Friday, June 29, 2012

TOUCHDOWN!! Visit at the NFL Blitz style

Coming from Brazil, I never got the chance to follow American Football. Maybe it's because it was never broadcasted in our region, or maybe the Super Bowl was during Carnival Week, or maybe Brazilians like the football played with their feet. Regardless, this was, by far, one of the most interesting visits we have had here with MSBA. From industry insights to marketing which reminded me a lot of my classes at Concordia University, wait but I just graduated!! Doesn't matter, you are always learning with MSBA.

From the moment we walked into the office, we were already pumped up from the Gigantic HD Screen showing the best highlights of the past season. Maybe one day I'll have one of those at home ;). It was definitely a "Wow" factor seeing the trophies, but what was more amazing was seeing all those Championship Rings. From someone who isn't from the country I certainly felt the history and the tradition of football.

As we sat in the prestigious conference room, which isn't your average size conference room (Just WOW!) we were welcomed with caps from our favorite NFL teams, which was pretty cool. This definitely set the tone of the visit from beginning to end as everyone was discussing NFL draft picks or who is going to win the Super Bowl next season. 

The panel was most certainly instructive as we heard the presentations about how the vision of Commissioner Roger Goodell transcends to all the departments. Chief Marketing Officer, Mark Waller gave us a bit of an overview of what is NFL and what it represents to all its fans. To add more to that, Peter O'Reilly talked about the methods the NFL uses to keep fans hungry for more Football! Last but not least, Chris Parsons discussed how the NFL tries to attract guys like me, not tall, but international viewers, to watch the game. 

All of the speakers were really awesome and knowledgeable about the growth of the game and keeping it genuine. There is no doubt in my mind that the NFL is a great organization to strive for and take it as a model for anything you are about to do.

Hut! Hut! Hike!

The Best Day Ever!

 Four years ago, there was a YouTube video that was created for the release of a very popular Nintendo Wii Game called Super Smash Brothers Brawl. The viral video displayed an extremely depressed animated character who roamed his house in beat with the verses of the music; but when the song reached the chorus, the screen erupted into smiley-faces, hearts, and stars, as the character received the package which contained the new video game. He immediately burst into singing the famous tune originally from Sponge Bob, "It's the best day ever!" After an afternoon at the NFL Headquarters on Day 27 of the Manhattan Sports Business Academy, I found myself humming this same tune the entire way home.

What makes the best day ever? It starts with a viewing of one of every Superbowl Ring ever made, a picture with the Lombardi trophy, and a room full of free food. Continues with a 2011 NFL Season recap produced by NFL Films. Then it's finished with a roundtable discussion with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), two VP's and two representatives of the future leaders of the NFL. 
When we entered the NFL Headquarters on Park Avenue, we already felt at home. The 90 degree weather we'd walked through was quickly forgotten as a burst of refreshingly cold air welcomed us. Our guide led us up to the sixth floor which in her words, was the "wow" floor. Wowed we were, as barely after our bodies had returned to a normal temperature and we had caught our breath again, we lost it at the site of 46 Super Bowls rings and the Lombardi Trophy. Picture time with the memorabilia was a very stretching experience as I found myself torn between trying to act professional, and showing my avid following of the game by taking pictures with everything. In retrospect, I believe I ended up squarely in the middle of ludicrous behavior. One moment casually observing the change in design on the Patriots rings when they won in 2003-2004, and the next stealing a staff member's camera and demanding a photo with the Lombardi Trophy. Unfortunately for the amused staff, my comical show ended soon enough as we heard our panel was ready.

We were led into the large conference room and were greeted by a beautiful sight, the emblem's of our favorite NFL teams on customized hats-one for each of us. Next to the hats was an NFL notebook, which I was excited about but pushed to the side as I had brought my own notebook, and it was full of questions.

Our NFL panel consisted of: Mark Waller Chief Marketing Officer, Peter O'Reilly Vice President of Fan Strategy & Marketing, and Chris Parsons Vice President of NFL International. Also present were Yang Bu (representative of the Junior Rotational Program), and Mayssa Chehata (representative of NFL interns). All five of them had presentations and what made them especially appealing, was that they talked more than just about their personal careers, but talked about what the NFL was doing in their respective areas.  They were very open to dialogue and questions. I loved the NFL, so I had my hand raised at every stoppage of time during the meeting. Considering how many questions I asked, they were very gracious to continue to call on me. Working at the NFL is definitely something I hope to do at some point in my career, so getting to learn from them was an incredible experience.

The panel was incredibly gracious and gave us almost three hours of their time on a work day. I would say that I hope none of them got fired, but our panel was so prestigious that the only person who could really fire them is Roger Goodell, the commissioner himself.

At the end of the event, the MSBA Founder Ben Sturner thanked our hosts for giving us so much of their time, providing the food, team hats, and creating such an incredible experience for us. Mark Waller (CMO) responded laughingly but with an undertone of seriousness, that it was just how they do business (everything the NFL does must be of top quality). This is something that I can now attest to first hand. We were just a group of interns getting to see the NFL Headquarters, but it felt like more than that, it felt like we were guests invited into someone's home. After such an incredible time, now I just want to do my best so I can join their family and work there. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Approaching the Halfway Point

     We are almost four weeks into the MSBA program and this post will serve as a reflection on our time so far, as well as looking forward to the next month in New York. Thursday, we had a much needed night off from the knowledgeable and accomplished speakers that Ben and his team have set up for us this summer. It just so happened that the NBA Draft aired on Thursday. Many of us sat around and watched as kids our age and younger become millionaires on national television. I had some stake in the draft because I started a blog this past Monday (ironically, right before Lewis Howes told us we should have a blog) that primarily focuses on rookies entering the NBA and their journey through camp, summer league, the regular season, and the playoffs. I will now take this opportunity to shamelessly plug in my blog, which is called The 61st Pick. Self-promotion at its finest.
   On to the reflection aspect of this post. I have learned a lot thus far and still feel like I do not know much about the sports industry. That is no fault to MSBA. Actually, it is a compliment to the guidance I have received. Learning about the industry has taught me that you need to remain hungry (in any occupation you have to) and curious. I have learned to keep pushing and driving towards goals no matter what you have already accomplished. Our well-established speakers have made that very clear. We have had a great variety of speakers who specialize in anything from talent management to corporate sales. We also have had a number of panels including lawyers, public relations professionals, and the great people at Madison Square Garden who let us view some of their great upcoming renovations. In four short weeks, the access we have received to some of the sports industry's brightest professionals has been a wonderful experience.
    MSBA has also set up a great mentorship program for us where we have the opportunity to connect with people in the sports industry. My mentor, Wes Harris, has been a big help in determining goals for my internship. I was the type of person who never layed out specific goals, but the more I think of what I want to accomplish this summer, the more it becomes evident how crucial goal setting is in a career. Wes has been a great mentor and is always available to talk despite being very busy with his own career at Five Star Basketball. Also, I have the opportunity to be on the other side of the mentorship process. MSBA has a partnership with the High School of Sports Management (HSSM) in Brooklyn, which allows us to mentor teenagers who are interested in sports. My mentee, Jurgen, is a big German soccer fan and a New York Knicks fan (as am I). I hope to be in contact with him in the future and learn more about him.
   In terms of my internship, I am learning bits about how a small league sustains itself. World Team Tennis is unique in the way it operates with its' players and schedule. It is a true testament to tennis fans that this league has existed for 37 years, as many small sports leagues have failed. I serve as a public and media relations intern for the company. I work on press releases, social media, and blogging, as well as any other area that I can help with. WTT and MSBA have allowed me to focus in on public and media relations as something I could see myself doing for a career. Of course, I want to continue learning from WTT and all of our remaining speakers at MSBA about their experiences with the business and I am looking forward to the next four weeks.

Interview with DeMaurice Smith Executive Director of the NFLPA

One of the speakers for the MSBA program was Lewis Howes, CEO and Founder of He challenged us to reach out to three c-level sports business professionals, and try to obtain video interviews. To add to the challenge, he informed us that he's spoken at numerous conferences giving this same challenge, but has never had a student been able to complete it.

I'm proud to say, that I was one of two MSBA students to complete this challenge. Originally published on Sports Networker, below is my interview with Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith.

Prior to his work with the NFL Players Association, Smith was a trial lawyer and litigation partner in the Washington, D.C. offices of Latham & Watkins and Patton Boggs. Smith has also represented numerous Fortune 500 companies. He earned such a high reputation in the legal community that he was given the job with the NFL Players Association despite very little sports legal background. Most importantly, Smith played a major role in helping the players and NFL owners come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.

DeMaurice Smith is known for reaching an agreement with the National Football League, but his legacy will be for instilling in players of the National Football League the importance of integrity, faith, and honor. As he said in the interview, “they are going to touch far more people by the things that they do off the field than they ever will on the field.” DeMaurice Smith’s goal is to take professional athletes, and make them men of character.

During the interview, we discussed:
  • Smith’s undergraduate time at Cedarville University, and how it prepared him for his career
  • How he became Executive Director of the NFL Players Association from being a Corporate Attorney
  • About faith and courage, and why those are the most important traits
  • Further detail about the NFL Lockout and what it looked like from the inside
  • What moment of his career he is proudest of
  • His priorities and goals as Executive Director of the NFL Players Association
  • His advice for those looking to enter the Sports Business Industry

Interviews with Leigh Steinberg, Patrick Bellanca, and Sean Flynn

As Josh Lagan's post below states, Lewis Howes, founder of, challenged the Manhattan Sports Business Academy students to interview top sports executives via web chat. Not only were Josh and I the first two MSBA students to complete this task, but we were also the first two to complete it in the two years that Lewis has been offering challenging to students across the country. My three interviews were conducted with:

 1) Leigh Steinberg - CEO of Steinberg Sports and Entertainment (Super Agent and inspiration for the movie Jerry Maguire)

 2) Patrick Bellanca - Lead Producer and Designer of EA Sports Madden NFL
 3) Sean Flynn - Senior Vice President of Marketing and Event Booking for the Miami Marlins

Below are the three interviews I have conducted thus far (there are more on the way, including Mark Lamping - Team President of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and former Team President of the St. Louis Cardinals):

1) Interview with Leigh Steinberg

2) Interview with Patrick Bellanca

3)  Interview with Sean Flynn

Please feel free to connect with me and share your thoughts!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lewis Howes - Prepping for the World Football Challenge

Today was a very interesting day at Major League Soccer. I got to listen in on many different meetings regarding the planning of the different matches for the World Football Challenge, which is going to take place in July and August. Watching it all come together has been very exciting, especially due to the fact that once the planning stage is over; I will be able to take part in the event as well. Being able to work with a team from all over the world will definitely be a great experience for me all around. Besides that, I was given the task of ticketing (counting the tickets) for a couple of games and then logging them so that later we can allocate them to our sponsors.

After work, I headed out to Leverage Agency to attend our speaker series event that we were going to have directed by Lewis Howes.  Lewis is considered to be an expert when it comes to networking; particularly through the use of social media and websites (he quickly explained that he is a huge advocate of LinkedIn). He gave us a run through of his career to this point, and how he managed to get from his sister’s couch, where he was living, to a successful career using web-based communication tools to use his networking pool to its maximum potential. It is important to note that Lewis would have rather been a professional athlete (something he is still pursuing through handball), but certain circumstances forced him to improvise and reach the point he has today.

To me, the biggest takeaway from what Lewis told the MSBA group was that when you are young, you need to take advantage of all the energy and hustle that you are able to procure, and use it to overcome already-established systems within the marketplace which prevent newcomers from entering. It is just a matter of having a plan, using time efficiently and not being afraid of taking a chance. If you really want something, chances are, not even the most challenging of circumstances will keep you from achieving your goal.

Monday, June 25, 2012

From Mentee to Colleague

 On June 25th, we had a Public Relations (PR) panel featuring Joe Favorito and Bryan Harris. Our speaker series recently has featured panels of professionals discussing specific areas of Sports Business. We've had a law panel, a sponsorship panel, and now it was time for PR.
Calisthenics, Fitness, extreme, Joe Favorito and Bryan Harris have over 50 years of PR experience between them, making them excellent subjects for the panel. Joe Favorito is an independent consultant who has worked with such prestigious companies as Bloomberg LLC, Lionsgate Films, and Ponturo Management Group. Bryan Harris is the COO & Managing Partner of Taylor Productions. Having worked there since 1989, Bryan has risen through the ranks at Taylor, at the same time helping to lead them through significant growth and evolution over the past six years.

Joe and Bryan had lots of great advice about how to use PR. As we've been hearing from all of our speakers, it's all about relationships. In PR, if you have relationships with the media, and with the content producers, you will succeed. Another thing they emphasized, is "PR is the appetizer, not the entree." PR is about creating the initial buzz, but after that spark, the product launch or event succeeds based on its quality. The reason for Joe and Bryan's emphasis, is that people often blame PR for their product failing. But as they showed, this is a misconception.

The PR Panel was very instructional but what really hammered home their talk for me, was work this past week. Most of my internship has been focused on the creation of a new sports league called the International Calisthenics Federation. For more information, check out our website at With my partner Tee, we've been working on the first Calisthenics event, the July 4th Coney Island Invitational. It was many weeks in the making, but with Tee and the rest of our team, we were able to put on a successful event. One of the awesome parts about the event, was that I got to work with Joe Favorito on the PR.
This post is entitled "from Mentee to Colleague," because as part of the Manhattan Sports Business Academy, I went from sitting in a lecture listening to professionals like Joe and Bryan, to getting the opportunity to work with them. Joe became my colleague, as we worked the PR for the July 4th event. I got to learn first-hand, "in the trenches," about the methods and the value of successful PR. This was definitely one of my favorite experiences from MSBA so far. Guiding me from "Mentee to Colleague," that's where MSBA took me.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Randall's Island with HSSM mentees

Kayla and I!
At noon we all arrived at Randall's Island, ready to spend time with the High School of Sports Management (HSSM) students we would be paired with.  Today was significant for us because it was the first time we would be able to talk to and hang out with our mentees.  As one of the pillars of the MSBA program, mentorship works both ways for us.  As participants of the program, we were each assigned a mentor to provide guidance and support for us.  Thus, to reciprocate and learn what it takes to maintain that kind of relationship, we were put in the position of being mentors for some of the HSSM students.

There were a handful of available games to participate in, including volleyball, basketball, bocce ball, batting cages, mini-golf, Frisbee, and we even played musical chairs.  There was also food provided for us underneath a tent, and we were able to sit with our mentees over lunch to discuss college life, career paths, and to answer any questions they had.  Overall, it was a very active and fun afternoon, and the weather was good to us the entire time.  The Governor’s Ball was also at Randall’s Island that day, so we were able to listen to the concert while hanging out with our mentees.

Around 4 p.m., we headed back to the dorms, and I hopped on a train to meet my friend to go shopping. It was my first time in SoHo and I was glad to have someone with me who knew where our favorite stores were, because it was overwhelming to see the entire street extend for blocks ahead and not know where anything was! 

Today was also the day my teammate from college (Abby Nunn) swam the Manhattan Island MarathonSwim.  Unfortunately, I was unable to make it out to see her, but she finished the 28.5 mile swim around Manhattan Island in FIRST PLACE with a time of 7 hours and 36 minutes!  What a rockstar (this is her to the right--->).

After I came back from SoHo, another friend from school who is working in New York this summer, came to visit and we went to the movie theater to see Madagascar 3.  It was pretty awesome, I am not gonna lie.  It was a busy and tiring day, but I had a lot of fun!  And I can’t wait until the next time we get to see our HSSM mentees :)

Friday, June 22, 2012


Coming from Canada, I must admit, I’ve never been a fan of soccer. Maybe it’s because I broke my arm while playing it when I was a young one, or maybe its just because there is too much action in the middle of the field. Regardless, I think Ted Moseby has a chance of finding true love before I ever become a die-hard soccer fan.

With that being said, from a sports business perspective, it’s hard to ignore the relevance and global importance of the sport of futbol. Over the past couple months, I have kept my eye close to the business of soccer, not the leagues or games themselves. However, with the new addition of a franchise to my hometown of Montreal (GO IMPACT…Wait, did I just do that?), I have come to realize that there is much to make of the explosion of MLS soccer in North America.

As we sat in the MLS boardroom, (what a beauty!) we were surrounded by the past trophies and other historical pieces that symbolize the MLS. Although less than 20 years old, the MLS is building on quite the tradition and has an ambitious goal to be the “best professional soccer league in the world” by 2022. 

And they seem to be on the right path. Soccer participation rates and corporate sponsorships are at all-time highs and that trend doesn’t appear to be going down any time soon. Much of that is attributed to Kathy Carter, President of the MLS and its marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing (SUM). In her role, Kathy oversees all of the revenue streams for the sport of soccer in North America. That includes:  Sponsorships, consumer products, and digital ad sales.
Kathy was really awesome and knowledgeable about the growth of the game. She was very up-front with all our questions and comments, which is always a sign of a fantastic leader. There is no doubt in my mind that the MLS is in great hands and will meet their objectives with Kathy at the helm.

We got to tour the office afterwards. The office was plastered with historical artifacts and soccer memorabilia.  It is a really cool place!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday Night Off

As we have begun to settle into the Manhattan Sports Business Academy as well as our internships, it has definitely gotten easier to acclimate with the demanding schedule that comes with being a member. A normal day for the average participant begins with a morning workout at 6:30 a.m., which leads into the daily internship from 9am – 6pm, with our day culminating with a nightly speaker from 7:30pm until around 9pm. Getting back to our dorm on 20th street and 8th avenue around 9:30pm leaves us little time for recreation, but we have all undeniably found a way to become good friends in a relatively short period of time. On Thursday nights, we are given the night off from MSBA activities, allowing us a nice opportunity to catch up on rest. But, as I have learned from the indefatigable work ethic of Ben and our speakers, a night off is merely an opportunity to catch up on relevant matters.

Thursday night, I spoke with my mentor, Jason Belzer, about five goals I had set for myself moving forward. I would consider Jason one of the rising stars in the sports business industry, and it has become increasingly clear to me every time we speak how he was able to, and continues to rise through the ranks and build his personal brand. Jason is an incredibly skilled communicator, and has provided me with advantageous ways to reach out to contacts and build relationships. Along with steering me towards the path he knows I ultimately want to go down, Jason has given me innumerable pieces of invaluable lessons that I am incredibly grateful for. David Oestreicher, the MSBA Managing Director, did me a huge favor by pairing me up with Jason. 

After speaking with Jason, I caught up on a bit of reading I had neglected that week, and sent an email to a friend of mine, and someone I have huge admiration for. Jordan Zimmerman, the Founder and Chairman of Zimmerman Advertising, is one of the most successful people I have had the opportunity to speak with. Jordan started his agency with $10,000 he had saved, and over the years has grown his agency into the 14th largest in the country. Jordan was recently named Florida’s Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and continues to grow his personal brand. On his website, (a motto that Ben and Jordan share), Jordan is running a promotion where he will be giving away a full scholarship to a student attending a college or university in Florida. So, if you are reading this and plan to go to school in Florida, apply! Ben and I are hoping we will be able to find a mutually convenient date in which Jordan can come and speak to the MSBA participants. 

As our journey continues this summer, I most assuredly look forward to continue to meet industry leaders, while experiencing a great deal of once-in-a-lifetime moments. MSBA has been incredible so far, and based on these past three weeks, I know it is only going to get better.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The First Day of Summer

We are in the middle of our third week here at MSBA. After a depressing Oklahoma City Thunder loss the previous night, I was ready to start my day off right. With our fitness program going along the lines of the book written by Brett Stewart, 7 Weeks to Getting Ripped, we do our workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Today we ran to Chelsea Piers, and executed our workout on a playground about one mile away from the dorms. Some of the guys headed back around 7:30-8:00 to get ready for work and eat breakfast, but I hung around with Ben, Mary Beth, and Rachel to do some additional ab workouts as well as a little yoga. We ended up taking a couple sweet pictures (while doing yoga poses) with the west side of the New York Skyline in the background. After all that was finished, we ran back to the dorms.

As the title reads, it is the first day of summer, which meant it was going to be a hot one. I made my walk to work a quick one to avoid staying in the heat too long. I got to work with a couple of things on my agenda for the day. First thing I do every day is read the Morning Buzz on Sports Business Daily – which is what many of our guest speakers have recommended us doing to stay up-to-date on the industry we are working in. Also on my agenda for the day was to write a blog post about streaming in the sports industry (which I will post on here when it is complete) for the Platinum Rye Blog as well as to work on my project for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

As an intern at PRE, my first job is to help my coworkers with anything they need. When I walked in, the first thing they had me do was research the top 20 projected NBA draft picks and who their agents are. After that, the other intern (Luke) and I had to research a company to see what athletes endorse their products. When 2:30 p.m. usually rolls around we turn on the UEFA Cup, but unfortunately there were no games played today, so Luke and I went to Mark’s (speaker from Monday) office to sit in on a call with a major athlete. This was an incredible experience because although there were no negotiations happening during the phone call, it was interesting to see how they were vaguely talking about the terms, but more-so continuing the communication to ensure a smooth negotiation process for the future.

I was wary of what tonight’s guest speakers would bring to the table, but I was quite pleasantly surprised by the Law Panel that MSBA put together for us. Jared Bartie, David Denenberg, and Jim Johnston gave us a point of view from the sports industry that I have never had before. Whether it was talking about the new collective bargaining agreement in the NBA and how it affected television and media rights or talking about how arbitration works and how in most cases it is avoided in the sponsorship and endorsement fields was extremely profound.

There was an event on the roof top of the dorms that Joshua and I went to check out, but with no NBA Finals game tonight, and heat exhaustion from the day – I think I’m going to call it an early night. 

NYC from the roof top of the New School Dorms