On Thursday February 22, fellows from the Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation had the opportunity to talk with Tim Jackson, general Manager of the Round Rock Express. Jackson played baseball at Baylor where he earned his undergraduate degree in communications and a masters in sports management before joining the Express staff in 2010. Since then, Jackson has changed roles at the Express multiple times and worked his way up to his current position, working in community relations, media relations and operations along the way. Fellows were able to learn various things about the sports industry from him.
Jackson explained that a manager in the minor league often wears many different hats. On more than one occasion, Jackson has actually dressed up as the Express mascot, Spike. As a member of the team, you often have to do what the team needs you to do.
“I was always thinking about the awareness in the community. I would be the guy that was setting up those deals with organizations in the community, and if I reached out to the mascots and they couldn’t do it, I’d have to suit up and represent. Because even when baseball season is over, I don’t want people forgetting about Round Rock Express. I don’t want them forgetting about the good times to be had at Dell Diamond. It’s really a family-friendly environment that is designed not only around the game but the entire community experience.”
Jackson discussed what it takes to work in the sports industry. Although some may think having a passion for sports is a majority of what it takes, he said that is not totally accurate. It is great to love sports, but that passion isn’t enough to get you through the really tough parts of the job. Sometimes during long stretches of work it’s great to step back and remind yourself how great it is to get to work around a sport you love, however, there is a difference between loving sports and wanting to work in them.
“Baseball is a game of failure. If you are good, you fail 70 percent of the time. I was more like 80 percent of the time, and true character comes through when you learn how to fail. But when people ask me what can I do to set me apart,there is really no silver bullet, the most important people to me on my staff are those to whom I can say, ‘hey do this,’ and I know it’s going to get done. I hire people based on things that take zero talent. Hard work. Hustle. Getting things done. Coming to work on time. Respect. Humility.”
Jackson shared some lessons on what he has learned as a manager about people. He explained that he’s learned to lead by example. What he expects others to do, he must do also. He also described how in his role of general manager, he has learned that when you are managing people, you can’t treat everyone the same. Some people may not take criticism as well as others. As a manager, you have to get to know your staff to understand the best way to manage them.
“Concerning leadership: self-awareness and confidence are two qualities that go hand-in-hand. You have to know what you are good at and what you are not good at; you have to have the confidence to use what you are good at, and the humility to work on your weaknesses. For example, I know that I need to work on my skills as a more vocal leader. I tend to lead by example, but I realize the value in being able to express that leadership vocally, and I want to get more comfortable doing that.”
The Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation is truly thankful to Jackson for taking time out to meet with fellows and share his experiences. The fellows are eager to take Jackson’s advice with them in their future endeavors in sport and elsewhere.