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Volume 21 No. 1
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Tony Schiller, EVP and Partner, Paragon Marketing Group


Photo by: J. SIMMONS
What I Like …

An insight: All other things being equal, people do business with people they like.

An influential person in my career: The second job in my career was with (concert promoter) Jam Productions in Chicago. My boss there was Arny Granat and he taught me to relentlessly pursue your goals.

An out-of-the-box idea: Paperless ticketing, whether it’s mobile access or tickets you print at home.

A business deal: NFL and NFLPA getting their deal done, which looks even better in light of what’s going on with the NBA

Executive vice president and partner,
Paragon Marketing Group

Where I'm from: Chicago, born and bred.

Where I Went to School: University of Illinois, 1986, psychology major.

My First Job: I put myself through college managing and tending bars. I was accepted into a graduate psychology program, but the Chicago Theatre offered me the job of assistant director of food and beverage. That sounded like fun and eventually that got me to the marketing side, and sports and entertainment followed.

A sports facility: Fenway Park. Visited it last year for the first time. They have clearly been able to keep what’s special about it, while growing revenue and keeping it fresh.

A sports event: There is nothing like an EPL match.

A strategy: Too many deals are done in this business without one.

A brand: Intelligentsia Coffee, sort of Starbucks the way it once was. Really true to the needs of devoted coffee drinkers.

A trend: Social media is a force, but for all the buzz and resources being devoted to social media, I’m still waiting to see benchmarks that demonstrate their marketing power.

An innovation: QR codes.

A pro league or team business initiative: Everything the Dallas Cowboys attempt as far as diversification is well done, whether it’s apparel or concessions or consulting. And, oh by the way, they built a state-of-the-art venue that’s one of the best in sports.

Theo Epstein (left) and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts
A hire: Theo Epstein by the Cubs.

An idea I wish I had thought of: Netflix.

A fantasy job: Winemaker in Sonoma.

What I Like About …

My job: Being able to launch and develop careers.

Sports: Working in an industry everyone is passionate about and one that is always evolving.

Sports business: Being able to connect brands to the passion that makes sports great.

The future of sports business: Real partnerships between ownership and players. Dollars are becoming more scarce, so more creativity in game presentation and revenue distribution are increasingly essential.

Sports fans: That they consume sports within a community.

What I’d Like To …

Change: I would like college athletes to truly be student/athletes.

See more of in sports: The Cubs playing baseball in October.

See less of in sports: News stories I’m embarrassed for my children to watch.

See less of in sports business: Sports executives posturing to enhance their status.

Eliminate: ThunderStix or anything like them.

What I Don’t Like …

In sports: Properties who think they are entitled to a big fee, just based on their name.

In business: Companies that feel compelled to meeting after meeting when the right decision is obvious.


What I Like …

That would surprise those who know me: I bake a world-class banana bread.

Above all else: Believe in yourself and your abilities.

Heroes: My kids. Navigating through all the stuff they have to today must not be easy.

City: The Windy One.

Players: Lionel Messi, the U.S. women’s World Cup team and, being a Chicago guy, Walter Payton and Jerry Sloan.

Teams: Bulls, Hawks, Bears, Cubs, White Sox and my daughter Amy’s soccer team, the Arlington Aces.

Possession: I like my TVs; the biggest is a 62-inch Sharp.

Memento: A baseball from a no-hitter I threw in high school.

Music: Alt/indy, and a little bit of hip-hop and reggae.

Books: On my nightstand now are “Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All,” by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen, and the Mötley Crüe Book, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band.” I think I would recommend the latter over the former.

Gadgets: I am kind of an “i” freak, so anything that starts with an “i.”

IPad app: The Starbucks app where you can pay from your phone.

Chores: I enjoy grocery shopping. I like to see how things are marketed there and how people react in that retail environment.

Hobbies: Work, family, golf, wine and exploring the restaurant scene … when I travel.

Trips: Jamaica this winter.


Movies: I was disappointed by “Moneyball” after enjoying the book.

TV: “Hawaii Five-O,” “Burn Notice,” “Modern Family.”

Concerts: I worked for a concert promoter for three years and saw almost everyone. Above all, I liked Aerosmith, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters.

Artists: U2, Linkin Park, Jay-Z.

Food: I am a vegetarian, so anything in that vein.

Dessert: Pecan pie.

Vacation spots: Lakeside, Mich., is our family chill zone.

Cars: Necessary evil.

Singer: Sinead O’Connor.

Quote: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” (Some attribute this to Goethe, but there are just as many or more who do not.)