There’s Real Magic in Fearless Branding

mike & MIKE

About the only thing the two boys had in common was the same first name. One was born into a Catholic family in 1962 in Cleveland, Ohio. He grew up with the no-nonsense, hard working, blue-collar persona the city itself exhibits. His father, Bob Sr., had played in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for seven years prior to settling down to raise three sons with his wife, Catherine. Sports were a big part of their lives – with the boys primary sports being wrestling and football. His childhood stories feature athletic achievements, brotherly brawls and the typical tales of a rough and tumble boy growing up in the Midwest

Five years later, the other was born in New York, NY – the son of proud parents Arnold and Harriet. His childhood focused strongly on education – both parents were writers – rather than playing sports. He was a slightly built boy, not suited for participating in athletics. He had fears and neuroses which were also a slight reflection of the city where he was raised. His childhood stories of having grown up in a Jewish family in the Big Apple include having had his winter coat taken from him – by a girl – at the age of ten. While not an athlete, he was a passionate sports enthusiast – becoming a hard core fan of the New York Knicks, Yankees and especially the Jets.

The boy from Cleveland was a standout high school athlete and earned a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame to play football  – as had both of his brothers before him. His college career was distinguished to the point that he was drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1985. His career spanned nine years – mostly with the Philadelphia Eagles where he played next to Hall of Fame lineman Reggie White. He accepted his role – that he would never attain that level of fame – but he played with the hard-working grittiness learned through his childhood.

The sports fan from New York went to the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago, Il. He was bright, an excellent writer and student and knew which direction he wanted his career to take – sports journalism. After graduation, he did just that. He became a reporter and an anchor at a variety of television and radio stations, as well as a syndicated columnist. His work in Chicago saw him cover Michael Jordan in his heyday with the Bulls while also covering Cubs and White Sox baseball. His big break came in 1996 when he moved to ESPN – the worldwide leader in sports coverage.

The former NFL player was already working at ESPN. He had begun doing guest appearances and ultimately a weekly radio show in Philadelphia while still playing for the Eagles. As countless former professional athletes have done, he moved to ‘the sports leader’ where he would do play-by-play and color analysis mainly for college football. Eventually he was paired with Tony Bruno to do a daily radio sports talk show.

Soon the Northwestern journalism major with his sights set on hosting more Sportscenter segments was asked to partner with the former NFL lineman. He agreed to do the show because he believed it was the best route to advance his broadcasting career at the network. They were certainly an unusual pair – many called them The Odd Couple – referencing the Neil Simon movie which featured Oscar, the slovenly sportscaster, and Felix, his refined, neat and tidy roommate.

Could this work? Fifteen years later they are still together – being simulcast each weekday morning on ESPN radio and ESPN2 television. They boast an audience of over 90 million, have interviewed virtually everyone who is anyone in the world of sports, have been guests on all the late night entertainment shows and have even been guests of the President of the United States.

Their success doesn’t define a fearless brand. Rather, Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg were paired on the “mike & MIKE show”   – combining two diametrically opposed personalities – each of whom had the same goal to deliver a unique, high-quality, entertaining and relevant show. With that approach, a fearless brand was built..

With Fearless Brands the whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Golic, the ex-jock. Greenberg – Greeny, the journalist. Two men who have been – who are – successful on their own merit. However, what makes mike & MIKE so successful – is how the two of them play off of each other – complement each other’s style. Golic brings the perspective of someone who played sports at the highest level. Greeny, who bleeds New York Jets green, brings the view-point of the everyday fan. Golic, the pragmatic one – Greeny the cerebral one.

Together they’ve created a morning sports juggernaut. Together they’ve thrown out the ceremonial first pitch; played in – and coached – the NBA Celebrity game; sung “Take me out to the ballgame” at Wrigley Field. Together they have authored a book. Their head-to-head competition through the years of filling out NCAA basketball brackets has created terrific entertainment – including Greeny milking a cow and Golic getting his legs waxed, both on live television.

Mike and Mike stories abound and could fill volumes – but what you should focus on is what you can learn from the fearless brand mike & MIKE – and it’s significant.

Key to effective branding is to stand out – No matter what you’re selling, what you’re really offering is yourself. Your personal brand represents the uniqueness of you – your point of differentiation  – it’s how you stand out from the crowd. Solo, Greeny has authored a best-selling novel – All You Could Ask For;  Golic works tirelessly in support of his alma mater and youth sports.

Key to effective branding is to fit in – Knowing your personal brand also allows you to fit in – with your company and with other people. Both Golic and Greeny know – and accept – themselves for who they are. That knowledge provides them with the confidence to interact with each other – both by deferring and complementing.

The Magic! – Aristotle first said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The companies, organizations and/or teams that realize this to be true are the ones who achieve stratospheric success. Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg on their own are talented, knowledgeable and likeable. Each has been successful working as an individual. When they became a team – leveraging each others’ strengths – and vulnerabilities – magic happened. Every person, regardless of level within an organization – has unique talents and skills which when taken in total, make the entire entity more valuable.

Every individual can build a fearless brand. When an organization encourages every member to so – and leverages that value – the entire entity will achieve stratospheric success because the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

Friday's Fearless Brand

Coach, International Speaker and Thought Partner - Bill’s mission is to add value to the world – one brand at a time. Bill guides individuals and companies alike in building what he refers to as a ‘fearless brand’. This is the process of discovering, embracing and delivering their greatest value – which allows them to realize greater profit. Read More

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