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Mary McKay: Know Who You Are

On this episode of Pro Mindset®, sports marketing pioneer Mary McKay shares her insight from years within the industry. Mary worked with Walter Payton and went on to work with several Dallas Cowboys, including Emmitt Smith, Tony Romo, and Chad Hennings. She also worked closely with famous motivational speaker Zig Zigler. Mary has helped many full-time athletes find the best fit for their passions off-the-field while helping them get through their career on-the-field. This episode will give you a unique look into the early years of Sports Marketing.

Mary was a pioneer in the world of Sports Marketing and was on the cutting edge of connecting fans and sports figures with products and services. In 1984, she started her career with Sears, before TicketMaster or other sports marketing companies had come into existence. During her time at Sears, Walter Payton, running back for the Chicago Bears, was hired as their spokesperson. Mary had an incredible experience working with Walter, and she shared that he was one of the nicest souls she has ever come across.

“What made Walter special is he did not think he was special. Walter believed that until the very day he passed away. He believed that you got out of bed every day as if you were a rookie, and it was your first day on the clock. He believed that you had to prove yourself every single day of your life, and then encourage others while you are pushing yourself.” Walter was extremely humble, and his hard work ethic made him stand out from other players. He took care of himself physically and mentally, even though at that time, it was not as encouraged as it is now. He had a routine for himself, and he followed it religiously. Walter was genuine and treated others with kindness. “His nickname was ‘Sweetness’ because he genuinely was a kind man, he genuinely cared and was always trying to lift up the other players. That transcended time and is one of the greatest honors you can give to a player in this day and age.” Clearly, Mary respected Walter Payton and admired the lifestyle he created for himself.

Mary had the opportunity to work with motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, and learned many lessons from how he communicated with others. “He never wanted to speak above anyone. He always wanted to speak where it was easy to communicate without realizing you were having a formal conversation. It's really powerful.” Zig was a talented speaker and had the ability to “talk to your soul” because of his caring nature. His unique communication skills inspired many individuals, including Mary.

Mary then talks about the athletes she has worked with and what makes them successful in their careers. First, they put their family above their career. They make spending time with their children a priority and do not let their career get in the way of being there for their family. They are successful because they know who they are as a person. They don’t believe what others are saying about them, whether good or bad. The athlete must believe in himself if he wants a successful career. “A player has to believe in himself from the inside out first and stick with it. And, he's got to have faith.”

Mary goes on to say, “If you want to make an impact, the first thing I tell them is that I could care less about what you do on-the-field. I cannot help you there in any way, shape, or form. Nor do I give a darn. I don't care if you're fast. I don't care if you're good. Who are you as a human being? Who are you? What do you want to be your legacy? How can I help you get there?” In other words, Mary does not care about the players’ physical abilities. She wants to know about their character because their character will ultimately reflect their success.

Two of the seven elements to building a Pro Mindset are Lifestyle and Belief. Both building blocks are mentioned during Mary’s interview. To have success at the highest level, an athlete must create a great lifestyle and routine, they must believe in themselves, and they must know exactly who they are as a person. Establishing these key elements will bring you a step closer to finding your own Pro Mindset.

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