Brand Loyalty and Hustle: Lessons Learned Working in the NBA, NFL, and MLB, with Jarrett Nobles

See if you can follow this career path. Jarrett Nobles has gone from legendary DeMatha High to FAMU to event planning to Edward Jones to the Houston Astros to Duke MBA to a startup to the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Los Angeles Chargers, and some other stops along the way. He’s moved 10 times (10!) since graduating high school. Jarrett is all about the hustle, actively helping his network, and building brand loyalty for his team, his clients, and his connections.

Jarrett Nobles Los Angeles Chargers Donald Thompson Podcast

Donald Thompson: Welcome to the Donald Thompson podcast. I have here with me. My guest here Jarrett Nobles  Jarrett, and I got to know each other  several years ago have kept in touch with email  and social media, but haven’t gotten to spend the time like we would like to. And so Jarett, welcome to the Donald Thompson podcast.

Jarrett:   Thank you for having me. I definitely appreciate the opportunity.

So one of the things that we’re going to jump into today in Jared, I’m going to give you some space after a brief introduction is Jared has a phenomenal and growing career in the marketing space, in the partnership space, business development space, in the sports and entertainment industry.

Donald Thompson: And so that’s a space that a lot of people aspire to get into to be a part of the fabric of kind of that superstar arena. And that component of athletics that really drives us as a part of our economic engine and also a part of our entertainment fabric. But I got to know Jared, as he was finishing up his MBA at the Fuqua school of business  at Duke university. And so Jared, why don’t you take a few minutes so that we’re all talking as friends, tell our audience about you. Where you were raised brothers, sister. So we can get to know you, then we’ll dig into a few topics

Jarrett: For sure. So Jarret Nobles native of the Washington DC metropolitan area, DMV as our friends up north call it, born in Jersey

I grew up  there. I have five younger siblings, two sisters and three brothers. I was fortunate enough to go to Dematha Catholic high school, which is a all boys sports powerhouse based in Hyattsville, Maryland. Tremendous experience definitely played a major role in terms of making me the person that I am today.

From there, I attended Florida A and M University in Tallahassee, Florida , a historically black college, which you can see here behind me. I had to pay homage to my Alma mater and yeah. You know, while I was, while I was on campus was, was very involved in a lot of different things, actually. some friends and I actually co founded a company that I like to say was in the event, promotion, lifestyle marketing space, which is a fancy way of saying i threw parties.

Well, the party promoter on campus, you never really knew or thought that it would lead to anything, but I can remember very distinct conversation where my business partners and I had the very real conversation around. Is it something that was just cool in college, but we want to keep doing it. They want to know, try to grow.

And, we decided we would continue trying to do the events.

And we essentially started doing events in all of the cities where we got our first jobs. I was in St. Louis, but I had partners in DC, Chicago, and Houston, and, you know, essentially we were working by day in one, one job. And by night we were doing these events.

And so I was living a double life there. If you will moonlighting doing these events. And in st. Louis, we realized quickly that we couldn’t generate the same kind of a revenue through a traditional cover charge. I’m as we could in our larger markets, DC, Chicago, and Houston, but we had a young professional demographic, and companies really gravitated towards the events we were doing.

We started out with a happy hour series that we call cocktails connect really started working with nonprofit organizations and big companies in st. Louis. Well, we were able to source talent as it pertains to. You know, big brothers, big sisters, mentors, and people who could then work with those types of organizations and then tie in, you know, brands who wanted to do well as well.

You’ll kind of do well by doing good. And by tying all that together was able to put together just a wealth of experience working with sponsors and, was able to finagle my way into an opportunity with the Houston Astros, which is a whole nother story in and of itself. But, you know, after working at Edward Jones for four years in st.

Louis and their headquarters, I decided that I would take the $30,000 pay cut and go work for the Astros, which was, you know, one of the most amazing experiences of my life was really, you know, it was funny. It was like, you know, you, you always said you would chase a dream, right. And then when it’s placed in front of you taking the opposite of, in spite of the paycut, you know, something, I just feel like it was too good to pass up in terms of just the life story.

I feel like, you know, I would, I would always regret it if I didn’t make that move. From there that was at Houston an interesting time. And the ownership had just acquired the team. And, you know, there was this a lot of transition, but I learned so much, you know, in a lot of ways I was doing for the Astros on a large scale way, what I had been doing for the company I started.

And, you know, I just really became enamored with the concept that brands and organizations wants to be a part of the activities that consumers enjoy. And I just. Like started eating that, but became a nerd and really, as it pertains to just that concept. And then after a couple of years, I applied for and was accepted.

into a program called MLT, I was in the MBA prep program. They actually have multiple layers of program, but for the MBA prep program, that’s really cool because it’s, you know, 300 underrepresented minorities who all have aspirations of going to business school. And they built this to the point now where I think like 90% of the fellows.

Ended up getting accepted into a top 10 MBA program. And so I was able to gain kind of finagle my way into the Fuqua school of business at Duke, which was a phenomenal couple of years of my life. definitely enjoyed it. you know, while I was there, I was a student that was going left when everybody was right.

Right. I knew for a fact, I didn’t really want to do the traditional career thing. And, you know, I think that was probably just by way of, you know, I didn’t go to school until seven years post undergrad. So I was. 30 when I started my MBA, cause I was an undergrad for five. Cause I had done an internship that was a six month internship.

So I was school for  an extra year.

But yeah, so, you know, spending two years in business school kind of going a different way than everybody else was just an interesting experience. You know, I had a chance to intern for an artificial intelligence tech startup in Silicon Valley. And then when I came back, I was, my second year I was playing at conferences.

You know, I plan the media entertainment, sports conference, the entrepreneurship venture capital conference. And the media team sports conference, or let’s say the minority business conferences and really the whole goal was just, you know, I figured it’d be one thing if I said, Hey Donald, will you talk to me in my career?

It’d be another thing. If I said, Hey, will you come speak at Duke? And I, I tried to emphasize Duke, you know, and use that as much as possible use that, that good, you know, email address. Cause I figured people would be more inclined to take the email. And so as such really looked at business school as like a two year business trip and, you know, was able to leverage those conferences to build a network in industries.

I was most interested in graduated business school and I was in the, you know, five or 6% graduated without a job offer. And that was somewhat by design because I knew I wanted to do some things that were very specific, but, you know, I, you know, I was fortunate enough to attend a conference where, I had an opportunity to receive an offer from company in Chicago, as well as a startup in Austin, you know?

And it was funny cause I really wanted to go to Chicago. My grandparents were there. My mother is from Chicago originally, but I ended up taking the offer in Austin and I was in Austin for all those. Oh man, probably six months before I was laid off. And so, you know, it was definitely interesting and kind of moving your whole life, graduated from business school.

You got this taps in MBA. I get laid off then literally six days before Christmas and then applied cold for a position doing business development with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And I was offered the position. So I moved to Cleveland in March of 2018. We went to the NBA finals and then, on July 1st.

Yeah, a star player decided to move to Los Angeles and played for the Lakers. And so, yeah, it was definitely a very interesting experience. you know, learned a lot was there for two years was able to have some success while I was there. And then, you know, applied for, actually reached out to my current boss who was the chief revenue officer at the chargers.

We had actually built a relationship, because he saw an article I had published and. Actually literally reached out just inquiring to learn more about an opportunity that was available and kind of got thrown into the interview process. And I was fortunate enough to be selected for my current role where I’m with director of business development for the Los Angeles chargers.

Donald Thompson: That is a powerful five minute journey, right. And try, fail, adjust, learn from every situation and keep your attitude moving forward. I want to ask you about. Kind of your perspective as you went through what could be considered a little windy road? Like how did you keep it positive? How did you keep it focused forward? Because everything didn’t work out according to any plan you might’ve thought six months then get laid off, moving your life in the different cities. How did you keep yourself focused on keeping it moving forward?

Jarrett: That’s a really interesting question. I think, if I was to be honest, you know, it’s easy to connect the dots looking backwards, right?

Like it’s easy to, to tell the story and I can, I could condense it in such a way where it’s like, Oh, it looks like you had the whole thing planned out. And I can tell you when I threw my first party, I had no clue. I’d worked for an NFL team one day. Like. I mean, I have been fortunate to work for, you know, major league baseball, NBA, NFL for that matter.

But I think, you know, the reality is, is that, you know, for me, I’m really grounded in my faith, my family, and I think, and my friends, and I think that, you know, by really having that strong support group and, you know, I hate to say that I’m a kid whose parents told him that he could be whatever he wants to be when he grew up.

And I actually believed it. If that makes sense. You know, people say that a lot, but I don’t know that everybody really. Takes hold of what that means. And I was fortunate, you know, I was able to graduate from undergrad with no student loan debt. So I was able to, you know, that, that pay cut, if you will. You know, I was able to, to, to try things cause I wasn’t, I didn’t have the burden of debt hanging over, over my head if that makes sense.

And so I can’t say I did it by myself. I think that I’ve had a really strong community. That’s always pushed me. You know, the thing about is, I mean, I moved, I’ve lived in 10 cities. I graduated high school, 2003, Los Angeles is my 10th move. Since then. And so I think there’s another part that’s just, you know, not being afraid to yeah.

Try new things. If that makes sense. And you know, I stay plugged into the, to everybody who’s ever been a part of the journey. I literally can’t do it without them.

Donald Thompson: No, that’s super powerful in, I liked the threads of nuggets that you’re layering into it because what you described is I stay plugged in to everybody.

That’s been a part of my journey. And one of the things I’ll say that you do. Pretty regularly in the way we keep in touch. And I keep up with you. It’s maybe every three months you send like a note to the people in your network and friends about, Hey, listen, this is what I’ve been up to. And quite frankly, like I’ve looked forward to what you’ve been up to those three or four months. Why did you start doing that? Where did that idea come from? But it’s great.

Jarrett: No, that’s a good one, man. when I got laid off, I’ve started sending emails like every month, like, Hey, just a heads up. I got laid off. Here’s all the places I’m looking.tYou know, I think you spend all this time, like building this network, right?

Whether it’s, you know, going to fam U or MLT or  Duke and its like people, I  don’t know for whatever reason, maybe not as comfortable reaching out when they need something. So, you know, initially it just started out like, Hey, like I’m not working. Here’s where I’m thinking about working. Like. Can somebody help point me in the right direction?

Do you know anybody there, like, you know, can you just throw me a bone? And then when I got hired by the Cavs, you know, I’ll never forget the email I sent Ben was like, okay, well, I don’t want to be the guy who only reached out when he needs something. I also don’t want to reach out every month. So let me decrease the frequency.

And we’ll make it once a quarter and I’ve tried my best to really stick to that. And it’s crazy, you know, cause you know, right after, the summer of 2018 and we had changed with the roster, it was a tough time. And I think that I was so caught up with everything that was going on that I forgot to send a couple of those, probably a good six months stretch where I didn’t send out anything.

And I forget there are two people. One was the head of diversity at major league baseball, the other, the head diversity of the NBA, who I bumped into literally randomly at different times. And they were like, Yeah. Hey Jay, I like where’s your email. And I was like, it was crazy because they had never responded.

Like they never, ever responded to anything I had sent. And they were like, literally individually, you know, in different settings, like, Hey, I miss your note. And I think that is really resonated. Like you never know who’s paying attention, you know? And so I think from that perspective, it just really help make it much more like clockwork and Hey, like let’s just.

Send this note out, the last one was March 30th. What happened to be on my birthday? We literally just started everything with COVID and I was like, look like we’re in this together. If I can be a resource, you know, by all means, please let me know, because I think the best way to get is to give. And I think that’s been the recurring theme throughout my life is just the willingness to give and to keep everybody just connected

Donald Thompson: Aw man that’s powerful and powerful that you follow through keeping your network active.Right. And it was a, it was a simple thing that you decided to do for whatever reason, but you’ve continued. And I, I remember it personally, one of the things that you said earlier on that I wanna come back to as we talk about brands and that’s really where you live in play, right? You’ve worked with the NFL.You worked with major league baseball right now in the NBA. All of these marquis iconic brands. But now what it is that you do with these brands to make them special. As you said, you create an opportunity for rands to participate, where their consumers are engaged. And so expand upon that as it ties to what your work is, what you’ve learned, that’d be helpful to our audience.

Jarrett: Oh for sure. Put it simply, you know, my job is to build relationships with organizations who are looking to accomplish some type of objective, right? It could be an organization that has a consumer facing product that wants to grow their sales or grow their brand awareness. Right. And, you know, I think the cool thing about sports entertainment.

Is that, you know, like I said, we have this thing, I know that’s really eloquent, but we have this thing that people get irrationally passionate about. And because of that, you know, you’re really able to drive behavior. You know, people remember growing up, watching the games with their dad or with their mom or with their siblings.

And, you know, it’s a part of who they are.  I don’t  think I realized how much being a part of a professional sports team was. And so I worked in baseball. I mean, literally you’re a public trust. Like everything you do can make the news. Right. And so it just made me much more mindful of not just the impact of the organization and even the impact of the employees, right?

Like it’s big news. And so the cool thing about what I get a chance to do every day is I get a chance to almost be a consultant. You know, I have my friends that went to the worker, Bain, BCG, and McKinsey and Deloitte, all the big consulting firms. And I kind of get to do the same thing in a, focused and targeted way where I’m calling companies saying, Hey. How can we help you sell more of your products and more people, or, Hey, you’re doing this really cool thing in the community. If we throw our weight behind it, are we the megaphone? Do we amplify the good that you’re doing in the community?

Right. And so essentially I get a chance to really, take a deeper dive into different organizations and really understand what their goals are, what their objectives are, how they’re thinking about things. And then from there you really got to put together a partnership that really is, you know, mission focused and objective oriented.

And  it’s, it’s evolved. I think, you know your question about the lessons, you know, a lot of what we do. You see like the signs in the arena or the stadium you see at Jersey patch here or there, we have this. Asset of the team and the experiences and some of the money can’t buy, you know, get a chance to meet players or, you know, post-game this or that.

And, you know, really think through how those different experiences can be beneficial to organizations for whatever they’re trying to accomplish. Right. Be it children who are sick and wanting, you know, give them a Make-A-Wish type of experience and, or, you know, you’re trying to entertain your top clients.

I mean, there’s so many things that sports are two different people. and we’re getting a chance to really think through creative ways to just help organizations accomplish their objectives.

Donald Thompson: Oh man, that’s powerful and insightful. And we can apply that really to many things we all think about in business and entrepreneurship.

And you described very succinctly you’re in the relationship business. And we talked about how you develop that personally, how you’re doing that for brands that you associate with. And at the end of the day, especially during the economic times that we’re in, where it’s harder to get deals done. You really have to make sure that you’re applying that pressure to your network in a positive way.

And it’s not just what you get. You mentioned this, it’s what you also are able to give  that fully activates a network.

Jarrett: Totally. Now I think that’s, that’s a thousand percent, right, man. Is that right? Yeah. Even now in the current times, right? Like we’re trying to figure out how we can be helpful. Yeah. One of the cool things we just did was, you know, we did a sweepstakes, this is what the chargers, we did the sweepstakes for small businesses where they got a chance to win, you know, like a three month partnership.

Right. It was like, you know, enter for a chance to win, you know, some of the digital support behind it and get a chance to see how that works. And so it’s cool, man. It’s really, really cool. It’s interesting because. Unfortunately, I love what I do. I know a lot of people sacrifice a lot for me to get to where I’m at.

I also know that I’ve sacrificed a lot, you know, in terms of just moving around and, and bouncing around. But  I get to wake up every morning and,  it’s hard under normal conditions, right?  but I get to call a CEO CMOs. I get to call companies,  locally in wherever I’m working and, or big fortune 500 companies.

And I get to sit down and talk to them and figure out what they’re working on and how we can kind of work together. How are we going to be helpful? Yeah. it’s really cool, man. I love what I do.

One of the things that in any arena, any area of business, you have to learn the language of the decision makers.

You’ve talked to a lot of business and sports and entertainment  leaders, and your goal is certainly how to be helpful. But your goal is how do you get a deal done also that helpfulness, right to that business  outcome for both sides to win? What are some of the things, what are some of the ways that you communicate value?

What are some of the ways you get the  attention of these business leaders that help you have productive conversations that move the needle?

Jarrett: Yeah, that’s a good question. you know, communicating value, it’s interesting, right? Like the first thing you have to do is really understand, people are in business for a reason.

There’s something they’re trying to accomplish. And again, like I said, I think, you know, as I mentioned being, you know, mission focused and objective oriented, you know, we’re constantly trying to understand. Yeah, my boss is actually really good at this, right. Like in terms of just saying like, Hey, look, if our organization didn’t exist, right?

Like they would still be trying to get something done.  being mindful of that is just, you know, for us, it’s really thinking through again, The company is trying to accomplish some objective, how do we amplify what they’re trying to do? And I think, you know, for us, it’s really taking a deep dive into their business and say what their objectives are.

Hey, you’re trying to grow your sales. Hey, you’re trying to increase, enhance your, you know, your presence in the community. You have clients that you want to entertain. Right. And, you know, from there we think through what are ways you can leverage our organizations to do that, right? Like, do you need.

Market far reaching, you know, sweepstakes. Do you need some kind of hospitality with some kind of VIP experience, right? Like, you know, there’s a lot of different ways that we kind of work to identify value. And I think it is a man it’s, it’s building that relationship and taking a deep dive and then just asking about their business, right?

Like it’s, don’t think about like the signage and all the assets at the team level. Think about like, what are you trying to do? Like take us out of the equation. I guess the same as being an entrepreneur, right. You’re trying to solve problems. Right. And the more you solve the problems, right? The more valuable you are.

And so for us I like to be myself as  being in the value creation business, right? Like, what are your challenges? What are you trying to solve? And then how can we create value for you?

Donald Thompson: One of the things  that in any business, and I agree with you, we’re in the value creation business.

And the more you can put specific plans together to solve problems that people have or help them create opportunity. The more they pick up the phone and want to talk with you, that’s really that, that powerful separator. And one of the things that I wanted to ask you is you have that powerful structural education, getting your MBA, right.

Top 10 business school, all that good stuff. And then you have that street smart focus as an  entrepreneur.

Right that hustle that pivot. Tell me a couple of key things you learned from both  educational experience. One from that

MBA experience one or two, and then some of the things that you learned and takeaways from that entrepreneurial  experience.

Jarrett: Yeah. No, I think that’s a great, great, great question. it’s interesting. I think the entrepreneurial spirit and that I started at FAM and there’s so many people that I know. I think my, my classmates and my peers, at fam U I just. Make a dollar out of 15 cents, right They’re able to like figure out ways to get it done like  I can think of at least five people off the top of my head right now, who are all doing incredible things that the talent that was in my undergrad institution, as it pertains to just entrepreneurial, like drive hustle, being scrappy, figuring it out.

FAMU was a breeding ground for that. I mean, I think for me, you know, starting my business there, it was just the best thing I could have done because  we’re talking about a place where a school elections. Yeah. People spend thousands of dollars to be, you know, class president and whatnot. And so you find ways to be scrappy and to get it done.

Cause you know, you gotta raise the funds. Right. And so, you know, I think for me it really starts there. And then, you know, Duke was the formal kind of classroom, you know, kinda, you know, piece of it. Right. And I think, you know, it’s interesting cause I, I could have got that while I was at fam do you know, 18 to 23 is just a young, it’s a fun time, right?

Like I had a good GPA, like I have some friends helped get me through college, man. Like without them, I wouldn’t have made it. And I think when I went back to school, when I was 30, I was ready to learn. Right. And I think it was helpful, like going back at a later age, if you will.

I think the average age is 29, but like, you know, classmates are the 25 and some middle of the older, but like I knew what I was there for and who I wanted to learn. I knew what I wanted to get from it. I was very intentional. Like I w I was at a, and I knew what b, was, I took all the entrepreneurship classes.

That’s like all the marketing classes. Those are the things I was passionate about. Right. And because of that, I think I was able to get more out of it. Cause it was just a very structured environment. So really, you know, kind of gave me the map of like, okay, you want to learn these things you want to gain these skills.

Right. Well, let me dive in undergrad in general, I think 18 is just a young age to really think about what you want to do with the rest of your life. I went to an all boys high school spammy, obviously it’s coed. So I probably lost my mind when I first got down there, but no, you know, like I think the reality is, is just like the combination I think is, is I use it all the time because I made there’s like a, an EQ and an IQ element, right?

Like there’s a, how do you navigate people? Right. How do you get people to do things, right? Like a lot of MBAs end up working for people who don’t have their MBAs who started great things. Right. Like, you know, and so I think for me, it was just a function of, you know, let me get the tactical skills together.

Let me make sure that I know what I’m doing, but at the same time, like, You never forget how to hustle. You never forget how to, you know, the first event that we did, we invested $12,000 and we made like 28, you know? And it was like, Oh, we have something here. Right? Like we were literally like ran out of club.

We went out and got flyers. We put together street teams, all things that we had seen different function. Like I saw campaign teams and I saw how the people campaign and I was like, Oh, well, I wonder if we apply this to that, will it work? Right. And so you never forget how to hustle. And I think for me, it’s just the balance, man.

It’s just like the thing for me at that. I think what the experiences do is they give me the ability to be comfortable in a lot of different settings. .

Donald Thompson: I’m going to jump in through there cause I want to catch a couple of things real quick. Number one is you never forget how to hustle when you go through that journey of trying things where there’s no blueprint. The  best learning times are having no money, no resources. You have to be creative. Yeah, it does. There is no other choice except finding a interesting, fun and cool way to get your objective. And so it forces an urgency around creativity because you’re also on a clock because when you have no money, you also have no time. Time buys you money, right? Money buys you time. You have neither one of those. You got to go now. One of those different in that equation.

And then the other piece in terms of that, that MBA piece, that structured education piece that you mentioned

is being comfortable. In multiple different settings.  expand on that for me,

Jarrett:  Yeah  know, it’s interesting. So when I was throwing parties, man, in st. Louis, I never forget. I saw a dude his party was sponsored by Ciroc and I was like, man, like, how did you do that? Right? Like, I was like, well, we can do this and we can do it around the country.

You know, like we’re doing events around, we’ve got audiences. I get it. You gotta protect your sources. Right. So, you know, he was not quick to say, Hey, here’s the contact for you to do your events? And so we got to figure out, well, how are we going to find people to do sponsor our events, right. And taking the episode and to go work with the Astros.

It was like, man, like, A lot of people have MBAs. Like I’m really big on emulate the greats. Right? Like see what they did. Like you want to see the path, like see what they did and then do it. You know what I mean? Like it’s not, I realized that, you know, there’s no clear destination on the journey, but like, I’m just big on, like, everything you’re trying to do is not necessarily new.

If that makes it, you might have a new spin on it, but like, it’s not completely new. And so like, I was like, Oh man, a lot of decision makers at MBAs. And so I was like, huh, We already know how to work from the bottom up, but now maybe my classmates are some of the decision makers, right? Like now maybe we can work top down.

Right. And I knew that, you know, if you were able to go get an MBA from, you know, Various institutions that EOP will be more inclined to take the call. Right? Like I think it never hurts to tap in. I always say you build your network, then you activate your network. Right. It’s very similar to how you were saying you keep it active.

Like, and I think the way you activate it is through giving. As I mentioned, I’m always. Asking like, Hey, like what can I do? You know, when I graduated from Duke, I said, Hey, can I jump on, the Duke black alumni board? Or I would move to LA. I said, Hey, can I jump on the MLT LA board or the national black MBA board?

Like, how can I give right. And I, but I do it in ways that makes sense. Right? Like I’m a social share. I did events. So I’m like, Hey, like I’ll keep you guys active and fun. Like, I do that well, right. Like, you know, I’m out here saying I want to do professional development because on some level, like, while I need it, That’s not my passion.

Right. So I try to give in ways that are organic to me. And then you started building a network, right? You started doing things and it’s like, Oh, like we’ve worked together on this and now I need to get into this company. Maybe you can help me get to that person. And so I think a lot of it is try my best to just build that network activated and then, you know, keep it moving throughout and knowing that, you know, There’s benefits of the Duke network.

There’s benefits to the family network. There’s benefits of MLC. And by realizing all the different spaces that I’m in. Yeah. It just makes it such that I’m able, you never know when yeah. You’re able to add value from one across the other or which one, you know? And so to me, I’m just constantly focused on like, I just want to be a contributing member of any network that I joined.

Donald Thompson: and that’s, that is really insightful because everyone from their college networks to their sorority networks, through they’re religious associations or nonprofits

have networks that they can activate. It’s not a function of what your specific journey is.

It’s a function of how we all activate the spaces where we have audiences of influence and you’ve given some powerful encouragement there.

What I would ask as we kind of wind our time together. What do you think and dream of next, right? Like I know you have a current role, you love your job. I get all that, right. I’m with you. Talk to me about some of the things that still keep you motivated. Building growing.

Talk to me about some aspirational things

Jarrett: You know, I’ll never forget, man. Like there were a few very central moments in my life, man. I want to do math. we’re ranked number two in the nation in terms of, you know, I suppose those they saw that, Hey, what are the best schools for sports in the country? We were right. Number two. And you know, just having a lot of friends that were enamored with yeah.

The field of athletics. And then my freshman year, I have a really good friend of mine. And I said, you know, said, Hey, what’s your dream. I said, I want to be a general manager. And he said, well, why not own a team? And I was like, ah, I don’t know about that. And I’ll never forget, Chris rock made a joke, im gonna paraphrase a little bit.

But he was like, this was 2003, 2004. But the joke was like, you know, Shaq is rich and the man the signs Shaq’s check is wealthy and it just clicked. Like it was some, I don’t know what it was about, like hearing it like that, but it was like, man, Shaq can making $25 million a year. How much does the person who pays Shaq need.

You know, and it just flipped it for me, man. Like it really did. And I think my big, hairy audacious goal would be to own a team. One day I realized that, you know, it’s, that’s a very difficult task. I mean, it seems to go on for $2 billion. Right. And you got to put 20 to 30% down. And so being generous, right?

Like. A couple hundred million, right. We’ll build a group obviously, but no, I mean, look, I think that’s the biggest thing. I think for me in full transparency, I realized that a lot of people, people of color. Grow up wanting to be on the talent side and don’t always understand the business side. And I think for me, a lot of what I’m doing and why, what I’m passionate about is just, you know, really understanding the business side of entertainment and sports, these industries that we gravitate towards because you see it reflected on your television screen, or you watch it, you know, when you go to a concert or athletic event, Well, she may or may not always know, you know, just kind of how it works in terms of the nuts and bolts.

I mean, it’s a business, right. And so, you know, being able to really understand that it’s helpful for me because, you know, I think there is an element of, I know when I walk into a classroom, it doesn’t matter what the kids look like, but I know that if I say I work with this professional sports team, I command attention.

Like I know that. Right. And because of that, right? Like if I’m able to, you know, have a little kid who may have been thinking about wanting to be an NBA star, like everybody’s not going to be six, eight, two 40, right. Like I haven’t grown since eighth grade. I literally went from a power forward to a point guard and like a year.

And so like, I think that part of it, man, it’s just like the part that really motivates me is just, you know, exposure leads to alignment. You can’t be what you can’t see.

Donald Thompson: I’m a firm believer when there a home run power statement, you kind of let it gently resonate and wind down. And our time together, it has been short.

I don’t want it to extend to where we don’t stay in touch this long. Again, you’re doing some powerful things. You’re a strong thinker. And the one thing I would leave our audience with is that activation of your network and being a giver first. And then it naturally creates organic opportunities where people want to help you as well. And that’s certainly proved itself with Jarett and I can attest to that. Because I’ve definitely seen good seeds that I’ve planted over the years. Come back up. And being that, that being that, that give her. So, Jarett, I really appreciate you taking time with us, a wealth of nuggets in what you’re doing, and I’m cheering for you.

I am pulling for you, and I want to see you with that team one day, like whatever league you pick, whatever. And, and 200 million is, is that’s right. And call me, cause I might want to be a little part of with you  you know what I mean?

Jarrett: Well, we’re in it together, man. Look, the feeling is definitely mutual.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you for all your guidance and tuteledge during our time together when I was living in, in Durham. And so its definitely not lost on me and so I’m very happy to just be a part of everything you’re building.

Donald Thompson:   All right, my friend thanks for your time, man. This was great.

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The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by Walk West CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit

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