David Meltzer is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Sports 1 Marketing, where he utilizes his relationship capital and situational knowledge to secure diverse business opportunities for all of their clients and partners.
Dave has spent the last 25 years as an entrepreneur and executive in the legal, technology, and sports and entertainment fields with expertise across many industry verticals. He launched his career in sports at the world’s most notable sports agency, Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment, serving as CEO, where along with Leigh and Warren, negotiated over $2 billion in sports and entertainment contracts.
Dave is an author and sought after motivational speaker. His books include Connected to Goodness and Compassionate Capitalism, both of which became international bestsellers. He sits on numerous boards including JUST Capital, OCTANe business incubator, Celebvidy, Rose Bowl Foundation, Transformational Leadership Council, Unstoppable Foundation, among several others.
Tell me about your early career.
I actually began my career in technology, working for companies like West Publishing, Accenture’s Everypath, and also worked in telecom as the CEO of Samsung’s first smartphone division. After my success in tech, I briefly retired and shifted my focus to investing. Unfortunately, I made some bad decisions, resulting in me losing everything and declaring bankruptcy.
Due to my technology background, I was asked to join Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment as COO then CEO, where myself, along with super sports agent Leigh Steinberg (played by Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire) and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, negotiated over $2 billion in sports and entertainment contracts.
How did the concept for Sports 1 Marketing come about?
While working at Leigh Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, my business partner Warren Moon and I realized some of the shortcomings that occur in the agentry business. The business is very competitive and scarce, and when we started S1M we wanted to create a business that operated from the principle of abundance.
How was the first year in business?
When we started, we had a team of just three people: myself, Warren, and Scott Carter, an agent who we had worked with at LSSE. The first year was not easy and took a lot of hustling from all of us in order to get things done.
What was your marketing strategy?
We based our strategy on two things: situational knowledge and relationship capital. After my career in technology and Warren’s career in sports, we both had a wealth of relationship capital, giving us one degree of separation from any athlete, team, or business. We wanted to help bring together the right companies, people, and projects in order to make a lot of money, so that we could help a lot of people and have a lot of fun.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
One of the best bits of advice I got from Leigh helped the company to grow. Leigh always talked about the importance of being kind to your future self, and I took this idea and created an internship program around it. We helped to train future leaders in the sports business and our interns helped us to grow.
How do you define success?
I think success happens when you are truly enjoying the pursuit of your potential. Being inspired and enjoying the process of working towards a goal is success, no matter if you reach that end-goal or not.
What is the key to success?
I believe there are four principles that are key to both success and happiness: gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication. Gratitude gives you a positive perspective on life. Empathy encourages you to forgive yourself, because you cannot give something to others that you do not have. Accountability empowers you to deal with anything that comes your way in life. Finally, effective communication helps you to connect to people and inspiration.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of asking for help from others. Be radically humble and ask people who are in a position that you want to be in for guidance. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way, losing millions of dollars simply because I was too full of myself to ask for help.
What are some of your favorite books?
Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is probably my favorite book of all-time. I used to say that each time I read it, I made another million dollars. When it came time to write my own books, I went to the Napoleon Hill Foundation’s Greg S. Reid for help, resulting in two bestsellers so far.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
I think my most difficult day as an entrepreneur was when my wife confronted me about how I had changed and become entitled, telling me that she wasn’t happy anymore. If was also one of the most rewarding days of my life, and helped put me back on the right track.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I have always been a person who believes that what you’re made of comes out when you are under pressure. Besides, there’s only one person who can stop you, and that person is you.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
The first order of business for any entrepreneur is simple: do what you need to do everyday to stay in business. If your doors are not open, you cannot succeed. It is also important to surround yourself with the right people and the right ideas. Find the people that have the situational knowledge or relationship capital that you need and ask them for help. Most people will help you if they are able.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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