How has the sports memorabilia business ebbed and flowed and what has Steiner Sports done to stay relevant?
I think if you’re creative and you have the right products and players, you’re just as good as you were yesterday. But the business would be further along if the best players, the players that [fans] really want to collect, were a lot more cooperative or they weren’t getting himself into trouble. One of the reasons my business has [had to] evolve is because imagine if we had a Babe Ruth alive right now. Business would be booming. Everyone would want a Babe Ruth autograph. But the fact of the matter is we had Babe Ruth alive in A-Rod and Barry Bonds, but nobody wants [their memorabilia]. These are the setbacks you have…you have a lot more transparency from the players, so it’s harder and harder to have these guys on a pedestal and stay there.
Some of the biggest names—A-Rod, Lance Armstrong—I can go on and on…it just becomes a train wreck and [their memorabilia] becomes questionable things that you want to collect. I think if we’re able to get more players to cooperate and understand the business a little bit, it would make it a lot more fun and make the business a lot bigger.
On the other hand…there are teams, leagues and there are some players that are playing into [the memorabilia business] and that’s helped the business grow a little bit.
So what’s your next big idea?
I have a couple ideas up my sleeve. I’m hoping to be able to facilitate some new partnerships and attract different types of fans, different types of products. I still enjoy it. You’re creating some stuff. And then I want to continue to use the power of sports and the relationships I have to help others.
What advice do you have to your fellow CEOs?
I would say two things. One, the way you watch how many hours your employees work, you should be watching what your employees eat and how hard they work out. I don’t think there’s any laws against discriminating against wanting people to eat well and exercise. Focus on your employee health because it will have a big impact on their output.
And the second thing I would say is not everything has to be recurring and revenue growth to make a company successful. And there are some things that just need to be done because they are a good thing to do. And I think companies should be looking at more good things to do for their customer or for their community, not just stuff that they can get that’s going to help them grow their business.
Not everything relates to growing your business. There are some things you do as a company because it’s the right thing and that’s a good thing to do. And the byproduct of that will always end up helping you do more.
So many CEOs are line item and P&L focused, I don’t think doing the right thing to do makes for a sexy brand. That’s just me. I know earnings are important. Money grabs are important. But a lot of these CEOs want to build these great brands, but they don’t do the things that enable you to build a good brand.