#MySportsBizStart - Josh Gross: "An expert at nothing"
by Josh Gross - Vice President, San Diego Seals | August 27, 2019
My name is Josh Gross and I’m an expert at nothing. I’ve worked in the sports and entertainment industry for 17 years. Have you heard of the teams I’ve worked for? Probably not. Have you read any of the work I’ve produced (until now), or watched me on TV during my broadcast career? I doubt it. And yet, you’re reading this today. I hope you’ll continue.
Boston Cannons, Major League Lacrosse. Colorado Altitude, a women’s pro fastpitch softball team that never played a game. Colorado Crush, Arena Football League before it folded. [The league has since reemerged.] Colorado Mammoth and San Diego Seals, National Lacrosse League.
When I’m a guest speaker in college or high school classes, most students don’t care to listen because I haven’t worked for ‘the shield’ or something similar. Heck, I’ve never worked for the big fish anywhere. And yet, I’ve advanced my career every step of the way.
In first grade, I started playing soccer and baseball growing up in New Jersey with a loving family who didn’t have a passion for sports. (It wasn’t until my mom was in her 60s that she knew what a power play is.) By the time I was 12 years old, I knew my dream of wearing the pinstripes in the Bronx was more of a pipedream than me winning the lottery. It was at that time that I decided I wanted to become a TV play-by-play announcer. That was my life’s calling!
I went to college at Sportscaster U. (Syracuse) and graduated with a high-profile, unpaid internship in a second-year startup lacrosse league after my parents dropped a hundred K on tuition. My goal was simple – get a job. It was there in Boston that I was the only one of my intern class of nine to get a job offer from the team. It was there in Boston that I learned how to sell tickets. It was there in Boston that I learned how to operate a sports franchise. And it was there that I learned how little pro sports pays early on, and how you have to pay your dues.
Fast-forward 15 years, and I departed Denver with my mentor, my work husband, my yin to his yang, as we endeavored to launch an expansion team in San Diego in the league we both know so well (the NLL). When Steve Govett, president and general manager of the Mammoth, told his boss at Kroenke Sports that he had this amazing opportunity, Steve was asked who he was taking with him. His answer was me.
But why? After all, I’m an expert at nothing. And this is why students I speak to seem to miss the point altogether. Sure, that’s a broad statement and it’s not true of every one of them...but at least 95% of them. Who cares that I haven’t sold tickets, or sponsorship, or media rights for the pigskin, the rock, the puck or the bat?
Why am I an expert at nothing? Because, by forever working for the small fish, I’ve experienced everything. I’ve sold tickets for a product much tougher to promote than those in the big four. I’ve sold sponsorships for a product people had no familiarity with. I’ve secured media rights, and garnered local and national coverage of promotions I’ve procured. I’ve helped in the creation of multiple brands, and created new businesses that were profitable. And I’ve been on national TV calling sporting events in my dream job.
And that’s why I was the guy Steve took to San Diego. Now nothing of this is meant to be boastful. I have so much work to do professionally and personally to continue to grow. I need better organizational skills. I need better time management. I need to better identify talent. The list is too long to write here.
Malcolm Gladwell has been both praised and criticized for his 10,000 hours philosophy. He has repeatedly explained his position as so many thought it to be too far-reaching for select fields or talents. By working for the Cannons, Altitude, Crush, Mammoth and Seals, and by working on TV, radio and OTT broadcasts, I’ve been too busy to commit 10,000 hours to any one thing. Maybe it will take me a lifetime to hit the magic time number to one day be an expert at something. For now, I’m happier in my life than ever before, and proud to say that despite all those who have invested time, energy, effort, resources and money into me, I still have so much work to be done.
My friendly advice – take it for what it’s worth – is to not fall in love with a sexy logo on a business card. Instead, fall in love with the work you get to do (not have to do). Fall in love with those around you. I wanted to be a broadcaster because I loved the idea of team. Find a great team, whether it’s in the big leagues or not, and make yourself as well-rounded as possible. One day you might be able to teach someone in their 60s what a power play is. One day you might become an expert at something. Or maybe you’ll never be an expert at anything. Heck, it worked out for me better than I could have ever imagined.
It’s an honor to have been asked to write this blog, and I’d welcome any and all input, comments and responses. I’m a harsh critic myself. If you’re a student who blows this off because I don’t work for a big-name property, don’t email me. If you’re the odd (wo)man out, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at Josh.Gross@SealsLax.com.
Josh Gross is currently the Vice President of the San Diego Seals. Josh has had a number of different roles between selling and broadcasting throughout his 18-year career in sports. You can find him on LinkedIn here.