vIQ #17: Sports Business Dave Meltzer

In Podcast Season 1, Podcast Season 2by vIQtoryLeave a Comment

On this episode of the vIQtory podcast, we talk to current Sports 1 Marketing CEO, Dave Meltzer.

Dave shares his experiences in the sports world, his rise to fame, and how he’s grown his podcast “The Playbook” (on to the success it is today!

Transcript of the Podcast:

SM: Welcome back to the vIQtory podcast. I am your host Steve McGrath alongside, as always, Chris Haddad and we are incredibly blessed because we have a guest today who is essentially the “CEO of Traveling Around the World Helping People”. It is Dave Meltzer who is currently the CEO of Sports 1 Marketing which he founded with his business partner Warren Moon, but beyond that there is pretty much nothing he hasn’t done. He is a best selling author on the New York Times, he is a philanthropist, he is key note speaker, a social media juggernaut, and before all of this he was the former CEO of Leigh Steinberg were about $2 Billion in contracts were negotiated. I mean this is a man who needs no introduction but, David thank you so much for coming on with us today.

DM: Oh no problem at all and most importantly I am a Momma’s boy, so you forgot that one

SM: Dave, you do so much on social media, and with your own podcast too. Of course, I forgot to mention “The Playbook” on the Its almost tough to talk to you because you’ve put so much out there that to actually find subjects that people may not know or may not have heard you speak on before is definitely a little bit of a challenge for us. But, we normally have athletes on and of course you are a sports guy. You have been around sports your entire professional career but I wanted to ask you to get this started – what was your background with sports as a kid and did you always want a career tied to sports or did that just sort of happen?

DM: Great question Steve. I actually wanted to be a professional football player. I slept with a football back then, it was a nerf football. I named him Frankie. I ran all over – my great “super power” of sports was that I could run scared faster than they could angry. I grew up with 6 kids in a big house. A 2 bedroom apartment with six kids, I learned to juke and jive and run and so when I finally got out onto a football field it seemed expansive, like the great migration, the huge (mosa maori?). There was so much room to run and it took me a long time to stop talking trash, but I realized at 147 pounds it was not going to do me any good to make the guys more angry at me – so I finally shut my mouth. But I love sports. I wanted to be a sports doctor originally and I went to go visit my brother who is a doctor and I told him I hated hospitals and thats when one of my biggest lessons in life came: Be more interested than interesting is what he told me. He goes, ‘you’re an idiot, you want to be a doctor and you hate hospitals’ and I’m like I want to be a sports doctor, they’re not in hospitals. But the reason I tell that story is so many people want to be a sports agent but they know as much about being a sports agent as I did at 18 about becoming a doctor. So then I went to be a sports lawyer because my mom’s philosophy is youre either a doctor, a lawyer or a failure – soo (hah). I knew I couldn’t be a professional football player, I did play in college but I got my butt kicked. Including my first play ever in which Christian Okoye ran me over. I still have his signature right here (pointing across his chest) underneath the hair. But then I went to law school. I got accepted into some great law school and I went to my favorite one which is Tulane because they had the best sports program. There was no real sports curriculum back then but Dean Roberts was the leader. I ended up graduating and had the choice do I become a real lawyer, becoming an Oil and Gas litigator or do I work in the internet. Part of the reason I chose to work in the internet was I can be a customer of sports. I can host clients, sponsor events, hire athletes to do appearances and later on in my career that skillset – being a customer of sports – for so many years being the CEO of Samsungs first phone division, to EveryPath, wireless proxy server to ThomsonRueters: we had so many different sporting things that we did. I didn’t know it, but I prepared myself for Leigh Steinberg, the most notable sports agency, because I was a customer for so long, I had a different perspective and I had a law degree. So all of those things help me instantly get into sports to run the most notable sports agency in Leigh Steinberg.

SM: And a few things there that I want to tie together for some of our listeners that may not know. What I also failed to mention in my intro was that you were the CEO of the first smartphone. So your tech background to mesh with sports… Leigh Steinberg feels that in hindsight was ahead of his time. They had you on before the internet exploded to what it is today. I wanted to ask you how did that tech route really help you with sports? It seems like you always wanted to get into sports but how did that path become something of reality?

DM: You know, I am a visionary like Leigh. To make a decision in the early 90’s that you are going to sell legal research online instead of practice law, instead of trying to be a sports agent – was a big move. It was a big commitment. In fact, my mom, she told me the internet was going to be a fad and I was an idiot for not being a lawyer. You know, honestly. So I was a visionary when it came to technology and so was Leigh. Part of the reason that Leigh hired me – not only was I customer of sports, not only did I have a law degree and what he felt was great negotiating skills. But, I had this extraordinary tech background and he mentioned to me when we met – I wasn’t looking for a job, I was helping a friend for a reality show with Leigh – and he mentioned to me that the entire future of sports involved technology and the antiquated presence of most people in sports, the traditional leaders and owners in sports knew nothing about technology. He could leverage my experience into taking the sports agency into the next level. Which is ironic because today I co-mentor Gary Vee and Vayner Sports and the reason I was attracted to Gary, AJ and Justin at Vayner Sports was because I saw the same thing in Gary, Aj and Justin about social media and social platform and mistake theory that Leigh saw in me in the early days with the first blog, the first website for athletes. Now I’m aging myself – and I hope, Gary, you watch this bro. 20 years from now like me, you’re going to look back and be “oh yeah, I was the leader in social media and video” and people will look at you like ‘that’s so old dude’. You’ll to be hiring some other kid and mentoring him for the future of technology

SM: When he look’s back in 20 years, hopefully by then he’ll be the owner of the Jets because anyone that knows Gary knows that’s what he’s been aiming for and at the rate he’s going – he’s going to get it

DM: You know, Im trying to convince him. I’m the owner of Splice and I’m here to tell you right now, I own with Metta World Peace, a e-sports team called Splice, you know League of Legends, Halo, I’m here to tell you by the time Gary buys the Jets – which hopefully he’ll, give me a little piece of by the way – and I know that he’ll manifest it. I have a feeling that I can just do a trade for a piece of my Splice – a slice of my Splice – for a slice of your Jets. My number-one, right-hand woman, is Colleen Milloy, HUGE Jets fans and I promised her that if I own a slice of the Jets that I’ll give her a slice of my slice.

SM: Awesome. Well before I hand it back to Chris, I just wanted to ask you -with you being so close to sports your entire career, do you have any parallels that you’ve seen between what makes a strong corporate team?Something that you, of course, have been around, whether it’s legal or just business partners – any parallels between that and what you would see on successful teams on the field or even the court, any arena that they may play?

DM: One hundred percent. You know I learned more on the field than I’ve learned off and I’ve been to law school some business school, tons of business.I believe there’s four things that are the key foundation to any team, family, relationship, community, a country and world. 4 simple things: A team that has gratitude has perspective, right? A team that has gratitude has perspective. The past is great, the presence better, and the future brighter of your team. A team that has empathy or forgiveness is a team that sticks together. They are illuminating the mistakes that we made and forgiving them right, we understand that. Three: accountability, essential to every team. Every teammate should ask themselves. What did I do to attract this to myself? What am I supposed to learn from it? Constant expansion. Four: effective communication, not only emotionally attaching effectively to everybody else on my team, but also affectively, communicating that which inspires me so that the things that are going through me to my teammates are inspirational, aspirational, positive things that just expand and enhance and accelerate the collective believe of a team organization league, whatever it may be, and then especially holds true, not only in teams, families but in the business. 

CH: Absolutely and that’s something – especially #4 too with effective communication. I coach at a local high school here and effective communication between the staff, the players, and even here within vIQtory too – effective communication. Making sure everyone is doing the right thing and is on the right path. It’s tremendous, I mean that’s one of the biggest thing to make sure that the trains all going in the right direction. Now, how did you develop these four concepts? 

DM: You know I was taught and witnessed them throughout my career, mostly by my mom, my uncle, you know my coaches, but what happened what really brought it out was when I lost them – right. When I wasn’t living by the principles and all of a sudden, all the winning code that I had, all the winning methodology that I utilized went to crap and all of a sudden I surrounded myself with the wrong people on my team. People that weren’t gracious, empathetic, weren’t accountable, we’re living below the line and blame, shame and justification weren’t good people. You’re the aggregate of your five closest friends, the aggregate of your five closest people in your family, and I aggregated the wrong people around me, and I lost that and so when that happened, I almost lost my wife because no longer was she connected to the things that she loved about me which were those four things and so she basically at 5 feet and a hundred pounds, bapped me upside the head, woke my butt up up, and said go back take stock and who you are in stock and who you want to be and i took stock in those four things: gratitude, empathy, accountability and effective communication and through that process I have regained more than I ever imagined I went from living in a world of not enough, even though I was a multi-millionaire to a world of just enough where I had nothing, to now a world of more than enough where everything comes through me for others and there’s more than enough of everything for everyone in my universe.

CH: And that’s great too and especially the lookout. I think, especially in the world we live in today, just having that positive outlook, the positive vision on life. It just makes everything around you better. It makes you better. You wake up everyday happier and really does take a big effect on people. 

DM: Yeah. If you guys could help share that word. I know you guys going to be huge and empower all these people. You know it’s a simple message, man, be positive. Look at things on the bright side, don’t stumble on the road blocks behind you, be grateful, empathetic, accountable, effectively communicate and we can empower so many people to be happy.

CH: Absolutely, and I I want to just talk a little bit about your own podcast as well. The Playbook and it’s on, as mentioned at the top of the show. For those who haven’t seen it, guests like Reggie Bush, Ray Lewis, Martellus Bennet and a whole mess of others – Tony Hawk

DM: Danica Patrick, too.

CH: Exactly, the list goes on and on. Can you talk a little about The Playbook and how you kickstarted that to have it become ultimately what it is right now?

DM: I kick-started it just like you guys are kickstarting yours, and I want to surround everyone with the right people, the right ideas. I don’t really talk about sports. I talk about the things we’re talking about – what makes you tick, what makes, what’s the biggest challenges you’ve had? WWhat advice would you give. It has an entrepreneurial feel to it. It’s a top 5 business podcast. I get great distribution, video wise, wise, and iTunes download wise, and the more people that are attracted to understanding what makes Ray Lewis great beyond the football field. What makes him so great? What makes Sage Steele, Danica Patrick, Kerry Walsh unbelievable, right? What makes all these -Tony Hawk? What makes Tony click? He’s an extraordinary business man, he owns a billion dollar franchise right, and he’s a skateboarder. I take it and say you know when you’re walking the walk and you’re following your passion that’s great – when you give it purpose that takes it to the next level, but the people that I have on the PlayBook – they make it profitable. And that’s the whole, the whole boat, man, when you can make it profitable and make a lot of money, help a lot of people and have a lot of fun. Now you’re living life.

SM: Living your life, living your best life –  a philosophy that you’ve already mentioned is: be kind to your future self. So I just was hoping, similar to what Chris just asked, how did you come up with that and if you could just give us an example of how do you actually implement that in your day to day life?

DM: Absolutely. First of all, like anything else, I didn’t create anything right. Everything come through me, so Leigh Steinberg taught me that and I’ll give an example of Leigh Steinberg being kind to his future self. Leigh Steinberg helped Patrick Mahomes’ dad, he represented him. Mahomes was not the greatest, wasn’t,  a Sabathia, a Ramirez, Karras, Nopes’ – all the greats he represented, you know, a Warren Moon. You guys probably didn’t know that Mahomes’ dad even played baseball but Leigh treated him equally to Warren Moon, Steve Young and Troy Aikman. He treated him equally to Sabathia, Ramirez and those guys and he was a man who helped the community. And although the had challenges, Leigh has a terrible disease called alcoholism whic he has beat and overcome and has been sober for ten years now or a close to it. Mahomes right, you pay pay it forward because of your future self by him, treating his father, so well he now has what I believe maybe between him and Goff, the hottest quarterback in football and ends up redeeming himself and being kind to his future self. I I also learned to have an internship program and I was at Leigh’s and I’m old enough now, that I had kids your age that now you know run the Tiger Woods foundation, they work for ESPN. They work for every team and I treated them with the same respect that I treat the people that have already made it. The same reason, I’m on your show right now, I’m being kind of my future self, because I know you two guys are going to be really famous and when I need new, my publicist going to call you and you’re going to drop everything and say oh Dave yeah. It could be booked, but he can have that time slot right, that’s kind of your future, so.

CH: I hope I hope those worth come through Dave

DM: They’re already true, you just have to access it, they already exist. they’re already there its just your job to access it. Trust me.

SM: Dave, there’s so much that you do, the outlook that you have, your secret sauce that you’ve outlined for us. I mean there’s so much that you know you’re, putting out there for positivity wise, but the way that you’re doing it through your different avenue of just your social media, being a speaker – I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s another book at some point – I mean you’re always out there. I just wanted to ask do you have a future, a vision for your future because there’s just so much that you do, how do your organize it? What do you see – whether it is five years, ten years now, for yourself or even sports one marketing if you wanted to talk at your business level 

DM: Yeah. So you know the future for me, is good ideas, I’m the CEO of good idea, so all the things that you mentioned from writing books, a podcast, my TV show Elevator Pitch, Sports One marketing, with sponsorship and media. You know what I’m doing is capturing good ideas, not only from me, but from others, capturing good ideas, amplifying them on all types of different mediums in perpetual. By perpetuating all these different things in all the different ways. So if somebody asked me truly what I do yeah, I am the CEO that travel the world, helping people being of service, but the way that I’m truly of service is that I capture good ideas, I amplify and share them, and then I put them in all the different mediums that exist. I actually have written 8 books. I’m launching many more books, I have one with Jack Canfield thats coming up. I have a McGraw-Hill deal for business strategies book right. I have webinars, I do business coaching. Every single thing that I do from the sponsorship to the media to the personal brand to Warren Moon’s brand is all about just capturing good ideas, amplifying or sharing them and putting them on all these different mediums to monetize for other people. My main goal of Sports One Marketing is different than anyone else. I only have one goal, I’m going to be running this company for the next ten years with only one purpose and thats that every employee that works for me is a millionaire in ten years. I don’t know many other CEOs that that’s the goal. I want to create a platform to empower others to empower others, improve that everybody can make a lot of money, help a lot of people, and have a lot of fun if they live their life with gratitude, empathy, accountability and effective communication .

CH: I’ve got one last question here and I’ll pass it back to Steve where he can wrap it up but we’ve had on former NFL players and current NFL players who have gone through an injury or low point in their life. Or coaches in a losing seasons but have rebounded since. You, yourself, you talk about your low point in your life that you had hit. What’s your best advice you give to maybe even a high school kid who just hurt his knee and is out for the year. Mentally, how do you handle that low point in life, rebound and come back from all that?

DM: So I believe that lessons are miracles, and so, if you want to search for miracles in your life, you gotta learn lessons and sometimes the most challenging things – I like to think of things, not as bad or good, you know what I think of them is as unexpected, right. Think about it in a non-judgemental, non-energy charged form of unexpected. So losing everything is unexpected right, your business not growing as quickly is unexpected, hurting your knee is unexpected, and so it’s what we do with the unexpected, the lessons we learned with the unexpected that make us great and you know I was with – I did a charitable event in Philadelphia last night and one of the guys came up to me, almost apologetic, saying, “You know what, I’m not like you, I grew up rich. I got everything, but I still do all the good things” I said yeah, you know I’m really sorry you didn’t have the unexpected that I had right, because this guy was equally philanthropic as I am, he’s living his life on purpose with passion and profitability to help others, but he doesn’t have panache that I have because I can say I grew up with nothing and I did it all all… thats BS man. Whether you grew up with it or don’t. We all have value right. JK rolling, when she sat on the streets homeless in the UK and had a pencil and paper she had a billion dollar – she’s the richest woman in the UK –  a billion dollar value in a pencil and a piece of paper. So we need to take the unexpected, take the miracle in it and then expand so we’re that much better. And so I believe that don’t look at anything as negative you know I lost everything, tell everything, probably the most unexpected thing to lose over a hundred million dollars on paper most unexpected thing, also the best lesson I’ve ever learned the best lesson is the most valuable lessons and the most valuable lessons are blessings. So, if somebody asks you, how is that a blessing? That’s how its a lesson.

CH: Yep, the experience from it all and being able to realize the experience from it all and realize what’s happening and then put yourself in a positive light.

SM: Absolutely. Perspective.. Alright. Well Dave, you know thank you so much for coming on. Before we wrap it up, I just wanted to let you have the floor if there was any last word that you wanted to leave us with, please – this is the time.

DM: Yeah. Number one – share my stuff, right. I’m @DavidMeltzer or Google David Meltzer and you’ll find everything I’m doing, but the main thing I want to teach people,  that I wish I would’ve known when I was younger, is radical humility. Radical humility will allow you to ask for help and anyone out there that feels like they’re missing something, that isn’t happy that wants anything – the best thing you can do is search for expertise instead of experience. You don’t got to do it all by yourself, leverage somebody else’s experience, that’s called expertise and in order to do that, you need to be radically humble, so you need to be humble in the perspective for asking for help, but also humble in the respective of giving help so if your passing by somebody smile, if you see a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up and throw it away, if there’s a door to be held open, hold it open. The more good deeds you do, the better we’ll all be and so be radically humble and live a prosperous, helpful and happy life.

SM: Well, I really can’t see anything else. I don’t know how to follow that up, but again Dave, thank you so much for coming on. Please follow Dave on Instagram, Twitter and everywhere else.

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