Combining football, business & money into an expert personal brand: A chat with Kristi Dosh

Fall is almost here in my part of the world. Warm sweaters. Pumpkin Spice lattes.  And of course…football season! If you know me, you know I’m a huge football fan, both college and pro. I would never call myself an advanced expert, but I know the game, can recognize many ref calls, and, when my husband wants to wind me up for an amusing rant, he’ll bring up the Wildcat formation (while exciting to watch, people can’t just go around playing any position they want to, IMHO)

Whether you, too, are a football fan like me or not, you will love today’s post. It’s about sports, yes, but it’s also about how to create an expert personal brand to launch blogs, books and speaking opportunities. We’re talking with Kristi Dosh, ESPN’s sports business reporter, an attorney, public speaker and author. Kristi is the founder of, a website dedicated to the financial side of collegiate athletics. Kristi’s latest book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires: How College Football Builds Winning Colleges launched this week.  She also has another book due out next year: Balancing Baseball: How Collective Bargaining Has Changed the Major Leagues. Kristi is a frequent guest lecturer in sports management and law programs.

We crossed paths through HARO for a freelance article she wrote. And I’m so glad we did, as she combines two things I love: business and sports. Read on to see why she wrote a book about the business of college football, and for your own brand and business, how she not only became an expert on this topic after being an attorney for many years, but how she promotes this personal brand effectively (hint: targeting is key!) 

RS: Welcome Kristi! What made you decide to write a book about the business of college football?

KD: In the early days of my sports media career – the ones where I wrote for free for Forbes and anyone who would have me on their blog while simultaneously practicing law full-time – I became fascinated by financial statements for college athletic departments. Math was never my favorite subject, but I found out pretty early on while covering the sports business that numbers can tell a story. And the story I was reading between the lines of athletic department financials was nothing like what I knew about college football from years of being a fan. In early 2011, I wrote a six-part series for SportsMoney on Forbes about the finances of every public school in the six “automatic-qualifying” conferences. Those posts received more views and feedback than any other posts I’d ever written, and I knew something was there. At that time, no one was writing about the business side of college sports on a consistent basis, and fans were becoming interested in what was going on off the field in these athletic departments earning millions from television contracts. Seeing the interest and realizing there was a gap in coverage by the sports media, I began to seek out more stories about the business side of college athletics, particularly football. It wasn’t long before I realized all I was learning from my research and visits to college campuses for facilities tours and sit-downs with athletic directors was changing the way I viewed college athletics. I knew not every fan would have that opportunity, so I wrote the book as a way of sharing everything I’ve learned with fans.

RS: How do you become an expert on a topic like this?

KD: First, I think it helped that I chose a topic where there was a gap in the coverage by traditional media. It’s sort of like when you’re developing a new product – you want something that fills the white space.

Next, you have to commit 100 percent. I made learning everything I could about the business side of athletic departments, and writing on what I learned, a part-time job in addition to my full-time job that was paying my mortgage and student loans. I started a blog called so that all my writing on this subject would be in one easy-to-find place. Then I committed to writing on that site every single weekday. Between the launch of the site and the day I quit writing for the site to join ESPN, I posted 133 blogs in 175 days. In fact, I believe one of the reasons I ended up at ESPN was because their college football writers were linking to my blog on a weekly basis. On top of that, I was promoting myself to radio stations around the country as an expert on the matter by sending them blog posts pertinent to their market.

RS: How do you market yourself as an expert?

KD: I think self-promotion comes more naturally for some than others – for better or for worse, it comes pretty naturally to me. That being said, I think anyone can learn how to do it. Most importantly, you have to create something you can show to people to prove you’re an expert, whether it’s a blog, a book, a podcast – anything that illustrates your knowledge. Then you have to present that knowledge to the right people. This is where I see many young bloggers get off track. They inundate more senior writers on Twitter, LinkedIn and email with every post they write. My strategy was to carefully select who I targeted so as to give myself the best chance of having that person look at my work. For example, if I wrote about the finances of FSU’s athletic department, I was going to try and get it in the hands of beat writers who cover FSU and local radio hosts and producers. It didn’t make sense to me to send it to a national writer when it’s more of a local interest story, or to send it to someone who doesn’t cover the team regularly. Obviously getting a national writer to tweet out your story or reference it in his/her own piece is amazing exposure, but you can’t just send those people everything you write. Instead, I’d watch for them to write a piece that something of mine tied into – then I’d send them my piece. In the end, I found the most effective way to get other people to help you is to find a way to help them do their job better.

About  Saturday Millionaires:

Saturday-MIllionaires-BookLast year Football Bowl Subdivision college football programs produced over $1 billion in net revenue. Record-breaking television contracts were announced.  Despite the enormous revenue, college football is in upheaval. Schools are accused of throwing their academic mission aside to fund their football teams. The media and fans are beating the drum for athletes to be paid. And the conferences are being radically revised as schools search for TV money. Saturday Millionaires shows that schools are right to fund their football teams first; that athletes will never be paid like employees; how the media skews the financial facts; and why the TV deals are so important. It follows the money to the heart of college football and shows the real game being played, including debunking 6 myths most people have about college football programs, such as: Myth #2: Supporting Football Means Degrading Academics and Myth #5: A Playoff Will Bring Equality to College Football

Check out Kristi’s great new book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (print & digital editions for both). Follow her on Twitter for more insights and news.

Your turn: What area of expertise do you promote in your brand? Why did you choose that area: skill, passion or something else? Please share in the Comments below. Or just let me know your favorite football team you’ll be cheering in this fall!


Dream of launching a magazine? How Stacey Anderson flipped her model and went for it

With constant proclamations that “print media is dead” I’m still not sure how critics are missing the racks of magazines everywhere you look – and that more are being launched all the time. In fact, according to Crain’s NY Business, 2012 saw 195 new print titles launched, compared to 181 in 2011. And only 74 titles folded in 2012, compared to 142 the year prior. Personally, I love the feel of a glossy print magazine in my hands, even if though I’m also a Kindle user. Sometimes it’s nice to read and still be disconnected.

Stacey Anderson, publisher of Getting Organized Magazine felt the same way. A professional organizer for years, she took her experience in working with clients and expanded that into the magazine to allow readers from around the world to get and stay organized. Stacey says, “We are the real life magazine for real life people offering to help you regain your sanity by offering concentrated content so as not to further overwhelm your already jam packed life.”

I’ve been a fan of Stacey’s for a while and today, she’s sharing how busy people like you can get more organized and why she listened to her audience’s needs and took this gutsy gamble – which seems to be paying off in spades. (Tweet and Share!)

RS: Stacey, what is your overall philosophy on staying organized? Any high-level tips?

SA: That is the million dollar question isn’t it?!  The real key to getting and staying organized is to keep it simple.  We tend to think organizing is a very complex, hard, overwhelming, time consuming task.  When, really, if you follow a few simple concepts you can stay on track.  Here are a few:

  1. Do it now, not later: Later never comes.  Put it away, do the task, but do it now.
  2. Don’t over complicate things: Organize one small spot at a time, or time yourself for 15-30 minutes each day to stay on top of things.
  3. Just start! Do something, anything, one thing but start the process.  The fear, procrastination and stress make organizing much harder than it really is.

RS: OK, I’m pretty tidy, but  if I don’t have something right in front of me, I forget about it – so you can imagine what my desk looks like! Drives me nuts. Any tips for keeping your workspace uncluttered if your memory is not so good?

SA: It really isn’t your memory that it is bad, it is your system.  You don’t trust your system or it has failed you in the past so you think leaving things out will avoid the problem- when actually it makes it worse!  The real key is to clean out your old stuff- be tough, and create a good, labeled, specific system in which you know you will be able to find things.  The real goal of organizing is not to make things look pretty but to be able to find things when you need them.

RS: You’ve launched this new magazine, Getting Organized, as part of your marketing efforts. What’s the scoop and how does this augment your consulting and speaking?

SA: There used to be an organizing magazine on the market several years ago and when it went out of business I kept hearing people say how much they missed it and wanted one.  I thought, well who better to tackle that challenge than me?  I had been successfully running my organizing business for about 5 years, had self-published a book, been booked at several great events as a speaker and been interviewed in the media.  I took all of that business experience, along with my organizing knowledge, and parlayed it into the magazine.  It is a huge challenge to shift gears like that but I like a challenge and I have always wanted to be able to reach more people with my organizing tips.

For more organizational tips and advice to save your sanity, follow Stacey on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

Your turn: What one tip can you share that works for organizing your desk, files, business or home? Please share in the Comments below!

“We’re not selling/writing for strangers anymore”

If you are a writer, marketer, content provider, or entrepreneur, please spend 26 minutes listening to this insightful interview with Seth Godin on the Zen Habits website. In it, he talks about not only the state of publishing today, but how to build an audience, what it means to fail and how to finally let go of trying to please everyone.

From the publishing front, which is of particular interest to me as I get ready to self-publish my next book in early 2012, is that we are no longer trying to convince strangers to buy our books. The old model is dead, and self-publishing has turned everything topsy-turvy. Now it’s about collecting friends and creating tribes that you specifically write for and who can’t wait to gobble up your next work. In his view, this makes opportunity more abundant, not scarcer.

Seth ntoes that his experiments with The Domino Project have proven that shorter and cheaper books spread more virally, that cover art with more visuals and less words works well, and that authors don’t need to rely on advances to succeed anymore (especially when that gives the false impression that someone else will be doing the work for you. They won’t.)

Later in the interview, Seth tackes why he does not accept comments on his blog. He states that he used to, but then he started writing with comments in mind and it paralyzed his work. “I don’t write for strangers anymore,” he said.  He decided a blog with posts was better than a blog with comments but no posts. Now he writes to spread his ideas to his tribe, not try to persuade strangers. In his view, the discussion doesn’t stop because he has no comments. There are plenty of places people can debate, get nasty and disagree with me on the Internet if people want, he says.

While a company might need to be a little more open to direct dialogue and interaction, this attitude should hold true with our brands as well. While increasing market share is always a good thing, you need to speak to your “people.” I’ve been doing a lot of work lately with solopreneurs who don’t realize the power they already yield with folks who are on their side or audiences who are primed for their message already. Great brands don’t try to please everyone, so why should your business? It’s just waste of energy and resources.

Photo Credit: Squidoo

The spy who stole: Book publishing realities

In what could turn out to be a book-in-the-making on its own, a recently published UK spy novelist was found to have plagiarized most of his content from various sources, including several James Bond books. The book’s been recalled, the author’s career is in ruins and questions abound.

The author cites pressure and self-doubt as what drove him to do this. He said he couldn’t keep up with the changes the editors demanded. He openly confesses this on spy novelist Jeremy Duns’ blog, The Debrief.  Poor Mr. Duns also took a reputation hit since he offered to endorse the book (and hadn’t picked up on the plagiarism).

The hits to brand reputation are like ripples of water from a stone being thrown into a pond. The author, the endorsers, the publisher, the reviewers….

I  have many questions about this. But mostly, for the publishers. If editors and publishers are really doing the jobs they claim to do, if they are truly adding value to the bookselling process with their “quality control” (as they often cite) then how the hell did they miss this?

I’m not excusing the author’s disgusting behavior. He makes the rest of us  look bad. But if the last bastion of going the traditional publishing route is that you get a better quality product in the end (note: not what I believe anymore) and then something like this happens, what the heck do we need publishers for?

It used to be publishers helped to market, edit and improve books. Now new authors are required to come to the table with a “marketing platform” already in place into which they can sell. And I have friends who are going the traditional publishing route telling me these NY publishers are asking for them to commit to hiring a freelance editor, because their editors don’t have time to edit anymore. So publishers are not helping market the books and they are not helping to edit the books? I’m confused…..

As I’ve mentioned in a prior post, publishers can’t whine about the state of the industry anymore. When you are a middleman, you need to add value to the equation. I can totally see how big publishers help with credibility and open more doors for distribution. But the cold hard fact is that unless you are a celebrity or Stephen King, most publishers won’t help to market your book ify ou are an unknown. 

And now it appears they won’t even check to see if your content is original or not.

I’m not saying there is no value in traditional publishing. I know lots of people who’ve had great experiences. And I would love to sell my book to one of the big guys one day, just to have that amazing experience.

What I am saying is that there is a business lesson here for all os us: if you don’t add value to the process, sooner or later, that will come back to bite you. You need to constantly be looking at ways to benefit your customers and differentiate from the other options out there. Or risk becoming irrelevant in the process.