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This was an exciting season for the players and families of our Arlington Heights Youth Basketball Association’s Spurs! One of my favorite hobbies is coaching youth sports, and I just wrapped up a fantastic season coaching a sixth grade boys’ basketball team that included my youngest son, Theo. 

The Spurs, which won their division, fought incredibly hard at each match and made continual improvement after every game, so I am eager to see how well they will all perform next season.  The Spurs won 10 of 14 games for the season and were always a force to reckon with for the other teams.

The Spurs were an all-around team that shared the ball and looked for the open man. We had a great time learning and running a motion offense, where every player was part of every game. Everyone scored throughout the season, and everyone cheered everyone else on every time, making this a fun and uplifting season.

The Spurs’ road to victory started a little slowly, with an edifying loss against the Thunder, but the Spurs came back strong with six wins in a row, against the Grizzlies, Hornets, Knicks, Suns, Bulls and Cavaliers. Game Five against the Suns was an especially brutal and tight match, but the Spurs pulled out all the stops for a win 26-25 win! The guys fell short in Game Eight against the Warriors, but put up a respectable fight for a final score of 26-22. Game Nine against The Celtics proved to be another demanding match-up, and I was proud of the team’s triumphant final score of 42-40. The guys put up a good fight in Game Ten against the Grizzlies, and I was proud too, of their hustle during the game, even though we ultimately lost 29-24. The Spurs came back determined, and won their next three games against the Mavericks, Suns and Wolves, before finishing the regular season with a defeat by the Raptors. On December 12, The Spurs played against the Thunder, securing the Red Division victory with a final score of 33-29. The Spurs then played hard the next day against the Warriors, the White Division champions, finishing their season with a tremendous effort that made everyone proud, with a very close final score of 37-35. I feel so privileged to be a part of the lives of these young men and I respect their determination and sportsmanship this season.

An outstanding job to all of our incredible AHYBA basketball teams, and congratulations for doing a great job out on the court! Special thanks to Vicki Shiakallis for being my assistant coach, Clayton Sadler for being the scorekeeper, Curt Adams for his help coaching and keeping the clock, the referees and all of the rest of the parents and families for raising such coachable and enjoyable kids!

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mREL_IBS_300x250_01You’ve probably heard that millennials are entitled, disengaged, broke, unemployable, addicted to taking selfies and perpetual renters. You know what? That is all WRONG! There are a million myths surrounding the millennial generation, and I’ll be busting many of them during the International Builders’ Show education session, “The Great Debate: Millennials or Boomers?”

In this session, we’ll attempt to answer the question, “Will it be the millennials or the boomers who shape our cities and suburbs in the decades to come?”

A panel of hand-selected expert speakers have been brought together to share their opinions on the topic. Partnering with me in favor of millennials is Rachel Flint of Hubbell Homes, based in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Millennials are smart, efficient, socially conscious, patient, honest and much more. I’ve been excited about what I have learned about this misunderstood generation, and Rachel and I are excited to share some of the research that leads us to believe that millennials are the trendsetters in housing.

The debate will be held Tuesday, January 19, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. in South 231. This Building Knowledge Session is targeted toward designers, architects, engineers and planners, and land development and sales and marketing professionals, and is eligible for the following continuing education credits: NAHB – 1.00 CE hour, NKBA – 0.1 CEU, AIA – 1.50 LU hours.

Rachel and I will be debating against Douglas Van Lerberghe of KEPHART and Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur from AARP; Stephen Moore of BSB Design will moderate the session.

Attendees will learn the generational differences that will inform price points, location and design, the positives and negatives of attracting each demographic group to your community, and which group you should target based on the characteristics of your community(ies). You’ll also learn about the similarities between both groups and how you can accommodate both in terms of design and amenities.
So what do you think? What will housing look like in the decades to come, and who is shaping those changes?  Will the Millennials follow the same paths their parents did and move to the suburbs? Will empty nesters sell their single family homes and move to more urban, walkable locations?  The Great Debate: Millennials or Boomers just might change your mind.

Remember that seating at Building Knowledge Sessions is first come, first served, so get there early to be sure you get a spot! See you then.

The image in this post previews Marketing RELEVANCE’s inaugural exhibit booth at IBS 2016! The booth will be held in nextBUILD #C2665. The booth’s “Lucky 7” theme is in honor of our company’s seventh year of creating successful marketing programs for clients nationwide. As an incentive for stopping by, you can enter to win some amazing daily prizes, such as an Apple Watch™, and pick up some fun Vegas-themed goodies including Koozies, playing cards, chocolate poker chips and more.

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IBS 2016I’ve been attending the International Builders’ Show (IBS) for many years. But this year will be different. Instead of spending all of my time in education sessions, networking and checking out the exhibit booths; you’ll likely find me in our inaugural Marketing RELEVANCE exhibit booth. Since it is our seventh anniversary as a company, we’ve put together an awesome Lucky 7 themed booth for IBS in Vegas, January 19-21, 2016. IBS is the largest annual light construction show in the world, attracting 50,000 visitors from more than 100 countries each year.  IBS has more than 500,000 net square feet of exhibits and 1,300 manufacturers and suppliers of the latest and most in-demand products and services.

We are all very excited about exhibiting and hope you will come by #C2665 in nextBUILD area to meet SEVEN members of the Marketing RELEVANCE team: myself, Carol Morgan, managing partner; Lauren Cooper, Account Coordinator; Megan Morgan; Graphic Designer; Bryan Nonni, Social Media Manager; Courtney Rogers; Account Manager and Doug Silk, SEO Coordinator.

Our Lucky 7 themed booth is the perfect way for us to reach existing and prospective clients, and will be a special opportunity for existing clients from across the nation to get to meet some of our team members in-person. If you are looking for a marketing, communication and interactive agency for 2016, be sure to stop by to learn more about our products, services and approach.

Of course, I will still fit in time for checking out others’ booths, networking and education. In fact, I’ll be presenting three education sessions. On Tuesday, January 19 at 3 p.m., I am part of panel presenting the Building Knowledge Session, “The Great Debate: Millennials or Boomers?” Carol Morgan, Marketing RELEVANCE Managing Partner and I will present “Mobile Marketing – Engage Your Customers Via Your Website,” in Remodeling Central on Thursday, January 21, at 11 a.m. and an IBS Live presentation,Search Engine Optimization & Social Media are Like Chicken & Waffles” on Thursday from 1:30 – 2:15 pm.

What would a proper exhibit booth be without some killer swag and giveaways? We will have plenty of both. But the heart of the booth really has to do with Return on Investment (ROI) and how Marketing RELEVANCE is a “Safe Bet for Your Marketing Dollars.” Visitors will learn about all of our services – social media, public relations, website design, marketing strategy, creative design and more.

I will see you there! It’s booth, #C2665, in the nextBUILD area. We will be giving away an Apple Watch™ a day, and most importantly, will be building new relationships (and building upon existing ones). We hope you stop by! Visit www.buildersshow.com to learn more about IBS.

 

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mRELEVANCE OBIES 2015I’m feeling a little like a member of U2 at the Grammys, and it’s a pretty good feeling (U2 has received the most awards of any group in history, with a total of 22 Grammy Awards). The past few months have included one awards program after another, with Marketing RELEVANCE taking home a multitude of prestigious recognitions, and I couldn’t be prouder to work with the talented and dedicated team at Marketing RELEVANCE.

It started in September with the STARS Awards, presented by the North Carolina Home Builders Association during the 21st Century Building Expo and Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Marketing RELEVANCE received the Best Advertisement – Associate award for an ad we designed as part of the His, Hers & Ours campaign for Carolina-based home builder Essex Homes. The award-winning ad featured striking art advertising the builder’s design incentive, and resulted in an astonishing 76 new home sales in just two months. STARS Awards honor the achievements of builders, associates, Realtors, media, advertising professionals and many others who make major contributions to the residential homebuilding industry.

Then, in November, we were honored again with two awards at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Georgia Chapter’s Phoenix Awards Celebration. The Phoenix Awards recognizes projects and programs that demonstrate excellence in the public relations profession in Georgia. Marketing RELEVANCE received a Phoenix award for the “Twice as Nice” tax promotion social media campaign, also for Essex Homes, which helped the builder sell a total of 68 homes in the month of March 2015 (which became the division’s highest ever sales month) and lead the Columbia market in building permits for the first quarter of the year. We received a second social media Award of Excellence for our work on Keystone Custom Homes, “Say ‘I Do’ to Your New Home” campaign, which resulted in a 20 percent increase in the builder’s social media traffic and garnered national attention in both print and online.Then, just a few days later, Marketing RELEVANCE took home nine OBIE Awards at the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association’s 35th annual OBIE Awards. We received five Gold and four Silver awards, the most ever received in one year in our company’s history. OBIE Awards are the premier awards given in the Atlanta new home construction industry for marketing, sales, building and remodeling. The OBIE wins included:

  • Gold OBIEs
    • Best Brochure – Corporate-Associate: For our creative and memorable Guaranty Mortgage brochure, which features well-written copy and imagery that simplifies the mortgage process.
    • Best Social Media Application – Associate: For Marketing RELEVANCE’s Dress Your Desk Facebook contest, which led to a 10 percent increase in Facebook fans and a 40 percent increase in engagement.
    • Best Website – Corporate-Associate and Best Mobile Website – Associate: The new Marketing RELEVANCE website received two Gold OBIE Awards, with the overall website and its mobile version both being named the best in their respective categories. Since the launch of the site, website traffic has tripled and leads have increased by 15 percent.
    • Best Website – Community: For The Providence Group’s Bellmoore Park website, with its custom interactive site plan and booming sales leads.
  • Silver OBIEs
    • Best Audio Spot: For Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio, the longest-running Atlanta new home/home builder-focused radio show, which is available for download 24/7 on iTunes and continues to be the largest driver of traffic on the Atlanta Real Estate Forum blog.
    • Best Marketing Campaign/Promotion – Associate (Budget Under $10,000): For the Marketing RELEVANCE corporate website launch, which consisted of mRELEVANCE-branded Matchbox-cars and matching postcards and collateral.
    • Best Interactive Tool – Builder/Developer: For The Providence Group’s Bellmoore Park community interactive sales tool, a one-of-a-kind touch-screen kiosk and iPad station that allows customers to explore community details, photo and video galleries, 3D renderings, amenity information, site plan and home site availability, floor plan availability and much more.
    • Best Social Media Application – Builder/Developer: For The Providence Group’s Designed to (P)inspire Pinterest contest, which received 149 entries and raised awareness about the new Design Center, The Providence Group’s Pinterest account and the builder’s luxury features and finishes.

We also just learned that we are a Silver Award Winner in the National Association of Home Builders’ National Sales and Marketing Council’s The Nationals Award. The Silver Award is for the work that we did in the past year on the FrontDoor Communities Website. Silver Award Winners are the top vote recipients in their category and are the finalists for the Gold Award, which will be announced and presented January 19th in Las Vegas at the International Builders’ Show. In its 36th year, The Nationals salutes and honors the best in the building industry for their determination, integrity, creativity and endurance. It is the nation’s largest competition for sales and marketing professionals and communities.

Again, I am incredibly proud of our team’s dedication, commitment and hard work creating strategic marketing programs that produce serious return on investment for our clients. The recognition that we receive from these awards programs is just the icing on the cake.

If you’re searching for an exciting way to drive leads and increase sales, visit www.MarketingRELEVANCE.com to learn how we do things at Marketing RELEVANCE, and contact me directly at 847.259.7312 x230.

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Aug
25

Cool Baseball Montage

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Awesome video montage of my son’s baseball team. What a great bunch of boys!!

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Jeff Rutt of HOPE InternationalThe saying, “give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime” always rings true to me. Through raising my three children and coaching their sports teams, I always try to keep in mind that teaching them, instead of doing for them, impacts them for the better. They will remember these lessons for the rest of their lives. It takes a village to raise a child, and we as parents and mentors are responsible for preparing and educating them with the skills that they need in order to be prepared for the future. That is why I continue to coach, to have a positive impact on the lives of the kids in my community, and that is also why I teach adult education. Growth and development is not limited to kids, it is almost as rewarding to see ‘understanding and excitement’ in the face of a non-technical adult as it is to see the first hit in a game by a nine-year-old.

Jeff Rutt, owner and founder of Keystone Custom Homes, as well as a client of mRELEVANCE, shares these same opinions on the necessity of educating people with skills they need in order to be successful. Jeff is passionate about both home building and helping those in poverty, thus he was inspired to found HOPE International, as well as Homes for Hope. Through these foundations, he brings the concept of “teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime” into reality. Read More→

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Digital MarketingIn a few short months, I’ll be back to Vegas. I was selected to present two education sessions at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show (IBS), the world’s largest light construction show. Last year, the show was attended by 75,000 attendees!

This year has been a whirlwind; and this trip to IBS (January 20-22) will be the culmination of a full year of hard work on a pursuit that I LOVE: the pursuit of education. Whether it’s learning a new technology or technique, I love learning new things. Over the past year, I have funneled that energy into a massive project for the Institute of Residential Marketing (IRM) for NAHB. As 2014 IRM Chair, I have worked with an amazing team to implement a complete overhaul of our course curriculum. The first class of students to take the new course will be doing so at IBS, and I have the privilege of teaching this first run of the new course. Read More→

I am so proud of My son Theo, and the entire Bearcat Team this year. They made it to the championship game in EVERY tournament they played in, and won 3 out of 5 of them…including a tournament we traveled to Cooperstown for. What a special team, what a special year!  Here is a video made by one of the mom’s on of the team – Julie Poplar – what a great video…

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It’s the “calm” (if there ever really is a calm for me), before the storm. In less than one week, I’ll be leaving the Second City and heading for the warmer temperatures and brighter lights of the City of Second Chances. That’s right, Vegas baby!

I have been invited to speak, along with a group of very talented industry marketing professionals, at the joint National Association of Home Builders International Builders Show (IBS) and National Kitchen and Bath Association’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS).

The show runs February 4th through the 6th and each day, I will be presenting educational sessions on the newest strategies for digital marketing in the homebuilding industry.

On Tuesday, February 4, I will present My Brother Built It, Why Doesn’t It WORK?, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.  for KBIS. This popular session covers the five Read More→

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Sep
24

Positive Coaching

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The Power of Double Goal Coaching

The Power of Double Goal Coaching

Well, it is another year of coaching my kids and their sports. It is pretty cool to think about all of the kids I have coached over the past 11 years. From the time Josh was a Purple Shark soccer player in Georgia, to this Bills football season with Theo in Illinois, I have coached all three of my kids’ teams every year in baseball, soccer, basketball, softball, football, skiing and a lot of other activities.

Team sports and coaching kids are rewarding for me. I have to tell you, I have a hard time ‘sitting on the bleachers’ and just being a parent. It is a very fun and exciting time in a kid’s life, and it is critical for them to have the right coach. Not only for that particular sport, but for everything they can learn about life. Positive life lessons happen commonly in youth sports, and it is so encouraging when you connect with a kid and they ‘hear’ what you are saying…and even improve in that sport.

My goal with every team I have ever coached is simple, although we try to win every game and I teach them to be competitive, it does not matter if we win or lose. The two goals I have for each kid is for them to 1) learn the sport and get better, and 2) have so much fun and enjoy whatever game we were playing, that they ask their parents to sign them up the next year. In all my coaching years (which I hope are not over), I only had one boy not sign up the next year. I had a kid move out of state after they signed up for the next year and their parents told the organization to keep their deposit because they had such a great year that they wanted to donate it to a kids that could not afford it, I had girls playing baseball switch to softball, I even had 18 kid requests to be on my tee ball team one year because of the power of teaching lessons through coaching.

Every year before every season of each sport, there is always coaching training and sessions to attend. This year during football preseason, and my fourth season as an assistant coach for football, it was required of all coaches in the program to attend a Positive Coaching Alliance seminar. I have to say, this was one of the best programs I have ever attended for youth coaching. It shared most of the principles I have been using over the past decade, and spoke very negatively toward the ‘win at any cost’ and ‘negative or yelling’ coaches. It was refreshing to hear that kids learn through positive reinforcement and fun, and not just pressure from coaches and parents.

This organization reaches from the beginner youth coach, all the way up to professional sports. In fact, Phil Jackson is one of their main spokespeople. He said in a video that he uses these same principles for his NBA stars. Everyone wants to be told how good they are, but they struggle when told to do better or to do something different — that is human nature. If you surround yourself with constructive criticism and teaching techniques with positive reinforcement, your athlete will not only hear you, but try harder themselves to accomplish the goal or task.

Herm Edwards was also a featured video speaker in this program. Everyone remembers his post-game interview where he repeated “We play to win the game” and he is right. Teaching competitiveness to athletes is a good thing, as long as you also have a second goal when you coach. “The Power of Double Goal Coaching” which was the book given at the seminar I attended, shared that the first goal was to coach to win the game. However, the second goal, and the more important goal, was to teach life lessons with your coaching. As much as everyone remembers what Herm said about how you play, he also said “In the end, there will be a winner and a loser. What is important is how you handle it.” This entire statement and philosophy is paramount to the most effective and influential coaches in my playing career, and in my life growing up. Winning is a bi-product of teaching how to develop the talents to compete. In PCA, there is no place for the win-at-all-cost mentality.

When asked at the seminar to remember a coach from your playing career who was influential, several of the other coaches spoke, and their comments resembled my own life. Some remembered great coaches and great games, but most remembered the one coach that took the fun out of the game and was only about winning. Not all were at the youth level, mine was in high school, and some in the room were from college. Now that is not to say there were not stories of great coaches who wanted to win and teach how to win, it is just the way they teach their methods. The number one reason that kids play sports is for fun. 70% of kids don’t play sports anymore at the age of 13 because they are no longer having fun. For these kids, their memory may remain a coach that took the fun out of the game for them, and that is simply not an option for me.

“Five to one, baby, one in five” are lyrics in a song by Jim Morrison and the Doors. It is also the principle I have been using, and one I was retaught recently, about the number of positive statements to negative statements (or corrections) coaches should use when developing young players. Kids do not hear the positives, all they hear are the negatives. So, when you sandwich one negative or correction of how to do something better with four or five other positive comments, they hear they are improving, they feel good about where they are, and they take the correction as a step in the right direction. They try and enjoy trying. It is an easy thing to do, if you think about it. In the case of players that need more ‘coaching’ than others, start with the basics and break every task or movement down into small tasks. “Great location of your hands on the bat, you are in the right spot in the box, your feet are good, your knees are good, now try to hold the bat upright with your hands by your ears as if you are on the phone with someone talking loud.” Or “good three point stance, your hand is in the right spot, your feet are spread wide, you are balanced and ready, now remember to step forward with your blocking side foot first as you fire out at the defense”.

I always try not to use the word ‘but’ when coaching. It takes away from whatever is before the ‘but’, making it less important. I try to build upon where they are in their ‘game’ and start with the good. The most challenging position I was put in was with a player was literally starting from scratch. It was the second game of our house baseball season and literally five minutes before the game a new player was not only assigned to my team, but he showed up with a brand new bat (in the wrapper) and a glove (with the tags still on it) for his first ever game. This would have been easier if it were t-ball or coach pitch, but it was the third year our kids had seen kids pitch to them, and some of the players really threw hard (45-50 mph from 42′). Well, that first game did not go over very well for that one player, but by the end of the season, that boy was on base, stealing, and was able to get in front of the ball in the field And, best of all, he signed up for next season at early enrollment. That is what it is all about!

No More Broken Eggs

No More Broken Eggs

There are a lot of tools, techniques and coaching skills for staying within this model. www.positivecoach.org is the website to the organization that taught the seminar that I attended, and I believe it is a great seminar for anyone who coaches or teaches kids. Another good book recommended to me by a great baseball coach for one of my kids, I read is called No More Broken Eggs, by Tom Morin. It is a book written by a sports psychologist about the mental aspects of the athlete and is basically a series of case studies that talk about what specific athletes go through, from a pressure standpoint, when playing. It is a good book, and one of the key takeaways for me was that here in the US, we start our kids competing at a very young age compared to some other countries. Other countries don’t get serious about sports until 13 or so, right when our kids are dropping out because the competition and pressure is no longer fun. If we kept it fun and taught fundamentals until 13, we might get more kids playing and having fun longer. Wouldn’t that be great?

I am considering writing another post about the specific techniques and practice drills I like, but I am definitely willing to share with anyone (including my competitors) my practice plans or coaching theories because, at the youth sports level, teaching them to love the game, focus on techniques while trying to win and have fun along the way is the only way to teach. I want kids to remember me as the coach that taught them to love the game we are playing and gave them the skills they need to compete for the rest of their lives, not only in that specific sport. After all, Herm Edwards also said “when the book of your life is written, what will be your legacy?”

 

 

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