Struck By Lightning
Staring at the list, I knew what had to be done. I didn’t want to. I would save myself a lot of rejection if I just ignored the list and settled for what would be the inevitable anyway. The phone calls were only going to lead to short replies such as, “We are sorry sir, we just don’t have any positions available at this time. We have your resume on file now, so we will contact you when something comes available that matches your skill set.” Click.
My choice to spurn the financial world left me directionless. Consequently, it was the best decision that I had made in recent years. I began truly examining my likes and dislikes and defining my own path. Directing the outcome of my life without outside influence. Before long I was sending out resumes across the sports business world—from sports agents and marketing firms to professional team front offices. My resumes were making the rounds. All told, 150 resumes were tri-folded; shoved in envelopes; stamped; and dropped in a mailbox. It wasn’t long before the rejection letters started appearing in my mail box. One hundred letters make a sizeable stack. Now what should I do with those organizations that I hadn’t received a letter from…
May I ask who is calling?
This is Mr. Davis from Chicago.
Hold on Mr. Davis as I transfer you.
And just like that I was on the phone with the most influential and powerful man in sports, Mark McCormack. The late visionary started the world’s largest global sports, entertainment and talent agency with three of the world’s most iconic golfers—Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. By the time I had summoned the courage to begin calling all of those who did not respond to my written interest in employment, Mr. McCormack’s company, International Management Group (IMG), was an extensive company operating at all levels in both professional and collegiate sports, as well as in the entertainment industry. It was massive.
Realizing I had just been struck by lightning, I waited for the quick rejection from Mr. McCormack when he realized that he was talking to a 21-year old kid versus the Mr. Davis who was most likely a prominent Chicago businessman with whom he had personal ties and dealings. But the guillotine on this phone call did not fall. Instead, this man, who was on the cover of that week’s Sports Illustrated, listened to me ramble on about my background and what I was seeking. He asked questions and engaged with me. After thirty minutes, the man who virtually started the field of athlete representation, told me this:
I am sorry to say that we currently do not have anything for you at this point. I know this is hard to hear, but keep doing what you are doing…calling and making people tell you “no.” Knocking on doors, only to get them closed in your face. You don’t know how many resumes my company receives each week. Hundreds come in and it is a rare person to ever follow up and make the phone call that you did. Keep it up and you will find success and realize whatever you seek.
And with that our phone conversation ended. There are numerous lessons to be learned from this experience that continue to be realized even today after 25 years. At that moment, it reinforced my resolve to make the next call and put myself out there to be rejected or possibly capture lightning in a bottle. You never know what can happen if you push yourself to do what is difficult.
Post Script—Two weeks after our phone call, I was contacted by the IMG office in Chicago. They wanted to interview me based upon the wishes of Mr. McCormack. I ended up with a summer internship with IMG.