I was fortunate enough to attend college and go to law school at Tulane. A law professor at Tulane secured me an interview at Westlaw, the newest division of West Publishing at the time, a job that involved the then-new field of the internet. I began selling legal research over the Internet, made my way to other executive roles in technology, and soon thereafter Samsung hired me as CEO of their PC-E Phone, the company’s first ever smartphone. It seemed like every project I touched turned to gold, but I then lost sight of the principles that had led me to initial success and eventually went bankrupt. While re-acquainting myself with the values (gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication) that guided me to my initial successes, I met Leigh Steinberg and was offered the position of COO of Leigh Steinberg Sports and Entertainment. Eventually, I left to start up a marketing firm, Sports 1 Marketing, which I run today as CEO.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
While I became COO and later CEO of Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, Leigh was going through some struggles with alcohol, and although I had the upmost respect for Leigh, at that time I was concerned about his welfare as well where the agency business was headed. I decided to partner up with Hall of Fame quarterback, Warren Moon, and we started our new business venture, Sports 1 Marketing, as I had built up a lot of skills and knowledge in sports and technology, and Warren had a wealth of connections in sports. Rather than babysitting athletes, we wanted to bring the right athletes and entrepreneurs to projects in order to make a lot of money, help a lot of people, and have a lot of fun in the process.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Putting ourselves in a position to scale was one of the most difficult hurdles to clear because Sports 1 Marketing started off with only three of us: Warren, Scott Carter (who was a sports agent at Leigh’s), and myself. We stuck to the core values that the company was founded on, which were gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication, and that has enabled us to scale the business while remaining connected to that which inspires us. Finding a team who live by those values is what drives our business today
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I’m currently working my way through The Course of Miracles by Helen Schucman, which is definitely one of my favorites. I really like reading (and re-reading) it because it encourages me to be consistent and persistent in the pursuit of my potential. I’d recommend reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, as it motivated me to codify my own success principles, as well as The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande, which shows the importance of having systems or procedures in place for your business. Of course, I’d also recommend the books I’ve written, Compassionate Capitalism, Connected to Goodness, and Be Unstoppable for any entrepreneur as well.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Yes, at the time I graduated from law school I told my mom that I didn’t want to practice law and that I was planning on selling research on this thing called “the internet”. She told me that the internet was just a fad and that I needed to be a “real lawyer”. Making my own decision was what helped me to realize that the people who love us most, don’t always give the best advice, which is something I try and impart to audiences when I speak around the country.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
There are four influential factors for success in any industry, which are the principles I live by and teach: Gratitude, Empathy, Accountability, and Effective Communication. Gratitude helps you to build a positive perspective on life and business. Empathy is the ability to forgive others and ourselves, because we can’t give others what we don’t have for ourselves. Accountability means taking responsibility for your life and asking two key questions; What did I do to attract this into my life and what am I supposed to learn from it? Lastly, effective communication is emotionally connecting to those around you, as well as learning to connect with the ideas and people that inspire you to be your best self.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Build yourself a mindset that they don’t have to do anything, they get to do it. This simple shift in perspective has completely changed the way I look at everything and has empowered me to be more productive and accessible.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
It takes more than just an idea to succeed. Great entrepreneurs understand how to monetize great ideas, whether they come up with an innovation themselves or simply understand how to make money from the ideas of others. I would also advise them to check out my business show with Entrepreneur, Elevator Pitch, to learn a bit more about investment and entrepreneurship, or The Playbook podcast, which features the world’s greatest athletes, celebrities, and entrepreneurs sharing their personal playbooks for success.