It’s time we profile another sport executive and this week, it is Tyler Johnson’s turn at fame and glory. Tyler is asked 10 questions and here is a bit of his insight into the Sports Marketing and Sports Management business.
1.Tell us about the Denver Nuggets, your position and your responsibilities
I’ve been with the Denver Nuggets since October 2010 as an Account Executive focusing on group and corporate sales. While I do also cross sell season and partial ticket packages, my main focus is on creating unique value added group nights and experiences.
2. Tell us what your average week is like, both in season and the off-season
Probably one of the things I like most about sports business is that no two weeks are alike. Hours are definitely extended during the season in being around the stadium. Whether it is hosting clients, servicing group accounts, ensuring on & off court experiences run smoothly you can definitely have some long, but fulfilling days in season.
The off-season focus shifts a bit more towards season ticket sales and a bit more time out of the office. Being relatively new to Denver, I try to get involved in programs that my group clientele are involved in, attend as many networking functions as I can and make as many quality contacts I can with my extra time of the off season. About half of my time is in the office and the other half out on appointments or at events.
3. Can you talk about your career path, starting from your college days at the University of Northern Iowa until you arrived to your current position with the Nuggets today
Being a football player in college and originally heading in the direction of being an accounting major (Northern Iowa has one of the top CPA programs in the country), I wanted to ensure I’d make it to the big leagues in the business of sports. After my sophomore year I switched to a Major in marketing with an emphasis on sales. Since I red-shirted and was going to be around, I picked up a minor in Economics as well.
With the guidance of my Sales Management professor Dr. Steve Corbin, I had arranged a independent study in Sports Marketing since UNI did not offer any such courses. As part Dr. Corbin’s sales course, I interviewed several people about their experiences in getting into the sports world. Two of those influential people I interview were Mike Tatoian, currently the EVP COO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. and Ralph Ockenfels the VP of Marketing for the Tennessee Titans. They’re prompt advice to me – get experience!
After I graduated I interned for the Quad City Steamwheelers of the af2 doing everything from operations, events, setting up group ticket programs, assisting with players and everything in between. Once the summer concluded I took a job in Chicago selling corporate hospitality for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Masters and NCAA Final Four. At the same the White Sox were winning the 2005 World Series and I felt like in my current position I was not continuing to learn or develop as a young professional. I jumped at the chance when they decided to add me as a seasonal sales representative (intern) and get back into the business of team sports.
At the conclusion of my internship and the baseball season with the White Sox, there were not any available positions, so I took a full time role as an AE with the Mike Ditka’s Chicago Rush of the Arena football league. By next Spring a position opened up with the White Sox as an Account Executive and I was hired on full time. About two seasons later, we restructured our ticket sales department and moved to a role of New Business Development.
Two years later, I had to satisfy a personal goal of living in Colorado. By the end of last Summer I had spoken with most of the teams out in the area in person. As September came around, I interviewed by phone with the Nuggets of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. I told the Nuggets I’d be happy to meet in person. So I packed my Jeep full to the brim, met with them the following Monday, October 4th and started that Friday.
4. What is the best advice you have ever received?
I feel as though I’ve been blessed with a lot of great mentors in life and my career. So I wanted to note a few thoughts and quotes that have resonated with me.
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well, you’re just dumb” – My Head Coach at UNI said this to me in a special teams meeting once when, well I got fooled twice. I know he may have George We’d this saying, but I liked Coach Farley’s version.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself” – Unknown. OK this one was on a card a good friend had given me years back and remains at my desk.
“Don’t talk about it, be about it” – Former All-American teammate of mine Matt ‘Sprout’ Mitchell said this all the time, it became our motto of our Defense.
“Be yourself, be proud, do what makes you happy” – my parents have always shared this with me. And nothing ever beats those moments when a hug with mom & dad acknowledges that you’ve managed to do all three for yourself and for them.
5. What Are the your top sports memories you are most fond of telling others
I feel like I have enough stories to fill a small book. However, probably one of the most exciting to be around was Mark Buehrle’s perfect game in 2009. The atmosphere of those last few outs was incredible. After the game I returned to the office. I had to run something for the upcoming home stand down to the box office. Jerry Reinsdorf’s office was right across from the Ticket Sales department and President Obama was waiting on the line to Congratulate Mark. As I walked to the box office, I beat Obama to his congratulations as Mark came down the hall. The smile on Mark’s face was pure joy, like a little kid.
Being the classy guy Mark was, he personalized the SI cover for every employee at the White Sox. This also remains at my desk.
Of course I have Ozzie stories left and right, but those are more for HBO comedy specials.
6. How has the NBA lockout impacted you personally as well as others that work for the organization?
As a company, we are proceeding with business as usual. My off-season routine is unchanged. Planning and organizing group events for this season.
7. What do you tell people you meet who want a career working in the sports management business? Practical tips?
I tell them the same things people told me. Interview, connect and talk with people who have jobs that you’d like to have someday. Learn their paths, get their insight, and take the time to research what you’re getting into.
With the evolution of Social Media, which I’ve been extremely found of as a business tool, people need to brand themselves. There are many more ways today to brand yourself outside of your resume. Your resume should just be a tease of what you can do.
Then, do three more things, get experience, get experience, and get more experience.
8. Name three mentors (at least) and why they’ve had an impact.
– UNI Head Football Coach Mark Farley, he set high yet reasonable goals, managed people & media well, and taught me a lot about myself. After each season, we’d have an individual meeting with coach. Before my last two seasons, he’d tell me they’re recruiting someone this off season to beat me out. I started those last two seasons and our team was better for it.
– Brooks Boyer, the SVP Sales & Marketing Chicago White Sox and the CEO of Silver Chalice, was one of the most inspirational team leaders I’ve been lucky enough to be around. His drive for personal, team and organizational success were evident in everything he did. Everything. The continuity and synergies created through departments always ensure things were headed towards their maximum potential.
– Brian Jordan, Group Sales Executive, Chicago White Sox, was a daily mentor towards me from my first day with the White Sox in 2006. Brian unfortunately had to sit through a million questions of mine from how to utilize CRM, to placing orders through Ticketmaster, yada yada yada. He taught me how set up group nights, entertain and service clientele and how to balance work and life. Like many great mentors and co-workers, he became a lifelong friend.
9. If you were not working in sports today, what would you be doing?
I’d most likely be found on a football field or cooking in a kitchen.
Playing NCAA football gives you a minor itself in sports organizational management and strategy. Being a free safety (QB of the defense in our scheme), I had to know everything in & out, for myself and the other 10 guys. Working with and developing college athletes physically and mentally is something that I thought I was going to do for a while.
My love from cooking comes from my mom! I want to have a restaurant someday, regardless where my sports career takes me. I’m addicted to the Food Network, eating locally and finding new recipe ideas to integrate. I’m constantly tempted to take up a night course in the Culinary Arts to learn more.
Other than that, I’d go for being a roadie for a great band or being a ski instructor…
10. Executives talk about being passionate in your job. What are you passionate about and why?
Simply put, I’m passionate about people & ideas. Seeing something come together from concept to tip-off is extremely fulfilling. A great thing about working in the sports world is dealing with all types of fans and industries. The variety of people and limitless ideas that are around sports is what keeps me passionate. When you have a fluid team to help, it only makes the passion multiply.
Lastly, is there anything I didn’t ask that you’d like to share in this space?
Have fun! Enjoy what you do and never stop networking. No matter what business you are in, relationships, whether with friends or in business comes down to trusting people.
If I can ever help anybody with anything, you can reach me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org