When was the last time you conducted an audit of your personal brand? How does it currently align with the best interests of your team or prospective customers? What makes you an effective leader?

Those are questions organizational leaders and senior account executives may need to answer if their sales numbers and culture need a lift.

On the first day of the 2018 National Sports Forum, I attended the Marketing & Fan Engagement Workshop led by AJ Maestas of Navigate Research. AJ shared that Lebron James has more Twitter followers than the NBA itself. Fascinated by the statistic and the topic of personal branding myself I wanted to learn more. This is how the NBA stacks up against Lebron James…

Lebron has led his team to the NBA Finals for the past 7 consecutive years with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. In fact, the top 3 highest paid players in the NBA have been in the finals over the past 3 years – Lebron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant.  [Check out my article on the performance of Under Armour stock when Steph Curry played in the NBA Finals last year, click here]

Could the performance of one individual impact the bottom line of an entire organization?

You bet.  With effective leadership a rising tide lifts all boats.

Two of the sessions I attended at the National Sports Forum in Frisco, TX were about effective organizational leadership and motivating through experiential learning. Kathy Burrows of Sold Out Seating and Bill Guertin of the Inspirational Sports Business Institute shared some great insights that lead to sustainable success for sports organizations.


At last year’s Senior Management session on “Building and Maintaining a Winning Company Culture”, the primary focus was aligning values of potential job candidates with the mission of the team and/or corporation.   Without proper alignment during the hiring process the proposition won’t likely sustain.

At the 2018 Forum, Kathy Burrows of Sold Out Seating led a similar session titled, “Stop Losing Sales Staff – Leading for the 2020’s and Beyond”.  Rather than attracting new team members, her session focused on retaining great employees, identifying cultural drainers, and providing value for people to stay.

When it comes to your leadership brand these are a few great do’s and don’ts that Kathy shared:

DON’TS – Kathy posed the question, “Why are we losing sales staff?”

  • No appreciation or acknowledgement demonstrated by upper management
  • Base salary or commissions diminished without reasonable explanation
  • Lack of communication, follow through, and/or feedback
  • Being micromanaged
  • Long hours don’t allow a healthy work / life balance

DO’S – Why salespeople stay

  • Input is heard and valued – If a team member feels valued, they will go through a brick wall to carry out a task
  • Management allocates time to hear and acknowledge where sales reps might be getting stuck. They coach their team to understand the process better
  • Ongoing coaching and leadership training
  • Feel heard, valued and empowered by management to take charge. For example – empower your team to run the meeting
  • The environment fosters creativity and collaboration

Kathy ended her session with,

Millennials are the challenge we need, right now. Let’s keep and grow our people.


Last October, I found myself in Chicago to attend the “B-B Sports Sales Summit” to keep current with trending practices and case studies. Bill Guertin of the Inspirational Sports Business Institute led a couple great sessions at the Chicago White Sox corporate offices and parlayed one of his workshops at the Forum – “Make Your Sales Training Stickier – Simple Hacks to Improve Your Results (Ticket Sales).”

Speaking of Lebron James, Bill began his session by sharing that the game show, “The Wall” (on NBC), was created by Lebron James. The hour with Bill was much like a game show where participants were put on the spot to answer questions and sometimes do fun hands-on exercises.  Experiential learning is how training becomes “sticky” and effective.

One of my key take-aways from Bill’s breakout session was to create “Brandable Chunks” of learning, which is important for both training and selling. When we are able to brand a learning experience it becomes much easier to remember and sell up the food chain.

Make sure there is a lesson attached to each exercise. –Bill Guertin

While Bill shared many, 5 of my favorite sales training hacks / reminders were:

1 – When met with an objection, say thank you. Learn from the objection, take notes, and make adjustments to better align for the next opportunity.

2 – Photo scavenger hunt – take a picture of something in the venue and talk about the value of that photo.

3 – Allow creative “fiddling”. Anything you can do to keep phones out of people’s hands during training will enable stickier learning. Give your team other things to keep them occupied during training such as “pipe cleaners”, Koosh balls, or Rubik’s cubes.

4 – Use audio and/or video to reinforce learning. Allow reps to practice among and critique each other in a collaborative environment.

5 – Use immersive content. Challenge your team by asking, “How can you change a negative situation into a positive one?”


Although 2018 was my 14th National Sports Forum, it was the 3rd consecutive year I’ve blogged about my experience and key take-ways (20162017). I love to learn and blogging helps to reinforce the lessons. But one of the reasons I blog about what I learn at industry events is because not many people do. We live in a very busy hyper-connected world and if we’re to stand out in the marketplace, as a business or personal brand, we must learn to differentiate on the details and always provide value to our community.

Every year at the National Sports Forum, I have the privilege to facilitate the selection process and presentation of the OM Foundation Award. This year’s recipient was Chris Sinclair of The Anthem Group, based out of Boston.


I’ll let his biography speak for itself but I had an opportunity to chat with Chris at the Forum and learn what motivates him. He is passionate and highly motivated to serve and uplift his community, locally and internationally. His success is a direct byproduct of that. When we put purpose, community, and strategy before the bottom line, our businesses and personal brands will win.