An Ohio State Key Employee Shows Us How
Recently, friends have been asking me if I’d seen this ESPN article about a graphic artist who works for Ohio State. I mean, a lot of people have been recommending this article to me, and now that I’ve read it, I can see why; I love this story.
It’s about the graphic artist, Kenton Stufflebeam, described as “the Buckeye’s secret recruiting weapon.” As a teenager, Kenton turned to art as an escape when he was having a hard time. Fast forward a few years, and his talent and his eye for detail trigger a bidding war for his services between Ohio State and Texas. A lifelong Buckeyes fan, Kenton decides to stay with Ohio State and continue creating the images that tell the story of his team’s brand.
Let’s look at my three takeaways from this article and how we can apply them to business.
1. Know Your Audience
Ohio State needs to reach out to fans, current and former team members, and the top high school football players who might decide to join the Buckeyes. College football teams live or die on public perception, because without it they won’t get the talent they need to win. Kenton is great at keying in to this audience. He can take a potential recruit and create a design that makes it look like they are in the Buckeye uniform leading the way. For a 17-year-old kid, seeing that must be an awesome feeling. So, who is your audience? What will excite them?
2. Put in the Work
Kenton puts in the work. Many equally talented graphic designers stop short. They do a good design, but then move onto something else. Not Kenton. He puts in that extra 30 minutes and that extra work separates him from the competition—it’s why a school like Ohio State is willing to pay him. In business, we all get so busy that we sometimes lose track of putting in great work and instead put in merely good work. Imagine giving the project the extra effort, what that could mean? Working too fast causes mistakes, from typos to major errors that can lose business. The extra work could make all the difference. It has for Kenton.
3. Know Who Is Important to You
When Tom Herman, the former offensive coordinator at Ohio State, got the job at Texas, he made a point to go get Kenton Stufflebeam. That’s smart. Urban Meyer, the coach at Ohio State, knew the importance of Kenton’s work, too. That’s why he made sure Kenton was given the money, the position, and the freedom to want to stay at Ohio State. Neither coach would have fought like that for just any prospective employee, they don’t have the time or energy. They have to prioritize, and so do you. You have to recognize the key employee you really need and fight for them.
This article isn’t about getting you to hire a graphic designer. Maybe you need one, maybe you don’t. This is about recognizing the people (a key employee perhaps) who know how to appeal to your target audience, know how to put in that extra effort, and then giving these special people what they need to be successful.
Have you listened to our podcast, Entrepreneur Perspectives? You should.