Feb 1, 2020 / Saratoga Springs, NY
It was announced today to that Rob Thompson was added as a featured speaker at the 2020 Sports Podcast Conference which is part of the PodFest in Orlando March 5-8th.
"This is a group of passionate and skilled podcasters in the esports, gaming, and sports technology space so I am honored to be part of this group". explained Thompson "Even though I started SportsBiz Podcast several years ago as a platform for Biz dev, it developed into a place that helped me discover my next career adventure. I hope to bring as much value and a different perspective to the audience with a message of overcoming challeneges and getting unstuck with your mindset and business objectives".
The first annual International Sports, eSports, and Gaming Podcast Conference is part of a much larger PodFest conference which attracks thousands of podcasters, influencers and industry executives.
Click HERE for more information on the event and registration.
Rob Thompson spent three decades in grassroots sports marketing, media, and startups. He is currently leading a $MM athletic fundrasing campaign for his college alma mater, on the board of directors, fand founder of GamePlanU.org.
An interesting thing happened the day after GamePlanU Startup Orlando 2020. We realized that we experienced something rather special. A feeling we didn’t see coming or anticipate.
The unknown for me, was that I certainly wasn’t sure how everyone else felt? Perhaps my feelings were the emotional relief you feel after planning an event for several months with all the uncertainties swirling around in your head during this time. Maybe the enormous excitement I was coming down from the day after was just a one big ole exhale that we simply pulled it off? But how did everyone else feel?
“Rob I didn’t want it to end, it far exceeded my expectations and from what I am hearing, the same with everyone else. It was an absolute blast”
That was the phone conversation I had with founder and CEO of Revel Marketing, Steve Buzby early the morning after the final night of festivities and celebration.
I felt this flood of emotions like when you graduate and partially glad it’s over, but you didn’t necessarily want it to end and leave your friends. A sense of let’s not going home yet we are having way too much fun. Or winning the playoff game that you didn't expect to win to advance to the next round. That was the feeling.
Perhaps this weekend was extra special because it wasn’t what any of us anticipated, certainly from my perspective, my priority was to connect founders with investors and hoping that both parties would show up! Paranoia for sure but if you are in the event business, you know what I mean. Until they actually show up and check in….
Being a first-year startup demo day event we had no idea what to expect. We knew that we wanted more than just a 10-minute grip-it-and-rip-it demo day pitch where you really don't get the opportunity to tell your story and for an investor to get to really know that story and you're “Why”.
Our vision with the weekend event was to get everyone (Founder and Investors) to unplug for a few days and focus on the moment. We scheduled plenty of time to network, collaborate, and have enough time to figure out if there are collaborations and funding opportunities. We knew one day wasn’t enough.
To accomplish our goal we had to go multiple days. But these were days away from busy schedules for both the founders grinding away building a business and the investor who put as much value into the commodity of time as they do sometimes with an investment opportunity. So there was pressure to over-deliver value for both parties.
What caused us the most uncertainty was the unknown of the group chemistry going into the event. Maybe it’s years of going to conferences and hosting sales meetings that were the hangover from a bit of corporate PTSD.
Always nice to get out of the office, go to a conference, be seen at a few workshops or the keynote but primarily hang in the lobby networking or in the back of the sales meeting wishing for a fast and painless death.
But this one is your event, your name is on it. You have people investing in you and this idea. Booking flights and hotels, it’s real.
You ultimately have to bring value and pay the F&B bill. Even though you have been advising, mentoring and working with this group for several months preparing for this weekend. Sharing with them as much information, managing expectations, sharing pitch deck templates, P&L forms, and a playbook to help them grab the attention of an investor. We know how important and game-changing this moment can be for their life. No pressure.
We quickly figured out, this wasn't a group that was going to mail in their weekend participation. They weren't thinking about jumping out of the conference room window or wishing for a fast painless death. This was a group that invested their time and money to get something out of every moment and they came to compete!
There was such incredible energy from this group. So much respect, support, and willingness of collaboration. The comradery was amazing, the fact that they were all open and wanting to grow and develop, heck even when we started the demo day with a session on mental health and meditating, everyone and I mean everyone embraced the session even though it was a new experience for many.
Ok, so I peeked to see if everyone was participating and to my surprise, they were even the investors were engaged. Which they later shared how important and serious they take their morning routines to balance out their daily mental and physical health.
Ironically the mindfulness workshop became a very important part of the weekend, it truly was instrumental in the overall experience and rounded out the activities, panel discussions, networking events and demo day pitches.
And there were certainly plenty of social after-hours moments where investment opportunities hatched, relationships were cemented and late-night shenanigans became weekend legends.
So as we prepare for GamePlanU Startup Weekend 2.0 this Spring back in Orlando, we look forward to our next class of eager startup founders and welcome into our network of sponsors, investors, advisors, and inspiring innovators.
We now know what to expect, raising the bar to duplicate or exceed the experience. We can’t wait to onboard new founders, can’t wait to see our alumni again, build new friendships, collaborations and investments.
Looking back to that first event and weekend, what we didn’t anticipate was the incredible connection to each other. And that was what made it so special.
About those legendary stories, oh those stories you will just have to be here to create your own.
Click HERE and learn how to join us as a startup founder and investor.
If I could give myself business advice when I was in my 20’s, here are my top 5.
1) Learn accounting, compounded interest and start investing in real estate
2) Live below your means and life-style
3) Find multiple mentors and stay in touch with them
4) Read a book a month and rotate between fiction and non-fiction
5) Enjoy the journey, because everything will be ok.
The ultimate side hustle is revenue generating real estate. With a bit of homework on the economics and understanding the numbers, there is not a better way IMO, to generate monthly cash flow, build equity in an asset than investing long term in real estate. Love him or hate him, Grant Cardone, whom I interviewed on SportsBiz Podcast a few years ago, is the most vocal and visible in the space.
Grant provides so much free information on the math, how much to put down, what percentage is needed for upkeep, what areas are the best, how to price out the monthly rental, when to refinance, what's the benefits of interest only mortgages, how to leverage one asset to buy a second and third rental property.
If I held onto my first house that was walking distance to the beach and the commuter line to NYC, I may be retired! But you learn, move on and share the tips for others to benefit. I learned a great deal from Grants advice.
"Your oldest friends are your best friends" and will always be the ones you can't replace with adult friends. Although there are many adult friends you will grow close to during those work years and raising a family together, but none will be able to replace that neighborhood, High School or College buddy.
Mentors are the key not just to a job in sports, media, music or entertainment, they are the key to a long career. It's one thing to land your dream job, it's a whole different story to survive a 25+ career in an industry that you are passionate about and love. No job will be perfect and there will be bosses and coworkers you love and those that are toxic, but a great mentor can help you navigate and survive.
When you reach bump in the road or maybe hit the bottom in your career or business, chances are at one point you will. The people that will be there for you will be the ones that love you the most. When things are great, you are cruising in your life and there seems to be no ceiling, life has a way to knock you back. Those that love you the most will be there to help you backup on your feet. Don't forget them on your climb up.
"Focus where your feet are right now, at this moment. Are you healthy, are you happy, are you in control of your life?" Well enjoy it right now. You have heard it before, so I'll say it again and it's so very true. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone. If today the world is ok around you, enjoy the moment. Your future will be the result of your attitude, effort and the positive things you do everyday. Focus on those areas and the rest will take of itself. It goes by too fast to worry about the things that are going to happen anyways. So enjoy it.
Rob Thompson - A sports, media, and startup founder, author and podcast host. Rob spent most of his career at the NFL and The Walt Disney Company producing grassroots programming for kids and families. Rob is currently the Director of Athletic Development for The University of New Haven and the Founder and Executive Director of GamePlanU.