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.

Abundance is a Mindset

Abundance is a Mindset

I enjoy a good road trip. Since my departure from corporate two years ago I’ve been on several. From my hometown in Reno, Nevada I drove roughly 10,000 miles in 2017 to destinations such as Portland (OR), Mesa, Denver, San Francisco, Vegas, and several National Parks in between.

My final business road trip of 2017 was to Mesa, Arizona for the 10th annual US Sports Congress. It was my 3rd Congress since 2009, the second time I’ve spoken at the event, and in my opinion it was the best one yet.

The 2017 US Sports Congress offered an array of opportunities to connect, reconnect and collaborate with fellow industry peers through several experiential and networking environments. Michael Bidwell, CEO of the Arizona Cardinals, kicked off the Congress with an opening keynote that brought us through the history of the Cardinals franchise and how the NFL has evolved over the decades.

It was fascinating to learn that the Arizona Cardinals is the oldest team in the NFL that began in 1898, and had the first naming rights deal in professional sports. That’s right, in 1920, a food starch company called Decatur Staley’s sponsored the club.

Bidwell did a fantastic job ushering the audience through the evolution of the NFL when boxing, horse racing, and baseball were popular during the Great Depression of the 20’s. Obviously the industry has advanced in leaps and bounds since but one thing seems to have remained the same. For the audience at the US Sports Congress, he emphasized the importance of utilizing sports to share the story about local areas and communities. He stated, “Leverage your sports events as an asset for the community. Continue to invest and reinvest in sports facilities”.

One of the biggest challenges for the NFL is analyzing and making the decision to distribute games in the future. “Youth and amateur sports can exploit distribution”, Bidwell added.

Carl Thomas of Hookit, delivered a great presentation on “Social Media Measurement & Monetization” through sponsored athletes. I’ll let their website do the talking but one thing I found interesting was a case study on GoPro sponsored athletes. 60% were in compliance to their deal with the brand, until called out. When called out engagement increased to 97%.

Thomas brought up a statistic from the IEG Sponsorship report that $130 Billion will be spent on sports and sponsorship activation by 2017. He shared this statistic of how the distribution has shifted over the past few years.

Much opportunity awaits for those who can deliver measurable results. Carl added, “The power of data is only as good as your ability to understand it and use it.”

The group experiences at the 2017 US Sports Congress were fantastic – inclusive of outings such as a jeep tour in the Sedona desert, golf scramble, tour of a brewery, tours of Sloan Park (spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs), and a Pickleball demonstration. The opening reception at the Tempe Center for the Arts was fantastic with a sunset view of Tempe Town Lake. This is where the swim for Ironman Arizona takes place.

Before I talk about my round table session on Personal Branding, I hope you won’t mind a quick detour from the final day of the trip. On Day 7, I drove home from Las Vegas to Reno. My only stop was in Tonopah to top off the gas tank, 211 miles north of Vegas.

A few weeks before the road trip began I wondered how far out of the way Joshua Tree National Park was from Las Vegas or Mesa. Let’s just say that another 500 miles on this road trip would have to wait another day.

I’ve embarked on this Reno/Vegas drive many times since college and have taken note of the Joshua trees on both sides of Highway 95. The difference on this trip was it felt like I was seeing them for the very first time through this passage. Abundance came to mind along with and a realization that this vast spectacle of Joshua trees would eventually come to end as I drove further north from Vegas.

“Abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tune into.” -Wayne Dyer

In fact, I couldn’t get over how many of these trees were. So I started to play a game in my head as I listened to the audio book, “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. The question I asked myself was simple, “Would the Joshua trees end before reaching Tonopah?” I became so fascinated by this realization that I marveled at their mass abundance as I continued north on the 95.

Then I thought about the powerful lesson this fascination was trying to teach. Like the Joshua trees surrounding me, opportunities are abundant if we choose to raise our awareness and seek them out.

I asked myself, “Had I noticed them before?” Sure.

“Did I ever stop to think about how many miles they expand, where they began, how long they’ve been growing in the desert, and how does this grand garden of Joshua trees in Nevada compare to Joshua Tree National Park in California?” Not until now, but I’ve learned that Joshua trees have quite the story.

The Joshua trees finally ceased to grow about 15 miles before Tonopah, due to the absence of the unique conditions they need to thrive – soil content, moth pollination, climate, and altitude. Similarly, to become a high-performance personal brand one must take responsibility to create their own conditions for success and immerse themselves in a mindset where they can thrive.

In these moments I reaffirmed my obsession with the topic of personal branding. When we’re crystal clear about who we are, what our message is, and conscious about how we choose to show up in life, then everything we wish to attract will certainly show up. Abundance is a mindset.

Then I began to reflect on the round table session I led at the US Sports Congress on the topic itself. My job was to conduct an hour long discussion on How Your Personal Brand Impacts Your Success.

One thing I committed to in 2017 was to write rap songs about sales, and use them in my presentations. As a coach and speaker I’ve chosen this technique because no one else does it, it’s entertaining, and raises the energy of the room from the very beginning of the session. If I’m speaking on the topic of Personal Branding, then I need to act the part, not just talk about it.

Differentiation, consistency, and clarity are critical if you want to stand apart as a personal brand.

Weeks before the US Sports Congress I reached out to a handful of industry constituents for general thoughts on the topic and what they thought would resonate with the audience.

I asked Brian Graham of Morris Communications Co. for his thoughts, “Personal branding is a topic that I don’t feel many people really think about much, but one that is very important. My recommendation would be to take a straight forward and honest approach to the topic and be willing to discuss issues that might be a little uncomfortable to some. The message I would try to get across is that one must establish respect in the industry to build their personal brand if they are to be successful.”

After some deliberation and collective feedback from Brian and a couple other industry professionals I devised and refined these 4 fundamental questions to challenge the audience.

  1. As a personal brand, who are you now?
  2. What do you wish to accomplish professionally?
  3. Why is that important to you?
  4. How and when do you plan to get there?

Throughout this round table discussion I alternated my coaching and consulting hats. If people were seeking clarity on my perspectives, then I provided personal success examples like with deals I put together for the Texas Longhorns and New York Yankees. If someone was seeking clarity for themselves I challenged them with questions about the outcomes they wished to achieve.

Some seemed relatively content with where they were, a few shifted their energy and mindset when challenged to look at things differently. I challenged them to think about what they’re passionate about because, in my opinion, the best way to identify yourself as a personal brand is to let people know what you love and why that motivates you.

Ben Camerota, President of MVP Visuals, asked to clarify if the session was intended to focus on the attendees as a personal brand, or as their business as a brand. I was glad he asked. I began to describe my identity crisis after I graduated from college and was diagnosed with brain cancer the day after.

After my cancer ordeal I made the decision to only pursue ventures in things that I loved and it didn’t matter how much I made. At the time my focus was to do something around writing, sports and music. Long story short, I met the owner of a start up company who’s passions were in alignment with mine. With no prior sales experience I eventually developed the company’s entire portfolio among the biggest names in professional sports and corporate sponsorship.

Ben went on to reflect about how he loved to build things as a kid, and what he does now as a business professional is build branded event displays, canopies, etc. for sports events. I think there is an opportunity for Ben to leverage his personal brand story to attain more emotional equity for his professional brand.

Some of the other dialogue during the session stimulated curiosity and introspection about how minor shifts in mindset and processes could –

  • Increase internal efficiencies
  • Enhance visitor experience
  • Develop more harmony in the environment

What I’ve learned throughout the process of becoming a coach is that most people want better performance in their business and in their lives. They want to be more efficient with their time. They want to be less overwhelmed. They want more time with family. Just like the passing of the Joshua Trees those opportunities are abundant and available every day. Sometimes we simply need to change our perspective, or create a new set of conditions that enable new possibilities.

How much more abundance could you bring into your life if you simply changed the way you think?

The Art of Personal Branding

The Art of Personal Branding

The State of Nevada’s first settlement was established in 1850, also known as the town of Genoa. I’ve ridden my bike through town on numerous century and triathlon training efforts. And although I’ve known about its beloved Candy Dance festival for a few years, it wasn’t until last weekend that I actually attended the arts and crafts festival.

Thousands of people wandered the streets of Genoa to experience an eclectic blend of tastes, smells, sights, and sounds. Over 300 vendors and thousands of people were in attendance over the course of the 2 days. And while we could’ve taken a shuttle into the festival for $5 we decided to get some exercise and walk nearly 1 mile to reach the action.

I’m inspired by beautiful art whether it’s in the form of photography, painting, dance, sculpture or sketch. Artists tell great stories about the inspiration for their work, and I love to share stories that are inspiring especially through artistic expression.

One of the booths had beautifully hand drawn matted prints by Stuart Ratcliff. While any of the prints would’ve made a great wall piece I was particularly excited about the way he marketed his brand. Stuart displayed his work on a wood scaffolding frame and while I wasn’t in the buying mindset, I did ask for his business card.

He said, “Let me know which print you like best, and I’ll give you a business card with that print”.

(The above photo was hijacked from William Hugal)

As a potential customer there were 2 things Stuart did really well in becoming memorable.

  1. He gave me the power to choose.
  2. He gave me something to talk about.

And when you can combine both you have a story worth sharing (plus free advertising).

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.

Seize the Moment – Differentiate

Seize the Moment – Differentiate

In 1960, Squaw Valley, California was home of the Winter Olympics. Last weekend I decided to escape the holiday bustle and drive up to the resort for their season pass party. Season pass holders received a 20% discount on gear and apparel for that day. Most retailers offered microbrews for a $2 donation to various local charities and also featured a live DJ. Yes, I think this will become an annual thing.

Olympic Gold Medalist, Jonny Moseley, and pioneer of the Dinner Roll was also up there signing autographs at Parallel Mountain Sports.

Since tis the season for skiing I figured this would be a great time to share how I was inspired on a tour of MOMENT Skis production facility earlier this year.

The ski manufacturing process is fascinating to learn in itself, but what really got me excited about the tour was the story about how MOMENT differentiated from the rest of the market.

  1. Square tips
  2. Made in the USA
  3. Bad ass designs

When MOMENT manufactured their first pair of skis they had a round parabolic tip, similar the majority of skis on the market today. In the second round of manufacturing Casey Hakansson, CEO of MOMENT Skis, decided cut the tips off the skis as a joke, so they had a square tip. Casey also shares this story in Powder Magazine (read full article here).

When I was out on the hill with them, I was pretty excited about them, everyone thought I just painted my K2s black. So the next pair I made I knew I needed to make them different. I thought of the square tip as a joke, but then no one would stop talking about them on the hill. It was the conversation in every lift line. So from there we just stuck with it.

I love hearing these type of stories because minor adjustments can make major differences. I often share such insights during sales breakout sessions or keynotes.

Currently I’m in the process of writing my second book. It’s a story about sales in the sports industry, how I broke through by being different, and I offer several incites and exercises to fast track small businesses to success. The outline is done and will feature stories of other sports marketers who have inspired me over the years. If you have a sales story in the sports industry you’d like for me to consider in the book, message me on Linkedin and let’s set up a time to chat.