A Conversation with Larry Goldman '01
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
I recently had the pleasure of talking with Larry Goldman ‘01 for the Sports Business Society. Mr. Goldman is the Vice President of Strategy & Development for Genesco Sport Enterprises. Genesco Sports is a brand facing agency who help brands negotiate and activate sports partnerships. You may have seen their work in the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show and T-Mobile’s Home Run Derby. In this interview I had the pleasure of asking him questions about his time at Cornell, his job today at Genesco Sport Enterprises, and general knowledge he has gained throughout his career. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and so that it fits nicely into blog form.
Me: Did you know coming into Cornell as a student that you wanted to pursue a career in sports business?
Larry Goldman: I did not actually. I thought I wanted to be a guidance counselor for high school students, and coach baseball. I was always a big sports fan and an athlete growing up, but I never knew I wanted to work in sports.
Me: So what happened at Cornell that made you want to pursue this path?
LG: [At Cornell] I was a psychology major, but I took a class in the Ag school which was an introduction to marketing class, and Mark Tatum, who is now the Deputy Commissioner at the NBA, was working at PepsiCo overseeing their Major League Baseball partnership. He came to my class to give a guest lecture, and I walked down after class to introduce myself, and just ask him a couple questions about what he did. This sparked my interest, and I had a realization that you can actually work in sports.
From that point, I went on to volunteer in the Athletic Department and help with some sponsorships and sports marketing programs through the athletic department. That was how I got introduced to it [sports marketing] and it energized me.
Me: That’s incredible as Mark Tatum was the speaker at my high school graduation and is someone I have had the pleasure of meeting through the Sports Business Society, so it is great to see 20 years later he is still connecting people.
LG: He is the best. He is one of my mentors to this day -- just a great person.
Me: So what advice do you have for students like myself and the rest of the Sports Business Society who want to break into the sports world? How did you get involved in sports after college?
LG: It was really just a lot of networking. A lot of reaching out to people, not only alumni but people in your personal network as well, or people in the industry you are interested in getting into. Then it is a lot of asking questions about what they do and trying to figure out what is interesting to yourself.
Me: So when you are networking, what was your mindset?
LG: Certainly, a good way is with questions about what they do and what their day-to-day job entails. [For me] At a young age, it was more about getting somebody to like me, or remember me, or think about me, and I still try to do that today, even 20 years later. I never try and talk about my skills, but more about them and what they’re interested in and what they do so that it is more of a relationship building exercise.
Me: What is something you wish you had known entering into your career that you had to learn which would have helped you initially?
LG: I would say a deeper understanding of the industry upfront, which I think students like you have a much better advantage because the industry is so much more established, but when I was in school, it was not always the easiest to figure out what that [working in sports] meant. I wish I had a deeper knowledge of the leagues, the teams, the different types of departments, the media properties, the whole ecosystem. There was not a Sports Business Society when I was at Cornell, or maybe I just did not know about it, so you guys are a few steps ahead of me in that regard.
Me: I guess I have been sleeping on my knowledge of the industry then. Now I want to ask you about what you do today in the industry. What makes your firm more attractive for partnerships with corporations than other firms? How do you separate yourself from the field?
LG: We are an agency that only works on behalf of corporate brands, and we are uniquely positioned in the landscape because we help them efficiently and effectively manage their sponsorships through saving them money on negotiations, and we help them maximize their budgets when they activate their partnerships too by lending an efficient hand with insights on best practices. We work solely on behalf of brands, and help them save money through negotiations and activations, so that is our market position, so to speak.
Me: So who are your biggest partners and where do we [the fans] see the work you do?
LG: Our biggest clients are PepsiCo, T-Mobile, Anheuser-Busch, and American Airlines, to name a few. We manage all of their sponsorships. Pepsi is the official soft drink of the NFL, T-Mobile is the official wireless company of Major League Baseball. American Airlines is a founding partner of So-Fi Stadium, the new home of the LA Rams. We help broker all of these deals and help manage them on a day-to-day basis. We are a small agency, about 100 people, but we do a lot of big work. We are involved in the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show, T-Mobile’s Home Run Derby. These are big platforms that we manage and negotiate for them -- we play behind the scenes, make it all happen, and let the brands take credit for it.
Me: Going off of that, what is your favorite project that you have been able to work on in your current position?
LG: I do not know if I have a single accomplishment [that is my favorite], per say, but in my role I get the opportunity to work across a handful of different clients -- in Consumer Packaged Goods, in Technology, in Healthcare -- and so half the time I feel like I’m in business school because I’m learning so much about these individual businesses in individual categories, so it is an ongoing education for me. This enables me to have fun and get smarter all while doing my job and figuring out how they can best leverage sports sponsorships and sports marketing to really drive their business. I am not sure that entirely answers your question but that is what I like most about my job and what drives the various accomplishments of my work.
Me: You’re right, that is not the question but I appreciate the answer because you answered what your favorite thing is about your job, which was a better question than the one I asked, in my opinion.
So, shifting towards the future, as the head of strategy and development, what is one area you are looking forward to developing into in the future?
LG: I think there are a couple pieces there. I think for our company, we are always trying to develop new clients, so that is a good part of my day-to-day job -- figuring out what brands are out there in the universe that need help with their sports marketing. And then for our current clients, their businesses are always changing. PepsiCo, as an example, is not a soda company anymore as they have a million different product lines, teas, energy drinks, so we have to continue to develop the strategy for all of those as it relates towards sports marketing. So as time goes, businesses are going to continue to evolve and that is something we need to stay close to.
Me: So it is less about what you think you should do and more about what they [partner companies] think you should do and how you can help them achieve that.
So my final question is in regards to the pandemic, and how it has shifted your firm’s strategies in any meaningful ways?
LG: I think the biggest shift that we have made is to help our clients understand that the evolution of the return of sports and what that means from the standpoint of going to an actual event, how media is going to be consumed differently. More and more people are “cutting the cord” and consuming sports media through different digital and social channels. So we have really evolved our approach to make sure that our clients are super up to speed on all that stuff.
Me: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. You have given really insightful answers to all of my questions. You made my job here easy.
LG: No problem, thank you for spending the time and bearing with me.