With a degree in broadcast journalism, how did Mike Barack end up as the General Manager of the Fort Worth Brahmas in the Central Hockey League?
“My dream job was to broadcast play-by-play, either major league baseball or major league hockey. I had applied, sent tapes and resumes, to every hockey and baseball team across the country right out of college. Fortunately enough, I landed a job right out of school in the American Hockey League.”
While the dream was taking its course, it was then that Barack learned there might be other roads to travel. “As I progressed into the world of broadcasting with the travel and all the other elements, I realized there are some other attractive opportunities in addition to broadcasting.”
“The pay is quite a bit different, as well as the opportunities to be involved in all aspects when you’re talking about the business side of things. Being a General Manager may not be as much glitz and glamour, but to be honest, it is just as exciting and rewarding as being involved in broadcasting the games.”
The job he held right out of college is what prepared him for what he is doing now. Barack says the position of General Manager in the CHL is not the same as those on the NHL level. “At this level, the General Manager’s position is not related to the business of signing contracts and acquiring players. The role is to manage all of the business activities which range from all of the revenue producing items to sponsorship sales, ticket sales, as well as team merchandise. Basically, all the business aspects of the franchise.”
Barack’s first job as a broadcaster had many responsibilities and it was there he learned most of what he is doing today. “I was able to learn all aspects of the business ranging from broadcasting to public relations, to sales and marketing. At that level, the broadcaster of that particular franchise would be involved in all aspects of the team. I acted as teams public relations director as well as doing odds and ends which included group sales, season tickets and also some sponsorship sales.”
As a member of the Brahmas staff since July of 1998, Mike has used persistence in his leadership to aid in the success of the franchise. While in the WPHL, the Brahmas were named the “Most Improved Franchise” for two consecutive seasons from 1998 to 2000. A steady increase in ticket sales, corporate support, public awareness and community involvement helped Barack share honors as the WPHL Executive of the year for the 2000-01 season. Mike refused to take all the credit however, saying his staff is a big part of his success.
The Brahmas were not in the market for a broadcaster when Barack landed the job in 1998. But once again, Mike explained how all the experience he had with his other jobs made him a good fit for the position.
“The management group at the time in 1998 was looking for someone that had experience in all the areas, particularly the revenue producing activities. I always say this to a lot of people, I did not apply to become a General Manager of a professional sports franchise, I ended up being offered the job basically because I had a sales track record of being able to produce revenue in a number of different settings. Because of the revenue producing aspects, that is why I was offered the position here.”
Obviously, Barack says the experience is a key thing to getting a position you want, but over and above everything else, if you want to “Work in Sports”, you need to be persistent, almost to the point of being a nuisance.
“The advice I have is to call, send, and follow-up to the decision makers. The biggest thing, and I cannot stress this enough, is that I have gotten all of my jobs and received my opportunities because I followed up with the decision makers. I did not just send a resume. I followed up with a phone call, a thank you note, and another phone call.”
Barack interviews people for positions with Fort Worth all the time, and sees many people who fail in the follow-up department. “One of the weaknesses that I see in people that send resumes to us is the lack of follow through. They may send in a resume once and they might make one token phone call, but if someone totally desires a position, and can sell the decision maker that they will truly generate revenue or do the job they say they will to the potential employer, then they’ll get the job.”
“The applicant really needs to convince the decision maker that they need to have the job and that they are the best candidate. Too many college degree applicants, and I will say applicants overall, but those who have a very good track record, may not have a good track record of follow-up.”
Barack practices what he preaches. “The same advice that I gave to someone that might be looking for a job is the same thing we do here on a daily basis. We will do whatever it takes. We desire people that will be sending letters, following up with decision makers, making calls and letting them know we’re alive and well. We’ll do whatever it takes to get people involved with the team. We’re looking for people, and always have been, that would be of the same mindset. We’re going to be involved with a successful franchise, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to make it that way.”
“So my biggest advice is, make sure that if you want the job, do whatever it takes to get that job. That means if you have to sit there and wait, if you have to call the person, if you have follow up 10 times to make sure you get a return phone call, you may not get the job, but you need to be able to persuade the decision maker that you would be the best person for the position by really hitting it hard.”