By: Amari Dryden, @Amari_Dryden
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with David Meltzer, CEO of Sports 1 Marketing. Mr. Meltzer created Sports 1 Marketing with former CFL and NFL quarterback Warren Moon after leaving Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment. He offered a look into his roundabout journey through technology before coming to the sports business world. He was gracious enough to offer up his wisdom about how to manifest your dreams through gratitude and empathy.
What was your career path to get you to where you are today, going from a law graduate of Tulane to CEO of Sports 1 Marketing?
So instead of most people with a direct career path, I went in a different way. Believing in myself, instead of practicing law I got myself involved in the internet and worked for a company called West Publishing who in the pre-chasm stage of the internet sold legal research online. They started something called Westlaw and so instead of bringing myself as a lawyer I sold legal research online.
Three and a half years into my career, the internet really became important and Thomson Reuters bought us for three and a half billion dollars. I became the youngest executive at Thomson Reuters Anderson Consulting, which later became Accenture. They did the merger between Thomson and West Publishing. They hired me away to be director of their biggest start up company in the Silicon Valley called Everypath, which was a wireless proxy server company. So I went from pre-chasm internet to the chasm of internet and then into pre-chasm of wireless where I worked with a midware company that transcoded the internet onto phones."
We worked with WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) phones and palm pilots and from there I met every carrier, hardware company and application company. Samsung in the late 90’s wanted to get into the phone business and they hired me as the CEO of their first convergence device. A Convergence device is the early way to say smartphone, so we had the world’s first Windows CE device with Bluetooth and a SF slot. The irony of that business was that they told to me we were too big and too expensive for the market and now in twenty years we’ve gone right back to really big expensive phones.
I find it really interesting and fun but I was very successful there as the first CEO of what was called the PCE phone. After that I retired in my thirties and that’s where I really began to learn where my career would start. I consulted and spoke around the world and ended up buying a golf course which ended up making me lose all my money. I had to go back to work so I started learning how to manifest things and think about and meditate and dream about what I wanted in a very specific pragmatic way just the same way I used to work.
I now use my mind to manifest or attract what I want. I really dreamed of being a sports agent when I went to law school. I played football and baseball in college and I wanted to be involved in sports but I wasn’t talented enough to do it after college. I thought that’d be a great thing to manifest and sure enough I met Leigh Steinberg, Jerry Maguire and I became Chief Operating Officer within 48 hours of meeting him and then six months later became CEO of Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment.
From there about six years ago, Warren Moon and I, we were partners with Leigh, spun off our own company specifically to make a lot of money, help a lot of people and have a lot of fun. That’s how I got involved with Sports 1 Marketing. It’s a roundabout way but it gave me a wide variety of experiences from business to law to internet to technology to phones and golf and eventually to Sports1Marketing.
What were some of the challenges you faced going from a world-renowned firm such as Leigh Steinberg’s to branching out and creating your own with Warren Moon?
The biggest challenge was to understand a very concise business model based off of how to leverage two things. One was relationship capital and the second was situational knowledge or how to monetize sports, how to extract the emotional irrationality that surrounds sports business and stick to the pragmatic business model that Warren and I created aimed at making a lot of money, helping a lot of people and having a lot of fun.
So the challenges were to get away from the Jerry Maguire stigma of leaving Leigh Steinberg and reengineering the brand, reengineering the values and reengineering the vision of those who knew us.
We had a new concept to shift the paradigm to bring the right people to projects, not represent the people in the projects and by utilizing and bringing the right people to the projects we’re able to attract the right people and ideas, the high net wealth individuals, the sponsors, the activations, the speaking engagements, VIP services, the corporate side of things we do as well as the patron inside of raising a lot of money for charities while still making a lot for Sports 1 Marketing.
What qualities does a person need to have to be successful in your field?
This might sound trite but what they need to have is perseverance. That’s the quality. There’s no lack of opportunity in sports. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and it’s growing every day. There are so many opportunities if you’re more interested than interesting you will succeed if you have resolve. There’s no lack of opportunity, there’s lack of resolve. Most people don’t have the persistence and the resolve to see how to get involved and start in sports but there are so many great things to do in sports and all you really need to have is persistence to be successful.
In a video on the Sports 1 Marketing website, you give advice to people wanting to break into the sports world saying, “Be more interested than interesting.” Can you go more in depth for our readers about what that means?
One of the things that we do is that we live in our comfort zone and we don’t get into that learning zone. We want to live in the learning zone by everything that we do to be more interested than interesting. We want to provide more value than we receive. For example in the context of looking for a job, so many people think that going through the motions of sending out 2500 resumes to every team, league and organization is what’s going to get them to start in sports but it’s really not.
What would get you there is getting into depth and looking at what other opportunities exist in sports. Some of the examples I use are I met a kid when I was speaking at Notre Dame who got a job with Scotts Lawn Care and everyone kind of rolled their eyes. He was a MBA from Notre Dame and I started asking him about Scotts Lawn Care. He said you know there are three people applying for the job and I did a lot of research to find out that the job entailed managing a multi-million dollar budget in order to spend those dollars in the sports world.
That job was basically to hire celebrities and athletes and put on big events for Scotts and to host their big dealers and retailers. Basically the job was to travel around to sporting events and projects around the biggest celebrities. I said to him stop there and he said it pays around high six figures and I said wow this is a great example of being more interested than interesting.
While everyone else is applying to the Chicago Cubs to work for them for 30,000 dollars a year, here you are making 250,000 dollars a year. You’re paying the athletes so they actually like you where everyone else wants to be Jerry Maguire and represent the athletes. Running that big sports agency you learn that like any other client, if you’re costing them money there’s always going to be tension and animosity in that relationship. If you’re making them money, there’s going to be a great bond between you and your client.
Here you create a great bond between you, the celebrities and the athletes that you’re hiring, you and the retailers and distributors you’re hosting at these events and you with the event planners, media and all the other people and ideas that are involved in these projects. Proving my model that if I ask a million kids over the year who would like to work for a sports agency like David Dunn at AthletesFirst, or who would like to work for Scotts Lawn Care as their sports director, there would be a million kids working for David Dunn and no one working for Scotts where maybe working for David Dunn at AthletesFirst is the worst job in the world and the best job may be at Scotts Lawn Care.
What inspired you to write your book “Connected to Goodness” and how do you hope it helps people looking to work in the sports business profession?
I was blessed as a millionaire in my twenties, a multi-millionaire in my thirties and I lost my gratitude and empathy and surrounded myself with the wrong people and the wrong ideas. I lost economically. I went bankrupt. Even before I went bankrupt, my wife, who is my savior because she stuck with me, told me that I had lost my way and that I should go back and codify the principles that I live by and I should start living by those principles because I wasn’t the same person that she knew.
We had a huge home in Rancho Santa Fe, Porsches, Ferraris, everything you could dream of monetarily, three beautiful daughters and I took it all for granted. I lost my gratitude and empathy and those were the two things that made me who I was. I went back and codified my life into three imagination principles: foundation, guideposts and manifestation and then three action principles: discipline, strategy and awareness and the key elements under those. I started living my life through that process.
I not only regained everything including adding a fourth child, my only son, I learned how to manifest everything I desired in the right way, filled with gratitude and empathy, gratitude meaning thankfulness, empathy meaning forgiveness. It happened so quickly that I decided that I needed to share it with other people, to manifest anything they wanted in life and business including getting a job in sports which most people think is the most challenging thing.
When I travel around the world speaking I ask who here wants to work in sports and they all raise their hand and then I say well who here thinks it’s difficult to get a job in sports and everyone raises their hand and who here thinks it’s competitive and they keep their hands up.
Who here thinks it’s near impossible to get a job in sports and they keep their hands up. In the next 50 minutes, my job is to teach you it is probable if not for your perspective or reality that you will get a job in sports by utilizing these principles that I utilize to make a lot of money, help a lot of people, and have a lot of fun. Regardless of the profession, I like to inspire others or empower others to get everything they want and desire and then learn from it.
Just because we manifest what we desire doesn’t mean we’re going to be happy but it does make us happy to get what we want. Then we have to learn to sustain that happiness to make sure that we can continually manifest and learn from what we wanted. Some of it may have been misguided or misadjusted but in the end it will create happiness. If people are happy, there will be no death, destruction or disease. My ultimate goal is to empower others to empower others to be happy. It seems that people looking for sports jobs, if they get those sports jobs, they’re more happy than not.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
The most memorable moment of my career when I was just getting back on my feet when I just became CEO of Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment. I used to own 25% of Steve Clarkson Dreammaker, a quarterback guru who coached everyone from Will Smith’s kids to Joe Montana’s kids, great quarterbacks like Leinart and Cassel, all of these unbelievable people.
I was out in Hawaii with Warren Moon, Joe Montana, and Leigh Steinberg. I was sitting there with Joe who I become friends with, and Joe leans over to me and says, ‘You know, Dave. What do you think about this? You think you should when you drop back, drive back on your left foot and turn? Or I like to just lean back on both heels and do my drop using a balanced approach.’ That might sound like a weird moment to be my most memorable moment but it was so memorable because I was thinking to myself only a few years earlier I had lost millions of dollars, I wasn’t in a job in sports, here I just had my fourth child.
My son was born in March and now it is July and I never had been happier in all my relationships. More purposeful in what I do and most importantly my quarterback hero, no offense to Warren Moon who’s one of the greatest ever, Joe Montana who at that time, I get googly eyed still, was asking me for quarterback advice.
That was the most memorable moment of my career but just recently its arrival that I was able to manifest throwing the first pitch out at the Yankee game with all my family and friends and associates there. We had two suites and I threw a blazing fast thirty mile an hour knuckleball for a strike, out there with my Angels jersey on and my family and friends and my kids were on the field with me. It was the most memorable moment of my career.
Any parting wisdom for anyone trying to break in to the sports world?
Here’s the wisdom in simple way to manifest what you want in the sports world. Number one: consciously think about what you want. The moment you do that, it becomes a possibility. Trust that it’s possible and then think about what you want utilizing your foundation, your personal values, your experiential values, your giving and receiving values, utilize the guideposts of clarity, balance and focus that will bring you confidence.
When you feel confident, move on to utilize your perspective, your free will to connect to what’s good, connect to providing value utilizing what I call the Ben Franklin effect of seeing what you can do for others and more importantly ask for help. When you do that, something magical will happen. You will become inspired and when you become inspired, that possibility instantly becomes a probability.
Now take the appropriate discipline, strategy and awareness utilizing things that are simple like creating good habits, hard work, persistence, resolve, all of those things and then you turn your probability from being inspired by taking action you make that probability your perspective which is your reality.
That’s the simple mechanism to get whatever you want and it’s a matter of consciously thinking about what you want with a specific purpose becoming confident and inspired and then taking specific action to allow that to happen at this vibration or in this world and that becomes your reality. That’s the proven wisdom to become happy and to get whatever you desire in life and business.
We would like to thank David for his time and insight and we wish him the best in all his future endeavors!