Sport Management: A Field of Opportunities

Sport Management: A Field of Opportunities


Thank you, guys.
Thank you so much for coming. I want to welcome you to the Sport Management Field of
Opportunities panel discussion. I want to thank the people
here in the audience, and the people here
watching the live stream. I’m excited about
this great panel that we have assembled here. They’re going to talk about
opportunities in sport business, offer advice about
breaking into the market, and then sharing some
real-world value about sport management in the
Sport Management degree. Those of you I don’t know,
my name’s Doug Blais. I’m a professor here at Southern
New Hampshire University. In just a moment, I’ll have
the panel introduce themselves and tell you a little
bit about what they do. So we have current students
here in the audience, current students in
the live stream, along with some potential
students who are looking to explore Southern New
Hampshire University, and what we have for
opportunities in the field of sport management. So real quickly, we offer a
number of different degrees that someone looking to
come for an online degree, especially and here
on the campus. So we have a Bachelor of
Science in Sport Management. Also in Business Studies
in Sport Management. We have a number of
Masters Degrees, so MS in Sport Management. MS in Sport Management
with a certificate in Athletic Administration. And then MBAs with
concentrations in Athletic Administration, Sport Management
and also our international MBAs with certificates in
Athletic Administration and Sport Management. We’ve had a number of interns
that have come through both the college of continuing
education and undergrad. I’ll just give you
a few of those. Of course, for a our
local fans here, we’ve had interns with all
the five major teams, The Red Sox, Patriots,
Bruins, Celtics, Revolution. Sporting goods and
manufacturing, Reebok, Nike, Converse, Puma. Collegiate Athletics,
The Orange Bowl, University of Florida, Florida
Gulf Coast, Boston College, Harvard University. And a number of others including
UFC, WWE, Major League Soccer Headquarters, New
Hampshire Motor Speedway, Daytona International
Speedway, among many others. So there’s some really
great opportunities. So I’ll just turn it right
over and ask each panelist to introduce themselves
and an overview of what they do in
their organizations. So we’ll start with John. It’s wonderful to be back here. I am the eldest statesmen,
I think, of the group. I graduated from New Hampshire
College at the time, in 1990. And since then, I
spent the last 25, 26 years now in the
sports industry. Pretty much broken
down into thirds. I spent about a third of
it on the agency side, working for a number of
sports marketing companies, including Octogon. I then jumped ship, and I
spent about eight years on the team side. I ran two teams in
Major League Soccer. The Metro Stars, they’re
now the Red Bulls. And then more recently,
I was the presidency of the Chicago Fire, in MLS. And then I jumped ship again,
and I started my own agency that we’ve been running now
for about eight years, Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing. So we’ll talk more about this
as we go through the day, but I’m the founder
and president of GSM, Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing. We are integrated marketing
services agency, solely focused on
helping brands connect with soccer consumers
in the US. That’s my story. Greg? Hi. Yeah, as John said, thanks
everybody for coming out. Everybody that’s online. My name is Greg Gosselin. I’m the Director of
Membership Services for the Washington Capitals. It’s an NHL team, obviously
in Washington, DC. I am an online Masters
graduate in 2011 with the Sport Management program. Basically, what my day-to-day
role is, myself and my 10-person team manage about
$60 million in season ticket revenue for the
Washington Capitals. We’re responsible for
retaining that revenue, growing that revenue, and making sure that
our fans are obviously getting the most value out
of their purchase with us. Great.
Stephie. Hi, everyone. I’m Stephanie Arpaia. I got my MS in Sport
Management in 2010. I started at SNHU here
on campus in in 2008 when I was working for the New Hampshire
Fisher Cats and quickly got a job in New York City
working for the Mets, so I moved to New York. And my best story about SNHU
is that they worked with me on a one to one level to
create sort of a hybrid way of completing my degrees, so even though I was
on campus student, I actually finished my MS
online so I’m sort of a hybrid. And I’ve been in New York ever
since I worked for the Mets for a long time and now I’ve
been at a sports agency, Excel Sports Management, where
I’m the director of consulting. John and I, do similar things
in the agency world except that I’m not at all
focused on soccer. If you need anything soccer,
you go to the expert, but we’ll talk about that
specifically I’m sure later on. Great. My name is Mark Hecox,
I’m the professor in charge of the Sport Management
Program here on campus, at SNHU. I’m also a graduate
from the PhD program in International Business. I represent more on the sporting
good side of the industry. Early in my career, I worked
for a number of sporting goods firms across the US, some are
related to the original wearable technology industry,
back quite some time ago. It was involved in various
businesses related to fitness equipment, bikes, sports
clubs, things like that. I made my way to Reebok for a
number of years and I was an executive at Reebok, responsible
for global business development and then we were
acquired by the Adidas group and that points I’d finished
my PhD, and Doug Blais was kind enough to make some
opportunities available and I’ve always wanted to teach, so I
transitioned full time to becoming a professor, but I
continue to consult in the industry for several years and
continue to consult today as needed so looking forward
to sharing the experiences. Thank you very much. So I’ve got some prepared
questions and I’m going to ask the audience also if they have
any questions to feel free, and then we also, those who
are watching live stream have an email on where to send that,
so I’ll be looking at those also. In your introduction,
John and Stephanie, you took more of a
traditional route, and Greg last night
when we were talking, you shared with us
some non-traditional. So for the students who are out
there, they’re more traditional students here in face to face,
but the live streaming, could you tell a little bit
about how it all happened and how you came to be with
the Washington Capitals? Yeah. I’m classified kind of
as a career changer. I like the job that I had, kind of an early mid
life career crisis. Directly out of college, I did what
most of my colleagues did, when they graduated went directly
into sales for a radio station, and eventually moved out
of that moved to rent a car company, worked out of
Logan Airport for a while, got promoted to run an
airport in Naples, Florida, and basically decided that
work in retail and doing that kind of thing was not what
I wanted to do any more. I had a passion for sports
but it wasn’t really on the player personnel side. I played sports in high
school, in college, had an opportunity when I met
a gentleman by the name of Del Wilber, who’s now a very
close friend and good mentor of mine and he basically got
me in front of a number of owners in the DC area. I did a lot of legwork in terms
of meeting face to face and separating myself from everybody
else that was applying for sports jobs which was probably
the hardest part of this industry is getting in front
of the right people at the right time and happened to
impress some people when the Washington Capitals and the
Washington was merged to become Monumental Sports. I was pretty much asked how
fast I can move from Florida to DC to take the job. It’s not as direct as I think
a lot of people do and if you’re going into an undergrad
in sport management and taking that kind of route, it was kind of just a
career shift for me. And by the leap of
faith, it’s a– Yeah, it definitely was. It was 18 months of hard
work and talking to people, and doing the online program and
making sure I was in the right place at the right time to be
in front of the right people. And then, Stephie,
building on that, how would you say your
degrees helped you get to the position that
you’re at now? I think a lot of it is about
meeting people and getting to know people that are either
already in the industry or like Greg, trying to
break into the industry. I think you kind of alluded
to one of the hardest things about breaking into the
sports industry is getting in front of that right person. And so, I would say
internships is the key. Any internship that you
can get your hands on, on any part of the business, if it’s in the industry
you want to be in, is the best way to go about it. And so by doing that,
you meet people. And then you’ve got names, and
emails, and contacts when you are trying to get the job
and trying to get any job. And that I think, for me, was
the best way to meet everyone that I know today. And part of that came through
SNHU being local in this area and the relationship that you guys
have with a lot of the local teams, including the Fisher
Cats, was really helpful. Just meeting anyone
I could meet. Yeah, that’s good advice. And John, again, yours
is more traditional. Advice to the 18 to 21 year
olds here in the audience or some people who might be
doing a career change, what advice would you
give those individuals? Yeah, I think my story is a
little bit of a combination of what you just heard
from these folks. 1990 I left my undergrad and
I knew what I wanted to do. One of the things
that I would say if I looked back in my career, I’ve always been very
fortunate to actually have a very clear vision of what I was
trying to do in my career, and what were the goals
that I needed to set, and how I was going to focus
on accomplishing those goals to create that vision. So when I came out in 1990, I knew that I wanted to work in
and around the 1994 World Cup, which was here in
the United States, for those of you that
don’t remember that. In 1990, four years
out from the World Cup, there really were no jobs. There were a few people that
were beginning to work on it, but there really was
no infrastructure built out at that time. So my question was, okay, that’s
my goal, that’s my vision. What’s the bridge, what’s the
gap that I need to fill here that’s going to take up
the time, quite frankly, between now and
closer to the event? But more importantly, position
me as advantageously as possible to get that job, to
get that opportunity working with the World Cup event. So sport management, sport
marketing was in its infancy back then. There was only a
handful of schools. Obviously, the program
didn’t exist here. So I ended up going to UMass. I did my master’s degree there. And to Stephanie’s point, the
internship coming out of that was the key catalyst for me to
get on the phone and call an agency in New York City that
was the marketing agency of the US Soccer Federation at
that moment in time and the co-marketing partners
of the world cup. So I had narrowed my search
frankly down to one company. And I knew that that was where
my opportunity existed. So then the question
was, How do I get in? So I badgered these
people on the phone. One of the things that you
probably won’t hear us talk about too much, but I don’t
think you can understate it’s value, is luck. I happened to speak to
somebody on the phone at this company who was from the
neighboring town in England where I grew up. So I automatically had some
platform of communication and rapport that I could
build on with this guy, get a little bit of
trust and opportunity. And throughout that conversation,
I was able to uncover a need that they had
within the organization. And that was the fact that
they had no market research at all back in 1991
on who soccer fan was in the United States. So I said to this guy – his
name was Michael Domican – I said, Michael, here’s what
I’ll do. Here’s my internship. For the next three months,
I will create a research studying project for you. I will put it together
from soup to nuts. I will go to the events, I
will do intercept surveys with your fans, and I will give you
and deliver to you a full and complete analysis of
the American soccer fan. And that’s ultimately how I
got my start in the industry. So I think again, I think there’s
a lot of examples there. Luck, persistence, solving a
need that they didn’t even frankly really realize
that they needed to solve. I just managed to uncover
that, present it to them and give them a solution, so I
do think those are the keys to getting into the industry. The other thing that I’d say
very quickly is I do think our industry is a fraternity. What I mean by that is I get
calls all the time from people that have all different types
of degree, degrees undergrad, graduate degrees in
sport, outside of sport. I definitely pay attention a
little bit more to people that have come through a sport
management program, particularly at the grad level. But any sport management
person to me, they’ve got a stated interest
and desire to be part of this profession and that
gives me a little bit more of a reason I think to pay
attention to their story, to listen to what
they have to say, and I do think going through a
program like this gives you that opportunity to network
within the industry and again to set yourself apart
because it’s those little things that you need to
do to set yourself apart, to break to the clutter, get that first job and
then it’s up to you. If you’re good, your career
will open up in front of you, but getting in that door the
first time is clearly to your point one of the hardest
parts of this industry. Excellent, thank you. Mark, two of your
areas of interests as you mentioned earlier, you started of in sporting
goods and manufacturing, and your also passionate about
sport entrepreneurship, what skill sets should students
have if their interests in breaking into either
of those areas and what advice would you give
them, those who are interested in those segments? Sure. So echoing some of the
comments that were previously made, I actually came into the
industry kind of sideways in the sense that my undergraduate
degree was in chemistry, and then I had gone
back to get an MBA. And the only thing that I truly
knew was that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I had to discover fairly
quickly that stuff that I really didn’t like. And I worked very briefly
for a Wall Street firm that gave me that insight. And that’s what kind of propelled
me to start looking for something related to sport. What I find particularly
interesting about this industry is that as you look across the
various categories within our industry – whether it’s
teams and leagues, whether it’s sporting goods,
whether it’s hotel hospitality, travel agent, whatever – you
discover that basically there’s a lot of different entry points,
both direct and indirect. And what I mean by that
is– so for instance, when you’re looking
for a particular job, it’s perhaps better to look
for particular organizations irregardless of what
the job might be. Being able to get access into
the type of organization that’s going to provide
you the opportunities, both internally within
that organization, and networking externally
with that organization. An example of that would’ve
been while I was at Reebok, we had some strategic
alliances with the NFL and other organizations. And through those
strategic alliances, I really got to interact within
those other organizations and develop relationships. This was pointed out by all
three panelists sitting next to me having those network
relationships really provided a powerful opportunity
net, so to speak. The other thing that I would
perhaps say that developed later on as a important
point was developing a specialization or a talent
that is unique and compelling, and ultimately offers value
to the organization you want to go after. While I was in my kind
of second round of jobs, I was doing a lot of product
development, and in particular, sport product development. Related to fitness equipment,
bikes, and things like that. And at the time, we were working
on a special project with Reebok and it was having
that unique kind of product development expertise in the
context of a broader education that allowed me to kind of
stand out from the rest. And it enabled me to basically
find a niche within Reebok that was very,
very good for me. Having said that, you don’t
always know where your specialization’s going to
evolve until you’ve spent some time in the industry
and what have you. One last thing that I’ll say
is that at the point that I was at Reebok and developing
that specialization, I was also traveling
internationally a lot. And I knew at that time that I
really needed to develop the academic credentials as well as
just expanding my knowledge base to keep learning even
though I was already 12 years into my career. And that’s what really propelled
me to go back to get my PhD in International
Business here at SNHU. And ultimately, Reebok said,
Listen, that’s a perfect alignment for us because
that’s what you’re doing and we’ll pay for it. So it was kind of a
win-win for them as well. Excellent, thank you. Can I piggyback off
that actually? You’re brought up a
really good point about– so I went to undergrad
at [inaudible] and I studied
broadcast journalism. And I thought my whole life
growing up that I wanted to be the next
Bonnie Bernstein. I wanted to be on the
side-line reporting from a football game. And so that’s what I
studied at undergrad, and I ended up going in
a different direction. I never actually pursued
the on-air camera work but I’d landed in baseball
and had all of this production experience. And that, I think, is the
number one reason that got me hired at both the Fisher
Cats and at the Mets when I got that job. And I think the job that I was
going for was in marketing. It really had nothing to do
with video production or editing but I was set apart
from the other applicants because I had this unique
skill that brought value into the company. And that’s something that I’m
looking for every day when I’m looking at perspective
interns or new hires. I’m looking for people that
have some unique skill that can make what we do as
a company better. And so nowadays, a lot
of that is social media. Right? I mean I’m sure everyone
here uses it but there are people who are now becoming
fluent and in all parts of social media and that’s something
that’s really valuable to a consulting agency or
really probably any business at this point. There are always new
things popping up. One that we’re looking at now,
and I don’t know if this has come up in your world at
all John, is Eastwards. That’s this new thing that I’m
not even sure that I could define for you but it’s
something that keeps popping. And everyone’s saying
that word Eastwards. And so I can tell you that if
I have an application from a new hire and they’re an
expert in Eastwards, I’m probably going to give
them a harder look because they have a skill that is
really valuable right now. So I definitely agree with you,
having these unique skills, and really you can kind of
pick whatever you want, whatever you’re interested in. If it’s social media, if
it’s PR, if it’s video and production, anything, that
will be valuable, not just in that one field but probably
across an entire organization. That’s fantastic. Thank you. And this goes along Greg, with
what we were talking about. And you had said to me that
the idea of analytics, so we’re building on
what Stephanie said. You said, The Washington
Capital’s are an industry leader in this fast-growing field. We use analytics every day
to provide both sales and service reps with valuable
information about their clients. So could you expand on that? Sure. Yeah. I mean the
field of analytics– I mean my undergrad was
in market research. I’m a numbers geek. When we get into the analytics
side of things whether it’s player personnel or more on
my side with ticket sales. We’re able to now deep dive
into kind of like what John did in his internship. We can define every single
person in– that owns a ticket. Whether it’s a season
or a partial planner or anything like that, and
tell you exactly who that person is based on numbers. We take all of that data,
and aggregate it down, use it for sales opportunities. We use that in our
retention efforts. So we define a way a person of–
we call them fence sitters. Somebody who may
renew their tickets, may not renew their tickets. But we’re going to tell you
exactly why before we actually make the call to uncover what
their actual issues are. We rely heavily on our analytics
team, not only on our sales and service side, but
corporate partnerships and sponsorships now to be able to
tell you who’s going to fit best with our market, who’s
going to fit best on an international level. We just signed a couple of new
sponsors with the Capitals that aren’t even US based. So it’s a completely
global industry now, and we’re using every bit of
information that we can gather about everybody we deal with on
a daily basis to make sure that we’re providing them the
best service, best product, the best price. And what might those analytics
look like on your side of it? When you say retention, then
you’ll know how they’re utilizing your product. What specifically would you
be looking at and determining what the issues might be
with retaining a client. Sure. So, we’re going to look at
everything from ticket usage, as far as if they’re sharing
tickets with other people. A lot of it is now digital
so we can track who they’re emailing tickets to, who
they’re sending to the games. We have all that data
in our CRM platforms. We’re able to look and see if
there are specific times of the year where they struggle
to make games or don’t use their tickets, on a personal
side and on a business side. So, we’re able to go back to
them with solutions around a renewal time that says, Let us help you with these
certain problems that you may or may not know that you’re
having to be able to get the most value out of the product
that we’re offering. Thank you. Stephanie, a lot of our students,
when prospective students or existing students, they’ll
talk to us and they want to either be Theo Epstein
or Jerry Maguire. And they think of a
sport agency as what they had in the movies. So, looking at Excel Sport
Management where you’re at. You guys focus on
athletic representation, marketing, consulting. Could you just expand and
give them more in-depth as to what your agency does and what
other similar agencies might do. Yeah. Sure. Actually Excel probably
is the closest example of Jerry Maguire in the
industry. so it’s an athlete
representation agency, That’s really what we’re
most well-known for. We have four partners that
each represent athletes in basketball, baseball, golf, and
then some talent marketing. A lot of quarterbacks. Danica
Patrick. Randomly, Taylor Swift. That’s our only non-athlete.
And so these– That’s a big one. Yeah, it’s a good one. You’ve all heard of her, right?
So the four agents came together from
other bigger agencies that you may have
heard of: CAA, IMG. They all Jerry Maguired.
They really did. They left those agencies because
they wanted to start their own smaller boutique
agency and started Excel, so that’s sort of how it began. It began as a talent
representation agency, and so handling everything
from a player’s contract with their team,
marketing appearances, sponsorship deals, booking
their cars and their hotels. Everything. And then what that expanded
to over the years is we added my group which is a
consulting division. And so what our group does
basically, I look at my clients as though they are Derek
Jeter and Tiger Woods. But rather than being athletes,
my clients are brands and companies that advertise
in sports somehow. Either they have a partnership
with a team or a league, or they have a player endorser. Maybe it’s one of the guys
that is represented by Excel, maybe it’s not. And so I service those clients
the same way that some of my colleagues are servicing Blake
Griffin, and Kevin Love, and all of those guys.
Yeah, it’s grown. They started really small
with a handful of people representing Lamar Odom. I think that was
our first client. And now we’re up to over
60 employees and gosh, it has to be at least 200
athletes that we represent across all these sports. Big, big names like Derek Jeter
all the way down to some minor-league guys that maybe
I haven’t even heard of. See, it’s a fun place. And do they have to have– the question we always
get is law degree. Do I have to have a law
degree to work for an agency? It’s a great question. Well, definitely not. I don’t have a law degree but
I also don’t work on the assay representation side
and it’s interesting, Excel is made up of a whole,
two- basically two different groups of agents, some
of them are lawyers. They went the traditional
route and they did their undergrad, went to law school,
they knew they wanted to be a sports agent and so
that was what they did. And then we’ve got a whole bunch
of guys who were athletes, whether that was college or
some pro, and either finished their career or left their
career because they wanted to go into representation and had a
lot of friends, basically. They had friends who they
knew they would trust them to represent them on the business
side and in their sport, and so we do have a couple young
agents now at this point who neither have a law degree
nor played professionally, and are sort of trying to make
their way on relationships. I know I said it earlier, but
it is really big especially if you’re trying to represent
a professional athlete. You’re basically handling their
life and so they need to have a huge amount of trust
in you, so it’s really all about forming relationships
with those guys. I don’t know if that really
answered your question. No, it’s helpful. Traditionally, you’ll probably
hear that getting a law degree is the right way to go
because in order to write a contract and fight for a good
contract, you probably need to know all of that
language and those rules and how to read a collective
bargaining agreement. But, I don’t think you have to. I think you can do it other
ways and be just as successful. And John, your agency is
the complete opposite. So, you would still
be a sport agency. But as you said in the beginning,
you focus solely on soccer. You say that soccer offers
unique branding opportunities because of its demographics. Specifically, millennials,
Hispanics, and families. So, could you discuss the idea
of being that single focus of only soccer as compared
to Excel Sport Management which does it all. And then kind of drill
down into the specifics of that branding component. Yeah, no, absolutely, happy to. Let me take 60 seconds though
because I want to jump off of one of
Stephanie’s comments. eSports, when I started in
the soccer industry in the early 90s, just pure
coincidence, that was really the beginning of the modern
business of soccer in America. I happened to be around,
entering the workforce right at the foundation of that sport. And great for me, I’ve been
able to grow my career over the last 25 years. Basically following
the wave of soccer. If I had to do it today, one place that I would
look at is eSports. And I don’t say that for all
of you that are gamers, Oh, I want to work in eSports
because I’m a gamer. At the end of the day, it’s about
marketing it’s about sales, it’s about business
development. But eSports is such a
monstrous world that has not figured itself out. People
want to figure it out. Brands are looking to spend
money in that space, they just don’t
know how to do it. So, if there is one platform
that I would say is somewhat akin to what I stepped into
with soccer 25 years ago, I do think it’s the
eSports world. Collegiate competitions now.
Colleges sponsor eTeams. Absolutely. It’s an
incredible industry. I was on a conference
call this morning, before coming into campus. And it was an internal discussion
of, do we want to bring that on as a service that
we offer to our clients? Do we want to become
experts in eSport, so that we are like John
is to the soccer world? Do we want to become the
experts in eSports so that we can get all of those clients who are spending money
in that industry? And so that’s something that
I’m sure a lot of people are trying to figure
out right now. Good question. But to answer your question,
Doug, Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing will never be in the
eSports business, per Se. Because we have one vision and
one vision only and we stick to our knitting and that’s
the reason we succeed. Our vision is to be the
best at one thing. And that is helping brands
connect to soccer consumers. The good news for us is
that soccer consumers are incredibly valuable
demographically. You’re basically talking
about millennials. There’s not a brand out
there that’s not interested in connecting to millennials. Within millennials, and beyond
millennials, Hispanics. There’s not a brand out
there that’s not interested in connecting to Hispanic. And family, which is the
root of lots of CPG brands and many, many others. So soccer’s story always
starts with demographics. We know that that’s
not changing. So we have the vision to focus
on doing one thing better than everybody else. And that’s be the experts and
understanding this consumer, consumers, providing
insight, strategy, and then bringing it all the
way through activation. Whether it’s experiential,
whether it’s digital, whether it’s promotional,
whether it’s shopper marketing, to help our clients, which
again are the big brands, connect to that consumer. So I sometimes don’t think
I am a sports marketer. We are an integrated,
marketing, services agency. That’s what we do. All of the DNA of our
organization is based upon marketing services. We just have the spin that
we’re only trying to reach consumers that have a passion
for the sport of soccer. And we’re still to this
day the only company that has that outlook. There are other people
playing in the soccer space. There are big sports marketing
companies that have soccer offerings but we are still
the only people with the elevated pitch that if
soccer’s what you want to do, that’s what we’re all about. Excellent. We had a question from someone
watching our live stream. Molly is a graduate student
in sport management, and she wants to know what
skills are needed when applying for a job in the sports field. I’ve applied for many jobs. I get the feedback of
not enough experience. So how does one
get that chance? Mark, if you want to start
on the academic side. Sure, well given the option
of a lot of students we have right now is that if you still
have the opportunity to do internships and not just
internships but I what would suggest is experiential learning
projects for something as simple as a market research
study for a company or hosting some type of an event
or volunteering. Anything like that you can
actually get out of the classroom and engage with. That’s one thing. I think for students who’ve
graduated and who are out there in the search right now, there’s
a lot of competition out there and focusing on what you
can differentiate yourself with. Clearly, there’s a lot of folks
out there who have basic degrees that are solid but
really asking yourself, What is it that I can specialize
in? What is my unique talent? And really marketing your own
brand with respect to what that specialization or talent or
differentiation point is. Even if you think it’s small,
it can come across very authentically in an interview
and what have you. And for the rest of the
panel, you must get inquiries all the time. And so if Molly was here, what
advice would you give her? I mean, the biggest thing, like Stephanie and Mark
said is internships. When I interview people,
whether its [inaudible] staff or full-time positions,
I’m looking for people that have a passion
for what we do. So, the job that they’re
applying for, that they’re passionate about, is not
just an entry point into sports for them. We interview a lot of people
that are trying to get their foot in the door in inside
sales, because I think that’s the easiest way into
a professional team. But it’s not always the case. You talk about analytics
or as Mark said, marketing your own brand, separate yourself from everybody
else that’s applying. I mean, I’m sure everybody knows
what team work online and the thousands upon thousands
of resumes that people like us probably see on a daily basis. Even something as small as
separating yourself through that platform and writing a
really good cover letter, something that’s going to grab
somebody’s attention with your skillset is going to make me
look at you a second time versus somebody else
that’s just like, I just got my undergrad
in sport management. I’m now looking for a job. I don’t have any
internship experience. I have really nothing to offer
you other than the fact that I have a degree. So whatever you can do
to separate yourself out in a cover letter or
even like Mark said, just a tiny little thing that you
think is probably insignificant, the rest of us are
going to be like, Perfect. That’s
exactly what we want. Especially, as Stephanie said,
how we’re going to separate ourselves to make our company
focus more on eSports. Do you have something that you
can offer her for an eSports division within her company? Something else you said stood
out to me that someone who can show that they have a
passion for the job is going to be or what they’re going
to be doing in that role. I would say advice for maybe
what not do is probably don’t tell me that you’re
a huge sports fan. I think everyone in this
room is a huge sports fan, that’s why we went into
this industry, right. We all love sports. We love watching sports and
we love talking about sports. I’m looking for someone who’s
a really good marketer and who really knows social
media or who really knows branding or activation. I trust that you probably love
sports or you wouldn’t be reaching out to me. So, I think that’s one thing
that it’s easy to make the mistake of saying, I’m
a huge Yankees fan. Or I’m a huge sports fan
and I love going to games. I hear you. I do too, for sure. But that I don’t think is going
to set you apart necessarily. Yeah, just one quick adder
is that for candidates who, when I used to do a fair
amount of hiring at Reebok, that I always found that stood
out where the candidates that took the time to
research the company they were interviewing with. And what I mean by that is, you
do have to take the time to go deep, do due diligence as
best you can, discover as much about the organization, and
be able to convey that communication wise during
your interview or during your correspondence
communication, or whatever. And I think what it does is
that it shows a level of commitment on your part. Even if you don’t think you
have a differentiation point, believe it or not, that alone
can really be a mover. And at least I can speak in my
mind that you took the time to do it and that you’re
serious about wanting to work at that place. One piece of advice that I
would share, that just kind of touches on a lot of the comments
just made here is you have to look, as you’re starting out
your career or even in when you’re in your career, you have
to think about yourself as a business professional,
in the same way that you understand what a professional
athlete is all about. Right? So there’s great
amateur athletes, there’s really great amateur
athletes but a professional has to work at his
craft, her craft, every day to set themselves
above and to differentiate. They’ve got to
hone their skills. They’ve got to make their
strengths stronger, their weaknesses less weak. Preparation is huge. Right? No athlete ever takes
the field without preparing for the game. They know the scouting
report on the other team. They know the scouting report
on the player that they’re going to be facing up against. You never just go out there and
wing it so I think there’s so many parallels between being a
professional athlete and being a professional business person. And I think you just
have to apply those. You have to think about what
you’re trying to do in terms of building your career through
that professional lens. And the piece of tangible advice
that I will give to everybody. And you can all do it tonight. You can take 30 minutes. You can go to Google
and you can search, Traits of successful
sales people. Now, when I say the word sales, and I didn’t get too
many blank stares. Some people go to,
Oh, sales, right, it’s the second-hand
car salesman. All they care about is money. They’ll tell me whatever
they want to tell me to get the sale done.
They are unscrupulous. They’re not good people. You
go to a negative place. But if you’ve been around
really good sales people. And I’ve had the opportunity
to be around four or five. They are the role models
that I think you need to try and learn from. So go on Google, you’re going
to see all different kinds of traits. You’re going to talk
about organization, you’re going to talk
about commitment. You’re going see them
talking about preparation. They are the most
optimistic people. The glass is always half full. Lots and lots of traits that
successful sales people have. I think the vision that you
should have as a business professional and then try and
model because that will guide you forward when you’re
trying to get a first job, build your career. It gives you a place to focus
your skillsets and again, ultimately advance your
objectives thank you. At this point I’ll see if
anyone– we’ll pause and see if anyone in the audience has
any questions before we move forward? Dave and Anna? There’s one. There’s one. Please. This goes to Stephanie. Have you found any
difficulty being a woman– Oh, that was my question. It’s a great question. I actually sent out an email
really late last night. And I was like,
Hey, you know what? I’m the only female on
the panel. So hit me. So– Great question. It is a great question. But I kind of have
a boring answer. Maybe I’m lucky, and maybe it’s
part of being in New York City, but it really hasn’t made a
whole lot of a difference. We are definitely still in
the minority, no question. Every job I’ve had so
far in the industry we have been in the minority. And there is a little bit of
discussion of making sure that our voice is heard
in the office. But in terms of the industry,
I would say for the most part I’ve never had an issue. I guess I’ve been lucky that
I’ve been respected as a professional and not as
a woman versus a man. So I think the opportunities
are definitely there. If anything, I encourage
every woman in this room to definitely go into sports. I’d love to see it balance
out a little bit more. There’s definitely a lack of
women in C-level positions across the board in all sports,
and I think it could only benefit every industry
for that to change. But I think the
opportunity is there, and I think people
are open to it. At least from my seat
where I am in New York. So maybe that’s a
boring answer. But really, I think other
than there being fewer of us, I think it’s been great and
people are definitely looking for more women to rise up to those
higher-level positions, so go get it. I actually think, and this
may sound a little weird, I think in some ways it could
be an advantage right now. And I just think about
my sport soccer, right? Soccer’s all about millennials. Millennials is all
about diversity. So people are consciously
looking for diverse human resources whether it’s gender,
whether it’s ethnicity. I think it’s an opportunity,
and I think there’s a chance there, again, to differentiate,
right? To provide something a little bit different from
all those other candidates. I’m not going to overstate it
but I do think that there is something certainly in sports
that are very much more younger-focused. The opportunity where
diversity is a huge benefit, and people want a
higher diversity. As a father of two daughters,
I couldn’t agree more. Are there certain pitfalls
at being a female that– words of advice? Avoid
these pitfalls. Putting on mascot suit for the
first time was a big wake up call, I would never had
to pat up for any sport. When you get inside that
costume, it stinks. If any of you ever
have to do that, which I’m guessing some of you
will have to if you work in minor league baseball or
minor league anything. But now, I don’t think so,
I haven’t– I’m young, I don’t have any kids so I
haven’t really hit the point in my life yet where that is
something that I’m thinking about in terms of being
at the office late. Sports happen on the nights
and weekend, so that could be hard if you’re a parent which
I’m sure some of you are, but I’m not there yet so I
can’t really speak to that piece of it. One of the easiest ways to
break into sport is through sales and of course our students,
they get really nervous about the sales side of it. So Greg, your position is
interesting because really the sales people do their job and
then that the person with the season ticket now is
transferred to your department. Could you explain a little
bit more in detail, how that process works and what
exactly your unit does? Sure. The easiest way to explain
it is when you think back to the very first time
you had your most favourite sport experience. Mine, happened to be
when I was a boy scout, my very first trip
to Finlay Park. They were playing with Detroit
Tigers, Tony Phillips with the Tigers at the time
was playing right field. I badgered him for three
innings to throw me a ball, he finally threw me a ball. the, what my group does is
takes those little experiences that people have on a game day
or at a practice, or with a group trip with scouts or
something like that, and taps into the emotional side of
why people want to be a part of our team or our
organization. The sales part of it
is very transactional. When you’re an inside sales,
you turn out a hundred phone calls a day, hoping you get
to talk to 9 or 10 people, and maybe two of them will
buy eventually for the next couple of months. On the service side, we get a
chance to talk to 500 people for every rep, once or twice a
month and dive into why they own tickets, what do they want
to do with their tickets, do they want these tickets
to be legacy and passed down to their kids, that’s
really what we get to do. We’re kind of what John said
with goggling the best quality in a sales person,
taking all of that on a sale side and using those
skills on a service side. You’re no longer selling
tickets, you’re selling experiences, you’re selling
father-son time, you’re selling mother-daughter time, all those
things that people get to escape on a daily basis
when they go to a game, and that’s what we got to
do on our service side and we make sure people remember
why they came to the game, why they’re buying tickets. It’s not just a
transaction any more. Excellent. We have a question
from Philipe. What’s going on?
This one’s for John. What’s it like working in the
sport that’s traditionally not known as the big four and
where do you see it going from here? Okay. So I started in the
soccer industry in 1991 – I’ll go back to
sales for a second. Nobody cared about soccer.
I’m not exaggerating. We literally would
celebrate in the office when a brand would
take a meeting. Forget about closing a deal. If they would just give us
60 minutes of their time to hear our story, we
were like, Hallelujah. This is unbelievable. Soccer has come so, so far
in the last 25 years. And a lot of it really has
nothing to do with the sport. It’s more just to do
with changes in America. America is younger,
America is more diverse. Globalization has happened. The internet, thanks to Al Gore.
Joke. Has now made soccer all
over the world accessible no matter where you are. So many factors have driven
the environment in America to a point where soccer is just
got the perfect environment to flourish. Launch of major league soccer
has obviously happened. So I love being part of that
sport that’s no one will ever say, We can’t do that because
this is how we do it, all right? There’s no, We’ve been
doing it for 25, 30 years and this is the way it is.
Soccer is open to new ideas. They’re open to
fresh approaches. They’re looking to
reinvent themselves. When I started in the league, we
were making it up in the fly. Everybody will admit that
in 1996. That’s fun. I mean to me it’s fun and it’s
fresh and because the sport continues to grow none
of that has waned. I mean it’s all
still there for me. I think the best days of the
sport are still far ahead and we’re just
riding the train. To me, there’s not another sport
that I want to be involved with, except for maybe eSports, but I know nothing
about eSports. You just had a recent
blog with some of the attendance figures where you
were talking about the numbers, MLS attendance compared to
some of the other big four. Yeah, I mean it isn’t
even just MLS. I mean MLS has grown
significantly, but there are a couple
of women’s teams. The Portland Thorns draw
16,000, 17,000 fans a game. That’s pretty impressive for
professional women soccer. There are USL teams which
is the third division technically of
soccer in America. They are drawing
10,000, 14,000 people. The sport of soccer has just
grown in leaps and bounds. Obviously, MLS has driven the
agenda and will always drive the agenda, but again, the
entire environment of infrastructure around our sport
has just jumped forward in leaps and bounds in the
last, really in the last 10 years we’ve gone from where
we were to where we are now, which is miles apart. Excellent. I think one of the reasons
I’m here today was through some great mentoring. We were talking last night
about having a mentor and how important that is. I’ll throw it out
to the whole panel. Did you have a mentor?
How important was that and how did it help
shape your career? I had a mentor who I happened
to meet out of the blue as he rented a car from me. His name is Del Wilbur. He got me in front of
all of his connections. We want to go back to the
talking about the networking and the valuable relationships
that you can develop. He had those relationships
and gave me the opportunity to meet those people. I met with every senior
level vice president and owner of every
sports team in D.C. when I got a chance to do that. And again, being in the right
place at the right time made a good first impression,
separated myself out from everybody else that had been
doing kind of the same thing. Got an internship. Got hired full time two days
after my internship was ended. And went from intern
to rep to manager. And now I run the department. So I don’t think without Del
of I would be anywhere close to where I am now. I would say that throughout
my career I had a couple of mentors who were
very formative. Early on in my career I was
fortunate enough to work for the president of the
company I was involved in. And he was a, I say
this affectionately, a maniacal entrepreneur with
a high passion, high energy, sales driven mentality. One of the first skill sets
that he threw at me, to say, You better learn how
to do this, is sales. He put me in situations that I
was just not comfortable with, meaning uncomfortable
from the point of view I’d never done it before. It forced me in such
a way to learn that. The other thing he did was
taught me the importance of negotiation, to learn how to
negotiate and to have that as more of a lifestyle than it is
a specific tactic or strategy. I’ve carried that with me
throughout my entire life. The other mentor that I had,
his name is John Frascotti, he was my mentor at Reebok. He was gentleman who graduated
number one from Harvard Law, and is one of the smartest
people I’ve ever had the opportunity to know
and work with. He’s presently the
president of Hasbro. He was remarkable because his
management style effectively was, Look, you manage yourself
under the following vision. You produce, you’re
going to be successful. But what he really taught me
was how to ask questions. And this was something that I
marveled at because while answers are very important,
being able to formulate the right questions whether it’s
in an executive meeting, whether it’s a meeting
with a different company, whether it’s questions in your
own personal life, whatever. Really having that skill
was something that he really helped form. And then I guess more
generally speaking, just having a mentor as
somebody who provides at least a level of support. And you have kind of a shared
value the system with. And I’ll leave it like this,
I’ll say that both of my mentors were extremely
influential in conveying a really important aspect of my career
and that is to keep the balance, to keep the balance
between your health and what you’re willing to sacrifice
for your job, and that in the long term it’s like running a
marathon, you really have to go out with the right pace. Yes, there’s going to be a
time when you work in 16 hour a day, there’s no doubt, but
never forget making sure that you take good care of your
health and that’s what they taught me, so. Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily
use the word mentor, although I probably should. But as I mentioned before that
clearly four or five people that I looked back in my
career who influenced, who I wanted to be and who
I think I am as a business professional, and again I think
the one thing that I have in common is sales, and I’ll
say it again, sales is one of the most important skill
sets that you have to learn. It doesn’t have to be the
negative connotation of sales but everything in life is
sales, trying to get your first job is sales. If you’re working in the PR
department trying to place a news article, that’s sales. It isn’t just about ticket
sales or sponsorship sales, or the more obvious facets
of revenue production, but sales traits, problem
solving, asking good questions, listening, presentation
skills, communication skills, those are all the basis of
the skill set that you have to have be successful
in our industry. And again, I would contend
that good sales people are the role models for all of those. Excellent.
Stephanie, I’ll ask you. From the New Hampshire
Fisher Cats making the leap to
go to New York City. And one of the things we always
tell our students is the willingness to relocate and
we and a lot would say, I’ll relocate to Boston. Well, that might not
be where the job is. So could you discuss the whole
thought process and advice for people who are a little
hesitant about kind of leaving that comfort zone. Sure. And honestly, it’s not
like I’ve gone that far. New York is still, I don’t
know, 4 hours and 16 minutes, not that I count. I would say, in general, it’s
not just about the location but just being
flexible in general. So, I mentioned earlier, I
alluded to the fact that I’ve worn a mascot costume, I’ve
pulled tarp when it’s raining, I’ve worked 16 hour days and
42 of them in a row when you’ve got back-to-back
home stands. And I think generally what
you need to go into this industry thinking is that
you’re going to be flexible, especially in your
first 10 years. To be willing to do any sort
of job and pitch in on the team no matter what
needs to be done. And it’s only to your advantage
if you’re willing to go away and go outside of Boston
or outside of wherever you’re from I have friends now who
are spread out all over the country, in San Diego and L.A. and Boston and Florida because
that’s where the opportunity is. And I think it doesn’t mean
you have to be there forever. You can always come back, or you
can always go somewhere new. But I think you’ll gain so much
experience and be even that more valuable to the next
employer if you do let yourself go elsewhere. I know it’s scary and
it might take you away from friends or family. But one thing that is great
about the sports industry, and we mentioned earlier
that it is a fraternity, you will find a new
family wherever you go. You will be working
those 16 hour days, and you will share three meals
a day with these people, and you’ll see them
at their worst, and they’ll see you
at your worst. And it becomes a family. So even though you might be
geographically far away from the people that are your blood
family, you get that support system I think wherever you go. Excellent.
Thank you. I’ll go back to my business
professional athlete parallel. If you’re at college in here
or Boston and you get drafted in MLS to go play for
the Seattle Sounders, you’re going to Seattle. You’re going. All right? I’m not going– I
don’t want to go to Seattle. It rains in Seattle. No. You’re going to Seattle. So as a business professional
entering into the workforce, why would your outlook on
life be any different? You need to go where
the opportunities are and you need to grab those opportunities with both
hands and make it a success. Excellent.
Aaron? So this is a question
for the whole panel. So I find myself often
debating with myself whether I should be able to go
get a master’s degree or just jump right into
the industry right out of graduation
with a bachelor’s. What kind of advice do you
think you have for someone like me that’s debating that? That’s a good question. So I guess I mean I can talk
about as going after the masters in the vein of
changing my career. Going, or having the opportunity
to do a masters through Southern New Hampshire online, being able to learn
at my own pace. Mark was one of my professors
and probably the single best class that I had in
my couple of years. In all seriousness. He let you do it
at your own speed. There was never any time
where he wasn’t there to answer a question. So being able to use Southern
New Hampshire program to gain kind of the knowledge about
sports that I didn’t have, again, because I didn’t do an
undergrad in anything close to sports, that I think is
probably the most valuable part of doing a masters. You
get the experience. At least and online you get
the experience of going to class virtually with people
from all over the world. I had people in Korea, in
Beijing, a couple in Italy that were in my classes. We get to learn about
what sport was to them, what sport was to us. That part of it I think was
the most invaluable piece of getting a Master’s. To John’s point, it shows that
you’re committed to wanting to jump into sport. You’re not just going after a
liberal arts degree of some kind and saying, I want
to go work in sports. At that point you’re committed. That’s where you want to be. So going after a Master’s
degree in that vein is probably a really smart idea. I agree. I think that’s
definitely right. You know more about the
requirements now in the program. But I think the Master’s program
sort of requires you to get outside of the classroom
and do work with teams or organizations or get that
experience in the industry. And I think we’ve all said in
one way or another that that is going to be your best chance
at getting a job you want. So I would say it’s a great way
to go get that experience. Just to add to that, obviously
everybody’s situation is different in the sense of
what’s the right timing? What’s the right
financial situation? What’s the right
opportunity perhaps? When you come out as
undergrad, you find the job, will that job pay for
your master’s, right? A pretty big deal. And also, situation factors,
as Greg has just discussed, which was if you’re coming
from a background of no sport business and you’re going
into get a master’s, obviously, it makes a
lot of sense as well. I think that the way that
the master’s program, as Stephanie just pointed out,
is evolved to is a real combination of course
work combined with the experiential element to it. And a lot of the
online opportunity rests with – because of a lot of our online students
are presently in real jobs working – is to be able to apply
what they’re doing online to projects that they’re either
working on internally at a company or have the added
opportunity to expand. So, it has kind of come back
to really it’s about creating your own situation and
maximizing or optimizing it, I guess, for the master’s. I think it’s an important
credential, I’m biased. It’s a really good point. Okay, yeah Steve, do
you have a question? So a number of our
students are online and not the 18 to 22
year old student. They’re adult students. They have families. They have current jobs but
might be looking to switch careers or somehow get
into the sports industry. That presents them
unique challenges, like probably not being able
to take an unpaid internship or things like that. What advice would you
have for those students? It’s a great question. I’ll just kind of repeat maybe
a little bit of what I just said and that is if there are
opportunities internally with the business that they’re
presently in trying to turn projects within specific
classes inward, to be able to do projects
related to what you’re doing. But also even identifying
an organization. If you’re currently with an
organization that’s not in the sports industry, perhaps on
your own reaching out to an organization that is a sports
organization that you might have a desire to work for
or have a connection with. Find out who the
key players are. Find a legitimate way to develop
a relationship with them. And then make an offer and say, Listen. I’m currently
working full-time here but is there anything I can do
to maybe work on a project? Or volunteer my time? Or be
something that’s meaningful. And it doesn’t hurt to ask. It’s like a sales pitch. If you lay that out there
10 times you might get one company that says, Yeah.
You know what? We’ve got a team of folks
who are working on this, and there’s an
opportunity there. So… I mean was kind
of in that boat. I was working full-time at
a career, not in sports. Decided to go start
the program. Clearly, couldn’t take
an unpaid internship. It wasn’t until I had the
connections like Mark was talking about
that I decided, Okay. Unpaid is how I’m
going to have to go. But there are so many
opportunities now outside of the big four
local use for it. Little Leagues, that kind of
thing where you can volunteer your time and get
the experience. And it’s not an internship.
You’re obviously not working for a major company but
Little League sports you can certainly help out with. I know the PGA has a giant
volunteer program for people that run tournaments. I mean they have thousands of
volunteers that help out run a tournament. You want to work four days a
week to help run a tournament you can certainly do that. There are plenty of opportunities
that do things outside of internships that will get you
the experience that you need. Yeah. I think a lot of it goes
back to networking. Right? I mean you’ve just
got to be an incredibly aggressive networker. And the good news is there
are dozens of tools that you could take advantage
of now to do that. I met Greg last
night for dinner, I’m sitting having
breakfast this morning, and I get a little
ping on my phone. He’s already sent me
a LinkedIn request. He will never lose the relationship
that he made at dinner last night because he has a
technology platform that he’s taken advantage of to
cement that relationship. You should never lose a
relationship in this day and age. Back when we were starting it
was hard, now you have all the tools under the
sun available to you. So take advantage of them. Network hard. Find ways to break
through the clutter. I’m assuming you’ve all got
great personalities and charisma, use that to build
personal rapport with people, and try and open
doors that way. So my question is for all
of you and it’s about the importance of networking and
what are some of the tips that you can give some young
professionals like people coming and graduating from college
on how to network effectively and make sure you get the
most out of your networking opportunity? Because some
of them don’t come up as often as they should. Let me just add– we just
got an online question that dovetails with what
Dave just said. This is from Heather. I’m a 27-year-old online
student with SNHU, currently getting my undergrad
in sport management. What advice do you have for
me graduating next year and looking for a job?
So along that and the networking question. I would say one thing that I
appreciate when people reach out to me is to keep in touch
even when there isn’t a job available. So I often will get
resumes asking for a job. And even if they didn’t get the
job, or there wasn’t a job available, I appreciate when
someone continues to email, call, check-in every so often. I highly recommend doing that
and just keeping in touch. If you’re in town,
ask to grab coffee. If you see something about
their company in the news, reach out and say, Hey, just
saw you guys launch this. How’s it going? Congrats.
Something. Just to keep that thread
of communication alive, even if there isn’t a specific
job you’re going for, just so that they
remember your name. That’s something that I
appreciate when people do. It’s all about
relationship building. That’s all networking
really is. If you’re developing
a relationship, if you have a connection
with somebody. And you can continue that
connection over email, or over phone, you’re going to
stand out when that next job opportunities opens. And all you’ll have to do is
then fire off a quick email says, Saw this open.
I’m applying. And then all of a sudden,
you’re at the top of mind. Every single time a job opens
and something like that happens, you are top of mind. As long as you continue
that connection that you’ve nurtured for however long
you have, that’s it. You need to be
respectful of who you’re reaching out
to, obviously. But I think people are maybe
more open to receiving outreach than perhaps
people think. Right? You’re always
a little nervous, Oh, I reached out
to him a week ago. Should I reach back
out to him again? Am I going to be hounding him?
I might upset him. I think people are more open than,
again, maybe you appreciate. So again, don’t hound
them literally every day. But perhaps you can be a
little more aggressive in your outreach than you
think right now. And informational interviews
is another great way to do it. I’ll give somebody 15
minutes of my time. Again, if they’ve come
through a recommend– if Doug calls me up and says, Hey, I really think you should
talk to this guy for 15 minutes. He’s looking to get into the
industry. Happy to do it. So use the network that is
around you because of sport management, but don’t be
bashful about reaching out to ultimately those people
who you are trying to get to be your employer. That’s good advice I
think we’ve all– Oh, please. John do you think [inaudible]
International Championship team when you were here. No.
But you did. The highlight of my career
was playing the Duck. So just to add too, if you
don’t mind [inaudible]– Have we got a microphone coming
for the people on the live stream? For the online students? We do have sports management
club, SNHU Connect. Which is an online forum for
students to get involved with. So talking about networking,
volunteering, if people are working, they have children, it’s really difficult for
them, maybe, to volunteer. You can actually join the
sports management club. You can be in a
leadership role. You can coordinate events
and meetups, and volunteer activities in your area. And you can actually get an
official transcript printed out from the school and put it
on your resume on LinkedIn. It’s [inaudible]. And how would do that? So it’s through SNHU Connect. So for online students, you can actually access
it through My SNHU. And once you’re in the
program you’re never kicked when you graduate. So it is through the My SNHU
portal, through SNUH Connect. Excellent. Okay, thank you. That’s a great resource.
Thank you. And we’re getting
close to the end, so we want to talk
about setbacks. And we’ve all experienced
setbacks in our careers and they make us stronger. So is there something that
you recall, a setback, that you experienced
in your career? And how did you overcome that? And how did it make you better and I’ll open that up
to the whole panel. Who’s going first? We’ll start with John Johnnies. Oh, okay. We don’t have to have
all the answers. So I started Gilt Edge
Soccer Marketing in 2008. Something else happened in
2008, the world fell apart. So I knew it was a difficult
time to be starting a new agency let alone being successful
in an existing business. I thought I had a
lot of good ideas. I thought I had a lot of good
friends in the industry. I still think to this day think both of those things are true. But it’s very hard to get
people to give you the time of day to ultimately listen
to what you had to say. And then most importantly,
to act on those good ideas. It was extraordinarily hard,
harder than I thought. And I looked back on it and
maybe I blame some of it on the climate of the time, but I even
think if that had not been the case, it’s a challenge. And I heard a quote
at the same time, let’s see if I can get
this the right way around, sometimes I do it
the wrong way. But basically, the quote is, It’s not my job to listen.
It’s your job to make me hear. And I actually don’t
like that quote. I don’t live my life by
the sentiment of that. But I get it. I understand
what that quote means. And I remember it because
it always reminds me it’s hard to break through. It’s hard to get
your story heard. But you can’t ever give up. Only 10% of sales people
follow up three or more times. Most sales people make an
outreach, a follow-up, and they’re out. You need to reach out to
people multiple times. You can never get down. You’ve always got
to be optimistic. You always got to keep
a positive outlook. And ultimately for our agency,
we managed to turn some of those good ideas into
business opportunities. The first pillar fell.
The next pillar fell. And we were able to build
a very successful agency. So I always remember
that early 12 months, first 12 months of our agency. And I remember that quote,
and I’ll carry that with me moving forward because
I do think that that’s kind of a telling insight. As far as trying to
overcome things, I’m still relatively, I guess
young in this industry. But I think we, at least my
group on a season by season basis, have new
challenges every year, whether it’s
technology changes, people’s attitudes
toward our product, whether it’s on the
court or on the ice. Things that we think are in the
best interest of our clients. People don’t always
agree with it. You’re always going to run
into a situation like we did this year where we decided
the best practices and the future of ticketing is
all going to be digital. Nobody’s going to carrying round
a paper ticket any more. And we had to overcome a bunch
of objections to people that either collect tickets or
businesses use them in different ways so they need paper. It’s different than I guess
trying to overcome personal things but we deal
with it all the time. Different objections of
people as why they do or don’t want to
keep their tickets. It’s an ever-evolving
landscape. We have a lot of
people that think– our owner at Monumental
is focused on one team versus
another team or– like we just made an announcement
today that we’re purchasing a second Arena Football League
team, so now we have two. Is the focus on expanding
the Arena League? Or focus on Capitals?
Or Wizards? Or eSports, which
we happen to have. To be able to tell people
we’re focused on you, and your needs, and to
have them believe us is probably the biggest challenge
that we face every day. I have a very specific example
if you still want it. Please. When I first moved to New
York to work for the Mets, it was at was the end
of the 2008 season. I don’t know if anyone here
is a bit baseball fan but the Mets were really bad, like
really bad in 2006/7. Well not 2006, but 7, 8, 9, 10,
really up until last year, they were really bad. And that was when
I started working for their marketing department. So not a great spot to be in
because you can’t convince people to buy a ticket when
your team is really bad. It’s so hard. I’m sure you know when your team
bad it’s really hard. When the team is really
good, the marketers look like geniuses. But I was there when
it was really bad. And we opened Citi
Field in 2009, and the team was horrible,
and people were pissed. They were just not happy. Ticket sales were not great. It was suddenly so expensive
because it was this new building. And at the end of the season,
we really had to sit down and be like, What do we do
to get people back in this building because we can’t control
what’s going on the field. We are in the marketing group. There’s nothing we can do about
who the third baseman is, or who’s batting clean-up. So what we ended up doing was
we opened the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, which was
really good for New Yorkers. They love history of baseball,
and we opened this museum right in Citi Field. And so that was sort of a
creative way, I guess, to get people back in the building
and sort of reward the fans, the long-suffering fans who
felt like they didn’t want to come out to the ballpark
because the product on the field was bad.
And it worked. And much to my parent’s dismay,
that project is what turned me into a Mets fan. Because I crammed those
50 years of history into my brain over six months. But that’s a very specific
example of a setback– Oh, that’s excellent. –on a project that
we had to work on. Excellent. Jen, I need to give
you a shout out. So the last question before
that came from Heather and she wrote back in and said, Thank you for announcing the
COCE Sports Management Club, and she’s the president
of the club. Oh cool. So thank you very much. Any the other questions
from the audience. So at this point, I’ll ask for
any final thoughts to people watching the live stream who
might be career switches, to the 18-year-old
looking to break in, and everyone in between. First thing I would
say is don’t give up. It’s a long road to
find the right people, to be in the right situation. To have the ability to pick
up and move to wherever it is the opportunity
presents itself. Took me 18 months to get
into the position that I got myself into, and 6 years later
I’m obviously sitting in front of you guys, so don’t
give up no matter how hard you think it’s going to get, or how
hard it could be at the time. There’s a ton of competition
to get the job that you want. Just don’t think that you have
to stop because you didn’t get that one job. I would say definitely
be adaptable to change. As you’ll see within
companies, within industries, things flip upside down
in a matter of a day. I’ve been involved in a number
of companies who have had everything from layoffs
to great things happen. And you may be working with
co-workers who one day are there the next day they’re not, and
it can be very traumatic. And reorganizations and things
like that happen so the more resilience you can build
into your personal self, your life and the more resilience
you can build into your thinking I think will help
you stay afloat so to speak. I would say my advice would
be to do your research about what the
opportunities are. I think there are the obvious
opportunities in the sports industry like ticket
sales and marketing, being a professional
athlete or being an agent. But there are so many other
opportunities and so many other jobs and corners of this
industry that you might not have even realized existed. So use people like us and any
other contacts you might have, your professors, to find out
what those opportunities are. And I agree with the
sales mentality. You’ve got to have
those skills. And even if you don’t want
to go into a sales role, there are so many different
ways you can hone this passion for sports in this industry. I agree with all
those comments. Find your passion. Hone those skills. And never give up. Just be aggressive. I am extraordinarily fortunate. I have not worked
a day in my life. And I genuinely feel that way. And I think you can too. Find the passion,
hone those skills, look at life just like a
professional athlete does. You’re a business professional. And good things will come. That’s a great way to end it. And I want to thank you
guys for the commitment, because we’re coming from New
York City, D.C., Chicago. So it really shows your commitment
back to the university. And I want to thank
Mark DeGrompray. He is a ’96 undergrad,
2000 MBA grad. He was going to
be on this panel, but he had a personal family
issue that pulled him away. I want to thank him for his
willingness to do that. And thank you guys very much. It’s much appreciated.
Thank you.

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