I am blessed to be working with a Rock Star in Jeff Mans. Last week, I asked his advice on my weekly column. I get good feedback about movies that I include in the writing and how I connect them with fantasy sports. I said to Jeff, “Do we really need my opinion on fantasy baseball topics when we have you, Ray, Bender, Zola, Colton and other better writers than me?” He smartly said, “Why don’t you write about the fantasy sports industry and your journey?”
Good advice. So each week, I will discuss what is happening in fantasy sports or what personal things have happened to me related to the fantasy sports industry. Let's do it.
Not sure why, but recently more people than usual reached out to me to ask for career advice. I don’t know if it is because big companies are running their fantasy divisions like big businesses and just checking a box on personnel. Stars are being seen as employees instead of the uniquely talent writers and insiders that they are. Maybe it is because some people in this industry choose to exploit hopeful writers with the dream. Maybe it is simply because it is not that easy to break into any industry and the young and talented seek out pioneers to ask for advice. Whatever the reason, I am always honored to be asked for advice and feel it is my duty as a co-founder of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and simply just as a human being who cares about helping his fellow man or woman. In the last six months, I have advised everyone from wily 60+ year old veterans to still in high school young ins. But the most asked question…
“How can I become the next Matthew Berry?”
The easy answer is that you can’t unless you were born with the talent, grace, drive, humor and extreme patience plus a dash of virtue to be the face of fantasy sports. So, this week’s banter from the young and hopeful made me think of the movie Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston. The movie is based on Tim Owens who replaces Rob Halford as the lead singer of Judas Priest after fronting a cover band. Well, maybe that is a first lesson. You need to do it first. So here are my top things to do if you want to make it in the fantasy sports industry.
Don’t try to be someone that you are not
It is easy to see Ray Flowers writing analytics and breaking down players and think you can do that. If that is not who you are, don’t do it. If you are not a numbers guy, don’t try to be a numbers guy. Be who you are in real life. If you are say…a movie lover…use that to portray the message that you want to get across. Don’t copycat someone else unless it is who you are. Iggy, played by Mark Wahlberg, is the lead singer. He was born to be the lead singer and a rock star. Be who you are born to be. BE AUTHENTIC!
There is no one to blame but yourself
Something I hear all the time when I am talking to people about their career growth in fantasy sports is how they were not given the chance to do such and such a thing at such and such company and that is why their career slowed. Point that mirror at yourself. Do it anyway. There are enough outlets for great content whether it is columns, notes, radio or video for you to do the things you want to do. Like Nike says: “Just Do It”. I like to throw an F-bomb in the middle of that.
When in doubt, rely on the truth
Don’t make crap up. I have spoken to people and even one this week , who told me that they did something great. I always “trust but verify”. It takes one phone call to find out if something that is hard to believe is really true. Getting dubbed a liar is a great way to lose all credibility. I always say: “all you have in the world is your reputation and your dignity. Keep them both at all costs.” Tell the truth. Like Jim Carey in Liar Liar says: "AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!"
Get criticism. It creates cheerleaders.
No, not real cheerleaders. The movie is Rock Star and not Weird Science. It takes time to get noticed in this business. When you do, you are here to stay. People in this business get attached to helping people too, so asking for criticism is a great way to learn more and get connected to good people. This is a great industry with great people in it. Also when someone gives you criticism or tries to help you, make sure you say thanks. Nothing is worse than spending hours upon hours trying to help someone further their career only to have them NEVER say thank you.
It’s who you know, how much they like you and TIMING
Getting to know people who run companies in fantasy sports is not that hard. It is a VERY approachable group. You can go to the expert draft events. You can go to the FSTA events. You can go to the Arizona Fall League events run by Baseball HQ. Find the people at these companies and get to know them. Meeting these people doesn’t mean you will get your start, but it can create a feeling for you and your talents so that when that elusive thing called timing comes along. Then, CARPE DIEM. UGH, wrong movie again.
Once begun, half done
Don’t tell people you have a great idea. Don’t tell people what you can do. START DOING IT. No one pays for ideas. The world only pays for executions. Begin working on your project. There are a million ways to get started. Getting people to see it is the hard part, but you need to get started to have a chance.
All prophecies are self-fulfilliing
You need to BELIEVE that you have a love and talent for something that people will want. Then you need to produce it and believe that it will be successful. Doing something hard and not believing it will be good is an equation for failure. The success recipe is one part great idea, four parts hard work, three parts spreading the word. And…never… ever… give up on a good idea. If you believe in it, others will eventually come to believe in it. The real question you have to ask if something is not working is “do you believe?” If you do, never give up.
“If it’s not scotch, it’s CRAP!”
From the old Monty Python series of course, but not sure if anyone out there really cares about this crap or not. Let me leave you with this for this week. If you get knocked down, let go, fail at starting your blog, company or creating the next revolutionary fantasy game, don't ever give up. Remember, it is just a flesh wound.
Next week, I will dig into what it takes to start-up a fantasy sports business? Of course, I want to cover fantasy sports business topics that are of interest to you, so please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer your questions next week. So remember the words of Rob from Rock Star…
“Wouldn’t you rather fail as yourself, then succeed as some Bobby Beers clone?”