Do you have a superhero? My 15-year-old daughter is very much into Marvel movies and superheroes of the era. As a result, I was having a conversation with a couple of folks last week at the WSC® – Alberta Forum as we gathered in Edmonton. We were talking about real life “superheroes” and how they fit into daily routines. That transitioned into our sector and the roles that people play in developing and executing successful sponsorship programs.

Someone noted that there is sometimes one person who gets all the credit. That could be the salesperson or perhaps the CEO. She compared it to Edison and the light bulb. When we think of the electric light bulb, we remember Thomas Edison. He was the “hero.” No one remembers (let alone probably knows or even has documented) who helped to build the prototypes; who were the people behind the scenes in the lab like the assistants who did the grunt work to make it all happen for Edison and his discovery of the commercial light bulb! Another person spoke up while we were sitting in a restaurant. He noted that, while the menu focused only on one particular chef and his culinary background, experience, and creations, the amazing meals in front of us took a team to make. Nowhere did it talk about the prep cooks or sous chef who helped to prepare every dish that came to the table; or the dishwashers who ensured the plates and pots and pans were there when needed, or the server who recommended the dish and upsold the bearnaise sauce that was out of this world, or the interior designer who created the ambience of the location. Together, this team delivered an incredible experience. Together, it was delicious and memorable. But it is the chef who was front and centre.

In our industry, it is often similar as noted above. Typically, it is one person who gets the accolades and high fives. The modest ones recognize their teams, but the focus is still on them. We see it in internal memos within an organization when a deal is announced, or at award events. Perhaps it is time we changed just awarding “best in show” or gold prize ribbons to the person who sold the deal, or was the account manager or creative supervisor. Perhaps we also need to start rewarding those in the background that execute or measure success. Perhaps it is time to start recognizing those on the team who were all part of the creative approach. In my mind, no sponsorship program would ever be a success if all the moving parts did not happen. At that dinner, we began a list of all the people who “touch” a sponsorship program. Here is some of what I can remember.

  • The researcher
  • The person (board member, researcher, or whoever) that proposed the lead
  • The person who got through to set up the initial meeting and arranged the location
  • The operations people who assisted in determining if the concept and experience could be delivered safely and effectively
  • The logistics folks who brought it all together
  • The finance people that ensured the bottom line was being met
  • The support staff who laboured over the presentation
  • The lawyers who finalized the contract
  • The fulfilment team that executed the agreement
  • The accountants who measured the ROI
  • The CEO or board member who gave final approval and asked the tough questions
  • The person with the initial relationship
  • The salesperson

If you can add to this list, please feel free to do so! I think teams are an important part of any successful venture. As John Donne wrote back in the early 1600s, “No man is an island unto himself.” That is why, when I am participating in job interviews, I love to ask a potential candidate, “Tell me about your most successful sponsorship program and why it was so successful.” I know within a split second whether or not this is the person we want to add to the team. If the response is all about “I,” it is over. The one who starts out and continues throughout the answer talking about the members of their team that made it successful (like the list above) and how it was not his or her success, but that of so many people and could not have happened without all of them, I know who is making the interview short list.

In the world I have always lived in and live in today, the superheroes are not individuals with incredible and mystifying powers. They are everyday people like you and me who work with a team of other everyday people to make superhero results come to fruition by working together on a common objective.

Please remember to stay HIMPS! (Healthy, Isolate when possible, Masked, Physically distanced and Safe!).

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  1. Thank you for devoting a TMC to this!

    Way too many times people don’t receive the praise and acknowledgement they deserve. For every superhero, there is often a sidekick!

    I will say that there is a fine line between praising others in an interview and being confident in your own accomplishments.

  2. Josh… it is an important topic. So true about that fine line. Great insight. All the best for 2021.


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