As I go further into my journey to find a place in the sports law world, I have had the opportunity to network and research many great sports law professionals. This has led to finding interesting and role model-type people to model my journey after. One of those people that is extremely influential on aspiring attorneys and business professionals is David Meltzer.
David Meltzer is as versatile a person as you will find in the sports industry. He is the CEO of Sports 1 Marketing, a Forbes “Top 10 Keynote Speaker,” a national best-selling author, humanitarian, life coach, and most importantly, a family man.
Meltzer, like several successful people in the sports law world, received his Juris Doctorate Degree from Tulane University Law School. He also has over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and executive in the legal, technology, sports, and entertainment fields.
As far as Sports 1 Marketing goes, he is the co-founder along with Hall of Fame Quarterback Warren Moon. With Sports 1 Marketing, Meltzer has grown his clients’ marketing and endorsement potential and represented clients in many different sports. Some of his projects with Sports 1 Marketing have included the NFL Player’s Association, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Super Bowl, and The Master’s, just to name a few.
David began his career in sports with Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment (Jerry Maguire is based off of Steinberg) where he helped in negotiating over $2 billion in sports and entertainment contracts. Meltzer is also a media personality with many national publications including Forbes and ESPN. As far as his humanitarian work, David was recognized for his efforts and honored at Variety’s Unite4:Humanity event as the Sports Humanitarian of the year.
Outside of the sports industry, he is known as a successful entrepreneur, best-selling author (books include: Connected to Goodness, and Compassionate Capitalism: A Journey to the Soul of Business), and life coach. On top of all of that, David is a family man with his wife and four children.
A friend I met at Oregon’s Sports Law Institute told me all about David, and I knew I had to secure an interview with him for The Aspiring Sports Lawyer Blog. I hope you enjoy and can take away valuable, meaningful, and motivational advice from one of the leading executives in the industry:
TASL: Could you explain your journey as far as getting into the sports law world and how you went about working your way into your profession?
Meltzer: While I was in undergrad at Occidental College, I visited my brother in med-school at UCLA. I quickly realized I did not want to be a doctor so I went to Law School instead. I got my law degree from Tulane University and then got a job in the technology industry. Westlaw, the newest division (at the time) of West Publishing, the world’s largest legal publisher, had an opportunity for me to sell legal resources on the Internet. I was with Westlaw for seven years where I became the Sales Director before leaving for Everypath, eventually meeting the CEO of Samsung. I was hired as the CEO of Samsung’s PC-E Phone Cyberbank Division, which would eventually become the world’s first smartphone. I chose to semi-retire and leave the company to become an entrepreneur at only 35 years old. I was rich and became a venture capitalist, creating my own businesses, buying tons of real estate, and invested in new businesses. I eventually went bankrupt and was forced to start over. I was connected with Leigh Steinberg to complete a simple one-time contract but ended up getting hired as the COO of his famous sports agency. I had always secretly dreamed of being a sports agent so this was my chance to at least get close to living that dream. My first day, I stepped into my new office that was between Leigh and Hall of Fame Quarterback, Warren Moon. Warren and I ran Leigh’s business for him as he was in and out of rehab throughout my time there. I was eventually promoted to CEO and ran the whole operation. Warren and I knew we were enabling Leigh and needed to get out which is when we left and started Sports 1 Marketing in 2010. We were profitable within the first month of business and have only continued to grow until today.
TASL: You are clearly well-rounded in many different areas including the business, legal, marketing, and public speaking/writing realms. How has getting your J.D. helped you in accomplishing all that you have done?
Meltzer: Getting my J.D. forced me to hone my critical thinking skills, which are critical to success in any arena. Being able to understand and effectively communicate different frames or viewpoints can help you in any industry. I also think my understanding of contracts has been very beneficial to the businesses that I operate.
TASL: What advice would you give aspiring sports lawyers that are in law school now and looking to find a job in the sports law world? What should they be doing now and what steps would you recommend they take both immediately and in the future?
Meltzer: I like to have people take a good look at their friends and associates, because your friends are your future. If you want to be a sports lawyer, start associating with individuals who are (or have been) sports lawyers. Find out where they hang out or what charities they work with, and then seek them out. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they will mentor you and share the knowledge that they have gained throughout their careers. They have already paid a “dummy tax” and you can avoid it yourself by being more interested than interesting.
TASL: Given your extensive knowledge in the field, what do you think employers are looking for most in a candidate for an internship/externship/entry-level position with a professional sports team or sports agency?
Meltzer: It is a pretty hackneyed piece of advice to tell people “make sure you stand out from the crowd”, but I think it is really applicable to the sports industry. Especially true in entry-level positions in sports organizations, you are going to need to be recognized as someone who brings unique assets to the team if you want to advance. At Sports 1 Marketing, we are looking for employees who stand out in four specific areas. Those are gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication. If you can use the principles that set you apart to get your foot in the door and stay there, you are going to be ahead of the game.
TASL: It is clear that you are a professional that wears many hats—especially considering you are a keynote speaker, life coach, CEO, humanitarian—what is your favorite position that you hold and why?
Meltzer: I’m going to cheat and say two related positions: teacher and student. I really relish having a bunch of young people in the office with whom I can share the situational knowledge I’ve gained throughout my career. I say a prayer every day asking for ten people to be put in front of me to help and I think teaching is a big part of that. The flip side of the coin, of course, is being a student. I advise everyone to have at least three mentors to learn from and I’ve got some great ones, including Hall of Famers, best-selling authors, and business tycoons. I try as much as I possibly can from people, especially if they have some mastered some skill that I need help with.
TASL: Last question, if you could give one piece of advice to those of us that aspire to find a career in sports law and make an impact in sports law like you have, what would it be?
Meltzer: Get inspired. If you really want to do something, being inspired to accomplish it and remaining connected to that inspiration can and will make a difference.
To read more about David Meltzer and his many positions and accomplishments, check out his bio here: http://www.meltzermission.com/david-meltzer-bio/. Also, give him a follow on twitter for motivation, advice, and his take on sports and the sports industry @davidmeltzer.
Sports 1 Marketing website: https://sports1marketing.com.
Also, here is a good video on YouTube with David Meltzer that will provide some motivation and insight into his perspective and philosophy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YgyBfBfqHo.
Thank you for reading and God Bless!
“Get inspired. If you really want to do something, being inspired to accomplish it and remaining connected to that inspiration can and will make a difference.” – David Meltzer
– Interview and Information compiled by Dale Hutcherson; Interview coordinated by Bradley Hartman; Questions answered by David Meltzer.