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Pivot #20: Charlie McAvoy's sneakers, get to work, reverse engineer

Pivot #20: Charlie McAvoy's sneakers, get to work, reverse engineer

1st Period - Get to work

This is Pivot #20. That means I’ve published a newsletter for 20 weeks in a row. It’s hard to do anything for 20 weeks in a row. When I take a step back, it’s crazy what has transpired over 20 weeks. I won’t delve into specifics, but the contacts I’ve made, the relationships I’ve built and the potential opportunities I’ve created are worth it alone. Humans tend to undervalue consistent work over a period of time. Consistent effort compounds, but it’s hard to comprehend what the end outcome can be at the onset. I’m not even talking about dollars and cents. Pivot has opened up my world to new opportunities that otherwise would not exist if I did not take the first few steps down the path. 

The main message is not me gloating. Pivot is far from a successful business. The main message is ‘get to work’. Start on something or keep going on what you are pursuing. Though tough to realize in the moment, every progressive step you take adds up. Whether your pursuit is building a business, learning a new skill, or getting in shape, scratch and claw to keep the momentum going. Send out an email, make a checklist, practice a product pitch. Do something small each day.

If there’s an idea you’ve always had, now is the time to pursue it. It will lead you somewhere. You will learn something through your tribulations. Often, the most challenging thing with any task is going from ‘0 to 1’. I sometimes experience incredible inertia getting the ball rolling. Once you get in the habit of making a little progress each day, working towards your goal becomes easier. Get started pursuing something. You’ll be happy you did and you’ll be surprised how much you can compound over time.

2nd Period - Reverse Engineer

A powerful exercise to discern how a particular person achieved success is to reverse engineer their career. I enjoy doing this. Try to understand someone’s path. How did they get to where they are? Look at their LinkedIn, online bios, news articles, social media, and weave together the mosaic of the journey. If there is a particular industry of interest, pick out several people to reverse engineer. You’ll begin to recognize commonalities and typical paths.

Here are some helpful questions to spur reverse engineering analysis.

What schools did they attend? What did they study?

What job did they have immediately after school?

How did they land each of their jobs?

Who were the key people that helped them on their way?

What did the person do to stand out from the crowd?

How did their personal life progress along with their professional life?

3rd Period - Charlie McAvoy's Sneakers

Boston Bruins defenseman, Charlie McAvoy, entered the shoe game. McAvoy teamed up with shoe artist Dan Gamache, better known as “Mache Customs”, and Boston streetwear store, Concepts, to release a signature black and gold sneaker complete with McAvoy’s 73 jersey number. Check out the video describing the launch:

It’s an exciting story as it relates to hockey, simply because it is rarely done, if at all. Hockey players haven’t been known to release sneakers. Slapping an athlete’s NIL on a sneaker is mostly found in basketball and football with Air Jordan being the most obvious example. Here are a few insights 

  • Find the right partners - McAvoy admittedly is not the biggest sneakerhead. He’s not an industry expert, not an artist, and does not have distribution chops. Charlie clearly knows he’s leveraging his name and focusing the sneaker release in Boston where his name carries weight. However, McAvoy found the right partners that are arguably the best at what they do. Gamache is a top designer having worked with Allen Iverson, Kyrie Irving, and Jayson Tatum. Concepts is located on the esteemed Newbury Street in Boston, a mainstay retail outlet for sneakers and streetwear. They know how to handle marketing and special releases. McAvoy did a great job surrounding himself with partners he can learn from while also giving the launch the best chance at success. It's very similar to our story on TJ Oshie surrounding himself with the right patterns in building Warroad.
  • Prioritize Learning - You can tell from the interview, McAvoy went into this pursuit with the idea he wanted to learn. He’s not looking to make a quick buck. This isn’t a read an ad and cash a check sort of thing. McAvoy had to invest time and provide input on the sneaker design. The more reps Charlie gets doing things, the better. He will build his skills outside of hockey and begin to understand ventures he enjoys outside of the rink, 
  • Finding Tangential Customers - the Venn Diagram of Boston Bruins fans and Concepts customers likely shows barely overlapping circles. By branching out, McAvoy is associating his name with new fans, new ideas, and becoming known for more than being a Boston Bruins defensemen. If the endeavor is successful, it will likely lead to new collaborations for McAvoy and a slew of opportunities in this genre of fashion. From a big picture perspective, I like the shift in personal branding. 
  • Interesting Vertical - Sneaker culture has been a part of American culture for decades. Sneakers are a status symbol and really has morphed into its own industry. Over the past few years the space has gone berserk. There are online platforms to bid and trade shoes, prices skyrocketed for particular models, and you can find shoe enthusiasts all over social media. I think it’s an interesting vertical to tap into for a hockey player because it has not been done yet. No doubt it’s a more challenging endeavor for a hockey player because they don’t wear sneakers in their sport, so there’s no organic marketing like LeBron smashing dunks in his own shoes. More and more personality is creeping into the league though, and a lot of that is through how players are dressed arriving to the rink before games. It’s a growing trend and form of expression in hockey, so I like McAvoy exploring the space. 

It will be fun to follow what more comes of McAvoy’s off-ice pursuits. I’m curious how the sneaker idea was borne out. Did someone bring the idea to Charlie or was this something Charlie envisioned? I may try to dig up more…

Game Notes

  • U.S. Home Sales Jumped 9.5% in February - WSJ
  • Changing real estate agent commissions - AP
  • ESPN Boss Jimmy Pitaro’s Chaotic Race to Remake the Sports Giant - WSJ
  • Fed holds rates steady and maintains three cuts coming sometime this year - CNBC
  • JPMorgan sets up a dedicated sports investment banking team - Reuters
  • MicroStrategy Owns About 1% of All Bitcoin With Latest Purchase - BBG

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