EP. 38 “You Gotta Have Balls”
We visit the offices of Steiner Sports to get to know the man behind the Empire.
Steiner Rolls Out the Red Carpet
The 162 Experience was excited to visit the corporate offices of Brandon Steiner, founder and CEO of Steiner Sports. Steiner is the author of You Gotta Have Balls: How a Kid from Brooklyn Started From Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium, and Created a Sports Empire. The lifelong Yankee fan has pioneered the industry of sports marketing and memorabilia.
First of all, we were invited to tape this episode using the same studio that Brandon uses to tape, Unplugged, his podcast with some of the biggest names in sports.
Getting Mugged builds character
We begin by talking about his rough childhood growing up in Brooklyn and the Syracuse alumni lights up when discussing his earliest Yankee memories. He jokingly talks about what it was like as a 10 year-old taking the Subway to the Bronx, and as result of getting mugged and beat up from time to time, built his character. He beams while recalling memories like watching Mickey Mantle go yard from both sides of the plate. (1:45)
His own desire to get autographs has fueled the creation of his empire, that now does 50 million in annual revenue. We quickly learn that he is driven to create similar memories for sports fans of all ages.
Steiner also talks about his early entrepreneurial days. He shares how his mind has always was focused on turning a profit. (4:30)
You Gotta Have Balls
The influence of his mother is apparent. “Her favorite line was, ‘You Gotta Have Balls,’” which he used as the title of his most recent book.
“My mom was an entrepreneur.She was a feisty risk taker that always promoted following your dreams. My mom always taught me to do it right and do it big. She was a great advisor, a great mentor.”
Steiner had his Aha moment at 12 …”I Got People Working.”
He smiles big as he recalls the day that he knew that he was cut out to lead people. “I got people working,” he told his mother.(7:40)
In addition, Steiner discusses lessons from the restaurant and hospitality business. He continues by talking about his time at the Hardrock Cafe and his partnership in The Sporting Club, which became one of the hottest sports bar in the country.
You have to be willing to be seen as weird or strange
Most noteworthy, Brandon gives advice on what to do if you feel like you have some entrepreneurial spirit.
“It’s not a comfortable feeling. You go into some dark places. You must look at things differently and see things others don’t. You will be seen as a little weird, strange and get into some arguments to try to drive home the way you see it. Most people are driving the way that the majority of people see it.” (9:40).
Brandon Steiner explains that to be an entrepreneur, you need 3 things:
- an understanding of the marketplace
- the ability to take risks (10:31)
“This sports thing is a business.” – George Steinbrenner
Steiner shares what he learned in college when he met the late George Steinbrenner.
“I don’t think anyone had the vision about a team like he did. If you are trying to build a franchise, you are always 2nd place to the Yankees. There is no better franchise on the planet.” (11:32)
Next, I ask Steiner if he gets intimidated when dealing with some of the biggest names in sports.
“What’s crazy, is, No. Excited? Yes. Overly excited, yes.” Furthermore, he goes on to tell some cool stories about Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Joe Torre. Steiner notes that you have to give yourself permission to succeed. “If not me, then who?” (12:42)
Collaboration and quality partners
The memorabilia giant shares his thoughts on success in business.
“I used to feel like I needed to have it all. Now, I feel that to do something extraordinary you need to team up with other quality people and other quality partners. All of us are better than some of us.” (16:55)
Who makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Kids should be concerned with what type of person that they want to be. The goal should be how much good can I do. As entrepreneurs,” he explains, “doing well is a by product of doing good.” (18:52)
I want to go from success to significance
Our guest talks about clarifying his purpose as a husband and dad and how he wants to be more significant. He wants to leave a legacy (21:20)
Steiner talks about his TV show The Hook up, a heart-warming show on the YES Network that matches sports celebrities and surprises fans from various causes.
“I explore the remarkable humanitarian power of sports by helping out sports fans with extraordinary stories with the help of some of the most notable athletes I have met throughout my career. People need an example.” (23:18)
Steiner on the biggest deal of his career
“This is a no-brainer. The Yankees are gonna hit a zillion home runs,”
predicts the life-long Yankees fan. “I love this, there will never be a year like this,” Steiner interjects as we discuss the 162HRChallenge. He promises to pledge and help us get the word out. (32:10)
This interview continues with Steiner discussing the 2018 Yankees, Brian Cashman and how he loves Aaron Boone as the new manager,
“I like this team. I love the kids. Young talent is hot and sexy. It’s special when you see a future Hall of Famer as a rookie. That’s what you are seeing.” (36:00)
We conclude by asking Steiner, “What advice would you give your 18 year-old self?”
- Be patient
- Get home for dinner more often maybe a little earlier
- Life is short, play the long game. (40:58)
Fans for life
When the interview was finished we were given a first class tour of the entire facility by Brandon’s right hand man, Jack Moriarty. The 50,000 sq foot warehouse is something that every sports fan should experience. We were passed in the hallway by Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and 3rd baseman Miguel Andujar on the way to the infamous signing room.
As we were packing up and about to leave, Steiner asked if we had the chance to meet them. When we said no, he created another one of his famous memorable moments, by personally introducing us to the Yankee stars. You can tell that Steiner loves making fans happy and he did just that. He asked “Sanchino” and “Miggy” to stop what they were doing (signing lots of memorabilia) and take a minute to get their pictures taken with his friends (us).
Meeting Brandon Steiner was a true honor. Thanks to Marybeth for practicing what Steiner teaches about being persistent and landing this interview.
On the field and off the field, Steiner is the real deal.
Live Your Dreams,
Steve & Marybeth