Over the past 6 years there have been 3 names that have dominated headlines in the NBA Finals. Lebron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant. Each are extraordinarily talented, charismatic, exciting to watch, and bound for the NBA Hall of Fame. It’s no surprise that the three of them are also the 3 top earners in the NBA (on and off the court).

Each of these super stars have multi-million sponsorship deals that drive sales and attention for their corporate partners. Winning breeds momentum, sales, and brand loyalty.

Take Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and his endorsement deal with Under Armour. Shares of Under Armour are up 4% during this year’s finals and that’s no coincidence. Curry is a high performer, dependable and delivers results during the highest stakes. To an extent Under Armour can correlate the predictability of their stock to his performance.

While the vast majority of us don’t have multi-million brand endorsements on the biggest stages in sports, we must still perform to win for our businesses.

When I secured multi-year deals with the New York Yankees, Baltimore Ravens, and Kentucky Wildcats, it was not because we were the lowest price. In fact, multiple competitors in our marketplace had the same capabilities we did, yet I was still able to win and retain even though our prices were 30% or more than what the competition was offering.


What I was offering and the way I was pitching it had everything to do with enhancing the image of their brand. When I saw Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank speak at a Tony Robbins event last February, he said, “Innovators create value in things that never even existed”.

We must prove why we’re different.

We must help our prospects realize the value they didn’t know existed.

While the rest of my competitors in the sports industry became complacent with their standing success, I was hungry and out to prove myself by differentiating. I started paying attention to the design and quality of what my target prospects were currently using. Then I delivered on every little promise along the way on the things my competition wasn’t delivering…

  • Timely follow up with collaborative feedback
  • Pushing the design envelop to enhance brand image
  • Face Time: Whenever there was a conference several hours or time zones away, I always made it a point to carve out an extra day or two to have a 1-on-1 or meeting with the rest of the department. If the deal was impending, I’d grab one of the owners and we’d fly out to visit the client just to prove were were dependable.

When entering a market with a new product or service you not only need to win the buy-in of your point contact, but they need to win buy-in from the rest of their team. (more on this in an upcoming post).

Businesses will find a way to fund a project if they see the value.

So what does this have to do with your personal brand?

It has everything to do with your personal brand! In my case I was more dependable, more creative and more responsive than other players in the industry.

The way you present yourself and your product or service will have a great deal of influence on the buyers decision. You may have the world’s most revolutionary gadget, but if you cannot effectively follow up, clearly articulate the value and benefits, your pitch will fall onto deaf ears. It’s important that you’re able to forge confidence so that doesn’t happen especially through the “noise” of a busy and hyper-connected world.

Your personal brand can be Stephen Curry-like in the NBA Finals and become a valuable investment and partner to your target audience. Create excitement. Magnify how you’re different. Orchestrate enthusiasm and creativity whether it’s in person, e-mail, social media, or on the phone.

Become the brand you want people to invest in.