January 1


Top 5 Tips from 2019

David Millay

January 1, 2020

To start 2020 off right, thought we would compile the most popular Tips of the Day from 2019 into one post. This way we start the year off with one mega Tip.

When I write a ToD, I start with an article I’ve read, a podcast I recently listened to, or a video I’ve watched. Sometimes we’ve created the base content here at EngageMint. From that base content, I distill some insight that can be applied to your world in college athletics. At the end of each ToD, I link to that base content so you can consume the full piece.

To judge the Top 5 most popular Tips, CollegeAD helped us find the 5 Tips that had the most clicks on the “Read More” link.

Turns out the most popular tips from last year were either random lists we made about learning, or tips on how to improve your organization’s culture. Which makes sense, because no matter what your specific job function is, learning and culture can apply. Whether you work with athletes, sell tickets, or work in operations, turning yourself into the best version of you and helping those around you perform at the highest levels possible will always be relevant.

In order, from least popular to most popular, here are our most popular Tips of the Day from 2019.



I know some of you will be enjoying the 4th of July weekend with a good book, hopefully by a pool or by the beach. If you’re anything like me, you will be annoying your significant other by reading a business book. In all seriousness, I enjoy business books while on vacation because it allows me to think clearly and deeply about new concepts without worrying about that work email or phone call.

As you prep for the holiday, here’s a list of 10 great business books that are guaranteed to spark some new ideas for your athletic department. Which of these are on my own reading list? Win or Die by Bruce Craven, which is all about leadership lessons from Game of Thrones- everything from when to use certain persuasion styles to how your personal values are perceived by others. Another read, Creative Construction by Harvard Business School professor Gary Pisano, offers a 3-part plan for large or slow-moving organizations to become more creative. Happy Reading!


CULTURE; August 7

Leaders across all industries are putting a higher focus than ever before on company culture. Where was this decades ago? It’s not that companies didn’t care about their culture. Instead, it’s today’s workforce that demands a more nurturing environment. A recent Deloitte study showed that 87% of organizations named company culture and employee engagement as top concerns. Even more striking? About 50% called the problem, “very important.”

Here’s why: a new generation of employees demands more. Mostly gone are the days of simply putting in an honest day’s work for a paycheck. The new generation of workers want meaningful work. They want to make an impact, and they want a company that cares more about them than its own profits. So what does that mean for college athletics? The same way that corporate America has shifted toward a culture and engagement-laden approach, athletic departments must also prioritize employee experience. Like the CEOs in the Deloitte study, is this one of your department’s top concerns? If not, shouldn’t it be? -Read More


CULTURE; July 18

In a new report from Bloomberg’s Work Wise, results show that jobs with the highest levels of satisfaction are NOT based on salary. According to the study, firefighters have the highest level of job satisfaction. Even though their median annual income is just under $50,000 (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), they still came out on top. This could be for a number of reasons, but one of the reasons is undoubtedly the sense of purpose and meaning in the role of a firefighter.

College athletics is certainly not the highest paying profession. But in order to get away with the meager salaries many of your administrators are paid, your department better have a darn good purpose. It’s not good enough anymore to just say “we’re developing student-athletes into great young men and women.” Your meaning and purpose have to incorporate deeper impact for your employees as well. How does your organization enhance the lives of your employees, emotionally, mentally, spiritually? -Read More


CULTURE; April 1

Hot take here. Your department’s mission statements to “maintain comprehensive academic and competitive excellence” isn’t doing anyone any good. While the statement may be true, it doesn’t inspire action. 99% of athletics mission statements and purposes that we see have zero emotional hooks and can easily be swapped out among schools. Your purpose should be different from your mission. The mission is what you do, but your purpose is why you do it. If you’re going to combine these two concepts into one statement, something has to change.

Serving your student-athletes is the primary focus. But as the world changes and you’re forced to become more sophisticated about serving your fans in order to better serve your student-athletes, it may be time to adjust your written purpose. In this opinion piece by one of my former Disney colleagues, purpose empowers companies to innovate as industries change. “By leading with a strong purpose, this company opens up an endless world of opportunity for themselves,” says Duncan Wardle, former Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney. -Read More


Lessons from NACDA; June 14

For the first time in the past nine NACDA Summer Conventions, I didn’t speak, I didn’t have a booth and I didn’t attend a session. I did sit in almost every seat at the lobby bar area, ate more than 3 meals a day (lunch meetings, man) and had more quality conversations than ever before. Starbucks in hand and white-soled Cole Haan’s on my feet, I was in the running for First-Team All-Lobby.

The overarching lesson for me was to have a value creation mindset. While this should be common sense, it’s didn’t appear to be common practice. A sub-lesson underneath that for me was in regards to conversations I overheard too often. If the industry is going to advance, we need to have less conversations about “the next job” and more conversations about how to be a beast in your current one. The best executives I knew at Disney hadn’t updated their resumes since college. They did such a good job in their current role that other people noticed, and next thing you know, they are in a new role.

For the rest of the things I learned, go check out the post.

Thank you all for your reading these tips! If these tips have helped you think differently in any way, give us a shout and let us know, we’d love to hear from you. Looking forward to a great 2020 with all of you.

David Millay

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