First Football (Soccer) Match

If you didn’t know this about me, I love sports. All sports.  I love watching them, playing them, you name it and I’ll try it.  In my family, if you don’t like sports, well, good luck!  Just filled out my March Madness bracket the other day and like most, it’s already in the toilet.

I grew up a dancer (ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, hip hop, modern, you get the picture) but dabbled with sports in between.  Had my time playing softball – not for me.  I really liked baseball but once I was at a certain level I was asked to leave because I was a “liability”/they were afraid I was going to get hurt by the pitching machine.  In high school I played golf, and still play whenever I can.  When I lived in Arizona, being able to play golf had its bonuses as you can play all year long!

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 20.05.34In terms of watching sports, I’ll watch anything.  I like:

Baseball (Go Cubs!)

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American Football (Go Pack Go!)

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Hockey (Let’s Go Hawks!)

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Now Football (or as we silly Americans call it, Soccer) is a sport I didn’t grow up with.  Sure, I went to a few matches in high school and played it in gym class, but it isn’t as popular in the states as it is everywhere else in the world.  So, living in the UK and trying to take in as much culture as possible, I experienced my first football match on 15th March 2014 – a Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Norwich.

IMG_3194We arrived at St. Mary’s Stadium on a surprisingly pleasant and sunny Saturday to a sea of red.  It’s nice to see people supporting the Saints through jerseys, t-shirts, scarves and beyond.

IMG_3190 IMG_3212We purchased out tickets through the University of Southampton and were seated in one of the corners.  A little worried about these seats, I was happily proven wrong.  The stadium holds a little over 30,000 people so there isn’t a bad seat in the house!  We were early enough to grab a pie, cider and watch warm-ups.

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With 20 minutes before the match, more than half the seats were emqpty.  But, as I soon learned, the seats fill up about 5 minutes before the whistle blows.  We contributed this to the fact that you can’t bring alcohols past the concession stands, so everyone drinks before finding their seats.

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When the match stated, the atmosphere changed dramatically.  It was a bit hard to understand the chants and cheers of the fans but there was one I did recognize – “When the Saints go Marching In”.  Having gone to a Catholic school for part of my life, and our mascot being the I.C. Saints, this was a familiar tune.  So, I joined in as best as I could.

Southampton beat Norwich that sunny Saturday, 4-2.   Not bad for my first, but definitely not last, Football match!

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TFM&A 2014

Last week, I was up and on the coach before sunrise, heading to London for TFM&A 2014.  The Technology for Marketing and Advertising conference is an annual event for professionals in the marketing and advertising industry.  It provides presentations about new and upcoming technologies and innovations, information on products and services and networking opportunities.

IMG_3120Why did I go?  An excellent question!  My main reason for attending was to learn more about the digital marketing industry from a real-life perspective.  While I did work in advertising, it was only for a quick 2 years and I am far from a digital expert.  Also, being back in the classroom only provides a theoretical view of how to understand analytics or design a digital strategy.  The professionals at TFM&A not only understand what has been, they are also the ones predicting what will come in terms of social media trends, the evolution of brands and the next “big thing” in technology.  So, I wanted to surround myself with these people and pick their brains for information.

What did I learn?  More than I can put into one blog post, that’s for sure!  But let me summarise some of they key takeaways I discovered:

1. Social media has changed our lives:  Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the others out there, you can’t ignore them.  Social media outlets aren’t just for posting pictures and keeping in touch with long-lost  high school friends anymore.  They have changed the ways in which consumers consume media and how the media generates and provides information to their consumers.  I attended a keynote given by Anthony Simon, Head of Digital Communications, Prime Minister’s Office & Cabinet Office, who told us how the Prime Minister uses Facebook to provide people with emotional content, such as updates on the current UK Flooding.  A few years back, this information would have most likely been disclosed in a press release but thanks to the evolution of social media, the day of the press release may be coming to an end.  You may not have seen it coming, but how we communicate has, and will continue to, change.

2. Master’s degrees aren’t what they used to be: At one point during the “Panel debate: The future of marketing – have Gen X and Gen Y got what it takes?” keynotes, I started to have second thoughts about pursuing my master’s degree.  One of the Gen X panel members make a comment about how he could care less if a future employee had some “fancy MBA” or other degree.  You can probably imagine my face changing from a smile to one that showed pure horror.  Fortunately, other people on the panel weighed in on the topic and said sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t.  But, HR departments still see it as an impressive accomplishment, which can help candidates land an interview.  They also said that a master’s degree is more about the experiences one took to achieve it.  Those experiences are what a future employer wants to hear about in an interview and those experiences are what will set up apart from the rest.

3. Passion outweighs everything:  You can be good, heck, even great at something, but if you don’t have passion for it, you might as well pack your bags.  Passion and curiosity are the key driving forces to becoming a successful marketer.  Without them, you’ll probably be out of a job.  The marketing and advertising industries are progressing before our eyes every day and you need to be ready and willing to evolve with them.  You might not know what the changes are, but that’s OK.  As long as your curiosity drives you to get out of bed every day to do something you’re passionate about, you’re going to make it.

These are just some of the many insights I gained at TFM&A 2014.  I could go on and on about statistics and data I picked up, but in the digital world, that information is probably already out of date.  However, the above takeaways are ideas I can put in my marketing toolkit and use in the coming months as I look for a job, and in my future marketing/advertising career.

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