Taylor Shold: Tell us a little about yourself and what Front Office Sports is.
Adam White: I’m a soon to be alumnus of the University of Miami. Growing up, my father was always doing odd jobs which I believe is what sparked some of my entrepreneurial spirit I have to this day.
Originally, Front Office Sports is the brainchild of a mix between wanting to make sure I had a job when I graduated from undergrad as well giving myself a space to express my thoughts on the industry. Two and a half years later, FOS has turned into a trusted source for industry news, insight and advice and we are known by the people who follow us for having an engaging social presence and high-quality unique content.
We still have a lot of steps to take to get to where we want to be, but we are getting better everyday, which is all I can ask for especially since it is a part-time operation for everyone involved.
Taylor: What inspired you to start Front Office Sports and how have you been able to grow it?
Adam: Early on in undergrad, we were tasked with doing informational interviews. I figured that since we had to do them, why not publish them and drive some publicity to those who I was speaking with. I looked around to see if anyone was really covering the people who work in the industry and outside of SBJ, there wasn’t a big presence of pieces on the people who were making an impact in the industry.
With that in mind, I set out to profile the people who work in sports and after doing 110 interviews in my first year, others started to take notice and saw potential outside of just covering the people and moving to more of the “how” and the “why” of the industry.
By the year and a half mark, we began to transition and cover that “how” and the “why” aspect and with it our readership became more of people who were coming back to our content instead of just people who were coming when their friend was interviewed by us.
To be quite frank, we built it by just being persistent and working our tails off. I can’t tell you how many nights I would stay up till 1 or 2am and then wake up at 6am to make sure content was going out, graphics were created etc. We knew if we were going to grow that we had to have a great social presence and one that made us stand out and we spent a lot of time working on ways to do that.
It also is a huge team effort. Even though I started it and have put in a lot of time and effort, the people who have wanted to help out have been the people who have allowed us to do and become so much more. I’d like to think that I have been lucky enough to work with some of the most inspiring young professionals who will be industry changers as they go throughout their career.
Taylor: What have been some of your challenges thus far and how have you overcome them?
Adam: Like any business or idea, there are plenty of challenges. Our biggest is being remote and everyone doing things through email and Slack. It is tough to build a business when no one can walk down the hall and exchange ideas or bring in a client for a meeting. We have been able to overcome that by stressing communication, building out an organizational structure and relying heavily on having a solid roadmap and plan in place
Another big challenge was getting people to believe we were for real when we started covering other sides of the industry and becoming more of a resource. It is tough to do only one thing and then jump in and be like “Hey here we are. Now we are going to do this as well.” It is a tough road to sow especially as college kids who to many on the outside just saw us as bloggers. We didn’t listen and just kept pushing. It has been a fun ride and something that is still going to require a lot more work.
One of our other big challenges is showing the people the value of writing and what contributing to a platform like this can do for your network and skills. If it is not a text or an emoji, kids just don’t see the value in being a good writer anymore and it is sad.
I can’t tell you the amount of bad emails I have seen or the amount of writing that is just so wrong you can’t read it. When I see that, I ask myself, “Is it the kids just being lazy or is it schools failing them?” To be quite honest, I believe it is the latter.
By no means am I the second coming of Hemingway and I still make my fair share of mistakes, but it is still tough to see the lack of emphasis on writing in schools today which in turn makes it tough for us to show students who want to contribute that writing and connecting with the professionals they can through FOS.
Taylor: Networking is what SMG is all about, how has it helped you in your career and starting FOS?
Adam: It is everything when it comes to FOS and my career. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be sitting here doing this if it wasn’t for networking.
Luckily, I have been able to network organically through FOS and writing features on people. It was the whole point originally, but it became something I really enjoyed doing.
One thing I have learned throughout the whole process of building FOS was that if you continue to provide value for someone and truly care about them and getting to know them without asking for tickets, jobs etc. that they will not only become a friend in the business, but a friend in life.
David Cohen taught me a lesson early on in the days of FOS and the lesson was simple, “Live life like a fountain and not a drain.” If you do that when it comes to networking, you will be okay.
This industry is built on relationships. Whether it is your next job or your next B2B sale, it will most likely come from someone you have a relationship with. Make sure you don’t burn bridges and do something nice for your connections every once and awhile.
Taylor: Where do you hope to take FOS in the future?
Adam: We hope to truly own the 18-34 reader base because we believe that those are the ones being neglected the most currently.
We also hope to continue with our college program, Rising 25 Award and our other initiatives that have been successful. The whole goal is to have everyone who works for FOS to go on to become stalwarts in the industry. I want create like a coaching tree in college football, but with FOS.
We aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Taylor: Finally, what advice would you have for someone who wants to work in sports?
Adam: Don’t ever say it is “hard” to work in sports. It is one of my biggest pet peeves when people say that it is either hard to work or hard to break into sports. The question I usually follow up with is, “Did you go and talk to your athletic department?” and you would be surprised at how many “no’s” I get.
Does it take work to get into this industry? Yes. Is it hard to get that work? Yeah if you are looking for paid work right away it might be, but there are plenty of ways to volunteer to get yourself where you want to be.
It all comes down to being willing to do it. Whatever your “it” is, you just have to do. It is super simple.
There isn’t a magical formula for working in sports. If you show competence in what you do, work hard and don’t burn bridges, you will be in a good spot.
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