October 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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www.spor 30 // October 2017 Can the STMA Conference jumpstart your career? A compelling story on why you need to attend and how to sell it // By JOE CHURCHILL C an you defi ne your purpose in life? I'm not talking about what you like to do in your spare time, like hunt, fi sh, golf, coach your kids, travel, etc. This is all important stuff, I'm with you on that, but I'm talking about your work. Most of us love what we do for a living. We are blessed. Yet some of us work a job rather than a career, and there's nothing wrong with that. There's something to be said for punching the clock and leaving it all back at work. It'll be there in the morning, right? This story is for those who feel they're working a job rather than a career and have an authentic desire for a more fulfi lling life. They're tired of blending into the masses, are willing to take on more responsibility and want to help make a difference. They want to blur that line between work and play. Dare I say they want to put a little fun into their workday? If you're looking for ways to fi nd your hidden passion, want to step out of the crowd and driven to accept that there is more to your job than being stuck in the same mind-numbing routine every day, I have a suggestion on how to take that fi rst step. Make it a personal goal to get to next year's Sports Turf Managers Association Conference in Fort Worth, TX. Commit to learning more about the Conference and its educational and networking opportunities. Meet with manufacturers who serve our great industry and meet the great people who drive this great professional association. Develop an understanding of the Conference's value, not only to you but also to your employer. Yes, it's easy for me to assure you the value of this opportunity far exceeds the fi nancial and time investment. Yes, it's easy for me to say you should attend. Your deafening silence and eye rolls are not lost on me! Right now, you're making a mental list of multiple reasons why it just ain't gonna happen: It costs a lot of money. I don't know how to ask. My boss will say 'no' anyway. There's no budget for that. My employer has a policy against this sort of travel. It's time away from my job and my family. Heck, I'd probably have to take vacation days to go even if it was approved. It's frivolous and is just a vacation in sheep's clothing. IT COSTS A LOT OF MONEY. Yep. There's a cost attached to the value of attendance. A head's up: Anticipate your employer factoring in the wages you'd make if you were back home working. I DON'T KNOW HOW TO ASK. My boss will say 'no' anyway. As you set off to present your case for going, be careful when talking about costs or expenses. These are negative-sounding words. Use words like "investment," "opportunity," or "return on investment." Speaking of "ROI" why not turn the tables on this cost/benefi t model and refer to NOT attending as a "COI"— Cost of Inaction! In other words, by not attending the STMA Conference, what could it possibly be costing you? Do your research and be prepared to talk about making a $1500-$2000 investment in yourself and the institution you work for. Go to and explore the various educational tracks and specifi c topics that will be presented at the Conference next January. Start by identifying two or three topics from the list of presentations that resonate with you. Think about how learning more about these topics could help you address ongoing sports turf management challenges you struggle with annually at your own workplace. There are several talks each year about how to save on fertilizer, chemicals or water, how to save labor dollars and manage fi eld scheduling challenges. What you learn will more than offset the cost of attendance. Sell your boss on that return on investment. Showing your boss that you've done the research to effectively present your case will show him how serious you are, how important you feel it is to go and how committed you are to fi nding ways to do your job better. And as my wife always says, "The answer is always 'no' unless you ask." Attendees who purchase a full conference registration receive free, unlimited, lifetime access to the educational sessions that are recorded during the conference. The content is available on- demand through your computer and portable devices including iPad, iPhone, and other tablet devices. You can share what you learn with your boss and colleagues. THERE'S NO BUDGET FOR THAT. This may be a valid point. Companies, municipalities, schools, etc., all operate within an expense budget, just like most of us do at home. If the money just isn't there, it can't be spent. Creative budget managers can fi nd ways around this by shifting dollars between accounts or deferring an expense. Maybe this is an option for you. If not, at least have the discussion this year and ask your boss if monies could be added to next year's budget that can be used for educational purposes or personal improvement. When you put it that way, it's a bit harder to say 'no', especially after you've thoughtfully presented your case. You may have to plan ahead.

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