Wonder why some people fail and others succeed? Curious why certain individuals reach the top of a company’s organizational chart while others spin their wheels?
Talk to Jamie Norman about her career. She’ll give you insightful answers into these elusive questions.
First of all, Norman grew up playing all kinds of sports. She was an all-around athlete yet quickly admits, “I was never a superstar.” But she was definitely one thing: competitive. In fact, the will to out-perform the competition has never left her. It's a trait that has helped her climb the sports industry ladder. Here are three examples of her competitive nature aiding her career: Example One: After her freshman year at Northern Arizona University, she found an open spot on the track & field team and made sure she filled it. Big deal, you say? Hardly. It earned her a scholarship. Was she ever going to win a gold medal at the Olympics? No. But tuition and books were paid for, thank you very much.
Armed with a degree in business, she went to Denver and started promoting events. Example Two: She told her bosses she would drive up revenue. And did. “I learned a lot,” she says. “I had to promote everything from gymnastics to volleyball to fencing. You can imagine the different demographics.”
After moving to Milwaukee with her husband, she faced this reality: slim job prospects. Did that stop her? Did she give up on her dream of making it in the sports industry? Hardly. Example Three: She knocked on the Milwaukee Brewers’ door, refused to take no for an answer, and vigorously campaigned for a job. It worked. She joined the franchise’s sales team (essentially working for some guy named Bud Selig) and immediately impressed everyone.
Speaking of impressing, during her time in Milwaukee, Norman met Norm Green at a convention. Green was the owner of the Minnesota North Stars—a team heading for a new home in Texas. “I called the team in May of 1993. I had a job in June. Considering the move, Norman became the team’s 21st employee and was given a tricky assignment: Sell hockey in Dallas.
“I had to come down here,” she says about Texas. “And educate the people in the South about hockey. In the beginning it was real grass roots. We gave away tickets. We wanted to let people experience it."
She’s still with the Stars and is now the team’s Vice President of Ticket Sales. The Stars have been one of the NHL’s most successful teams during the last decade. No, she isn't making stick saves in goal--but she is still one of the franchise's key players.
What kind of advice does she give to people looking to work in sports?
"The biggest thing is they have to want it," Norman says. "They have to know they are getting in a time-consuming, life-changing job." So if that isn’t for you, save yourself time and aggravation. “It’s not a 9 to 5 job,” she says. “You take your job everywhere 24/7."
There are other things Jamie Norman can teach us. Here are three points that came up during the interview.
1. She’s proactive. She sought jobs. She wrote proposals. She didn’t wait around for job openings. She made people realize they’d be foolish not to hire her.
2. She gets excited about her job. Considering how much time is required of her, it helps when you can wake up every morning motivated to sell.
3. She satisfied an important curiosity. Norman always had an interest in teaching. From the time she graduated college, she wondered if she would have liked that profession. Well, she took some time off from the sports industry, satisfied her curiosity, and realized teaching wasn’t for her. By teaching, Norman reaffirmed she was in the right job after all.