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Volume 21 No. 1
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Spotlight: Mike Goff, Premier Sports Management

Former Sprint VP helping smaller firm ‘take the next step’

Mike Goff recently joined Premier Sports Management as chief marketing officer after serving as vice president of marketing for Sprint, where he was instrumental in the rebranding of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He spoke with SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Anna Hrushka.

Age: 57.
New title: Chief marketing officer, Premier Sports Management.
Previous title: Vice president of marketing, Sprint.
First job: Waiter at a hamburger joint.
Education: Bachelor of science in journalism, University of Kansas.
Resides: Leawood, Kan.
Grew up: Leavenworth, Kan.
Executive most admired: John Wooden, for his common-sense approach to leadership, and Peyton Manning, for his preparation and how he handles himself on the field and off.
Brand most admired: Dos Equis and UPS. I have great admiration for brands who successfully reposition themselves and then turn that into market-share gain.
Last book read: “Walter Cronkite: His Life and Times.”
Last movie seen: “Arbitrage.”
Favorite movie: “The Godfather.” One and two are tied.
Favorite musician/band: My current favorite is U2. The Rolling Stones are my all-time favorite.

What led you to pursue a career in marketing after graduating with a journalism degree?
I was always intrigued by consumer behavior. As I got into business, I realized that I enjoyed coming up with an idea that impacted consumer behavior. And ultimately I’ve always been sort of a fanatic of sports and also the business of sports.

What’s the biggest challenge in your new position?
I came here because there’s great opportunity to be a part of helping a small business take the next step in its growth path. Having worked for a big Fortune 100 company, the challenge will be the shift in working for a smaller business. But that’s also the reason why I wanted to make the move.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
When I was at Sprint, I was early in my career there when I was approached about taking on leadership in our investment in World Cup 1994 and U.S. soccer. There was no certainty that after that event was done that I would have a job. So I took it both as a growth opportunity and as a challenge. … We succeeded in a big way and never looked back. After that we did major deals with the NFL, NCAA and the PGA Tour.

What’s your biggest professional accomplishment?
The naming-rights agreement for Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, Mo. That not only was a big deal for the company, but it was a huge deal for this city and region as it was, in many ways, the impetus for downtown rehabilitation and growth. And, the cool thing is to be downtown now and see what that arena, and the dream of a group of people committed to the arena, meant to this city.

What’s your biggest professional disappointment?
This was a disappointment and a crisis. When Sprint was the title sponsor for Adam Petty’s NASCAR race team. When he died in a racing accident in practice, that shook me both professionally and personally. It was dealing with the disappointment of what might have been.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
Network, network, network, whether you’re trying to get into sports, marketing or anything else.