NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden (Director of Innovation @Nike Digital Sport

NetWorks Spotlight Interview with….Jason Mayden, Director of Innovation – Nike Digital Sport
By Tracey Savell Reavis

Jason Mayden Director of Innovation, Nike Digital Sports

Jason Mayden could talk about carbon fiber arch plates and laser etched tongue details all day. His goal, from the young age of 12, was to design sneakers, specifically Air Jordans. He chased his Nike dream with a laser-like focus, and landed a summer internship at Brand Jordan, while in his third year of design school.

But it was six years later, when the impossible dream, at least for a kid growing up on the Southside of Chicago, came true: He was named the lead designer on the new Jordan shoe. Drawing inspiration from the sport of fencing, from the propulsion of a Paralympic athlete, and from the legendary ball player himself, Jason created the Air Jordan 2009 with a design described as both conforming to the brand’s storied history, and demonstrating a fresh and forward-thinking approach. Since then, he’s spearheaded the design of signature shoes for Derek Jeter and Chris Paul.

More than just a former athlete – he turned down football scholarships to pursue a career as a designer – and more than just a creator – he considers himself an illustrator and graphic artist – Jason is also an innovator who can see the big picture for business. He just completed his Masters of Science at Stanford Graduate School of Business as a Sloan Fellow, where students are chosen based on their past accomplishments and their potential as future senior leaders. When Jason starts his new position on August 15th, one that was created specifically for him, there’s no doubt this is yet another chance for him to make an impression and to leave his unique footprint on the world of sport innovation.

So first question, what exactly will you be doing as the Director of Innovation at Nike Digital Sports?
[Laughing] Well, at Nike our core strength is the ability to innovate. This position is a way to implement technology into the sports world and to give the consumer a brand new experience. It’s a really fun, creative role, part design, part product development, and part business development.

And how did you find yourself on the receiving end of a newly created position?
I knew digital sports was a hot topic. And it was being in the environment at Stanford. It was a collaborative process, based on my interest and the company’s needs. I would say the process took the whole year. I basically went to class, and then this is what I would do 2 or 3 hours at night. This was my pet project. Then [this past] January I put together a presentation, and it morphed into the role that I now have.

It’s really about where the company is going, and where your core competencies and talents can fit in with that strategic vision.

You seem pretty proactive when it comes to your career. Would you say that has been a key to your success?
Yeah, ten thousand percent. But not even proactive, I would say I was curious. I pursued Nike because I learned at an early age that no one is going to come to your doorstep and give you a magic ticket. So I took the initiative. I remember someone telling me, Somebody has to design shoes. Why can’t it be you? And that stuck in my mind. Why can’t it be me? Why can’t I be that kid?

I asked for help early. I exposed myself to different conversations, different concepts. I had books that gave me a different perspective. I escaped through books. Reading Lord of the Flies, and Peter Pan gave me a chance to dream of a world outside of Chicago. That helped build my vision and that helped give me the confidence to take that first step.

What is it about sneakers that has captured your attention? What made you want to design shoes?
I’ve always loved shoes. When I was a kid, I had shoes that were literally un-wearable. I used to put duct tape on my shoes. So every time I design a shoe, regardless of how much it’s being sold for, I try to really pour my heart and soul  into it and give the kid more than just a piece of leather, but a story and value. Because I know there’s a kid out there, who was just like me who saved up their money, and this is their first pair of shoes, that really will make them feel confident and good about themselves, and I want them to take my shoes out of the box and put them on their feet and feel like they can do anything.

You consider yourself a designer, and yet you were interested in attending Stanford and pursuing an MBA?
I’m the type of person to turn my weakness into a strength. I applied, took my GMATs, and interviewed. But I don’t have an economics or finance background, and never worked as an analyst. And a lot of people said you’ll never get into business school being an artist. But I said, you know, creativity has purpose and a place in corporate America. I played it up as my strength. I said, “this is why I should be here”, because I’m completely different.  I knew this would be a chance for me to understand the conversations that were going on in [meeting] rooms and for me to contribute in my own unique way.

Michael Jordan at Press Event for 2009 Air Jordan Release

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I got was from my former big boss Michael Jordan. And he told me early on, when I was an intern, always under promise and over deliver.  And I live by that. I never over promise. I never try to sell someone on more than what I can do. I think being understated, being humble and being honest about your capabilities upfront then people start to build a trust and respect for your work and your work ethic. I live by that advice and I pass it on.

What advice would you give to people starting out about reaching their goals and achieving a seemingly impossible dream?
First thing, don’t tell yourself that it’s impossible. [Laughing] Tell yourself that it is going to take a lot of hard work and that it will be difficult. But with faith and the right team around you, nothing is impossible.

Dreaming is a free ticket to your final destination of where you want to be. I’m constantly daydreaming, about where I want to go in my life. I encourage myself; I’m constantly pouring positivity into my life.

And do everything you can to arm yourself with knowledge.  If you remove the notion of impossibility, be prayerful, and surround yourself with a positive group of people, the sky’s the limit.

What kind of career advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get into the sports industry, especially about the amount of work?
People look at hard work as if it is degrading or that it will take too long. I look at it from the framework of there’s heart work, h-e-a-r-t, where you have a passion and you’re going to do it anyway, and hard work, h-a-r-d, manual labor, where you’re doing it because you have to, because you need to take care of your family. I grew up watching my parents do hard work. They did what they needed to do to give us opportunities.  Now I’m in a position to do heart work, something that I love, a passion. And when it’s something you love, it shouldn’t matter how long it takes. You should be doing it because it makes you feel complete.

What does giving back mean to you and how do you support young people?
Giving back to me means giving time. I try to make myself available to as many people as possible. You can give money and resources, and that’s all necessary. But for me, in the type of world that I’m in, I try to spend time talking with people. And it means the world, because I had key people talk to me, and I never forgot it. Because everybody has gifts, whether developed or not. Sometime it takes just one person to let you know that they see it in you. So I try to be that one person for a lot of people.

If you weren’t designing shoes, what do you think you would be doing?
My other dream job besides designing the Jordan while working at Nike was to be in the movie industry, in special effects. And if that didn’t work out, probably an art professor, or coach. I just really love any way to interact with the young generation. At some point in my career, I want to go back and teach.

Get to Know Jason
Favorite Artists: Czech illustrator Alphonse Mucha and American concept artist Syd Mead

Favorite Clothing Designers: Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs

Favorite Shoe Designers: Manolo Blahnik, Tinker Hatfield

On his nightstand: Warrior of the Light, by Paulo Coelho

Most influential book: Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

In his music library: Anything from Bjork, Joe Henderson, Miles Davis

Follow Jason on Twitter @JayMay_ChiCity and find out more about what he’s doing on his website www.megamayden.com

Follow NetWorks Sports Consulting on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports and sign up to receive the “Changing the Game” Newsletter today!

 

Let us know what you think of this NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden in the Comment section below!

 


NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden (Director of Innovation @Nike Digital Sport

NetWorks Spotlight Interview with….Jason Mayden, Director of Innovation – Nike Digital Sport
By Tracey Savell Reavis

 

Jason Mayden Director of Innovation, Nike Digital Sports

Jason Mayden could talk about carbon fiber arch plates and laser etched tongue details all day. His goal, from the young age of 12, was to design sneakers, specifically Air Jordans. He chased his Nike dream with a laser-like focus, and landed a summer internship at Brand Jordan, while in his third year of design school.

But it was six years later, when the impossible dream, at least for a kid growing up on the Southside of Chicago, came true: He was named the lead designer on the new Jordan shoe. Drawing inspiration from the sport of fencing, from the propulsion of a Paralympic athlete, and from the legendary ball player himself, Jason created the Air Jordan 2009 with a design described as both conforming to the brand’s storied history, and demonstrating a fresh and forward-thinking approach. Since then, he’s spearheaded the design of signature shoes for Derek Jeter and Chris Paul.

More than just a former athlete – he turned down football scholarships to pursue a career as a designer – and more than just a creator – he considers himself an illustrator and graphic artist – Jason is also an innovator who can see the big picture for business. He just completed his Masters of Science at Stanford Graduate School of Business as a Sloan Fellow, where students are chosen based on their past accomplishments and their potential as future senior leaders. When Jason starts his new position on August 15th, one that was created specifically for him, there’s no doubt this is yet another chance for him to make an impression and to leave his unique footprint on the world of sport innovation.

So first question, what exactly will you be doing as the Director of Innovation at Nike Digital Sports?
[Laughing] Well, at Nike our core strength is the ability to innovate. This position is a way to implement technology into the sports world and to give the consumer a brand new experience. It’s a really fun, creative role, part design, part product development, and part business development.

And how did you find yourself on the receiving end of a newly created position?
I knew digital sports was a hot topic. And it was being in the environment at Stanford. It was a collaborative process, based on my interest and the company’s needs. I would say the process took the whole year. I basically went to class, and then this is what I would do 2 or 3 hours at night. This was my pet project. Then [this past] January I put together a presentation, and it morphed into the role that I now have.

It’s really about where the company is going, and where your core competencies and talents can fit in with that strategic vision.

You seem pretty proactive when it comes to your career. Would you say that has been a key to your success?
Yeah, ten thousand percent. But not even proactive, I would say I was curious. I pursued Nike because I learned at an early age that no one is going to come to your doorstep and give you a magic ticket. So I took the initiative. I remember someone telling me, Somebody has to design shoes. Why can’t it be you? And that stuck in my mind. Why can’t it be me? Why can’t I be that kid?

I asked for help early. I exposed myself to different conversations, different concepts. I had books that gave me a different perspective. I escaped through books. Reading Lord of the Flies, and Peter Pan gave me a chance to dream of a world outside of Chicago. That helped build my vision and that helped give me the confidence to take that first step.

What is it about sneakers that has captured your attention? What made you want to design shoes?
I’ve always loved shoes. When I was a kid, I had shoes that were literally un-wearable. I used to put duct tape on my shoes. So every time I design a shoe, regardless of how much it’s being sold for, I try to really pour my heart and soul  into it and give the kid more than just a piece of leather, but a story and value. Because I know there’s a kid out there, who was just like me who saved up their money, and this is their first pair of shoes, that really will make them feel confident and good about themselves, and I want them to take my shoes out of the box and put them on their feet and feel like they can do anything.

You consider yourself a designer, and yet you were interested in attending Stanford and pursuing an MBA?
I’m the type of person to turn my weakness into a strength. I applied, took my GMATs, and interviewed. But I don’t have an economics or finance background, and never worked as an analyst. And a lot of people said you’ll never get into business school being an artist. But I said, you know, creativity has purpose and a place in corporate America. I played it up as my strength. I said, “this is why I should be here”, because I’m completely different.  I knew this would be a chance for me to understand the conversations that were going on in [meeting] rooms and for me to contribute in my own unique way.

Michael Jordan at Press Event for 2009 Air Jordan Release

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I got was from my former big boss Michael Jordan. And he told me early on, when I was an intern, always under promise and over deliver.  And I live by that. I never over promise. I never try to sell someone on more than what I can do. I think being understated, being humble and being honest about your capabilities upfront then people start to build a trust and respect for your work and your work ethic. I live by that advice and I pass it on.

What advice would you give to people starting out about reaching their goals and achieving a seemingly impossible dream?
First thing, don’t tell yourself that it’s impossible. [Laughing] Tell yourself that it is going to take a lot of hard work and that it will be difficult. But with faith and the right team around you, nothing is impossible.

Dreaming is a free ticket to your final destination of where you want to be. I’m constantly daydreaming, about where I want to go in my life. I encourage myself; I’m constantly pouring positivity into my life.

And do everything you can to arm yourself with knowledge.  If you remove the notion of impossibility, be prayerful, and surround yourself with a positive group of people, the sky’s the limit.

What kind of career advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get into the sports industry, especially about the amount of work?
People look at hard work as if it is degrading or that it will take too long. I look at it from the framework of there’s heart work, h-e-a-r-t, where you have a passion and you’re going to do it anyway, and hard work, h-a-r-d, manual labor, where you’re doing it because you have to, because you need to take care of your family. I grew up watching my parents do hard work. They did what they needed to do to give us opportunities.  Now I’m in a position to do heart work, something that I love, a passion. And when it’s something you love, it shouldn’t matter how long it takes. You should be doing it because it makes you feel complete.

What does giving back mean to you and how do you support young people?
Giving back to me means giving time. I try to make myself available to as many people as possible. You can give money and resources, and that’s all necessary. But for me, in the type of world that I’m in, I try to spend time talking with people. And it means the world, because I had key people talk to me, and I never forgot it. Because everybody has gifts, whether developed or not. Sometime it takes just one person to let you know that they see it in you. So I try to be that one person for a lot of people.

If you weren’t designing shoes, what do you think you would be doing?
My other dream job besides designing the Jordan while working at Nike was to be in the movie industry, in special effects. And if that didn’t work out, probably an art professor, or coach. I just really love any way to interact with the young generation. At some point in my career, I want to go back and teach.

Get to Know Jason
Favorite Artists: Czech illustrator Alphonse Mucha and American concept artist Syd Mead

Favorite Clothing Designers: Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs

Favorite Shoe Designers: Manolo Blahnik, Tinker Hatfield

On his nightstand: Warrior of the Light, by Paulo Coelho

Most influential book: Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

 

In his music library: Anything from Bjork, Joe Henderson, Miles Davis

Follow Jason on Twitter @JayMay_ChiCity and find out more about what he’s doing on his website www.megamayden.com

Follow NetWorks Sports Consulting on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports and sign up to receive the “Changing the Game” Newsletter today!

 

Let us know what you think of this NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden in the Comment section below!

 


NetWorks Sports Future Leaders – Chris Hobbs Jr. (@MetroGamesExpo)

NetWorks is committed to supporting young professionals looking to get their foot in the door in the sports industry.  Our team has received an extraordinary amount of support throughout our careers and are truly impressed with the generation of young leaders who are ready to help take the sports industry to all new heights.  If you know of any individuals like this, please let us know about them.  If you are in a position to hire or recommend these NetWorks Rising Stars, please contact us and we will put you in touch with them.  They are our future!

Today’s NetWorks Rising Star is Chris Hobbs Jr.

Chris is quite an impressive young man.  After speaking with him, you will instantly recognize that he has a bright future ahead of him.  He is a personable individual who is committed to being the best at whatever he sets his mind to and backs that commitment up with an extraordinary work ethic.  He is definitely a future leader in the sports industry.
–Angela Taylor, President – NetWorks Sports Consulting


Name: Chris Hobbs Jr.

College(s): Stanford University (Undergraduate) and Georgia State University (Graduate)

Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Communications.  Master of Science in Sports Administration – conferred 2012


Resume Available: Yes, upon request (send email request)

Tell us a little about your background.
I’m a Stanford graduate from Marietta, GA. I was a two-year letterwinner as a Cardinal football player during my time at Stanford.

What type of work experience have you had?
I have work experience in a few different fields outside of the sports industry. I have worked as a campaign assistant for former GA Governor Roy Barnes as he campaigned for re-election. I’ve completed a customer service internship for Lindner Capital Advisors, a financial advising company. I also have experience as a marketing intern for Radon Service Agreement Corp., designing marketing plans and creating promotional ideas.

What type of job(s) are you seeking?
I am seeking an entry-level position in the sports industry, specifically with a college or professional football team.

What is your greatest strength?
My greatest strength has to be my work ethic. My work ethic, along with my experience in and passion for sports sets me apart from most candidates. I believe my experience as a student-athlete allows me to learn quickly and work efficiently. My passion for sports ignites my work ethic which has brought me success in the past.

Tell us about a project that you completed successfully.
The Metro Fitness Games and Expo is an event that I’m working on. We are planning this event for the Summer 2012. The website for the event is www.metrofitnessgamesandexpo.com. This event provides a competitive outlet for fitness club members similar to the Olympics.

What experience (if any) do you have in the sports industry?

I have experience in a few different areas of the sports industry. I have held a marketing internship in sports radio. I currently work in student-athlete development for a Division I university. I have also worked in athlete management, where I facilitated player recruitment and networked with NFL personnel.

Why do you want to work in the sports industry?
I want to work in the sports industry because sports have played a vital role in my life. My passion and love for everything sports is unparalleled and having the chance to do something I love is a true gift. I believe I have all of the tools to overachieve and accomplish great things in this industry.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
My parents have had the biggest influence in my life without a doubt. Not only are they role models, but they motivate and support me to go above and beyond with anything I do.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I would like to be in a top-level management position for a high-performance sports organization. I am well-versed in sports, so that organization may be a college or professional team, a sports agency, or in sports entertainment.

Anything else we should know about you?

I was elected Treasurer of the 2011-2012 GA State Sports Management and Administration Club. I have volunteered at various local schools and helped with many youth football camps.


For more information about Chris or to request a resume, please send an email to info@networkssports.com



NetWorks Spotlight Interview with Charles Davis

NetWorks Spotlight Interview withCharles Davis, Sports Analyst, Fox Sports & NFL Network

By Tracey Savell Reavis

Charles Davis

The voice you hear when Charles Davis calls football games on TV sounds equally energetic when you speak with him one-on-one. The 13-year veteran announcer has covered college football, basketball and baseball, the NFL, NBA, PGA, Arena Football and has worked on both radio and TV. And he’s just been partnered with Gus Johnson, as the two become the lead team for Fox Sports College Football games this coming season.

Charles grew up in the small town of New Paltz, New York, but his roots are anchored in Tennessee. Partly because he was born there, and partly because it’s where both of his parents are from, he’d always wanted to return to college in the Volunteer State. Back when he was eight-years old he saw Condredge Holloway, the first African American quarterback to start at an SEC school, playing in a University of Tennessee game, and knew from that moment exactly where he wanted to play football. After four years as defensive back for the Vols, Charles left Knoxville armed with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a Masters in History.

Since football season hasn’t started yet, you can’t tune in to hear the sportscaster’s voice. But you can read the story of how he achieved success, in his own words. It will have to do for now, while we all wait for the first Saturday in September.

In your career, you’ve had a number of different sports-related jobs. How did you end up in broadcasting?
I found out a friend told a TV exec that he thought I’d be good on TV. I never knew he’d had this conversation. Then two years later the TV exec called me, asked me to try out and I got my first assignment as an analyst with Fox Sports South.

Do you remember the first game you covered, and what the experience like?
Yes, it was August 1997, Memphis State at Mississippi State. I may have been awful, but I remember I had a lot of fun and that I thought I wanted to do more of it. Now I’m working on the craft.

What was the transition like for you going from playing college sports to not being able to play as a professional athlete?
My goal was always to be in the NFL. Fortunately to prepare for life after football, I did have a Plan B. I started grad school in my red-shirt year. Then I thought about politics, I thought about law school. But I knew I wanted to stay in sports. Sports has always had its tug on me.

What would you say to people who think it’s a given that a former athlete would be able to get a job in sports broadcasting?
Yeah, I say it takes 20 years to become an overnight success. It’s like that with actors. Someone will have a breakout movie and people will think they are new and say, ‘Where did they come from?’ When they’ve been there all the time, putting in
10, 15 years, getting better. And it happens not just in movies, but in all walks of life. If it were a given, I would have started right after school. I fought my you-know-what off to prove that I am capable. I’d say very few people will outwork me. And I’ve never taken it for granted that I’ve arrived.

Can you give us an idea how much preparation and work you put into a game week? Or is it just a 3-hour game broadcast and you’re done?
Wouldn’t that be nice? I don’t typically count the number of hours I prepare, but it depends on the game. I know the teams, but there’s extensive research. The number one thing is to know the players’ names and numbers. And I look at game tape to watch for a teams’ strength, for nuances, and to learn things about players. We’re looking to tell interesting stories. We’re ‘Taking off the helmet’ figuratively of the players, to tell you something different.

What kind of career advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get into the sports industry?
I’d say be prepared. Everyone always wants the answer that eliminates the hard work. But it’s the work that keeps you there. And probably not to take no for an answer. If one company doesn’t want you, try others. Go through the stages – anger, grief – then move on. Opportunity could be at the supermarket, or on the seat next to you on a plane. It could be anywhere. If something is your passion, figure out how to make it happen. There are other ways to get through, get over and get by it. Be a fighter.

Let’s talk about your new assignment and partner at FOX Sports. Are you friends with Gus Johnson, and are you looking forward to working with him?
No, we’ve never met. But we’ve already spoken on the phone a little before the announcement and chatted after as well. It is exciting and I am looking forward to it.

Do you think this is historic or worth mentioning the pairing of two African-American broadcasters calling a Division I College Football game?
I think it would be disingenuous not to notice. But it’s not the principle focus. We’ve both worked hard to get to where we are, and we’ve gotten there because we’ve merited it. The bottom line is it’s the work.

Do you think there will ever be a College Football playoff system with a championship game?
I don’t know. I don’t think it would necessarily be good or bad. I think the bowl experience is great for many kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity. Each one that I went to was distinctive. I don’t think you can put bowl games into a playoff system. I’d say if we ever go with a championship game, to know what you’re giving up – it could change everything.

Get to Know Charles

Sport he’d love to broadcast but hasn’t yet: Hockey

Favorite sport after football: Basketball

On his nightstand: The latest Harlan Coben thriller

All-time favorite film: Say Anything

Most influential book: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

In his music library: Old school, sounds of Motown

Tune in to FOX and the NFL Network as Charles offers his expert analysis on college football and the NFL.

Follow Charles on Twitter @CFD22 and find out more about him at www.charlesdavissports.com


Industry News – Pac-12 Media Deal

Impact of New Pac-12 Media Contract
Written by Angela Taylor

While we still don’t realize the long-term implications on the collegiate athletics landscape, a week ago today, Pac-10/Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott stood before an audience of media members, coaches, and athletic administrators gathered in a ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore and shared the nuances of a new 12-year/$3 Billion media deal between the Pac-12 and Fox & ESPN.

The press conference lasted for less than 22 minutes but has captivated the attention of sports executives around the world.  One senses that Larry Scott, through his innovative leadership, is setting the Pac-12 Conference up to challenge what many consider to be the elite conferences in college sports (the SEC and the Big XII).  Watch the press conference here.

Yesterday, the Pac-12 announced their inaugural early TV Schedule for games that will be televised on ABC/ESPN during the 2011 football season.  The schedule, which includes 20 games televised on either Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, pales in comparison to the extensive coverage Pac-12 football & men’s basketball will receive under the new deal.  Fans, however, will have to wait until 2012-13 to enjoy this widespread coverage.

Some highlights of the Pac-12 Media Contract

  • Twelve year, $3 Billion contract from 2012-13 to 2023-24
  • Pac-12 schools have agreed upon an equal revenue share model, so annual revenue will be distributed equally to all 12 schools on an annual basis
  • There is an annual escalator throughout the life of the contract, but schools will average $20+ million per school year over the 12-year period
  • Pac-12 also created Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will own the Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Digital Network, and Pac-12 Enterprises
  • Forty-four regular season football games & 68 regular season men’s basketball games will be broadcast across ESPN or FOX national broadcast networks or national cable networks.  For more on the read the press release.

One of the more interesting aspects of the deal is that Scott was savvy enough to convince UCLA & USC to share the wealth equally.  USC, a program that many consider to have as strong a brand as the University of Texas while residing in the 2nd largest media market in the United States, probably had enough clout to hold out for a larger share.  Nonetheless, each of the teams in the newly formed Pac-12 conference, will benefit greatly from Scott’s aggressive & innovative negotiations over the long-term.

The Pac-12 owns a plethora of content (academic & athletic) to distribute across the different channels and intends to do so when its Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Digital Network come to fruition.  As the Big Ten can attest, getting to the point where the network is profitable may be quite a chore.  A task that can be made easier if Scott can find a way to negotiate a relationship with a cable provider to ensure that the new channel is available in households across the country.

So while the long-term verdict is still out, Scott & the Pac-12 get two thumbs up for the monumental shift of the college landscape that we all witnessed one week ago.