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Rick Burton: What It Takes To Succeed

In this episode of Pro Mindset Podcast, host Craig Domann brings on Rick Burton, a current professor at the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics at Syracuse University. Rick Burton has had an extensive career in public relations and sport marketing, making it almost impossible to wrap your head around his number of significant roles. He has navigated his way from the Miller Brewing Company in the public relations department to the Chief Marketing Officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, before finally returning to his alma matter, Syracuse, to teach the business of sport. During the time between these roles, Rick found himself as the Director of the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center as well as the Commissioner of the Australian National Basketball League. During the podcast, Craig asks Rick what made the biggest impact on him and what he has learned throughout his many experiences. Rick reflected on his time with Miller Brewing Company, where an interaction he had with a colleague and friend made a lasting impression on him. Having worked at Miller Brewing Company for some years then, Rick asked his colleague for advice on how he should get ahead. His colleague responded by saying, “you need to get out.” Rick has remembered this conversation throughout his years in the sports industry and now lives by this statement he gave on the podcast episode:

“Be competitive and know when to get out. Heroes know when to die.”




After that conversation with his colleague, Rick moved on to his next chapter, working for sports marketing firm Clarion Performance Properties where he helped represent numerous clients in the NFL. Rick said that during those two years at the firm he learned more than he did during his decade-long run with Miller.

After discussing some of his career experience, Rick and Craig discuss what the future looks like for star QB Tom Brady and the current state of the NFL amidst a highly anticipated 2021 NFL Draft class. Rick ties this conversation back to some of the lessons he tries to instill in his students at Syracuse University and author Sam Walker’s Captain Class, a book assigned in his class curriculum.

“You cannot win if the captain of your team is not all in. People who are not all in will not make it.”

Rick believes this applies to athletes and anyone looking to be the best versions of themselves mentally, physically, and career wise. He follows a very blunt teaching method, or rather, follows the guidelines of being a realist. He explains to his students that some people in the class are going to “want it” more, and this will reflect in their work, body language, engagement, and the extra mile they choose to put forth. As a professor preparing students to enter a highly competitive and cutthroat industry, Rick Burton does his students a service by aiming to instill this competitive nature in them. This is a classroom example of Pro Mindset’s® “hungry dog” theory. The “hungry dog” theory in sport, as Craig describes it, is that the athlete that is desperate to feed his family, desperate to pay the bills, desperate to uplift himself financially, mentally and physically, is the athlete that will succeed above the rest. This athlete isn’t necessarily the most talented, but they have the most drive, and drive is what breeds success. The “hungriest” athlete has the biggest “why.”

“First round draft picks get cut. Life is like that, but it’s about how you pick yourself up.” - Rick Burton

Rick Burton embodies the qualities of having a “Pro Mindset.” He is someone that goes after what he wants, stays dedicated to perfecting his craft, and is a leader amongst his peers, now striving to educate the next generation of sport professionals. In addition to talking about his past careers and the state of the NFL, Rick and Craig dive deeper into explaining how the attitude and mindset of successful athletes is parallel to the attitude and mindset of successful professionals in the workplace. To hear more about Rick Burton, click here or search your favorite podcast platform, including Apple & Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and many more.

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