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20 Things Your Recruits Told Us That You Should KnowTuesday, September 29th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

When an admissions department brings us to campus to lead one of our training workshops, part of what we do is conduct extensive focus group research with their student body. The questions we ask produce honest, valuable feedback on a number of different parts of the recruitment process. In a nutshell, the institution we’re working with discovers how this generation of student wants to be recruited.

In addition to our focus group research with colleges and universities nationwide, I regularly interact with prospective students at college fairs, local high school sporting events, restaurants, and yes, even airports when I travel.

My goal is always the same: I want to hear what your “typical recruit” wants from you as they’re being recruited.

Today, in no particular order, I’m going to pass along to you the 20 most popular things that thousands of teenagers have told us over the past year as it relates to the college recruitment process. I encourage you to use some or all of this information to help you communicate more effectively with this current class of prospects.

  1. Your prospects still don’t think many schools do a good enough job of explaining why they’re the “right fit” for them. Most of the stuff schools send is really general and doesn’t spell out why that particular student should want to spend the next four years as a member of their student body.
  1. The average number of colleges/universities that prospects “seriously consider” is three.
  1. If possible, sneak on the back of one of your admissions tours to see if the tour guide actually connects with the students and shares his or her personal experiences. If your school tells its tour guides to avoid these types of discussions, just understand that you’re taking away the opportunity to answer a want/need that your prospect has.
  1. The “preferred method” for admissions counselors to contact prospects is email (almost 70%). Having said that, there is no substitute for the impact that a handwritten letter, hand addressed envelope, or both makes on your prospects.
  1. Corny messages stick with prospects the most. Remember, all good things in moderation.
  1. Making fun of yourself and your school from time to time is actually a good thing.
  1. When marketing your institution, statements from the president or a dean do not have as much value as those from an actual student or alum.
  1. If you’re not sending prospects a consistent track of messaging every 6 to 9 days, many of them believe that means they don’t matter as much to you.
  1. Even though your prospects are okay with cell phone texts and direct messages on social media, they still expect you to ask what they’re comfortable with first, and they would prefer you limit your content to “reminders.” The, “Hey how’s it going,” texts get really old, really fast.
  1. Stop using pictures from last year or five years ago in your brochures, letters, emails and on social media.  Also, not everyone smiles all the time.  Try to use real, unstaged images wherever possible.
  1. If your school doesn’t communicate with parents consistently throughout the recruitment process (especially during on-campus events), you’re making it twice as hard to get that prospect to deposit to your school. Not impossible, just much harder.
  1. If you’re going to talk about pop culture, make sure you know what you’re talking about.
  1. During the college search process, “thinking/talking about paying for college” is significantly more stressful on your prospects than filling out applications or waiting for decision letters. Over 70% said it was the most stressful thing they dealt with.
  1. Out of a list of fifteen, the top two factors that were “very important” in terms of how they influenced a student to choose that school over other colleges were “the feel of the campus,” and “more affordable than other schools.”
  1. The least important factors were consistently “history of the school,” “sitting in on a class,” and “what my high school counselors and teachers thought of the school.”
  1. When asked if the campus visit helped move the school that the prospect ultimately chose up on their list of college choices, here are a few quotes that contain common themes:

“Yes. Seeing the beautiful environment and seeing the close knit community up close made me feel like I could fit in and enjoy my time going to college here.”

“Yes, within half the visit I knew this was the school for me. Everyone was very welcoming and the visit was organized very well providing me with the information that I wanted.”

“Yes! I stepped foot on campus and turned to my mother and said I am coming here. There was a lot of information during the visit but it was presented to me from the eyes of a student.”

  1. When asked what admissions counselors need to understand about the way this generation of students wants to be recruited, here are a few quotes that contain common themes:

“I don’t think they should assume we know all of the college-level terms they use when describing the way college works.”

“Personally I absolutely hated getting endless calls and letters. And when they did call, they talked endlessly about their particular school. I understand the recruitment process, but at some points, that is exactly what drew me away from a school.”

“Be different. Be the package in the mail that a student gets excited about.”

“Students want to be wanted, to be understood individually and feel that the college thinks they would be a contribution to campus.”

  1. You can’t fake authenticity.
  1. Always tell your prospects what to do next. Schools have too much generalized contact and not enough direction. Your prospects want you to outline a plan and keep them updated on what’s coming next.
  1. It’s not about your wants and your needs as a counselor. It’s about their wants and their needs from start to finish.

Hopefully these 20 things can give you some additional direction during this recruiting cycle.

Are there one or two areas in your approach that need some tweaking and adjusting? Email me at jeremy@dantudor.com OR stop by booth 114 this week at NACAC and we’ll discuss what we can do to fix the mistakes that might be hurting you or your admissions’ team in their recruiting efforts.

 

 

Warning: The Era Of Abused Coach Needs To EndMonday, September 28th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Now I’m worried.

I’m reading the September 28, 2015 issue of Sports Illustrated.

On page 50, Alexander Wolff’s article, Abuse Of Power, begins. Wolff does a slam dunk on abusive coaches.

Every coach at every level needs to read it.

You need to read it.

Change is coming — but that’s not what I’m worried about.

This Is What Worries Me

Wolff does a fine job in the article, except for one thing — there’s another chapter to this story he left out.

Yes, athlete abuse happens, and it is unacceptable.

Yet, what Wolff does not mention, is that coaches are abused also.

To make things even more worrisome, the abuse doesn’t stop there. Refs, athletic administrators, reporters also get their fair share.

Overall — physical, mental, and emotional abuse in the sporting world is rampant.

According to Dr. Ben Tepper, who studies abuse in the workplace, “Abusive leadership is two to three times as prevalent in college sports as in the orthodox workplace.”

And that’s enough to worry even Alfred E Neumann.

This Matters To You

This subject impacts all of us.

Athletes suffer, so they leave the sport — much worse off than when they came to it. (Wolff noted 41% of athletes in one study reported being so depressed it was difficult to function.)

Coaches suffer, so they leave the sport — with their heart and spirit broken or damaged beyond repair. (About 1/3 of coaches leave coaching each year.)

The sport suffers, so an activity that was once a great place to develop people increasingly becomes a competitive nightmare.

Let’s focus on the coach aspect for a moment.

Too Close To Home

It’s a very depressing place to be when abuse happens to a coach (I do speak from experience). It matters little if the abuse comes from a boss, a player’s parents, social media, alums, or fans.

For coaches (and, actually, all humans) the reaction to the abuse is stress, and stress, especially unrelenting stress, can have severe physical and emotional impact. Unfortunately, those reactions can spillover into other parts of a coach’s life — in other words, a stressed-out coach is stressed-out everywhere.

What’s a coach do?

If you report abuse, rifts can happen. One peer might support an abused coach speaking out, while another might feel the victim needs, as Wolff cited is often said to athletes, “to man up.”

How does that play out in an athletic department?

There’s a yearly turnover rate of up to 30%, or more, in coaching. That’s millions of coaches leaving coaching each year. A significant number of those coaches leave due to abuse. Crushed. Gone. And that seems to be the most widely accepted solution for athletes and coaches, when it comes to abuse — they leave.

I’ve seen it happen, where an abused coach is let go for “personal” reasons. Or replaced because the team needs to go in a “new direction.” That solves the problem, right? Get rid of her, or help her quit, and then hire one of the hundreds who want that job.

It’s a terrible waste, and like the abuse of athletes, it needs to stop.

Action You Have No Choice But To Take

There are certain actions every coach must take. And when I write must  I mean must as in you must breath to stay alive.

This is where we can all start to make a difference.

A) Get Your Head Out Of The Sand. Coaching sports is not for the feint of heart. This stuff goes light-years past that. Specifically, coaches often pay a heavy price for being a coach.

In 1995, I studied over 100 coaches during a competitive season. I was looking for the impact of coaching upon coaches. What I found was by the end of the season the stress & burnout rate was at a similar level to stressful occupations such as law enforcement. And this was for a low key sport (referred to as non-revenue generating sport). I’d love to see the results for D1 football.

Over the past 20 years things have gotten incrementally worse because:

1. The expectations placed on coaches have increased (you HAVE to get my son a D1 athletic scholarship!),
2. While the resources have decreased (except for a special few sport programs),
3. And there’s a lack of over-site in sports that at times is, in fact, criminal. Or the over-site might be conflicting (“*Stop complaining! You were hired to win, not whine!*”)

B) You Must Protect Yourself. You don’t go into coaching to get rich, nor do you coach to have your mental or physical health damaged. But it does happen, at a higher rate than most workplaces. So you need reasonable standards on how you will be treated.

Expected to be treated as a professional, and of course give them ample reasons to do just that. If it doesn’t happen, speak up to your supervisor. (A shrug of the shoulders is not an acceptable response.) Or go to the appropriate personnel supervisors.

Two additional steps you must take to protect yourself, ones I’ve noted before, are: (a) NEVER meet with an athlete alone, especially behind closed doors, and (b) have a liability insurance policy.

C) You Must Protect The Athletes. You’re not abusing your athletes — on purpose. You wouldn’t be reading this if you were.

But are you crossing a line that’s so fine it’s difficult to see? Struggling between being demanding and demeaning? Are you making decisions that to the athletes are negative or harmful? How do you know if you are?

  • First, get feedback. Grab a fellow coach, who you trust, who knows her stuff, and have her watch one of your practices. Then listen to her comments.
  • Second, create a survey and give it to your athletes, or have someone ask them.
  • Third, consume anything from PCA (Positive Coaching Alliance), and especially any of the books the director, Jim Thompson, has written.

D) You Must Speak Up. If you see an athlete (or fellow coach) suffering abuse (or if it is you suffering), report it immediately to your supervisor, and record that you did. This is not optional, it’s a mandatory step, and in some states it is required by law.

It Is Time

Coaches are here to guide, to protect, to nurture.

And to be guided, protected, and nurtured.

It’s time for the sporting world to treat the participants — all participants — more humanly.

I love coaching. I do it for a living.

It’s time for us to make it a better place.

6 Tips for Starting a Recruiting Call the Right WayTuesday, September 22nd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s still happening a lot, and that’s not a good thing.

During each on-campus workshop that I’ve led over the past year, I’ve taken a straw poll with many of the admissions counselors. The question I ask is, “What’s the most frustrating part of your job?” The winning vote getter and to be honest it’s usually by a landslide is (drum roll please)…making recruiting calls.

There are two statements that counselors make frequently:

  • “Only one or two out of every ten students answers the phone”
  • “I feel like I’m always doing most of the talking”

Let me start by addressing the first one. It’s a classic mistake that many of those counselors, and their counterparts at other institutions, have made a hundred times before: They jump right to the phone call as their first point of contact with a new prospect. Ask yourself this question – What do you do when your phone rings and you don’t recognize the number? You let it go to voicemail. It shouldn’t come as a shock then when a majority of your prospects do the exact same thing.

Why is that?

Our research, which is feedback from your prospects, says the Natural Communication Flow for your recruits should begin with mail. A letter is easy to take in, and there’s not a lot of risk for the student. It’s a safe interaction. If they don’t like what they read, there’s no pressure to respond. Skipping right to a phone call on the other hand often leads to a very uncomfortable situation. The teenager gives one-word answers, and at the end of the call you know little if anything more than when you started.

So, what should you do as you prepare to contact a prospective student, especially if its the first time you’re talking to them?  Here are a few vital tips I want you to keep in mind:

  1. Have a purpose. There are two things our research has uncovered when it comes to how prospects decide which schools they’ll listen to at the beginning. First is the importance of being very clear on what the recruit needs to do next. Second is to clearly communicate whether or not your school has a serious interest in them. When you call a prospect, have a clear purpose that guides your conversation with him or her.  Calling them without a plan just because they’re on your call sheet is setting yourself up to fail.
  1. Communicate that purpose. Tell them the reason for your call, and make sure it’s centered around them.  If you’re doing more than 20% of the talking with your prospect on the phone, you’re talking too much.  The most effective phone calls are ones where the recruit feels comfortable to ask questions, and more questions, and even more questions.
  1. The first 10 seconds of your call should be incredible. How do you do that?  By scripting an amazing opening as to why you’re calling them, and what’s in it for them. In the same way that we recommend your letters and emails be original and have a strong opening sentence, the same holds true for your phone call.  Actually, it’s even more important because unlike letters, phone calls don’t have the visual component to help make an impact and keep your recruit’s attention. Are your first 10 seconds incredible?  Are they engaging?  Do they create curiosity and excitement?  Most importantly, do they stand out from the other calls they will be getting from counselors?  If the answer to any of those is no, it’s time to re-work the opening of your prospect call.
  1. Don’t be a salesman. When you first contact a prospect, don’t assume they’re going to automatically be interested in your school and what it can offer them.  Students tell us time and time again that they want the focus to be on them. The last thing they want is a sales pitch from you.
  1. Share a laugh, gain an advantage. Study after study tells sociologists that we love to laugh and are looking for a “connection” with the people we meet.  Your prospects are no different. If you can create a little lightheartedness in the phone call and share a laugh with your prospect, that will go a long way towards deepening your relationship and making them feel like they know you and like you.
  1. Always set up the next conversation. This tip is so important I just had to include it even though it’s got nothing to do with starting a successful recruiting call.  You MUST end the phone call with a clear idea – both in your mind and in the mind of your prospect – of what comes next.  When will the next call take place?  What needs to happen between then and now?  What is their “to do” list? For the same reason you don’t want to start the call weakly, you don’t want to end the call weakly.

The phone remains one of the main recruiting tools that every admissions counselor uses. It’s also becoming one of the most challenging communication methods because of some of the unique, ever-changing traits of today’s teenager.

Want to be even more prepared when it comes to making recruiting phone calls? Each month we give our clients specific talking points that build on the recruiting messages their prospects are currently receiving. Email me  for more details!

Defense Wins Championships – Not RelationshipsMonday, September 21st, 2015

saupload_D1by Tyler Brandt, The 7 Second Coach

As a former head football coach and defensive coordinator I used to say, and be told, all the time that defense wins championships, although I might lean towards special teams being a close second. One thing that is certain is that a team can’t lose if the other team can’t score! The problem is, the same team that can’t lose, will also never be able to win, if they can’t score!

Focusing solely on defense becomes a lesson in futility when you don’t have every other phase of your game fundamentally sound! If you look at what is at the core of how you develop your athletes, program and culture it is clearly:

Relationships!!

I recently had the opportunity to watch the power of partnerships in my current college wrestling program. For over 25 years I have been a Head Coach of extremely successful programs and recently I accepted the Head Assistant Coach position Simpson College. The head coach and I have been collaborating on various technical aspects and have merged two series of techniques into a very potent offensive system! The important thing to take away is that both of us had great arguments for putting up walls and being defensive with regard to our positions and experience. The Head Coach could have taken the position that “I am the Head Coach and a former National Champion and we will do it MY WAY” and I could have taken the position that “I have been a Head Coach for nearly 3 decades, I have more experience and a proven track record of elite level coaching success and you should do it MY WAY!” However, because neither of us took a defensive position by shutting the other coach’s ideas, suggestions and opinions out and we were open to learning from each other, we created a better system together than either one of us could have done on our own!

Without a strong process oriented plan to build honest and transparent relationships based on common interests and a servant mentality, absolutely no scheme will work to its full potential! You might be asking yourself why I haven’t mentioned the fact that simply having the best athletes will make virtually any game plan easy to execute? The reason is, no matter how good your athletes are, when you are always on the defensive you’re always reacting!

Here’s what I mean, I have conversations with coaches almost daily where they’re concerned about scholarships, facilities or dorm rooms, you name it, they have sought out and found the worst their institution has to offer. Many of these coaches are constantly spending their time in a defensive position surrounding the negative aspects of their program or campus. Often coaches are spending time trying to overcome potential issues about something insignificant instead of building a relationship with the recruit. Unfortunately, a by-product of that mentality is those items become important to the prospect because the coach is spending a large amount of time on them – so the recruit becomes aware that those negative issues must be important! If the coach would have had an offensive game plan to overcome those issues as they arose instead of making them arise, the coach could have been focusing on the right things at the right time!

This happens all the time with coaches in general and not just with recruiting. A coach’s standard state of mind is often “Defensive” because they get it with both barrels all the time from every direction! Sports are so “available” that everyone thinks they know how to coach so it’s simply just easier to take a defensive posture and keep EVERYONE at arms length. This tactic never ends up working out very well, but does insulate the coach for a short period of time. The most unfortunate aspect of coaches being so defensive is that they often miss great opportunities to improve and advance because they have shut-off the collaboration.

The best plan is to be on the offensive with a resolute plan to focus on learning the right things, from the right people so that those things can be implemented and delivered at the right time to build the best athletic environment possible for the athletes. When that is accomplished the wins truly do take care of themselves! Learn to build the relationships that matter with your, coaches, athletes and parents and watch your program skyrocket to the top!

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Sweet-Tea and Positive CoachingMonday, September 21st, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Restaurants in the southern US are known for sweet-tea. A special blend of tea, ice and sugar. Lots of sugar.

Sweet-tea is great for the restaurant since it brings in customers.

And the customers get a nice sugar and caffeine buzz.

I subscribe to the philosophy that an occasional sweet-tea can be beneficial.

Especially when it’s of the mental variety.

For example, at a World Championship event I was one of the team leaders for the U.S. team. One afternoon, returning from practice, we exited the team bus and headed for the dining hall.

I led the pack.

My left shoe lace got stuck in my right shoe, and I went flying. I wiped-out in front of our team, and hundreds of other athletes and coaches. I didn’t just trip, I pancaked into a big pile of dust.

Embarrassed, I got up, and limped over to a nearby bench.

As I brushed myself off, one of the team coaches came over. He was an Olympic medalist, and World champion. He went out of his way to come over sit down.

“One of the best wipeouts I’ve seen in years,” he said. “If that was a belly-flop contest you would have been a contender!” I looked at him, he smiled and said, “I’ve done a lot worse.”

And off he went.

His dose of mental sweet-tea was perfect.

The bitter taste of crashing-and-burning left my mouth. I soon found myself laughing over how silly I must have looked.

The following day — I can honestly say — I cheered extra hard for his team.

Why Should You Care?

The experience of coaching and playing are becoming more stressful each day. Seldom do coaches or athletes get the warm and fuzzy feelings that used to exist.

Because of our position as coach, our words carry weight. (It doesn’t matter what word goes before “coach,” such as head, or assistant, or volunteer.)

Admit it or not, simple utterances from us can often make or break someone’s day.

I see coaches repeatedly pressured, and pressuring others, to perform at a higher level. The joy can disappear in those environments.

Often a dose of sweet-tea can make a big difference. It doesn’t take much — something as small as a wink or a smile might do the trick.

Action You Can (and should) Take

For one week, try this … each morning scan around for someone who is struggling.

A peer, an athlete, a friend.

Lay a glass of sweet-tea on them (literally or figuratively — your choice). Expect nothing back, just serve up. Then see what comes back to you.

As coaches, it’s nice to be on the receiving end of sweet-tea. But the power truly lies in serving it.

And it makes a better experience for everyone

How to Use This Winning Strategy in Your Recruiting MessagesTuesday, September 15th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

During a recent discussion about our letter and email creation work that we do with clients, an admissions counselor said the following – “Why do I need to send recruits that many letters and emails after they visit campus? Once they’ve been here they already know pretty much everything they need to know.” (Insert Family Feud “X” sound effect)

My response to that counselor was the same thing that I’ve told other admissions professionals who feel they don’t need to communicate as consistently with a prospect after the campus visit. Your prospects tend to forget a lot of what they’ve heard before (if you have a teenager you know what I mean), and they retain only a small percentage of what they hear and see on a visit to your school. You need to repeat things over and over if you want your prospect to retain it.

How is it that my 6-year old daughter can recite the GEICO slogan or tell you that Lily is the name of the AT&T store manager in their television ads? There’s psychology behind it. Advertisers have done studies about the use of repetition. Mark Young, the Chairman of Jekyll & Hyde Advertising, a firm that creates and places much national advertising said this about repetition and advertising, “We know that we need 3.7 impressions before a viewer will really “get” the message. We also know that you can deliver up to 15 impressions with continuing good results.”

The moral of the story is pretty simple: Repetition in advertising works.

Now let’s get back to you and your recruiting message. The trend we see most often when it comes to how college admissions tends to communicate with their prospects involves cramming as much information as possible about their school into one email or letter. That’s the wrong way to do it – and deep down, most counselors, directors and VP’s know it.  It’s just always been done that way, or they’re worried modifying their approach will be a massive undertaking.

Today I’m going to change that.

There are several rules we follow when we work with an admissions department one-on-one as clients in helping them create a consistent, interesting recruiting campaign for their prospects. I encourage you to use them to develop your own brand of repetition and consistent messaging with this next recruiting class:

  • Make sure you are communicating foundational, logical facts to your prospect every six to nine days.  Without this first point in place you risk inconsistent recruiting results.  Our research solidly indicates that when a prospect sees ongoing, regular contact from you, not only do they engage with the messaging on a more regular basis, but they also make the judgment that your school is interested in them and values them.  Those feelings are what you should want your recruits to feel.
  • If you have negatives associated with your school or big objections that many prospects bring up in the recruiting process, address it early and often.  Don’t run from it, and don’t wait for them to bring it up (or sit back and hope they don’t bring it up).  Consistent, early discussion about a perceived negative gives you the chance to redefine that objection. “So Jeremy, you want me to address our school being expensive or in a small town even if the student doesn’t bring it up?” You got it! Doing so early on will give you a greater chance to change their mindset and also demonstrate that you understand it’s a concern they may have.
  • Short, logical, fact-based, repetitive messages.  That’s what your prospect needs in order to get to the point of being able to choose you over your competitors.  Instead of cramming all that information about campus life and housing into one message, address each from many different angles.  Spend a few weeks talking about just one topic, and take your time in repetitively making your point to your recruit.
  • Repeat your recruit’s name and the name of your institution often. This is a small tip that we’ve seen make a big difference. It’s part of “branding.” Advertisers have followed this psychological principle for decades. Why? Repetition of who you are and associating that with positive connotations produces results. For example, during a campus visit use the recruit’s name a lot during conversation. In your messaging when you ask them to envision themselves living in your dorms or eating in your cafeteria, use both their name and your school’s name.
  • Mix it up.  Your recruiting campaign needs to feature a regular flow of mail, email, phone, in-person contact and social media.  This generation reacts to a good combination of all of these facets of recruiting.  If you focus only on one or two communication methods with your recruits, you’re leaving the door open for a competitor that will utilize all of their communication resources.  Our studies show that this generation of students wants, and needs, a variety of communication types.

Repetition is one of the least used and most effective strategies that you can utilize in your recruiting message.

The counselors who produce and execute a consistent, ongoing message before, during, and after the all-important campus visit will get more consistent high level recruiting results.

Jeremy and the team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help you develop a consistent, research-based message for your recruits. It’s not too late to see results during this recruiting cycle. Contact me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com for more information.

4 Steps To Coaching SuccessMonday, September 14th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Asked yesterday for a process to succeed at coaching, my answer went something like this:

1. Look. Success depends on a coach having a vision for the future. A critical step in building that future is to know the present. To do that you must look. This is not easy.  Looking means opening yourself to the reality around you and unbiasedly absorbing it.

For example, if you have concerns about your team’s culture, looking might entail: (a) a peer observing your team and reporting back to you, (b) you talking to your athletes’ teachers and staff at their school (c) scanning social media accounts, etc. You cast a wide net hoping to gather as much data as possible.

2. See. Take the info you’ve gathered and scan it. Try to notice patterns, ask questions, recognize instances or events that reflect on your issue.

Back to your team’s culture … spread out the information you’ve gotten and what do you see? Four instances of positive referrals at school? Half your team continually late for practice? What jumps out?

Two critical actions here are to ask questions while looking at the data, and to ignore information that is not relevant (Bob always wears pink socks to practice is probably not relevant, but the pink socks covering up a tattoo saying how much he hates your team probably is.)

3. Imagine. Now close your eyes and imagine what’s going on in the present, how you want the future to appear, and how you will get there. Shake things up, dream, use your imagination. This is the time to think, “What if?” instead of “Ain’t no way!”

If your team’s culture is not a supportive, positive one — imagine a future where it is, and the path to get there. Take your time, daydream, plan. Imagine the future and the trip there.

4. Tell. Now take what you’ve imagined and show it to those who need to see it. There are many ways to present it. For instance: draw it out, write it down, make a video, create a story, sing a song, craft a speech.

Once more about your team … a positive team culture is challenging to build because the vision to get there is often blurred. Successful coaches are masters at visualizing the way forward and clearly presenting it and the road to get there.

What’s I like about this process is if you have the information in hand, you might be able to do all the steps in 5 minutes, which could come in handy immediately before a practice or team meeting.

Action You Can (and should) Take

Identify a struggle you have with your coaching — a head scratcher. I used team culture as an example, but there are a multitude of other challenges. Pick your issue and run through the process.

Look all around you (gather as much data as you can). See what the data tells you. Close your eyes and imagine the future you want and the road there. Now tell those who need to know in a way they will easily understand.

I’ve adapted this process from a master of explaining, Dan Roam. His book, Back Of The Napkin (affiliate link) has helped many people. There certainly are other processes to help you be successful — this is one that has worked well for me.

Fall is almost here, or is it Spring? Because this audience is global, it might be hard to agree on the season, but one thing we can all do … it share this post if you found it useful. I know I’d appreciate it.

Coach well. We need ya!

– Mike

Try This During Fall Travel Season and Watch What HappensMonday, September 7th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Many of today’s prospects are doing one of two things at college fairs. First, you have the group that stands or in some cases walks around socializing with each other and never approaches a single college or university representative. Then you have those who will sneak past a table and grab a brochure hoping to avoid eye contact or saying anything.

School visits also come with their own set of obstacles. Will anyone show up? If you’re responsible for a territory outside of your school’s state, will the students have heard of your institution? The most difficult one however according to many counselors that I’ve recently spoken with is the lunchroom visit. (Food 1, Counselor 0)

Getting your prospect’s attention, specifically during fall travel season, has never been more challenging. Why is that? The harsh truth is all schools are starting to look and sound the same. At your typical college fair or school visit, aside from the color of the banner or the layout on the table, what’s really different at first glance between institutions A, B, and C? Nothing.

If I told you that today I was going to offer you a solution to this problem, would that be something you’d be interested in? It’s a strategy that we discuss in detail with admissions staffs when we come to their campus and lead a training workshop.

Simply put, I want you to ask an unexpected, amazing question. I mean a doozy! One that makes your prospect stop in his or her tracks, not say anything, and really think about what the answer is. The response that you should be aiming for is, “Wow, nobody’s asked me that before.”

So, what are they?

What are some unexpected, amazing questions that you can ask your prospect when you begin your recruiting relationship with him or her?

To begin with, I can tell you that such a question should never yield a simple yes or no answer. Instead, the question needs to be open ended. Be original. Don’t be afraid to make it a little more off the wall (within reason of course). The question doesn’t have to have anything to do with your school. It might be something to do with pop culture or the college search process in general.

It’s probably going to take you a few minutes to come up with “the one.” When you think you’ve got a winner, I would encourage you to test it out on one of your current students, maybe say one of your campus tour guides, before you determine that it’s in fact “the one.”

Here’s the type of questioning that I’m talking about. Instead of asking a prospect, “Are you ready to move on to college?”, you might ask them “What scares you the most about moving on to college?” A counselor at a college that’s a client of ours asked that exact question for the first time a couple of weeks ago. His email to me the next day said, “The results were awesome.  The student was far more engaged in conversation, and I felt it created a better connection.”

There are many other examples that counselors we work with have shared with me that I could share with you that are “worth their weight in gold.” Here’s the thing though. They wouldn’t be as valuable if I just gave them away.

Many times the type of questions you ask when you first talk to a prospect will determine how the recruiting relationship will end up. Unexpected, amazing questions are important – vitally important – to the whole recruiting process.

The biggest benefit to asking this type of question (other than getting a prospect to stop and actually conduct a conversation with you) is that you’ll sound smarter and more interested in your prospect compared to other counselors who ask the same “yes, no” mundane questions that recruits have heard before.

One more thing – Once you’ve asked an unexpected, amazing question, remember the importance of listening. Doing so will allow you to find ways to begin telling your school’s story and why they should want to be a part of it.

If you want the next couple of months to be the most effective fall travel season you’ve ever had, use this simple yet extremely effective strategy.

I’ll even help you! E-mail me your unexpected, amazing question to jeremy@dantudor.com and I’ll provide you with some feedback. You heard me right. Free help, no strings attached. I think it’s that important. Every counselor needs to have those questions embedded in their heads and know why they’re asking them.

Confirming Your New Prospect’s Interest: How Do You Know If They’re Serious?Monday, September 7th, 2015

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Darth Vader Wouldn’t Make It As A CoachMonday, September 7th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Coaches have two levels of employment. The first is the job. The second is the career.

There are ways to kill both.

Job-killers are actions which cause you to be fired. Career-killers are actions which make it improbable (or impossible) to get another job in your field.

Coaches mistakenly think a specific event is the culprit when either of these happen.
Man, I broke those NCAA rules, so I was fired.” Or, “Hazing happened under my watch, I won’t ever coach again!

While both those statements may be true, it is dangerously narrow thinking.

How To Kill Your Job

You must think wider and dig deeper to avoid job-killers. Here’s the trick, you are expected to do certain things in your job. As coaches:

  • We are expected to recruit
  • We are expected to retain
  • We are expected to follow the rules
  • We are expected to be safe
  • We are expected (in some situations) to win

When we don’t do what is expected, we get fired, and someone who will meet the expectations will take our place.

It is as simple as that.

How To Kill Your Career

Careers are different. Careers are killed by unmet obligations. As coaches:

  • We are obligated to prohibit and prevent hazing and harassment
  • We are obligated to be reasonable-and-prudent
  • We are obligated to follow nationally accepted standards
  • We are obligated to follow societal rules
  • We are obligated (in some situations) to win

Once again, that simple. Actually it’s not simple, and this might help: Become The Coach They’d Love To Keep.

Action You Can (and should) Take

As soon as possible, have a conversation with all the people who have the power to fire you. Ask them two specific questions:

  1. What is expected of me?
  2. What am I obligated to do?

Record the answers. If they are acceptable then incorporate appropriate actions into your workflows so you meet the expectations and obligations.

And if their answers are not acceptable? Beware, as I note here (Why Sport Coaches MUST Protect Themselves). And then, find another job, since you will soon be looking for one any way.

Happy Labor Day (if you live in a country that celebrates it). And the irony of this being posted on Labor Day is not lost on me.

– Mike

PS: If you find value in this, I’d be tickled pink if you’d share it with your social clan. Thanks.

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