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The Magical iPhone Sleep ButtonTuesday, January 28th, 2014

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

So for iPhone users, it turns out that there is a productivity button that comes standard with the device. Its free, it doesn’t require any downloads, it’s amazing and I found it. The way I found it came from a sleepless night where I had an early morning flight. You know those nights. You try to get to bed early but it turns out that the one night you need sleep, it just won’t happen. And of course every single time I was just about to fall asleep that night, I would get a text message or an email and my device would vibrate and I would wake up. Then of course, when it seemed that it was finally going to happen, I got a phone call from an old friend and my sleepless night ended literally with no sleep.

So what is the button and why does it matter? Well, if you put your finger at the bottom of your screen and swipe up, a sub menu appears. At the top of the menu there is an icon of a moon and it is the ‘sleep’ or ‘do not disturb’ mode. Basically any text message, email, call, etc won’t cause your device to ring or vibrate or light up or anything. It’s not that you don’t get them, they just don’t make your phone do anything until you check them.

So after I found this button, I started hitting it before bed every night and my sleepless night became just a single historical event. Then when I’d wake up, I would turn the sleep mode off and go about business as usual. But then a weird thing happened. I forgot to turn it off. I didn’t get any calls, messages, emails or anything for hours. My phone didn’t ring and even though the messages came in, I was essentially unavailable and something even weirder happened. The things I intended to get done that day, got done. The normal, continuous distraction of my iPhone was irrelevant and productivity happened at my pace. Multi-tasking is a myth and I didn’t need to do it. Instead, I was singularly focused and knocking stuff out.

Then the iteration happened. Clearly you can’t keep your phone in sleep mode at all times…that defeats the purpose. Instead, what I do is I turn it on for an hour at a time. That hour is the productive hour where no distractions (at least from my phone) can occur. At the end of the hour, if I choose, I’ll turn it off and check my messages, email, or whatever. The reality is that less and less am I choosing to turn it off. Instead I am allocating times throughout the day to check my device instead of it continuously checking me. The result has been increased productivity through better focus and less distraction

Sean Devlin is the lead technical architect of the popular contact management database, Front Rush.  Yes, they can help you produce branded, graphic-rich email templates to use with your prospects.  But that’s just the tip of the giant Front Rush iceberg!  Visit Front Rush online for a complete rundown of their awesomeness, and find out why they are the #1 choice of college coaches around the country.

If Your Friends Don’t Coach, Then They’re No Friends Of MineMonday, January 20th, 2014

By: Dr. Mike Davenport, CochingSportsToday.com

I’d been at the party for a long forty-five minutes. It was one of THOSE parties. Y’know the ones, where your buddy invites you, you don’t want to go, yet you really need to go.

So I went.

And I stood, in the corner, for those 45 minutes with only one person talking to me, and he wanted me to move so he could grab a beer in the fridge. And didn’t offer me one. Sigh.

But I didn’t care about the beer, not really. It was the isolation I felt, saw, tasted. Half the party was coaches from the University I was just hired at. The other half were, well … civilians. The coaches only hung out with coaches and didn’t really interact with the others. In fact, they treated them as aliens.

I asked my buddy why. His response, “Um, why would we talk to them?”

And that right there is a major downfall for many a coach.

AN ISLAND

Why would you restrict yourself to coaches? Why stick yourself on a deserted island? Is it because coaches are smarter, richer, better looking than others?  Hm … doubtful.

Social grouping is something that all people do, not just coaches. Probably happens because of convenience, or speaking the same language, or “They KNOW what I am going through.”

Those reasons are exactly why you should NOT isolate your social support system (SSS) to coaches only. You’ll be missing out on a rock-solid method to extend your coaching longevity, improve your legacy, and enjoy coaching to a greater degree.

YOU NEED NON-COACHES IN YOUR LIFE

Why?

There’s a significant pile of research that indicates a diverse and vibrant (two awesome words) social support system (SSS) is critical. Crazy critical if you work in a human services profession, which is exactly what coaching sports is. An SSS can do all sorts of good things for you, including helping you stay healthier and saner.

How?

I can quickly come up with four ways.

  1. To vent: it’s great to be able to express to others the crap happening in your coaching world. Misery DOES love company. That’s why bartenders and hairdressers stay in business, and get tipped. (You tip them, right?).  And venting can be a great way to let the steam out of the pressure cooker before it goes nuclear.
  2. For balance: knowing that the guy you are talking with, who is a mechanic, has problems with his customers that sounds just like the issues you have with your athletes may, on face value, sound worthless. Dig a little deeper. His customers want the same thing your athletes, or parents, or boss(es) want. Bang for their buck. (Hey, even if you are a volunteer coach, money is passing hands somewhere. Count on it. COUNT ON IT.) It’s how the World works. Knowing that could give you balance. It helps me, knowing my sport World is not the only crazy World out there.
  3. For ideas: how said mechanic (above) solves his customer problems might give you ideas of how to take care of your said athlete/boss/parent problem. Listen to his solution. (Word of caution — if he espouses using his blow torch to solve problems, ignore that part). Can you adapt his solution to your problem?
  4. For distraction: a quick way to forget about your two-point loss, even for 60 seconds is when your friend tells you how she made an error that cost her law firm partners 3 million dollars. Or how she made her partners 6 million.

BUILD YOUR SSS (social support system)

Three quick things you can do to de-islandize yourself:

1) Find freaks. Look around you for those who are different, weird, zipping around you at the speed of thought. In other word FREAKS. Freaks (I am a proud card carrying member of this group) see the World, hear, think, listen, differently. Tom Peters suggests taking a freak to lunch each week. Why not? Watch the movie “The Internship” for your answer. Spoiler alert, the biggest FREAK saves the day for the two heroes.

2) Connect with your friends who are not in coaching. Find one or two you relate to, and GO relate to them. Get off your coaching butt and do it. Try one friend a week. A one minute phone call is a great way to start. Build a core of buddies. And cultivate it. And grow it. And lean on it when the time is appropriate.

3) Track your social interactions. Send yourself an email, right now, with how many social interactions in your SSS you had today. Keep the email, and next Monday find the email and respond to yourself with how many interactions you had that day. Do for one month. If you don’t see an improvement you are NOT trying hard enough, or you are a hopeless case. I don’t believe you are hopeless, so try harder.

PIXELS AND YOUR FACE

Yes, Facebook will work. So does texting, email, and any digital method. But they, combined, don’t work nearly as well as having your beautiful coaching face in front of a real human being. There’s a lot of research that supports that, but forget the research — it is just plain common sense.

Too busy to create your SSS — get off Facebook for 15 minutes. Too tired? Go to bed 15 minutes earlier, turn off the TV, or don’t watch it at all. Too grumpy? That’s exactly WHY you need an SSS.

Hey, here’s the kicker … if you coach, you are in the PEOPLE BUSINESS. Yes, caps are there because I am yelling. So, put other people in your life to make yours better (and improve theirs while you are at it).

You are worth this, so are they.

Dr. Mike Davenport is a longtime college coach and the man behind the popular website CoachingSportsToday.com.  He is a regular contributor to College Recruiting Weekly.

Plan Your Day In The Office Like You Would Plan PracticeSaturday, January 11th, 2014

By: Mandy Green, Head Women’s Soccer Coach, University of South Dakota

When I have time, I sit and watch other sport practices.  It seems pretty common across the board that all coaches have practice planned down to the minute.  Everything is planned in advance, top priorities to work on take up the majority of practice, tasks have been delegated to other coaches, there is no wasted time, everything is organized, whistles or horns sound when it is time to move onto the next stage of practice, coaches reflect after practice is done on what went well and what didn’t, and more.

For some reason, when it comes to getting work done in the office, a lot of coaches just simply go into their office with no plan and choose to do whatever grabs their attention next until it is time to leave the office! Doing things this way is very inefficient and a lot of time is wasted.

The more structure you have during your work time means you get more work done.  It means you get further ahead with your program.  It means you have to work less outside of your work time.

Ok, let’s plan your day in the office tomorrow just like you would plan practice.

When you start planning your day in the office, just like you would when planning practices for your team, make sure to strategically think about and write down what you could do during the day to move your program forward.

  1. Plan everything in advance the day or night before.  While there are exceptions to the rule, generally you can’t expect to just show up for practice with no plan of what you are going to do for the day and have it be a good productive practice.  The same holds true for the office.  Write down on a master to-do list all of the tasks you need to get done the next day.
  2. Then decide which of those tasks that need to get done are the most important for moving your program forward and then schedule them into your calendar.  Everything else can wait.
  3. Coaches tend to set up their practices by doing their most important drills when they know their team is focused and has the best energy.  Do the same for your most important work in the office and you will produce higher quality work in a shorter amount of time.
  4. When a time limit is put on a drill, it creates urgency for coaches so they will work like crazy to get as much productive stuff done with their team in the time allotted.  Like you do for your drills at practice, schedule all office tasks in 15, 30, 60, or 90 minute intervals and then keep to the clock.
  5. Focus.  How much more do you accomplish with your teams when they are paying attention and putting all of their focus and energy into what you are working on in practice?  The same holds true for getting stuff done in the office. The quality of your work declines and the time it takes to get tasks done increases when you are not 100% focused on the task at hand.
  6. Avoid multi-tasking.  You would never jump from drill to drill as new drills pop into your head.  Once you start working on something in the office, continue to work on only that task until it is finished.

I could go on and on but you get the idea.

For you coach, once your to-do list is organized based on your goals and vision for your program, it becomes a map to guide you from morning to evening in the most effective and efficient way. This guide tells you what you have to do. It also helps you decide what is urgent and what is not, saving you a lot of time. Time that you might have otherwise wasted on less important busy-work that isn’t necessarily going to move your program forward.

For more information on Mandy Green and the valuable organizational calendar guide that she’s developed for coaches, click here.

What to Do When Your Long-Distance Recruit Won’t Visit CampusMonday, January 6th, 2014

I’ve been hearing this question a lot…most recently from an assistant soccer coach on the East coast.

“A lot of recruits expect that when they are invited to visit, that it’s automatically an “official visit”, said the coach.  “Plus, some of the recruits just can’t afford the travel expenses.”

The coach added, “I have had a lot of recruits from the West coast contact me recently.  I watch there video, invite them to visit, and then as soon as I address that it’s an unofficial visit, I typically do not hear back from them – and if I do they say, ‘I’ll try to figure out a way to come and visit’.”

Sound familiar, Coach?

Whether you’re a Division I powerhouse, or a small college just trying to build a decent program through recruiting, getting a high-value prospect to visit campus on their own dime is essential to long term recruiting success.  And while there are no “universal” tricks that work with every single one of your recruits, there are several recommended strategies we’d want you to consider (and a few questions you might need to ask yourself as you make efforts to get recruits to visit campus:

  1. First and foremost, have you given them a reason to come to campus?  Other than you being interested, and having a campus for them to come spend the day at, of course.  Because with this generation of prospects, there had better be more of a reason.  We’re finding that they need to understand their role in the program, why you want them, and more…essentially, they want to be able to justify why they should spend their time and money on your campus instead of one close, less expensive, or that’s offering to pay for travel expenses.
  2. Have you laid the groundwork for the visit?  From the scenarios we’ve tracked involving clients who we are helping to deal with this situation, asking for a visit to soon in the process is something that isn’t recommended.  It seems unnatural to the process: You saw them at a game or found them online, got in touch with them, and ask them to visit in that same first conversation.  In any other life circumstance, that would probably be grounds for contacting the police.  Be patient, let the recruiting relationship build over time, and then ask – usually, after solid phone conversations or lengthy text messaging is normal.
  3. Here are the reasons they’ll seriously consider visiting your campus at their expense:  You’ve outlined a specific plan for them if they were to compete for your program, you’ve made it clear why you like them and what role they’ll play once they join your team, or you’ve laid out a promise that something significant will be happening or will be discussed while they are on campus.  Are you building out a story for your recruit behind each one of those key reasons?  If not, you should.
  4. Ask them, “What else would you need to see answered before you feel like it would be worth it to visit campus?”  Ask it EXACTLY the way we’ve outlined.  Why?  Because 1) there is obviously something they need answered, and they aren’t going to tell you what it is until you ask, and 2) acknowledge that you realize they aren’t seeing the value in visiting campus, and you’re o.k. with that right now.  Develop a list of what you need to talk about with your recruit as you patiently build-out your recruiting message plan for them.
  5. Be creative and don’t wait for them to come to campus.  Bring your campus to them.  Technology is cheap and plentiful. Are you using it?  Here’s a great example of how a Division III coach uses his iPad to conduct long-distance campus visits.  Click here.
  6. Set a fair deadline for taking this needed action.  If the unofficial visit is the necessary next step for you, and you’re not going to feel comfortable without them taking that trip to campus, then you need to set a fair but firm deadline for coming to campus (assuming all of the above rules are being followed).  If they still refuse, it’s time to move on.  There will be some recruits that just can’t – or won’t – take that first step and keep the recruiting process moving forward by committing to an unofficial visit.

If you’re interested in our past articles on the topic of campus visits, click here.

This is a vital part of the recruiting process, but you have the primary responsibility as their potential future coach to guide them through the process logically, patiently and effectively.  Hopefully, these ideas we’ve seen work will help you make that happen with your next long-distance recruit.

6 Big Reasons Why Branded Email Templates Still Matter in RecruitingSaturday, January 4th, 2014

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

So by now, everyone (including your prospects, Coach) has seen, received, or sent a branded email template.

These are the emails that are sent with pictures of the team, links to the school’s websites, images of the coach, and other information we find that recruits like. We wanted to discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of these templates today, and try to give you – as a college coach who may be wondering if those graphic-rich emails are still something smart to send – some insights on how to use them.

Here is the first rule and really the only rule you need to remember:

The content of your email (the stuff that you write) is far more important in obtaining a recruit than whatever pictures, action shots, or links that a branded email template can provide. To clarify…the words that come from your brain and are typed into the email are much more impactful, over time, than the email templates that either you create or that a third party company builds for you.

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. How many recruits have committed to you after the first email that you sent them?  Zero. Recruiting is about relationship building. Its the consistent, ongoing emails, phone calls, and messaging that helps you ‘sell’ the recruit  – not a single email that “wows” them. You should spend more time thinking about the content of the email than thinking about the pictures and action shots of the team that brand it. The action shots of the team provide a specific purpose, but we’ll discuss that in a moment. For now, take a moment and internalize the fact that the content that you write is the most important part of any correspondence with a prospect – and the consistency with which you send it helps establish you firmly in their mind over the long run.

So, what role do branded email templates play in the overall recruiting message?  There are several, and they are important:

(1) It provides your program with a professional appearance especially on an initial email. For a low cost, you can make an impact on a recruit with hand picked action shots and customized branding that is consistent with the visual message that your school/program is attempting to portray.

(2) It allows you to begin the branding process of your school with the recruit. Logos, school colors, imagery, and more will now have an association from the recruit’s perspective (in other words, they know who you are by associating you with those visuals I just mentioned).

(3) It provides a visual call to action or ‘button’ that you want them to click directly from the email and do something for you. This could be to fill out an online questionnaire or visit your athletic page, or another type of call to action you deem appropriate.  Having something to click easily is far easier for a prospect to take action on than text that they will have to decipher.

(4) You can track who is opening your emails.  You can judge their interest level, what links they are clicking, how many times, if they forward it to someone else…and more.  It gives you the ability to gauge the interest of a prospect at various times throughout the process.

(5) They can (and should) compliment the stuff that you wrote in the body of the email. The images (like a picture book) can help to tell a story of your program.

(6) Branded, graphic emails are now considered the norm among recruits.  Most high-level, Division I programs use them.  If you want to be viewed as on the same level as those programs, we have seen it smart to use graphic-rich emails.

There are more advantages than disadvantages in using those branded email templates, Coach.  They are still a big part of the overall recruiting story you should want to tell, and helps you keep track of their interest in you and your program.  Both of those reasons should be important to serious college recruiters.

Sean Devlin is the lead technical architect of the popular contact management database, Front Rush.  Yes, they can help you produce branded, graphic-rich email templates to use with your prospects.  But that’s just the tip of the giant Front Rush iceberg!  Visit Front Rush online for a complete rundown of their awesomeness, and find out why they are the #1 choice of college coaches around the country.

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