Brother S (Goal) Keeper: Pro Sports Team Executives Brett and Michael Yormark Play off Each Other to Raise the Bar for Individual Performance

By Yaeger, Don | Success, December 2011 | Go to article overview

Brother S (Goal) Keeper: Pro Sports Team Executives Brett and Michael Yormark Play off Each Other to Raise the Bar for Individual Performance


Yaeger, Don, Success


When New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark needs to find ways to creatively market his NBA team, he doesn't have to look in the mirror ... though sometimes it may seem that way. Often, he calls his brother Michael, the other half of the only identical twins running professional sports franchises in the United States.

The two, among the most innovative minds in their industry, share the same grueling schedule, the same philosophy for success--and the same face.

Brett, who also serves as president/CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, and Michael, president of the Florida Panthers hockey franchise, have been capturing the industry's attention for more than a decade. Named to "Forty Under 40" lists in several high-profile magazines, the Yormark brothers, at 44, are the youngest to hold their positions in their respective leagues.

Since joining the Nets in 2005, Brett has helped bring about a 15 percent increase in ticket sales and a stunning increase of nearly 200 percent in team sponsorships. Fie also managed a deal with the Barclays banking and financial services company that includes a 20-year strategic marketing partnership and naming rights Co the Barclays Center under construction and slated to open in 2012. Additionally, he secured a dozen other major sponsors for the Barclays Center before the first shovel struck dirt.

Michael faced the particular challenge of warming South Florida residents to the idea of a hockey team when he joined the organization in 2003. After taking over in 2007, he helped launch the team's Bank Atlantic Center toward becoming the fourth-highest revenue-producing arena in the country and increased suite sales by more than 52.5 million per year. The Panthers' fan base continues to expand each season, as does BAC's entertainment offerings, which now include the Sinatra Theatre and several high-end dining venues.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

To understand the brothers' success, it's important to consider their childhood. Growing up in northern New Jersey, they watched their mother aggressively pursue a career as an interior designer after their father left. "When she was presented with the set of circumstances that left her with the sole responsibility of taking care of Brett, my sister and myself, she stood up tall and said, Tm going to do my best to provide them with a wonderful life,' " recalls Michael. "She just set a terrific example because working hard is one thing, but without that passion or desire, it doesn't matter I have an equation I think of all the time: Passion + Energy = Success. We'd see our mother on her feet tor 12 or 13 hours a day--that teaches a lesson on how to be successful,"

Brett and Michael loved sports but their athletic ability didn't match their passion. So, in Brett's words, ''We had to find a way to get our foot in the door without being on the held." The person opening that door, it turns out, was their mother, who provided introductions through her own client connections. She introduced Brett to a member of the Nets' management and Michael to a partial owner of the Yankees, and both boys landed jobs within the organizations.

Brett eventually moved from the Nets to NASCAR, where he served as vice president and oversaw the largest sports deal in American history--the $750 million naming rights with Nextel--before returning to the organization that had given him his start, Michael transitioned from baseball to hockey, and arranged a co-promotional marketing agreement between the Florida Panthers and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers pro soccer team.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Both Yormarks consider themselves fortunate to work for organizations whose owners give them freedom to explore new ideas and take risks.

Some of Michaels ideas included enacting the "Good Time Guarantee," which promised a full-price ticket refund to any fan who didn't enjoy his or her experience at home games in January, Another idea was to use the BAC's glass elevator shaft for advertising space for home-security company ADT. …

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