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Jesse Cole, Disruptor in a Yellow Tuxedo; Owner of the Savannah Bananas, a circus disguised as a baseball team (or maybe the other way around!)
Episode 111th January 2022 • The Narrativ • Geoff Galat
00:00:00 00:49:55

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Jesse is the founder of Fans First Entertainment and the owner of the Savannah Bananas baseball team.

He’s the infamous “dude in the yellow tux” and a man who’s truly disrupting the way baseball is played, presented and consumed.

Jesse is to baseball what PT Barnum was to Circuses.

Fans First Entertainment has been on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies in America & Jesse’s teams have welcomed more than a million fans to their ballparks and have a quarter of a million more Tik Tok followers than any major league team, at a time when baseball is viewed as increasingly tedious and not able to reach younger audiences.

Jesse released his first book “Find your Yellow Tux” and launched it in the most perfect way – with a World Tour… A World Tour that took place entirely within EPCOT. 

Jesse owns seven yellow tuxedos and even proposed to his wife Emily while wearing one in front of a sold-out crowd, and they later married in the stadium.

Jesse also hosts the Business Done Differently Podcast.

Strap in for this, Jesse is energy exemplified and a true business innovator. Totally fascinating.

Transcripts

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So Jessie, welcome to The Narrativ Podcast. I'm

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really glad that you were able to join me here today.

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Excited to be with you.

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I'll tell you a little bit about how I stumbled upon the Savannah

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Bananas and about your story. But I would love for you to

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share with my listeners your story, tell me about the Bananas

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and what you're doing there. And then we'll circle back and go

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into how I discovered it. And I think we'll kick off a cool

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conversation from there.

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Yeah, well, I'm just a former baseball guy now running a

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circus, in Savannah, Georgia. You know, long story short, I

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played baseball my whole life. It was everything for me. My

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father bought a baseball facility when I was younger, so

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I could workout in the winter up in Massachusetts, fortunate to get

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a full scholarship to play in Division One baseball down in

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South Carolina, dream of playing pro ball talking to professional

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Teams, tore everything in my shoulder, just like that three

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tears career over. And it was probably the best thing that

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ever happened to me because it guided me into the front office.

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And I started seeing the opportunities to create a game

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that wasn't just fun to play, but was fun to watch, then I had a

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10 year journey in Gastonia with a team that only had $268 in the

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bank account my first day and only 200 fans coming to the game

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to end up buying that team, selling it a few years later and

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going down to Savannah and, you know, to a city that had

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professional baseball for 90 years and failed and left the

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city and we came in and proceeded to fail just like

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they did, even worse. And we're fortunate to turn it around now

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and we're touring all over the country, and it's something I

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never imagined.

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It's amazing. So, I stumble across and literally I'm gonna

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use the term stumble across the Savannah Bananas a few months

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ago, this good friend of mine, who's a big baseball fan, sends

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me a direct message on Twitter, and the direct message has an

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attachment. The attachment is a video from the Savannah Bananas,

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and the video is of your third baseman Bill Leroy miked up for

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the broadcast, talking with the announcer. And sharing,

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Prognosticating, exactly what he thinks the next play is going to

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be. And he gets it exactly right. Let's listen to it.

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Roll it over. I'm gonna backhand it. And Manny Machado underhand

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throw the out at first. Oh my god.

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there's no way. Oh my god. I just had to let that that was

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Nostradamus. Dude, that was Deja Vu. I don't know. We just call

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it every second of that.

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I was like that is totally cool. So, of course I watch it. And I

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do you know, I said, Well, I�ve got to watch some other stuff. I�ve got

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to see what else is going on with this team I've never heard

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Of, because this is kind of cool. And the next video I find is the

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video of your batter coming to the plate with a caddy and a

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yardage book. And in the conversation we're going back

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and forth on Twitter. I actually just revisited it yesterday just

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to refresh myself. I said �look at the dude in the background in

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the yellow tuxedo�. And the message he sent wasn't just

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to me, it was to someone else as well. And she commented back she

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goes, �I just was reading the thread that's the owner�. So we

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went back and forth. And I thought well, that's really

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cool. But and I did a little bit of research and watch some other

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videos and thought well, that's just kind of cool. And then a

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couple of months ago I had Stephanie Stuckey from Stuckey�s

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on the podcast. And, and Stephanie is friends with you.

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And I saw something come across LinkedIn that she commented on

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that you had posted. So I said I have to follow. So I followed and

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since then it's been kind of a cool journey. So I thought it

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was really interesting because I love baseball. I grew up with

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baseball. And my earliest memories are, my grandmother was

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blind. I grew up in Southern California and my grandmother

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would listen to Dodger�s games on the radio. And I would lay on

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the floor next to her with a transistor radio listening to

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Dodger games with Vin Scully doing the games. And that's

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where my love of baseball came from. It didn't come from my dad, it

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didn't come from my grandfather,

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the days of Kirk Gibson were earlier than

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that earlier that we're talking you know, I'm in my 60s. So it

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was when you know, it was the you know, it was Wes Parker and

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Willie Davis and Don Sutton and, you know, it was for so in the

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funny part is my grandmother who was blind and couldn't pronounce

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his name. So I joke about that with people all the time. She forever and I

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tried 100 times to change it called him, Fernando Venezuela,

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because that's what she heard. So I have this love of baseball,

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and much like you wanted to play, but I wasn't good enough, I

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the whole bit. And then, as I've gotten older, the game has gotten

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boring to me, which I find really bizarre for something so

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embedded in me from such a young age. The game got boring. And when I

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saw what you're doing, I'm like, Oh my God, there's a way

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potentially to get kids and youth and other people excited

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about it the way I was excited about it when I was a kid

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100% I mean, again, I mean, I saw it 15 years ago, you know, I

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was literally. So before I went into I became an intern with a

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team at 22 years old before I became an intern I coached in

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the Cape Cod League, okay. And I'm sitting there and now

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looking at that roster with the Cotuit Cavaliers and Mike

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Roberts coaching, the father of Brian Roberts, the second

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baseman for the Orioles, for many years, every single guy in

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that team was drafted and almost everyone played in the majors,

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many of them all stars, and I'm sitting there in the dugout,

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with the best players in the country. And I was bored out of

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my mind, I was literally, I was next to the guys in the best

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seat on the field. And I was like this game. You know, you've

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seen it all to an extent. You've seen the doubles, you've seen

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the homeruns, you've seen the strikeouts, and the games are

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getting longer. And I was like, I'm bored. And I'm going over to

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become an intern and potentially run a team. And I got to

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convince people to watch this with lesser baseball players.

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Good luck. Yeah, it was really a big aha moment. For me. It was

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kind of similar. You know, Walt Disney. I�ve got posters of him in

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my office here. And he and PT Barnum are huge, huge mentors.

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And, you know, Walt sat at Griffith Park and with his

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daughter, Diane, and was watching her go on the merry go

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round and said, I wish there was a place that was fun for adults

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and kids. And he had that aha moment. And that's where the

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inspiration for Disneyland came. And you think about you know, we

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often have those moments, but we don't do anything about and I

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was fortunate I had the opportunity to do something

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about it with our first team in Gastonia.

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So, so you call it a circus, which I think is really kind of

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a cool phrase, especially for the owner of a team but two

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teams now now our professional team is the one that's doing

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traveling all over the country but yeah, it started with just

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call it summer team. What about what was levels of baseball

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there is and then

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and then you now you have the pro team which is kind of like I

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when I read about it, and the way you just described it, it's

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almost like barnstorming baseball that happened back in

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the day, right? Just going around city to city, get a bunch

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of people put on a show PT Barnum style,

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and now there's nobody doing there's literally no there's no

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one barnstorming baseball team bringing the show anymore

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Because there's baseball everywhere. Yeah, unless you're

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doing something dramatically different. What's the point?

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Yeah, and then we're also doing something completely unscalable

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we're bringing our pep band we're bringing our male

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cheerleading team, our breakdancing coaches, our

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players on stilts, we're bringing both teams we're

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bringing 92 people which the Globetrotters only bring 30 So

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we're bringing in three times the amount of people that Globe

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Trotters bring, but we think there's a need and there's a

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need for fun and people to get together and see something they�ve

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never seen before and so we are going all in on it

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and that and you're not doing it you're not degrading the quality

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of the game when you're doing it right the game is you're still

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the players are good players and they're playing at a very high

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level, like the Globetrotters I guess a great parallel because

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they have really really, skilled players. And a lot of your

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players have moved on into professional careers you had

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first round or second round or third round. Fourth rounders.

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Russell Wilson played baseball for me when we were at the Gastonia

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Grizzlies, our pro team this past year during our one city

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world tour. We had 14 guys sign pro contracts. You know

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Jake Peavy is going to be pitching for us this spring. I

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mean, former Cy Young Award winner. We're about to announce

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a former major league coach with us but yeah, you play

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better when you're having fun. And I think for us, you know a

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big difference between the Globetrotters is our games are

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outrageously competitive. It's not scripted, who's gonna win

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the bit. We played four games last spring two in Savannah and

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two and our one city World Tour in the Bananas lost half the

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games. And because you never know it's a competitive

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environment within the show in the circus and the fun and, you

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know, again, we've skipped away ahead, but it's just we've found

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that major league baseball games are getting longer every single

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year, attendance is declining dramatically, viewership is

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declining dramatically. And they're losing young fans every

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single day when the average baseball fan is now over 60

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years old. So, we said why don't we create something that we

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would love? You know, we have all Millennials on our team.

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Everyone's in their 20s. And we said why don't we create some

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that we'd all want to see. And what's happened is now we have

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over 900,000 followers on Tiktok 250,000, more than any major

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league baseball team. And it's crazy, because just five years

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ago, we only sold two tickets. And my wife and I were had to

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empty out our savings account. We had to sell our house and

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we're sleeping on an air bed. So when you think about that in

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perspective, it's pretty amazing. I try to pinch myself

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every day and realize that you know how many people get to do

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what we're doing? And it's so much fun.

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So, the root of this is you're passionate about the game and as

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you described it earlier, just that you know you grew up and

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wanted to go into management at what point did you pivot and say

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it was at that moment sitting in the dugout that time or was it

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and I'm

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not passionate about the game. Okay, passion about what

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the game can be. It's a big difference. Okay, I'm passionate

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about the fun I'm passionate about seeing you know, our

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players go into the crowd after they score their first run and

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the whole entire team run ever after. It's for everyone in the

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crowd and high fiving every single fan I'm passionate about

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watch our players in the fourth inning deliver roses to little

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girls in the crowd. I'm passionate about our players going on

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dates with fans in the middle of the game. I'm passionate about

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seeing 4000 fans dancing to hey baby in the middle the game. We

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just happen to have a platform that we play baseball, but I'm

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really passionate about all the other moments that people have

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never seen before. You mentioned those two walkups I mean, Bill

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Leroy he became most famous when he walked up the plane and

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introduced himself Yeah, now batting third for the Bananas from

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UNCG, myself, and then he throws the mic. I mean, it went

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people went nuts. It was just fun. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, I

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think that was the moment and then it was a ton of failure.

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You know, when I started as a GM of a team of 23 years old, and

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$268 in the bank account, and only 200 fans coming to the

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game. People didn't notice. I couldn't pay myself for the

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first three months. Luckily, I saved a little bit in college

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because I had a full scholarship that I was able to live off that

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and it was tough. But what I learned was the power of

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experimentation, and just trying things over and over again, I

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was so fortunate to have an owner who would become so close

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he actually married my wife and I at our stadium. That's a whole

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other thing and I proposed we delayed the game for two hours

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and it was pretty ridiculous that's a whole other story. You

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know, I try things: flatulence fun night, salute to

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underwear night. I mean, Midnight Madness with games

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playing at midnight on a Friday night, great Community Give Back

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Game, dig to China night. I mean, given away porta-Johns, colon

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Cleansing, donut burgers, Donut dogs, taco dogs. I mean, we

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tried it all. And I got 10 years of experience and not experience

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where reading and learning and and you know, textbooks like

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going to school for 10 years, I got real hands-on experience.

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When we put flatulence fun night only 200 people showed up. That

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was a failure. I learned don't do that again. You know, so what

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it was about. So that's why I was lucky.

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So one of the things I've seen since you know, I mentioned I've

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been following on LinkedIn for a while. And one of the things

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I've noticed is and I think this is a really cool thing is it as

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a marketer, and you just touched on, you know, failure, more

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things fail than are successful for most people, certainly when

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you're in a marketing or promotional business. And I see

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that you actually publicize and kind of embrace the failure. I

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saw a couple weeks ago, you posted something about one of

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the first keynotes you, you did post pandemic and you showed up

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and you're willing, you know, you showed up in the yellow tux

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and you got in a room and there was seven or eight people there.

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Yeah, it was an auditorium of 927 showed a big difference

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right there. All right, not 727. But you know, I'm messing

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around. But yeah, and it wasn't my fault. I've given probably

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100 Live keynotes, I've been fortunate, you know, paid to

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speak all over the country for many years. But you know,

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recently where, you know, I think the one before it was 1500

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people. And then I go and there's 27 people there. And I

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think I posted today on LinkedIn, it's you know, how you

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view things is how you do things. And I've been fortunate

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to take that mindset of look at everything as a lesson. And I

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hate the word failure. I get asked that question, every

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single interview, tell me about your biggest failures. I don't

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look at them as failures, I look at them as at-bats. Pete Rose got

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out 10,000 times in his career, he had 4000 hits, more hits than

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anyone that ever played the game. He also had 2000 more at-bats

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than anyone that ever played the game. So I look at what are

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the lessons the learning and discovery. So that's why every

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night at our ballpark, we do four brand new promotions we've

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never done in front of a live crowd ever. So we have 30 games

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in a season you're doing 120 brand new things you've ever

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done before, probably 100 of them won't work that well. But

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20 could be hits. And so we're getting quicker and faster and

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better hits and huge successes than anyone else just because

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we're testing more quantity leads to quality. And so that's

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what we look at every day. It's like what are we testing new?

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What are we trying new? It's a reason why we have almost a

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million followers on Tiktok because we've been testing

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things every day for a year and a half.

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So I've got to imagine that that process of ideating with those

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promotions has just got to be as fun as it could possibly

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be just a bunch of hooey whether it's just you or however can

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describe that process of how do you come up with that's a lot to

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come up with you know that many promotions over the course of a

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year and that many to execute on the any given day is a lot

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only a percentage of what we come up with only a percentage

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and it's because most teams most companies spend most of their

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time talking about revenue, sales profits, they have sales

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meetings, you know, they have marketing meetings, we have

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ideas sessions every single day. There's a difference and it's

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does your company does your culture value ideas. And so you

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know we started to have an �Idea Palooza� many years ago with

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our whole team now we do a more individualized with our

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departments. So we got our groups are creative and go from

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there. But yeah, every morning I mean I wrote down today I had a

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new ideas for the Banana pep band, so I 10 ideas on the Banana pep

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band. Yeah. 10 ideas for the Banana Stand 10 ideas for walk up

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promotions, 10 ideas for scoring celebrations. And then I get

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together with our director, entertainment marketing people,

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we say what are we going to try? And that's the key for us. It's

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so much fun, because when you have no red tape, you know, we

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have no corporate it's myself and my wife. You know, I'm in a

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yellow tuxedo. I give ourselves permission to have fun. And I

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think that's kind of the magic of what we get to do in a given

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year. It's a lot of things people we do that just don't

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fit. They don't work. Well. We had a town, you know, the town

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crier, like do I hear you hear you. We had him do an intro to a

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hitter and he walked up. He had this big scroll and he read out

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no button and he was holding. The crowd was like what is going

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on? And we posted it on tick tock and no one liked it. I

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mean, it was terrible.

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Yeah, the Tik Tok audience has no idea what a town crier is

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right?

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Yeah, it was very confused. I thought it was kind of funny. We

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thought it was kind of funny. thing is, you never insult your

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fans. And so most sports teams, they don't realize it. But every

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single day, they're insulting their fans. And I'm not saying

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this in a negative way, what I'm saying this is because they're

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taking the dollars from sponsors to put a promotion on the field

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that's geared just towards that sponsor, this car sponsorship

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deal or promo to buy so and so so and so. And your fans

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immediately go to their phones, because they're bored. Don't do

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anything that you don't want to see, or that you don't want to

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be a part of. And we have zero corporate sponsors. We don't

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have any of that, because we're all about the fans. And

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fortunately, after sleeping on an air bed and having $0 and

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struggling, it's starting to pay off pretty

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well. Yeah, I was reading that you don't settle on that

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sponsorship front, you don't even sell in-stadium advertising

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or anything, right? You're just, this is completely self-

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Sustained. Self-supporting?

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Yeah, it's a terrible business model that we did right before

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the pandemic. Alright, guys, right before the pandemic shuts

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us down a little bit, how can we give away, throw away, hundreds of

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thousands of dollars, that's literally what we did. But we're

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playing the long game, we believe in long term fans over

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short term profits. And what we actually did is, you know, the

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outfield wall, which is very valuable real estate, and every

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sports team, hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars

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for the higher-level teams, we gave it to the fans, we actually

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had the biggest fan wall, and we let the fans sign the wall. So

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the fans are now part of the wall, as opposed to corporate

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sponsors. And, you know, luckily, what's happened, we're

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very fortunate that merchandise is now triple, triple what we

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did in sponsorship. And there's probably not a team in the

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country. Actually, I know for a fact there's not a team in the

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country, the world that can say that even double. And so I see

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it as every day fans are buying our gear and wearing that

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they're advertising us Yeah, post us advertising, the car

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dealership, the orthodontics the insurance company, etc. So in

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the long term, I think this is a big way and already it's

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starting to

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pay off. And they're doing that, I think because they have

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they've developed an emotional attachment, emotional connection

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to what you're doing. And so they're, they're proud to do

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that. It's not just you know, it's, it's not as though they're

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supporting their lifelong baseball team. They're

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supporting a new thing. But they've gotten enthralled by

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it. They think it's cool, they've, they've developed an

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affinity for something quickly and feel part of it, I'm sure.

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And that's what makes them proud to wear those shirts and walk

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around and a hat and do whatever they're doing.

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Well, we I mean, we made so many mistakes in the beginning and

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like, you know, our first shipment of T-shirts came in and

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there are too many N�s in Bananas. Like we literally

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misspelled our T-shirts. But the one thing that we've done well

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from the beginning is involve our fans in everything. Our

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fans were involved in the name the team contest, our fans were

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involved in name the mascot contests, our fans design our

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jerseys, we even let our fans decide who was going to pitch

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during games. And like vote which the first time they made

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that decision, our closer gave up six runs and we lost the

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game. Our coach didn't love that one. But we've let our fans

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decide what cities we go to we let our fans vote where what's

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what cities we're playing, and we're bringing our Banana Ball

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Tour to so we let our fans you know, in regards to new rules

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that we're adding to the game, new promotions, new walk up

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songs, we let our fans do all that what we should do during

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the game. And so, when you bring them on part of the journey, you

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know, they feel not only a part of it, but they feel this

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unbelievable ownership and you mentioned emotional connection.

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And I think that's something that we will never stop doing.

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And here's why. It's not just a campaign or two, it's literally

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who we are. It's the name of our company Fans First

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Entertainment. Our mission is fans first entertainment always. Every

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decision we ask is it fans first. We cannot not do that. It's

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literally in our DNA. When we have meetings, we have an empty

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chair that represents a fan, would a fan want this? And that's why

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we have no ticket fees, no convenience fees, which are the

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most inconvenient fee in the world. That's why every game in

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Savannah includes all your burgers, hotdogs, chicken

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sandwiches, soda, water, popcorn, dessert, everything.

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That's why there's free parking. That's why there's free

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programs. That's why when you buy merchandise on our website,

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there's free shipping always. And you get a free koozie, a free

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Decal, a custom yellow box delivered fresh stamp. It costs

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us $11. Before we even count the product, before they

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even buy anything, like not a smart business. But overall, it

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ends up working out and we go for the thin margins because we

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want our fans to feel proud of who they are and what they're

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doing.

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So when I was watching the videos, the first videos that I

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saw, my first thought was and this is me being old guy who's

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been around or watched you know, baseball my whole life and I

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thought, Man, the opposing team with all the stupid unwritten

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rules in baseball. What does the opposing team think about all

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this? My question is like, what does the opposing team think?

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And then more importantly, what do the other people running

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teams think about what you're doing? Because what you're doing

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is pretty damn disruptive on both.

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I mean, even our players were like, started our first year like

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what are they doing? Like our players were against? I remember

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guys saying, Well, I'm not gonna I mean, our players do a

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choreographed dance every single night. It's a different dance.

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Yeah, literally. When we do tours before the game. People

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like they're not taking batting practice, but they're learning

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how to dance. Yeah, that's very important tonight,

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and they watch rehearsals. They don't watch batting practice.

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They watch rehearsals. So yeah, even our guys were against it.

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And then the other players Yeah, I mean, we have a doughnut

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hitter every game. And just like toga and Animal House toga the

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entire stadium. 4000 people are chanting doughnut, doughnut,

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every single pitch and if you strike out the whole stadium

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gets free donuts. It's crazy. Alright. But what happens is,

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and I'll never forget we're playing in the playoffs last

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year. And fortunately, the teams won more games than any team in

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the league. So I think they're having more fun. And we won the

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championship again last year. And in the championship round,

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the game finishes, and we're feeding that the guys, we feed

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both teams, we do a full catered meal, we do it right, because

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that's fans first. And you know, we realize that we're

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trying to create fans of anybody we touch. So I'm walking out of

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the stadium and I'm getting ready to close up shop and the

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other team is still there. And I watch three guys from the

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visiting team walk into our merchandise store and are buying

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in the championship. I'm like, Oh, my god, wow. Like, this is a

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this says it all. And I just only I wish I wish I had a

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photograph of them buying it because like this would prove a

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point. And I think we literally now worked. Fortunately, we've

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been able to create fans of the other team. include other

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owners. That's another

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I was gonna say,

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the other owners. Yeah, I mean, being very upfront, we

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hosted the all-star game a couple years ago, and only half

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the owners showed up. Every other season, every owner shows up,

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it's mandatory, but half won't even come and see what we do.

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Yeah, I would imagine I can just say, you know, people who are

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embedded in the way they do things and think that you're

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changing a model and giving away money, that they don't want

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to give away all those kinds of things with, you know, that's

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great dancing

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first base coaches in the middle of the game, the pregame way

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ends before the two teams that don't, you know, our fans line

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up about three to four hours before the game every night,

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hundreds lining up to get in the ballpark. And you know, we do a

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full March and have princesses and our players are

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dancing. Yeah, it's it's. But I think the big key is you're

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supposed to know and most people say, well, who's your target

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audience who's your target demographic, we focus on who

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we're not for? We're not for those owners. We're not for

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baseball traditionalist, we're not for the grandpa's that want

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the game to always stay the same. Yeah. And when you're very

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clear who you're not for, you can be very strategic and make

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every decision on who you are for. And so we start the

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opposite there. And that's, I don't spend a lot of bandwidth

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and time focusing on the people who don't like what we're doing.

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Yeah, I mean, even in my business, I would you know,

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forever would create content, or you know, whether it be

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advertising or something else about technology. And I always

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like to push the boundaries of things, and I would take it and

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you know, show it to my bosses and everybody be like, Oh, my

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God, don't go show it to them. And I show it to them. And they,

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I had enough of a relationship with them, they would look at it

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and say, I don't get it. I don't understand it. But I'm not the

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target audience either. Like you're not trying to sell to

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we're not trying to sell to the CEO of a technology company

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we're trying to sell to a bank or an insurance company or a

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retailer. And that's a different world and I don't live in their

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world. So I don't think like they do. I think

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Jeff Bezos said it best. You need to be willing to be

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misunderstood at first. Every single thing that has been

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disruptive is outrageously misunderstood. I mean, think

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about right now how many people you know, 5-10 years ago, say I

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want to have something in my kitchen that's shaped like an

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old Pringles can. But it's a speaker and it listens to

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everything you say, and you can talk to it constantly. No one

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would say that same thing with every Apple product. I mean,

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right? Four years ago, you say, alright, this thing, Tik Tok

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is going to be really big. Alright. It's little tiny clips,

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mostly of just people doing dances. Like all the big like,

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no, but I think you know, NFT's you can keep going. As soon as

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something becomes a little polarizing. That's when I'm very

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interested. I said, if you're not getting criticized, you're

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playing it too safe. If we go like six months, and no one's

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criticizing us, I'm like, Guys, we got to start doing something.

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We're not doing anything that pushing the envelope anymore

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here. Yeah. And I think

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like, that's a very delicate thing to do. But you know, you

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need to be willing to be misunderstood, just like Jeff

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Bezos said, and we're misunderstood everyday. What do

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you mean you have your Banana Ball games? What do you mean

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fans can catch a foul ball for an out? What are you talking

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about? There's no bunting? Bunting�s a part of the game you

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know, part of those rules I mean, fan catching a foul ball

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for now just because of fans first, that's what we believe.

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But no bunting is really as much for the criticism and to go

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against baseball traditions, anything Yeah, like and because

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my dad as a kid said Jesse swing hard and, and I've always had

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this mindset of swinging hard. And but anyways, but that's

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that's part of it. it's part of the strategy. You know, we're

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trying to do things a little different and to create

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conversation, which I think conversation is how you move the

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ball forward.

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Yeah. So tell me about the yellow tux and how that all

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started, then I know you've you've actually written your

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book. Find Your Yellow Tux. Tell me about that.

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Yeah, so yellow tux. Long story short, I was putting on a show

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with our first team in Gastonia, and I was dressed like everyone

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else, you know, polo pants, you know, trying to look the part of

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the GM of the team. And someone who's read every book about PT

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Barnum was like, you know, I'm paying fans in the stands. You

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know, we are dancing. We are, it's a circus. Why am I dressed

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like everyone else? And so I realized I was putting on a

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show. I need to be a showman. So I channeled my inner PT Barnum and

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called my buddy who owns a bridal and formal shop and I said, I

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need your best PT Barnum look, He says alright, I got something

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so he gets me a black tuxedo with big tails and a black top

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hat and the first game, it was 101 degrees and I almost melted.

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And so that night, I was like, this ain't gonna work. So I went

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and said, What about yellow and you know, our former team the

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Grizzlies had yellow and ironically the Bananas it worked

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for. So I searched I found bright-colored-tuxedos.com, I

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overnighted a tuxedo for $50 bucks, I got it the next day

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wore it. And everyone wanted pictures like that. That is you,

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my man. And I realize it was just my uniform. And you know,

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I've been practicing for all those years when I put this on,

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this is my uniform. And just like in baseball, when you put

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on your uniform, you know, it's game time when I put this on, it

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was showtime. And so I started realized, like I was channeling

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a whole other part of me, I was amplifying who I am, I was going

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all out. And you could see I mean, you know, you can have

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this interview at 4am. And I would still bring the same

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energy. It�s in my talks. And that's who I am. And I love it.

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So as I started to share what we were doing, and the differences

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in how we were standing out, I got fortunate to give a good big

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keynote, maybe five years ago, at ProfitCon, an event with

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about 400 financial advisors and accountants not the audience of

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baseball team owners should speak to. And they asked me what

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the topic of the speech should be, they want to talk about, you

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know, finding what makes you different, what stands out and,

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and I said, Find Your Yellow Tux now Oh, good title, fun, go do

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it. And I did it. And I'll never forget my first big keynote. And

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it was almost a two minute standing ovation. And I walked

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off the stage. And they said, you need to write that in a

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book. And so I immediately took action and put into a book and

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shared, you know how personally I've been able to stand out how

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anyone can stand and how you can do it yourself, your life, your

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business, and then also your legacy. And so I wrote that four

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or five years ago, and now I'm ready for the follow up the

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second book coming out in about four months. And it's been a

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real fun journey. And I'm just I think the big key with anything

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is just start, you know, often we're taught, we're thinking,

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thinking, thinking, you know, stop thinking start doing and I

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say, Stop standing, stop standing still start standing

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out. And that's kind of the main messages of the book.

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Yeah, I mean, it seems to me that, you know, one of the

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things that most marketers in my career path are the people you

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know, the industries that I've been in, tend to get an

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paralysis by analysis, we just we overanalyze the results on

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everything, we look at everything you have, to find

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some crap. And we're not the ones who are willing to say, you

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know, just go try it. What's the worst thing that happens if we

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try it, and to your point, you can call it failure. But the

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more reality is, it's not failure. It's just another step

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of learning. You take insight from everything

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that you do. And, you know, I think that that's a the

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willingness to experiment is great. And I think the

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willingness to experiment, I'm sure, you know, when you were

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starting to do experiment, you were on a lifeline, you didn't

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have a lot of a lot of wiggle room, in the whole business,

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which I tried nothing to lose. Now, we've never had money. So

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we always had to out think not outspend. But yeah, I mean, we

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had nothing to lose. We were a tiny team in Gastonia that the

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media didn't even know who we were, we were just these little

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guys that a team that failed for seven years. So I think one of

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the biggest challenges successful companies have to

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experimentation is their past successes. You know, what got

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you here won't get you there. And often that will hold you

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back. Because you've been so successful. I get scared that

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more success we have that that will limit us and not trying

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something because we're afraid of taking away from that

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success.

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Yeah, I mean, do you get Do you worry at all about getting

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stuck? You know, Globetrotters are a great example. And I don't

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know that I would call them stuck. They've been around since

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the 30s. But they have to do the same thing all the time. You

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know, they have to do the bucket of confetti. They've got to do

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the path. They choose, but they choose to but

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but I do I feel like we're gonna get I'm not trying to cut you

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off. No, no, it's your show. And I'm, and I'm close with some of

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their top executives have been a part of that journey a little

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bit, I think for us, because we built a culture of ideas. And my

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biggest fear in life is settling. That as long as I'm a

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part of this, which I hope for many, many years, and then my

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kids and grandkids, we will never stop. Because I have a

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fear of not only setting but being irrelevant and not making

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a difference and making an impact. So you know, again, you

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have to, you have to push that because a lot of people will say

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it's very easy to say this is what we did last year, let's

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read but to do that, it's very hard to say this is what we did

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last year that was successful, let's do something different.

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Yeah. That's extremely hard. And so you have to build that into

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the DNA. And you have to continue to talk about it over

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and over and over again. And I think part of our vision, you

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know, we did a five year vision a year ago and said, We're going

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to play 24/7 365, which again, look at whatever is normal, and

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I haven't shared this our mindset, whatever is normal, do

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the exact opposite. Those teams playing a league they played

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during the summer. We said, well, what if we're not only?

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What if we played year round? What could that look like? And

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all of a sudden our minds just expanded, we started thinking

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differently. What if our ballpark wasn't just a ballpark?

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What if it was Banana Land? What if we had Treehouse AirBnB�s and

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zip lines across the field and speakeasies and trains and you

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name it? And so we started thinking the ballpark as if it�s

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Disneyworld. And so when you start expanding your mind and

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not thinking the way you've always done, then all of a

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sudden you find inspiration in everything. I mean, literally,

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we have a house on Tybee and now it's just funny because we had

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to sell our house and we were living in at an air bed. We

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bought a larger house for our expanding family and right next

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to the lighthouse and I'm sitting outside and I'm watching

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on a Saturday afternoon. A lot I go to the lighthouse and climb

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up and climb down. And I'm watching the slide. And I'm

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like, this is way too many people, this is outrageous. They

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climb up, and they climb down. So I walk over there. And this

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this young man's working the ticket booth. And he said, Would

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you like one ticket? Oh, no, no, I don't, I don't want to climb

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up and climb down. But I go, how many people are climbing up this

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today? And he goes, Ah, it'll be lighter. It'll be okay. We'll

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probably have about eight to 900. And I go, Are they all

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paying $10? And he goes, Yeah. And what's a bad day for you?

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And he goes, Well, yesterday, we had thunderstorms all day, we

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had to shut it down for half a day. So we had about 250. And I

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couldn't you still have 250 people pay $10 to climb? Oh,

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yeah. It's the many days over 1,000. So I'm sitting there and

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watching this. And I'm like, Why doesn't our stadium have the

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world's largest banana lighthouse, and an actual like a

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banana. And it's in center field, people climb out to the

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top and have a huge balcony that's overlooking 360 view of

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Savannah. So I call our architect the next day. I said,

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Can you build this? He starts laughing. He goes, why not? And

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he started building it. And again, if I was comfortable with

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the way we've done things, I wouldn't, you know, build that

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or try to have them build that? And yes, sharing that to the

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city of Savannah in the city manager like what the heck is

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right? And they were definitely like, we can't do that. And I

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want to say, Well, why not? And that's when you can ask that.

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Why not? And what if you ask those questions over and over

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again, just like a kid who keeps asking, why not? Come on, daddy,

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I want this. Come on, daddy, please, please, please, Daddy, I

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want this more a lot of time they get what they want. I'm

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never going to stop asking why not? And what if, and when you

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do that, that's how you can really innovate.

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