Jim Collins wrote a best-selling business book entitled, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. In the book he and co-author, Jerry Porras, coined the term, “Big Hairy Audacious Goals.”
BHAG (pronounced, Bee-hag) is a strategic business statement which is created to focus an organization on a single, medium-to-long-term goal, which is audacious. Those on the outside of the company are likely to consider the goal questionable. But those on the inside regard it as possible.
This BHAG Made My Sports Career Soar
When Built to Last was first published, I was in my 20s running my own sports marketing firm. We specialized in reaching the college market. It was a nice, profitable enterprise. But one Sunday afternoon while I was watching AVP Beach Volleyball on NBC Sports, I had a vision that changed everything.
I thought to myself, “If pro beach volleyball is getting killer ratings on NBC (they were at the time), then why isn’t college beach volleyball on TV?”
That very day the Collegiate Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) was born. And within a matter of weeks I was pitching ESPN on the idea of televising the Pepsi College Beach Volleyball Championships. That was my BHAG. Though it never made it on-air, I still created a compelling tournament that attracted 300 teams and the biggest-brands in sport sponsorship. As a result, my sports career soared.
At this point in your sports career, do you have a BHAG? It doesn’t matter if you’re still in college, or unemployed, or a mid-level manager, or even a C-Level executive. Regardless of where you are in your career, a BHAG can take your sports career to the next level.
“A true BHAG,” says Collins and Porras, “is clear and compelling.” It doesn’t have to be a business enterprise like the example above. It can be a vision of your ultimate sports career goal. Whatever it may be, it’s got to excite you to the point where you want to jump out of bed every day and conquer the world.
How to Unleash Your BHAG…
To unleash your BHAG, you’ve got to tie it to something that you’re extremely passionate about. (Obviously.) I bring this up because everyone says their passionate about sports, but few people think outside the lines. That’s why I want to encourage you to look beyond the game itself and find your passion within a specific profession.
The kind of BHAG that will help your sports career takeoff will be linked to a profession in which you have a great deal of enthusiasm for. Enthusiasm is contagious. Co-workers and potential employers alike will be attracted to you because of it. And the beauty of sport is that nearly every profession is represented.
Next, you’ve got to name it. Amazon named it: “Every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.” Microsoft named it: “A computer on every desk and in every home.” Phillip Morris named it: “Become the front-runner in the tobacco industry.”
For you to name it, that means writing it down. If your BHAG is to become a General Manager of an NFL team, write it down. If you want to own a global sports marketing agency, write it down. But when you do, make sure to include a key ingredient: it has to be measurable. Notice that each of the above examples include a measurable result.
Your BHAG Should Fill a Void
If you told me 10 years ago there was going to be another U.S. sports apparel company that would be almost as well known as Nike in 2012, I would have said, “You’re crazy!” Today, Under Armour founder, Kevin Plank (@UnderArmour), is a billionaire because he wanted to give football players a better undershirt that wouldn’t weigh them down.
If you would have told me a college student would establish a sports conference and it would become one of the industry’s premier symposiums within five years, I would have said, “Highly unlikely.” Chris Chaney, founder of the Ivy Sports Symposium (@SportsSymposium), wanted to have an international panel of experts to empower their peers and potential successors. And that’s exactly what he did.
If you would have told me Sports Illustrated would name an executive recruiter, “The most powerful man in sports you’ve never heard of,” I would have said, “No way!” But Bob Beaudine (@YouGotWho) saw an opportunity to apply his proven system to the sports and entertainment industry. And now, according to Forbes, Beaudine is America’s top search consultant in college athletics.
All three of these men had a vision to fill a void, or improve a segment of the industry. Each had a BHAG. And so should you.
- Have a vision
- Fill a void
- Write it down
- Stay away from negative naysayers