Good to Great: SUXC 2013

2013 Cross Country Championship

Photo Credit: Sarah D. Davis

What does it take to transform a good, strong cross country program into a great one with long term success? Coming into my final cross country season for Syracuse University, I found myself asking this question in regards to what I think will become one of the greatest programs in the NCAA. I was blessed and fortunate enough to have the opportunity to come back to Syracuse University for my fifth year of eligibility in Cross Country and Indoor Track—an opportunity that I wanted to capitalize on to create momentum for the program going forward.

For SUXC, 2013 saw tremendous success. We took home the first ever ACC Championship in school history with five All-ACC selections, won the Northeast Regional Championships with six All-Northeast Region selections, and took tenth place at the NCAA Championships, the first men’s top ten finish under the current coaching staff and the highest finish since 1957. Coach Fox also received the ACC Coach of the Year award, the first in Syracuse history. It was a season to remember, and although it was a long push to get there, it was a lot of fun and I loved every minute of it.

The Good to Great Model

Throughout the semester, I read the highly acclaimed management novel Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins. The novel dissects 11 companies who transformed from having mediocre results within the market to results that beat the market by 3.5 times per one dollar invested over a period of 15 years. Collins and his research team created a Good to Great Model and identified six important steps a company must take in order to achieve greatness propelled by a concept he called the flywheel. Each step was categorized into three groups based upon disciplinary values a good company must gain and possess in order to become great. While reading the novel, I found myself applying each step of Collins’ model to our cross country team.

Level 5 Leadership: The Syracuse University Cross Country Team was coached and guided by the best coaching staff in the NCAA. A level five leader is characterized by their humility while leading, yet they possess rigorous drive to do what is best for the company. I can vouch for the entire team that the entire coaching staff at Syracuse is driven to being the best, making hard decisions along that stay within the confines of creating one of the best cross country programs in the NCAA. As a result of these decisions, success emerged; however, the success achieved over the last decade by the team, especially the initial success of this year, was taken humbly. The coaches allowed the running to do the talking and gain press (although limited) rather than taking credit for everything they had previously accomplished.

First Who, Then What: It is important to create goals, but these goals mean nothing unless you are surrounded by the right people. First choose the right people you want onboard, then formulate your goals and where you want to go. It became evident to me that Syracuse Cross Country has had all the right people come through the program. The coaches have done a phenomenal job recruiting and bringing the best all-around athletes into the program, athletes who I cannot be more proud of to call teammates. By finding and choosing the right people to join the program, those who are driven and work extremely well together, it is easier and more effective in forming goals. For SUXC, these goals were to win the first ACC Championship and place on the podium (top 4) at the NCAA Championships. These goals were not chosen, but rather realized once everyone was aware of the talented group we had.

Confront the Brutal Facts: It is important to confront the current reality of the situation, but never lose hope of what can be accomplished in the future. For SUXC, we had to be honest with ourselves. One day, we would love to hoist the national championship trophy, yet we realized this is not entirely the time to do it. It is a long process that takes years of work and momentum. We knew we could be top ten, even top five, on a really good day at nationals, but we still kept the faith that one day we can be the greatest team in the country. It is a hard pill to swallow, but when a team cares about building towards the future of the program, the team keeps the dreams and hopes for future goals alive even if that goal cannot immediately be met.

The Hedgehog Concept: What is your passion? What can you be the best at? What is your driving resource? These three questions, when overlapping, form the basis of one’s hedgehog concept. For SUXC, the passion of running, the goal to be the best in the NCAA, and the success we achieve along the way are our hedgehog concept. It is important to stick to this concept when making all decisions, and although it may seem simple, it is a lot harder than it looks in the model. All the training and racing decisions made for the program were geared towards success in the future. All members of the team, coaches, athletes, and administration, adhered closely to the hedgehog concept. By using the hedgehog concept as a guideline, the team was able to achieve success by simply training and staying focused on what needed to be accomplished.

Culture of Discipline: In my mind, this concept was the most crucial aspect to this season and the program as a whole. All the puzzle pieces can be there, but unless a company consists of self-disciplined individuals who focus on their responsibilities at hand, the puzzle cannot be put together. My teammates were extremely self-disciplined this season. We had ample guidance from our coaches, but still had many freedoms to control on our own, freedoms that can only be conquered by self-disciplined and motivated people. Every teammate did their part and responsibility to ensure the overall success of the program, and the end results spoke for themselves. I owe a lot to my teammates for the sacrifices they had to make to stay self-disciplined, and I’m excited to see where their self-discipline will carry them in the future of SUXC.

The Flywheel: Throughout the six steps taken to becoming great, there is a great deal of momentum built until a company, or in this case the SUXC team, breaks through into greatness. The concept of this buildup of momentum is known as the flywheel. Once our team had achieved all the necessary steps towards becoming great, we began to see success. Momentum built as early as the hiring of the coaching staff and recruiting of their first SUXC athletes and culminated with the self-displined actions of my teammates adhering to our hedgehog concept. We saw momentum carry us through to our first ACC Championship win, the first top ten finish in recent program history, and we had multiple All-Northeast Region and All-ACC recipients. The best part about the flywheel is that it keeps on turning as long as the six steps continue to be followed, meaning future success for SUXC.

(Note: I did not include technological accelerators due to relevancy, although it is one of the six steps mentioned by Collins)

Overall, while it was nice to draw parallels between SUXC and Good to Great, there were many other factors that made this season a huge success. The approach we took this year was very laid back and fun. Every trip was exciting to be a part of and the team had really good chemistry. Racing was treated as it should—just another workout. Other than running with a mass of other teams from all over the country, it was just running. For years I put a lot of pressure on myself until I was finally able to realize the reason that I ran in the first place, that is because I love to run, I love to compete, I love being a part of a team, and I love my school. I saw myself this season treat running for Syracuse as a privilege and a fun opportunity to express my passions, rather than treating it like a job.


Photo Credit: Michael Scott

The concepts in Good to Great seem relatively common sense and simple—and they are. If I just run with passion and stay focused on what lies ahead, that’s all there is to it. Running is, simply put, just running. If a team and program like Syracuse can follow these simple steps, anyone can do it, right? Wrong. It is easy to get caught up and lose focus of goals and carrying out one’s responsibilities. Following these steps is so much easier said than done, and I challenge you all to take part in following Collins’ model to transform into greatness.

Being a part of Syracuse Cross Country for the last five years has taught me a lot about myself, helped me to find my faith again, and given me reason to pursue my passion of running as a career, whether professionally or on the business side of it. I have so many people to thank for the opportunity to represent, in my opinion, the greatest school in the NCAA including family, teammates, friends, coaches, and mentors (As well as NYRR, huge thanks to everyone I worked with this past summer! It was an incredible experience). I am really excited for this upcoming Indoor Track season for one last opportunity to represent Syracuse, as well as watching SUXC in the years to come. Here’s to continuing the momentum and keeping the flywheel spinning.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I’m just about more than halfway through the summer. It’s an awesome realization to know that in a month I’ll be back with great teammates and friends to begin another exciting year at Syracuse. It’s a year I’m really looking forward to, but as I’ve blogged about before, it’s important to live in the moment and take time to appreciate the environment you are currently living in.

This summer has been a blast so far. I’ve taken a step towards pursuing my goal of making an impact in the world of running with a summer internship in the public relations department at New York Road Runners. What I love about the company so far is its mission — promoting the sport of distance running and road racing to lead others to live well balanced lives, building a tight knit community, and giving opportunities to so many people in the community by allowing them to experience and share my passion. Since day one, I have gotten to see first hand how much of an impact NYRR has in the New York City area through weekend road races for all ages, youth events such as National Running Day where New York City kids learn to live an active lifestyle and huge events such as the Oakley Mini 10K and the New York City Marathon.

I’ve learned a lot about the world of public relations so far through this experience, some of which can only be learned outside of the classroom. It takes a lot of multitasking and quick response time to be the middle man for an organization and the media. Planning can take many weeks in and advance, even months for events like the New York City Marathon, but a PR practitioner has to be able to respond on a whim and change plans if necessary. Meeting the needs of the media and releasing news related to the NYRR is a challenge and it requires a two way communication system.


Jen Correa of Staten Island. Her story will be one of the segments featured for the marathon this year.

I’ve had a lot of fun experiences on the job. My first week, I got to attend National Running Day at Icahn Stadium and watch kids from all five boroughs run races and have a blast at different activity stations. I got to attend the Oakley Mini 10k and experience a press conference with elite, professional athletes as well as help run media functions the day of the race. In the office we perform many different PR activities, and each day there is something new to tackle. Planning for the marathon has been a lot of fun so far, even though it is still months away. I have met great people like Jen Correa, who battled through Hurricane Sandy, and it is amazing to have had a hand in coordinating her segment with ABC to air in the Fall. (Be sure to stay tuned for the pro athlete announcement for the ING New York City Marathon Next Week!)

Running…I have found a new side to the reasons I love running. I am meeting great people in the community and have been able to share stories and conversations through getting in some miles. Van Cortlandt Park has been great to me in my training for the upcoming cross country season. Running Cemetery Hill and passing by the finish area of the 8k has brought back memories that I get to relive at least 3 or 4 mornings a week. It also motivates me to focus on the goals Syracuse Cross Country has this year. I’ve also been able to run in Central Park for a lot of my normal training runs and doubles, where the atmosphere is filled with all kinds of interesting people and events everyday. If you have never run at Rockefeller State Park in Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow, NY PUT IT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST. It has been my long run spot all summer, and it is filled with miles and miles of dirt trails. It connects to the OCA, which runs along the Hudson River, even down to Van Cortlandt Park.

I’m really excited to get back to Syracuse and finish off my college career strong. There is a lot of unfinished business left with Syracuse Cross Country/Track and Field, and we have big things in store this year. It has gone by extremely fast, but it isn’t over. I want to make this program the best it can be, and I am grateful to have many teammates, coaches, friends, family, and others who support me and share the same goals.

P.S. Be sure to follow @nyrrnews for the latest NYRR media news and updates as I finish out my internship!

Posted in Marketing, Public Relations, Reflections, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

#2Social4U Class Teaching Project

532894_10151306459942261_823726870_n#2Social4U held our team teaching assignment last week for #NewhouseSM4 on social media and public relations for events. We taught the class how to plan, run and evaluate events by discussing the different social media tools and resources that are helpful to use before, during and after an event. They say that some things are best explained through the use of an example, so we decided to make our team teaching assignment an event that we planned and executed through social media tools that we talked about. We called the event NXNE to parody the popular SXSW event held every year in Austin, Texas.

To plan the event, we created many event pages on different platforms such as Google+ and Facebook. We even used Foursqaure as a way for people to check into the event and offered a #2Social4U NXNE bracelet as a special for the students who checked in. To invite students to the event we used paperless post, and after everyone’s confirmation this tool let us communicate with all the attendees. To check people into the event we used MyGuestList at the door and included a QR code for attendees to scan to take them to the paperless post website to download the app. The different pages for our event can be found below:

Google+ Event

Facebook Event

Foursqaure Location

Paperless Post Invitation

Eventbrite Page

Attendees were able to live tweet using our hashtag #2Social4U and ask questions and tweet comments on our presentation which we used as feedback.


Dr. Brenda Wrigley

We interviewed many professionals related to the field of event planning. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Brenda Wrigley, a professional in the PR field who has had a ton of experience in planning events and promotions for public relations campaigns. She is the old chair for the PR department at the Newhouse School of Public Communications and had a lot of great points on how to use different media for planning, executing and evaluating events.

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 3.56.23 PM

Some of the stats we recorded by using Hash Tracking.

The event was a great success and by using hash tracking and social mentions we evaluated the number of impressions our presentation had on our audience and those who engaged in conversation using our hashtag. Some of the statistics can be found in the image to the right.

To plan the event, we curated interviews, images and articles into a Pearltree. Pearltree is a great resource to use for gathering information and data on different topics for others to share and use. I like to think of it as the future for organizing information. It visually creates a map for the user to follow easily and find the information they are looking for, similar to a library card catalog. Here is what our pearltree looked like:


The presentation went really well, and we received a lot of great commentary from those who attended. I enjoyed working with my team a lot and we all learned a lot of valuable information that we can use as professionals in the future. We shared the presentation with the class through a Prezi, which was a great visual to display all of our information on. The Prezi can be found below:

Prezi for #2Social4U

I also created a Storify of the event to recap what happened and gather information from the class. If you missed it or want to know more about the event, read it below!


Posted in #NewhouseSM4, Public Relations, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chuck Hemann of the W2O Group Speaks at #NewhouseGLDSM

Chuck Hemann from the W2O group came to visit Newhouse on Wednesday, March 20th. He had a lot of great advice about the status of Big Data and how it can provide companies with a competitive advantage. Earlier in the day, he also visited #NewhouseSM4 and shared his experiences analyzing data at W2O.

Check out my storify posted below!

Chuck Hemann

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Kate Brodock, Leader of Syracuse Social Media Accounts, Speaks to #NewhouseSM4

Kate Brodock Speaks to #NewhouseSM4

Kate Brodock Speaks to #NewhouseSM4

Kate Brodock came to #NewhouseSM4 to speak on social media at Syracuse University on Monday and had a lot of great information to share on how the higher education industry does social media and all the different accounts that Syracuse University has on different social media platforms. Definitely contact her if you are interested in working on the Syracuse University social media team. I have linked my storify to the image above, read and enjoy.

Posted in #NewhouseSM4, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Andrew Hetzel, VP Comm. of Blue Cross Blue Shield Mich. Speaks at #NewhouseGLDSM

Here is my Storify about Andrew Hetzel’s visit to Newhouse. He is the VP of communications at Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan and had a lot to say on the topic of big data v. big regulation.
  1. Excited to hear what @andrewhetzel has to say tonight during #NewhouseGLDSM at the Herg!
  2. #newhousegldsm @DR4WARD with @andrewhetzel chit chatting before the event!
  3. My professor @DR4WARD introducing tonight’s Speaker Series: @andrewhetzel-Big data vs Big Regulation #NewhouseGLDSM
  4. Audience at the Herg (@NewhouseSU) listening to @andrewhetzel speak about Big Data vs. Big Regulation #NewhouseGLDSM
  5. .@kylesuba introduces @andrewhetzel for #NewhouseGLDSM #SUPRSSA
  6. Andrew Hetzel began by introducing himself and running through a list of topics he would cover for the night. The main title of the presentation was Big Data v. Big Regulation.
  7. Healthcare Big Data Conundrum ~ @andrewhetzel VP Corp Comm @BCBSM #NewhouseGLDSM #infographic
  8. Tonight, @andrewhetzel will be discussing Big Data vs. Big Regulation #NewhouseGLDSM
  9. Privacy is a huge issue in healthcare, and due to the use of Big Data it is a lot harder for healthcare companies to keep information private.
  10. On healthcare: ‘Your most private information is in our hands’ – @andrewhetzel #NewhouseGLDSM
  11. Required HIIPA safeguards have 3 parts: administrative, physical, and technical. #NewhouseGLDSM
  12. In 2011, the most reported privacy breaches occurred, by an outstanding number, in the healthcare sector. #NewhouseGLDSM
  13. .@andrewhetzel discussing impact of privacy laws in medical industry #NewhouseGLDSM
  14. How is Big Data changing the healthcare industry and what are the factors of change?
  15. “Doctors are using social media as people but running into issues as physicians” #NewhouseGLDSM
  16. What #BigData Challenges does Healthcare Face? ~ @andrewhetzel VP Corp Comm @BCBSM #NewhouseGLDSM #chart
  17. #HCSM presents unique challenges to social media use per @andrewhetzel We at @CrouseHospital get it! Live it daily. #NewhouseGLDSM
  18. #newhousegldsm @BCBSM is turning into a B2C market with the advent of social media @SUPRSSA
  19. Social media is from venus? Well, HIPAA is from Mars! #NewhouseGLDSM #NewhouseSM6
  20. Affordable Care Act is shifting environment to a “business to consumer” marketplace, used to be B2B #NewhouseGLDSM
  21. A key point I took from the presentation was that using Big Data can provide companies with a competitive advantage.
  22. “The insurgence agency that can win the data game will win this marketplace” #NewhouseGLDSM
  23. A changing healthcare market means more customer centered market. #newhousegldsm
  24. #BigData = Competitive Advantage in Healthcare ~ @andrewhetzel VP Corp Comm @BCBSM #NewhouseGLDSM #chart
  25. #NewhouseSM4 got a class shout out!
  26. #newhousegldsm “the students in #NewhouseSM4 are the people who will lead and define social media in the future.” thanks @andrewhetzel!
  27. Why is social media so important for brands to engage in, especially in the healthcare industry?
  28. @zilinliang: Social is not about mkting, selling, PR, preaching — Social is about PEOPLE #NewhouseGLDSM
  29. “The worst thing you can do if you launch a twitter handle for a brand is to not respond to tweets” – @andrewhetzel #NewhouseGLDSM
  30. Social media is a communications imperative in healthcare as it shifts to a B2C marketplace with The Affordable Care Act. #NewhouseGLDSM
  31. After sharing an experience he had with Delta Airlines, Andrew Hetzel shared the approach BCBSM takes with social media.
  32. A lesson in how to service in social media – @delta responded instantly to @andrewhetzel, offered help #NewhouseGLDSM
  33. Social and digital media can connect people to brands. This is different than connecting brands to people. #NewhouseGLDSM #NewhouseSM6
  34. Half of the people that go to @BCBSM ‘s blog are employees…great result want employees to know what is going on #NewhouseGLDSM
  35. The following part of the presentation provided a great infographic on how content must be created to connect with customers.
  36. Different content is relevant for different platforms #NewhouseGLDSM
  37. “It has to be a combination” @andrewhetzel on connecting your passions with public’s passions #NewhouseGLDSM
  38. So what social sites does BCBSM use and how do they evaluate them?
  39. @BCBSM social media sites. next step? Create personalized content to fit the needs of the platform! #NewhouseGLDSM
  40. We are trying to grow subscribers across all networks. Not just visit, but dig deeper into the site @andrewhetzel #NewhouseGLDSM
  41. How @andrewhetzel and his team measure #SM #NewhosueSM4 #NewhouseGLDSM
  42. Page views per visitor is an important metric on @BCBS “Healthier Michigan” site, want to engage audiences #NewhouseGLDSM
  43. One of the most important thoughts I took from the lecture was the importance of humanizing a brand to consumers.
  44. Health insurance companies must humanize themselves- @andrewhetzel #NewhouseGLDSM
  45. Beyond social, digital media are connecting consumers to their health – @andrewhetzel #NewhouseSM4 #NewhouseGLDSM
  46. Technology a valuable tool to get employees to more actively engage with corporate wellness #NewhouseGLDSM
  47. #NewhouseGLDSM even trended nationally on Twitter in the United States towards the end of the presentation!
  48. Hetzel then introduced the new technology BCBSM has been working on for clients, Connect 2B Fit.
  49. “The people you hang out with have a direct impact on your overall health.” – @andrewhetzel #NewhouseGLDSM
  50. RT @miseegkolfo: @andrewhetzel talks about the “Connect to 2B Fit” program #NewhouseGLDSM #NewhouseSM4
  51. Digital and social efforts surround existing programs, they work to enhance @BCBSM #NewhouseGLDSM
  52. After the presentation, Dr. Ward opened up the floor for a short Q & A session. He gave great answers and advice for students.
  53. Companies generally push back against employees on social media during the day, BCBSM is no exception. #NewhouseGLDSM
  54. People’s phones are a personal gateway to SM at work #NewhouseGLDSM a growing issue in the workplace
  55. Thank you for coming to Newhouse, Andrew Hetzel!
  56. Professor @DR4WARD presents @andrewhetzel with a gift to end the lecture #NewhouseGLDSM
  57. .@andrewhetzel’s final advice to students: build mentorships, persevere through failures and..thank your parents #NewhouseSM4 #NewhouseGLDSM
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Social Media: From “Because it’s Cool” to “An Important Communications Tool”

When MySpace first came out when I was in 7th or 8th grade, I lied about my age just so I could join. It was something all the cool kids did: posting pictures, taking random surveys, adding friends to your top 8. Since then, I have grown in my appreciation and understanding of all the different social media platforms and learned to use them effectively and as a way to personally brand myself.

Courtesy of Forbes

Social media has benefitted me greatly since I first started using it almost ten years ago. I now use a variety of platforms for different personal and professional uses such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare and more. I have had a Facebook and Twitter for some time now, but have just recently begun understanding their impacts on my future as a professional.

Different social media platforms can be used to reach different groups of people, whether they be professionals, friends and family or people who share the same interests. The uses of different social media platforms can have an impact on my future because they show my personality, create a personal brand for myself as a professional and share content and my interests with others.

Social Media humanizes brands and connects us to customers through personal and two way communication. Courtesy of Social Media Training School.

After using a variety of platforms, I now see the great value of social media for the marketer and customer relationship. Social media helps companies to humanize their brands. Through Facebook and Twitter, brands can engage directly with customers through customer service initiatives and help and answer the needs of consumers. Through Foursquare and Groupon, companies can attract new customers though special promotions and deals with checkins and coupons purchases.

Social Media has become a huge part of my professional and academic life, and new platforms, updates and content happen all time. Because of the growing environment, I can always learn something new about social media everyday.

Add me on social media! Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Foursquare.

Posted in #NewhouseSM4, Marketing, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments