Sponsorship Through Purposeful Participation

Sponsorship Through Purposeful Participation

Quadruple growth after an event’s second year is a metric that would appeal to most organizations. Triple the funding would put a smile on any charitable organizations face.

That’s exactly what happened when My Hometown Heroes (MHH) partnered with Euphotoria for its second annual event in April 2017. Over 250 people attended while $7,000 in scholarships were awarded to college bound cancer survivors for the Fall 2017 semester.

The partnership began in 2016 when fellow MHH board member, Jared Lindwall, introduced the two founders to one other.  Danny Heinsohn celebrated his 10th year of brain cancer remission in 2010 by founding My Hometown Heroes. Since 2011, MHH has awarded 57 scholarships to college bound cancer survivors from across the country.

Bridget Rosscup, another Northern Nevada native, is the founder and curator of Euphotoria – Photography for a Purpose. Her platform brings photography back into the classroom. In a world of digital devices, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, Euphotoria humanizes the craft to it’s native form, print.

Bridget, Danny, and the supporting cast of My Hometown Heroes are looking forward to its biggest and brightest event yet, on April 11, 2018.  If you’re a non-profit or a business that’s seeking a more meaningful way to engage with the community, check out these 5 strategies from Danny’s playbook on partnership activation.


Before developing your sponsorship proposal, first answer the question, “What’s in it for the sponsor and why should they support your event?” Contrary to the passion behind the mission, businesses value brand recognition, measurable impact, and visibility through community partnerships.   Do your homework and show prospective sponsors how your non-profit creates value for them.


Who do you know, and who does your board know? There is strength in numbers. Thanks to second degree connections from our board, My Hometown Heroes sold out of sponsorship inventory nearly 4 weeks before our Charity of the Night feature with the Reno Bighorns on February 2, 2018.  The depth of your board and network is critical towards developing new supporters. Build a network of business partners who believe in and support your mission.


Although you may have a great cause, sponsorship is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Many established businesses have alliances with long standing local non-profits. Some may have entirely different objectives altogether. However, many of them will want to create new partnerships to access new audiences or prospects.  Lead the charge by setting up a time coffee to establish rapport and learn more about their objectives.  Always follow up with next steps after your appointment.


Be patient.  Anyone you meet throughout the year could be a potential sponsor or a direct referral towards a new sponsorship 6-12 months from now. Never miss an opportunity to follow up and allow your point contact to usher in the right decision makers. I always give a prospective partner the benefit of the doubt, knowing they probably have other priorities at the time. For one of our 2018 sponsors, persistence finally off paid after 20 months.  Timing is everything!


With less than 7 weeks to prepare for the inaugural Euphotoria event in 2016, we quickly learned that the media would be critical to future success.  In 2017 we formed 9 media partnerships across print, TV, radio, and digital distribution channels.  In fact, one of our 2017 scholarship recipients attended Euphotoria because he heard about us through a magazine article that promoted the event. Attendance quadrupled in our second year and all of our sponsors benefitted through purposeful participation.

Visit www.myhometownheroes.org/euphotoria2018 to learn more and get involved with the 3rd Annual Euphotoria event – Photography for a Purpose.

(Article written by Danny Heinsohn, published in BizNevada, February 2018)

Personal Brands, Purpose and Performance

Personal Brands, Purpose and Performance

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.

How do you connect with your audience?

How do you connect with your audience?

When I published my book in 2014 I knew speaking opportunities would follow. But so much more followed including national awards, podcast interviews, and an invitation to speak at TEDxReno.

At the time, I had no idea what it meant to become an actual speaking professional. Telling your story is an experience and a gift that you deliver to your audience. But there is so much more to becoming a speaking professional than simply telling your story. The important question here is, “What’s in it for the audience?! (In retrospect this is what I learned when I spoke at TEDxReno.)

I’ve been a member of Toastmasters for nearly 4 years and it’s become my weekly ritual to become a better speaker/storyteller, adopt success styles from others, and an opportunity for greater self-awareness.

When the amazing Kelly Sergeant delivered her breakfast keynote at the final District 39 regional conference in South Lake Tahoe this past weekend, I left feeling inspired. I was not only inspired from her keynote but by her breakout session on her road to getting onto the Toastmasters World Championship stage in Malaysia.

In addition, I also sat in on District 39 Champions Panel, “Speaking to Win”.

For your next presentation, think about how you can implement some of these strategies to connect deeper with your audience and have more fun.


When your rehearsals or presentation is finished you need to ask yourself,

Did I seize my opportunity to connect with the audience?

Connection means different things to different speakers. From panel feedback, you can connect with humor, fun, and being consistent with who you are.

Speech evaluations in the Toastmasters curriculum is like the holy grail to becoming a better speaker. Each speaker is assigned an evaluator whom critiques each speech in a constructive manner. They let you know what you did well and identify potential opportunities for improvements. If your objective is to increase self-confidence, self-awareness and/or impact more people there isn’t a better platform to practice your craft than Toastmasters.

How you connect with your audience can make or break an opportunity to get your message across. Start with asking, “What is my message and how will I connect with the audience to get that message across?”


Bring your speech to life with color.

One valuable tactic I learned during the 2-month preparation of my TED talk and later by professional speaking coach, Michael Port, is blocking. What is blocking? I’m glad you asked.

After you’ve written your speech and memorized it, break it down into 2-3 minute blocks. Within each block, practice the delivery so it becomes second nature. To maximize impact you need to be polished and well-rehearsed. Kelly Sergeant takes this concept one step further and I am totally going to adopt this technique.

After you’ve written your speech, grab a few highlighters in various colors and color code each word that you can express with a hand gesture in green. Practice those gestures through your block. On the road to the World Championship, Kelly Sergeant highlighted the following words and assigned them to these gestures.

  1. HUMOR (Yellow) – Helps us remember, understand and get the point across
  2. GESTURE (Green) – Use your body, arms, and hands
  3. ORATORY (Orange) – Vocal variety
  4. PERFORM (Pink) – Tell the story like you experienced it


Storytelling from personal experience is what makes each of us unique. While this is important, the story needs to be told in a way that everyone can relate to. As I became more self-aware about the core premise about my story and how brain cancer effected me, I began to get more feedback on its relatability to the audience. And this is the question every speaker needs to answer while writing their speech…

What’s in it for the audience?

Let’s face it, surviving brain cancer isn’t a relatable topic for the majority of people. But like anything else there are lessons to be learned from personal experience. Be authentic and deliver the value of your lessons.


Speaking is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your knowledge and leadership. If you’d like an opportunity to learn what Toastmasters is about and how you and/or your team could benefit check out: https://www.toastmasters.org/membership

Better yet, you can be a guest at my Toastmasters club. Leave a comment below and let me know why becoming a better speaker would be important for you.

Why Performance Matters for your Personal Brand

Why Performance Matters for your Personal Brand

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.