Today, we are joined by John Balkam, who from a young age knew he always wanted to work in sports. While attending Georgetown University, John took a class on social entrepreneurship, which changed the way he looked at business. This planted a seed of wanting to start a business that focused not just on profit, but also impact. It took over 10 years, but eventually he found a way to merge sports and social entrepreneurship together.
John spent time working for the Washington Nationals and the Tiger Woods Foundation. Working in the sports industry didn’t line up with his initial expectations in terms of low pay, long hours, and not being as glamorous as it seems. He eventually got his first full-time corporate job after school, but always had an entrepreneurial itch. When he was 24, he quit this job to build a startup based on measuring impact. While this startup didn’t work out, he gained invaluable experience, met great connections, and learned lessons for his eventual next startup.
John jumped back into the corporate world with EVERFI. He got to work in the department focused on the sports and entertainment space. He gained experience watching this startup double in size during his time and get acquired a few years after he left. During his time, he was still eager to find what was next. He joined a program for alumni from Georgetown that helped creators write a book. He decided to write his book on the rise of cause marketing in the sports and entertainment space. 6 months into the process, he decided to quit his job and go all in on starting the Third Win Group.
On top of writing the book, he started offering consulting services tied to cause marketing. The first year was extremely tough as he tried to build up the credibility of his company and define the core service of their offering. He continued to promote his book through podcasts, which changed the course of his company. He received a call from Jeremy Casebeer, who is a professional beach volleyball player. Jeremy had listened to one of John’s podcasts and resonated with his beliefs and mission towards cause marketing. John started to represent Jeremy, which pivoted the business more towards talent representation.
Fast forward to today and John has scaled the Third Win Group. They are representing athletes and entertainers that are driven by a social mission. They also donate 10% of their company profits towards social missions. John has found a way to combine his passions of sports and social entrepreneurship. He’s focused on building a sustainable business that aligns with his values. He is more excited to continue to grow not only the profits of the business, but they impact he makes on this world.
Check out the conversation as we dive into the following:
- Why he is anti-hustle culture
- How a class at Georgetown changed the trajectory of his career
- The importance of learning from corporate managers and leaders to eventually run your own business
- How your customers are your new bosses even when starting your own business
- The strength in gradual growth when building a business
- How he ties effective altruism into his business and life
Listen to John share his story and get inspired with his amazing advice to people thinking about following a similar path. Check out the full conversation on YouTube or Spotify by clicking the links below.
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