The following “Six Questions” short interview with DJ Fisher, Sports Agent and Founder/CEO of Defining Sports, was conducted by Belmont University Law School student and aspiring sports/entertainment agent Mark J. Burns. Connect with DJ on Twitter and Linkedin.
1. When did you realize you wanted to work in sports? As a follow-up, why did you initially want to work in the sports agency world and start your own agency, Defining Sports?
My entire life I have always been around sports. Rather playing, coaching or training. I come from Wichita, Kansas, which is a hot bed for skilled and talented athletes. I believe in relationships and developing a clear understanding in order to get things done, while going above and beyond that to create more hype and excitement for the player. I saw the player-agent relationship and realized that it was missing something. It seemed staged and was not genuine. It didn’t have that spark or excitement to give the fans something to remember. I simply took their idea and made it better. I created Defining Sports to inform the athlete that, sports does not define who you are, but you as a person can define and re-define what sports is and what it should be and ultimately, sports is nothing without the fans.
2. How do you try and differentiate Defining Sports from other competing agencies and organizations? As a follow-up, what types of services does Defining Sports offer?
“Heroes In Sports, Legends In Life”, is our slogan and it is my responsibility to make sure that my clients live up to it. I think that athletes shouldn’t just be looked at as a valuable asset when they are on the field, court, track or in the boxing ring. I think they need to stay busy and involved as much as possible with fans, rather face to face, social media, etc. I try my best to make sure that all of my clients are as busy as possible while maintaining a relationship with them. We are texting, tweeting, instagramming each other. I mentor my athletes, invite them to church, pray with them and ultimately just have their best interest at heart. I’m accessible 24/7 and on top of that, I am affordable.
My mentor and childhood hero, Isiah Thomas, recently said, that 15 minutes of time spent by a professional athlete with a fan, is more appreciated than a $5 million check to his or her community or hometown. I am a strong believer on branding, reputation and using influential status for good. We have been hit with the names, Latrell Sprewell, Ricky Williams, Marion Jones, OJ Simpson. When you hear those names, you don’t think about how much money these athletes made during their career, you are instantly reminded of what they did and the impact they had on society. I think my relationship with my clients and keeping them busy doing positive things when they are not playing keeps them from setting themselves up for failure and tarnishing their brand.
At Defining Sports, we do it all. Every single detail for professional athletes off of the court, field, track, ring. Including but not limited to:
Community relations/foundations, strategic media relations, reactive media relations, social media management, web PR, marketing campaigns, increase fan base, creation and development of quality website, improve communications, generate publicity, build awareness, arrange interviews and press conferences, endorsements, manage and schedule media requests, respond to all press inquiries, keep track and follow up on all public, media training, event production, charitable programs and events, etc.
3. If there is one aspect of the sports agency industry that you could change, what would that be and why?
I am not sure if I would change anything about the sports agency industry. I think rules are rules and the challenge and competitiveness creates a thrill. Sports is simply about winning. No one wants to be a mediocre agent or agency. I sure don’t!
4. What is the most difficult/challenging part of your current role with Defining Sports?
I do not see a challenge or a difficult part of my role or the business. I think failure and success simply starts and ends on my drive and determination. Otherwise I would have to say having a personal life, spending more time with family. It becomes the biggest part of my life when I am not able to talk to my mother but once or twice a month. However, knowing that she is proud that her son is changing lives, rather than the complete opposite.
5. In 2011, you created the ‘Readers Create Leaders’ program to increase reading/literacy awareness for today’s youth. Why did you create the program? As a follow-up, how does the program operate on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis?
My grandmother was a reader. I would often wake up and go to sleep seeing her read and write at the kitchen table. In elementary school, I would look forward to getting $5.00 from my mother for the book fair. We had “The Reading Rainbow” and “Ghost Writer” and during my time (I won’t tell my age) our reading scores were up. Reading was the thing to do. We had video games, but we were either outside playing or reading a book during the summer months as well as throughout the school year. Current times, reading scores are down, nationwide. I feel if Gatorade can get the country singing “I want to be like Mike” or Dee Brown and Reebok trick the kids into thinking Reebok Pumps can help you jump high, what if we placed a professional athlete into the classroom with a book and shared a story of how reading helped them out in life and encouraged the kids to be better than a professional athlete, but to fulfill the dreams that we once said as kindergarten students of “Doctors, Lawyers, Paramedics, Police Officers, Firefighters, Nurses, etc.”. Our motto is: “READING NEVER STOPS”….literally.
We create events, campaigns, etc. to raise funds to provide new books for students of all ages. We send professional athletes out to different cities and states to read to students, hand out books, stress the importance and how cool it is to read as well as sign autographs and take pictures while interacting in a Q&A. Our mission is to provide students and schools with the necessary tools that they need in order to raise reading scores.
6. In 140 characters or less, what advice would you give to aspiring sports/entertainment business professionals who want to work in the agency industry?
Provide a brand and service that cannot be ignored and that salary has never been placed in an obituary but legacies last a lifetime.