even played the course”. When you’re older it’s things like “Make eye contact when you’re talking to your competitor” or “Listen and ask good questions” or “Be courteous to those around you”.
Etiquette in golf is like good manners at the dining room table; when you have them, the food doesn’t taste better, it’s just more fun to eat with you.
Caroline Riley at Go Local Interactive writes about the 5 Lessons the Golf Course Taught Me About Working With Clients. She says “marketing also has best practices, and clients expect transparency throughout the whole process. Your job is not to cheat your way around results, but to pursue them wholeheartedly with “white-hat” tactics. Clients expect honest, respectful, and clear communication. Etiquette means keeping your clients up to date with accurate information, no matter the circumstances.”
Transparency is a trend we can all get behind.
Growing up on a golf course teaches you a lot about respect. (And it isn’t a coincidence that it is one of the First Tee’s 9 Core Values.) One of my favorite ways to teach junior golfers about respecting others is by thanking the pro-shop.
There is a lot that goes into making a great golf course (maintenance staff, cart barn staff, pro-shop staff, the head golf professional, swing coaches, and other members). Over time, you can begin to feel entitled to have whatever you want, whenever you want it. In reality, the people working to make the course better, aren’t there just for you. A simple “thank you” and appreciation for all they have done for you goes a long way.
You are never better, above, or more important than the people making your experience great. That’s why the first thing I teach the junior golfer is to be thankful.
I was once assigned to a group for a project in class. The members of our team didn’t know each other and it was really hard for us to collaborate successfully on this assignment. About halfway through the semester, I began to realize that we weren’t working well with each other because there was a lack of respect. Some of the members felt that they better than the other members, and some members felt belittled and without work. I decided that we needed to have a meeting to discuss roles on the team. This meeting was very helpful because it gave each member a purpose.
By the end of the semester, we were getting along and enjoying working on the final presentation. When we were able to appreciate each member’s talent and contribution, it was easier to respect each other.
Respecting others isn’t just important because it makes people feel good, it can actually help your team reach its highest potential.
Golf is a unique sport because it is played individually, but in college, your team is evaluated based on four scores.
When I am in school, I am held accountable by my coach. He is constantly meeting with me to find out what I am working on, how I am trying to improve, and making suggestions for my improvements. Despite his desire to keep me accountable, my success is ultimately left up to me. I am the one who has to evaluate each round and find the places of my game to work on. I have to decide to stay late after practice to finish my drills.
Over the summer, it is up to me to continue to practice. My coach doesn’t check in on us every day to make sure we are improving. My work is evaluated when I come back to school each fall. If I want to succeed, it’s up to me.
In the office, I will have a boss checking in on me to make sure I am getting my work done correctly. He or she will not be hand-holding me making sure I do the work, I will be the one working independently and keeping myself on track each day. Using the skills I have learned from my days as a student-athlete have prepared me to work efficiently and independently.
Honesty and Trust
The Webster Dictionary defines honesty as “the quality or state of being truthful; not deceptive”. Golf gives you a lot of opportunities, to be honest, and for other’s to trust your honesty. Whether that’s shooting your lowest score when you played by yourself or not cheating when nobody is watching you, honesty, trust, and integrity are the most important values of this game. Because at the end of the day, it’s only you and a little white ball.
In marketing, we do a lot of brainstorming activities. Many of which provide great ideas. It can be easy to try to pass an idea off as your own, especially if that person isn’t working on your project.
My rule of thumb is always to give more credit than necessary.
Goal setting is one of my least favorite, necessary activities. Don’t get me wrong, I love dreaming up new goals, but often times the process can feel daunting. Sometimes I’ll try to convince myself having them in my head is enough, or other times my approach has been to “just see how it goes”. Neither approaches have ever worked successfully.
Even though I don’t like taking time each month to set new goals, evaluate the old ones, and make a plan on how to improve, I’ve found forcing myself to write these things down has made a huge difference in my game.
How will I even know how to set work goals? S/O to my favorite career helping site for being on top of this tricky topic! Career Contessa breaks down How To Set Career Goals in a simple, step-by-step way.
I think the most important thing here is to remember to be realistic. It’s great to dream and have a goal to be a CEO one day, but maybe it won’t happen after one year on the job.
Keep dreaming but remember to give yourself something to achieve in the near future!
The 18th hole (We’re almost done here)
As you can see, golf has prepared me a lot for working in a marketing agency. I can’t wait to go back and speak at that digital marketing conference and say “golf is the reason why I am a great businesswoman!” Seriously, this sport has given me every opportunity to be the best, while maintaining a balance between being professional and fun.
What are some ways you’ve seen golf prepare you for the business world? Was it through meetings on the golf course? Or simply the benefits of networking at the club? Golf is one of the best ways to build relationships with clients while building your personal brand.