SportsBusiness Journal presented its 18th class of Forty Under 40, which highlights the best and brightest executives in the business of sports all under the age of—you guessed it—40. The path that each of these individuals took to get where they are in their journey is as different as the various roles that each of them play within the sports business industry. Despite their various directions, there are common values and characteristics that have allowed these individuals to shine.
Letting Go of the Status Quo
If there’s one thing that these execs know, it’s that the “one-size-fits-all” approach is a thing of the past. While their companies may be known for their legacy or traditions, these individuals have pushed the envelope with innovation and the desire to try new things. “We have to evolve,” said Connor Schell, the Senior Vice President and Executive Producer for ESPN. “This place has been evolving and moving forward for a really long time. Being part of figuring out that evolution is really interesting and complicated.”
From embracing mistakes, to “disrupting” the ticketing marketplace, putting logos on the inside of jerseys, and everything in between, these innovative men and women keep the sports space exciting, competitive, and dynamic.
The Power of Who
Whenever you’re looking for a job, someone will surely tell you, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Brandon Schneider, the Senior Vice President of Business Development for the Golden State Warriors, is a true believer in the adage—especially in the sports industry.
The art of networking is not just exchanging business cards, but the art of relationship management. old saying is true, but what’s more accurate is, “it’s not who you know, but who knows you.” Staying in touch with your network and nurturing professional relationships will allow you to stay on top of mind with your contacts, who may think of you when they have a business opportunity or are looking to hire down the road.
Patience is a Virtue
The sports industry is one of the most competitive fields to work in, and it takes dedication and a strong work ethic to thrive. What sets these 40 individuals apart is their ability to persevere and persist in this ever-evolving environment. “Have patience, things don’t happen overnight,” advises Martin Jarmond, Deputy Athletic Director and Chief of Staff at Ohio State University. [and just this week Martin’s patience, work ethic and relationship skills were recognized as he was selected as the incoming AD at Boston College].
“You are stronger than you think you are.” The road to the top is not a clear, straight path without any barriers or distractions. “Career paths are not linear, and the best experiences come from the twists and turns,” claimed Justin Toman, Director of Sports Marketing for PepsiCo.
In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell identifies using your time to prepare is a key factor in success, “Achievement is talent plus preparation.” The recipients of the Forty Under 40 are shining examples of trusting the process and enjoying the professional journey.