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San Diego Sports Innovators and SDSU’s Sports MBA program co-hosted an event last night at the San Diego Hall of Champions with a variety of action sports panelists and a full audience of both industry executives and SDSU business school students.
The theme for the night was “Game Changers: Innovation and Inspiration.”
Alex Striler, author, action sports and financial entrepreneur, kicked off the night with a presentation about action sports branding. Striler recently wrote X-Play Nation, a book where he interviewed many of the top executives and game changers in the action sports industry about keys to success and how the industry works.
He talked a lot about the power of branding and how action sports companies have been successful at creating powerful companies by associating with certain personalities and athletes. He also spoke about content, social media and ways to reach your audience through authentic and inspiring messaging.
After Striler, Kevin Flanagan who is about to announce the launch of his new company, moderated a lively panel that included Fernando Aguerre, the founder of Reef and President of ISA, Steven Astephen who runs the FAMILIE, Jeff Kearl of Skullcandy and Stance; and Shaney Jo Darden, co-Founder of Keep-A-Breast Foundation.
The panelists gave some interesting insight on everything from social media and innovation to mistakes learned on the job as well as best practices they have used at their own companies and organizations.
One of the most interesting topics the panelists talked about is creating a culture of inspiration and trust. At Stance, Kearl said he threw out the rulebooks and has given employees 30% ownership of the company. There are also no set hours or vacation days at Stance. Fernando pointed out that because Stance’s employees all share some options in the company, they are more like partners than just workers.
In creating such a strong culture of trust and inspiration, Kearl said he’s never seen people work so hard at a company.
At Keep A Breast, Shaney Jo said she has a policy called “Let My People Live Their Lives,” meaning they are encouraged to be committed to family and other obligations outside of just their jobs.
In talking about social media, Steve Astephen said some of his athletes have millions of fans on Facebook, and that social media is so important, he’s created a whole division dedicated to it.
One of the biggest takeaways from the night is that success comes from creating environments of creativity and inspiration.
As Fernando Aguerre said, “The most inspirational messages are the best, and “you have to be yourself and not a fake.”
To sum up the messaging for the night, in a world with so much content and marketing; innovation, inspiration, proper execution and authenticity usually win.