If you know much about me or if you take even a few minutes to get to know me, you will be quick to know that I am a TCU Horned Frog fan. I loved TCU from the time I can remember, at least since 1983. I am a very proud and engaged Alumnae. My husband, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law (you get the picture) along with lots of cousins and relatives twice removed are all Horned Frogs. I grew up going to football games and in high school attended Leadership Conferences through my Church (Disciples of Christ). All of my ministers were Brite Seminary Students and I try hard to employ Horned Frogs as much as possible.

This leads me to TCU Football. Wow! What a season! I was fortunate enough to attend the Alamo Bowl early this month and I keep reading blogs and articles about what we can learn from this team that came back 31 points and after 3 overtimes actually won 47 to 41. I watched every highlight, read every article and have watched TCU fans post endless stats, quotes and pictures of this Historical Bowl Win. Immediately, I wanted to share my takeaway, but wow – it all has been said by this point and how in the world can I manipulate this story to create relevance to the event world? I am not a strong writer, I am a good story teller because I need my hand gestures and facial expressions to get my point across. I am called to write this (really, so I can get it off my chest).

TCU gameThe Shackelfords at the Alamo Bowl

“Next Man Up” has been a slogan we have heard from the TCU football players this season. This saying reflects the reality that if someone is hurt or suspended, other players have to step “UP” to fill in. As you are probably aware, the Horned Frogs 2016 Football team had many changes in its roster due to injuries and surprise suspensions, from what I understand there were over 30 injuries and most every position was filled by a non-starter at some point in the season.

You see, one influential player missing a game or even 1 play can affect the whole chance of winning a game. Back-up quarterbacks usually don’t have confidence from their fans – probably because the reality of a back-up Quarterback playing well and winning is slim. We know that the need for back-up players in many situations, industries and sports is important. In Broadway, understudies, alternates in chorale or 2nd chair in band – they all need to be prepared to perform at any minute. HOLD on – this is where I talk events! So how do you prepare for worst-case scenarios for your events? How can you learn from the “Next Man Up” concept? It is a great concept to practice – for football, any sports or entertainment organization and should be a great model for all events. Events are based on services and the talents of many individuals – the dj, photographer, consultant, florist, Chef, Baker, Lighting Designer and the list goes on. What processes should you have in place to secure the success of the event if you have to go to Plan B?

I have compiled these 6 (in honor of TCU‘s Quarterback, Bram Kolhausen’s Jersey number) steps you should take to ensure that you are prepared in the event you have to utilize the “Next Man Up” concept:

1. Distribute timeline and agenda at least 1 week prior to the event. This allows your vendors to get acquainted with your schedule and communicate to their team.

2. Create an alternate weather plan in advance: February tends to have an ice storm at least once and outside Texas events in April may be brutalized by a rain or thunderstorm. Have teams in place well in advance to help spread the word and have clear plans outlined on your website. Be sure your venue has a weather radio and has someone responsible for watching weather radars and communicating up to date information.

3. Ask your vendors to communicate any potential situations that could arise early on in their area of expertise or responsibility. Perfect example is Blue Bell – the weekend all Blue Bell was pulled out of freezers, I am sure there was a bride that had to cancel their ice cream sundae bar or ice cream sandwich station. What’s the plan – Blue Bunny or forego the cool station? Get it, cool? Ha!

4. Power Outages – what is your plan if the power goes out? How do you maintain a calm crowd if it happens during an event? What is Plan B and how long do you sit in the dark before you cancel the event?

5. What if your entertainment is late or can’t show at the last minute – perhaps flight delay or something? Always have a contact for a local entertainer that you can reach out to at the last minute to help fill the space. One year, the Auctioneer for a Fundraiser was a local TV personality. There was breaking news and the TV anchor had to go to the News Desk, a Board Member stepped up to be the Auctioneer. What would you do if your emcee or keynote speaker cancels the day of the event? It can happen and you should at least consider a few options.

6. Promote from Within – my favorite! I am sure you have great employees that haven’t been given an opportunity to shine, let them try. Give others a chance – that’s how we all start, with a Chance. Share the generosity, gradually let your less seasoned employees have more responsibility and cross-train. This way if you are left in a bind, you are asking someone with some experience to step up. We won’t grow until we have too. I was given a chance when I was a mere 23 and it changed my career and the expectations I had for myself. I never imagined leading a Department as prestigious and large that young but I am so thankful I had the opportunity to step up – I guess my career is based on “Next Man Up”!
-Amy Shackelford

We saw that TCU’s mindset and attitude of “Next Man Up” was simple. Empty slot must be filled and they filled it. The concept doesn’t always work in Football programs as we saw in Oregon’s 2nd half performance when their quarterback, Adams, was out of the game. The saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is real! However, we saw that with the preparation TCU had because they had been dealt adversity all season they could pull it off. It just clicked. How are you going to ensure that your alternate plans will click? How can you prepare your team with the idea of “Next Man Up”?

– Amy Shackelford

Amy Shackelford