I cannot think of a brand more innovative, inclusive, and just plain fun.
The Harlem Globetrotters are the epitome of success, culture, and a brand everyone knows and loves. That's why when The Chad & Cheese were offered an interview with a real Harlem Globetrotter they were giddy like 10-year-old boys.
Enjoy this Cult Brand podcast supported by our friends at Smashfly Technologies.
PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:
Brent: We're a brand that stood for something before it was cool and trendy to stand for something. Thank you to all the beer companies now that spend their millions of dollars talking about that they stand for community and fellowship and all that stuff but we've always stood for goodness, we've always stood for kindness.
Intro: Hide your kids, lock the doors, you're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinions and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for The Chad and Cheese Podcast.
Joel: Oh, yeah.
Joel: What's up gang? We're back [Inaudible [00:00:51.10] doing some recordings.
Chad: No, no, no, no, we got to go right to it. I have a Harlem Globetrotters sitting in front of me.
Joel: It's pretty fucking cool.
Chad: Dude. His name's dragon. Okay? Stepbrother's reference. I don't know what we're going to talk about. What we're actually going to talk about. Talk about where you got your name and all that other stuff but
Joel: Is there a Nighthawk on the team too?
Dragon: There's a Hawk on the team. There's a hawk.
Chad: It's close. So we got Dragon DeAndre, what's your last name?
Joel: 45-inch vertical leap.
Chad: Dude, he's a specimen. That's all I got to say.
Joel: Which is 48 ... Wait, I don't know the math.
Chad: You're a negative, dude.
Joel: It's about 38 more than me, I think. Yeah.
Dragon: Just put a phone book underneath his feet and have him jump, he'll trip over it.
Chad: Credit card.
Joel: Same idea as the phonebook.
Chad: And then we got Brent Baldwin.
Joel: The fourth Baldwin brother, allegedly.
Brent: I'm better looking though.
Joel: The better looking. Yes.
Chad: Director of brand marketing, all things Globetrotterdom, tell us a little bit about what you do.
Brent: Yeah. If it relates to the brand, it falls to me. So marketing, strategy, creative development, a little bit of putting together rthe strategy behind the show. I'm a blessed department of one.
Chad: Department have one for a brand that is known world wide. How old is the brand?
Brent: We are 94 years old. We're in the midst of our 94 season and known by 94% of the world.
Chad: Good God. Wow.
Joel: I have to throw this in because if my 10 year old daughter listens 30 years from now. You also ran the Disney Frozen show. Correct?
Brent: Yeah. Disney on Ice.
Joel: Disney on Ice Frozen, which is made for Disney on Ice, right? Okay, got you.
Brent: Yeah. That was probably the highlight of my daughter's impressions on my career.
Brent: Getting to go and hang out with Anna and Elsa on a Saturday in a private Disney on Ice show, it's all been downhill from there for her.
Chad: Well, also, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, you've got all these ... Disney, just the the Disney on Ice stuff and then you end up here less than a year ago.
Brent: Yeah. I love kitten family marketing.
Brent: Maybe because there's still a 10 year old boy inside of me, and I want to fulfill that excitement and joy for me to this day. I do say that a lot, I say, "Would 10 year old Brent be happy with this?" When I ordered brussel sprouts at dinner the other night, 10 year old Brent ... When I was at Disney on Ice and I was trying to figure out what dress Tiana wears on a certain part of the Princess and the Frog, would 10 year old Brent like this? But
Joel: Does 10 year old Brent love fart jokes as well as much as ...
Brent: 10 year old Brent and 20 something year old Brent on his first day at Cartoon Network was in a meeting, should we develop a fart app?
Joel: Boom! Thanks for listening everyone, that's the end of our show.
Brent: That's legit.
Chad: There's the the mic drop. We're going to talk about Dragon here for a minute, okay? Because we don't get athletes on the show, right?
Joel: Other than me.
Chad: Okay. We don't get athletes on the show. Tell us about, you played Pro Ball, right? You played College Ball, right? Tell us a little bit about you and how you actually became a Harlem Globetrotter.
Dragon: Well, I played in Northern Michigan University and after that I played in the NBA D League now it's called the G League.
Brent: And I played overseas. I actually playing in Canada, in the NBL.
Chad: Oh really?
Dragon: New Brunswick's St. John. A little bit colder than here though. [Crosstalk [00:04:27.13]
Joel: A little known fact. It's cold up there.
Dragon: Yes. Very cold. Very cold. I bounced around a couple places and I was at home one day, and I got a call from The Globetrotters. I was like, "Oh my god."
Chad: Did you apply for the job?
Dragon: No, this was
Chad: No? Okay. See, this is..
Joel: You didn't go online, to find jobs?
Dragon: I didn't go online. I didn't go on Indeed or ... I'm not sure if you can do it with..
Chad: You know what? Because Indeed sucks. Go ahead.
Dragon: I got a call from the Globetrotters and they said they seen my highlights on YouTube and they heard about me and they said they think I would be a great fit. I went in and I still had to try out. I went in for a trial, it was a genuine five on five, no tricks involved. And I just displayed my best talent and they asked me questions, they wondered how I was as a person, my personality and how good am I interacting with people. And most importantly, with The Globetrotters they want to see if you are not just a basketball player, but are you a good person? Are you able to interact with people? Are you able to express your personality?
Chad: This is a family show.
Dragon: Yeah, it's a family show. And adults love it too.
Chad: Oh, yeah. Because we grew up with it.
Dragon: Yeah, exactly.
Chad: It's like we get to harken back to when we were that little 10 year old Brent. Right?
Joel: Yeah. We're the guy that says, "Where's Curly Neal?"
Chad: We talk about adults calm, there's still that 10 year old Chad and Joel and Brent that are there. They're just in bigger body and all that.
Dragon: Yeah, I agree. Sometimes after a game we have autograph session, which is one of the things I love. We get a chance to interact with our fans, called The Fifth Quarter autograph session. After the game, we take pictures, take selfies and just interact, they ask these questions. And sometimes I get people at my line like, "Hey here, could you sign this basketball? This is for my granddaughter?" I'm like, "Sure." "Are you sure this is for ..." "It's okay, I'll sign it."
Joel: My granddaughter, Frank. Yeah, "Can you sign it for Frank, please?" Did you go through multiple interviews? Was it one and done? Did you go through a process of it? How did that work?
Dragon: Well, I went through ... I sat with the coaches. We have legendary coaches as well. All three of our coaches, actually, they played with the Globetrotter, so they teach us a lot of things. I went in and they asked me a bunch of questions. The would throw a few jokes to see how I interact with things. Then I got on the court and they wanted to see how good I was playing on the court. And after a while, when you're on the court, you eventually express your personality and it's like a trial period, they want to see how good you are interacting with people. And my first game, theree was 10,000 people.
Dragon: They threw the ball at me and they was like, "Do a trick." I'm like, "Hold on. Wait, this is my first day." And I put the ball around my back and threw it to one of the other players and I was like, "Oh, this is going to be a long season."
Joel: It's going to be a long game.
Dragon: Then after that, later that night, went into the hotel, tried some tricks, broke a few lamps. And then now I'm seven years in and it's just an amazing experience.
Chad: The Globetrotters found DeAndre before he was Dragon through
Joel: Is that the typical scouting strategy for the for the Globetrotters?
Dragon: Well, it depends. We go some people that's in the dunk contest, the College Dunk Contest.
Dragon: And we have a draft too. We have a annual draft, we actually draft players as well.
Chad: How come that's not on ESPN?
Dragon: It should be. Right? We should tell them about it. Yeah.
Brent: We're going to talk to them later today.
Joel: How do you draft players?
Dragon: It's just a draft. We pick certain players through the draft. Some come and sign, some take.
Joel: So it's like an invitation?
Dragon: It can be invitation or some people, people like them.
Joel: It's not like the Washington generals are drafting people and then you are. I'm just kidding.
Dragon: I don't know what the Washington [Crosstalk [00:08:04.06]
Joel: We'll be going to that as well, how they find those players.
Dragon: Yeah. We draft people each year. Usually we draft some of the College Dunk players. Love the guys, some of them sign. We have one guy by the name of Devin Douglas, nicknamed Beast, he was a College Slam Dunk champion. He's been with us for four years now, and he's made 63, amazing Doug. We have another guy by the name of Doug Anderson, he was a college dunk champion and he billing us for a few years too.
Joel: Are you guys full time employees? Are you on contract? Is everyone on the same kind of contract? How does that work?
Dragon: Well, yeah. Think about, if you been with an organization for 18 years or 50 years, I don't think that the money will be exactly the same by that time, but we all have contracts, we go in each year and
Joel: Are they usually annual contracts and they just renew each year?
Dragon: It varies.
Dragon: It varies from each player. A lot of the players are very talented and skilled. It is all dependent on how well you are on the court, like when you got players like LeBron James, players like Kevin Garnett.
Joel: So each player is dealt differently based on skill
Joel: Similar to how a regular NBA team would act?
Dragon: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chad: Well, plus, you're entertainers too.
Chad: You're athletes, number one, that's why you're chosen. Brent, tell us about the whole culture thing. Okay? Because so many companies, so many companies say that they want to hire for culture, but they just can't figure it out. You guys, we don't see things in the press like we do with the NBA with the Harlem Globetrotters. Right? You have a brand that you have to be able to guard because it's really a family, family brand. How do you do that?
Brent: Yeah. We're blessed that we have probably 50 of the best men and women in the world, as people and as individuals, that just happened to be amazing entertainers and amazing basketball players. If you think about it every year, there's about 18,000 men that come out of college that want to play professional basketball. There's about 16,000 women that come out that want to play. Not everybody's path is the NBA, and the Globetrotters are a great path for for a lot of players. As Dragon was talking about the tryouts and the process, you got to hoop you got to ball, you got to show us that you can play. But probably more important, you got to show us that you can entertain, that you can be a good person.
Chad: I would think connect too, right?
Chad: Because you got to connect with kids and the crowd.
Dragon: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Brent: And that comes through being the living embodiment of our brand 24/7. You probably have countless stories of rolling into a hotel at 1 a.m. in the morning after playing a doubleheader being exhausted, and there's little Timmy and he sees you and you pull the ball out and you spin it on the finger and you pose for a photo, and that kid now has the globetrotter story. That because we hire well and have the best people first, before anything else, that's how we're able to be so comfortable with our brand. It's how I, in my protective mode of the brand, don't worry on a Wednesday night when we've got three teams all over North America, because I know it's going to be excellent. And beyond just our players, it's our operational team, our tour staff, that work just as hard, that are the ones that are dealing with like the diva, dance mom during a halftime performance, music cut off three seconds short and now she's ... It's just amazing and amazing people that were able to find.
Dragon: Yeah. One of the questions I always get asked all the time is like, "How come you're not playing in the NBA?" Or "How come you're not playing somewhere else?" I'm like, what I do now, I enjoy it. I love it. I get a chance to travel the world on someone else's expense. We create memories and interact with people and I love that.
Chad: It's gotta be fulfilling for you too.
Dragon: It's fulfilling for me, the kids are our future and I get a chance to touch kids lives. I got a quick story, I met this one kid, he was with the Make A Wish Foundation, he was battling brain cancer and his number one thing in life was to meet a Harlem Globetrotter. And that touched my heart, that was his one thing he wanted to do was meet Harlem Globetrotter. I got a chance to meet him and I got a chance to show him joy and make them happy. That's really important to me. And that's one of the things that kept me around. I get a chance to ... We have hospital visits, we have schools visits, we do things all over and I just love being able to enjoy and have fun with people.
Joel: Yeah. You can't put a price on that.
Announcer: We'll get back to the interview in a minute. Building a Cult Brand is not easy, which is why you need friends like Roopesh Nair, CEO of Smashfly on your side.
Chad: To become Cult Brands, companies need to build from the inside out. How can messaging and technology facilitate that type of growth?
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Chad: That's giving back to the community. We See all these cult brands and all these other brands that talk about activation and all these things, but really, I feel to be a cult brand, to be something that has long lasting, almost a century long, you have to give back to the community, you have to be a part of the community. And it feels like just for me personally, that the Globetrotters have always been something that I feel like has been a part of the community.
Brent: I like to say that we're a brand that stood for something before it was cool and trendy to stand for something. You know what I mean? Thank you to all the beer companies now that spend their millions of dollars talking about that they stand for community and fellowship and all that stuff but we've always stood for goodness, we've always stood for kindness. Everybody remembers how you make them feel, and we make people feel good. You feel better when you leave a Globetrotters game than when you walk in, and that creates that longevity. Who doesn't want to engage and interact with the brand that makes them feel good.
Chad: Oh yeah.
Joel: Talk about some of the ... You guys are a real Trailblazer with diversity and inclusion. I think the first woman player to come out of college. Talk about how you guys have embraced that throughout the years and been a real Trailblazer with diversity.
Brent: Yeah. I love that we're not just part of culture, we help define culture. It's probably one of the things that I'm proudest about our brand. In 1984, Lynette Woodard, who was just the woman in female basketball coming out of the University of Kansas.
Joel: Olympic as well. Yeah.
Brent: Yeah, she was an Olympic gold medalist. She became the first woman to play in an all male basketball teams. We broke the gender barrier, and almost 40 years before that
Chad: That was in '84?
Brent: In 1984, yeah.
Chad: Wow. We still have problems with that, right? Like 10% of the the CEOs of major corporations, I think maybe that's too high, are females, right? You guys were starting to do that the 80's?
Brent: Yeah. To this day, we have female Globetrotters that are the most gifted, talented basketball players, entertainers and people in the world. What's amazing to me is the lines of the autograph session for our female players are full of boys that look up to them and admire them because of who they are not because they happen to be a man or a woman.
Joel: Tell the Lakers story, about when you played them twice, because they didn't believe it was real.
Brent: Yeah. In the late 1940's, the ABA, which is the precursor to the NBA, it was an all-white League. And the Minneapolis Lakers were just the resounding champions year after year after year. Abe Saperstein, our founder was so confident that Globetrotters were the best basketball team in the world that he challenged the Minneapolis Lakers to a game and we won on a buzzer beater at the last second and nobody believed it. There's very limited photography. There's almost no video.
Joel: Wasn't televised.
Brent: I know, right? And nobody really believed it. And he's like, "Okay, let's play again." Year two, we play again and we win again. And it was that moment of everybody going, "Wow, these guys are amazing. They're talented." And that very next year, Sweetwater Clifton became the very first African American to play in the NBA, who was the Globetrotter that was on that team.
Brent: It's an amazing barrier, and it's an amazing part of our history in a cultural defining moment.
Joel: You mentioned your founder. I'm just curious, how's the, not the ballplayers, but the actual organization. Is there a CEO? Or is it an executive director? How many employees are there? What kind of flow do you have for resumes? I assume you have a big demand to work at the Globetrotters, but I have I have no idea because I see the face of the team
Chad: Everybody's looking at Dragon, right?
Chad: Like there are people behind Dragon (Inaudible) Yeah.
Brent: Yeah. We were a family of 187 families. We're led by our general manager Jeff Munn, and then we roll up as a part of the Herschend Family Entertainment Company. So we say as Herschend were a family of brands owned by a family that focuses on families. It is. It's a very lucrative company, people are excited to work for us. I could probably butcher what HR software and things we use to manage, all of that.
Chad: That's our boring shit. But yeah.
Brent: Yeah, it is. But we do. I genuinely feel that we hire on culture, because skills can be taught. And if you are the right person, and your mind is in the right place ... It's the Dragon story, couldn't do the tricks, but he is a wonderful man, and I love DeAndre more than I love Dragon, the tricks came and all the pieces came but he was the right person for this organization.
Chad: Dragon, do you get like a text at two o'clock in the morning saying, "Hey, we need you for a PR thing," or something like that? Because these guys are like ... Press, they're doing all these promotions and all these things. Are there anything, out of the blue that happens and you just know that you're on call?
Dragon: Yeah, we were always on call. There's times, throughout my career, I've gotten messages like, "Hey, we have an important interview that's five, six in the morning." You got to be ready, you got to have that coffee 20, 30 minutes before, so you have the good talking voice and you have the energy. Most importantly, it's so natural to us, I'm used to it, so it doesn't really bother me. If I'm able to do an interview at four, five in the morning, I'm able to have five or 10,000 people to see that interview. That's amazing. That's good to be able to just do that. So, yeah.
Joel: I'm curious on top of that, you have to be highly skilled all the time, and you have to stay fresh with your skills. We're in Banff, Canada right now, where there's not exactly a surplus of courts and weather that you can go out and practice. How do you how do you stay fresh? How do you stay skill to level you have to be when you go on the court and do what you do? How do you do that? Are you in your room, doing push-ups and throwing the ball against the wall? How does that work?
Dragon: For me, I've been doing it for seven years now. We practice three, four hours a day before the game. I've been doing it for quite some time, so it becomes a second nature to me. I'm used to doing things. And there's times where I've done tricks that I actually made a mistake by doing a trick and I was like, "Wait, that was kind of cool. Let me try this again." So for me, I'm used to it. I spin the ball every day. I do tricks every day. And it's easy for me, I can take a couple days off, four or five days off, and still be fresh with doing things.
Dragon: I actually got a chance, yesterday, I hiked up Silver Mountain. It took me about two hours. Brent, he kept telling me, he was like, "I'm telling you, you should pack a coat." I'm like, "Okay. Yeah, sure. I travell, I'll pack." He said, "It's going to be cold here. It's different with the Canadians." He's like, "This is the mountains"
Dragon: So I got a chance to pack a coat and I didn't pack the right coat. I'm about an hour into my hike and this guy was like, "Good job." He's like, "You're about halfway finished." I'm like, "What?" My hands are cold. So I told him, I said, "Before I leave here, I'm going to get a Canada Goose. I have to." But I got a chance to take a break, and relax and have some fun. Today was a busy day, I got a chance to do a couple things this morning. I'm used to the schedule. So, yeah.
Chad: We were at your presentation yesterday. And I thought it was amazing because they announced that we had an 11 year old here to the gathering and these tickets
Joel: Paid attendee.
Chad: These tickets are not cheap. Yeah, paid attendee. I think the presentation was great, especially the background and being able to talk about Dragon and talent and all that other fun stuff. But having Luke, is his name, the 11 year old there was like magic, because I think everybody in the room was like, I remember being that kid. That interaction, spinning the ball on your finger to his finger, again, it brings back all those memories and really reminds us why we care about The Harlem Globetrotters.
Again, your job, and I don't want to put any more stress on you, Brent, this is like one of those, don't screw this up, thing. Right? 94 years.