Three Months Later
I’m not the only one who grew up dreaming at working for ESPN. I’m just one of the fortunate few who actually did.
It was the gold standard, the Shining Light on the Hill for every sports fan. From Stuart Scott, to Rich Eisen, to Chris Berman…so many of us grew up idolizing the network, wishing somehow one day to be lucky enough to fill their shoes.
From the time I was six years old, I convinced myself I would make that happen. After a college internship, plus four years at ESPN (with a year at Fox Sports 1 sandwiched in the middle), I learned so many valuable lessons from the most talented producers, anchors, reporters, directors, and many others in the entire business.
Three months ago I learned something perhaps more important than all.
I didn’t really need ESPN…and ESPN sure as heck didn’t need me.
After losing that job in late April, my life was a whirlwind. Friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers all reached out to me with support and ideas for what I should do next. I had to ask myself a critical question: do I leave sports media, which everyone seems to think is an industry dying faster than Ole Miss’ football program? That’s a tough question today that many 20-somethings in this business have to answer.
So then I asked myself, what qualities do I have? Do I have what it takes to keep pushing? Do I follow my dream or do I throw 20 years of my life out the window and find a new path?
As massive companies like ESPN, FOX Sports, VICE, Sports Illustrated continue letting talented people go, it would be easy to abandon all hope and find a better way to make a living.
I’m just not ready to quit quite yet.
I made a list of the most important qualities needed to try and keep this dream alive. There are five that stand out above all others. These can apply to anyone who wants to try and make a living chasing their passion.
Ambition: How bad do I want this? Am I willing to sacrifice my time, money, social life to make a living this way?
Creativity: Do I have a unique enough perspective that people will find me interesting?
Versatility: Can I adapt to change in technology that will continue to disrupt the way we consume content in the future? Am I skilled enough as a writer, as a podcaster/radio host, as a TV personality to thrive on as many platforms as possible?
Fearlessness: Am I prepared to fail? Am I comfortable with the uncertainty of starting a brand completely reliant on me and my personality, knowledge, and hustle to navigate the ups and downs that will come along the way?
Patience: Am I willing to take the time to develop this project, even if it takes years? Can I find ways to support myself while I pursue this passion? Going back to ambition, do I want this bad enough that I’m willing to pour as much time as I possibly can into making it succeed?
Possessing all five of these traits does not promise anything. There are many other things you have to have in order to make this work — talent being the obvious one. Market yourself, build relationships, find people who you admire and study their path to success, and then figure out how to apply those principles to your own skills and personality.
It’s three months to the day since I left ESPN. In a hilarious twist of irony, this afternoon I’m starting my new job as a coach/trainer at OrangeTheory Fitness. Over the past several years, I discovered a passion for fitness, but also for helping others. I couldn’t be more excited to start.
But also, in one week I am launching my own website, College Football Country. For the first time in four years, I will be writing about college football again. I will also launch the CFB Country podcast — which you should subscribe to right now (click that link…do it now. Don’t keep reading. Click it, subscribe, and then keep reading. I’m almost done anyway, I promise). Every week during college football season, I’ll be pushing out at least three episodes a week with the most unique, passionate and informative college football conversations on the Internet. The guests are going to be incredible. I can’t wait to get started.
Thanks for all the support everyone has shown me in these past three months. There are too many of you to thank, but you are all incredible. The world is a good place.