What does it take to be a leader in sales? What qualities help one rise to the top? In this episode, Lance Tyson sits down with Brent Stehlik, President of OneTeam Partners. Brent and Lance review issues making the transition from individual contributor to management, the importance of developing your human capital, and the importance of healthy competition. This episode is required listening for anyone thinking about venturing into managing a sales team.
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Against the Sales Odds and Brent Stehlik Cover What it Takes to Become a Top Sales Leader
I’m excited about this episode. I have an old friend and customer on the line. Brent Stehlik is the President of OneTeam and a partner with RedBird Capital. Brent, welcome. You look relaxed. It’s the July 4th weekend.
It’s the greatest weekend of the year. Independence Day, hot dogs, burgers, broths, beer, and a couple of cigars with fire. It’s perfect.
I’m in on the cigars, 100%. Tell the audience about who you are with, a little bit about OneTeam. We are talking about the pregame. Talk a little bit about your journey. Tell everybody about your role.
My day job is as President of OneTeam Partners. Most people would say, “What the hell is OneTeam Partners?” If you are not familiar, it is a joint venture between RedBird Capital Partners, Major League Baseball Players Association, the NFL Players Association. Those are the main equity partners in the business. We master licenses for several things, including video games, trading cards. We are in athlete marketing and sponsorship and our content division. That’s my day job.
I’m also an operating partner at RedBird. It’s focused on sports practice, which has been interesting in our pursuit of some European soccer clubs. Prior to that, I will give you some background. I spent twenty years in team sports, starting four years in Tampa Bay with the Lightning. I worked for one of my mentors and one of the first guests, Chad Estis.
I spent four years in Minor League Baseball in Frisco, Texas, Frisco RoughRiders. I left there as a COO. I spent 10 years in baseball in total, 4 years in Minor League Baseball, 6 years of Major League Baseball between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres. Also, six years in football between the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns.
I can go through all of that, the last two roles I had. I was CRO of the Cleveland Browns for five years. We were not the winningest team in football. We went 1 of 31 the last few years I was there. Despite that, we had good results on the business side, raising revenues, the second-highest growth in the league over the five years. We did a good job but it’s not something you can talk about with your fans when you are 1 of 31.
No one cares about that either. It’s not that they always care.
We cared but we would rather win. It would have been a big help. Prior to that, I was a Senior Vice President of Biz Ops at the San Diego Padres. I’m the only person who’s left La Jolla and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. I’m the one and only person.
I remember seeing you at that restaurant. We are playing out a work chart.
It was the breakfast place. You and I spent a lot of time in San Diego. You were a huge help in building the business we had in San Diego and building the business we had in Cleveland. I’m happy to be on it. I’m sorry it took so long. If the lighting gets bad, you’ve got to tell me.
It’s great. I want to go back to something you said. It’s interesting because you mentioned working with Chad Estis. Mike was there down in Tampa. Success breeds success. You were down there, and Chris Gargani was down there. Was he down there at that time, too?
The more you can learn and the faster you can grow, at some point you’ll be able to pick where you work.
Yes, he was.
Chad Johnson was down there. You guys had a hell of a crew.
“Iron sharpens iron,” you have heard that. In college football, I hear that a lot. I was fortunate. Usually, you can’t pick your first boss. I’ve got lucky. I worked with Chad, Lynn Wittenburg, Chad Johnson, Mike Ondrejko, Doug Dawson, John Fisher. There was a ton of talent there. I’m sure I forget a million people. Once you do that, you realize, “I know what it’s like.” You then can be selective moving forward as long as you have had success.
For me, I sought those opportunities out. I wanted to work with Tom Garfinkel, Jeremy Walls in Arizona, Jonathan Tillman, and Jared Dillian. You want that type of crew. It gives you an idea of how you build those things. Michael Yormark was there. Between Chad, Michael, Lynn, and everyone in this crew we had there, you learned a lot for your first job in sports, work ethic, how to prioritize your day, how to produce results, all those things. That helped me translate into everything else I have done. I’m fortunate.
When you are in Tampa, what were you selling? Were you selling tickets for groups? What was it?
I was selling group tickets. This is pre inside sales, and you make $18,000 a year. Whatever you sell, you make some commission on. I don’t think I made a whole lot of money that first year. The first sale I had was a Ricky Martin concert. I was like, “This is easy.” I sold at parties. The sales thing is not that hard. You try to sell hockey in Florida when the teams are bad for three years in a row, and then you are like, “I’ve got to work at this.”
It’s hysterical, though, Ricky Martin’s concert. I ask a few people this. You hear all the cliché stuff, “I have been selling my whole life,” and stuff like that. Think back to that first part. This writes the person’s profile a little bit. It’s their DNA. What did you suck at in sales? What were you good at in sales? Start with suck.
Right before Tampa, I worked for a company around Cleveland called Blue Streak Camps. At the time, we sold week-long camps to the Cavs, the WNBA team, and the Indians. It’s like, “Here, sell. Get some high schools to come and participate in our camps.” That was hard. Thankfully, I did that before I went to Tampa. For me, the hardest part is I lacked confidence. I know you will be like, “That’s crazy,” because you and I have known each other. Those first six months were hard.
Talk about that for a second.
It seems odd. We have known each other for so long. I didn’t know you then. When you are given a list of high schools and it’s like, “Call these ADs and coaches,” there’s no script and training. I thought it was just making calls, and I’m trying to build a relationship. Those were easier sells. Someone calls from a camp. They get calls from camps all the time. You go to Tampa, and you call about a hockey team that’s not good, and they don’t even want to take your meeting. You are making 100 or 120 calls a day. It was hard.
John Fisher, who was next to me, is the SVP of Sales and Marketing for the Diamondbacks and a friend. He sat next to me that first year, and he had been there a year and helped me along a little bit. There were some times where I was like, “I don’t know if this is going to work.” It was hard. I had never been to Florida. I was away from family. You are in this tiny apartment. I had a blanket on the floor, a milk crate, a lawn chair in my living room, and that was it. I made a mistake. I was like, “If I budget and if I can live on $18,000 a year, I can still survive if I don’t sell anything.” I’m thinking, “If I don’t sell anything, I’m not going to be here long.”
You were close to $18,000. That’s funny.
I was like, “I can spend $20 a week on lunch.” I learned a ton. There was a time, I didn’t know what it was. It was a couple of months in, and the training was much better. It was Chad and Lynn. They spent more time training the most teams and I was like, “Screw it. I don’t care. I don’t know these people. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to keep calling. I’m going to get in front of these people. I’m going to do whatever I can to get in front of them.” That may include saying, “I’ve got Bruce Springsteen tickets. Let me come talk to you.” When I get there, I’m talking about hockey or arena football. Whatever I had to do to get in front of the person, I did. To me, a light switch went on and I was like, “I can do this for a long time.” There were some bumps.
How long did you sell? What was your first management job? If I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile, I’m like, “This guy skyrocketed.” What’s your management role?
You don’t need the headline to sell. You really have to figure out how to sell.
I talk to people about being patient all the time and they were like, “How can you talk to me about being patient? Look what happened to you?” In some ways, I was because I had many different opportunities that I said no to. The LinkedIn page doesn’t say, “Here are all the offers he said no to and stayed, and then he made the right move when he jumped.” I sold for two years and then I was a Selling Manager. I tell this to people a lot. That may have been one of the hardest jobs. You are in this group of six, your colleagues and friends are selling with each other.
All of a sudden, you are here and you get to coach them. When they are like, “I’m going to go to an appointment. I’m going to go golfing on Friday afternoon.” You know it’s a trick. You know that’s what he does. That was hard because you don’t get paid extra for that. I had no salary increase. It’s like, “You would get to sit in these finance meetings. You get to help train. You get to help interview, hire people and learn but we are not paying you a whole lot more. By the way, you still have to be the number one seller.”
What made you say yes to that? Was that because you wanted to move up in your career? Is that why you said yes?
I always saw it as a little bit of an arms race. How do I learn as much as possible and as fast as possible? When I was in Tampa, they were like, “Do you want the responsibility?” “Great. I will take it.” I don’t have any family or friends. My friends, there were those twenty people that I was closest to at work and that’s it. You spend time with prospects, learning and asking questions. I wore a path out to Chad’s office. I asked him questions. He was probably sick of hearing from me at 7:00 PM. He’s like, “I want to get home.” I was learning as much as I could. I saw that and I was like, “The more I can learn and the faster I can grow, at some point, I will be able to pick where I work.” That’s how I saw it.
I kept growing in Tampa, and then I had seen 4 vice presidents in 4 years. Steve DeLay started, and then Chad. Lynn was an intern, and then Dave came in. I was like, “This is not great. I need to keep learning.” That’s how I always saw it, the opportunity to learn, advance, grow and take on more. I turned down jobs that people thought would have been better and took that job at Minor League Baseball. I knew that I was going to learn so much more there than I would going to this other job and being a Director of Sales. It would have been siloed and that’s it.
Talking about that, that’s where your name came up. I was having breakfast in Columbus with Kevin Rochlitz, who’s with the Ravens. He was at Frisco like you were at one point, preceded you maybe.
He was there.
He was talking about how awesome his experience was there. I have had a couple of people here. John Clark talked a lot about his Minor League experience. What did that do for you? You went from a big-league team to an organization, the Frisco RoughRiders. Frisco wasn’t popular. That area wasn’t the most wonderful in the world.
That stadium was the epicenter for the growth. The City of Frisco is progressive when it comes to those public-private partnerships. It’s the stadium, and then it was a Convention Center, and it was the practice facility for the stars, the junior hockey team, and then the MLS team. Now, it’s a real city. It is booming. Mandalay made the right decision when they moved that team from Shreveport. They looked at a few cities and McKinney, Texas was the next one. It was a little further from the epicenter of Dallas. I saw it. It was hard to sell a Minor League team with Major League prices in a Major League market. There are so many options.
The salespeople we had there if you look at what we had in Tampa and who came out of that Frisco group are stars. They had to cut their teeth selling Minor League Baseball tickets at $50, $35 a pop. $250,000 outfield wall signs. I started a week before Roch left. Roch was there from the trailer hole in the ground. He’s one of the people I called that I was like, “Should I be taking this job?” He sang the praises of Mandalay how everything was professionalized.
People think I was in Minor League Baseball, and I was but I had twenty salespeople. I had twenty people selling, and that was on the ticket side of these groups. I had more group salespeople in Frisco than the Diamondbacks had total salespeople when I took that job there as Vice President. We were progressive. They weren’t rolling the tarp out. They were selling. We saw there was a direct return. That was something I learned from Howie Nuchow and Spoelstra. Keep adding them if the returns are paying off.
One of my best salespeople worked under you or with you, Gina Beltrama, in Frisco. She is legit on my team. She’s a shark.
Gina was there. Greg Kish was there. There was a list of them. It was a great time. You don’t need to headline to sell. You have to figure out how to sell. We spend more time on training and that’s it. Forget the product, the free-agent signing and all the billboards. We didn’t have a budget for that. It was like, “Get out there and get in front of people.” It was a great four years.
How was your sales experience at Tampa when you’ve got to Frisco? You go from pretty good management with some of the people you are involved with at Tampa, and then you have to start writing your own script a little bit at Frisco. How did your experience as a salesperson help create your core philosophy of leading?
There’s something special about you that I’m going to mention. I didn’t even tell you we were going to talk about this because this is interesting. Somebody said this off of Cleveland. How did it help form it? What was it? What did you form there? You weren’t the greatest salesperson. You didn’t sit there and go, “I was top of the list every week.” I’m not saying you weren’t but you didn’t go there. You went somewhere else with it.
You control your attitude. You control your effort every single day. If those two things are really high, the results follow. It’s a simple math equation.
In my first year, I was not top of the list. In the 2nd and 3rd years, I was. For me, it was finding the quickest way not to make cold calls. They suck but you have to do them. If I could figure out a way to build a relationship and some guy gives me 100 referrals, and I walk into his office and he’s like, “Call this person. I will send this email.” To me, that was my solution. I have not even thought about this. If I’m looking back, Tampa helped codify the work ethic. I understand what it tastes like to succeed every day. Also, why do people matter and human capital? I saw it.
Chad Johnson is good. I get that part. Going to Frisco, it was a lot more of the science behind it. Jon Spoelstra and Howie Nuchow, I spent more time with them than anyone. I would call Howie and I’m like, “If I’m doing a good job, I’m asking for you an hour every two weeks. You can do it over lunch. I want to ask you questions. I want to learn about the business. I want to learn about why we would put a team in Wilmington, North Carolina.” I spent a lot of time on that.
Jon is a legend. He was like, “This is how you should look at this. Don’t look at it like, ‘We don’t have the budget for it.’ Look at it if you hire ten more people, would we sell ten times as many tickets? If that’s the case, let’s go hire them.” I had never thought about it that way before. That was a scientific piece to me. At that segment of my career, I learned a ton. I’ve got wider on my resume. You learn all these other things, the science behind a presentation to ownership or presentation to management of like, “This is why we need to go hire ten more people.”
When I met you, you had a short stint in Dallas, and then you are in the Padres. One of the things that everybody who’s reading has to understand here is I constantly asked, whether it’s in or outside of pro sports but in sports entertainment, who are the better sales teams? Especially with people that don’t understand sports, who are the best teams? I always look at it from a business standpoint. I did a little bit with you when you were in Dallas. That’s where we’ve got to know each other. You’ve got to the Padres, and you started your philosophy.
Back to that human capital comment, which is making sense to me. At the Padres, it wasn’t even as much about the salespeople as it was the human capital leadership. You would reload the gun. You were five-deep in leaders. You lost one leader, and you are plugging in the next leader. There is no doubt. Talk about how you view that investment in human capital because that’s what made your Padre team probably one of the top three sales organizations in pro sports at the time.
You talked about Tampa and Frisco. The team we had in San Diego, look where they are, it’s amazing. In this segment of my career, I have been fortunate. With Estis, twice. I had a ton of time with Howie Nuchow and Jon. Between Arizona and San Diego, I had Garfinkel. This is a direct correlation to San Diego, he’s like, “Let’s hire good people, all levels. You’ve got to be aggressive with hiring the management team. I want to have the best staff that we can have.”
One of the core things I have learned at least is they have to come with batteries included. They have to be self-starters. I can’t teach you to work hard. I need you to have that part of it. It’s either finding talent and then developing talent. One of the things about finding talent is, a lot of times, people are threatened, and they feel like, “If I bring this guy in, he’s better and smarter than me. I hope I’m the dumbest person in the room.”
If I have ten people around me who are all smarter than me and we are all rowing in the same direction, they are figuring out ways for us to hire better people or be more diverse or go out with a new product offering to the market, that’s utopia. That’s what we strove for. Jared Dylan was there. We hired Jonathan Coleman. We hired Robert Davis. We figured out a way to get Jeremy Walls. We grow Jason Green, Justin Petkus, and all these guys internally because it’s a balance. You can only hire so many. These people here are like, “What about me?”
Our philosophy always was like, “If I can’t have an opportunity for you to grow internally, I’m going to do everything I can for you to find that externally.” It may not work internally. We saw people leave from leadership positions, and then I could fill them up. If there were nowhere to go, we would help them find another job somewhere else where they could grow. That was my commitment to them, “If you come in and do a great job, I’m going to find a spot for you. Hopefully, it’s internally.”
No doubt. You mentioned two people that were in your inside sales team and now are major executives in NBA teams, Jason Green and Justin Petkus. Justin with Sacramento and Jason with the LA Clippers. Right underneath is Joe Adams, who was number three on that board on an inside sales team. When you say batteries included, I love it because you see that with Garfinkel’s and Jeremy’s team in Miami.
She had the world’s biggest office in San Diego. It was the biggest office I have ever seen in my life. It was like an alley. It was a great office and a beautiful stadium. You always figured it out. I would get in the details with you and you go, “My guys will figure this out.” You wanted to know but the pressure was always on them. It was never on you. Talk about that because that’s a core philosophy.
I always felt the pressure. One thing about me is no one could put more pressure on me than I do myself. I know that. When a boss or coach comes down, I’m like, “I get it.” That’s not going to be harder than what I already am on me. If you hire good people, give them the resources to be successful, push them, answer questions where you need to, support and challenge them in the right way, that’s it. You have hired them for a reason.
I did that in Cleveland, too. We had Brasco, Simek, and Josh Young. I was like, “You know this well. What do you need for me to help you because I’ve got other things to do? You should be running this business.” I trusted them enough because they were talented. If there was ever a situation where they weren’t, I was a lot more involved.
That’s almost a performance improvement plan without being on one. When I’m in the business that far, I shouldn’t be. That should be a red flag. Jared probably saw it. He’s like, “Why is Brent focused on the mini-plan offering that we have now? I better get my act together here. “JT, come into my office. Let’s figure this out.” They usually figure it out and come present to me.
It was a good exercise because I always wanted them to be like, “You come to me. I will ask you many questions. I’m going to challenge you. I may already know where this thing is headed but I want you to tell me.” They are in the business. I’m not talking to the salespeople and clients every single day. I’ve got that from Tom and Chad mostly. I’ve probably got it from Chad originally, and then Tom helped me develop and heighten that. It’s like, “Let them do it.”
It always felt like you’ve got in the weeds where you needed to get in the weeds. There’s a time that Brett and I ran this experiment. We forced every manager in Cleveland to rack and stack all their salespeople as either start and up and comer, plateaued or non-performer. When I’m talking about serious guys about human capital, we listen to every manager on each side of the business. They had to come in and present to Brett and me, where they ranked all their people. That was the stuff that was important and why they would rank. The little stuff was always like, “I don’t need to know that. They’ve got that, Lance.” That’s true.
The other thing I would like everybody to recognize here, and I don’t know if you would say it this way, is I always felt your organization always has a natural brush fire going on. There was healthy competition with the managers. Brush fires kill out the dead thing. People were performing. They looked at things like an opportunity. I’m not even talking to salespeople. I’m talking to managers. It’s a healthy competition. It was always held out in front of them to make a decision. I always felt you are like, “The forgiveness line is great. Get out of the permission line with you.” It always felt that way.
There’s a family aspect to the knit of the team, but it’s a team and that’s like a ship.
There are some things that you want to make sure they ask permission on. We are dealing with it with OneTeam. Nick’s great. Nick Frasco is perfect for this role because there’s no roadmap, there’s no GPS. We’ve just got to go. Gerry Cardinale or someone at RedBird told me once, “Don’t sit there and try to paint a Picasso. We’ve got to start moving. We’ve got to start making decisions.” Inactivity is the worst thing that could happen.
As we move along, we are going to realize that maybe we made a rookie mistake, and we can pivot. We can move in a different direction. I wanted to go. We are always going. The staff in Cleveland was fantastic to get through what we were going through. Forget the record. Every single month, something came up that was shoot-yourself-in-the-foot from an organization perspective. We had a list and started keeping track of this list.
At one point, we were like, “We don’t even need to call partners anymore. We don’t need to call because they understand. What are we going to say to them?” They’ve got through a lot by doing. I remember those conversations. When they came in and presented, there was always 1 or 2. It’s like, “Do you have no underperformers? None? Tell me about this.” You could see their biases towards someone they liked. The nice woman or guy, “We are friends.” It’s like, “What about this big thing here?”
It’s not even the production but the activity is low. The activity and production are low. What’s going on? They are probably not an up-and-comer anymore. It’s challenging them on those things more than anything because then they sit back and they are like, “Maybe I have not looked at this employee the right way.” Conversely, someone who is an up and comer, I’m like, “Have you noticed what they have been doing outside the office to generate leads?” “This one deal they worked on was pretty cool. No one else is coming up with that idea.” I’m like, “Maybe they are.” You’ve got to challenge people when the time is right.
It was always the big rocks with you. If you go back to your core philosophy, you go back to the Mandalay days, I believe in human capital and having the best talent. It’s either we are going to build the best talent or we are going to hire it. You’ve got to come in with batteries included. You are challenging them with other stuff. It’s not that you were not managing the minor stuff but you are majoring in the major stuff, which forced your sales in the majors.
That investment in human capital is huge. I’m from Philly and my friends back home are like, “Who do you like in the NFL?” I would be, “I like the Browns.” “Why do you like the Browns? They suck.” I’m like, “They don’t suck. On the field, they might not get the results.” This was a few years back. They are probably the best in class from a business operation standpoint. I’m talking about when you were there. I was like, “That’s what you don’t see. I don’t know why that doesn’t transfer to the field.”
I can’t answer that but I would always be like, “Look at the deals, the UH deal that was done, those big deals that got done at that stadium. Look at the retention of customers and stuff like that, it’s fantastic.” Also, the Padres and what you had there. For me, it was always performance that way. In a nutshell, from a flat-out executive leadership standpoint, I hate clichés. What is your core philosophy? You said human capital. What is it? I always look at you as more operational savvy than anything else because you are truly the CEO.
Thinking about it, it’s probably changed a bit. We always tried to reward success. I remember putting the sign on the wall in Arizona, it’s like, “Attitude effort results.” If you have the results, it doesn’t matter. If you are a total prick, you don’t work hard, and no one likes you but you produce, there’s something wrong there. Conversely, if everyone likes you, you are a good teammate, you work hard but your numbers are zero, maybe sales aren’t the right fit for you.
The two of them, you can control. You control your attitude and effort every single day. Usually, if those two things are high, the results follow. It’s a simple Math equation. You and I talked about this. It’s not that challenging, at least on the ticket sales side. To me, those three things are important. It’s probably evolved a little now.
With OneTeam, we are essentially a well-funded startup. We started with two employees. We had gotten health insurance. We didn’t have business cards. We didn’t have offices. I knew we had a ton of money coming in through these licenses. There wasn’t pressure that if we don’t sell tomorrow, the lights go off. We could properly build the business.
There’s pressure because we want to grow this into a $100 million, $200 million, $300 million EBITDA company. If we do that, that’s the pressure. Earlier, it was like, “Let’s get the core team in place.” Now looking at it philosophy-wise, it’s back to the right people. If I get those right people in place and give them the resources, and then they can flow that down, I’m only involved when I need to get involved. I don’t know how you describe that, Lance. For me, that’s how I have operated.
I have been blessed to have learned from the Mount Rushmore of sales executives, from Chad, Tom, Alec Scheiner, Howie Nuchow, you name it. There’s a list of it. I have also been challenged because of the people I have worked with. The best part is working with these great people that push you in different ways. For me, that’s how I operate. That’s the best way for me to describe it.
It sounds like. I think about any deep conversation I had and fondly remembered. This is why I asked the question. When you were making the transition from the Padres to Cleveland and you go, “Forget doing training now. You and I need to spend a few hours together, and we are going to go off-site.” I didn’t know what was going on. You go, “This is what’s happening. I’m making this move as the Chief Revenue Officer of the Cleveland Browns.”
We started talking. The conversation was about getting the org chart in place first, “Here are the people I’m thinking. These are the roles. This is what I need.” You had most of them laid out, and you are talking about it. I remember you asked me, “What do you know about this person and this person?” It’s human capital first then it is a human asset that is going to get the job done. It’s not necessarily a concept. It’s the most important. That’s what I hear from you, too. It’s interesting.
Change gears. We are going to bring this bird down for landing. There are a couple of one-off questions. I’m changing my question every single time. When you were selling early manager, what’s a song that described your attitude? Describe your attitude with that when you were selling an early manager. Chad Estis said, “Welcome to the Jungle.” I’m like, “Seriously?”
I’m going to say Pearl Jam’s Even Flow. The only reason I’m saying that is because that’s my favorite album of all time. I love Pearl Jam. That song is fast enough. There was no pace like that pace in Tampa. To me, I remember after I’ve got through the part of like, “I suck at everything. Now, I can do this.” It’s staying even. I can’t get excited about the fact that I was an employee of the month or I had a big sale. You have to stay even. If you have a bad day, you’ve got to stay even. I’m giving you off the cuff, Even Flow.
As a business person, do you operate at your very core? Do you operate off of hate to lose or love to win? Pick one.
I hate to lose. It started that way. I probably don’t celebrate success enough. Nuchow and I were always like and I had it on my computer, “So what? Now what?” So what you cleared $4 million on EBITDA? What are you going to do next year? To this day, I probably don’t celebrate it. I don’t celebrate it enough. I packed my two-door Oldsmobile and drove down to Tampa and I was like, “There’s no way I’m coming home in a year or a month. I’m going to figure this thing out. I’m not losing.” That one is probably easier than the song question for me.
Pick a word, abundance or scarcity?
I’m feeling abundance. With all this going on in this world, I’m trying to focus on how fortunate I am and the resources we have. I took my daughter to the grocery store and realized that most people don’t have this. You go to this grocery store and have all these things. That word is something that I talked about with my daughter. We have an abundance of blessings because I’m spending 100 nights of dinner with my family. I have had two weeks of dinner with my family in a row my entire career. That one is easy.
Naval Academy teaches ship or crew. They teach one over the other. Ship versus crew?
Ship. You and I talked about this. That was easy. A ship can’t go down. You and I talked about this too, is it a family or is it a team? I fight every time when they are doing values, mission statements, and family team. It’s like, “This is a team.” I can’t fire my sister. I fired her already but I can’t technically fire her. This is a team and we are going to be a team. There’s a family aspect to the knit of the team but it’s a team.
I struggle being in companies that say that we are all family. Brett Knight 100% agrees. You can’t fire your sister. We are a high-functioning team. These are all viewpoints. Last two questions. In your wake, your funeral, what song do they have to play?
This is a true conversation I have had with my wife and a dear friend who you know, Jeremy Walls. I’m not making this up. During my wake, I want Jeremy to play Color Me Badd’s I Wanna Sex You Up acoustic with his guitar because I want it to be fun and funny. Don’t be sad. People would be like, “What the hell is happening now?” That’s what I want to happen. Jeremy’s got to do that, got to do it, and I’m going to hardwire it in my will. I have already talked about it. My wife was like, “You are not serious.” I’m like, “I’m dead serious.”
I’ve got a book called The Splendid and the Vile. I’ve got this in the mail from Jeff Ianello. If you have to gift a book, what book are you gifting?
It depends on who I’m gifting to. The book I have probably gifted most is Ice to the Eskimos by Jon Spoelstra, which is a classic. Anyone getting into sales needs to read it. Also, How to Become a Rainmaker by Jeffrey Fox. When someone got out of inside sales, I would give them that book. Even if they were graduating to another team, I would send them this book and be like, “Congratulations.” I would send that to them when they were at the Clippers or somewhere else. Those two books I probably gift the most more than anything.
This has been real. I couldn’t wait to do this interview because you and I got unplugged. We could probably go for another hour, especially with some of those philosophical topics. It has been awesome. Thank you so much.
We will save that for part two, Lance.
I appreciate you.
- RedBird Capital
- Major League Baseball Players Association
- NFL Players Association
- Chad Estis – Past episode
- John Clark – Past episode
- The Splendid and the Vile
- Ice to the Eskimos
- How to Become a Rainmaker
- LinkedIn – Brent Stehlik
About Brent Stehlik
Brent Stehlik is an Operating Partner of the Firm and as well as the President of OneTeam Partners.
In his current role at OneTeam Partners, Brent is responsible for the day-to-day activity of the business and growth of the commercial licenses and marketing opportunities. Brent helped lead the company to a $200 million run-rate EBITDA in its third year, nearly a 5x increase from initial EBITDA and an IRR of over 100%. Under his leadership, the company has added licenses with brands such as Bally’s, Dapper Labs, Sorare, Mythical Games and signed long-term extensions that included significant increases with EA and Sony, among others. During his tenure as President, the company has also added Player Association relationships with the MLSPA, USWNTPA, NWLSPA and WNBA. Brent also spends time on other RedBird sports investments, including the commercial aspects of RedBird FC.
Prior to joining RedBird, Brent had a successful 20-year career across various leading sports organizations. Most recently, Brent was Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer of the Cleveland Browns, where he oversaw all aspects of revenue generation for the franchise, including ticket sales and retention, operations, suite and premium sales, corporate partnership sales and activation, concessions, merchandise and special events.
Prior to joining the Browns, Brent was Senior Vice President of business operations for the San Diego Padres, where he managed all aspects of revenue generation and marketing. Brent has held additional roles at the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Brent holds a B.A. in Sports Business from the University of Mount Union.