The following “Six Questions” short interview with Celebrity/Athlete booking agent Ryan Totka was conducted by Belmont University Law School student and aspiring sports/entertainment agent Mark J. Burns.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to work in the celebrity booking/athlete endorsement space?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to pursue some type of career in sports. Once you realize you aren’t going pro, you have to do everything you can to stay in the game. Once I started playing on the Internet in 1995, I combined my passion for sports, business and the web. It kind of all fell into place the way it was supposed to.
2. How has AthletePromotions.com and the work you do there changed in the past five years since you launched that business?
Like any business, technology changes everyday. Social media and sports news outlets have changed the way we get our athlete news. Communication among athletes and fans gets better everyday. With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we get real time news as it happens. When we build athlete websites, we make sure we integrate these tools to give fans the best interaction with their favorite sports celebrities.
3. What has been the most rewarding aspect of working with high-profile clients on a daily basis?
In this business, it’s not even about the money, but the experience and being able to help the athletes that you grew up admiring. Being able to work with my childhood heroes and favorite sports celebrities like Mark Cuban, Terrell Owens, Wayne Chrebet and Brady Anderson has been awesome. While I respect the dedication and athleticism they have endured throughout their careers, they respect what I can bring to the table. Most retired athletes have no clue how to monetize the Internet, social media or how to market themselves. It’s really all new to them.
The other cool part is seeing the excitement young kids get when they get to meet their favorite athletes. Based on MY childhood experience, it’s a feeling they will never forget.
4. How has social media helped you grow not only AthletePromotions.com, but also, your other businesses as well? What has social media done for you with regards to personal branding?
There isn’t a quicker way to get out the message out about upcoming athlete appearances, endorsements or speaking engagements. Personally, social media allows your followers to know everything you are doing in the business world. Whether it’s spreading the word about a new athlete website launch, potential job opportunities or charity events, I don’t see how we could live without social media outlets such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s actually more beneficial than what we initially thought it would be. As a result, all businesses, famous individuals, and agents are beginning to use it to build a brand and to connect with a wider audience. Luckily, if you don’t have a large follower base to start with, looking into organic growth services like Nitreo, (https://nitreo.com) can help to give you a head start in being able to build your brand and to reach more people. Social media definitely makes my job a lot easier when it comes to telling people about upcoming news. I also use it to connect with athletes that I have paid opportunities for. When researching on social media, you can learn a lot about someone within 1 min of looking at their accounts.
5. Where do you see yourself five years from now with your career?
Still grinding of course. Everyday is a new opportunity and I try to live in the moment. The fun part of my business is that I can help any celebrity or athlete with branding, appearances and marketing. I want to continue to build my stable of athletes. Spending most of my time in LA, I met celebrities daily and show them what I can offer. When it’s all said and done, it would be cool to be known as one of the most influential people in sports marketing.
6. In 140 characters or less, what advice would you give to aspiring sports/entertainment business professionals?
Never be afraid to take risks. Live your passion, surround yourself with good people, have fun and always be where the opportunities are!