Posted on: June 25th, 2012 by Jen Mueller

Summer has arrived in many parts of the country, just not where I live in Seattle.   Nevertheless, there’s a tendency to ‘gear down’ during the summer, take a break and put things on hold.  Summer breaks are good to take, but don’t shut down altogether and miss your chance to strengthen business relationships and get more done.

Work smarter not harder, Talk Sporty to Me BlogThere’s a commonly held belief that people just don’t work during the summer, but there’s plenty going on and you don’t have to work hard – just working smart.

That means using the conversations you have to your advantage by making them productive. There are 4- key elements to that.

  1. A greeting that includes the person’s name. “Hey Bill good to see you.”
  2. A comment or question about a connection point, like sports.  “What do you think of the Heat winning the NBA Championship?”
  3. Listen to the response. Make sure you allow time for the person you’re speaking with to answer.
  4. A quick statement about your work.  “I wanted to tell you I’m starting to work on the new software account.  It’s going well so far.”

This strategy allows you to further connections, increase the likelihood of follow-up opportunities based on your use of a connection point and you can act as your own advocate by including a personal note about yourself.  The entire conversation doesn’t need to last more than 20-30 seconds, but it’s definitely productive.  So get out enjoy the sun and use these sports topics to help your work smarter during the summer.


NBA – The basketball season ended last week.  Miami beat Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals to win the Championship.  It’s the second Title for Miami, who also won in 2006, but it was a first for several players on the Heat roster including LeBron James.  James, of course, made “The Decision” to take his talents to South Beach for this very reason and it pays off.

  • Some people think he’s still got a lot to prove despite being the Finals MVP, the regular season MVP and winning a ring.  How does the title impact his status as one of the game’s best players?
  • What happens to the Oklahoma City Thunder?  They won the first game of the series, then lost 4 straight.  How do you think this helps motivate them for next year?


MLB – The All Star teams will be named next Sunday, July 1st Fans can still vote for their favorite players online through this Thursday.  Since the fans are encouraged to take part and vote the game can feel like a popularity contest, but it’s also worth noting that the winning team: either the American League or the National League, earns home field advantage for the World Series.  The game itself will be played July 10th in Kansas City.

  • Do you like the amount of say the fans get in the voting process, or should players be chosen more on merit?
  • Which of your favorite players deserve to go to the All Star game.


NFL – The NFL Player Association is asking Commissioner Roger Goodell to re-start it’s investigation into the bounties issued by the Saints.  The player’s association questions the process, the witnesses and the way certain players were portrayed.  It’s unlikely the league will re-start the investigation.  Coaches suspended as part of the process appealed their suspensions and Goodell ruled to uphold them.

  • What do you think of the way the NFL has handled the investigation, particularly since Goodell holds most of the power when it comes to suspensions and punishment.
  • Some of the players involved are filing a defamation lawsuit against Goodell.  How do you think the players have responded and in what ways do you think it will impact future players.


College Football – For years, college football fans have argued for a better post game system than the current bowl game set up.  Now it appears the NCAA is close to deciding on a new 4 team playoff that would determine a national championship.  Among the questions remaining: how would the four teams get chosen and which Bowl game stay part of the system.

  • What do you think is the most important criteria for determining which teams are selected for the playoff?  Wins alone might not take into consideration the strength of schedule for other teams.
  • Do you like the idea of a college football playoff system?

Due to the holiday next week, I’ll be taking a break from posting the usually list of workplace conversation starters.  The current list will be “top of mind” for many sports fans for at least 2 weeks.  You can also add in these little notes.

  •   The Tour de France starts Saturday June 30
  • The famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest will be held July 4th.  Joey Chestnut has won 5 straight years and consumed 62 dogs last year on his way to the title.