After a successful career in sports journalism at Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and Bleacher Report, as well as a key storytelling role at the National Basketball Players Association, Jared Zwerling launched the first dedicated media platform focused on sharing basketball players’ lives off the court. 

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

6:30 It began with storytelling. “I had my first gig as a newspaper writer from my middle school at 8 years old. I wrote my first article about an ambidextrous pitcher who could pitch both 90mph, lefty and righty. I was so fascinated by that story and by athletes and how they got into their craft – the story behind the story. That’s what set it off for me. It came very naturally, just telling stories.” -JZ

24:24 The impact of the pandemic on the sports media industry. “We have often talked about the yin and yang, the bipolar nature of the effect of the pandemic on different industries. At first glance, we’re like, ‘Quarantine must have been the best thing ever for CloseUp360,’ because players are at home and they have all this free time. When you add on the layer that you’re also now competing with ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, Uninterrupted – everyone vying for that free time because there is no ‘on the court’ time – your point of difference became a little less prevalent.” -KS

26:37 The need for GREAT content. “Everyone has to be super creative and offer as much value as possible. Because we work directly with players, we just can’t create content just to create content. We have to go to a player and say, ‘This will create value for you and here’s why.’ The level of access and the level of ideas we come up with have to be greater and more compelling for a player to say, ‘You know what, I want to work directly with CloseUp to do that.’ It’s a different approach to just being a traditional media outlet in that regard.” -JZ

45:05 The startup grind. “When you work for a startup, you have to be able to sacrifice and push through the grind. It’s not going to be easy all the time. It’s not a corporate job where you have a steady paycheck and benefits. It’s a different mindset when you work for a startup. You have to be able to be ready for anything and pivot.” -JZ

48:20 Advertising as revenue. We used to always talk about how difficult the advertising as revenue business is within media, and how margins become very tight and tough. That’s always been hard. Now with companies spending less on marketing, less on advertising, with more content platforms out there, and a lot more conglomerates purchasing media platforms – it’s tough. At Besomebody, we’ve been a media company for a long time. We’ve never monetized it because our strategy has always been to use content as a growth platform for audience size, and then figure out what to do with the audience. We took a couple cracks at it and weren’t as successful as we hoped to be. And now we’re back at it again after we pivoted and built a core revenue stream. As Jared talked about, passion is the lead, but then you’ve got to pay the bills.” -KS   

50:46 Kash’s One Big Thing. “We need to start thinking of new business models. We need to start thinking of new ways to generate revenue that haven’t been built before. You can’t use the old ‘tried and true’ models anymore. We have to do some things differently – whether that’s how we partner, through shared revenue, through media and licensing agreements, or through looking at venture capital in a different way. The game has changed, so we have to think about things very differently. The companies that are emerging right now and the companies that are going to succeed are going to say, ‘How do I have to play the game differently moving forward?’” -KS

Born in small-town Tennessee, at a young age, Jerry Porter went from working across the country to living across the world. His time as an R&D leader at the world’s largest Consumer Products Goods (CPG) company transported him to life in Japan, Germany, and hundreds of places in between. Through it all, he’s found power in the shared human experience, and optimism in the evolving American landscape. 

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

16:30 Purpose. “That’s been the journey and the joy of being at P&G, of really bringing to life that purpose. At times you get into the conversation, ‘C’mon, you just make consumer goods.’ But when you really see how it intersects and interplays in the lives of the consumer, it really does elevate the quality of the day, and what it really means to take care of your family.” -JP

31:10 No going back. “It feels different this time. The energy and the inertia behind it are different. There’s a lot of elements and ingredients to it. There’s a lot of pent up frustration over the last four years. There’s a lot of celebrities, athletes, and influencers now speaking out in ways they haven’t before. There’s the content and the video we’ve seen. But, just overall, the tipping point seems to have been reached and breached on this one.” -KS

33:33 Why now is different than before. “I think versus things in the past where it was a small subset of folks really pushing it, this is broad. Folks are saying, ‘No, we want a better world. The pendulum swings towards justice, and that’s the world that we want to have.’ I think it’s also a counterbalance to some of the negativity and ugliness that’s just been pervasive. The voices that really have been heard over the past three years have had more of a negative piece and haven’t necessarily represented – I don’t believe – the better angels and the majority of folks who just want the best for their kids and expect the best for everyone else.” -JP

40:33 Brands need to speak up. “Courageous leadership is a perfect phrase because that’s what is needed. We’ve been talking since the onset of COVID how now is the time for companies to really focus on brand purpose and values. It’s not the time to market your products, it’s time to talk about what you believe in. With what happened in Minneapolis and all the events afterward, it’s even more so a time for people and companies to take the stage, take the platform and say, ‘This is who we are, this is what we believe.’” -KS

43:38 Jerry’s advice to move forward. “You’ve got to persevere. These things – if they don’t kill you, they make you stronger. You need to figure out how you’re going to navigate that. Along the way, build those relationships that – as the old African proverb says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’ How are you bringing folks along that will support you and fortify you as you get to those down times to help you carry on? That’s been a piece that has enabled me to move forward.” -JP

48:44 Kash’s One Big Thing. “If you can’t go across the world, go across the country. If you can’t go across the country, go across the state. If you can’t go across the state, go to a different part of your city. If you can’t go to a different part of your city, go to a new part of your neighborhood that you’ve never been to before. And if you can’t do that, then walk down to the edge of your driveway, and sit there and experience things from a different perspective. Because that’s the only way you start to understand people who are unlike you. That’s the only way that you learn that we’re all more similar than we are different.” -KS

Born in Venezuela, Andrea Diquez moved to New York City with a passion for theater. A few months later, she was in the throws at one of the largest and most successful Advertising Agencies in the world. Twenty-five years and numerous big accounts later – including Tide, Coca-Cola, and Toyota – she runs the company. She continues to lead with passion, optimism and positivity, and a contagious desire to do great work. 

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

8:31 Brands speaking up. “Sixty-eight percent of consumers say that they find it helpful when companies or brands are addressing coronavirus in advertising. Sixty-two percent of consumers say that when companies or brands are addressing the current crisis, that means that the brands have the consumers’ best interests at heart. Even though it’s a time when people, brands, leaders, marketing directors, and CEOs are a little nervous about taking these courageous and bold steps with their marketing and advertising, the data tells us that’s what people want. That’s what consumers want to see, what they expect. In a lot of ways, not saying something right now says more about you as a brand and a company than anything else.” -KS

17:58 Passion for the client’s brand. “You have to love the brand that you’re working on. I’m not going to come up with stuff that is going to destroy the brand or kill the brand. I’m actually on the same page as the client – when I work on a brand, I give it my all, as if it was mine. I really take care of it, and I get the team to take care of it and love it. Regardless of the brand. With all the brands that I’ve worked on, some are more difficult than others, but if you love it and you nurture it, then good stuff happens. Sometimes it takes two, three, four years, but it happens…I love the brands I work on and I really dedicate time to being part of the work.” -AD

29:46 Andrea on being herself. “I’ve never not been myself. My bosses have always been okay with that…I love that all my bosses have let me be who I am. Sometimes they’re a little scared, I think, but they’ve let me be who I am and that’s great. That’s why I’ve been successful. People ask me, ‘Was it hard being Venezuelan and getting to where you are?’ No – I’m here because I’m Venezuelan. I’m different. And people embrace those differences, and they were okay with it. They figured that by adding me to the mix things would become even better. I was very lucky with all my bosses, I still am.” -AD

32:19 Adding value to the client. “The last thing I wanted to be at our sister company, BSB Group International, is a “Yes sir, no sir” agency. I don’t want to just be executing what the client says to do. I always want to be able to have a point of view, have our personal passion, and expertise. I want to be able to say, as embedded strategic business partners, ‘Here’s what we recommend and why we believe in it so much.’ That’s something that I learned from you and from the Saatchi team.” – KS

38:34 Maintaining consistency with change. “When clients change, the first thing I do is try to understand a little bit what the client is – who the person is, where they come from, what they’re used to seeing. If it’s another company, it’s another company, if it’s the same company in another country or with another brand, I try to really understand a little bit of the background and understand where they’re coming from and what their forte is. That’s how we start our relationship in an orientation on what we do. It’s focused on what that person’s strength is. Or, I’m never scared of saying, ‘I don’t know too much about this, but this is a challenge we had and here’s how your people helped us.’ And always demonstrating that we love the brand, we know the brand, and we share the passion for growing the brand. And we’re there to build it with them.” -AD

44:08 The Triple Win. “For us, we always believe in the triple win: it’s a win for the customer, meaning it’s adding value to the customer; it’s a win for the business, meaning it’s driving revenue or profit; and it’s a win for the client, and for that in the corporate world it actually means that they’re ascending, that they’re getting promoted and getting recognized. Some folks on my team were like, ‘Well that means that we’re going to lose some of those clients that we have great relationships with.’ But that’s what we want – as long as we’re losing them because they’re going up and they’re ascending, whether it’s at that company or somewhere else, then we did something right and we’re on the right side of it. Then our challenge is to do that again with the next crop that comes in.” -KS

1:21:33 Kash’s One Big Thing. “You can’t talk about it unless you’re about it behind your own closed doors, inside your own company. A lot of brands are coming to the forefront right now saying, ‘We want to take a stance, we have an opinion, we want to join the conversation of what’s happening today in our society and our culture.’ There are so many issues that have been pushed to the forefront. But you can’t talk about it in a credible or authentic way if you haven’t addressed it within your own household, family, or company. You can’t talk about diversity if you don’t have a leadership team that’s diverse or if you don’t have a marketing strategy that connects with multiple cultures and multiple types of people. That’s so important. Before we talk about what we can do and how we can evolve our communications externally, we need to take this as an opportunity to look at ourselves and reevaluate how we’ve been running our companies, businesses, households, and families. That’s the opportunity we have today – use all the issues, conflict, and conversation that’s in front of us as a mirror to look at ourselves, what we control, and the fingerprints that we leave on everything we touch. And make sure that we feel great about that impact before we decide how we’re going to market ourselves. That call to action of authenticity and realness is so important.” -KS