James "JB" Bryant: Taking The Next Step to Management

The more you can prepare for an eventual role in management, the better off you will be. In this episode Colorado Rapids Manager of Inside Sales James Bryant talks about the management skills you need to develop starting now!

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for WorkinSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast…

Of the 107 episodes so far on the Work in Sports podcast I’d say about 80% of the content is steered towards advice to achieve that first entry level job in the sports industry.

Of course, we talk with experts in the field about their careers, but even then I tend to ask question like, what are you looking for when you hire new staff…or how did you get your first job in sports.

I’m always leaning into the concept of “getting started”.

Makes sense, so many of you are in school, recently graduated, or changing careers into sports.

But this episode we’re taking a completely different approach. We’re talking about management skills.

Now, before you turn this off, thinking management?! I need an entry level job before I can start thinking management!

Well, you’re thinking too short term.

Management skills like leadership, mentoring, training, setting strategy, building culture – these are all things that the earlier you become familiar with and start building your own personal approach to these subjects, the faster you will grow.

Imagine this for a second – you’re an entry level employee, and you show yourself as a leader, you ask questions about strategy, you help out other team members with their training… these will show your bosses you are management material. That you aren’t just clocking in a clocking out, finishing your daily to do list and then hiding in the corner somewhere not to be noticed.

When I was at CNN Sports Illustrated, there were probably about 20-30 production assistants hired all at once, we were all on a level playing field. But in a short time we started to differentiate ourselves for various reasons. Some of us took on bigger roles by being ambitious and always saying yes, some of us displayed natural leadership skills, some were better than others at time management.

All of these people stood out.

Then there were others…they would get their daily assignments, goof off for hours, and then hustle to get their lists done right before we went to air. Or they would do all of their assignments, then hide out away from seeking eyes, preferring to remain anonymous than take on a new challenge.

These people didn’t grow.

The point is, even if you are in a situation where your only focus is getting an internship or a first job… it is still the time to learn more about management, because that is where you are headed, and the more you can prepare for that eventual day, the faster that day will come.

So let’s talk about today’s guest a little, James Bryant - who from this moment forward will be referred to as JB because that’s what he prefers – is the Manager of Inside Sales for the Colorado Rapids. He broke into the industry with Sporting KC as a Sales Associate and after two years moved to the New York Yankees for four years in premium sales and season ticket retention.

And then the opportunity came… the Colorado Rapids came calling, recruiting JB to become a Manager of the Inside Sales staff. JB jumped at the chance and now two years later is sharing with all of us some of the incredible things he has learned in his management role.

But before we get to JB  -- a reminder! Registration is open for our Sports Career Accelerator event September 13-14th in Atlanta! Executive staff with the Hawks, Falcons, Braves, United, College football hall of fame and more will walk you through their jobs, answer questions, network and engage… plus if that isn’t enough… I’ll be there too!

I’ll be hanging out with all of you, and conducting some live podcasts… interviewing some of our guest speakers, and many of the attendants too to give a first hand vibe on all that is happening.

This is going to be a blast, if you want more information on the event, go to work in sports dot com/ Tremont/atlanta

That’s Tremont as in Tremont Sports, our partners in this event.

One more time, and I will liunk to this in the episode show notes and share on our private facebook group – the link is work in sports .com /Tremont/atlanta

Ok, now lets get to JB!


Questions for James Bryant, Colorado Rapids Manager of Inside Sales


1: Very often on this show we talk about breaking into the sports industry, tips and tricks to get in the door, but you wrote a very interesting article on LinkedIn about your step up to management and becoming an Inside Sales Manager…I found your take to be enlightening so I wanted to have you on to discuss…

Let’s start at your beginning though – you broke into the industry as a Sales Associate with Sporting KC of the MLS… what led you personally to a career in sports sales?

2: You jumped out of MLS and into MLB with the hated Yankees – I can say that as a guy from Boston – the MLS is no slouch, but the Yankees are a sports machine…how much of a change was it going from sporting KC to sports mecca NYC?

3: We so often talk about sales in terms of selling game day tickets, group sales, premium sales – all focused on the next game day. But with the Yankees you worked in retention, trying to keep season ticket holders coming back year after year – was that a different challenge or process in selling?

4: After three and a half years with the Yankees – back to MLS in a management role. Manager of Inside Sales for the Colorado Rapids – what was the first thing you realized about being management vs. being an individual contributor?

5: Let’s dig into your article, which I will link to in the show notes for all who want to read it…and you should. You say “Getting to know your team on a personal level isn’t important. It’s everything.” Explain your thought process here.

6: Next you state managers should “Focus on your team buying into your philosophies and culture before teaching sales techniques” – I want you to explain this further because your thinking here makes a lot of sense…but first, the fact you have to teach sales techniques at the pro level, does that mean schools today aren’t teaching the kind of vital skills people need to enter the workforce – and is that a problem?

7: Lets get back to the point of buying into the philosophies and culture – why is that so important? And you’ve worked for three different pro organizations how different are philosophies and cultures from org to org?

8: Next up – “Train your team on sales 101. Don’t train them on how you sold.” When I first jumped into management this was one of the things I struggled with – I wanted to teach my staff my way, but faced the same issue of giving them enough freedom to be successful as them but also enough structure to comply with objectives – how did you overcome this?

9: Finally, you say – “Management isn’t for everyone” – In your two years in management do you think management is for you and if yes, why …if no, I promise we won’t tell your boss.

10: you’ve been in sports sales for almost a decade now, you’ve been in management, you’ve seen people come and go – how can you tell who will be successful in these inside sales roles, and who is likely to flame out…is there a pattern you see?


Finishing Up With Colorado Rapids Manager of Inside Sales, James Bryant


There were so many things I loved about that interview, but I think one of the major points that stood out was JB’s mentor showing him the way towards management.

JB learned from his manager, how he liked to be treated, different techniques that motivated and inspired him, personalizing the work experience. As an early career employee JB started to notice what worked and what didn’t so that he could utilize these techniques when he became a manager.

I love that instinct to think ahead rather than always be I the moment and day to day.

The other thing that tells you is, when you become a manager you have great power. The power to inspire and motivate and help someone else form their foundation in a management style. I’ve had some great bosses, and I picked up things from every one of them. I’ve also had some terrible bosses, and I’ve learned what not to do from them.

Without sounding too cliché or cheesy, there is something to be learned every day, so attack each day with openness and a willingness to learn and adapt.

That’s it for this week’s interview thanks so much for listening and remember to check out and register for our Sports Career Accelerator event coming September 13-14th in Atlanta!

By Brian Clapp | August 08, 2018
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