Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who are the "World Champs"?

On November 1, 2010 the San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers and were subsequently crowned “World Champs” by the media and the online world. On June 17, 2010 the Los Angeles Lakers celebrated a game seven victory over the Boston Celtics, adding another “World Champions” banner to the Staples Center rafters. On February 6,2011, along with being the most watched TV program in his history, the NFL celebrated new Superbowl Champions: The Green Bay Packers. I immediately drove to Green Bay to find the headline of the Green Bay Gazette display: “World Champs”. However, following their win over the Philadelphia Flyers on June 9, 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks raised a banner that read: “2010 Stanley Cup Champions”.

I’ve lived in three different countries, visited 13 in total and have attended many professional sports games – Which got me wondering – when should your favorite team call themselves World Champs and when should they simply enjoy being named the Champs of their perspective league?

The Golden Rule: If another country in the world has a professional league for your sport, you CAN’T call yourself World Champs!

But Reuven, American sports are the best in the world. Isn’t that enough? No. The big 4 (MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA) may have the best players in the world, the most resources, the highest TV ratings, and the most sponsorship dollars, but that alone can’t justify crowning yourself World Champs. If that was the case, the miracle on ice wouldn’t have happened because the Russians were the best in the world – so why did we waste our time and effort playing them? because miracles happen, and the only way American teams will ALWAYS be better than other teams is if they never get a chance to play them.

Still not buying it? the current NBA champions are the LA Lakers. The current Euroleague champion is Barcelona. Clearly the Spanish club wouldn’t stand a chance vs the flashy Lakers…. right? wrong! on October 7th, 2010, Barcelona defeated the Lakers with a score of 92 – 88. Basketball is the #2 most popular sport in the world! The NBA is going global by the minute! Give the world a chance, champs!

But Reuven, Baseball is an American sport, and we are the best league. Isn’t that enough? No. You wouldn’t say that Americans have the best apple pie in the world and no apple pie from another country would ever trump it, would you? (If you would, call me and ill perform a blind taste test for you). Have you ever visited Japan and witnessed their obsession with Baseball? Do you know that Cuba won the most “Baseball World Cups”? – Baseball has become a popular sport on a global level, and just because the MLB champion is supposed to beat any other team, that may not always be the case. (If it was, we would crown the Yankees “World Champions” every single year)

But Reuven, what about the NFL? Are they World Champions? Yes! I think it’s okay to call the Superbowl winner “World Champions”. While many countries are intrigued by the concept of American Football, the NFL remains the major fully developed league. Countries like Switzerland, Russia, Israel are all getting their toes wet with club teams and amateur leagues but clearly they would not be ready for even an exhibition game. What about the CFL? I wouldn’t mind seeing something done between the Superbowl winner and the champion of the Canadian Football League – so I will leave you with this question: Am I breaking the Golden Rule by calling the Packers “World Champs”? or is the NFL so much more developed than any other league that it’s ok to crown them champs?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Maintaining the Chicago Cubs’ Historic Brand

Even for the modest fan, few sports teams resonate in your mind stronger than the Chicago Cubs. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to know that the Cubs are an iconic brand (Trust me, I’m from Milwaukee).

I recently had the opportunity to listen to Wally Hayward, the Cubs’ Chief Sales and Marketing Executive who was brought on by new owner Tom Ricketts to solve this burning question: how can a historic team make changes that will respect the character of the ballpark while providing new growth opportunities?

The answer to that question is outlined in these three main goals of the Cubs:

1) Build a Championship Team

I found it interesting when Hayward said that the Cubs want all of their employees to be the best at their prospective jobs. Yes, that means they strive to have the best security desk personnel, office assistant, and janitor in all of sports. Why? Because being the best is part of the unique culture the new ownership has. “This job was lucrative to me because the family culture has the brand’s best interest in mind for the long run” said Hayward.
The Cubs did not produce a winning product on the field this past season. However, with more money invested in player development, the organization seeks to win the NL Central next year. To accomplish that, the Cubs are putting their focus on the youth rather than big league players. The team built an academy in the Dominican Republic that serves as the gateway into the MLB for many of the young athletes living in that region. The key now is to win consistently over time. One thing is for sure, the Chicago culture is not going to make it easy. In a city characterized by big expectations and tough media, the Cubs have their hands full.

2) Preserve Wrigley Field

If you have ever visited JerryWorld (the nickname given to Jerry Jones’ new Cowboys Stadium) you may have thought that bigger is better when it comes to screen size, number of sponsorships, clubs, and so on. In reality, while that strategy works wonders in Dallas, it would never fly in Chicago. Even a historic ballpark like Fenway Park has 67 sponsor signs around the stadium. Wrigley doesn’t have that freedom due to the iconic elements of the stadium (for example, the Ivy). In fact, the multiyear deal with Toyota that produced the 16 by 22 foot sign above the left center field bleachers was a strategic placement. Even though many were initially upset, the Cubs were very careful not to hinder the view of the rooftop stands on Waveland Avenue. Another big renovation project included the conversion of 6 suites into the PNC club. You can see how smart and strategic sponsorships like PNC and Toyota will help Wrigley move forward.

Not everything is done on a revenue maximizing focus. The Cubs have invested in renovations that have never been considered before by the Tribune ownership – like the neglected Women bathrooms. In fact, Hayward’s own office is a converted Women restroom, adding to the fact that the new ownership is willing to make sacrifices for the brand’s long term health.

Even with all the additions and renovations, many opportunities still exist for Wrigley. The creation of a merchandise store will prevent the lost revenue on licensing fees that are the result of not owning the stores currently. Let’s step out of the stadium for a moment. The impact of the Cubs on Chicago’s economy is $655 Million, so it’s in everybody’s interest to see the club succeed in the long term. Within a four block radius of Wrigley, you will find 64 bars and restaurants. If the Cubs can control the environment and the fan experience outside the ballpark, it will drive even more revenue within the park.

Remember the College game day held at Wrigley on November 20, 2010 (Yes, the one that could only be played using one end zone) – Did you know it was one of the highest rated in College game day history? Years from now, I can remind you that it wasn’t because people wanted to see Northwestern take on Illinois (neither team had a shot of winning the Big 10) – it was because the game was held at Wrigley, and there is power to holding events at iconic parks like Wrigley Field.

3) Find the right partner

We already saw how powerful the association with the Chicago Cubs can be. In June 2010, Muscle Milk announced a limited edition bottle with the Cubs logo and baseball stitching graphics on the bottle design. Furthermore, fans participated in a contest for the chance to throw the first pitch at a Cubs home game.
Another successful partnership was created with Scott’s when they unveiled “Wrigley Field Lawn Fertilizer” and “Wrigley Field Grass Seed Mix”, which contained formulas used at Wrigley Field. This smart move dramatically increased revenues for Scott’s and provided great visibility for the Cubs.
The Cubs will continue to integrate their brand with the right partner to achieve success in the future.

Image by Jasonippolito

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

$8 Beers: The Stadium Food Service Business

If you are like me and you enjoy going to many different sporting events, you pay attention to many of the team’s revenue drivers: ticket sales, corporate sponsors, suits, naming rights, merchandise sales, and more. Concessions always seem to slip my mind. Maybe it’s because I used to view them as an overpriced and unappealing service. However, a recent talk with a former Aramark VP of Marketing is beginning to reshape my perception of the business.

Aramark is a leader in the stadium and arena food service industry. They also specialize in facilities management, premium event catering, and more. They can make money three different ways. In a “P+L” deal, the concessions collect money from the fans and pay the team 40% – 50% of the earnings. In a “Fee” deal, the client (the sports team) pays a flat management fee for Aramark’s services. In a “Split” deal, a combination of the two occurs. Does 40%-50% seem like a big chunk of money to pay the team? You bet! The fast food business operates on an average 30% markup. When you have to pay 40%-50% to the team and still make a profit, you find yourself charging $8 for a beer. For Aramark, Beer is great. It’s where they make their biggest margin. Here are some of their other initiatives:

Shift to being more fan friendly

Due to their big presence in baseball stadiums, Aramark studied fan characteristics and developed two consumer profiles. The “baseball purist” is the stereotypical fan who follows the sport, is dedicated to his/her team, and is relatively easy to please. An equally important segment is the “Social fan”, the person who enjoys the game for the entertainment it offers, or the great family value that is derived from it. As if New York teams weren’t competitive enough, the simultaneous rise of Citi Field and New Yankee Stadium (not served by Aramark) presented new challenges. While New Yankee stadium offered restaurants like the delicious, yet fairly common Hard Rock CafĂ©, Aramark decided to take a different approach with Citi Field. It included restaurants and stands filled with unique NY foods, from small local pizza shops to fancy long island seafood choices. In Coors Field, Aramark included a gluten free stand – a move that earned them national praise and higher sales.

Shift to being more tech savvy

Huge opportunities lie in the concept of “Loaded Tickets”. Those are ballpark admissions with loaded credit which can be used for food, drinks, and merchandise. Families seem to be heavy users of the concept, as the parents prefer sending the children to the concessions with a ticket rather than cash. Business people also showed favoritism towards them as the loaded options make the tickets a more lucrative gift. In general, people tend to spend more when they have credit left on the tickets. The teams get to enjoy the unused credit at the end of the night. The Philadelphia Phillies became the first MLB team to use loaded tickets with Aramark’s help. According to the Sports Business Journal, The Arizona Diamondbacks and Levy Restaurants have invested $700,000 for the new technology.

Aramark is a good example of how the concessions service industry is re-thinking fan expectations, thus creating higher revenues for themselves as well as the sports teams they serve. Now I know how my $8 beer is being used.


Image by Kevin H.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Attention Grabbing Condom Ads

You see them everywhere! you hate many, remember few, connect with a handful of them. Advertising agencies spend millions of dollars trying to get your attention. Lets just say, some products allow for funnier, more creative, more memorable ads.


This campaign attempted to gain the trust of consumers, promising that the brand is good at its job, and never fails.

This clever Guerrilla Marketing campaign used a transit system's turnstiles to get the message across.

Durex understands the need for XL condoms, and has a very clever way of showing it in this campaign.

Kids are expansive. Durex is not. Simple, yet effective campaign

"Love is blind" campaign. Attempting to gain trust and loyalty from its consumers.


This very creative print ad promised a longgggg lasting condom.


Very creative Guerrilla Marketing campaigns using condom shaped umbrellas and a bathroom sticker reads: "You never know when it'll be necessary."

Message Ads

Monday, August 23, 2010

SuperStar of David

Make your way into my off - campus Marquette apartment, and you will be amazed at what you see. Many college students have a collection of some sort - stamps, beer cans, magnets, and I am no different. When my friend once described the apartment as "Sports Heaven", he was partly referring to my large collection of sports Bobbleheads. So it shouldn't surprise you that I published a post on a bobblehead forum asking for Jewish themed Bobbles. What may surprise you are the responses I received. Within a day, I was offered a Sandy Koufax, Al Rosen, Ryan Braun, Shawn Green, Amar'e Stoudemire.... What?

Ever since Stoudemire informed his Twitter followers of his spiritual trip to Israel which happened earlier this month, the 6 foot 10 Power Forward is being included in "Stars of David" conversation.... the list of the best Jewish athletes of all time. Stoudemire admitted in multiple interviews that he is a spiritual person, and believes has Hebrew Roots on his mother's side. He said his trip to Israel was to learn more about his history, the language, and the Jewish people. One must wonder, why now? In a time when antisemitism is increasing in many parts of the world, and Israel is condemned on a nightly basis on biased media channels, celebrities are still looking for their Jewish roots.

Remember when Madonna suddenly began following Kabbalah, going to synagogue, and wearing Jewish jewelery? Remember when Britney Spears was interested in Kabbalah, wore a star of david necklace, got a Hebrew tattoo on her neck, and was rumored to be considering a conversion to Judaism? Remember when Lindsay Lohan visited a synagogue right before admitting that she was considering a conversion to Judaism to show her devotion to girlfriend Samantha? You should remember all of these! They all happened somewhat recently. What's their motive? And when is it "in" to want to be a Jew?

Some skeptics out there believe that the New York Knicks somehow convinced Amar'e that he is Jewish. Since they didn't get LeBron, they might as well get a superstar who is not only excellent on the court, but who may also connect with the large Jewish audience in NY. Yeah right... as if there aren't enough Jewish New Yorkers who want to go to sports games. But then again, it is possible that the Mets reached in and said: "Hey, ever since we got Ike Davis at first base, Citi Field is exploding with Jews. We are thinking of adding a Home Run Honey to complement the Home Run Apple." It is possible that the Knicks wanted to make sure that their five year, $100 Million investment in Stoudemire was being used to the fullest (Because as every New Yorker knows, a good investment involves a Jew)

In reality, we welcome Amar'e with open arms and will teach him everything he needs to know about being a good Jew (We forgot to tell him that tattoos are forbidden before he got the Star of David on his hand). Think his NBA friends will follow suit? Recently, LeBron James has been spotted holding hands with a Rabbi on a private yacht. As reported, James was meeting with retail executives and payed Rabbi Pinto six figures for "Spiritual guidance". King David, King Solomon, King James??? If Stoudemire's desires to be a Jew were strengthened in NYC, we can expect the South Florida Jews to work their magic on James.

When I was young, I was once asked: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "I don't know", I answered "But my mom wants me to be a doctor." Mom, don't be surprised if in the future you ask my son the same question and he replies with " I don't know, but dad wants me to be a Power Forward."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lead America - 2010 Media & Journalism, Fordham University

Why LeadAmerica?

In December 2010, I will be graduating from Marquette University with degrees in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and entering the business world. How should I spend my last summer of "freedom"? I knew right away I wanted to spend it with Lead America. Lead America is the nation's premier youth leadership organization. I decided to be a Team Leader for the Media and Journalism program. I felt confident about the summer since I am a Lead America alumni myself. I also worked as a Team Leader for the Global Business and Entrepreneurship program in the summer of 2008. However, part of me was nervous. New students, new venue (I have never been to Fordham). Before I knew it, all my worries disappeared.

Fordham University

This beautiful Jesuit University located in a gated area of the Bronx was a great location for a Lead America conference. Similar to Stanford, it had a lot of open areas and space for activities. It was nice to take my team to a big open grassy areas and perform leadership activities outside. We shared the venue with the Theater and Law conferences so there was never a dull moment.

Speakers & Off - Sites

Once again, NYC did not disappoint, providing some of the best speakers and off sites in the country. Our students heard from Jon Wertheim, Senior sports writer for Sports Illustrated, who was glad to come back and speak to our students. He stressed the importance of having good research to make the writing process easier (and I stressed that to my team later on). Another great speaker was Lillian Smith, the CEO of LS Production Works and former Producer, Donahue. The all - star cast continued with Monique Fortune, President of Fortune Associates and Steve Daly from Entertainment Weekly. To top it off, the students heard from Samuel Freedman, a Columbia University professor and a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

The students enjoyed a day at Ellis Island, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square. As a reward, we took groups to the NBA Store and H&M (trust me, they appreciated it).

Media & Journalism related visits included the Paley center, where students watched a documentary about investigative reporting (It was great), Columbia University, and an NBC studio tour (Yes, we saw the SNL studio as well as many other studios and control rooms). For the first time, we were able to tour the NY Times printing facility in Queens. Although my team went on a Saturday and many printing lines were closed, the students got an in depth look at a printing facility of one of the most successful newspapers in the world. However, perhaps the most memorable off site happened on day 5, as we all went on the CBS Early Show. We had to be up at 5 am but what teenagers don't want to be on national television? It was definitely an exciting, and very beneficial off site program.

The Simulation

A major part of the ten day conference is spent on a simulation in which students must create a magazine or newspaper, as well as a broadcast program. At first I was worried that my team will have trouble deciding on a magazine theme but to my surprise, my team was the first to decide. In the beginning, I pushed my team to think outside of the box, and to come up with topics that are unique. In the back of my head I knew that most students are interested in sports, gossip, and entertainment and wanted my team to develop a theme that will separate them from the competition. We had the following suggestions: NYC theme, Green theme, Entertainment theme. Suddenly, a student suggested to combine the three into one magazine. The final product would be "Destination: Manhattan", a monthly magazine highlighting a different city each issue. The August 2010 issue concentrated on the Manhattan borough, and featured articles about NYC's green initiative, an NYC entertainment portion, and featured a review of the new Broadway show "UP", which my team created (my team reviewed the play as if they were actually sitting in the audience, and also wrote a song that a team member performed during the broadcast). Realizing that quality research will make the reporting much easier, the field reporters conducted interviews, took photos, and did extensive research in order to get the best stories. The hard work payed off as Team C won the Pulitzer Prize (Top 3 teams received medals with the top team winning the prize). I was extremely proud of their hard work, dedication, and at the end they celebrated the results.

My Team

This team was very different from all the other teams I had at Lead America. While I was used to Business students being outgoing and very high energy, my team C was the complete opposite during the first day. They were quiet, they seemed indifferent, but they were extremely well behaved. On day two I had a conversation with a fellow TL and I told her: "These kids will start talking as time goes by. At least they are VERY well behaved." I was correct. As the days went by, the team became very close. We taped a very nice "Green Initiative" commercial for our simulation on day 3 which my team directed and executed. A few people described it as "something you would see on the Disney Channel." Because everyone contributed to the commercial, and it had a good natured theme, I believe it really brought the team closer. We also had a lot of off sites which required time on the buses which gave students time to bond. Once again, I told my team I expect them to be the best behaved, have the best product, and form the closest bonds. Check, check, check! Even though close friendships were formed between members of different teams, I could always spot most of the team sitting together or socializing during off-sites. One of the most memorable pictures of the conference came on the last day. As the first bus was leaving to the airport, 5 of my students stood patiently, tears in their eyes. Then, they took off... after the bus! they ran, smiling and waving to their friends one last time. The loved one another, and refused to leave even a second early.

Teams A, B, C, D, E

Since this was a Media & Journalism conference, there were many more girls than guys. In fact, out of 80 total students, 60 were girls! Perhaps that is the reason they were so well behaved. Mr. Williams, the Program Director, makes it very clear in the beginning of each conference that he wants to treat the students as adults, and will reward them when they prove that they deserve it. The rewards came very early this conference, as we let the students have bigger boundaries during off sites, took them to Pinkberry and had nightly rap sessions. Every conference has its own story, its own personality. For some reason, the students during this conference had a passion for rhyming. One student on my team, Dayne, is a very talented rapper and his talent for rhymes spread across the conference. Being a fan of rhyming myself, we held nightly rap sessions where students could freestyle or perform the raps they wrote that day. Needless to say, students loved it! These were very smart, talented students and I have no doubt in my mind that each and every one of them will be successful in the future. Today, the students still keep in close touch and are planning reunions all over the country. I really enjoyed myself this session, and felt like the summer ended on an extremely high and positive note.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lead America - 2010 Global Business & Entrepreneurship, Columbia University

Why LeadAmerica?

In December 2010, I will be graduating from Marquette University with degrees in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and entering the business world. How should I spend my last summer of "freedom"? I knew right away I wanted to spend it with Lead America. Lead America is the nation's premier youth leadership organization. I decided to be a Team Leader for the Global Business and Entrepreneurship program. I felt confident about the summer since I am a Lead America alumni myself. I also worked as a Team Leader for the same program in the summer of 2008. However, part of me was nervous. New students, new venue (I have never been to Columbia). Before I knew it, all my worries disappeared.

Columbia University

One of the most prestigious universities in the country, this Ivy League school was a very attractive location for a Global Business & Entrepreneurship conference. We stayed at McBain Hall (Primarily a Sophomore dorm ) on 113th & Broadway. The upper Manhattan location was great as we could leave campus and walk around Riverside Park or have a milkshake at Tom's Restaurant (The Seinfeld Restaurant).

Speakers & Off - Sites

New York City always attracts students who want to enroll in a Lead America conference, especially for Business. During the 10 day session, our students heard from professors at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University, who spoke to them about Entrepreneurship, International Business, Marketing, Finance, and more. Also, they had the privilege to hear from Senior Sports Illustrated Writer Jon Wertheim, who spoke about careers in Sports Marketing. "The number one rule of public speaking is knowing your audience", he told our students in the beginning of his speech. He was prepared for his lecture, realizing that he was speaking to a group of High School students who may not understand the complex sports marketing industry as well as they think. He mentioned that in High School, almost every student interested in the profession wants to be a sports agent of a sports owner. He explained that both are glorious jobs but extremely hard to obtain. He also encouraged the students to look past Sports Marketing as a major, and obtain a well rounded business education that will make them more marketable for sports teams. Having a sports background myself, I found his speech to be extremely beneficial for the sake of the students.

During the off sites, the students enjoyed Ellis Island and South Street Seaport, both wonderful New York attractions. We also visited Rockefeller Center, which gave the students chance to explore the heart of the city with their friends with a little distance from the Team Leaders (as long as they stayed in groups of 4).

Business related visits included the NY Federal Reserve Bank, the largest of the 12 Reserve Banks in the country. It featured a very interesting self guided money exhibit as well as a guided trip to the vault, located on the bedrock of Manhattan and home to over $240 billion worth of Gold (most of which belongs to foreign countries who needed a safe place to store their national treasure). I found it interesting that for a transaction to occur, workers physically removed blocks of gold from a country's cell and transferred it to another's. Those workers required to wear protective add - ons to their shoes in order to protect their toes from the heavy blocks of gold. (The add - ons were unattractive looking and cost over $500). We also visited Fox Business where the students explored control rooms as well as studios, sat in anchor chairs, and learned about the unique Fox culture that made this young station such a success. The final off site was to the United Nations, where students learned about the policies, procedures, and meetings that take place inside those very important walls.

The Business Plan

A major part of the ten day conference is spent on a business plan simulation. The students are required to invent a new, socially responsible idea and produce a 9-10 page business plan and present that plan to a panel of venture capitalists. This session, Team A (lead by Team Leader Jesse) created a product called "T - Fast" which is a touch free toilet paper dispenser marketed to Hospitals and other health care organizations. Team C (lead by Team Leader Brianna) created "Enviro - Wash" which is an eco- friendly car wash. Team D (lead by Team Leader Janki) created "Make My Muffin" which was a healthy, interactive muffin restaurant. Team E (lead by Team Leader Meghan) created "Sani Band" which were wrist bands with hand sanitizer in them. Team B (lead by me) created a product called "Hac Jac" which is a heating and cooling jacket for the military as well as "Hac Apparel" which is a heating and cooling jacket targeted towards the elite. It is so amazing to see High School students from all over the country produce such smart, organized, and detailed plans in less than 10 days. Facilitating the simulation and reading their plans make me feel confident in their abilities to be ethical business leaders in the future.

My Team

From the very first day, I saw a lot of potential in my Team B. One of the first activities we do as a team is a game called Warp Speed. The students stand in a circle and toss a tennis ball to one another. The rules are that Person A must say the name of Person B and toss the ball to him or her. Person B responds by thanking Person A and throwing the ball to Person C. This game is designed to get students to remember each others names and is highly effective because it connects a name with a face. To make it more challenging, I often times introduce 3 balls to make it more difficult. Needless to say, High School students (as well as any other group of individuals) struggles with this game. Even though my team struggled in the beginning, they were able to accomplish the task in a surprisingly quick manner, and had each other's names memorized by the end of the game. That simple game showed me that this team is willing to work together and make an effort to be successful. Like my previous team, we had 3 good ideas for a product but couldn't decide on a winner. It was taking us a long time to make up our mind and I was trying to push the team to make a decision and move on. The most difficult part for my team occurred when a few members felt like they were being attacked by another member who they felt was being "too bossy". A confrontation occurred and team morale was down. I also noticed that cliques were forming on my team. To solve the first issue, I pulled my president and 4 VPs aside (the two members who had the confrontation were both VPs) and we talked about respect and ways to make this team stronger. After a healthy, positive conversation, they assured me they were ready to move on. I also addressed my team as a whole about the cliques. I told them that in the past, my teams were always the most cohesive and well bonded and that I will not accept cliques on my team. As the days progressed and the students continued to work on the business plan, all 17 members formed a close bond as if applied with magical glue. Members would come up to me and say "I think we have the best team. We are the closest team in the conference." I couldn't help but smile. I also pride myself on having a well behaved and respectful team, and despite a number of behavioral issues throughout the conference, I am happy to say that my team was not involved in any of them. Furthermore, many students on the team had very outgoing, vibrant personalities that made every event seem more exciting. I will forever remember their smiling faces and the way they transformed the team to become the closest and best team in the conference.

Teams A, B, C, D, E

This was a bigger conference, with 90 students attending. I was used to the large number since in years past, the conferences would consist of over 100 students. I enjoy the large numbers as it creates opportunities for friendships, excitement, and more resources they can use during their simulation. The conference started slow due to a number of logistical issues we had. It was the first time that Lead America did not use buses for off site visits. Instead, we took our students on the NYC subway. At first, accountability was my biggest concern but we were able to create a good system which proved successful and we have not lost any students. However, the extreme heat (100 + degrees) made the trips miserable. Furthermore, the rides were very long and caused us to be late to many of our tours. As a result, our students didn't get much time to eat and site see. Another logistical issue were Columbia's facilities. I expected a lot more from such a prestigious university. The heat in the bathrooms and dining hall made it unbearable to stay there for periods of time. I joked that when we would eat, we would gain 5 pounds and lose them at the same time to the sweat, so at the end we would break even. However, the logistical issues did not take away from the success of the conference itself. As the time went by, the students formed close friendships and had a lot of fun. They especially enjoyed the fact that we allowed them to watch the World Cup Final and rewarded them with trips to ice cream stores at the end of the conference. Overall, I got to know most people in the conference and felt very proud when students from other teams thanked me for teaching them new things and being approachable with advice.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams