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ESPN The Company: The Story and Lessons Behind the Most Fanatical Brand in Sports

ISBN: 978-0-470-56400-4
208 pages
August 2009
ESPN The Company: The Story and Lessons Behind the Most Fanatical Brand in Sports (0470564008) cover image

A fascinating look at ESPN and its success as a brand

ESPN The Company reveals the inside scoop on the biggest business story in sports, detailing the creative and innovative spirit and practices that drove the programming, products, and services of the most powerful and prominent name in sports media. The authors provide a behind-the-scenes perspective on how ESPN dealt with their many partners and how they handled mistakes and missteps along the way-from the humble beginnings of ESPN as an underrated startup to the pinnacle of their success as a major industry player.

ESPN and other great organizations invest in their people. They train them. They believe that if you spend the time and resources turning talented performers into leaders, you're going to get better organizational performance and engender higher levels of commitment and sweat. ESPN The Company

  • Explores the dedication to excellence that makes ESPN the "Worldwide Leader in Sports"
  • Reveals how the steps ESPN has taken to excel can be applied to whatever type of business you're in
  • Shares the lessons learned at ESPN about launching and growing a wildly successful enterprise

Engaging and informative, this entertaining guide reveals how any company can benefit by embracing the best practices of ESPN.

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Acknowledgments.

Introduction: The Biggest Business Story in Sports.

Chapter 1 Turning Fanatics into Fans.

Chapter 2 Think Like an Incumbent, Act Like a Challenger.

Chapter 3 The Right Leader at the Right Time.

Chapter 4 Create Your Own Game.

Chapter 5 Expand the Brand.

Chapter 6 Playing Well With Others.

Chapter 7 Blow the Whistle, Spot the Ball

Chapter 8 Are You Having Fun?

Notes.

References.

About the Author.

Index.

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Anthony F. Smith is cofounder and the Managing Director of Leadership Research Institute, recognized as one of the leading management consulting firms in the world. He has been an active consultant for over twenty years in the areas of organizational change and assessment, team building, executive coaching and development, and leadership training and design. Smith has served clients in a variety of fields, including American Express, the National Football League, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, the National Geographic Society, The Walt Disney Company, Deutsche Bank, and ESPN. His writing has appeared in several publications, including BusinessWeek, the Economist, and Investor's Business Daily, and he is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Taboos of Leadership.

Keith Hollihan is a writer who has collaborated with Smith and many other top business and leadership experts on books and articles covering a wide range of issues that leaders face today. He is the coauthor of the bestseller Everybody Wins and The End of Energy Obesity, both published by Wiley.

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February 08, 2010
ESPN: THE COMPANY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                     

The Biggest Business Story in Sports History:

The Strategic Playbook Chronicling 30 Years of ESPN

ESPN: THE COMPANY

The Story and Lessons Behind the Most Fanatical Brand In Sports

By Anthony F. Smith with Keith Hollihan

 

 

"If you're a fan — IF… you’re a fan — what you will see in the next few minutes, hours,
and days to follow may convince you that you've gone to sports heaven."

 

With these words, Entertainment and Sports Programming Network went live on September 7, 1979. Launched by sports junkies, funded by an oil company, and marginalized by critics and broadcast networks alike, the fledgling ESPN ultimately transformed sports from an American pastime to a global business.

 

Coinciding with ESPN’s 30th anniversary on September 7, 2009, is the release of this unprecedented new book ESPN: The Company, The Story and Lessons Behind the Most Fanatical Brand in Sports, (John Wiley & Sons, hardcover, $24.95).

 

ESPN: The Company, written by Dr. Anthony F. Smith, co-founder and Managing Partner of the Leadership Research Institute (LRI), with Keith Hollihan, delves deep into the evolution of the franchise.  Dr. Smith, witnessed this transformation first-hand as ESPN's lead management consultant. For twenty years, Dr. Smith has counseled, coached and critiqued ESPN's senior team as they've built an unrivaled sports entertainment empire. Now, he's distilled the lessons of two decades into the guiding principles that have turned a once cash-poor start-up into a worldwide brand valued at more than $25 billion and the shining star in Disney Media’s portfolio.

“Along the way, I saw a wild start-up become an industry threat and finally the industry leader. I got involved with ESPN at a crux moment, when the company was scrambling with the transition to achieve the scale and capabilities of its future self.” Smith continues… “I saw how they managed that shift, and how they maintained it. What I’ve learned firsthand at ESPN about growing a great company I’ve written down in
this book.”

 

With a rare insider’s viewpoint, Smith shares his insights on how ESPN succeeded in:

 

  • Sustaining its growth, innovation and brand in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving marketplace
  • Drawing upon the individual influences of vastly different leaders, including Bill Rasmussen, Stuart Evey, Chet Simmons, Bill Grimes, Roger Werner, Steve Bornstein and George Bodenheimer, to create a focused, disciplined organization
  • Avoiding the all-too-common pitfalls of brand expansion
  • Encouraging risk-taking and entrepreneurialism, while rapidly cutting losses
  • Broadening its reach while remaining loyal to its core audience of sports fanatics
  • Creating a culture where having fun is serious business

 

Dr. Smith shares this inspiring behind-the-scenes look at the creation of one of the world's most influential brands. If you're a fan of business, competition or sports, this book explores the dedication to excellence that makes ESPN a success. Informative, insightful and just plain entertaining, this fascinating book is full of real-life lessons on launching and growing a wildly successful enterprise.

    Dr. Anthony F. Smith, is Co-Founder and the Managing Director of Leadership Research Institute, based in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and recognized as one of the leading management consulting firms in the world, specializing in Leadership Development and Assessment. He has been an active consultant for over twenty years in the areas of organizational change and assessment, team building, executive coaching and development, and leadership training and design. He has served a list of enviable clients in a variety of fields, including, American Express, The National Football League, the Coca-Cola Company, The National Geographic Society, Seimans AG, The Walt Disney Company, Deutsche Bank, Spencer Stuart, Hewlett Packard, ESPN, KKR, Goldman Sachs, and McKinsey and Company. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed business book, The Taboos of Leadership: 10 Secrets No One Will Tell You About Leaders And What They Really Think, published by Jossey Bass, May 2007.

 

The V Foundation for Cancer Research

A portion of proceeds from the sale of ESPN: The Company will benefit the The V Foundation for Cancer Research, founded by the late, great basketball coach Jim Valvano. The V Foundation distributes 100% of direct donations to cancer research and related programs. ESPN supports The V Foundation in many ways including a portion of ticket sales for the ESPY Awards, the annual sports awards event created and broadcast by ESPN. Dr. Smith serves on the board of The V Foundation. To learn more visit the website at www.jimmyv.org.

 

“If you love the business of sports, or the sport of business, you'll love this book.”

Lawrence F. Probst III, Chairman, United States Olympic Committee,
Chairman of Electronic Arts

 

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