The Learning Leader Show With Ryan Hawk

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#344: Jesse Cole

Jesse Cole is the founder of Fans First Entertainment and owner of the Savannah Bananas. His teams have welcomed more than 1 million fans to their ballparks and have been featured on MSNBC, CNN and ESPN. Cole’s teams have been awarded Organization of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Business of the Year and have won three CPL Championships. The Savannah Bananas currently have sold out every game for three straight seasons and have a waiting list in the thousands for tickets.  In 2018, Fans First Entertainment made the INC 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in America. Jesse wrote Find Your Yellow Tux – How to Be Successful by Standing Out.  The book launched #1 in three categories on Amazon and has been sold in 18 countries.   Staying true to his mantra, “ Whatever’s Normal, Do the Exact Opposite,” Jesse launched the book with a World Book Tour….at Epcot. 


  • How do we define excellence?
    • Hunger like PT Barnum and Walt Disney
    • Curiosity
    • Sustain energy — Always “bring the energy.” –> “When I’m at work, it’s show time.”
  • Understand what brings you energy — Write it down
  • “It was right in front of me.  We sold our house… We needed to create attention.  We couldn’t do marketing like everyone else.”
  • The daily practice of writing Thank You notes:
    • The “thank you experiment.”  One per day, every day.  Look for people you’re grateful for… Tell them.
  • Love:  “Love is something not talked about enough.”  Jesse learns the love languages of all of his employees.
  • Long term values — They call all people who buy tickets to his games.  
  • Be intentional about EVERYTHING.
  • “We don’t invest in marketing, we invest in experiences.”
  • Relate to the normal person:
    • With the hold music
    • Your email signature
    • Business cards
    • Name tags
    • Make everything remarkable
  • Write a letter to the parents of young people who work for you.  How are you recognizing people?  
  • “Be patient in what you want for yourself, but be impatient in how much you give to others.”
  • Core beliefs:
    • Always be caring
    • Be different
    • Write your future resume (what do you want to experience)
  • “Red flags never go down.”  If you find a red flag in the interview process, it’s time to move on.
    • “We want people who ‘do and learn.'”
    • “You don’t fail, you discover things.”
  • Build your idea muscle — Write 10 ideas a day, every morning.
    • “I believe in learning by doing.”
  • Wrote 159 blogs before publishing any of them… “Stop standing still, start standing out.”
    • “It’s a lot easier to fit in than stand out.”
  • Create “You wouldn’t believe” moments
    • Write the normal list and then do the opposite — Do the remarkable (like going on a world book tour at Epcot)
  • Magic Castle — “Listen carefully, respond creatively.”
  • Advice:
    • What makes you different?
    • What makes you stand out?  Be okay with standing for something.  Don’t just try to be a little better than someone else.
    • Experiment — Throw darts until you hit the bulls-eye

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