June 04, 2021

Art Berke — Associate Director & Faculty at Rutgers University Global Sports Business M.S. Program

Dana Safa

1Huddle Podcast Episode #21

On this Bring It In podcast episode, 1Huddle’s Director of Enterprise Sales, Roger Bernadino sat down with Art Berke, the Associate Director, advisor, and faculty member of the Global Sports Business M.S. Program at Rutgers University. Art has decades of experience working at the highest levels of the sports industry with Major League Baseball, ABC Television, and Sports Illustrated

Art also works as an editor and writer for the official Chicago White Sox blog, and as a content editor and writer for all White Sox publications. Throughout this career, Art has also authored five popular books and served as the editor in chief of an award-winning sports encyclopedia for children. 

On this episode of Bring It In season one, Art sat down with Roger Bernadino and talked about the effects the pandemic will have on the quality of education and the best advice for students as future workers.


Audio available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. 

TOP 3 HIGHLIGHTS

Below are some of the insights Art shared during our chat, edited for length and clarity. You can find more Bring It In podcast episodes here.

  • “Luck is the residue of design. If you work hard, if you do all the right things, you’re going to get really lucky.”
  • “There’s no such thing as luck. The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
  • “But the one thing we can’t forget as technology becomes the king of the mountain is the soft skills. The people skills.”

FULL TRANSCRIPTION

Roger:  You know, with everything going on today in the world, I’d love to kind of just hear your thoughts to start off. What are you kind of seeing that’s really dynamically changed? You know, the environment that you live in right in the education and university world, and where do you think things are kind of moving towards in terms of future work, tied to your world, right? Education and students and whatnot, I’m just gonna start there. 

Art: Right. Well, you know, the truth is, we’re connecting more, but communicating less. I find that the communication that goes on among students is very, very superficial in terms of texting, emailing, and there’s really no long form writing that they get used to. I think that the communication gap is really a problem. And I don’t know. I mean, the least part of the iPhone or the other smartphones is the phone. You know, young people today don’t use the phone. They text and it’s very impersonal and I find that again, we’re connecting more, but we’re communicating less.

Roger:  That’s powerful. I think the environment that we’re in today and all the conversations we’ve been having with this event, I mean, we’ve seen, you know, folks from the corporate world to the entertainment world, to the nonprofit world, to the education sector, right. And I think it’s been a common theme, which is you know, we’re all disconnected right now, right? I mean everyone’s in quarantine. The interactions that we used to have, right. No matter what generation you’ve been in you know, the face-to-face moments in that like the camaraderie and that communication has been out the window. So I guess, you know, how has this kind of affected the world that you live in right now with everything going remote and everything and, and you know, what are some of the things that you started to maybe focus more on with that exact example and concern that you have.

Art: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. The big problem with remote learning, which I’ll be starting in the fall, is that you’re not going to get a sense of the students as much as you would. You’re not getting the sort of interaction and the one-on-one kind of relationship that is what makes teaching so rewarding. And remote learning you know, it’s going to happen and the students are going to learn, but there’s just that something missing that I think is going to be a detriment to their future education. I think that they’re not going to be taking, they’re also going to be missing the whole experience of being on campus and going to college, I mean, curriculum and in the classroom, isn’t the only place that’s important on a college campus. It’s probably low on my list in terms of when I went to school and the experiences I had, and I really think that’s, it’s really going to be missed. I really feel for the incoming freshmen and the seniors. The seniors aren’t going to have that really fun, wonderful experience of being seniors in college and being part of a community. 

Roger:  Yeah. I mean, I think you’re bringing up a really valid point. I mean you know, we do a lot of internship programs with Rutgers and especially a lot of your classes and I mentioned a lot of our existing team members here at 1Huddle have been students of yours. And even, you know, we’ve even seen a lot of organizations cancel internship programs, right. With whether it be like juniors or seniors requiring this stuff. And you know, speaking on maybe segwaying over to another concern, which I know that you’ve probably brought up a lot in past conversations and it’s been a common theme throughout this is like job skills and readiness, coming out of college. I mean, how do you think that’s been impacted with whether it be internship programs or, you know, remote learning and things like that?

Art: Well, I’ve always said that there’s too much academia in that academia. There’s not enough real-world learning, and if you talk to the interns at 1Huddle that were in my class, they’ll tell you that everything was geared toward how to act and how to survive in the real world. I just think that remote learning is going to be too academic. It’s going to be too matter of fact, and you’re not going to get as much real world. Now, I’m still going to have really good guest speakers come in, but there’s not going to be that touch and feel kind of thing when they’re in the classroom, and students can come up afterward, and develop a relationship and ask questions. So I’m really concerned, as others seem to be, that it’s really going to be difficult to duplicate that real-world feeling when you’re sitting in your den in front of a computer, even though you’re listening and interacting. 

Roger:  Yeah, it’s crazy. I mean, maybe piggybacking off of that. I mean, what do you think the effects on the future of work are like for the future generations entering the workforce, right? Whether it be the seniors of today, or even like three to five years from now, how do you think everything that’s going on right now with the disconnection and the lack of communication and maybe the preparedness, how do you think that that’s going to affect the future of work? Looking out three to five years from now, with people like that? 

Art: Well, technology is going to rule the day and it’s only going to increase. But the one thing we can’t forget as technology becomes the king of the mountain is the soft skills. The people skills. Things like being on time and work ethic and giving enough effort and doing extra and being coachable, all those kinds of things, you know, whether it’s the pandemic or not. I’m concerned that there’s too much emphasis on the technology and sometimes it’s technology for technology’s sake, and they don’t focus on the things that can help you and then it requires zero effort to do those soft sales, and everybody can do them, even though you’re not the most talented person. The other thing in terms of work, and this has been a pet peeve of mine for a long, long time, is that people in corporate America get promoted because of their skills, right. Because they’re a good salesperson or they’re a good marketer instead of being promoted because you’re a good manager. Very few people are promoted because they were good managers, even though they weren’t great salesmen. And they didn’t bring a lot of money into the company, they’re a good manager. That never happens or rarely happens. I just think I focus on what a manager does. A manager works very closely the way a professor does with students in trying to get the most out of their employees and giving them ownership so they feel like they’re contributing something. 

Roger: I think that’s powerful. I mean, we talk about it a lot and I know that you chatted with our CEO, Sam probably at length about this, right. Where, you know, the mid manager role in corporate America, and globally right now is they typically end up just being the best salesperson, right. The best person in the call center and whatnot, and they’re not really prepared, or excited about coaching and developing others. Especially in the environment that you just talked about. That should be the number one priority to get promoted, to be a manager.

Art: It’s really the difference between being a principal of a school and a teacher in the school. They’re two different skill sets. And just because you’re a great teacher doesn’t mean you’re a good principal and vice versa. And it’s the same thing, in terms of management on the corporate level. 

Roger: A couple of other things I wanted to really get out of you because I think this would be really valuable for the folks that are hearing because we’re going to get a lot of registrants from, you know, people that are already in the workforce, but we have a tremendous amount of students that are also going to be registering for this. Trying to prepare in your seat you know, putting the hat on from a, you know, a coach, a leader, an educator, a teacher and even like a friend to a lot of these folks that, you know, have entered the workforce. And I know that, so many people on our team speak so highly of you from a mentorship perspective, right? Mentoring them in decision-making or, you know, preparing them for certain things. You know, what would, if you could snap your fingers and tell maybe like two or three things to focus on for a student listening right now, whether they’re a freshman or a senior or anyone in between, what should they be focusing on right now in the next six to 12 months? You know, despite or in spite of everything going on that might help them get ahead of the curve with everything going on right now. 

Art: I think they really should keep doing the same things that they’re doing. Even if there weren’t a pandemic, find ways to network with people and it might be even easier in some cases because people are at their desk at home and maybe they have a little bit more time or are they have, you know, access where they can, they can, you know, correspond and communicate with a student. So, you know, networking is so important. Just reaching out to people for informational interviews. I mean, I think that’s really important, but I just think doing the same thing, looking for jobs, don’t be swayed by the fact that people aren’t hiring. Well, maybe they’re not hiring now, but get in and don’t stop at one outreach, you know, when you reach out to someone and maybe you’ll get an informational interview, you know, follow up in a month, just tell them where you are, what you’re doing, because what happens is you’ll talk to someone in February and then you won’t follow up. And then there’s a job at this company in July, and then they’re going to go to the people that they most recently spoke to. So I think that you know, outreach is the same as reaching out to companies, reaching out to teams and leagues in terms of sports, and just keep doing what you’re doing, but just realize you’re not going to have in-person interviews. It’s going to be a little different and you’re going to have to be more patient because jobs aren’t out there right now. 

Roger:  Yeah, no, that’s really, really powerful.  I think that you know, hopefully, the folks that are listening, I guess, some takeaways from that. So I think it’s important, right? I mean, it’s, it’s all about networking and who, you know, and finding mentors and things like that. I think that’s really important. I guess maybe to flip that on the opposite side, people, you know, people that are listening right now that they might be, you know, juniors and seniors in high school right now. Like thinking about, do I go to university? Do I go to college? Maybe I will go to a local university? Do I go do something else? Right. I mean, what are your thoughts right now on folks that might be thinking about, you know, the new kind of university in college, especially in the next semester, right? Or maybe next couple of semesters with everything going on and the importance of education and everything that you’ve been doing for the past several years that has made such a big impact on people.

Art: Well, it has to be taken on a case-by-case basis. Everybody’s got a different situation. Some people are gonna say I want to start my college career, even though it’s going to be remote. Some people might say, you know, I’m going to take a gap year. Make some money. You know, they’re probably not going to necessarily go anywhere because of the pandemic, but just to sort of take it easy and the cost of education is so high that they might want to think about it. Maybe getting some specific experience in the area they want to get into. And or just any job to make some money, to get ready for school, or to pay for school.  I wouldn’t want to tell anybody which is the best way to do it, but they are options. I think students need to think their way through it and based on their own individual situation, their finances, their interests, and other options they have. So I really wouldn’t want to tell someone that sitting out is the best thing to do because it may not be, but each person needs to, at least each student should think about it. Not automatically say I’m going to start school or I’m not going to start school. You need to have a conversation, have a conversation with friends, your parents, alumni, and you know, people that you trust. 

Roger:  That’s some awesome stuff. Here’s another question I’d love to maybe just lob up to you, especially with your background and experience. There’s so much talk right now about like you mentioned the cost of education, right, and the debt that maybe students might be coming out of, but also we know the importance of it and the importance of mentorship and the education that you learn. If you let’s say you, you know, you wouldn’t be able to snap your fingers and maybe make a massive change to the way that the education system works today. Is there anything, because I know you mentioned a lot about like real-world experiences and I think you think much differently than just, the everyday teacher just says it’s the books or nothing. What would you say if you could snap your fingers and, you know, kind of just lob this up broadly, would there be any changes that you’d make over the next three to five years and the education system tied to future of work and the generations that are going to be entering into both college and university, and then after that, getting into the, you know, the workforce in general?

Art: Yeah. I mean, I think because of the enormous cost involved students really need to think about what their goals are and do they really need college? Is college necessary? Am I going to have this huge bill the rest of my life because of it? Especially if you’re zeroing in on something specific, maybe there’s another way to do it by going, I don’t mean a trade school necessarily carpentry or well-being, but make, but for instance, if you’re interested in sports broadcasting, the Connecticut School of Broadcasting can give you an education in that area. They’re not going to give you a broad education, but they’re going to give you an education in that area. And it’s certainly not going to be nearly the cost. Now, I’m not saying I recommend that it’s not important to get a broad education and learn about a lot of things, of course, but that cost is so expensive and you really have to ask yourself, is it really worth it? Especially, you know, I think this goes back to what I was saying before about looking at yourself with each student, looking at themselves and saying, what do I want to do? What are my priorities? Can I achieve my goals without spending all this money? And I’m sure the powers that be at Rutgers aren’t necessarily going to be happy about me saying this, but also I look at a lot of our sport management curriculum and I think we’ve graduated so many talented people and they’re doing very well, but there were certain courses in that mix that they really didn’t need to take. It was just, it happened to be a requirement. And I just think that people need to look at it a little bit more seriously, because if you’re going to be paying off your student loans for the rest of your life are you really going to live the life that you want to live? 

Roger: That’s powerful stuff right there. I think it’s important, especially from somebody in your seat, right. To be able to be talking about it on both sides of the coin, right. The importance of it, but also being self-aware about everyone’s position and where they’re coming from and whatnot. This has been some awesome stuff. I think we covered a lot. I guess maybe the last question to maybe tie things up and just kind of leave you with maybe like a mic drop moment, so to speak in terms of what you want to leave the folks listening right now with, you know, what are, with everything going on pandemic, post-pandemic, pre-pandemic, everything going on with the world today. What are your hopes for the future of work? You could talk about it maybe in the education world, or maybe just for folks listening right now that are getting into the workforce with all the experience you have, what would your hopes be for the future of work, if you could maybe influence anyone listening right now. 

Art: Keep the focus on people skills, because that’s always gonna be invoked. When I started at major league baseball, there were no copy machines, no voicemail. Can you imagine that? I know you were a young guy, you know, copy machines, no voicemail, no FedEx. You’d have to send something by Airmail and it would take two days and then you would, so you really could wait a long time before you had to approach something and now second by second, by second, by second. And I would just say that you have to be an expert at the technology because that’s going to win the day, but don’t forget about the soft skills. About being on time, about following up about doing those kinds of things, which are always going to be of benefit to you. The last thing I’ll say is there’s no such thing as luck. You know, the harder you work, the luckier you get. Luck is the residue of design. If you work hard, if you do all the right things, you’re going to get really lucky. So don’t look at it that way. And I tell a lot of students that have succeeded, including the ones that are working with you that I don’t want them ever to say, they’re lucky to have that job. They worked very hard. They’re working very hard and they’ve done all the right things to get there. 

Roger: Unbelievable insight. This has been really awesome. I really appreciate everything that you covered. I’m sure everyone listening right now is going to have unbelievable takeaways for this. So I really appreciate it. 

Art: My pleasure, Roger say hi to Dana for me. 

Topics Discussed: Education, Technology, Future Leaders, Luck, Uncertainty, University Expectations

Dana Safa, Manager of Digital Marketing at 1Huddle

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