Monday, November 22, 2010

The Atlanta Way

A good friend of ours, Peter Rooney, brought to my attention a major detail about this city that should never be overlooked. This detail should never be overlooked or forgotten because it is engrained in every magnificent achievement this city has ever accomplished. This detail is the “Atlanta Way”. This city, the citizens of this city have a rich history in taking what most deem impossible to making it a model for other cities. From the way we got our own hometown team, America’s team in fact, the Atlanta Braves, before we even had a stadium, to the way we went from last class to first class with our prestigious zoo, Zoo Atlanta, and managed to turn the Grant Park community into a thriving, safe place for all of Atlanta to live and visit, to the way we all learned how to Have A Dream from one of our most courageous Atlantans, Dr. King- Atlanta has its way of doing things. L.E.A.D. is also deeply rooted in the Atlanta Way. As the founder of this great organization, I experienced the Atlanta Way when kind strangers reached out to me to help me achieve my goals. And so it is in this tradition that L.E.A.D. was born- one citizen reaching out to help others. And tonight, as we select the 2011 L.E.A.D. Ambassadors, I encourage those who have earned this designation to be prepared to continue in the great tradition that Atlantans have kept so well. Being a L.E.A.D. Ambassador is not just about baseball, it’s about keeping the promise to take care of our city and her citizens. It’s about upholding and guarding the Atlanta Way.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Your Ambassadors

The L.E.A.D. coaching staff just completed our 2011 Ambassadors selections.  This was the toughest selection in three years.  We increased our participation for our fall Legacy League from 30 in 2009 to 60 in 2010.  The increase produced several viable prospects on and off the field.

Traditionally, we select 18 Ambassadors from Atlanta Public Schools, Dekalb and South Fulton.  This year, we selected 20 Ambassadors and I am excited to get started.  We will begin off season training in January but the remainder of November and December is packed with some awesome service opportunities.

We will launch our Dollar Drive on November 22.  Each Ambassador will have a sheet paper with 20 reasons why someone should give them $1.  My goal is for the Ambassadors to raise over $500.  We will donate money to the Salvation Army and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta before Christmas.  In January, we will begin our winter workouts with Major Leaguers such as Jason Heyward, Bobby Scales and Dexter Fowler along with minor league prospects such as Tim Beckham, Xavier Avery and Kyle Parker.  The Ambassadors will also be heavily involved with training middle school Leaders in January and February in preparation for their spring season which will consist of 90 players from 6 APS middle schools.

The Ambassadors will compete for their high school teams from March to May followed by a rigorous summer Ambassadors season that will include competition against several of the top travel programs in the country.  They will be exposed to over 200 college scouts during the summer of 2011.

Atlanta, I hope that you are ready for L.E.A.D. to unveil the 2011 Ambassadors of this great city on Sunday, November 21st.  We are committed to representing this city with excellence in Academics, Athletics, Service/Civic Engagement and Exposure.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pounding the pavement

In order to develop and maintain a strong business or non-profit organization, you must have strategic relationships.  Getting access to the right people is commonly referred toas pounding the pavement.

There will be obstacles along the way to let you know to stop and evaluate your ask.  I established a relationship with Mizuno USA more than 10 years prior to me asking for their sponsorship.  In that time, we I was able to analyze L.E.A.D.’s needs and how Mizuno could help.  With a healthy relationship and understanding in place, I was able to approach Mizuno with specific needs – not just a scattershot “we need help” approach.  In the past three years, Mizuno USA has been an apparel and equipment sponsor of L.E.A.D.  100% of my Ambassadors have enrolled in college wearing Mizuno apparel on and off the baseball field. 

I'm approached often by baseball organizations in regards to advice on developing relationships with sponsors.  It's definitely not an answer that I can give in an hour conversation.  Since my wife Kelli and I founded L.E.A.D., I have beat the bushes and developed more than 100 strategic relationships.  There are several people in Atlanta that want to increase the number of African-American males competing in baseball at the college level but it takes the right partnerships to make this happen.

Strategic relationships don't happen overnight so if you lack patience, you will never see them come to fruition.  Strategic relationships for L.E.A.D. ensure that I can provide the resources necessary for my Leaders and Ambassadors to succeed on and off the field.

There’s a lot of ground to cover for L.E.A.D. and I’m going to keep pounding the pavement.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Georgia's Own

This week, I had an opportunity to play in a charity golf tournament that featured some of Georgia's best — Georgia's Own Credit Union.  Being a valued citizen isn't an easy task but David Preter and the Georgia's Own Credit Union do it well.

L.E.A.D. was the beneficiary of this year's annual golf challenge organized by Julee Brunson and the rest of the Georgia's Own staff.

I met several staff members at the golf tournament from Georgia's Own.  If we could have raised $1 for every smile and kind word that they shared, we would have raised more than a million dollars.

David Preter is the CEO of Georgia's Own Credit Union and is dedicated to the success of Georgia, especially our youth.  His passion is infectious and the entire Georgia's Own staff shows a commitment to serving others.

L.E.A.D. was represented at the tournament by Georgians very important to L.E.A.D., including my wife and L.E.A.D. Executive Director Kelli Stewart, L.E.A.D. Ambassadors Cedric Daniel and Desmond Stegall, Dexter Fowler (centerfield, Colorado Rockies), Bobby Scales II (infielder, Chicago Cubs), Bobby Scales I (L.E.A.D. Supporter), Ted Wood (L.E.A.D. Advisory Board Member), Bill McLellan (L.E.A.D. Board Member) and myself.

Thanks to Georgia's Own Credit Union, L.E.A.D. can now help more Georgia youth.  Thank you David Preter, Ted Wood, Julee Brunson, Ashley Baker, the entire Georgia's Own team and all the sponsors and supporters for making this opportunity possible for L.E.A.D.!