SBJ/20100308/Careers/People

Spotlight: Michael Hitchcock

Michael Hitchcock spent 12 years as an executive for Major League Soccer teams and has recently launched his own business, Playbook Management International. The company will consult with clients on developing a comprehensive strategic plan to meet short- and long-term goals. He recently spoke with staff writer Tripp Mickle about his new company.

New title: Managing partner for Playbook Management International
Previous title: General manager for FC Dallas and Pizza Hut Park
First job: Entry level ticket sales for D.C. United
College education: B.S. in advertising from Virginia Commonwealth University
Resides: Frisco, Texas
Grew up: Born in Georgia and graduated from high school in Georgia but moved around a lot in between.
Executive most admired: Lamar Hunt
Brand most admired: FC Barcelona
Favorite vacation spot: Any nice beach
Last book read: “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t,” by Jim Collins
Last movie seen: “300”
Favorite movie: “Hoop Dreams”
Favorite band: R.E.M.


Why did you decide to launch your own company?
I spent a lot of time over the last six months thinking about what I wanted to do and where I want to be. My family loves Frisco. I have an 8-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter. I made the decision to stay in Frisco and not go work for another MLS team. I love soccer, though, and didn’t want to go work for another sports team, so I built a company around my passion. My niche, if you will, will be working with international soccer clubs and soccer organizers to help them run a better operation. A lot of these clubs aren’t run like a professional sports team like the U.S. I think there’s a unique opportunity to help them develop a strategic plan.

Are you nervous about this new step?
No. Fortunately for me I have a great network of contacts in soccer in the U.S. and internationally. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bent as well. When I was a kid, I started a neighborhood sports league and charged kids their allowance for participation. It wasn’t about the money. I bought ribbons and trophies and things. In some ways, I’ve been preparing my whole life for this.

Would you consider it the biggest risk in your career or something else? And why?
I think the biggest risk in my career was that I was accepted to go to the Medical College of Virginia and I decided not to pursue that because I wanted to get into soccer. This is more of a calculated risk. I believe that if you have a  good concept and a strong plan to back it up and you’re passionate about something, then you’ll be successful. I do believe in my ability, and I have passion for this company.

What will be the biggest challenge in launching your own company?
Going from a very successful major soccer club with a strong team to being just me and a handful of executives. If the printer breaks, I’m going to be the one who fixes it. If anything, it’s going to be time and task management.

Are you planning to hire much?
My original timeline was nine months in to begin hiring, but because of the business out there I expect I may have to hire in the next month. I think I’ll hire two full-time executives in the next month.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
When I got into the business, I started in entry level ticket sales. On my first day, I set the goal of becoming a general manager of an MLS team in nine years. I became a GM within that time. Setting that goal and achieving it is to me my greatest accomplishment.

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