I am truly blessed to be in the position that I am in now and I owe it all to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Around this time two years ago, I was in my last semester of college and similar to mostly everyone else I was trying to figure out what my next chapter in life would be in regards to my professional career. Growing up in Norcross, GA all of my life I had a pretty straightforward life. I was very fortunate enough to be in a situation where both of my parents were active throughout my life and worked tirelessly to put my brother and I in a comfortable living situation.
Like any kid growing up, I played all types of sports (basketball, football, soccer, baseball, karate, etc.) to remain active and ultimately fall in love with one. That became basketball for me. I found the game of basketball at the tender age of five playing at a local Rec Center with my brother and many of our childhood friends. I could write a whole separate post on the ups and downs I went through playing basketball throughout middle school, high school, AAU, and two years in college; but let’s just say this sport (like any) taught me valuable life lessons and gave me lifetime relationships with former teammates & coaches that I will forever cherish.
As I mentioned, I did play two years of collegiate basketball at a Division II school called Georgia College & State University before obtaining my degree at The University of Georgia. People always ask me all the time on why the switch after two years.
I was not in a situation where I could truly thrive on & off the basketball court to make the type of impact God had for me. So, I prayed long and hard about the decision to no longer pursue my “hoop dreams” of playing professionally (NBA or overseas) and focus my attention 100% on getting my degree in business.
Throughout my educational years, it was always instilled in me to get good grades. Bringing home poor grades was unacceptable in my family since day one. My grandfather, father, and uncle would always come down on me if I ever slacked because without grades there was no basketball, period. Probably due to my bloodline, I had it made up in my mind since high school once I was accepted into a college; I would pursue some type of Business Management degree. I made this decision not only because of my leadership abilities, but also because of my curiosity of the business world in general. After connecting with some of the right people, I was blessed to be accepted into UGA where I pursued a degree in Business Management, concentration in Marketing at the great Terry College School of Business.
Terry and UGA for that matter provided me with outstanding resources and tools to put me in a successful position coming out of college. After a few internships, many networking events, and a lot of self-reflecting in those two years I knew for a fact that I wanted to work in sports on the business side. I could not pinpoint in which realm but I was eager and hungry to do whatever it took to start my career in sports. Could I have easily obtained a well-paying job within another industry? Sure. Nevertheless, I know in my heart I wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy what I do on a day-to-day basis like I would working in sports.
I ended up walking in May 2014 with my degree in Business Management and accepted a summer marketing internship with EvoShield. Then, decided to go back one last semester in the fall (had to get another football season in) to take a few more marketing classes & work an internship with the Collegiate Licensing Company (IMG). My official last semester of college that fall was the most focused I had ever been in my life. I had 5 months to figure out what I was going to be doing after college.
NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK. Pretty cliché but that I would say was probably the main reason I was lucky enough to get an offer to join the Atlanta Hawks organization. I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and just meet & talk with any and everybody that I could that works in the field I was driven to get into. Whether it was meeting with different people for lunch/coffee, connecting with people on LinkedIn in the industry to ask for informational interviews, or signing up for networking events in Atlanta every month, I was on it. Religiously. I am an over thinker, to a fault I guess sometimes, so I thought like man who would not want to work in sports.
There are so many kids across the world that would do anything to break into this industry so I wondered how I could set myself apart from the pack. If it was easy everybody would do it, so that’s why I decided I was going to put my head down this last semester and give everything I had to try and get a job offer with a sports company.
After those 5 months, I was offered an Inside Sales position with the Atlanta Hawks to start in January 2015. Why sales? Well simply put that was the best way to get your start in the industry. I never had what I consider a sales background so I decided to give it a shot. I remember when I was interviewing something really resonated with me; one of the senior level sales reps for the Hawks described sales as a being a life skill that we all should pursue and develop. The position I was in actually put everyone in a year contract (yet another challenging, pressure situation that I fully embraced) so we had that amount of time to prove your “worth” to the organization. After what I consider a slow start, I soon developed a passion for the grind that it took to succeed in sales.
The fast pace, competitive environment kept me motivated every day when I woke up to go out and win each day (not to mention the Hawks were having their best season in franchise history). The race to accomplish weekly/monthly sales & hustle goals to be at the top of the board compared to your peers was what kept me going every day.
There is no secret code or mystery on why certain people thrive and others do not. And here I thought at first I wouldn’t really like sales or it wasn’t going to be for me, but I simply made up a mind that I was going to give this my all and I could live with the results after. With the great help of my managers and the outstanding training program the Hawks had in place, my colleagues and I were able to succeed daily.
In closing…after about 10 months in my Inside Sales role I was promoted to a full time position in the Service & Retention Department as a Membership Services Consultant. Three of my biggest keys that I always share to anybody and that can be applied to any aspect of your life are: having faith, being consistent in whatever you do, and possessing a resilient work ethic. In that time span, I can honestly say I never had any doubts about the position God put me in. Did I go through trials and tribulations to get to where I am now? Without question.
However, no matter how tough and tiring things got (and trust me there were plenty of long nights and early mornings) I just kept telling myself to stay the course and believing that it was going to all be worth it in the end and boy it was! To say I had my life all planned out from the beginning would be a joke because I honestly believe God has His own plan for all of our lives. I just do my best through prayer and faith to follow in that path.