My Crazy true life stories...
And what YOU can learn from them...
My Crazy true life stories...
And what YOU can learn from them...
There are times in life when you have a choice whether to attend an event or gathering that isn't mandatory but may have a very positive influence in your life . It may not even be apparent whether or not the event will have a positive influence but if in your gut you have a feeling it may, you will probably want to listen. This is the story of one such gut feeling...
It was eight a.m. In May of 2007 when my phone reminder started to beep. It was much earlier than I liked to be on the road, but I was ok with it since my follow up visit to “hallway hospital” would end with a pay day. In an effort to fund our personal lives in our quest to get our beverage company Lock+Load off the ground, my business partner and I had been doing non-FDA approved drug studies. Yes...We were Labrats. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone. After eyeing the reminder, I quickly called Mike. He didn’t answer so I left a message.
“Hey. I’m headed in for a follow up appointment, but I totally forgot that today is the biz competition. We have to go. It’s important.”
After leaving the follow up appointment almost an hour later, I called Mike again.
“Hey” he answered.
“Did you get my message?”
“Yeah…. Do we really have to go? I mean, we’re not even in the competition.”
I was pissed that he didn’t see the value in going but I had come to expect this from Mike. If it wasn’t on his personal agenda, then it wasn’t a priority. It took another five minutes to convince him, but I got him to reluctantly agree to go.
I arrived back to our apartment a little after 9:30am and quickly changed into business casual attire. Mike was of course running late. I hopped back into my car and made my way down the road to Mike’s apartment.
“Let’s go, let’s go.” I said with an enthusiastic smile on my face.
“I’m coming. Remind me again why we’re going to this thing?” he said in a snide tone.
I wasn’t going to re-sell my position to him, so I gave a short answer.
“It’s called networking Mike.”
Fifteen minutes later we were on the road. The event was scheduled to start at 10am so we would be about a half hour late. I hate being late but better late than never…
We arrived at the University of Maryland business school a little after 10:30am and made our way to the auditorium where the event was being held. As we heard the doors close, I peeked through the glass and did a double take.
“Mike, take a look and tell me what you see.”
He glanced in and then quickly back at me with a wide grin on his face, “That’s awesome!”
There was a spectator holding a bottle of Lock+Load sitting front and center in the auditorium. In his excitement, Mike started to reach for the door. I grabbed his arm.
“Wait for people to start clapping.”
Mike’s emotions had a tendency to grab hold and keep him from realizing what is going on around him. Five minutes later, the clapping started and we made our entrance.
As we sat down, Mike’s attempt at a whisper was more like a dull talking voice, “Holy shit!”
I looked over at him as he pointed towards the podium at the front of the room. Perched on top, were all three flavors of Lock+Load. This was definitely a nice consolation prize for not getting into the competition. I was very glad that we made the trip and it’s not a long shot to say that Mike was too.
Asher Epstein, the Director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship addressed the large crowd. “I’d like to welcome everyone to the Second Annual Cupid’s Cup Business Competition. Before we begin, I’ld like to introduce the man who made this event possible. So without futher ado, Founder of Under Armour, Kevin Plank.”
As Kevin made his way to the podium, I was excited to hear what he had to say. I heard his presentation the year before at the first Cup’s Cup and I really enjoyed what he had to say about his core business principles. As the clapping and cheering subsided, I was awestruck when Kevin picked up a bottle of Blue Force Lock+Load, opened it and took a large gulp. Not a good day to forget my camera! I couldn’t believe it. Kevin Plank was one of my business idols and here he was drinking a product that I helped create. This would be like being a new song writer and having Led Zeppelin perform your song. And if you don't know who Led Zeppelin is, stop reading this, open up Youtube, and just start listening...
I looked over at Mike. He was grinning from ear to ear and shaking. I honestly thought he was going to get up out of his seat, run to the front of the auditorium and high five the founder and CEO of Under Armour. I did love him for his intensity.
Kevin gave a really engaging speech much like the year before. I found his humbleness and sincerity remarkable. Most people in his position would have developed large egos. Not Kevin Plank. He actually spoke out against “being on your soap box.”
The event started after Kevin concluded his speech and it took about an hour for all of the contestants to summarize their sales pitches. I don’t remember who won that event nor who the contestants were yet I do remember the year before. It’s funny how current excitement about something else can cloud your memory.
After the winner was announced, there was a catered reception which we utilized to network our product. We had been leaning on the Dingman Center for help, so we ran into numerous people we knew and we were introduced to others.
As we finished eating, we headed back into the auditorium where we ran into Asher.
“Hey guys, how is everything going?” he asked.
“Things are great. We made our first team sale and have been talking with a few potential investors and distributors” Mike replied.
“Wow, sounds like you guys are making some real progress. Come with me guys, I want to introduce you to Kevin”
I couldn’t believe it. I was about to meet my idol. My palms were sweating profusely as we made our way to Kevin Plank who was still standing by the podium talking to a few other people. Asher tapped him on the shoulder while Mike and I stood by waiting anxiously like two kids waiting to get into their favorite concert.
“Kevin, I want you to meet Mike Rosenberg and Steve Wood from Lock+Load.”
Kevin turned towards us with his hand outstretched.
“Pleasure to meet you guys. I like the concept that you’ve got here” he said as he reached for one of the bottles on the podium. Then he moved closer to us as if he was about to share the golden secrets from the business holy grail.
“Now, you guys know as well as I do this shit is all about branding.”
I shit you not, this was his only advice to us. I couldn’t believe that Kevin just dropped his fine tuned CEO social mask and ‘kept it real’ with us.
“Isn’t that right Jeff” Kevin said as he looked over his shoulder at a long blond-haired man who looked like he had spent a lot more time on a surfboard than in a board room. “It’s all about branding.”
“That’s right; without a solid brand, you’ve got nothing.”
“This is Jeff” Kevin introduced. “He came over from Vans where he did all the branding for them.”
After a quick introduction, Kevin and the rest of his Under Armour entourage – apparently under time constraints – rode off on the gold plated horse they came in on.
I had an even greater respect for Kevin Plank. Not only because he’s a ‘man’s man’ but because he is one of the best in the business while still remaining humble and sincere.
What a great day…