Launched in 2020, ACE allows fans to connect directly with their favorite celebrities for a fee to receive exclusive content such as short and personalized video messages. The company operates in Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and is also expanding into other countries in Asia. Dene found a marketplace gap in Asia and has been growing the business ever since. With full disclosure, Octagon is a proud partner of ACE, firmly believing they have cracked the code in a key region in the world. He has recently added a business offering for corporates to interact directly with local talent and the increase of attention and businesses revenue continues to go up and up.

A three-part trading card podcast with Panini executive Jason Howarth, Loupe Founder Eric Doty and active trading card buyers Marshall Osborne and Josh Ong. We dig into the current craze and what is different now so that there is long-term success and not just a fad. There is a lot of learning throughout the conversation (especially for me) about friction points being solved for consumers, how to understand the value of each card, grading, ripping, breaking, junk wax, PSA population count, ebay, what sport is undervalued and what to expect next.

Darren Heitner joins me on the pod discussing the booming athlete legal business, including right of publicity, trademarks, copyright and patents. Admittedly, he even corrects me in the conversation for a misuse of the words. He has one football player now who is applying for 19 different trademarks. We also dove into NBA Top Shot and what people are actually owning. Stay for his immediate legal recommendation for all athletes. Darren is the Founder/CEO of Heitner Legal and is a go-to-source for athlete/legal work. Check him out at @darrenheitner.

Andy Loughnane is the President of Austin FC, the newest MLS expansion team that will begin their first season in a matter of months. Andy shares what the last 24 months have been like with boots on the ground, putting shovels into dirt for a new stadium and building a fan base during COVID. He gives insight into the fan experience he so hopes to deliver on and team goals of year one. The Club will be the first professional sports team in Austin. I love him expressing the need and competition for attention and love in a fan. Stay to the end to hear how much soccer he will be able to watch on night one versus making sure 20,000 rabid fans are having the time of their life.

Variety’s Brian Steinberg and ITB’s Michael Jacobson join me for a post-Super Bowl advertising recap. We dig into creative choices and which influencers were worth the dollar spent. 40+ commercials used talent ranging from Peloton Emma to Martha Stewart a lot of others in between. There is a lot to chew on here. Brian has covered the business of advertising, media and TV for Variety for almost a decade after time at Advertising Age and the Wall Street Journal. Michael Jacobson leads the influencer/celebrity procurement (strategy/negotiation) business at ITB.

Chad Knaus is the new Vice President of Competition at Hendrick Motorsports. He is a 30 year veteran of NASCAR and the only crew chief in history to win five consecutive NASCAR Championships with #48 Jimmie Johnson… and seven titles in total. We explore leadership from a crew chief perspective and the Head Coach and QB relationship he had with Jimmie. We dig into how he earned respect at the track, what he would do differently if he got to start all over again and new traits he is learning in his executive role at Hendrick. Make sure to listen to his phone tree team building he created during COVID too.

Mary Wise is the head coach of the University of Florida women’s volleyball team. She is entering her 30th year at Florida and 34 years as a Division I head coach. Incredibly, she is nearing 1,000 collegiate volleyball wins (currently at 958)! We focus the discussion on leading through tough times and the learnings along the way that have helped build her leadership and coaching knowledge. Mary provides great lessons about reading the room, understanding each players’ why and knowing that your needs come last. Make sure to listen to her thoughts about being a camp counselor and her why the person is (way) more important than the player.

Bob Bowman is the head coach of the Arizona State swimming program and legendary coach of 23-time Olympics gold medalist (28 medals overall) Michael Phelps. The discussion focuses on leadership and coaching…especially during tough times. He gives excellent examples of leading vs. listening and balancing respect vs. disagreement. We spend a lot of time talking about Phelps and the differences of coaching/leading high performers versus others. He points to Coach Saban and Belichick as those that focus on the process not the outcome (which Bob is 100% aligned with). He articulately shares his three musts – be present, be correct and honor your teammates with effort. Bob even shares his leadership flaws and how he added to his leadership tool belt over his 30+ year coaching career. As he says, act like it is going to happen because nothing is guaranteed tomorrow.

Tom Dolan is a two-time Olympic gold medalist but more importantly, he spends his time focused on teaching children of all ages key water skills to decrease the number of drowning accidents via his Tom Dolan Swim School. He is a wonderful person whom I have known for two decades. We talk about being a small business owner in COVID and lessons learned to being known more as an instructor now vs. an Olympian. We also touch on mental health, setting goals and experiences as an athlete that have helped him navigate life. You can check out the Tom Dolan Swim School here.

Carlos Silva is the CEO of the World Team Tennis, a mixed-gender professional tennis league that has been in existence for 45 years. Billie Jean King and many others have been there from the beginning and the WTT now has some of the world’s best competing each year. Carlos and I catch up the creating a season in the COVID-19 landscape, how they are coming back, when, where, the fans in attendance, new protocols and changes we will see. We also touch on treating people well, and working with good people and how that ties into social justice, humanity and a core belief of the organization and Billie Jean King who has been there from day one. The league begins July 12 and runs through August 2 with the finals on CBS. For more information check out www.wtt.com.

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