Future Industry Leader Scholars Profile: Brian Kane

Brian Kane_Headshot

This summer, the SFIA will acknowledge three young professionals in the sports and fitness industry who have been selected as the 2016 SFIA Future Industry Leaders Scholarship recipients. All three recipients will be present at the fourth annual SFIA Industry Leaders Summit this September 14-15 in Denver, CO.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the SFIAinsider blog, in collaboration with SFIA Weekly, will be highlighting exclusive interviews with each of our three winners, in order of participant’s response. We are honored to have the opportunity to put them in the spotlight in the lead up to this prestigious networking event.

This week, we meet Brian Kane, a University of Texas at Antonio grad and current Senior Manager, Commercial and Customer Insights for Precor:

SFIAinsider: Why did you apply to the Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program?

Brian Kane: I believe to become a leader you must learn from great leaders. I see this program as an invaluable opportunity to listen and learn from the best. Most importantly, I am interested in observing and modeling how leaders think. I think a great leader can solve any problem because of the process and frameworks they are able to apply.

SFIAinsider: What was your very first job, can you tell us more about it?

Brian Kane: My first job was in middle school.  I used my grandparents as ‘limited partners’ and invested in buying and selling sports cards on eBay.  I mostly focused on the more expensive card lines, which were sometimes over $10 per pack.  My two main revenue strategies were bulk buys and investing in specific athletes.

With bulk buys, I would buy wholesale lots often consisting of multiples cases of sports cards, sometimes up to a palette load.  I would open all the packs, specifically looking for high-value cards, often involving autographs, portions of a players’ jersey, etc. I would have these high value cards graded for quality by a third party and then sold to collectors.  With the remainder of the cards, I would either sell them individually or in lots.

With specific players, I would invest deeply in specific rookies I believed would be successful, focusing on limited edition cards.  I would hold the cards for anywhere for 6 months to 3 years, hoping to flip them at a significant premium when the player made it big.  I had a high success rate, but did also end up with over 300 Ricky Williams cards I still have in a box somewhere to remind the importance of portfolio diversification. 

I subcontracted most of the execution work such as listing auctions, packaging, and shipping to my younger sister and older brother.

SFIAinsider: What made you want to work in the sports and fitness industry?

Brian Kane: This may sound provocative to some, but I see the sports and fitness industry as the future of the healthcare industry.  Some estimate that as much as 70% of chronic preventable illnesses drive medical costs.  We need to get people eater better and moving more. 

I actually enjoy not being part of what we call the uber core at Amer Sports.  I think our industry has enough former athletes and super-committed enthusiasts.  As an industry we can’t just be about selling fitness to the fit or else we become an echo chamber of well people in an increasingly unwell world.

SFIAinsider: What exactly do you do in your current position?

Brian Kane: My title is Senior Manager, Commercial Management and Customer Insights and I report to Doug Johns, VP of Marketing and Strategy.  In practice, my work falls into three main categories: strategy and planning, commercial management, and corporate development.

  1. As an Amer Sports Brand, Precor goes through key strategic reviews throughout the year, which I support.  The two main focus areas are where we play and how we win.  In other words, what competitive playing fields we compete in (geographies, customer segments, product categories) and how can differentiate and out-execute our competition in them.
  2. Commercial management measures the effectiveness of turning these strategic decisions into key performance indicators all the way down to a rep level.
  3. Corporate development for us is defining our growth strategy, to include organic and inorganic investments.  Research is used to support these efforts.

SFIAinsider: What do you find the most enjoyable part of your work?

Brian Kane: Being able to be a part of our corporate development efforts appeals to the very core of who I am.  As someone who is deeply curious about how the world works, corporate development takes theory and abstract thought and makes it very real, very quickly.  I get to geek out on the dynamics of market growth stages, organizational execution theories and consumer psychology, while translating it into tangible elements of our game theory strategy and tactics. 

Specific to Precor, I love that we have a truly dynamic business.  We have tough competitors, manufacture our own products, provide service and software in addition to our equipment, and compete globally.  I think you learn a lot more in dynamic businesses and the leaders who succeed in them are truly incredibly leaders.  In that regard, I thoroughly enjoy working with our leaders who are truly amazing in their capabilities and experiences. 

SFIAinsider: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Industry Leaders Summit?

Brian Kane: The proximity to the thought leaders and decision makers of the industry is an incredible appeal.  My approach is to be a sponge: ask a lot of questions and learn from the best. 

SFIAinsider: What is your favorite sports memory from your lifetime?

Brian Kane: For professional sports, the Seahawks beating the 49ers in the NFC Championship game was an all-time classic.  I have the game on iTunes and have watched it at least a dozen times.  Aside from the Seahawks winning, the level of skill and strategy was incredible. The play of the game of course was Richard Sherman deflecting a pass intended for Crabtree to Malcolm Smith’s awaiting arms; a play I’ve replayed in my head many times.    

For myself personally, I am an outdoor adventurer at heart.  I got the chance to do a 4-day backpacking trip along the Great Wall (between Beijing and Mutianyu), which was incredible. The sense of history and scale was humbling. We even got to sleep on the wall itself. 

SFIAinsider: Do you have a favorite sports movie?

Brian Kane: If I am looking for pure entertainment, I am a huge fan of Rocky movies.  While Rocky 1 may be the better movie, I prefer 3 and 4. The training montages in Rocky 4 are a true classic for me.

For more of a serious move, I think Hoop Dreams is one of the best documentaries ever made.  It tells a story of raw talent, family, adversity, and ultimately disappointment and failure.  Unlike a lot of modern documents, which are glorified stump speeches, I felt Hoop Dreams showed a very raw and authentic narrative about two aspiring athletes. 

Visit www.sfia.org/ilsscholarshipprogram to find out more about the SFIA’s Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program.




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