They’ve only been business partners since January 2017. When they’re not on the road, usually in two different cities, their homes are about 1,200 miles apart. Yet, Joe Gilliland and Larry Lemons have a knack for finishing each other’s sentences. They share a vision of a somewhat disruptive, more comprehensive approach to sports management. They call their company Anth3m because they and their affiliated firms give voice and management to the longer term of-the-field and off-the-course interests of rising stars such as golfer Austin Cook, and Oakland Raiders tight end, Jared Cook. Too many Cooks? Not in the case of Joe Gilliland, Larry Lemmons, and Anth3m, which is based in Miami Beach.
[:18] Ray Hoffman describes Anth3m sports management company and introduces Joe Gilliland and Larry Lemons.
[1:15] Joe and Larry explain why Anth3m is based in Miami Beach. Athletes love the beach. It’s easy to get an athlete to come to visit Miami Beach for a meeting or an event.
[1:25] Joe and Larry are basically on the road all the time, visiting athletes. They have partners spread out across the country to meet any athlete’s needs at any given time. Larry is in Miami Beach every other month, while Joe is there as little as he can be.
[1:56] There are two full-time employees in Anth3m headquarters in Miami Beach. Larry and Joe are primarily on the road meeting people.
[2:09] Joe lives in Dallas, Texas. Larry lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
[2:20] Joe and Larry always have something new and exciting happening daily. They think outside the box and they want their company to find new and innovative ways to strategically align with their clients and partners.
[3:08] Larry explains how he was doing business development for about six years with a couple of athletes. His business partner was his first client. As Larry was developing the model of Anth3m, he knew it was important to find someone who had actual management experience.
[3:40] Larry was looking for someone who could bring traditional aspects of management to his athletes in a non-traditional situation. His partners introduced him to Joe. Larry laid out the vision for him and he just got it. They’ve been going ever since.
[4:08] Larry has an economics background with JP Morgan Private before branching off on his own. Joe started at UBS and moved to UBS Private Wealth. At the same time, he founded a digital media company in the golf space, with two friends from college. It grew into something far bigger than they had anticipated.
[4:43] Joe gives the shortened version of his career. He and his friends created a YouTube video that got 30K views. That led to a second video that got 100K views and it continued. They started getting contracts in the mail to monetize the video and build the platform.
[5:09] Joe looked over the contracts and they filed an LLC, looking to make a little bit of money. Golf Digest wanted to do a full series. Callaway Golf called. That led Joe to full-time management representation as well as business development for athletes and consulting on behalf of digital content marketing strategies.
[5:49] Larry and Joe were both willing to take on mitigated risk. You have to have an entrepreneurial spirit to launch a business. That was what drew Larry to Joe. They had both built a business from the ground up.
[6:08] Larry says you need to understand what it means to go into the trenches and build something that certain people may see as taboo or different. They were taking on an industry that had set ways. You need people who will understand the vision and the struggles you have to go through to get where you want to be.
[6:41] Joe illustrates the biggest difference between sports management today and the past by contrasting Michael Jordan, who was untouchable, with Lebron James, who is fully accessible. You feel like you have a personal relationship with him, day in and day out, from everything he’s been putting together.
[7:29] The industry has been focused on sponsoring an athlete and getting them as much money as they can in return for as little value as possible. At the end of the day, the sponsorship doesn’t provide value to the company that you work with.
[8:07] There is limited space available during the athlete’s performance. You have to find a way to create engagement opportunities for the brand. Today, you need to have a story about the brand’s association with the player and you need to tell the story by way of digital content, social media strategy, and public relations for audience engagement.
[8:50] Athletes are not experts on marketing. They don’t understand that on Instagram and Twitter, they are shaping how people see them. Anth3m helps athletes make that communication intentional by matching an athlete’s message with a brand that aligns with their values and products they legitimately use.
[10:05] Anth3m is telling authentic stories — the athletes don’t mind doing it and the brands get more out of it. They’re creating lasting, organic partnerships.
[10:29] Joe points out that Anth3m is not an agency. They don’t handle player sports contracts or team-related businesses. A lot of times, they align strategically with agencies to help support the players in these other areas. Anth3m is unique in the style of relationship they have within the business development sector.
[10:58] Anth3m is partnered with an actual public relations company, with a digital media and social media company, and a strong content creation company called Ideas United. They are partnered with a franchise and business development company, Apex. That is not common in the sports management industry.
[11:44] Anth3m’s goal is to help their clients, the athletes, develop their own personal anthem. A lot of athletes have unknown talents they want to use and passions to pursue. The average NFL career is three years. It’s a job, not a career. Anth3m wants athletes, after a long career, to have their sport remembered as a footnote to their lives.
[12:51] Anth3m’s goal is not to get athletes to the top but to guide them down into the next phase of their career, as well. It’s a full journey. The athlete is their own personal business. They hire Anth3m, to be the ‘CEO’ of their company. When they retire from their sport, they’ll be ready to step into a role in their business.
[13:53] Larry says it’s come a little faster than anticipated. The firm was two years old in January. Both Larry and Joe have been working with athletes for a number of years.
[14:25] Joe brings up a client case study, Brice Butler, who has proven himself to be a very capable receiver. What makes him a fit for Anth3m’s model is who he is as a business professional. He is into fashion. Last year at Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, he was voted as one of the top eight best-dressed athletes at the shows.
[16:12] Joe was heavily focused on golf before he met Larry. Larry loved the model Joe had put together of building brands and platforms for the athletes away from their sport. Larry said, “Let’s do it for the NFL.” It took Joe time to become fully aware of how the NFL works. Now they are branching into the NBA.
[17:21] Larry had just taken the dive into golf and wanted to learn from Joe. Both Joe and Larry had some learning to do about the NFL space as a whole. Relationships with individuals have helped them pick it up quicker. Bringing on NBA athletes will be different from either golf or the NFL.
[18:30] It was a surprise to Larry what the learning curve for Joe was in the NFL space. It took Joe some time to catch up to Larry. Larry and Joe talk about when you can call an NFL player vs. a golfer. Golfer Austin Cook will pick up the phone every time Joe calls. If Joe called an NFL player four times a day, they wouldn’t answer for a month.
[19:57] Ray recently saw a 1960s video of Palmer, Niklaus, and Player on the Perry Como Show, playing an edited round of golf. These were agent Mark McCormack’s big three. Joe believes that Arnold Palmer made sports marketing cool. Mark McCormack was revolutionary. He wrote What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School.
[21:09] The lessons Mark McCormack learned in the 1960s are still applicable today. Joe talks about the thousands of dollars Arnold Palmer won playing golf in contrast to the millions of dollars athletes make today. Arnold Palmer became a multi-millionaire through marketing his story and brand.
[22:31] Larry talks about how Anth3m works to understand the important parts of an athlete’s business off the field and turn that into something that fulfills their hopes and dreams.
[23:03] Ray notes the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was sold out for a couple of days recently for video gamers. Larry and Joe have considered taking on video gamers. Their aligned strategic partners understand sports but don’t have active backgrounds in sports. Anth3m didn’t want their clients to be put into a box that their sport dictates.
[24:08] There are a number of things Anth3m has on the table, with which they are looking forward to testing their model. E-gaming happens to be one of them. Joe has a couple of friends who have moved into the representation of e-gamers full time.
[24:37] Joe feels that the driving force of Anth3m’s success is going to be in creating opportunities for athletes to invest more toward their future career and business after their sport. One way they inspire that opportunity is through their relationship with Apex for business development work.
[25:27] Joe and Larry are in New York the week of this interview to meet with Jared Cook of the Oakland Raiders, and a partner in a high-fashion men’s apparel line. Jared came up with the idea of starting his own line. Larry helped him pick the right strategy, designers and partners, took over as CEO of the company and has developed it.
[26:21] Larry thinks that what needs to change in the representation field is the idea that agents, financial advisors, or managers have direct control over an athlete. Athletes should hire the specialists they need to help them for specific jobs. A financial advisor should not give legal advice. Everybody should do their specific job.
[29:14] Joe says they are talking now with a company that has a phenomenal indoor play concept about bringing in a unique ambassador specific to the business and developing a relationship with that group, owning a piece of it, and doing appearances and events that will draw people and grow the business.
[30:33] Jared Cook is a unique individual. That is what Anth3m is looking for. Anth3m can help all athletes build their anthem, unique to the individual athletes.
[31:19] Joe suggests Anth3m should become the first sports management group to step in and own a franchise of some sort — it may be an Ultimate Frisbee franchise!
[31:42] Larry says they are excited and happy that people are starting to take notice and ask questions about how Anth3m is doing what they do. That’s the dream.
[32:09] Larry Lemons and Joe Gilliland, of Anth3m. This is capitalism.