SBJ/20090525/What I Like

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  • Jeffrey Pollack, President & Commissioner, World Series of Poker


    What I Like …

    A timeless idea: Great customer service. No matter what business you are in, it all comes down to treating your customers with respect, integrity and care.

    A business deal: News Corp. and Google aligning in 2006 for search and advertising sales across the Fox Interactive Media Network.

    A sports facility: Fenway Park.

    A sports promo: Coca-Cola’s “Football Town U.S.A.” A genius campaign that recognized and celebrated the passion of football fans, the hope they carry so colorfully and their desire to make a difference for their favorite team.

    A TV ad campaign: Just about any TV ad from Jack in the Box is brilliant.

    A strategy: Conversational marketing. Social media is changing everything. How we get information, how we relate to other people, how we function as consumers and how businesses sell. One-to-one marketing has been the right idea for a long time. Technology has finally caught up to it and, as a business strategy, conversational marketing is the cutting edge.

    A trend: The green economy.

    An innovation: Google. Search is the most powerful force on the Internet. Google is without a doubt the most powerful word in our culture and, one day, will be the most powerful business in our economy.

    A pro league or team business initiative: NBA Cares. It’s a smart, simple, declarative message and platform for communicating the league’s commitment to giving back.

    An idea or invention I wish I had thought of: Facebook. It’s a simple, intuitive and powerful platform that has created a virtual third place for millions of people. There’s home, office and Facebook.

    A fantasy job: Lead singer in U2. If I could lead the life of any other human being — or meet any one celebrity — it would be Bono. He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, is a smart entrepreneur and I’ve always had an affinity for all things Irish.

    What I Like About …

    My sport: Anyone can enter and anyone can win. You can’t buy your way onto an NBA court, but you can be at home in November, watch the final table of the WSOP on ESPN and then decide to enter the following May and compete against poker players from around the world in the richest sporting event on the planet. And you may even end up on ESPN.

    Sports business: Ultimately, we’re all in the business of selling hope. That’s what fans want. And while hope is never a strategy, it certainly is the most essential product of the sports industry.

    Sports media: The push for innovation is constant. Whether it’s the mad genius behind “Digger,” the Fox Gopher Cam, or the Phoenix Suns leading the way for NBA teams when it comes to Twitter and other social media applications, the pressure is always on to innovate in sports media.

    College sports: Infinite moments of grace. I was fortunate enough to be at Madison Square Garden for the Syracuse/UConn six OT game during this year’s Big East Tournament. Doesn’t get much better than that.

    Competing: Invariably, competition leads to heightened self-awareness and self-improvement. Competition requires complete presence in the moment, and that is always a good thing.

    The direction of sports business: Our embrace of social media. The 2008 presidential election showed how digital social media can change the course of the world. More than ever before, our industry is in a position to cultivate and capture value from fan and brand communities. Social media is the key to setting the whole thing free.

    What I Don’t Like …

    In general: Disloyalty.

    Pet peeve: People who don’t say thank you when they should.

    In sports: Performance-enhancing drugs.

    About pro sports: Athletes who fail to see that they are role models, whether they want to be or not.

    About college sports: The lack of financial compensation for college athletes who generate massive revenue for their schools and the NCAA.

    In business: Short-term thinking.

    In media: The tabloid and scare-tactic journalism that often passes for news.

    In sports marketing: Brands that don’t activate their sponsorships with authenticity, precision and relevance.

    In sports facilities: Poor crowd control and threshold-of-pain pricing for concessions. The first one is dangerous; the second one is abusive.

    In sports journalism: Opinion passing for fact.


    What I Like …

    Music: U2, Radiohead, Nick Drake, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Moby, Beck, Roxy Music, Joy Division, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

    Books: “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Paris Trout,” “An American Life,” “The Road,” “Less Than Zero,” “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72,” “The Responsive Chord.”

    Gadgets: I couldn’t survive without my MacBook.

    Trips: My favorite trips are to see U2 perform overseas. The next one is this coming July. Croke Park in Dublin. A few days at the Morrison Hotel. A walk through Trinity College. A few pints of Guinness. It works for me.

    Movies: “Withnail and I,” “Vanilla Sky,” “The Godfather,” “Superbad,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Ordinary People,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and “Manhattan.”

    Food: Italian and Japanese (not sushi, but everything else).

    Dessert: Chocolate chip cookies.

    Cars: Porsche.

    Quote: “Hope is not a strategy.” Larry Murphy, the former head of strategic planning for The Walt Disney Co., ingrained this simple but brilliant thought into me.

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