Blog Archives

Hustle Series: Darren Meenan and The 7 Line

You’ve all heard a story that intimates that a successful business that once started in “the basement of their home.” In the case of Darren Meenan, this isn’t a stretch. It’s fact. What started with Darren, a huge New York Mets fan, wearing a simple t-shirt he made that stated “I Survived” in 2009, ended up becoming the wildly successful, “The 7 Line.”

Meenan didn’t just settle on the fact a number of people asked about that one shirt. He sensed an opportunity and created his hustle. It began with equipment he bought on eBay and he created a few shirts in his parent’s basement. Since Mets fans (myself included) haven’t had too much to cheer about since 2006, Darren used these t-shirts to echo fans sentiment. One design said, “I Was Born into This Mess.” What Mets fan doesn’t feel that way sometimes? As 2009 turned into 2010, his hustle and entrepreneurial spirit began to pay off.

Photo Courtesy- ESPN.com

Photo Courtesy- ESPN.com

By wearing newer designs to Citi Field, the word began to spread about The 7 Line and Darren’s quality of work. It also didn’t hurt that he worked hard to spread the word, as well. Darren held signs with his website around the ballpark, some of which showed up on TV. More shirts, more exposure equals needing more space. So, Darren moved into a warehouse not too far from the ballpark.

While Darren’s story sounds like it happened overnight, it didn’t. He needed to work hard to conceptualize, print, and distribute everything with little help. His hustle has been featured on, among others, CNN Money and in the New York Times. Oh, and a little show called “30 Rock” featured Darren’s shirts, by request from the producers.

Darren has even been able to get the support from Mets’ players. A few years back, he traveled to spring training a gave a bunch to hand out in the clubhouse. Now, that’s hustle (and smart marketing, too). Mets players loved them and can be seen wearing the shirts before and after games.

Despite the Mets struggles, you’ll never hear a negative word from Darren. While fans may be frustrated, his hustle has helped create a new faction of fans. He thought it would be a great idea for Mets diehards to sit together, cheer on and support the team. “The 7 Line Army” was born. That one game spawned into the army not just going to games at Citi Field, but Wrigley Field in Chicago, Marlins Park in Miami, and AT&T Park in San Francisco to name a few.

Darren’s ability to bring fans together with his infectious attitude and excitement is a testament to dedication, hard work, and a never-ending hustle. See, Darren loves what he does because he works hard at it. He doesn’t cut corners. No one who hustles the right way does that. The Mets even noticed and The 7 Line now has a kiosk at Citi Field and is a licensed Major League Baseball brand.

What’s next? Darren has mentioned in interviews and on Twitter that he wants to open a bar one day next to Citi Field. If his hustle with The 7 Line is any indication, the bar will be a huge hit.

The JourneyCast Podcast with guest Matt LaCasse

44424_4521832122001_1058374680_nMatt LaCasse and I are another example of developing a relationship from social media. I’ve (unfortunately) never met him in person, but have talked with him in every other way possible (except carrier pigeon and the string cup phone).

I’ve never been disappointed with something I retweet or share from Matt because I know he recognizes the importance of what he puts out on social networks. His only failing? Being a Chicago Cubs fan. Why do I pick on him about that? Because I’m a New York Mets fan.

In all seriousness, I’m really excited for everyone to listen to this episode with Matt because he shares some really great insight into how he started out in public relations, why he feels microvideo will dominate in 2014, and adjusting to being a parent and balancing work along with it.

The JourneyCast Podcast, Ep. 5 with Matt LaCasse

Let me know your thoughts on this episode, by leaving a comment below!

You can also subscribe to the podcast, via iTunes. 

The JourneyCast: Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com

Today is a really exciting day for me as a blogger and a professional. I’m officially launching my podcast, “The JourneyCast.” I’ll be talking with those people in (and out of) our industry, who are making a difference, doing impactful work, or people you should know more about.

This week, I’m thrilled to talk with Matthew Cerrone, founder and editor of MetsBlog.com, the best blog about the New York Mets and one of the preeminent sports bloggers in the nation. I’ve known Matt for a number of years now and was even lucky enough to be a small part of Metsblog in 2006. Matt has worked extremely hard to get to where he is today and is a great example of what can happen if you have a passion to see something through. You can also check out Matt’s latest project at MatthewCerrone.com.

The JourneyCast: Guest- Matthew Cerrone

Don’t forget to leave your comments about the podcast below.

Monday Minute- Opening Day

“I’ve got a beat up glove… a homemade bat… and a brand new pair of shoes. I think it’s time to give this game a ride!”- Centerfield, John Fogerty.

It’s one of my favorite days of the year, OPENING DAY! Everyone is perfect to start… including the New York Mets. But how can Opening Day related to you as a PR or social media pro. I’ve got answers in today’s Monday Minute.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Goodbye, Kid

I normally don’t get caught up in hero-worship. But, Thursday afternoon was a sad day when I got the news that my baseball idol, Gary Carter passed away due to cancer.

When I was young, Carter was my baseball hero. He was traded to my favorite team, the New York Mets, in late 1984 and was the last piece towards an eventual championship in 1986. I found myself drawn to Carter because of his smile and enthusiasm. Both were infectious. Carter’s nickname was “The Kid” because of that boyish attitude. I began to wear the number 8 because it was Carter’s number. The more l read about how he lived his life, I wanted to be like him.

Credit: AP

Some years later, Carter was retired and working for the Florida Marlins as a color analyst on their broadcasts. I was an intern with the Philadelphia Phillies when I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Carter, thanks to Phils public address announcer Dan Baker. His smile was the same that I saw after the opening day home run Carter hit at Shea Stadium in 1985; the same one that lit up his face the night the Mets reached baseball’s pinnacle in 1986. We talked for only a few minutes, but he treated me like I had known him for years. The autograph he gave me adorns my office desk because it reminds me of one thing…

Every single day, we must treat our lives like a blessing. Cliche? Maybe. But it is absolutely true.

Think about it. How many little things do we let bother us? Things that, ultimately, don’t matter in the grand scheme of life. Maybe a little “Kid”-like attitude can help you face your challenges. Think of what makes you happy… smile… then, brush yourself off, and step back up to the plate.

Today, Gary Carter is gone, but his Kid-like spirit and giving nature will live on. While you may not be battling brain cancer, take a moment and remember that our life is something to live to the fullest. Don’t take advantage of it.

I’m including a link so you can see what Carter’s foundation does.

“The Kid’s” fight

If there is one thing I’ve understood more lately then ever before is that life is very short. I saw two family members pass from Alzheimer’s Disease last year. A close college friend battled cancer and has beaten it. While all those events had an effect on me, yesterday’s news that Baseball Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter’s fight with brain cancer had taken a turn for the worse was tough to handle.

Source: NY Daily News

When I was young, Carter was my baseball hero. He was traded to my favorite team, the New York Mets, in late 1984 and was the last piece towards an eventual championship in 1986. I found myself drawn to Carter because of his smile and enthusiasm. Both were infectious. Carter’s nickname was “The Kid” because of that boyish attitude. I began to wear the number 8 because it was Carter’s number. 

Some years later, Carter was retired and working for the Florida Marlins as a color analyst on their broadcasts. I was an intern with the Philadelphia Phillies when I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Carter, thanks to Phils public address announcer Dan Baker. His smile was the same that I saw after the opening day home run Carter hit at Shea Stadium in 1985; the same one that lit up his face the night the Mets reached baseball’s pinnacle in 1986. We talked for only a few minutes, but he treated me like I had known him for years. The autograph he gave me adorns my office desk because it reminds me of one thing…

Every single day, we must treat our lives like a blessing. Cliche? Maybe. But it is absolutely true.

Think about it. How many little things do we let bother us? Things that, ultimately, don’t matter in the grand scheme of life. Maybe a little “Kid”-like attitude can help you face your challenges. Think of what makes you happy… smile… then, brush yourself off, and step back up to the plate.

Today, Gary Carter is fighting for his life. While you may not be battling brain cancer, take a moment and remember that our life is something to live to the fullest. Don’t take advantage of it. 

I’m including a link so you can see what Carter’s foundation does. Cancer has also touched many of our lives. Friend Laura Scholz will be participating in the Sam Robb Memorial 5K & Fun Run to raise money for CURE in February. Sam lost his fight with cancer in 2007 at the age of 20. Lastly, Roswell Park Cancer Institute has its Alliance Foundation that manages all donations made to RPCI. Since its inception, over $173 million has been contributed to benefit the Institute’s research, education and patient care programs.

Get to Know: Michael Baron

There are some of us out there that work for a living, but find the time to do something extra because they enjoy it.  That’s the case with Michael Baron.

Not only is he an accomplished photographer, Michael also writes for one of the top sports blogs around, Metsblog.com.  He does all this while working a day job.

I recently talked to Michael about how he got his start, the work balance, and his challenges.  I think you will find his answers helpful whether you are just out of college or a seasoned pro.

Jason Mollica: How did you get your start in taking photos?

Michael Baron: I started taking pictures at Met games in 2002. I didn’t own a camera at the time, but I had borrowed my friend’s Olympus point and shoot camera to take on a trip to Las Vegas, and still had possession of the camera for an extra day so I decided to take it to Shea Stadium and shoot a game between the Mets and Phillies. From then on, I was hooked, went out to get my own point and shoot, and I’ve been taking pictures at games ever since.

JM: Did you intend to create MetsPhotos.com or was it by “accident?”

MB: It was really by accident. I originally launched it as MichaelGBaron.com as a place to keep a diary of my thoughts about the Mets, which was separate from MetsBlog. I wanted to incorporate my pictures from the start, but it turned into a Photoblog of sorts. I think it’s still a work in progress, but Matt has been great in helping me develop the site and create the brand.

JM: How did you start working with Matt Cerrone at Metsblog.com?

MB: Matt and I first traded emails about two years ago, and when I first contacted him, I just introduced myself and sent a link to my pictures. We began to speak regularly about the Mets, blogging, and picture-taking, and he offered me the opportunity to begin writing for the blog at that time. Originally, I didn’t want to write for the blog because I didn’t consider myself a writer, and outside of college, I have no experience writing. All I wanted to do was provide photographs for his posts, as well as his co-writers.

In Spring Training of 2009, I sent Matt numerous pictures from Port St. Lucie, with no intention other than that I was there and figured he might be interested in the photos, and he posted them to MetsBlog and they were an instant hit on the site. We then discussed the possibility of me writing for MetsBlog again, and once again I said I would rather provide pictures for him and his co-writers.

Around Opening Day in 2009, Matt and I met at Citi Field and we once again talked about me writing for MetsBlog. I

Michael G. Baron

once again simply wanted to provide the pictures for the site, but he wanted me to write and act as a backup to him when he would be unavailable. I decided to give it a shot, although I was uncertain how it would go, because like I said, I don’t consider myself a writer.

He has helped me a great deal along the way with my writing, he has taught me a great deal about the business side of the Mets and we have such great communication on a daily basis.

JM: Was there a moment when you doubted yourself and how did you overcome it?

MB: Every post I write, I doubt myself. Like I said, I know I’m not a writer, and so I am always concerned about how I express my ideas, and making sure I am clearly expressing my ideas. I know, as a fan how I feel and what I want to say about a particular topic, but I know that at times, I have trouble transferring those ideas from my brain to the blog.

The way I overcome it is, if there is not a time sensitive post, I read the post as though I am a reader in preview mode, and make sure as a reader, my ideas are clearly laid out. I try to remind myself that the reader doesn’t know what I am thinking about the topic, and I have to make sure I understand fully what’s on the screen as a result.

I also need to remind myself, at times, that this is blogging, and I am entitled to my opinion whether people agree with me or not. As a former player, a student of the game, and a long time and hungry Met fan, I think my opinions are often unique and misunderstood because of the vantage point I’ve had, but it is still my opinion and I try to convey all three of those angles when I write. That said, I need to always work to be clear in my expressions, and it will always be a work in progress for me.

JM: How do you balance the day job with taking photos and posting for Metsblog.com?

MB: At times, it’s difficult, and I often forget things that need to be done as a result. I care very much about writing for MetsBlog and photographing games, and there is also the social media aspect of all of this and the interaction on Twitter and Facebook, which I think walks hand-in-hand with the whole adventure. But let’s not forget about my wife and family, and I need my day job and fulfill the responsibilities there, and so it can all be difficult to manage and often quite exhausting.

Matt knows I have a full-time job, and I cannot get fired from it, and so he never expects me to be available all of the time. I try to adjust my schedule for him as best as I can, because I know he has other responsibilities as well and MetsBlog is an important presence not just for the Mets, but also throughout Major League Baseball.

JM: There are those that say you need to have an “eye” for being a good photographer. Do you agree?

Michael G. Baron

 

 

MB: I think the eye of the photographer is completely subjective, and it would be unfair to say one person doesn’t have a good eye, and another person does. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, whether he or she is photographing sports or the Grand Canyon. What I find appealing, you may not, and vice versa, but that doesn’t make one photographer better than the other.

JM: Greatest compliment you have received so far in your photography career?

MB: I get a lot of appreciation from the folks on Twitter, and I am very humbled by their support. I always say, without people’s interest, there is really no point in spending the time to photograph. Matt has also been very complimentary about the photos, which I appreciate very much. However, my wife’s opinion means a lot, because I need her support more than anyone’s because the greatest sacrifice I make in writing for MetsBlog and going to games and photographing is the one I make in spending time with her. She loves my work, and she also respects the level this is on now, and that means a lot.

JM: I’d be crazy, as a Mets fan, not to ask this: What does your gut tell you about what they will do this off-season?

MB: It’s so hard to tell right now, because they are essentially starting from square one by hiring a new GM and manager. For the first time in many years, I really don’t have any idea where they will begin, but I think by rebuilding the culture and philosophy with the team, there will be a significant improvement without any changes made. Of course, I think there will be some positive change, although if they aren’t willing to increase their payroll during the off-season, it will be difficult, at best, to bring in a premium free agent.

A huge thank you to Michael for taking the time to answer these questions and allowing the use of his great photos.  You can follow him on Twitter @MichaelGBaron.

Stepping up to the plate

“And then? And then when I walked down the street people would’ve looked and they would’ve said there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game.”– Roy Hobbs, The Natural

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the chance to blog and to say things are busy would be an understatement.  We’ve been stacked with a ton of client work in the office, which is a great thing.  Now, this isn’t going to be some long soliloquy on the long hours and work load.  I do want to say just how much of a GREAT learning experience it has been though.

Last week, I did a guest post at Samantha Ogborn’s blog talking about patience. (Thanks again, Sam!) I said that it’s a continuing process and that, yes, I am still learning to be patient.  Part of what I talked about, I needed to put into action because I was feeling like I was in a slump.  I didn’t feel confident in my work.

credit: NY Daily News

I decided to go into baseball mode.  On Monday, I went over everything that I’ve been doing, kind of like what players do when they are in a batting slump.  I looked at my routine, my work ethic, my approach to the day, etc.  Here’s what I figured out. Sometimes we try TOO hard. We all want success, but you can’t be swinging for the fences every time.  Level things out. That “home run” will come.

You can think strategically, but don’t over think. Does that make sense? The late Bill Robinson, who was the hitting coach for the 1986 New York Mets, had a hitting camp I once took part in as a kid. Now, I may not have turned out to be the next Gary Carter, but he preached the “Slow feet, quick hands” approach to hitting.  I’ve actually used this approach in PR.  What I mean is: by slowing things down and allowing yourself to think about your plans, the thoughts will come more quickly.

Remember, you need to put yourself in a position to succeed. I don’t mean that you should quit your job.  What I do suggest is to think about how you can help your firm and your clients do well.  Ask questions and be two steps ahead.  It will show that you are invested in the overall success… your’s and the client’s.

Lastly, don’t fear striking out. You can’t bat 1.000.  Be realistic and have a sound approach.  That will breed success.

What is your approach? What are your “slump busters? Let me know in the comments.