SBJ/April 4-10, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Champions: Barry Frank, the dealmaker

One of sports TV's legendary dealmakers has a flair for the dramatic, and for making money for his clients

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Setting. The New York office is small: a tight place cluttered with collectibles acquired from decades of work in sports. Prints featuring open-wheel race cars and golfers, like Fred Couples and Jack Nicklaus, hang on the wall. A shelving unit is filled with a smattering of photos of stepdaughters, sons, grandchildren and friends. An Emmy stands atop the shelf. Tobacco pipes, once smoked but long ago retired, sit in the window behind a large wooden desk. The desk is covered in papers. A wooden cigar box filled with Monte Cristo No. 2 Especiales rests on the desk.


PATRICK E. MCCARTHY
Barry Frank, in his New York office, never intended to work in sports. He was an actor and saw himself as a creative person.
Behind the desk sits a man, sharply attired, wearing a white-collar dress shirt with orange, green, blue and white stripes. He wears an orange tie and blue Canali slacks because, as someone once said, Barry Frank doesn’t dress to the nines. He dresses to the 10s.

Reporter: When were you born?

Frank: 1932. I’ll do the math for you. I’m 78. I actually grew up (in Dayton, Ohio) and wanted to be — all of my life, until I graduated from college and was out about a year — I wanted to be an actor. I was very involved with the theater. ... I was the lead in “Man and Superman.” The lead in a musical called “Boy Meets Girl.” What else? “Macbeth.” I played Macbeth in high school.

Barry Frank never intended to work in sports. That’s not to say he didn’t like sports. He did. He played quarterback in high school, second base on Carnegie Tech’s championship intramural softball team and golf throughout his life. But those were hobbies.

BARRY FRANK:
IN HIS OWN WORDS


On the art of negotiating:
“I like to lose the last part of a negotiation. I want this guy to think he beat me. It used to be I’d leave Canadian cable rights. Now, it’s some other point.”

On bluffing during a negotiation:
“People know I’m not a big bluffer. I’ve got a track record of rarely bluffing. If you don’t bluff every so often, you’re an asshole. If people know you bluff a lot, pretty soon, you’re on the street.”

On relationships in business:
“I’ve never burned a bridge. I take that back; Bob Arum. I get in and out of boxing like a yo-yo. I like it, but the people in it are a disgrace. Anyway, I woke up one day and was managing Shane Mosley. It came time to do a fight, and Arum was going to promote it. He said he would pay Shane $5.5 million. I thought it was a good deal and Shane agreed to it. Shane’s wife calls a few days later and says Shane’s going to make a move. I never have a problem when clients leave; that’s their choice. But I heard later that Arum offered Shane $6 million if he worked with another agent. I couldn’t believe it. I’d helped Arum out early in his career, and he did that all over a measly $500,000. I picked up the phone and called him. His answering machine picked up. I said ... ‘If I ever meet you again, I’ll beat the crap out of you.’ I haven’t spoken to him since.”

On keeping up with technology and digital media:
“I’m not an expert, but I’m as expert as I have to be. The thing I’m able to do still is think about monetizing it. I don’t think of the technical. I don’t think, ‘How do they do this shit?’ I think, ‘How do you make money off it?’”

On his temper:
“I’ve never thrown anything that’s lethal.”
His love was drama, and he had some early success as an actor. He played a recurring role as a bellhop on the TV show “Robert Montgomery Presents” and the lead in a Sunday morning program called “Frontiers of Faith.” But he gave up acting in the early 1950s after failing to land the lead three different times in an Elia Kazan direction of “Tea and Sympathy” on Broadway.

Living in New York, Frank realized a life on the stage was unlikely, but had no other ideas on what he wanted to do at the age of 22. Pressured by his mother to go to school and find a profession, he enrolled at Harvard Business School. The school gave him connections he never imagined, and he tapped its alumni base to land a job in television at CBS. He later caught the eye of ABC Sports President Roone Arledge, who hired Frank as a programmer.

In the decades that followed, he became a powerful figure in sports media, turning IMG into a leader in media rights negotiations, broadcast representation and show creation. He negotiated record-setting Olympic TV rights, he represented broadcasters John Madden, Jim Nantz and Bob Costas, and he helped conceive shows ranging from “Superstars” to “American Gladiators.” To it all, he brought a keen instinct for leverage, an eye for excitement, and, almost always, a flair for the dramatic.

“He likes what we call megillah, but you’d call a production,” said Sandy Montag, IMG corporate vice president. “I always remember being in his office trying to figure our way out of a jam. It was always good for the client, but it was usually dramatic.”

What is remarkable is not simply what Frank’s done, but what he has done in so many different areas of the media business. “He has a spectacular ability to compartmentalize,” said Nantz, of CBS Sports. “He could be working on the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ competition in South Africa, trying to put the final pieces of the puzzle together for an ACC-ESPN deal, and have any number of individual contracts in negotiation or about to expire, and at the same time be trying to sell the final [ad] units at the Skins competition in Maui. He’s juggling all this at the same time … and what he’s working on with you is the most important thing to him. That’s talent.”

Setting. The office. Frank sits in an oversized, black leather chair. As he recalls details of his life, he occasionally stares out the window. It’s January in New York, but the sky is blue. Steam rises from pipes on nearby buildings outside IMG’s office in Hell’s Kitchen.

Frank: As I was looking graduation down the throat, I went through the Harvard Business School graduate directory, and there were nine people who worked in entertainment. One was a guy by the name of Ed Saxe at CBS. ... Saxe decided they had a big problem. When a producer came in to do a show on CBS property, he had 12 different studios to choose from. Each had a different studio manager who each had his own price for hair and makeup, etc. Saxe asked me to create a rate card.

Reporter: Did you like it?

Frank: I hated it. I was an actor. I saw myself as a creative person. I didn’t see myself as [an] accountant, a bean counter. … [But] I got lucky again. [A friend] offered to get me a job at J. Walter Thompson. … I interviewed and got a job on the Ford account. Ford was one of the biggest buyers in sports. Through that job, I became friendly with Roone Arledge and others. … Roone taught me what not to do and what to do. … “Make the other guy in any negotiation feel like he’s the most important thing around” was one of the things I learned.


Meet the negotiator.

In 1983, Barry Frank made his first trip to Calgary to pitch Olympic organizers on hiring IMG to sell the U.S. television rights for the 1988 Winter Games, but the marketing director of the Calgary Games said he had hired someone already to do preliminary analysis of the rights.

“Have you hired him to represent you?” Frank asked.

“No, but we probably will,” the director said.

“Don’t do anything yet,” Frank said.

PATRICK E. MCCARTHY
Frank’s office shelves are full of collectibles and awards, including an Emmy.
Frank traveled to Calgary two or three more times before he convinced the marketing director to hire IMG. At that point, the highest rights fee ever paid for a Winter Olympics was the $91.5 million ABC paid for the 1984 Sarajevo Games. Frank believed he could get at least $200 million.

In previous negotiations, the network negotiated the dollar amount first and then negotiated what rights it received. As a result, the networks had all the leverage in negotiations.

Frank put an end to that. He drafted a single contract that spelled out what rights the networks would receive for the 1988 Olympics. ABC, CBS and NBC signed that contract before negotiations began, making price the only issue left in negotiations. Frank had a novel idea for that, too. He pitched the networks on continuing negotiations until there was more than a 10 percent price differential between the top two bidders. “We don’t want to have someone lose this by a few dollars,” Frank said.

The networks agreed to those terms. Bidding opened at $125 million and rocketed to $300 million. “They all started to bitch that the price was too high,” Frank said, recalling the negotiations recently. “We said, ‘OK. You can take away the 10 percent differential. We’ll have single rounds. The minimum bid was [at least] a million dollars more than the last bid anyone had made.’”

Frank Looks Back:
Most Memorable Deals


1. ESPN’s agreement to pay the ACC $1.86 billion over 12 years.

The ACC interviewed a number of potential media rights salespeople before deciding to hire Frank for the job. He won it, in part, by convincing conference athletic directors that he could secure a significant increase for the conference.

When SportsBusiness Journal reported in March 2010 that the marketplace’s response to the rights had been tepid, Frank said ACC leaders questioned his ability to deliver an increase.

Eventually, he cultivated a two-way competition for the rights between ESPN and Fox Sports, a bidder no one anticipated would be at the table. Fox Sports’ interest in the rights helped drive up the bidding price. ESPN eventually agreed to pay $1.86 billion in a 12-year deal.

“Everyone said it couldn’t be done, including [SportsBusiness Journal],” Frank said. “Part of my luck is I know a lot of people. I knew from the top of Fox I had that deal. Some people at Fox didn’t know I had that deal, but I knew I had that deal.”


2. Tiger Woods’ prime-time golf matches.

Tiger Woods was all the rage in the late 1990s, sparked largely by his historic win at the 1997 Masters, and Frank wanted to find a way to do something special with the golfer, an IMG client. Years earlier, Frank had done a one-on-one tennis match between Rod Laver and Jimmy Connors. He piggybacked on that concept with Woods, developing the idea for a prime-time, head-to-head match between Woods and David Duval, another IMG client who, at the time, was the world’s No. 2-ranked player.

If the event was held on the West Coast in August, Frank figured there would be enough light to play roughly 15 holes traditionally, and then the final three holes could be played under the lights. Weekends were spoken for with tournaments, so Frank booked Sherwood Country Club for a Monday night. He sold the rights to the event to ABC for $1.5 million. Seven major corporations — ranging from Anheuser-Busch to Motorola, the title sponsor — signed on for the event and watched as it pulled down a 6.9 rating.

Frank says the moment when the lights were turned on for the final few holes is one of the climaxes of his career. That 1999 event became the first of seven installments of prime-time golf on ABC.

“What I didn’t foresee was how dramatic the view would be playing under the lights the last few holes,” Frank said. “It was a huge accomplishment for me.”


3. Acquiring the broadcast rights to air the first live Daytona 500 for CBS.

Frank, who worked as president of CBS Sports from 1976-78, believed that Bill France Jr. used CBS as a stalking horse bidder for Daytona 500 rights, engaging the network only to drive up the price ABC would pay. In 1978, he told France the only way he would bid on the rights again would be if France gave CBS a number, and CBS was able to say yes or no to that number.

“If I say, ‘Yes,’ we make a deal,” said Frank, recalling the negotiation recently. “If I say, ‘No,’ my number’s off the table.”

Frank traveled to Daytona with Neal Pilson, who then was vice president of business affairs at the network. He and France each brought tape recorders to record their meeting. France gave Frank a number and said he had 24 hours to respond.


“I came back to him and said, ‘Yes, we have a deal,’” Frank said. “He said, ‘I haven’t given the number to ABC yet.’ I said, ‘That wasn’t our deal.’”

Frank left Pilson in Daytona to finalize terms of the agreement and flew back to New York City. A year later, CBS broadcast the first live, flag-to-flag coverage of the Daytona 500. The race, which ended with a legendary fight between Cale Yarborough and Bobby and Donnie Allison, is considered to be the most important broadcast in the history of NASCAR.

— Tripp Mickle
CBS fell out of the bidding, but Frank wanted to lure them back to the table. He caught CBS Sports President Neal Pilson in the hallway of the Beau Rivage Palace hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the negotiations were held, and invited him back to the table.

“I know you’re out,” Frank said, “but why don’t you come downstairs and put in an envelope anyway.”

“I can’t do that,” Pilson said.

“There doesn’t have to be anything in the envelope,” Frank said. “Just hand in an envelope.”

Though Pilson and CBS passed on the invitation, Frank still managed to ratchet up the final price. ABC ultimately paid $309 million, an increase of more than four-fold from the previous high paid by a U.S. network. The deal, which was chronicled in a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal, cemented Frank’s reputation as an expert rights negotiator.

“[Olympic rights] probably wouldn’t have gotten as high as they did as fast as they did without Barry,” said Dick Pound, an International Olympic Committee member who was involved in the bidding process for the Calgary Games. “He understood the value of bidding and the huge advantage of exclusive rights.”

In the years that followed that monumental deal, Frank and IMG led negotiations for six more Olympic Games and represented the NBA, NHL, MLB, BCS and the ACC. Frank brought an eye for leverage to each negotiation. Even small properties, like the Professional Bull Riders, benefited from his work.

In 2001, PBR Chief Executive Randy Bernard came to Frank because the property had sold its television rights years earlier to a producer named Allen Reid, who refused to sell them back at what the PBR considered a reasonable price. As far as Bernard could tell, the PBR had no leverage. He asked Frank to read the contract and see if the PBR was missing something.

Said Bernard, “He called me up and quoted some Shakespeare. I asked him what it meant. He said, ‘Basically, we’ve got them by the nuts.’”

Frank, who loves to quote Shakespeare, told Bernard to tell Reid that until he decided to sell at a reasonable price, the PBR would allow no cameras below the highest seat in each arena; it would prevent cowboys from doing on- or off-camera interviews; and it would allow no replays during events. Reid eventually sold the rights back for $6 million, half of what he’d been asking, and Frank negotiated a $5.5 million rights deal for the PBR with OLN (now Versus) and a time buy on NBC. The deal was profitable in its second year, Bernard said.

“It was a very heavy hand Barry played,” Bernard said. “If he hadn’t done it, I would bet today the PBR would still be playing at fairs across the country and 60 percent smaller than it currently is. We put a tremendous amount of faith in Barry that he was right, and he was.”

Setting. A French restaurant on New York City’s restaurant row called Le Rivage. Copper pots and landscape paintings of the countryside hang on its exposed brick walls. French music plays softly. Frank, now wearing his suit jacket, sits at a small circular table. The reporter sits across from him, scribbling notes in a Steno pad.

Frank: Calgary was a good example of something I learned myself, which is just keep after it if it’s something you really want; keep pushing for it. … The number was so totally shocking. No one thought we’d do more than $150 [million].

Reporter: I want to talk to you about something else, and I’m just going to cherry pick from big career things. … How did you get into the agent business?

Frank: It was such a simple story. When you hear it, you will say, “That led to all of this?”

Meet the agent.

In 1978, John Madden retired from coaching football, and Barry Frank called him almost immediately. The two had worked together not long before on an episode of a show IMG produced called “The Superteams,” and Frank thought Madden had potential to become a great TV personality. Frank asked Madden if he’d considered broadcasting.

“No,” Madden said. “Virginia [Madden’s wife] owns a little bar. I’m going to spend a year just watching the people come in and out of the bar. Maybe in a year.”

“OK,” Frank said, “but in a year, no one will remember John Madden.”

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

“He’s been a colossus in the sports business. He’s very, very smart. He can see around corners.”
Fox Sports Chairman David Hill

“He has a great intuition for what the American public would want to see. He realized if you put on compelling competition, it didn’t matter if it was women’s body building or tug-of-war, that people would watch it.”
CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus

“He set a fair price and would take it. He didn’t try to take the last cent out of you. He’d leave a dollar on the table so next time around you’d be back to make another deal.”
HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg

“Barry is a guy who’s seen the modern sports era from the start to now. He continues to be active, productive and relevant. It is a pretty astonishing run.”
John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president of content

“In any negotiation, you’re going to have some situations where you find out who’s going to blink. Barry doesn’t blink, and he gives you the confidence not to blink either.”
ACC Commissioner John Swofford

“Barry is a very good salesman. He’s articulate and can describe his position and what he is asking for and why.
Bob Kain, former co-CEO of IMG

“When we got into [“American Gladiators”], it was the common man against these superb athletes, but the games weren’t challenging enough. He came up with new games. He constantly made additions to it.”
Sam Goldwyn Jr., president, Samuel Goldwyn Productions

“He’s the toughest guy on the playground, and that’s one of the reasons he’s succeeded all these years. He was always the guy who would stay at the table the longest, push the envelope the most and that’s why he would end up with the greatest clients. No one’s done it better.”
Kevin O’Malley, a longtime CBS executive and independent TV rights consultant
A few days later, Madden changed his mind, and Frank cut a deal that put Madden in the CBS broadcast booth for four NFL games. After each game, Frank went over a tape of the broadcast with Madden and weighed in on Madden’s strengths and weaknesses.

Madden quickly became the voice of football in America, and when his deal with CBS ended in 1994, every network wanted to sign him. Then-ABC President Bob Iger and ABC Sports President Dennis Swanson wanted Madden to become the lead color commentator on “Monday Night Football” and scheduled a dinner with Madden and Frank at IMG’s Upper East Side office in hopes of persuading the broadcaster to join the network. Toward the end of the evening, Iger offered Madden a deal worth $9 million to $10 million over four years. The size of the offer surprised both Frank and Madden, who shook hands on it almost immediately.

But nothing ends that easily with Frank, and two days later, he took a call from Rupert Murdoch. Fox was preparing to broadcast NFL games for the first time that fall, and Murdoch wanted Madden because the Super Bowl-winning coach would confer credibility to Fox broadcasts.

“I’m sorry,” Frank said. “We’ve already done a deal with ABC.”

“Is it signed?” Murdoch asked.

“No,” Frank said, “but we’ve already shaken hands on it.”

Murdoch persisted and asked what it would take to get Madden. Frank threw out the most absurd number he could think of at the time: $10 million a year.

Fox eventually offered Madden a four-year deal worth more than $30 million.

“I called John,” Frank said, recalling the negotiations. “He said, ‘$8 million? They’ll pay me $8 million? Take it!’”

Frank relayed the news to Iger about the Fox deal. When Iger protested that ABC had a deal first, Frank said, “I know, but this isn’t my money and it’s not your money. It’s John Madden’s money. What do I do? It isn’t me. It’s my client.”

Madden hadn’t been Frank’s first TV client, but this deal was the biggest and most significant broadcaster deal Frank ever did. There were others, too. He identified Bob Costas when the two were working at CBS in the mid-1970s, and he approached the broadcaster a few years later when he was at IMG, telling Costas he needed an agent. He took Costas to NBC in 1980, where he was reportedly paid about $300,000 a year. By 1987, Costas’ salary reportedly topped $1 million, increasing to $2 million by 1993 and $3 million by 2001.

But Frank did more than secure money. He also negotiated a deal that made Costas NBC’s Olympics host.

“We probably have a 75 percent share of the top talent in sports broadcasting: Jim Nantz, Greg Gumbel, Bob Costas, Kirk Herbstreit, Mike Tirico,” IMG’s Montag said. “Barry started that.”

The Bard, according to Barry

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Barry Frank dreamed of being an actor. He was a member of the Dayton Theatre Guild and the lead in a host of high school plays, including “Macbeth.” He’s been a lover of Shakespeare ever since, and he often quotes The Bard in conversations today. “I find it effective because Shakespeare had something to say about everything,” Frank says. “There’s no subject on which you can’t find a Shakespearean quote.”

Here are three quotes he uses often:


“If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well / It were done quickly.”
From “Macbeth,” when Macbeth considers killing King Duncan. Says Frank: “When I want to get something done soon, fast, I use it. Let’s get it done today.”

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends.”
From “Henry V,” when Henry encourages his army in battle. Says Frank: “I use that one when we start a negotiation or a new contract.”

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
From “Hamlet,” when Queen Gertrude comments on the play within the play. Says Frank: “When someone is arguing and arguing and arguing a point in a negotiation, I use it. Some people use, ‘Well moving right along ...’ I use this.”

— Tripp Mickle
Setting. Le Rivage. A waitress clears two bowls of French onion soup and places a plate with a triangular slice of quiche in front of Frank. He picks up a fork and cuts into it.

Reporter: How long did it take to repair the relationship with Iger after that?

Frank: A long time. … We were at Jim McKay’s funeral. He walked over to me and said, ‘How are you?’ I said, ‘I’m OK. How are you?’ He said, ‘I’m OK. Let’s let bygones be bygones.’ I presume that meant what’s done was done.

Reporter: You worked in TV, you went to the agency [IMG], you went back to TV, you went back to the agency. What are you more suited for?

Frank: I prefer a place where I can be creative and making something happen that hasn’t happened before. The wonderful part of IMG was Mark [McCormack] would let me do whatever I wanted. If I wanted to do a canoe race down the Hudson, that would be OK.

Meet the creator.

In the late 1960s, Dick Button first approached Barry Frank at ABC with his idea for a competition and show that would determine the world’s best athlete. The two-time Olympic figure skating champion had never been able to shake his belief that he didn’t deserve to win the 1949 Sullivan Award as the country’s best amateur athlete. “When I got up to bat [in high school], I didn’t get to first base,” Button said recently. “How could I be the best amateur athlete?”

ABC passed on the concept, but Frank never forgot it. After joining IMG in 1970, an oil filter company approached the agency looking for something new to sponsor, and Frank immediately thought of Button’s show. He approached Button about partnering on the show, and Button agreed to provide the idea if IMG provided athlete, sponsor and production support. All Frank had to do was sell a network on it.

Target No. 1 was Frank’s former boss at ABC, Roone Arledge. Knowing that Arledge was often so busy at work that he failed to give some ideas full consideration, Frank invited him for a round of golf. Frank spent nearly five hours pitching Arledge on the idea. Eventually, he bought it. The two-hour special, “Superstars,” debuted in 1973, and some form of it has been on TV ever since.

It wasn’t the only show Frank had a hand in creating. A few years later, when he was president of CBS Sports, a college friend, Jerry Adler, showed him footage of an overgrown, muscle man snapping quarters in half with his fingers. Adler thought the trick could be a halftime clip during a football game. Frank asked what the muscle man planned for his next trick.

“He wants to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge,” Adler said.

“No way,” Frank said.

The image of a muscle man performing superhuman feats stuck in Frank’s mind, and after returning to IMG in 1978, he dreamed up the idea for an annual competition pitting muscle men against each other to determine who would be called the World’s Strongest Man. He sketched out challenges where competitors would run with refrigerators on their back and later lift a platform holding Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders. The first show survived a lawsuit from one injured contestant, but it thrived in the years that followed. Today, 34 years later, it’s still on the air.

Frank’s work on those shows and others ranging from “American Gladiators” to “Survival of the Fittest” earned him and IMG notoriety as the kings of “trashsports,” a phrase Sports Illustrated coined to describe what it considered to be far-fetched, made-for-TV competitions. Collectively, the shows had a cultural impact that continues to this day.

“The real sports people turned their noses up at all of it, but it’s still surviving,” Adler said. “Now you’ve got all these second cousins. You could call ‘Survivor’ ‘trashsports’ if you wanted. It became a genre. And he helped create it.”

Setting. Le Rivage. It’s after 3 o’clock and most other lunch patrons have long since gone. The waitstaff busies itself preparing tables for dinner. Frank has finished lunch, and only his napkin and the remnants of dessert, crème brulée, remain on the table.

Frank: My favorite show is still “Survival of the Fittest.” I developed the idea for it on a drive home from my country club. I love the outdoors. I started thinking about climbing and rappelling and rafting. I started thinking, “Why couldn’t this be a show?” I had more fun doing that show than anything I’ve ever done. I’m trying to bring it back now. I have a sponsor interested. That’s my No. 1 project for this year.

Reporter: At your age, you still set annual goals like that?

Frank: I have to have annual goals. That’s what keeps me going.

Reporter: Do you think you’ll ever retire?

Frank: I still enjoy it. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t do this. Do I wish I could take an extra week off in Hawaii? Yep, I do. But do I still have the best Rolodex at IMG? Yep, I do. The short answer is I’ll retire when I’m not having fun anymore.



The wisdom of Arledge and McCormack

Barry Frank says he worked for two “legitimate geniuses” — Roone Arledge and Mark McCormack.

“I don’t use that term lightly,” Frank says. “I mean geniuses.” Frank worked for Arledge, the longtime president of ABC Sports, as vice president of sports programming for six years (1964-70).

He worked for McCormack, the founder of IMG, for more than 30 years (1970-76 and 1978-2003). He was close to both of them and says he learned more about business from them than anyone else he’s ever worked with.

Here are some of the lessons he gleaned, in his own words:

Lessons from Roone:

Don’t treat people like they’re animals.
At the bottom, we’re all the same. People all get up in the morning and put their suit on and go to work and try to make a living to feed their family. To make somebody wait for three days to get a simple answer (to a question), and I know the answer and I can give an answer in 20 seconds on the telephone … Don’t do that. That’s how he was wired, but it’s important to treat people with respect.
 
Don’t make quick decisions.
You may change your mind tomorrow. One thing about being bright is you tend to want to go quickly because your mind is three steps ahead. You think, “I can do this, easy.” You give quick answers. You agree to things. You don’t agree to things. You make decisions too quickly. You don’t always weigh your answer taking into account all that you do know. Take your time and get it right. There are no medals for finishing it this afternoon.

Make the other guy in any negotiation feel like he’s the most important thing around.
Roone gave people total, abject attention in negotiations.

There’s no question you don’t need to know the answer to.
Roone would make sure I knew them. It was the kind of stuff

that came in handy in things like the ACC negotiation. I knew that thing better than John Swofford did. I knew the details.

Lessons from Mark:


Think big and think of things that haven’t happened before.
Mark would think of ways to do things I would have never thought of. Mark made the single biggest decision of anyone in our industry when he realized that sports were an international business, not just a U.S. business. We were morons thinking football was the be all and end all. For 99 percent of the world, football doesn’t mean shit. He went out and got Wimbledon. He went out and got the British Open. It was Mark’s idea to build marquees at Wimbledon. That’s become a multimillion-dollar enterprise.

Create a cadre that you can count on.
Not an I’ve-got-your-back cadre, but an I’ve-got-a-good-idea cadre. I’ve-got-your-back is important, but after a while, you get smart enough that you have your own back. We had something called “the dinner committee” at IMG. That was a group of people whose average years of service was 27. We met three or four times a year. That’s why we had this incredible company. I’ve never seen a collection of senior executives like Mark McCormack had.

Relationships are at the heart of business. Mark had a favorite saying that I use time and again: “If I’m doing a deal, all things being equal, I’ll do business with a friend.” I believe that to the bottom of my soul. Sometimes your worst enemy might make the best offer, so it doesn’t always work, but I think relationships are the most important single aspect of business.

Expand the deal. If you sign someone for their domestic deal, why not ask who handles their foreign rights? Mark would look at all aspects of a deal to make sure we explored every possibility there was with a client. That was particularly true with the Olympics, where we started doing domestic rights. ­

— Tripp Mickle
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