Joe Cuomo, Brooklyn Nets Equipment Manager - Work In Sports podcast

Joe Cuomo, Brooklyn Nets Equipment Manager joins the Work In Sports podcast! 

Hi everybody,  I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at and this is the Work in Sports podcast.

There is a theme for today, and it is persistence. 

I’m not one of those “Rise and Grind” disciples. You see and hear people all the time talking about the grind, gotta love the grind, gotta throw yourself in, gottas give it your all...etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  

I read people on twitter and other social media outlets with their little quips and sayings… and I get it, that is motivation for many people - go for it if that is you. It is 100% not me.

I hear “rise and grind” and I immediately think -- that person is lacking efficient systems to perform their job, and has a lack of balance. 

Maybe that makes me the weird one. Well, let me rephrase, that likely makes me the weird one. 

Don’t get confused, I work hard. Work is important to me. Achieving is important to me. Helping is important to me. But this idea of being a slave to the job isn’t. 

There is this new trend in being healthy -- intermittent fasting - it could be a fad, but it is an interesting premise. 

For those who are unaware, it is limiting your food consumption to an 8-hour window each day. So you set yourself a schedule, from 10 am to 6 pm I am allowed to eat, then for 16 hours, I am not. 

I feel the same way about work. I don’t want to grind all day. No interest in that. I want to do my job to my absolute best, metaphorically eat everything in sight, and then shut it down and get into other things. Of course there will be days that more is required - but if you aren't generally able to do your job in the allotted time, it's likely not about how hard you work, it's about how efficiently you work. 

Now mind you, this is a very personal evolution. I was a grinder. Matter of fact I was the very definition of the word. I always saw myself as less talented than everyone around me, so I would only get ahead by out-hustling and out-working everyone.

This is a good short term plan, but it is not sustainable. 

I became obsessed with systems and processes in my 30s- I wanted to focus not on outworking, but by operating in a smarter fashion than others, so that I could go for a walk with my wife, or coach my daughters soccer team, and be present in that moment without concern for missing the grind.

What does this all have to do with persistence? Well, part of being smarter is setting up systems that allow you to work without thinking. 

Late 2018 I reached out to today’s guest and asked him to come on the show. He said sounds great let’s do it! Over the next couple of weeks, we struggled to connect and it kind of fell off his radar. No worries, this happens, he’s in season, scheduling is tough.

But rather than stress or forget about it,  I set myself a simple reminder. In 6 months contact him again. I didn’t have to think about it, I would get the reminder later. 

6 months pass, I reach out, he remembers me, we get team approval and here we are… I’m interviewing Joe Cuomo Brooklyn Nets Equipment Manager. It’s not always the grind, it's persistence, and it’s the systems you put in place that help you get where you want to go.

But enough about me, let’s learn more about Joe Cuomo, Brooklyn Nets Equipment manager


Question for Brooklyn Nets Equipment Manager, Joe Cuomo


1: Let’s start out at your beginning – you attended the University of Central Florida and earned a management degree with a focus in sports management – why sports? What inspired you to pursue a career in this industry?

2: One of your first internships while in college was in baseball – you worked for the Washington Nationals as an operations assistant and in the spring training box office. As your first introduction to big time sports – what do you remember most about that experience?

3: After graduating from UCF, you jumped right back in and started pursuing your masters in sports management at Seton Hall – why? Why did you feel a Masters was an important step for you in your career?

4: Back to baseball, this time with the Mets in Media Relations -- at this point were you still searching for your fit in the industry, or did you have an idea of the direction you wanted to pursue?  

5: With the Mets your organizing daily news clips, sending press releases, interacting with reporters, staff, and players, setting up the press area – for a young person, this sounds like a pretty exciting opportunity – how did it feel to you?

6: 2012 – Basketball operations with the Nets, and that’s where you’ve been ever since. What was your first impression of pro basketball as it compared to your experiences in baseball?

7: After about 7 months in operations with the Nets you become the team Equipment Manager – it’s not like UCF and Seton Hall have courses focused on this specific role in the sports industry – how did you learn the skills you needed to thrive in this job?

8: You hear the title equipment manager and most people probably have a vibe for what that takes – ordering equipment, inventory needs, keeping the players and coaches happy...but what else goes into this role, and what are some of your favorite parts of the job?

9: You’re on the road with the team and it’s a long season, how important are the relationships you form with other staff members, the team, coaches, to make the work environment a positive experience?

10: How much do you interact with the other groups within the team like marketing, sales, community relations – is there work you do together?

11: You also hire and manage part-time team attendants – what do you look for from those hires and is this a great training ground for someone who wants to work in equipment management?

12: If someone listening in our audience is thinking right now, equipment management sounds like a career I’d like to pursue – what kind of advice would you share with them?

By Brian Clapp | August 28, 2019
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