SBD/March 19, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business With The Southeastern Conference's Mark Whitworth

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Age: 51

Where I’m from: Louisville, Ky.

Where I call home: Birmingham, Ala.

Position: SEC Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball

Focusing on right now: Positioning the SEC as a desirable conference for prospective college basketball players.

While his focus is on basketball, Whitworth and family find time to enjoy SEC football
Best advice
: It’s something I really charged our staff with last week in Atlanta as we were doing the tournament. It’s to work hard, work smart and have fun. I honestly can’t remember who told me that. It might have originated from my dad, ALBIN.

A must for a new hire: I think it’s someone who is teachable and is willing to own whatever responsibility they’re given. One of the things I’ll try to ask in a job interview is certainly what their strengths are, but also what their weaknesses are.

Exec I admire the most: ROY KRAMER and MARK WOMACK have had as big an impact on my career as anybody. They gave me an opportunity here at the SEC, they named me director of media relations at the age of 28. We had just expanded and introduced the idea of hosting a conference championship football game. For a young person who hadn’t been in the industry but five years, that was an incredible opportunity to be a part of early in my career. Womack was a guy who really mentored me, and then Kramer took over as commissioner in 1990 and just gave me access, encouragement and opportunity.

Best book I’ve read this year: It was called "The Difference Maker," by JOHN MAXWELL. His whole premise is that the difference maker for each of us is our attitude. It made a big impression. Your attitude colors every aspect of your life. It’s something I think any of us as individuals or professionals have to come to terms with. I talk to my kids about -- they’re in college now -- I say to them, “Are you going to be a victor, or are you going to be a victim?”

First thing in the morning: I usually look at either my iPhone or iPad. Just to catch up on e-mails, that kind of thing. I’ll also try and do a brief devotional. I’ve got an app on my phone that I’ll try to hit early in the day just to give me some kind of perspective early in the day.

Talking Tech: I think my iPad has really changed things, technology-wise, over the last five years or so. It has eliminated my need for taking folders. I’ve significantly decreased the size of my briefcase because of the iPad. There’s an app called Good Reader, and I’ll put contracts and notes and memos and any kind of document I have to prepare on that iPad. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of documents I have on there, it’s been a game changer.

Must have music: My dad is a musician, so music is always something that’s been really important to me. He’s a church musician -- organist, pianist and minister of music -- so I really enjoy Christian music, I love the old hymns and contemporary Christian music. He’s an arranger and a composer as well. I also really enjoy symphony music.

Food for thought: Any barbecue in Birmingham would be a place that I would love to find myself at, but in my opinion, Full Moon is the best place in town.

How I unwind: I really enjoy working in the yard and landscaping. I’m probably a bit of a creative or visionary at the very core. I love to take a blank slate and make something out of it. I find myself enjoying that in my yard. We’ve got a little over an acre, so it gives me room to do some things.

Day in the life: The fan experience discussion is one that’s at the top of my list. Prior to moving over to basketball, I served as the conference liaison to a working group that the commissioner put together to study the fan experience.
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