“You were right.”

Coming from a Coach Carr (and coming from a family that considered “being right” the end-all, be-all), that was an incredible compliment.

On Saturday, The ChadTough Foundation held the 5th Annual RunTough for ChadTough event. This was the first year we decided to have celebrity opportunities, allowing participants to meet with former University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, former Detroit Tigers All-Star Brandon Inge, and “The Voice” finalist Laith Al-Saadi.

During a RunTough committee meeting this summer, this opportunity came up. I voiced my opinion based on seven years Guest Services experience with the Tigers and nearly 10 years website experience with the Detroit Lions.

My thoughts:

  1. No autographs, just photos. Having autographs just slows the line and it’s tough on the celebrities. Who wants to get a hand cramp?
  2. Have a clear barrier between the celebs and the participants. If you don’t have a clear barrier, people crowd around the celebrity trying to “get in.” It’s like quality parenting … people need boundaries.
  3. Have one line and have people go station-to-station for photos. Having separate lines can create embarrassment with celebrities if one line is empty and another is packed. It also ruins any flow.

I articulated all of this at our meeting and was met with, “How about you take the lead on this?” by the foundation’s executive director.

Made sense, right?


But Coach Carr hadn’t wanted to do things this way, though. He likes to organically mingle with the people who come out in support of his grandson, who passed away after a 14-month battle with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

I charmed him into giving it a try, though, and — as always — he did an amazing job. When he articulated his approval following the event, it occurred to me that everything went off without a hitch because I had 17 years of experience in exactly this kind of event.

Experience many — including myself — would probably consider irrelevant. How did that experience come to pass?

I Reached Out to the Tigers in High School

I had to shadow a person working in the field I wanted to go into when I was a senior in high school. I wanted to work in sports. I called Mary Lenhert who worked with the Detroit Tigers at the time and she offered to give me a tour of Tigers Stadium.

I ended up landing a job in Guest Services, working the final year at the stadium.

I was a young kid, but I learned how to deal with complaints (and there are many), engage in gameday activities (information booth, kids games, autograph lines, tours, running the bases), and made invaluable connections.


I Landed An Internship

My connections with the Tigers resulted in an internship with the Lions. That internship allowed me to cut my teeth in professional sports.

The following year, I was hired as the head of “New Media” and spent nearly nine years overseeing the Detroit Lions website and, eventually, social media. While working that job, we held training camp in Allen Park and I saw firsthand what it took to pull off an autograph or photo line.

That is why I was so valuable at our ChadTough run.


No Experience is Irrelevant

I was never hired to oversee autograph lines and I would never list it on a resume, but it was helpful experience this past Saturday.

It took other (more obvious) skills to oversee Saturday’s event: team leadership, customer service, and public relations to name a few.

But I want you to know that you shouldn’t discount any experience you’ve accrued over the course of your career, even if you make a huge career shift. Any skills you’ve acquired can be transferred to something else, often times in a less obvious way than mine were.

Embrace what you want to do! Piece together what you’ve done to this point and allow it to take you where you want to go!

About Chrissie Zavicar

Chrissie Zavicar is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or contact page.