Brady Teaches Us The Deeper Meaning Of Life
At a time when the human soul craves joy and fun, the legend delivered heavy doses, furthering his incomparable legacy with a seventh Super Bowl title that trumps the laws of age and genetics.
Before he told Tyrann Mathieu to kiss his 43-year-old ass, before he gave America an inspirational catharsis, before he gifted Rob Gronkowski twice and changed Antonio Brown’s life, before the latest stupid Kansas City penalty and sideline squabble, and before Andy Reid struck the sad image of a man whose son is in deep trouble, Tom Brady looked around the stadium — as Planet Earth looked at him — and cracked a smile.
He never does this, not until four zeroes are divided by a colon on a Super Bowl clock. But with the Chiefs undisciplined and unraveling, as a report was surfacing that Patrick Mahomes needed offseason toe surgery, Brady realized early in the night that he was successfully puncturing the cocoon of the supernatural — and walking into a heavenly place no athlete had gone before. If he’d come this far in what only can be viewed as an eternal science experiment — defying the laws of age and genetics, removing himself from the Bill Belichick grinder, resisting those who are tired of his mug, moving to Florida as older people do to keep on living — then why wouldn’t he keep beaming until the inevitable was official? Why wouldn’t he later feel this victory in the third quarter, thrusting an index finger in his adopted town so his wife, kids and parents could see it?
I won’t be the knee-jerker who now anoints Brady as the Greatest Athlete Of All Time. Having covered Michael Jordan throughout the ‘90s, I cannot go there in another raging, unresolvable sports debate. But what Brady has done amid the horror of a pandemic and in the square of his own midlife — instantly transforming the wayward culture of the friggin’ Tampa Bay Buccaneers with his seventh championship and fifth Super Bowl MVP trophy — has to rank as the Most Inconceivable And Mind-Blowing Sports Achievement Of My Lifetime. Sorry if it doesn’t have a cute acronym like G.O.A.T., which he already had claimed by NFL standards, but if Sunday was an unnecessary defense of his legacy, he only enhanced it with a message we all should heed right now.
Appreciate and embrace what you have.
Then, squeeze the living hell out of it and maximize it.
“You get this far and you wanna get the job done, and we did it,” Brady said. “We just believed. I’m so proud of the guys.”
And his self-assessment, after a championship run that has spanned six presidential terms and too many Apple products to count? “Just blessed,” he said without adding much, allowing his actions and visuals to speak for him.
In a Super Bowl that will be remembered for fun right down to the comedic TV commercials, in a world that desperately needs to smile and laugh, Brady rediscovered the joy of life. That’s what he has taught us in some of the worst times of our lives. If you thought it was strange seeing Vince Lombardi brought to life digitally on the pregame video board, we’re left to wonder if Brady, too, is a tech-created cyborg. That he finalized the miracle in his new stadium, a few miles from the mansion he rents from Derek Jeter, makes it all the wilder. He’s the face of a virtue that more of us should adopt — never letting anyone tell us when we’re finished — as he extends new boundaries of longevity not only for quarterbacks but all workforce members longer in the tooth. So much for the Next-Gen wave of dual-threat QB wizards, symbolized by Mahomes, who want his rings and glory and were supposed to push his old-man dropback into oblivion. He still isn’t budging, and that much was clear when Brady, hearing Mathieu’s trash-talk while the Chiefs were falling behind, chased down the Honey Badger and got in his grill with choice language.
“I never really saw that side of Tom Brady, to be honest,” Mathieu said later. “But whatever. No comment. It’s over with. … It’s football.”
No, it’s foolishness. And it’s the latest chapter in a Brady axiom book they’ll be discussing decades from now. You don’t make him the 199th pick in the draft. You don’t call him a product of Belichick’s system. And you don’t try to rattle him when he’s embarrassing you and becoming the first player to win Super Bowls in three different decades. Brady now says he’ll consider playing past 45, and while I pondered suggesting he complete a perfect script and go out on top, I won’t be caught in that idiot’s trap again after saying it two years ago. Besides, he already has answered the question.
“Yeah, we’re coming back. You already knew that,” Brady said on the podium before walking the confetti-covered field with Gisele and the kids, never happier.
So this one doesn’t mean more than the six titles in New England? “I think they’re all special,” he said. “I’m not making any comparisons. Experiencing it with this group of guys is amazing.”
And why can’t he keep winning? We can doubt his TB12 wellness plan, ask if his reverse-aging involves something sinister in a lab. We can ridicule his plant-based diet and doubt the legitimacy of personal trainer abd business partner Alex Guerrero, who comes off as a mesmeric Svengali. But no matter how healthy he is and how good he looks, no matter if he has no wrinkles on his face and his teeth are whiter than the NFL ownership ranks, he still must go out and play ball with a team in sync with his dedication, ideals and grand plan. That he could instill those qualities in less than a year is why he’s the MIMBSAOML. I repeat: He is performing at a higher level at a more advanced age than any athlete ever.
In generational terms, he has struck a heretofore impossible blow for every person in his mid-40s who has been insulted or marginalized by a Millennial or Gen-Zer, staring down Mahomes — the NFL’s present and future — and then beating him with his mind, experience, guile and health. In sporting terms, he has proved there can be such a thing as a Brady System, improving everyone in a franchise with his presence and reimagining an owner, coach and general manager as his partners, not his superiors. Brady didn’t execute this 31-9 rout by himself. Todd Bowles’ defense punished and staggered Mahomes, who didn’t have his two starting tackles and was running around gingerly and aimlessly, throwing prayers that weren’t caught and winding up dazed in a Buccaneer sandwich that couldn’t be helped by his beloved ketchup. Leonard Fournette and the running game established a prelude to the aerial game.
And when Brady did pass the football, he was as efficient and deadly as he was in his 20s, 30s and earlier 40s. With a wealth of weapons he never had in Foxboro, he easily picked holes in a disoriented defense to find his old buddy, Gronk, with two touchdown passes that might have had a certain grump in Nantucket heaving his TV remote. He also found an end-zone recipient in Brown, whose career was left for dead after countless legal issues, only to be rescued by the humanitarian in Brady — who saw a chance to help a troubled soul and, of course, add a receiver who could help win a championship.
Recalling how he wound up in Tampa after a brief retirement, Gronkowski said it wasn’t an immediate given he’d join Brady. “A series of conversations,” he said. “It wasn’t, `Hey, Rob. I want you to come to Tampa.’ Free agency hit, and I was sitting there. He hit me up and said, `Would you come down?’ I said, `I’ve been waiting for you, waiting for you to make a move.’ To come here and have a situation like this, with an organization that was ready to win, it’s just unreal. Surreal, man.”
When Brady was on his postgame Zoom interview, he had nothing to say about his legacy. “You know, man, we’ve been grinding pretty hard. I haven’t had time to think about things like that,” he said. “I’m just grateful for my teammates, all the people who have supported us.” But he did brighten when he spotted Gronk in the back of the room.
“Robby G! Congrats, baby!” he said, grinning while thrusting a triumphant fist. “I’ll see you later.”
In frozen New England, Patriots fans were aghast and asking if he was poking fun at Belichick. In Tampa Bay, where a fourth-quarter streaker slid into the end zone in a hot-pink onesie, the folks are celebrating the championships of the Bucs and NHL Lightning and the World Series appearance of the Rays. Tompa Bay?
Try Champa Bay.
If fun was the watchword, the Chiefs weren’t having any. They may have lost this game Thursday night, in a three-car crash near the team’s practice facility, where Reid’s family tragedies continued to spill into public view. His son, Britt, the team’s outside linebackers coach, was driving a white Dodge Ram around 9 p.m. when he struck a Chevrolet Traverse that was pulled off the side of an Interstate 435 on-ramp. A five-year-old girl in the car was rushed to the hospital, where she reportedly is fighting for her life as photos circulate of her hooked to medical tubes. Britt Reid, according to Kansas City police, said he had consumed two or three drinks and taken Adderall. One officer said his “eyes were bloodshot.”
This was the return of a father’s worst nightmare. In 2007, while Andy Reid coached the Philadelphia Eagles, Britt Reid spent time in prison after pleading guilty to flashing a gun at another motorist in a road-rage incident. Months later, he was arrested again and charged with DUI and drug possession. In 2012, Britt’s younger brother, Garrett, died from an accidental drug overdose at Eagles training camp after years of abusing heroin and prescription pills. A judge referred to the Reids as “a family in crisis” living in a home, on the city’s affluent Main Line, that he described as “a drug emporium.” When Andy Reid headed to Kansas City, it symbolized the rebirth of his family and his career, and his first Super Bowl title last year seemed to signal a Chiefs dynasty.
Now, you wonder how much longer Reid can go on in a small market whose beloved football franchise has been tortured through time by continuous tragedy. Did a feel-good story just go dark?
“My heart goes out to all those who were involved in the accident, in particular the family with the little girl who’s fighting for her life,” Reid said after the game. “I can’t comment on it any more than what I am here. So the questions you have, I’m going to have to turn those down; but just from a human standpoint, my heart bleeds for everybody involved in that.”
His players weren’t prepared for the Super Bowl, the chance to become the first NFL team to repeat in 16 years. “I didn’t see it coming at all. I could have done a lot better job to put these guys in position to make plays,” Reid said. “Our guys busted their tails. It didn’t work out.”
Said Mahomes, weary and battered in his return to Earth: “They beat us pretty good, worse than I’ve been beaten in a long time.”
As the Chiefs escaped Tampa as quickly as possible, Brady soaked in a satisfaction that apparently never gets old. His best comments were in his hype video, posted before the game, when he channeled a Liam Neeson film and said, “In this journey, there’s no final destination. There’s only the next one. In the pursuit of perfection, the only thing that counts is the journey itself, the pursuit itself and those who give their lives to it; this moment and the focus required to seize it; this fight and the commitment required to face it. Because there’s no such thing as perfect, there’s only the relentless pursuit of perfection. That is our cause. That is what makes us a team, and that is why we’re still here.
“So, once more into the fray, to live and die on this day.”
If anyone else was speaking, we’d bash them for too many cliches.
But this was Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. So we’ll treat it as gospel, forevermore.
Jay Mariotti, called “the most impacting Chicago sportswriter of the past quarter-century,’’ writes a weekly media column for Barrett Sports Media and regular sports columns for Substack while appearing on some of the 1,678,498 podcasts in production today. He’s an accomplished columnist, TV panelist and radio talk host. Living in Los Angeles, he gravitated by osmosis to film projects. Compensation for this column is donated to the Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust.
Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood
“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.
It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.
During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.
“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.
“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”
Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.
“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”
Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.
Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.
“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”
When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.
“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”
Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.
“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”
Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.
Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.
“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”
No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.
At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.
“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”
According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.
“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”
As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.
“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.
Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.
“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at bsmsummit.com.
“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he interns in video production with the New York Islanders and formerly worked as production manager for the team’s radio broadcasts. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee.
The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.
McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.
McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.
The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.
There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored.
It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.
It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.
Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.
And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.
If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.
Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.
If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable.
It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit
“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”
Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain.
Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.
- GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
- LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either.
- SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email.
- WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at email@example.com or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
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