October 14, 2010

This past weekend while setting my fantasy football lineup and watching ESPN, I caught a great profile on Green Bay Packer’s linebacker Clay Matthews. He’s a beast of a linebacker and in the story he addressed having to “walk-on” the football team at USC. For those who don’t know, “walking on” means not having a scholarship and having to try-out to make the team. No small feat at USC. Of course, Matthews made the team and in the profile he addressed how having a “walk-on mentality” contributed to his collegiate and NFL success.

Like Matthews, I walked-on the track and field team at Western Michigan University, and can completely relate to his “walk-on” approach. I eventually earned a scholarship at WMU, all $2000 a year of it, but my walk-on mentality made me more focused on the track, in college, in life and in my career.

What Is A Walk On Mentality?

A “walk on mentality” means that nothing has been handed to you. You have to earn it and there’s never an opportunity to take it for granted. In short, you have to work harder. I utilized this focus in college to eventually become an all Mid American Conference all conference and academic triple jumper. Most importantly, I’ve utilized this approach in my career to awesome success. This “take nothing for granted” approach catapulted me from working temp jobs in New York City to co-hosting a television show on Nickelodeon to attending grad school at an Ivy League university to my success to today as a broadcast journalist. I want that same success for you so here are five tips on how a “walk-on mentality” can help you.

First In/Last Out

As a former boss once told me: if you’re on time – you’re late. Be the first in and the last to leave.

Do The Job No One Else Wants To Do

Everybody wants to land the “fun” jobs or take lead on a project. Join the club. However, a great way to become indispensable is by volunteering to do the job that no one else wants to do. It may not be glamorous, but you’ll prove your worth.

Invest In You

Don’t be afraid to spend money on you. These means attending workshops, taking classes, having your own website or purchasing business cards. All of this is critically important. My career took a turn when I used my vacations to volunteer working on a television show in Los Angeles and made some great connections.

Do The Job You Want To Do, Even If You’re Not Paid For It

I wanted to be a writer at Nickelodeon. Unfortunately, I was hired to be a production assistant. However, I wrote scripts every day and submitted them to the head writer. Before I knew it, actually, it took quite some time, my scripts were being produced on-air. And when someone left for another job, I became a staff writer. It only takes someone being out of the office one day for you to step up and prove your worth.

Got An Idea – Execute It

If you’re not doing and creating, you’re wasting time. Don’t wait to get hired to do something. Do it for you.

Good luck!

Antonio Neves is an award-winning broadcast journalist and author of Student Athlete 101: College Life Made Easy On & Off The Field.