Wednesday, December 7, 2016

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As a marketing pro, Young had the opportunity to drive the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. As a marketing pro, Young had the opportunity to drive the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Normal Joe

Tim Young , '91, officially became president of the SDSU Alumni Association July 1.
By Tobin Vaughn

If there’s anyone who knows what it takes to engage SDSU alumni, it’s Tim Young (’91).  The 44-year-old marketing whiz is a partner and president of Southport Marketing, Inc., an event marketing and promotions company based in Newbury Park. 

Practically since the day he graduated, Young has been involved in marketing, beginning with a public relations job right out of college helping to promote the American Junior Golf Association.  Following that, he scored what most young people might consider the ultimate marketing dream job.
Tim Young

“I had the opportunity to drive the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and that shaped my future life in marketing and events,” Young says. Selected as one of only 12 Wienermobile drivers out of roughly 12,000 applicants, he piloted the distinctive vehicle for a year to events and appearances throughout the country generating publicity for the company in the days before social media.

“The sexy part of the job without a doubt was going to the big events like the Super Bowl,” Young remembers. “I taught Jay Leno how to drive the Wienermobile on the ‘Tonight Show’ and I crashed the Rose Parade as the only float without a rose on it, driving the entire parade route getting publicity for Oscar Mayer."

A simple philosophy

It was that kind of daring that launched Young’s successful marketing career, but marketing was never the intent when the Wisconsin native came to SDSU.  He studied broadcast journalism and speech communication with a different goal in mind.

“Back then I was hoping to become a sports broadcaster - the next Bob Costas,” explains Young, a passionate golfer who has played virtually his whole life. “I actually came to San Diego State with the intention of walking on (the golf team) and then I got tied up in doing broadcasting seriously my freshman year and began covering many of the sports on campus.”

An interest in sports has remained with him.  Working as Director of Entertainment for the San Diego Padres early in his career, an encounter with a famous fellow Aztec left him with a thought that would serve him well in business and beyond.

Among Young’s responsibilities for the team was coordinating events and interviews with players, many of whom gave him a hard time whenever he approached because they knew he wanted something from them.  It made him nervous and a bit sheepish delivering requests to professional players - behavior not lost on “Mr. Padre” Tony Gwynn who one day sat him down and offered some advice.
Tim Young (top left) in 1992 poses atop the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile with SDSU cheerleaders.

Young recalled, “Tony said to me, ‘When I can see you're that way, it doesn't work for either one of us, so you need to remember that I'm no different than you.  I'm no different than the guy who cleans the clubhouse or the guy who cuts the grass out here on the field.  We all put our pants on one leg at a time.  If you walk away and you learn one thing from me, it is to treat everybody exactly the same and you'll get exactly the same back.' 

“And from that day forward, I never had a problem approaching somebody of influence like that.  I could see how if you just treat them like your friend you can get a lot more done.  It helped me in dealing with the president of General Motors and other big-name executives that I've dealt with over time just with that one simple piece of philosophy." 

Making a difference

It’s a philosophy Young has successfully employed as a member of the SDSU Alumni Association’s board of advisers. Now in the sixth and final year of his term, he officially assumed the organization’s one-year presidency July 1 after he was symbolically handed the president’s gavel by immediate past president Bill Earley (’86) at the June 20 board meeting held at AMN Healthcare in Carmel Valley.

A lifetime member of the Alumni Association, Young is an advocate of alumni engagement with SDSU and he frequently returns to campus to advise students.  He intends to use his position to encourage other Aztecs to engage with the university in any way possible.

"I think since day one I've been focused on what I call 'Normal Joe,'” Young explains. “Normal Joe is just like me.  I went to school, I got involved in things at the university, I graduated, I somewhat disappeared, I went and started my own life and I've realized that I can make a difference to the university without it being a huge windfall of a financial donation. 
Alumni Association President Tim Young (l) is congratulated by the organization's immediate past president, Bill Earley ('86).

"I want to let alumni know, one person at a time if necessary, that anything any alum can do can help the university, whether it's providing a small donation, providing time to volunteer or helping with a variety of things at San Diego State, it’s all so important.  The majority of us can't give thousands of dollars to the university and that's okay. I don't think people feel like they can have an impact by giving $100 or whatever they can afford or by volunteering, but those things are just as important as the million-dollar donor because you have so many more people helping toward one cause and it really does make a difference."

Before assuming the Alumni Association presidency, Young served as executive vice president of the organization’s marketing and communications committee.  He was also co-chair of the 2013 Monty Awards.

In addition to Young taking over as president of the Alumni Association, six new board members were elected.  Mike Cully (’11), Lindsey Dixon (’02), Sean Kilkenny (’10), Mark Mays (’69), Leo Morales (’09) and Stacey Wolfson (’10) begin serving six-year terms this month.