Marketing Minute: When Rudolph Leads


Marketing Minute: When Rudolph Leads

I think we all remember the story of one especially snowy night when Santa needed someone to step up and lead his group of talented athletes as they embarked on a major prime time event. This untelevised prime-time event, if not completed properly, would have an impact on children’s lives the world over. These athletes spent their entire formative years preparing for this annual contest, the Super Bowl of childhood fantasies. 


A few years ago, Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph was chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers to prepare to one day take the reins and save the day for the team in an effort to help them continue in their winning tradition. There were strong athletes in place ahead of him who he would one day replace and lead the other athletes hopefully to the coveted Super Bowl. 


One particular day, ahead of schedule because of an injury to Big Ben, just one year after he was drafted, Rudolph was given an opportunity to lead in a game against the Cleveland Browns, and candidly, he fell short of success in the outing. He did, however, show some incredible guts in the game when he took on 272lb defensive end Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns who used Rudolph’s own helmet to strike him over the head. It was a remarkable event that ended up costing Garrett over $1.25M and a six-game suspension. But it was a window into the heart and soul of Mason Rudolph. 


Garrett suggested that his actions were a result of a racial slur that the league investigated to conclude that there was no evidence to support it. Racial slurs are weak, immature, and unacceptable in both directions, and we all hope that the league was accurate in their conclusion. 


Like Mason Rudolph, Rudolph the reindeer was a rookie. There was something that Santa saw in Rudolph that made him special to the point that, even though the others chose to ridicule him with slurs of their own against one of his physical characteristics, an anomaly of sorts, a glowing red nose, Santa saw his inner strength to accept his uniqueness and even prepare to use it as a beacon to move forward. 


All of us spend our lives waiting. We wait for the series of special events that we were created for. Some prepare for a special someone in their lives to join together with and to create a family. Some spend a decade in school in preparation for serving in an operating room saving lives. Some endure humiliating boot camp in order to prepare to defend our nation despite many resenting the various values of our country never understanding that their freedom to resent was won by those who fought for their freedom. 


Rudolph the QB spent a lot of time on the bench since that Cleveland game that the Steelers lost 21-7. He spent a lot of time in training camp, watching film, and learning the ways of the Steeler organization, one of the most successful sports franchises of all time with a national following the envy of all other organizations. Mason didn’t let early failures define him. He instead decided to be mature and to prepare should he get another chance. 


Fast forward to the end of the 23/24 NFL season. The Steelers had been through Kenny Pickett who was injured and Mitch Trubisky who still acted like the Mitch Trubisky of the Chicago Bears. With three games left in the season and coach Tomlin in danger of spoiling his historical run of never having a losing season, Tomlin felt it was time to see if Mason Rudolph had matured enough to take a snap. The improbable had to happen. The Steelers needed to win the last three games and needed a little help to make the playoffs. Mason came in and won three spectacular games, looking confident while standing in the pocket, and turning on a Steeler offense that had been missing for years since the retirement of Big Ben. 


In your life, what are your sideline activities that you engage in to prepare you for the next big opportunity? Are you networking with others? Are you reading, writing, taking Business Journals from the cities you want to expand into to learn the players in that city or region? 


On that snowy day, the reindeer who had a facial deformity, the butt of all the developing reindeers’ jokes, took on a legendary blizzard one night because Coach Claus thought he was ready, he didn’t disappoint. His Red Glowing Nose led the rest of the seasoned athletes through bitter winds to deliver Christmas on time and to the delight of all the children of world. 


Mason did the same. He mustered three straight wins to get the Steelers back into the playoffs, and while the team fell short in their final game in snowy Buffalo, it feels as though Mason Rudolph has charted a new course for the rest of his career. His confidence, maturity, and strength all came together at the right time. This time Mason was prepared for sustainable success.


Success is never an accident; it rarely comes without effort. Life is not a Hallmark movie where one person gives up their big job promotion in NYC to move to a cute little town to marry their high school sweetheart who never aged. Remember, it doesn’t snow all year long and every town doesn’t need another Christmas coffee shop. 


Get off the sideline!

Article contributed by:
Jeff Pinyot, ECO Parking Technologies
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